Our Website: www.ashdalealpacas.com

Saturday 10 December 2011

Oh, What A Day

I could do without these shorter days, it doesn't even work getting up earlier because you have to wait for it to get light enough to do the outside chores.  We have had a couple of days of gales, you know the type ........and they called the wind b*!!*?%s, anything but Maria really.  Nothing like Jayne and Debbie have had but we're obviously not as tough down here.  It's back to normal today with only a light shower and quite pleasant to be outside if you can disregard the mud.  It is cold enough for the grass to have stopped growing but we have a huge store of hay in the barn so all the alpacas are quite happy.  Must admit to being a bit late putting the fresh hay out yesterday because we are very muddy so it is taking a long time to walk around.  Feet keep sticking in the mud or having to walk really slowly to stop myself from falling over.  Poor Wilhelmina gave me a fright, I though she had a graze down her face but it turned out to be mud on her nose that had dried.  She doesn't look happy at me turning up late with supper.

We've had a lovely day, we had visitors who are thinking about starting an alpaca business and they turned up to see our farm.  Obviously the first thing that happens when visitors arrive is that the ketle goes on for coffee, we were allowed a little time to talk but the temptation was too much for the children and they wanted to get down and dirty with the animals.  They had come well prepared with well scrubbed wellington boots.  We took full advantage of their children, their son topped up the hay while their daughter fed them alpaca nuts.  Jemima and Chance were obviously the first to come forward to be fed by hand.

The wife was really taken by the knitwear as she is a knitter herself and was particularly interested in pursuing that side of the business.  We then brought one of this years cria out to show what to look for in a fleece and I must admit even we were taken by the crimp and density.  When we identified him we realised that he wasn't even ours.  He belongs to a client and was the first cria from our own home-bred stud male, Ashdale Cooper.  We are consoling ourselves with the fact that we have sold a fantastic male so that should make our clients really happy and that should be the aim of any business.  With the genetics in him we shouldn't really have been surprised.  Coopers father is EP Cambridge Samson, who resides at Wellground Alpaca Stud, and was Supreme Champion at one of the largest alpaca shows in the UK.  We are so glad we used him as we have more of our girls pregnant by Cooper and we now know that we are going to produce some fantastic cria this year.  The investment in great stud animals has really begun to show.

We came back in and Si started to go through the fleece statistics that we had got back from the States last month and obviously the kettle went back on.  I thought that the hens were being a bit restless but we couldn't figure out why.  Si then suddenly spotted a fox and ran out.  The fox ran along the hedge, he had bitten one hen, bantams had flown up onto the barn roof.  Once Si came in I noticed that the alpacas in the bottom paddock had all congregated at the fence so off he went out again.  Mr Fox was back but that was soon remedied by putting two of the younger boys down there to stand guard.  We could see everytime the fox came close as the alpacas stopped eating and stared at him as though to say 'Come on then if you think you're 'ard enough'.  The alpacas won and the fox hasn't been seen again, hens are back happily roaming around the paddocks with their own fluffy security.

The best news is that our visitors today bought a hat for the daughter and the son got yarn so that he can learn to knit and make his own so if they do decide to opt for a change of lifestyle we will have a new young knitter in our midst.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Click, Click, Click, Click, Click

We have only just sat down to relax and I have just remembered that I should do another blog because I promised somebody this morning I would put a picture of our pigs on.  We put out clean straw right across their pen in readiness for the snaps but then more important things cropped up.

We have had a visit from a photographer who wanted pictures of a selection of our chickens for a book.  When we checked out the author later on Amazon it turns out he has written quite a few books about chicken care and they look so good that we have ordered a couple ourselves.  Once the photographer had seen the alpacas he was completely enamoured with their gentle faces so his camera came out again.  I was so jealous when he showed me the pictures he had taken, they were very much superior to anything I could have taken and he seemed to have taken hundreds of shots in less than an hour.  I think we will be having another visit from him.

