Our Website: www.ashdalealpacas.com

Monday 21 March 2011

Are You Dead Or Are You Sleeping?

The warmth and sunshine is all very well but it does encourage the alpacas to frighten the living daylights out of us.  Below is the sight we woke to this morning, we had seen her ear twitch before we got the camera out though.  Si jumped over the fence just to make sure that My Bonnie was ok and she jumped up and ran to her mum.  Ms Humphreys just stared back at us as though we were making a fuss over nothing.  I don't think it matters how many cria are born each one is fascinating in it's own way and it's so exciting to watch them develop, I just hate it when they lie flat out enjoying the sunshine.  I think I will have to make it clear that they are only allowed to sleep when I do.

The paddocks had been cleaned by 9am so that Si could get on with some fencing and be free my midday to take photographs of some yarn and knitwear while the sun was high in the sky.  Tilly came out to help but we ended up with wellington boots, thumbs, shadows and dogs in the pictures once we got them onto the computer so that experience will have to be repeated.

 Tilly trying to eat the props

She is obviously short-sighted if she has to get that close to read the label

The boys have had their toe nails cut today and Eleanor Rigby and My Bonnie have both had their first injections of Lambivac.  We must be going mad because it seemed like a good idea to clean all the paddocks again before it went dark, I think it was just another excuse to watch the babies play before bedtime, theirs not ours.

Once we had got dinner out of the way we entered the medications and pedicures onto herd manager, registered My Bonnie with BAS as we always like to have it done within 7 days, we then filled in all our entry forms for the GWR Fleece and Yarn Show, they will be put in the post tomorrow along with a cheque.  Another busy day but at least we feel as though we have really achieved something.

Sunday 20 March 2011

The Sun Has Got His Hat On

Today all the animals and humans here at Ashdale Apacas have been making the most of the beautiful weather.  Si has been erecting more fencing, all the paddocks are clean as we got round to raking up the hay that the alpacas had scattered around.  Animals have been moved around and a lot of time has been spent watching My Bonnie playing with last years cria, whether they want to play with her or not.

 In a quiet moment of contemplation with Delilah, who is desperately in need of a topknot trim

We still think that Exhibition, Carrie, Penny Lane and Delilah are tiny until they are next to My Bonnie

We have spent tonight working on the website and are hoping to photograph some of the knitwear for the online shop along with some decent pictures of Cooper for the stud page.  The weather is looking in our favour again so fingers crossed that it isn't too windy, we did try on a few occasions to take some shots inside of the knitwear but the lighting seems to be wrong in here and the shades came out all wrong.

Friday 18 March 2011

My Bonnie

We had a work schedule planned for today that included lots of fencing, tidying up the barn and some paddock maintenance but it all went by the board for a really good reason.  I woke at 7am and jumped straight out of bed shouting 'Ms Humphreys'.  I thought that we had slept in but when I looked out of the window Ms Humphreys was fine and sitting in her dust bath, I was sure that she was going to birth today as she had spent quite a lot of yesterday sitting around humming.  Oh well, never mind, the weather was dry and sunny so it meant we would get most of the chores done so I put the kettle on to make coffee.  I was just looking out of the window admiring last years cria when Ms Humpreys got up and walked to the poo pile.  There was a head waving around under her tail so I called Si to hurry.  We had a beautiful cria on the ground by 7.08, we know this because Si threw his clothes on and grabbed the camera so it was timed.  Wow, that's the way to do it. 

'What is THAT?'
 My Bonnie searching for the milk bar

Not only beautiful but talented too.  She does impersonations, here she is being a swan.

We had no worries about the cria, we are delighted with the colour and even more so by the fact it is another female. Ok, so not all of the chores were done but we have spent quite a bit of the day just admiring our new addition.  She has been racing round with the weanlings this evening and even tried to feed from Delilah who soon saw her off. 

We have carried on the song theme with names and as we already have Penny Lane and Eleanor Rigby we have called her My Bonnie as this was the first single released by the Beatles and she really is bonnie, although you can't see it in the todays shots she has huge eyes.

Sunday 13 March 2011

Get Up In The Morning Already Yawning

It has been an absolutely mad couple of days but they have definitely proved how popular alpacas are becoming and their raison d'être.  We have attended a show where Si was to give a talk on alpacas and a demonstration on toenail cutting; we had a stall showing our yarn and knitwear products.  It has meant a really early start both days but has proved extremely profitable, flattering and fun.

We work closely with Westhill Alpacas in Dorset because they believe in the same principles as us where alpaca farming is concerned.  We have both been breeding for high quality fibre and we mix the best of both herds to produce the finest yarn.  We are both basically following the example of Wellground Alpaca Stud in Wiltshire, they set the standard and recommended that we only purchase top quality alpacas and breed for fine fibre.  This has paid off as both Westhill and ourselves have won prizes for our fleeces.

