Tuesday, 23 December 2008
On the big plus side , he did ask if he could have one of my cockerels for his new hens and that is great since I have 4 and they are beginning to fight !!
Monday, 22 December 2008
Friday, 19 December 2008
By January I will probably be recharged and rearing to go , but it is looking like a time for somebody else to take up the mantle of the PTA , which I will always support , but which I feel has had the best of me - my alpacas need me more , not to mention my family !!
Now I've got that off my chest I feel aloy better , even if my chest doesn't ! LOL.
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
More of my chickens are laying and we are back to a surfeit of eggs every day - I am able to get rid of any that I have spare to a variety of friends and teachers who are more than happy to take delivery of fresh eggs . I am going to have to find homes for some of my cockerels - they are getting to an age when they are becoming very competitive and starting to fight over the girls !
Sadly I am suffering with a corker of a cold and that is not filling me with much in the way of Christmas spirit , luckily presents are all bought and tonight I started to wrap gifts for my in-laws who are visiting on Sat. still have all the gifts for the boys to wrap - DH will undoubtedly have a small fit about the quantity , but they are only small for such a short time ..........
Sunday, 14 December 2008
Finally the bottle of Vitamin supplements that I have been waiting for has arrived . It is really important for alpacas to get a vit A D &E during the winter months to prevent rickets . This afternoon we will inject them all and then every six weeks until the sunshine improves , also a bit of toenail trimming wouldn't go amiss!
Children are off to visit Santa this afternoon , so they will be really hyped by bedtime - oh joy
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
The alpaca actually came in and slept in their stable or under their shelter all of their own volition , that is such a big step forward .
anyway , photo of Magic will follow as soon as it is warm enough for me to go out to my study ( no heating and single skin walls - v. cold ) and use my own computer.
Friday, 5 December 2008
It has been school play week - don't get me wrong , I think its great that the little ones get to stand up and strut their stuff , however, watching for an HOUR seems excessive even in this day and age when we allow even the most untalented to perform . Bring back the good old days of nativity , when Mary and Joseph sat in a stable surrounded by silent , still animals who did not converse, tell 'jokes' , dance or in any other way take up precious time. My children , of course , thoroughly enjoyed themselves , and I spent far too much time at school , trying to persuade parents to part with their money for school funds . Bah humbug.
The alpaca have come up trumps and finally come in to sit under their shelter in a bed of straw on cold nights . How pleased am I ! DH was beginning to have a slight sense of humour failure about the amount of work he puts in on their behalf , and in which they largely take no interest . For a man who doesn't really like animals , he does work hard fro them .
We are still largely free of central heating , but have given in for an hour in the morning , it is really too cold to get out of bed with no heating at all and I do not have time ( on present schedule ) to build a fire before breakfast ! I guess I could get up earlier , but I am a night owl and find early mornings hard - 3am to check alpaca , no problem . 7am to build fires - no chance!
I have found some hilarious blogs and some very informative blogs from across the pond - checkout the blogs I follow, very interesting.
Sunday, 30 November 2008
The cold has bought out , or should I say up , the moles . We have loads coming up in the front fields and they really offend my sensibilities . We have tried mole traps , and had no success , and the mole catcher is really expensive , so I shall have to live with them ! Eventually when the weather is better and the grass is starting to grow again , I shall get the mini tractor out and harrow the ground which will smooth out the hillocks .
Dh is detailed to get hold of some straw , which is in short supply this year due to the disastrous summer , and we don't grow our own. Thick beds of straw for the alpaca since the cold spell is supposed to last for another week or so !
Saturday, 29 November 2008
Food is also under control . Christmas cake and pudding are ready , if push came to shove we could eat our own pork from the freezer ( although' the boys want lamb this year instead of turkey , it just won't feel like Christmas) so I say - bring it on and lets get all the school dramas over with !
All animals are on extra rations of hay and dried foods since the grass is frozen , and the hens are getting warm water . If this carries on then the alpaca will be on warm water too.
Athena in her snowy look !
The picture doesn't reallt do it justice !
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Very exciting - I have bought my first riding hat - I did feel a bit of a twit walking round the shop with said hat on for 10 mins to ensure a proper fit , but it is worth it !!