We then had a few people arriving to buy chickens so by the time we got back to the pigs they had buried the straw and look as though they had been having a great time.  I think there was a small patch of their clean dry straw carpet left in the far corner but they will probably deal with that tomorrow morning before we spread more out.  Don't know if these qualify for Rob's muddiest animal contest because I think that only applies to alpacas.

Talking of contests, Rosemary has set a challenge to alpaca bloggers to decorate their field shelters so that is something else to plan.

The weather doesn't seem to know what to do at the moment.  One minute the sun is shining and we are out working in tee shirts, the next minute the rain seems to be flying across the paddocks sideways. 

The postman arrived with the Vitamin A,D and E that we had ordered.  We like to give all the alpacas a dose monthly from September to March and although they are not due their next injections for another 10 days we had started to worry as we only had enough left in the medicine cupboard to do 2-3 of them.  We also had a delivery from Mole Valley with another lorry load of timber for Si to build another chicken shed.  We have some girls ready to go outside and some week olds to move into the larger brooder.

It is getting so busy around here but also getting to be a lot more fun which I have been particularly glad about today as it is my dad's birthday, 1st one since he died,  so my sister and I have been consoling each other by text, facebook and phone today. That's another 1st over and done with.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Beware - Crime Prevention Campaign

This seems the fastest way to get this information out there.

I have just had a telephone call from a woman claiming to be from the Crime Prevention Campaign telling me that I agreed to support them back in September and my artwork for an ad is on it's way to us.  She then asked for our postcode.  This was ringing no bells with me and she then told me that I had agreed to pay £99 for 12 months advertising.  Once I told her that I do everything by email and I would have to check she then hung up the phone.  Her number was withheld.  Think this was a scam so putting the information out in case they are targetting alpaca breeders.

Just checked internet and it definitely looks like a scam as there are lots of messages from people who have had the same call.  My advice is just hang up on them.

Sunday 27 November 2011

The Things You Do For Love

The title will mean nothing until the last photo.  The weather has been absolutely beautiful which means the grass is still growing.  The alpacas are all well but we have had to take a few of the cria away from their mums which means we've had the hearbreaking cries but no doubt they will settle down over the next couple of days.  The mum's aren't bothered as they have been put into new paddocks with lush, fresh grass.

Wilhelmina has taken to wearing more of the hay than she is eating. "Does my bum look big in this?"

This is the latest addition to our farm.  Another female pygmy goat who has finally been named tonight.  Let me introduce Bella.  She seems to be settling in nicely but isn't much bigger than the hybrid hens and seems quite happy sharing food with them.

This is her in a quiet moment.  She has worn out Cherub and Sweetheart who were asleep inside their shed.

It's tiring having a new baby around.  Belle is asleep inside the shed and Cherub and Sweetheart were so tired that they were asleep standing up leaning against the door and jamb for support.

This explains the blog title.  My daughter needed a photo of somebody dressed in South American attire dancing with an alpaca so we had to mock this up and I had just managed to get out of it before two separate couples turned up.  Her friend went from Liverpool to Manchester with a pink feather boa so that she could try to get a woman to wave it out of a steam train window to photograph.  There are over 100 things along these lines that they need for a worldwide scavenger hunt.  Doesn't it give us all hope for the future knowing our students are spending their time so productively?

Friday 25 November 2011

The Yolk's On Me

We just seem to be surrounded with so much cuteness at the moment.  We have day old hybrid chicks which I can't resist holding and stroking as well as the silkies and pekins.  Si is going to be busy building another chicken shed this weekend and more pens so that we can move some of the pullets outside and these chicks can then go in the large brooder.