I'm afraid I have really let the side down with my photography though.  I took pictures of everybody's stall before it opened to the public and only managed a rear shot of ours in the background of somebody elses.  I have had to crop the photo to be able to show it.

We started off the weekend with two large boxes of hand-knitted stock and our table was overflowing before we had got half of it out.  As soon as the gates opened we had customers, compliments were flying thick and fast.  We were told by one lady that our yarn was more beautiful than cashmere.  A lady who had a knitwear stall came down to us on Saturday afternoon and said that it was no wonder we were so busy as everybody could see the quality and people would be willing to pay high prices for it.  I had worried that our prices seemed high compared with other products that were on sale.  We had an amazing first day and I was really excited when I emailed Rosemary with the results last night.  It surely couldn't carry on like that.

Up at 6 again this morning feeling exhausted deflated because it had to have been a fluke yesterday surely.  I mean there is supposed to be a recession and it is also March so not exactly the best time of year to sell luxury products.  Well, we couldn't have been more wrong.  Less than an hour after the gates had opened today we had sold two of our larger and more expensive items.  We also had an item that was knitted from alpaca that didn't come from one of our herds and people really felt the difference.  Stunning, beautiful, exquisite were just a few of the adjectives used to describe our knitwear and that was by customers not us.  My head was growing at such a rate I thought I was going to have to walk out of the building via the roller shutter entrance. 

Si gave his talk to a really interested audience and the boys were really well behaved during their toenail demonstration.  It went so well that a committee member from another show has asked him to do it again at a different venue and while that was going on I got a text from an organiser of another show asking us to take a couple of alpacas.  We don't attend alpaca halter shows for biosecurity reasons but it would appear there is no need.

Just a last word to Rosemary, if you are reading this you shouldn't be, you should be knitting, we need two dozen pairs of lacy gloves for next month, we also have an order for US and I could have sold the grey beret four times over so we need more of those.  I may make an item or 20 myself.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Beautiful

We haven't blogged for a while because we have been really upset.  Rosie who was pregnant and, according to the breeder, was due to birth in September 2010, gave birth to a tiny boy during the night at the beginning of Feb, he was dead and still attached to the placenta, weighing 3.3kg in total.  We had a post mortem done and there was no reason for his death but VLA acknowledged that he was premature.  We gave Rosie antibiotics the same day but she died two days later.  VLA can find absolutely no reason for her death either.  It was really upsetting as there has been somebody here every day since August last year waiting for her to birth.  She had been scanned twice and there had been a heart beat both times and even though the vet had told us that the due date was wrong we didn't want to believe him but it has now been confirmed.  It doesn't really help being told that there was nothing that we could have done about it, sometimes it feels as though it would have been better if a reason had been found on PM. 

On a brighter note.  We had to leave the premises for me to go to a doctors appointment on 1st February.  We were gone for all of 2 hours and look what we found when we got back.

Si had checked Nata, who we knew was probably due to birth during that week and there was no sign of any change.  We were unpacking some shopping when he noticed something in the paddock, he ran across and found a very weak cria.  He warmed it up by drying it with a towel and then we carried her into the barn with mother following close behind.  By this time we thought that we had better check the sex of the cria and were delighted to find it was another female.  We've had quite a run on the pink ones.  I phoned Head Office (Wellground Alpaca Stud) for advice on a winter birth and the main thing was to get her warm.  Si kept trying to get her to stand but she seemed unable to on her own.  Everytime he took his hands away she just flopped to the ground.  I wasn't going to get attached as I was convinced she was going to die but we persevered.  We gave her 'Kick Start' and kept holding her up to her mum's teats and eventually she started suckling.  Everytime the sun shone over the next few days she was taken out to absorb some rays.  She was given Vitamin A,D and E gel at one week and livened up considerably, a few weeks later we gave her an injection of liquid sunshine and it worked like magic and it even enabled her to pronk the next day.  She is now so lively and needs a playmate as she is driving the rest of the pregnant girls mad by jumping on them whenever they lie down.

We didn't name her for a couple of weeks but she is now known as Eleanor Rigby and here she was yesterday squinting at the sunshine.

I have been able to take a few shots over the past few days, mainly because I have remembered to take the camera with me but also because the weather has been lovely and sunny.

I was trying to get a shot of Juno sitting sunbathing but Larra decided that she had to be in every shot so I gave up in the end and included her too.

The Humph is due to birth next and we are really looking forward to seeing what she produces.  She has been mated to Andean Thunder of I-Spy who is owned by Peter and Carol Watt of Ashton Lane Alpacas.  He is a beautiful Rose Grey Suri.  At the moment The Humph is looking after all of last years cria in the birthing paddock.  They were all late births so have only just been separated from their mums and they spent a few days crying right under the window.  There's nothing like weaning time to put you on a guilt trip.