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Sunday, 31 May 2009

working really hard !

This week has been hard work - half term (!) and lots to do . Half term speaks for itself , althou ' DS#4 was so exhausted after 2 nights under canvass that on the 3rd night he slept until 10.45 am , unheard of .Anyway, the alpacas are fine , a bit hot and bothered , particularly the blacks , who are sitting in the shade alot ; but never fear the shearer is due in 2 weeks ( expect the weather to change for the worse ) . Cerys is hanging on to her cria , still not reached the mammoth gestation of Kirsty , so I am being cool about it , but I would really like her to get on with it - she looks like a whale , and I am back to staying in during the morning .

The poly tunnel was finished to DH 's satisfaction on Monday night , and I planted in Tomatoes , french beans ( 3 colours ) and courgettes on Tues. all doing amazingly well , and then the boys helped me sow peas , asparagus peas , lettuces ( several varieties ) and beet roots , Eliane supplied peppers and chillis , so we are really going for it . My aubergines are nearly ready to plant out along with more tomatoes . Runner beans are outside with the raspberries , redcurrants and black currants and plums , and as we speak DH is sowing carrots , parsnips and some more peas in the outside beds ( this is a first - he has never shown any interest despite being a vegetarian ) so with any luck we should be pretty self sufficient for the summer .
Yesterday and today I have spent waging war on the buttercups ! I have topped off 3 fields worth and am feeling quite satisfied with my progress , also we have done another round of Blue tongue vaccines which is gratifying - I have done it in batches because although there are no proven side effects I am unhappy about vaccinating heavily pregnant females - the stress is not necessary , and they are still covered from last year . The idea was that it would be more economical to vaccinate when they had given birth , but since they are all messing around this year we have vaccinated last years cira and any open females at one sitting , and geldings , studs and females who have given birth at the next and finally I shall save up those who are heavily pregnant and this yeras cria for the last hit . I have been able to give the unused doses of vaccine to my neighbours for their small flock ( 6) of sheep so that is good.

And finally , DH and I put up the stand pipe and tap right outside my poly tunnel this morning , so we are in pretty good shape . Just need to collect my visiting studs this week , I have some bookings for TEIFI MAGIC's services , and my girls will be mated to him when they produce their cria . All in all , we feel quite content ; need to get through the next school governors meeting - but that s another story !

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Poly tunnel progress

This weekend we have also decided to put up the poly tunnel . It has proved harder than expected ( I expected ) due to DH perfectionist tendencies . However , we have managed to put the frame up , and down ( for re-adjustments ) and up again; dug trenches , and refilled them , re-dug them 10mm to the left etc. etc . It has been a trial of patience - but the end result is looking good , and the added benefit is that we have found the water supply pipe for the property , which is not where any sane person would have put it ( previous owners) but is right next to the door of the poly tunnel - how convenient is that ! Also , means that we can pipe water into the pig field and have a cistern style filling system , ergo , less carrying of water for me !! Tomorrow we have to race against the predicted weather and get the complete cover on before it rains , so that I can finally plant some of the plants currently threatening to take over the kitchen .

I must just add that I have constructed the doors almost single handedly , and the bits I didn't actually do myself I did give instructions on ! DH was reluctant to let me take on such a huge job (!) since he was unsure of my ability to hammer a nail home straight and also my ability to stretch netting and plastic to form the covering of the doors . As it turns out I can hammer home a nail as well ( if not better ) than any of the men I know so nil desperandem .

What a difference a week makes

Brizo is doing well ! After only a week she looks like a sturdy little creature - not so little actually. She is already showing that she has a strong character and is happily integrated with all the herd members she has now met. Her half sister , Hermione , is very interested , but Kirsty is making sure she keeps a respectful distance ! Sometimes , when all heads are down feeding , Brizo approaches the wrong female for a feed and then all hell breaks loose - Hermione is horrified , Kirsty is outraged that Hermione is trying to steal her baby and Brizo is completely confused !