We have also been getting orders for our eggs but letting the chickens free range is making it difficult to collect them all.  There are only a few using the next boxes so we are having to search the barn and under the caravan for the rest.  I made a bit of a boo boo the other day and put three eggs into my jacket pocket and then forgot about them, unfortunately my mobile phone was also in there.  I came in and lazily threw my jacket over the back of a chair. broke two of the eggs and then had to try to wipe yolk and slimy albumen from around the buttons but luckily it still works even though it still smells a bit eggy.

My Bonny is getting prettier by the day.  Ms Humphreys does make beautiful babies.  She has the most amazingly expressive eyes. Bonnie doesn't make much of an effort to eat hard feed and just stands back to watch everybody else fight it out for prime position but she does push in as we are putting out fresh hay.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Love is Blue

We have been having a lot of fun the past week even though it has been one our busiest times since we set up our farm.  We have had a few couples coming to see the alpacas and wanting to learn how we started out and finding it amusing that we actually know all of their names.  One of the husbands asked me if I knew the names of all of the chickens.  The new chicken business has been really busy and we have had a lot of really nice people turning up to buy from us.  Today we had a telephone call from a lady who wanted to bring her daughter to buy a couple of chickens but she was worried that she would be a bit late by the time she collected her from school and drove here.  We told her that she would still be made welcome so when they turned up Emily, the daughter, was delighted that she would be able to choose her own chickens.  We told her that the ones with the reddest combs were the ones most likely to be laying soonest.  She had visited the website and saw that we had blue chickens and wanted to know if the bluest ones would be ready to lay first.  They are actually grey but do have a bluish sheen.  What started out as a purchase of a couple of hens ended up with a sale of four because she couldn't make up her mind.  Never surround an 8 year old girl with animals and expect her to choose quickly.  She wanted to know everything she could learn from us about chickens so I think she will look after them really well although her mum did tell her she wasn't allowed to have them in her bedroom after seeing some of the young bantams we are keeping warm in the caravan.

The point of lay chickens just wander around all day but have a habit of trying to nag us into giving them their afternoon corn early.  I was late the other day and they trooped up the drive to shame me into going out.  A lady telephoned today about chickens and while we were chatting she could hear them all in the background and I then confessed that I was laying straw around the doors to their sheds so that they could dry their feet on the way in.  It was only later that I thought that maybe we are spoiling them somewhat.

It is very rare that I can get a shot of any of the younger alpacas on their own so took full advantage of Delilah watching me paddock clean.  I got the feeling that she was just waiting for me to clean that area so that she would use it as soon as my back was turned.  Two of the wethers (Biffy and Timothy) that are up for sale are in the background.

Friday 4 November 2011

Flash, Bang, Wallop, What A Picture

I thought it was about time I did another blog even though I have decided I am not keen on Google blogger since they altered it earlier in the year.  Everytime I log onto it the new posting screen has changed and I can only comment on others' blogs intermittently.

Anyway, since the last blog we have won 7 more rosettes at the GWR Fleece show and we also had a stall selling our knitwear which went really well.  We have been carrying on with improving things around here and I even said words to Si that I never thought would come out of my mouth 'What are you going to build next?'  He has built a large chicken shed for our hybrid layers and all the new pens for them.

All of the pregnant girls that are up for sale have been given their preventative medications, toe nails cut and body scored so they are all ready for winter.  I tried to take some photographs to put on alpacaseller but they had all been rolling in the mud so it looks as though we have a herd of grey alpacas. They are slightly on the heavy side at the moment but it will help to keep them warmer during the colder weather and the weight will gradually come off over winter when they are eating mainly hay.

After being treated they were put onto clean pasture and Ms Humphreys couldn't wait to start eating the fresh lush grass.  Her head was down grazing the second she was through the gate.

Next through was Larralluh one of our Elite Australian girls who we are putting up for sale as soon as we can get a picture of her looking clean.  She has given us some beautiful female cria and we sold her first born a few months ago.

It took an age to get a snap of Temple as everytime I raised the camera she turned away from me but in the end the attraction of fresh grass got the better of her and I quickly snapped her.