One of my hens is causing me a great deal of amusement, she seems to have lost the ability to tell when she is going to lay an egg , consequently I am finding eggs all over the place , just in the middle of the path or by the back door . It makes me chuckle to think what goes through a hens mind when she is caught short - is she embarrassed ? does she care ? But on a positive point we are getting 3 eggs a day , and building ! One of my blue egg layers has also had this problem , but she seems to be getting the hang of nesting .....
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
The animals should be fine , alpaca are OK until it hits about minus 6 , and the chickens will just huddle up more with extra straw at bedtime .
Pretty determined not to give in on the central heating front , but ask me again after the weekend LOL.
Hens are still tickling out 1 or 2 eggs a day - we will never be rich at this rate ! and the alpacas are not showing any signs of illness after their jabs . Tomorrow I have the vet coming to microchip Athena - I really won't be flavour of the month after that . Then comes the task of halter training - the theory is good but sometimes the practice is hard , I hope that she will be a doddle since she is very calm and not too big yet - famous last words. Also the task of weaning Artemis and Acantha looms high on the horizon , really needs to be done before the really cold weather sets in , I wonder how it will be with Artemis who , being bottle fed, sees me as her major provider - harder than usual I suspect .
Monday, 17 November 2008
Took thee oppurtunity to do a couple of preg test and got one definte positive ( West is nursing a sore jaw after a particulaly well aimed kick from Cerys , she was such a nice baby) and one positively negative from Hermione who showed way to much interest in West and was very quick to sit for him when the time camr - littel hussey. However, seriously , that isa disappointment but not an unexpected one , she didn't hold a pregnancy last year and we put it down to being a maiden and possibley not too much effort at the stud . I am convinced that she has been pregnant at least twice this year and re-absorbed on both occassions , so next spring she will be back to her breeder for investigations and either a firm pregnancy or a swap for another alpaca . The breeders won't be too fazed by this , they are a big farm and it happens occassionaly , but may be simple problem easily fixed with a hormone jab ?!
Sunday, 16 November 2008
The weather is better , but the ground is still slippery and undoubtedly DH will take several tumbles as he wrestles with 60 kg of unyielding alpaca . Not surprisingly he hates these jobs ! He has had a couple of black eyes in the past , but hopefully today will be calmer. I am slightly concerned , not with the procedure , but 2 of the animals we are going to vaccinate are pregnant - advice is split on this ( as always) , some say only vaccinate when they are open then no fear of pregnancy problems , others say it makes no difference. We have always vaccinated with this annual booster when the females are open , however, Blue Tongue vaccination took precedence this year and they were all vaccinated but this did clash with mating times and we had to stick to the schedule or next years cria would be born too late - now we shall see if either school of thought has precedence , but I am unhappy that we may loose 2 pregnancies......wait and see.
Yesterday the girls had the run of the garden all day , and thoroughly enjoyed mowing the grass and pruning anything they could reach . At bed time they decided that the patio looked like a good bet , and for a while they all sat and contemplated the view , all they needed was a gin and tonic and they would have been set. Since this was not forth coming , they did eventually amble back to their field , but it was a mild night and so they sat around all over the place instead of close to the hedges as has been the style recently.
Friday, 14 November 2008
The weather plays a crucial part in day to day life here, and recently it has been wetter rather than drier and this has slowed things down . The change in hour makes a real difference to me , I would prefer that we don't change the hour in October and have a bit more light to work with at the close of the day . Whilst as I have previously said , I do like dark nights when it is cool and crisp , there is something deeply depressing about getting soaked to the skin in the dark! Somehow , it doesn't feel half so bad being wet through when there is still daylight to do chores in. The dark evenings means that the hens are in bed earlier and earlier and we have to be more aware of the fox . So far , 5 lost this winter to date , we always loose more birds in the winter , partly because they go to bed at about the time that small children are being fed supper . Likewise , Artemis' days of bottle feeding are numbered for similar reasons.