Mum, Kirsty , baby Brizo , sister Hermione

And I have confirmed the local view that I am a little mad - being the only person out in a kagool on the hottest day of the year . I had to take Brizo's cria coat off , and Kirsty has been so generous with her spitting that this seemed the safest way to proceed - I'm not sure my hair can take being washed so often !

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Is cream a colour ?

Our new baby girl - who is pretty definitely Brizo - is doing great guns . The weather has been good today , so she has been out all day and met some of the rest of the herd , luckily they have all been gentle although very excited . The most excited is always Bozedown Woden , he cannot stay away from a new baby , but he is always careful , and Kirsty is VERY protective so he couldn't get really close without a deal of spitting . In fact , yesterday she spat at me several times while I was trying to take them back into the barn for the night , my neighbour came round to see what all the noise was about and if I need help - the screaming was so loud( Kirsty , not me ) and this morning she spat at me when I tried to adjust Brizo's cria coat.

On really close inspection and with views from several visitors I can safely say that Brizo is not white ! She is cream! I guess we will register her as light fawn when the time comes , but she IS beautiful, and full of character , leading Kirsty a merry dance , whenever Kirsty puts her head down to eat Brizo heads for the far side of the field at top speed , Kirsty gets maybe 2 mouthfuls and then sets off in hot pursuit calling madly for her errant daughter.

Next will be Cerys or maybe Bijou - both their babies will be black or dark brown I expect , which will be great .

Oh , and my poly tunnel has arrived - guess what we're doing this weekend ?!

Monday, 18 May 2009


Today I began to take the house construction a bit more seriously - well my part in it anyway! I went to choose a kitchen! and herein is the dilemma - do I buy a beautiful but very expensive oak kitchen which will look super and I will have real pride in for a while until 4 small boys and their football boots get to work on it , or the substantially cheaper oak veneer , which still looks good but not so good, but is nearly half the price . Economics or appearances ??

Meanwhile , my other dilemma is whether or not to switch the heating back on - we have lived without for nearly a month , but it is getting cooler again and we had a real fire last night and it was great . Another layer or cop out ?

Poly tunnel due any day( abit like alpacas they seem to take forever to arrive) and I am getting really excited about planting etc. In reality , of course, DH will do all the hard work initially and I will do the relatively easy bits - planting and weeding . But it will be so great to eat all our own veg , the thing is , I have got carried away with what I plant and it bears little correlation to what we generally eat on a daily basis - I mean , how many spaghetti squash and aubergines can 1 family eat ? Maybe 14 aubergine plants is excessive ?!

Here she is !

I shall let the pictures do the talking for a change:-

Five hours old and still a bit wobbly , but nice and warm and snug.

What's all that out there? - first trip outside during a break in the rain .

Do I look good in red?

What are they looking at ?
What the heck is that - Brizo!
First encounter with a chicken

And I think we are calling her Panteg Brizo , but could still be subject to change !!

Sunday, 17 May 2009


Our new cria is doing really well . I am always slightly anxious at a new arrival ( the excitement hasn't worn off yet at each birth ) and although it is usually fine , I always hold my breath slightly to see them up / suckling/ walking etc. all to the right time scale . Sometimes they don't do things the way the book says and that makes me nervous . Actually, this little lady did it all perfectly ,but I still worry . I have seen her feeding regularly and Kirsty is a good mum.  She looked slightly surprised at the first successful feed , but she hasn't had a cria for 2 years and is getting back into it really well. 

As yet the cria is unnamed , but she is spritely and happy and warm - holding her temp . well , and if the rain would only stop could be out and about getting some sun , as it is  , she is confined to the stables to bond with mum and stay dry!

The next deliveries should not be far off , a couple of weeks , but I say that with some trepidation after 366 days from  Kirsty ! Promise to take some pictures tomorrow - she's a cracker!