The girls soon gathered together again making the most of the good weather to graze, those of you with really good eyesight will spot some of the pekins in the background sharing the paddock.

We did this years cria last of all and Halo's baby literally charged across the paddock to catch up with his mum.  Probably to complain about having his injections.

While all this was going on Heaven spotted the camera and even though she was in another paddock she left her mum to come across to have her photograph taken.  She just stood there waiting for me to point it at her, she is such a poser.

The weather has taken a turn for the worse today and we have had trouble keeping the biosecurity mats in place, Si pinned them down with tent pegs so that they stay on the drive.  As we have customers arriving to buy chickens and clients to see the alpacas we have to make sure that any vehicles that arrive have their wheels disenfected and then we also have the footmats so that people are free to walk around.  The wind has been so strong that the anti-bacterial hand washes have also been bouncing around the place.  The chickens haven't seemed to mind the weather and everytime I have been out to do any chores they have all been rushing over thinking that it is time for their teatime treat of corn. 

Saturday 24 September 2011

Where were you while we were getting high?

We have spent the day outside doing construction work which also meant spending hours inhaling creosote.  I have to admit to loving the smell of it.  I really think that we should have put rubber gloves on as my hands had to be scrubbed so much to get off the brown stain that the skin is now peeling off.

We had a few of the boys castrated in the past couple of weeks.  I did warn our vet that I may not be much help as I would probably get queezy if I had to watch.  By the time we had got the boys ready in the catch pen I was fine.  In fact, we laughed and joked all the way through it and she was almost cutting my hair at the same time I had my head so close to where the action was.  Just a quick couple of slices and pop.  The boys didn't seem to be bothered by it at all and as soon as they had been 'done' they went straight back to grazing.  It was fascinating.

Si stayed up at the head end handing out sympathietic whispers while Tess and I just made jokes about men we had dated and why couldn't we have done the same operation on them.  She had done the same to two ponies earlier in the day and I thought that she had drawn the short straw but apparently the female vets all volunteer to do this procedure.

Our hen enclosure is becoming heavily populated and there is a serious possibility that they may become something of an addiction.  Even Tilly will sit and watch them for hours.  Tilly and I were walking down to the barn the other day and one of the Sebrights had paid the pigs a visit and decided to cross the drive as we approached.  Tilly just sat there and watched her walk back to the paddock.  She didn't even ask her why the hen crossed the road.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Save All Your Kisses For Me

We had an exciting day yesterday.  I was watching Neema out of the window for any change in her behaviour as she was due to birth the other day even though her stomach looked really small.  I could see her back end bulging and it looked as though she was straining, although she didn't attempt to go to the poo pile.   She had been straining for about 20 minutes and it was completely unproductive so I telephoned Head Office (Wellground Alpaca Stud) to ask Rob and Les how long I should wait before I phoned the vet.  I suddenly realised that the screeching noise I could hear was her and not the pigs as I first thought.  They advised I did it straight away and while she was still on her way a nose appeared, and then slightly more of the head.  I really wished we lived closer to a vet as the wait seemed interminable with Neema letting out more screams.  I had no choice but to delve into the birthing kit get out the lube and the long glove.  Head pushed back in and, cupping the toes, I got the feet out.  I phoned Les again while I was leaving Neema to do a bit of the work herself, even Les heard her scream as she pushed out the body.  It would probably have helped if she had been willing to stand but she just stayed on the ground pushing and screeching. 

I had just picked up the phone again to cancel the vet, after checking and drying off the cria, when she turned up and laughingly accused me of spoiling her fun.  She does love alpacas and ended up just watching him for a while.  We thought Neema might have rejected him after all the trauma but she has turned out to be an absolutely super mum.

 A couple of minutes after being born and, no, I hadn't done the paddock cleaning that morning.

Here he is a couple of hours after being born.