Athena has settled to life away from mum at last , and seems quite content in a field with her newly formed herd mates . soon she will be joined by Artemis and Acantha who are fast approaching 6 months ( weaning age ) . On Wednesday the vet is coming to microchip Athena , not a job I have yet mastered , and then I will start her halter training .
My birthday this week was marked by a visit from my sister , who I haven't seen for far too long , so it was fab to catch up. I also haven't had a proper ride for 3 weeks and I am missing it badly .
Lets hope for some drier weather .
Monday, 10 November 2008
The alpacas were all lying low to the ground against hedges and praying as much as we were that it would pass over us quickly , it did pass , but It reminded us all that we still have plenty of things to do before we are ' winter safe ' . All the garden furniture and boat are away in stables or garages , bikes and play equipment are taken apart or put away - anything that can be blown away is safely inside or tied down.Here 's hoping...
Now we need a couple of dry , windy days to dry the ground a bit , and allow the Rivers to drop and we will be happy - if not a little chilly . My new log burner is going great guns , luckily.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
The alpaca were quite unconcerned by all this , I could barely stand , but was very relieved to have got to them before they got to the road . Slowly we all walked back down the drive to the yard and they ambled back into their field and I shut them in carefully . At this point DH STROLLED from the house with briefcase in hand , and proceeded to get into his car for work , muttering that maybe I would learn to shut gates more securely in future , if I had been able to speak you may be able to imagine what I might of said ! but as it was I couldn't speak , in fact I could hardly stand - but hey the alpacas are fine and DH lived to see another day .
I blame our adopted lamb for all this , the alpaca are being led astray ! they never behaved this badly before . The lamb appeared one day with its mother and stayed in our fields with the alpaca for several weeks . Mum decided to go home about 3 weeks ago , but lamby stayed and is now an honourary alpaca . I don't really like sheep much , so when she goes that will be fine , but currently she shows no inclination to go home and her owner shows a similar disinclination to reclaim her ....
I also got one egg today - the first for 2 weeks !
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Athena has accepted her lot away from her mum and is now quite calm , unless she catches a glimpse of Bijou , and then she gets a bit anxious . Bijou on the other hand is more than happy not to have the extra responsibility! Mothers!
Like many people , we are also trying not to use our heating quite as much , and so far have heating for one hour a day - in the morning , so that it is not quite freezing when we get up , the rest of the day we have a log burner going when the children get back from school , and I have a portable gas heater which keeps me toasty as I do my indoor chores .Everyone has hot water bottles and extra fleeces at bedtime , and so far we are warm enough .But , when we have guests i do allow myself the luxury of putting on the AGA!!
Finally , the boys go back to school on Tuesday , and I can honestly say that the half term has gone really fast. Not that it hasn't sometimes descended into chaos , but I think the good bits have far out-weighed the bad . 3 boys have done sports activity days , we have been to Stratford on Avon and Warwick Castle ( highly recommended) #3 son has done his first day out on his horse to buy fish and chips with his riding class , all of us have ridden out with friends and had a thoroughly enjoyable hours' ride on a cold , crisp mountain; we have been to see 'Ghostbusters' at the local village hall ( how fantastically 80's ) and had friends for Sunday lunch - we have had a good time .
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Baby Artemis was left to the tender mercies of my nearest neighbours who came and fed her 3 times a day and did a marvellous job . She was a bit tentative at first but happily took a bottle , which i consider to be a minor miracle since she has only been fed by me before. The snow came down on Tuesday , but luckily didn't last for long , but has come as a fierce warning that we need to be prepared , not only for ourselves but for the animals too . So , supplies of hay and straw need to be got in , comfy bedding and comfort food !
We have never been snowed in before Christmas before , but there is always a first time , so tins of soup and dried pasta , dried milk and bread making flour , loo rolls...... all the things you need for a few days confinement. A trip to Waitrose is coming on !
Luckily all the hens are nearly fully feathered , so they should be warm enough and we might get a few eggs , although a visit from Mr Fox has reduced numbers by 5 , but this probably wont affect egg production too much - he took mostly cockerels . Now all I need is a supply of Vitamin injections for the alpacas , and we stand ready for winter .
