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Thursday, 30 October 2008

Winter and alpacas.

Suddenly the time is passing very fast and the weather is having an impact - it seems like December! We need to be on top of all of this and yet it goes so fast , especially with half term and 4 children at home . They have done some activities and we have all had a couple of days away at Warwick Castle and Stratford on Avon , magical in the snow .
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

Honestly !

You've heard of ' dog in the manger ' , well here are cria in the hay !

work and play

This weekend has been a social weekend !! Dinner out with friends on Friday night was a hugely entertaining way to spend an evening - though I feel I am getting too old to cope with late night s, and it was not the quantity of alcohol that did it . Old friends for the day on Saturday was also a great way to spend the day , catching up , exchanging info and generally relaxing over a long , late lunch was ideal .

On the hen front life is looking up . Meg 3 had a close encounter with a fox several months ago , and it was touch and go for a week or two , however , she has staged a remarkable recovery , and apart from the very scraggy feathers she is fine ; here is the good bit , she has started to grow her feathers back ! Hurray ! Most of the other hens are beginning to look half way decent , but not good enough for eggs yet I'm afraid . Sad but true , 27 chickens of varying ages and I get 1 egg a day !

The pergola has stalled ! too much socialising , and therefore no roof , but the weather has been a bit soggy the last day or 2 so that needs doing , but will now have to wait until the log burner is fitted , since that is being done by outside contractors and the hearth has yet to be laid , although it is clean and dry and ready to go ( hopefully this afternoon ).

the next big issue is how to wean Athena . I do know how ! but the logistics of whom to put in the field with her when I take her away from her mum are perplexing me . It needs to be a filed with some other females , with no nursing mums and no nursing cria. OK , so that leaves me with Cerys ( half sister , pregnant ) Hermione ( pregnant ) Kirsty ( pregnant ) or a gelding or two .

Cerys is a definite , and I think Hermione too , not Kirsty since she gets very stressed and looses her pregnancy if put under too much stress and changing group is stressful , if I put Woden with her , then Bijou ( mum) will be stressed , so I think she has a little field to herself with Cerys and Hermione , where she cannot see or hear her mum .

Wow , lot s to do now ....

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Getting there

The weekend was , again , a highly successful one ! With the help ( major contribution actually ) of dear friends , the alpacas now have a very posh pergola to sit under in inclement weather ! A roof is still needed to make it perfect , but they have got the hang of it and are already happily ensconced under it . Help was also forth coming with a second round of worming injections , to complete the course . DH saw this as an excellent opportunity to get out of a job he hates , and having given basic instructions on how to catch an alpaca , left our hapless guests to it largely , actually they proved very adept and far better than DH since they were much calmer and hung on through spitting , screaming and a bit of kicking , which thankfully didn't make contact. Even the big boys got wormed and everyone is relaxing back into their normal routine minus worms !

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

Time flies

The weather has been just fab - true autumnal weather , clean , crisp with some sun to warm our hearts. The alpaca are taking every opportunity to enjoy the mild days before the wet sets in. Tonight I realised that they are over all the trauma , I saw them all pronk for the first time since Pudding died .Pronking is a hilarious activity , not confined to alpaca , more commonly observed on wildlife programmes , when springbok etc strut around , all 4 feet leaving the floor at the same time as if they are bouncing ! It is something that alpaca only do when they are full of the joys , and it was started by the two smallest members of the herd and gradually everyone joined in ! they pronk in a long line ( a bit like a conga ) and go round the field in big circles - hilarious and uplifting to watch .

Artemis and Acantha start a conga

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

satisfaction is..

the weekend ! I love weekends , not because I get more family time or even time to myself , but because we ( DH and I ) manage to get SO much more done than I can manage by myself . Despite having to chauffeur the kids all over , we have chopped and stored more wood - a branch of a big tree was available at football so DH and #1 son chopped and stored !
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


Not surprisingly , since it has been a largely sunny day the alpacas are keeping their distance ! They are sunbathing and relaxing and don't fancy the idea of me and DH bearing needles ! so they are staying as far away as possible. I have noticed that some have toe nails which are in need of a trim and general pedicure , however , having received a gratuitous kick from Veronica and DH sporting a large bruise from Kirsty ( who managed to get 5 kicks in quick succession in the same place , whilst emitting an ear splitting scream -ha ha !) I am less inclined than usual to undertake this slightly perilous operation !
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.