 While I worked up a sweat 3 generations of top Australian Genetic casually watched.  Halo had so much hay in her mouth that she looks as though she has an abscess.  Our clients baby boy sprawled next to his mum wondering what all the fuss was about.

As soon as Si gets back from the office he changes out of his suit and gets out with the animals.  He loves having females queueing up to greet him with kisses when he gets home, all he gets from me is a list of jobs that need doing.

Chance is always the first in line

Exhibition next with Bonnie waiting her turn in the background

and then Delilah

It would appear that East Devon Planning Dept. are appreciating that alpacas are proving to be a sustainable business and have granted two farms permanent planning permission to build their dream homes on their own land within the past month.  People are loving living with these gentle animals.  The top quality fleeces are still being sold in premium products despite there being a recession on.  We can hardly keep up with demand for our knitwear at the moment which is why it doesn't make it to the shop on our website.

We haven't come up with a name for the new baby yet and are really struggling to come up with something with a music connection. 

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Chick, Chick, Chick, Chick, Chicken

Sorry, I know that we should blog more often but it has really been a hectic time.  Our clients have had another baby born here, they are going to start with their hands full as both of their new baby boys are really energetic bundles of joy.  I still feel like a proud parent whenever we have babies charging round, so much so that I was trying to have a serious conversation on the telephone today but instead gave them a report on what the new cria was doing.  Aaah he's chasing a bird now, aaah now he's trying to play with Temple.  Not doing much for my credibility as a business woman.

Let's see.  What have we been up to over the past couple of weeks?  We managed a visit to Rosemary and her men over at Westhill Alpacas.  More plans were made over what shades we were aiming for to add to our knitwear collection.  Aforementioned knitwear collection was seriously depleted at the last two shows we did and we are now starting to panic about what we are going to have left to sell by Christmas and if the mills can spin and get more yarn back to us in time.  We both have lots of ideas about new items to add to our stock.

Si has been deciding which girls can go up for sale but has said that people can come and choose which ones they are interested in and what bloodlines they want in their herd so he has been preparing me for letting some of my girls to leave home.  I know it's not as though I'll never see them again, we offer a free mating with Cooper or one of our other stud males and we always make sure that we visit clients to help them with injections and toenail trimming.  We also get regular updates when they telephone us for advice; we are available to our clients 24/7 by telephone.

This is one of the only photos I managed to get of the latest addition to our clients' herd.  He's never still.  I hope they have all their farm preparation done before they get their alpacas as they will spend so much time just watching their babies.

These are some of my new babies.  I think this is consolation for having to let some of my alpacas go.  I know that is the general idea of raising alpacas but I want to keep them all and then on the other hand I want others to share the happiness and calm they bring to us.

I can cuddle these at the moment and we have had children staying on the campsite.  They were a joy to have here and were so interested in the animals.  They were brilliant at picking up the chicks and cuddling them.  So much better than me, I am missing them and hope they return again to see us.

I have had to take a break from knitting as it is rubbish collection day and as all the recycling has to be washed I was washing a tin when I sliced between my little finger and ring finger.  It hurts and I need sympathy.  It has stopped me from knitting for the night.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Needles And Pins

When you look up in the sky at night and think that you are looking at stars, you aren't. What you are actually seeing are sparks from my knitting needles.  We did another small show last weekend and despite the really hot weather people were buying scarves and hats and we have also taken quite a few orders to be completed by the end of the month.  We have even been taking advantage of modern technology and managed to get electronic payments made to us while we are in a field in the middle of nowhere.  Si referred to knitting and crochet as 'playing' the other night and the glare I shot in his direction told him that he was lucky he wasn't wearing the knitting needles.

We have moved Halo and Neema down into the birthing paddock under the window so that we can watch them closely now they are nearing their due date.  They are both due on the same day but I doubt that will actually happen.

Last years girls were all lined up so as soon as I pointed the camera in their direction Carrie decided to look behind her which made Penny (at the front) look like a 'pushme pullyou' from Dr Dolittle.  We really need to plan a mating for Delilah soon in the hope of a birth next year.