Saturday, 16 May 2009


Hurray ! At last Kirsty has decided to have her cria !! After 366 days gestation ! Of course , she chose a wet day when we had gone out . We ( DH & I , no kids ) went to the Smallholders show at Builth Wells for a bit of time out and a good old nose about . Bumped into our vet and several other people who we knew and had a good munch on delicious things like ice-creams and lamb burgers - not in that order!
Anyway , we asked our neighbour , Brian , if he would be on alpaca watch for us and he kindly agreed . In fact , he went further than the one visit I asked of him and visited Kirsty and the others every hour . 12.30 -nothing , 1.30 - nothing , 2.25 little white bundle ! Brian rang us at the show and we rushed back to find a beautiful cria , who looked alert and had already been standing and wobbling around . Kirsty waited for our return to deliver the placenta , so my guess was that the baby was approx 1 hour old when we got back . Oh , I forgot to say - she is white and doing really well , I dried her off with a hair dryer , 'cos it is still a bit chilly and put a little red cria coat on her , she has hardly sat down since we moved her into the stables 3 hours ago , and finally , she is feeding really well. Kirsty has screamed and made a fuss , which is usual but also a good sign , but she has let me check the cria over and milk her a little to get the smell of milk for the baby to follow.
I am really thrilled and relieved , my mind was beginning to work over time on the horrors of late births , and our record of breeding females remains at 100% ! Doesn't get much better than how we feel tonight .

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

When will it end ?

After days of glorious sunshine we had a drizzle all day . Actually , I was quite pleased - we need the rain and I had a perverse hope that the rain might prompt Kirsty into giving birth , since they never seem to do what would seem to be easiest . But no , she is still hanging on . Then I imported 50 small children ( I am quite barking , clearly ) and this had no effect either - I was tempted to let e couple of the worst tearaways into the field to see if the shock might help , but I restrained myself ! In all honesty , I kept them all away from the field with the very nearly due ( or hugely overdue) and we confined ourselves to petting Flag, who really enjoyed the attention , and he even enjoyed following them all back to their bus on a halter. We walked up the bridle path behind the kids and he was as good as gold !
The children were visiting from my sons' school, both the reception and nursery classes came , and they enjoyed scratching the pigs , chasing the odd hapless chicken , but mostly just being out and about in the fresh air . we are part of a 'children out to farms ' scheme , which is run by the local education authority , and provides the opportunity for children to visit farms of all types and understand how the countryside works . Despite the fact that we are a very rural area of wales ( definitely more sheep than people in Powys ) alot of the children don't come face to face with nature very often , so it does them a world of good . Of course , my youngest was keener on taking them on the building site than participating in treasure hunts or admiring his own animals !! The builders looked quite pale at the prospect of lots of children on the scaffolding , but luckily nobody managed to escape our clutches .
The newest hatchlings are doing well , all except one little one , who I feel may not survive ( and I won't honestly know what to do if she does ) because she cant seem to co-ordinate both her little legs . She manages to get about OK , but it's more of a scuffle than a walk . I have been putting her out on the grass in the sun for a bit each day to see if the extra grippability will help and also the extra Vit D , and it is helping I think ( wishful ?) but clearly today was not a long session . I left her out with the 2 Brahma chicks , and found her cuddled up with one of them who had put a paternal wing around her when she was cold !!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

what a weird weekend

Actually it's just today that has been weird !

Started well , with a friend for coffee while all the boys were at football practice. Then a spot of riding with DS#3 and it began to go wrong ! We got home from a fab ride on a beautiful hot day and had a quick cuppa - then out to vaccinate some of the girls and boys with anti-Blue tongue vaccine . Could I get the girls to come in ? could I heck - they wandered around tantalisingly close to the catch pen but wouldn't come in for love nor feed . After an hour of wheedling and begging on my part , just as I gave up , amidst a lot of cursing and unprintable language ( DS #3 was shocked ) they just wandered in and set to eating their treats ( which I really don't feel they deserved ) cool as cucumbers.