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
The girls are back in their preferred paddock during the day , but I am slightly nervous about leaving them overnight so they are coming in to sit under their pergola for the moment .Heaven knows when they will get a roof since DH has to install a suitable hearth stone ( welsh slate naturally ) for a new log burner to be fitted in the other sitting room next week !
Hens are nearly feathered again and hopefully the egg production should go up , my neighbour revealed that one of my hens has been trotting down to her to eat corn and lay !!! so said hen is definitely confined to barracks !
Thursday, 9 October 2008
Chickens have had a re-shuffle , all the birds I believe are laying have now gone into one hen house , and those who are obviously moulting ( most of them ) or are young cockerels have gone into the other . One house has a completely enclosed run , and will encourage them to lay where I can retrieve their eggs , I have scoured hedge rows and cannot find any eggs , but I know that 3 at least are laying .
Weekend plans are looking good . We have some close friends coming to stay , and they are always keen to help with projects . It must be said that a fair amount of time is spent at the 'dog wash shop' buying 'essential tool s! However, a superb weather shelter is going up for the alpaca , and some more ditches will be dug , wood chopped and stables painted - or that's the plan !
The ' dog wash shop' is so called because ( and I kid you not ) they have a machine for washing your dog ! only in Wales ! Its a bit like a small car wash and you put your dog in and it comes out clean , needless to say the boys are fascinated . I would suggest it is well worth a visit for the hilarity factor if nothing else . In fact , I am crying with laughter just thinking about it !
Sunday, 5 October 2008
we are having another log burner installed in a couple of weeks so we set about finding hearth stones - amazingly after some thought and a bit of scouring we discovered just the perfect stones in a path at the side of the house . They are going to be lifted for an extension soon anyway so I am pleased to be using real welsh slates in our new fireplace.
Animals are all well ,a bit wet , some less feathered than others ! Hermione is looking better - fingers crossed we are all OK.
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Blogging is also a fab way of covering the distance between me and my cousin and aunt in West coast USA , it keeps them up to date if they wish ! ( you better be reading this!) and also means they are not so very far away - often in my thoughts.
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Riding in the rain was still great , and some of my lesson was inside , so I feel like I did some 'work' and then spent a happy hour learning about computers from Eliane ( some of it went over my head ) and I have now included some alpaca portraits ! Speaking of which we have finished worming them all - which we hope was the reason for Hermiones oedema( that's what the vet said) as usual Kirsty screamed and kicked and made life as difficult as possible and generally wound everyone up , but all completed. As a group they made an escape bid up the drive , when the wind managed to loosen a gate lock , but were saved by DS #1 who thought fast and headed them off at the pass.
Still no eggs , still plenty of feathers!
Monday, 29 September 2008
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Hermione in the foreground
Sunday, 21 September 2008
Well , after the horrors of the other night things are looking better. Friday was a blur of constant phone calls ,many of sympathy and support ( thank you ) and more dealing with vets , red tape and the knackers yard . Thankfully that is all done and over with so we can move forward . I have started bringing the alpacas in to their new ' night yard ' which DH has been working on for a while , and all thought not quite finished is more than adequate , giving me peace of mind and consequently some sleep , and the alpacas are safe, out of sight and close to the house - job done .
The alpacas themselves are understandably a bit jumpy , but have still found time to sunbathe and relax ,so all is looking ok , and nobody has aborted (yet) so we are looking good!
The hens are confined to barracks until they learn some manners and start laying in the prescribed nest boxes !
And I was elected as a school Governor - watch out here I come !
Friday, 19 September 2008
Thursday, 18 September 2008
I did get to have the most fab riding lesson today - so up-lifting for the soul ,I am getting quite good at half and quarter turns , more complex than they sound , and my cantering in circles is getting pretty good too - and all in such fantastic weather .
Tomorrow is the last day of voting for the governorship , I have yet to cast mine and DH vote , but be assured I will , tactics suggest that I will only vote for myself but who knows if that will be enough !
Lets hope the weather holds , since I have plenty of animal jobs to do this weekend - spit-offs for pregnancy diagnosis , should be straight forward but always worth triple checking that everyone is still pregnant, worming and some annual vaccinations for the alpacas . DH will help , makes him dreadfully unpopular with the animals !