Friday 22 July 2011

Baby Love

This time of the year is the best if you are breeding alpacas.  Seeing the cria in the paddocks is wonderful, we can while away many an hour just leaning on the fences watching them. It's just a pity that we also have to do routing chores that take us away from them.  We have been getting the wood ready for the log burner in winter and making alpaca poo bricks to burn too.

Si has started to prepare the fleeces for the GWR show and getting any that haven't been entered ready to go to the mill.  We are getting really low on yarn and the knitwear is still selling despite the warm weather.  As it has been dry here today we have taken advantage of it and been cutting the grass again; the rain made it grow so fast that the alpacas couldn't keep it short enough.

I did remember to take the camera out today and grab a few shots of this years cria.  They are growing so fast and we only have another couple due but not until next month.  We should have done spit offs on all the girls that have been mated recently but we were far too busy so that will have to go on the weekend 'to do' list now.

Clyde is the youngest (and isn't ours) but we are still getting a lot of enjoyment watching him play with Bonnie in the top paddock.

Eleanor Rigby, who was born in January, with Piper just behind.  I'm afraid I chopped off Condor's head in this one.

In this one I was trying to get Wilhelmina and Condor but Heaven spotted the camera and came charging over.

Bonnie seemed quite happy to pose today, she normally tries to hide behind her mum when the camera comes out.  Maybe having Clyde to play with has given her more confidence.

Monday 18 July 2011

Let Sleeping Goats Lie

We had farm visitors yesterday morning and although the parents were keen to see the alpacas their sons were more taken with the goats and pigs.  They have gone from just wanting to have alpacas to wanting every animal they can when they set up their enterprise.  I think the sons may also have mentioned elephants and giraffes at some point.  Probably a bit too ambitious for land of just under 10 acres but they seemed to enjoy helping feed the alpacas and then collecting branches to give to the goats. 

They loved seeing Cricket's new baby and there were lots of oohs and aahs but we had to explain that Cricket had already been sold so her son doesn't actually belong to us either.  Never mind there were still quite a few other elite pregnant girls to choose from.

After they had left we spent the afternoon catching up with the routine weekend chores such as disinfecting the feeders etc.  A quick check of the boundary fences and having a moan about the extraordinary strength of the buttercups or those b****y buttercups as they are now known around these parts.  We have too much rain forecast to be able to spray them again this week or even cut the grass, in fact the rain was hitting the windows sidewards this evening.

Today we did the monthly pedicure on the goats and they are now so calm about it that Cherub fell asleep in my arms when I was holding her for Si to do the actual trimming.  Even after he had finished I was stuck there on the ground holding her as she seemed so reluctant to move.  If only the alpacas behaved as well.

We have had quite a relaxing day, only doing what has had to be done and then snoozing while Si watched the golf through his eyelids again.  It must be the only way to watch sport on tv.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Busy Bee

We have had a brilliant few days.  On Friday morning our clients came across to visit their new cria.  His fleece is looking amazing but with his genetics we didn't expect anything less. He was moved yesterday out of the birthing paddock so that he has a playmate.  As he isn't mine I'm blaming him for leading Bonnie astray; I have spent too much time today just watching the pair of them play.  They have been jumping on their paddock mates while they have been trying to sunbathe.  I must admit that the females have been the model of patience and not one of them spat at the babies.  He has even had his first go at pronking and I have never seen one so young do this before.

The latest beautiful cria standing next to mum Hemiccoyo Cricket of Cambridge, sister Ashdale Delilah and Ashdale Exhibition.

I was able to attend a show at the weekend as this little one was giving us no worries.  We managed to sell scarves, hats and gloves even though the weather was really hot.  I suppose it pays to be prepared for winter.  Once again we were getting so many compliments on our knitwear and even tonight Rosemary at Westhill Alpacas emailed to tell me that she had sold one of our shawls.