Fine . Injections administered - DH had the sense to be supremely helpful and adept for a change _ he sensed my temper was at it's outer limits .

Next , I had a mating to get done . Collected Bozedown West from his filed , and had a pleasant walk along the bridle path and up the back steps through the garden to our temporary mating pen ( the builders are working too close to the usual pen ) . Hermione took one look and vaulted clean out of the pen , which has rails 5ft high . DH refused to grab her and haul her back in case she kicked him - I pointed out she cant kick with 2 feet of the floor to no avail - but she was away . At this point the pigs woke up and snorted - West freaked and managed to cut his lip on the gate post that he ran into , not a bad cut more of a graze . Anyway, he went into a stable to calm down whilst we set about rounding up Herminoe AGAIN. Eventually I lost it and went in to cook Sunday dinner - the kids were getting hungry and we were all fractious . After dinner , I went out and called the girls and they trotted in like little lambs . Finally we were going to be OK, but West was still completely freaked by the pigs and refused to have anything to do with Hermione . After 10 mins coaxing I gave up . A completely fruitless exercise , and we will have to re-think the pigs ....

And then , the last of 4 uninvited visitors who I have never met before arrived to ask if I kept llamas . Actually , she was very nice , and I promised to find a contact for her . What an odd day its been

On the plus side we have 13 chicks hatched today
On the down side Kirsty has still not produced , 362 days today!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

we nearly have windows !

Yes , they were delivered today sans glass , but looking spectacular nonetheless!Building has slowed down a bit - the brickie has heart problems , but still nearly up past the second floor windows and then the roof can go on . This is the side window to the family room !
However, they won't be finished by the original deadline , unless a miracle happens - just as well , since I haven't chosen the kitchen yet !this is the end of the house with all the bricks and window frames piled in the family room

How fast they grow

Here is Rocky and her friend henri(etta) after henry cooper . They are now 4 weeks old and their feet are just amazing - look at all those feathers .
Today was their first day outside in the sunshine.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


I have been woefully inadequate as a blogger for the last week or 2 for which I apologise. The thing is , I am beside myself waiting for the new cria to arrive - and no she hasn't yet . Alpaca gestation is an inexact science , depending which book you read or which breeder you ask , the gestation period is somewhere around 11.5 months but that can vary by 2 weeks either way , and depending upon the time of year mating took place , and my best guess - how harsh the winter was ! The up shot is that Kirsty is still waddling around the paddock , periodically giving the odd sign just to keep us on our toes , and then miraculously - nothing . DS #2 came rushing down at breakfast time shouting ' she's having it ' , are you sure ? 'yes yes , she's doing that thing again ' 'what thing ' ' you know , eating !!!'
if that was the only sign , god help us , as it is , it might just as well be !

Anyway , we had a great weekend . We had some friends to stay , which was less of a squash than expected , we did some walking up table mountain , we went to see the bluebells , we went riding and amongst all this managed to put up another alpaca shelter( to replace the one that blew down) and weed and plant a couple of flower beds . Thanks guys , we really do appreciate it . Oh , and we ate a bit and drank a bit and i think we all had a good time .

Another batch of chicks is due to hatch on Saturday , whilst I am away bee keeping ( probably the best place for me , so I cant interfere) and I have planned all the vaccinations for the next few months so that all the girls get the right stuff at the right time . And it suddenly occurred to me that we could start our mating season with the first mating of Bozedown West and Bozedown Hermione , which we hope will be successful now that her hymen has been sorted out , and should produce a beautiful rich fawn cria next year . Fingers crossed. Oh , and I planned the building of new catch pens and mating pens - all this at 3am when the wind was very strong .

Hope the wind drops tonight or DH will have a list longer than his arm , of jobs to do in the next week !!!