Monday, 15 September 2008
The weather was better than expected and alpaca and hens alike have been sunning themselves in a very relaxed fashion , the seasons are almost the wrong way round - this is like spring. In the afternoon , as a special treat , I let the alpaca out into the garden . They love the grass , which is longer and lusher than in the fields , and it helps with the chores if I don't have to mow as well. However , they also prune all my roses and practically everything else , not surprisingly my roses are not quite what I had hoped .... The shock on the faces of the cats when they came face to face with the alpacas always makes me laugh, the speed at which they disappear is impressive , but also very sensible , since the alapcas would happily make mincemeat of them if they could .
The race for school govenor began today . I think everyone is being very laid back and friendly about it , but we shall see if this continues . I think it could be quite good fun , a bit like being back at uni. , running for AU president , but I'm not sure the other candidates would view it like that , so whilst good natured , I feel slightly serious is the order of the day . Maybe I just haven't grown up completely yet!!
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Up until now the alpacas have been housed ( only on very inclement nights , because they hate being indoors ) in our very large triple garage , now since a buildings name is derived from it's function I say barn - John says garage since he wants the space back for all his tools. Anyway, this winter there will be too many to comfortably house in said barn(garage) and since we also now own a very special stud he cannot overwinter with the girls 'cos they will be very stressed , and that is not good for pregnant alpacas ( did I mention that 6 out of 7 are pregnant !) so , we have a couple of stables ( they really are stables) and an area in front which used to be home to the blackcurrant bush , this is now being fitted with proper drainage , roofing similar to a carport will be erected connecting to the front of the stable , and the alpaca will then be free to choose where they sleep - either in or out , but at least under shelter in a confined space where I can feel that they are all safe .
With in-laws help , gutters have all been cleared ,paths swept and cleaned, drainage installed fields fertilised ....
the neighbours will be tittering into their pints tonight at the sight of me fertilising 3 fields by hand using a small wheelie thing designed for the average suburban garden , but hey ho , the job is done and the fields will be going great guns - lets just hope the stripes are not too obvious or I will never live it down!
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Then the production of a very short piece about myself , for election to school govenor . More about that later , suffice to say that ideas from Wendy and editing from Eliane will never be to blame if I don't get in!
Final production for thday has been the hunt for eggs . Of my 11 (currently ) laying hens , 7 lay in the hedge rows , luckily all in the same nest at the moment , but it is a scramble to get to it and requires a degree of agility - climbing through rail fences and down ravines to reach a nest cleverly disguised as a large patch of brambles. 9 eggs today so pretty good . And then truely finally , bottle feeeding Artemis . I will introduce Artemis properly later , but she is a 10 week old baby alpaca(cria ) who's mother has very little milk , so I stand in as surrogate mum 3 times a day - its a joy really and she is so sweet , but I have to be careful that she doesn't get too friendly or I could end up with a berserk alapaca on my hands - honestly that is a technical term for those who do not observe the boundaries between humans and alpacas.
So , having chased a few particularly dim chickens round and round their hen house , before finally getting them to bed I am going to relax now with a can of coke !!!
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
my name is Suzanne and I live in the most beautiful part of Wales _ namely the Brecon Beacons , with my husband , 4 small boys , 2 cats , 14 alpaca and a plethora of chickens .I moved here about 4 years ago from the Thames valley , partly to 'get away from it all ' and partly to try living in a slightly more eco -friendly self sufficient way - the alpacas came later!
I 'run ' the smallholding and the boys , and J has a 'proper ' job which keeps us living in a sufficiently splendid style ( I jest ). Gradually as the boys have started school ( the youngest will start in January) I have had more time to please myself , and that is what I have done .
I became interested in alpaca a few years ago after seeing some in an agricultural show in Usk, they really are the most adorable , inquisitive bundle of fleece that you will ever meet and I fell in love with them immediately, when we bought a small holding that was my first wish- get some alpaca , and I have , and boy do I enjoy them!
Over the coming weeks I hope you will get to know my animals and the more amusing aspects of living on a small holding.
Thanks to Eliane for convincing me to give this a try !