On Saturday evening we were just unpacking from the show when we noticed a couple at the gate looking at the alpacas so we invited them in.  The husband had been on a bike ride earlier in the week and noticed the animals so had brought his wife with him this time.  We showed them around and then because the knitwear was still in the car we showed them some of the items we had had for sale.  They have asked if they can come back and buy some items for Christmas.  We are always pleased to show people the alpacas and the end products.

After doing two days at a show Monday was spent playing 'catch up' on all the chores we hadn't done over the weekend.  We have had the hay delivered straight from the field so we should have enough to get us through the winter and we have also been chopping wood so that we are prepared for the colder nights.  We were really tired when we got in tonight so I was looking forward to putting my feet up and watching some TV.  Si had the remote control and we ended up watching a programme on BBC4 about statistics, I am so glad I have my knitting to do (or maybe it is some devious plan of his to keep me working).

Saturday 9 July 2011

Walk Away

Well you turn your back for a few days and Google decided to change the whole blog format.  It has taken a bit of getting used to but we seem to have got the hang of it now.

We had an exciting day yesterday.  We have been watching Cricket closely waiting for her to give birth and yesterday I mentioned that she seemed a bit fidgety and was making unproductive visits to the poo pile.  At about 11.15am Si was going down to the barn when he noticed a head and two legs hanging out so obviously the first thing we had to do was grab the camera and the phone to inform Cricket's new owners. Poor Cricket had all the females born last year examining her closely, probably hoping they never have to give birth. 

Cricket did what she normally does when giving birth and promptly sat down. She makes her cria walk out.

Carrie had got bored by the whole thing and turned away while Delilah greeted her new brother.  Penny made sure she had a front row seat.

It didn't take long for him to be up on his feet.  Everything works fine and today his new owners came over to check their latest addition.  I must admit he has excellent bloodlines from both his sire and dam and when we checked him over again today we were amazed at the crimp in his fleece.

We will give him another day to bond properly with his mum and then bring Bonnie back down with Ms Humphreys so he has another baby to play with.

Saturday 2 July 2011

You Say Goodbye and I Say Halo

We had a return visit from a couple who must remain anonymous for now.  They will be referred to throughout as TW (the wife) and TH (the husband).  They have spent many hours travelling the motorways looking at alpacas to source the best bloodlines the UK has to offer so that when they start breeding themselves they are producing top quality animals from the very first cria.  They had previously seen our animals in full fleece but this time they saw them after they had been sheared so that they could check out the conformation properly.  They purchased two of our pregnant girls from us, Halo, who was our first cria born here from EP Cambridge Larralluh and Hemiccoyo Cricket of Cambridge who has produced some beautiful progeny.

Halo in the foreground.

Cricket is about to give birth any day now so we all had a feel of her abdomen and could feel the limbs moving. It's always exciting waiting for your first baby but they're having to do it by proxy. We are keeping the camera close by so we can email them pictures as soon as the cria is born. We spent some time going through fleece samples and looking at rosettes our animals have won for their fleeces.

While we were examining the alpacas that they were interested in we had also brought Ms Humphreys into the chase. Si and TH had opened the gate to let them back in to the paddock while TW and I were chatting about fleeces, yarn and birthing. All the animals had gone back but Si was still stood with the gate open so I asked him what was up and he pointed at the alpaca I was still holding, I hadn't realised that the Humph had come between TW and myself and I automatically started stroking her and scratching her neck which she loves and she flatly refused to go back in the paddock. Si patted her on the rump to try to encourage her to walk in and she refused to move. Si tried to coax her, push her. In the end she just went to the ground and Si had to push her in like a wheelbarrow. So much for us trying to say how easy alpacas are to handle.

Sorry about the secret squirrel post but we will announce the purchasers once they have sourced the rset of their elite herd.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Cut Above The Rest

It has been such a busy time, mainly cutting grass as it is growing at a pretty alarming rate after all the rain we have had recently.  We are still cursing the buttercups as they seem to duck under the blades of the mower and then stand to attention again once we have driven over them so the battle continues with them winning at the moment.  We have been making the most of the weather and staying outside as late as possible so that when Si gets to sit down and watch sport on tv he watches it all through his eyelids.  It's quite a trick.

 I managed to get a pic of Wilhelmina with her mum, Sanctimonious before they went to the barn for shearing and preventative medication.  Immediately afterwards they were moved on to clean fresh pasture.

 I think Penny looks gorgeous with her topknot trimmed neatly.  She looks so small now without her fleece and it just seems wrong that she should be mated later in the summer, she looks such a baby.

Cricket is in the birthing paddock looking ready to pop.  She's a lot more comfortable without her fleece, it is so dense that she must have been sweltering but doesn't really like the paddling pool. To keep her cool we have to soak the ground and she kushes in the damp grass.

Carl and Sam from Westhill Alpacas came across yesterday to finish shearing so that means that all the animals are looking smaller, cooler and more relaxed.  While they were here Rosemary rang to say that they had had their first birth of the year and it was a girl so they are off to a good start.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Rain, Rain Go Away

It's not often that people get more than they ask for but in the case of the rain lately that is exactly what we are getting,  We've had enough now and it can go away for a few days.  Now that most of the girls have been sheared Si expects them to stay in the barn to keep warm and dry; they go in of a night but he stands next to the window when it is pouring down shouting at the alpacas to get in the barn.  They mustn't be able to hear him because they just kush where they are.

Tilly enoying a break in the weather.She comes around paddock cleaning and just lays down to supervise while enjoying the attention from her adoring public.  The girls are so gentle with her and Cherrybomb always comes over for a kiss.

Piper and Heaven where enjoying a play when we got to their paddock until Heaven spotted the camera and had to stop and pose leaving poor Piper with his head wrapped around her neck

I'm actually typing this whilst at a show with Rosemary and Carl from Westhill Alpascas.  We have been rained on again and we are fighting with the wind to keep hold of all the alpaca products but it is still a fun day with loads of interest in the knitwear.

Sunday 12 June 2011

I don't like cricket, oh no, I love it

We're full of anticipation for the result of the mating between Hemiccoyo Cricket of Cambridge and our own homebred stud male Ashdale Cooper.  The resulting cria should be something pretty spectacular.  Cricket was bred to Cooper's sire two years ago and gave us a beautiful female.  Cooper's sire is a  Supreme Champion and has also produced another Supreme Champion.  Cricket's fleece won a first last year and her bloodline includes some of the best genetics Australia has to offer.

 A heavily pregnant Hemiccoyo Cricket of Cambridge looking thoroughly fed up with playing the waiting game

Ashdale Cooper looking as only an expectant father can, wondering why everybody is making a fuss of Cricket when he had something to do with the imminent arrival.

Super Shearers (Carl and Sam from Westhill Alpacas) arrived bright and early yesterday morning and set to cooling down the Elite Australian girls by taking off their thick coats.  I was working in the house when Si arrived with two bags of fleece looking very excited and saying 'Guess who this is off?' as soon as he walked through the door.  As there was so much I suggested one of the larger girls.  He delighted in telling me I was wrong (delighted because it is not often I am) and told me it had come off  Ashdale Delilah this was the cria produced from Cricket and EP Cambridge Samson who resides at Wellground Alpaca Stud in Wiltshire.  As if that excitement wasn't enough for him he then pulled out of his pocket another surprise for me. 'Look at this'  I admired the piece of fleece he then thrust at me and it was pretty special.  When I pointed this out to him he was even more pleased 'That is a piece of the seconds, you should see the quality of the blanket and the amount'.  Poor Cricket and Cooper.  They have a lot to live up to this year.