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Saturday, 28 November 2009

Another first!

SNOW! in November! The tops of the hills were covered this morning , the children were very excited , the rest of us ( DH , me and the pacas) were filled with dread .

Also , the pipes froze , I think , anyway there was no water this morning for a couple of hours , now supply is normal, luckily. All of this spurred us on to great things - we moved all of the furniture out of the second stable , beds and mattresses came inside , as did a very large sofa ( with some help from our friends ) , so I can sleep better knowing that all the soft furnishings are inside , and the alpacas can use enough stabling to keep them all dry and warm. Sods law - my mega torch has gone bust! So tonight , in the sleet I was trying to get the alpacas in using a head torch with a failing battery , at one point I tripped over Cerys who had refused to get up! Eventually I did manage to get them into the stables and everyone was settled and feeding on some nice hay ! Oh , and we manged to get some paving stones down , to extend the hard standing - the mud is SOOO bad .

New Years resolution #1 - a big spanking new barn for the pacas!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A first - of many !

The weather is bad . We are all having a tough time . And tonight , for the first time I can ever think of , the alpaca have chosen a stable over a field , that's how bad it is ! I have been leaving the field gate to the stables open for the last couple of days ( I have to really think about the other gates when they are in the stables) so that they can come down and get some shelter , and largely they have wandered down for a bit of hay , which I left in the stables to tempt them , and then wandered back up to the fields . Tonight , they are playing the alpaca version of how many can you get in a mini , 9 alpaca are crammed into the stable , which considering there are 2 bales of hay is pretty good , the other 5 have stayed in the fields , partly throu choice - Bijou hates to be confined and will stay out in all weathers if given the choice , so she has taken her family unit off to a far corner for some shelter and that is where they will spend the night !

The weather and the alpaca put another pressure on me to get the stables emptied - 2 are currently full of furniture , and we really need to get it inside . I feel like we are really up against it now - DH has managed to fit part of the kitchen despite being struck with flu and having to retire to bed every half hour , in fact he has spent 3 whole days in bed and has managed a bit today , but we are behind schedule and the change of weather is not helping . I really want to get furniture inside and aired , since 2 of the boys rooms are finished there is no reason that furniture can't go in there , but I can't move a lot of it by myself and the rain is not a good time to move anything you want kept dry . I could really do with several pairs of hands for a couple of hours to just get it done ! Ho hum!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

from picadilly circus to the flying trapeze

It has been mad around here for the last couple of days! Not only is the weather vile , but suddenly things are gearing up with the house .

On Thursday we had , at one point , electricians , plumbers and a carpenter , a man in a digger back filling the trenches dug on Tues , and a man cutting the hedges and a friend of mine for coffee! To say it was slightly mad is an understatement , all these people happily going about their business in a sea of mud ! The alpaca looked on in a slightly bemused fashion , but all their fields now have beautifully trimmed hedges and look very smart . My Brahma hen looks like a reject from Pride and Prejudice - mud up to her knees and picking her way around in a state of disgust .

On Sunday ( today) we had more hideous weather , but not as bad as those poor souls in Cumbria ( however there is a girl missing , swept away in the Usk at Brecon last night ) but still pretty grim . I have spent many hours checking and re-checking that everything is tied down , shut up and generally wind proof . Everything , that is , except for the trampoline ! Not quite a flying trapeze but damn close! One minute it was happily pegged down in the back alpaca field , the next a massive crash , and it had flown , literally , out of the field , across the bridle path and the back garden and hit the new house just below the roof - cracking 2 slates , taking lumps out of the brick work and gouging bits out of my new oak doors , but amazingly no broken glass. Have to admit that it took me a while to find it - I heard the crash and looked out of the window to see that the trampoline was no longer in the field , but didn't connect the two . I went to check that the boys were OK , and couldn't find it ! It is a very odd feeling when you realise that a 10ft trampoline had disappeared . It took a few minutes of searching before I realised what had happened . We have now dismantled it until the weather improves, incidentally the trampoline is fine ! Could have been a whole heap worse - what if it had hit an alpaca or somebody riding on the bridle path ?? Shudder to think .

Weather looks set to be bad all week , oh joy!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Yesterday was spent clearing ditches to help the huge amount of water get away as fast as possible ! Actually , it's really puddle splashing for adults! I really enjoyed it , and things are flowing really well , amazing , that since I am married to a water engineer it seems to be me who enjoys the water clearance most - I would be the water equivalent of a pyromaniac.

The alpacas have settled into a nice routine , they wait for me at the gate every morning which has several advantages , mainly that Berlioz will take his feed without any fuss 'cos they are all there with him. I take in new hay and some hard feed and camelibra for the pregnant and / or lactating girls and pen the yearlings with smaller rations whilst their mums fill their adorable faces .

Currently , we are having new pipes laid for the building work , which has reduced the yard and surrounding grass areas into a quagmire - more mud ! and to top it all they have just managed to cut throu the water pipe they laid in March - no tea!

Friday, 13 November 2009

rain rain ...

As you might have guessed it has rained ALOT here! It is really windy tonight and there are trees down further down the hill , I don't expect the rivers will stay in all night either . I have been outside for the last hour clearing drainage channels and cattle grids - married to a water engineer and the worst drainage in the county - and feeding Berlioz . Secretly I love being out in the dark , in the wet with a torch and my own thoughts for company , and I am eternally grateful to which ever Australian designed the Driza bone coats , I am still dry and toasty warm , but since it's my birthday I am about to retire to the bath with my new Patricia Cornwall novel , leaving the rest of the family to watch Wales v Western Samoa on the telly . Oggy Oggy Oggy!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


that's what they are !

The fog has come down with avengence today , and it has been pretty bad all day , but tonight I went out to feed Berlioz and I couldn't find him! I searched the whole 6 acres and .... nothing, nada , no sign at all. I began to panic . I dashed back and checked the gates , padlocks all in place , all exits secured. What the hell was going on ? DH gave me a mega torch recently , the kind that lets you do your own laser show in the sky ( if you really want ) and that was proving worse than useless in the fog , I could only see a couple of feet in front of me . I called and hummed , with increasing panic , and then , just as I was about to enter total meltdown I fell over the whole herd ( literally stumbled ) sitting quietly , snoozing and cudding , and generally ignoring me ! I was sooooo relieved , and no, there are no pictures ,'cos they are clearly invisible !

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Winter is here!

Skies are clear and therefore , cold !

Just been out to feed Berlioz , who is getting so big now that I cannot hold him between my legs if required cos he is too tall , and I run the risk of falling over cos only my tip toes would be on the ground ! , and been liberally spattered by the gritting lorry . THE GRITTING LORRY! way too early for that , wonder if this heralds a cold winter like we had last year . Personally I liked the last winter that we had , except for the being snowed in bit , and once I had calmed down it was very relaxing , knowing that you couldn't go out , especially when DH managed to get his 4x4 out and take the kids to school !

Anyway , I digress , the alpaca are looking great - did you see some on 'Countryfile ' on BBC 1 tonight ? - and the hens are laying well and looking fully feathered and quite lush. We had Frank sausages to day , nice herby lincolnshire ones and they were delicious , he was a lovely pig and his meat is great too , roast tomorrow night , expecting that will be good too , lots of our friends who have had meat have been very complimentary about it , which is nice. Actually , governors meeting tomorrow , so may have to be roast another night , since I have to be at a Standards meeting which I believe I am chairing , but having not had an agenda yet it should be an experience ( for all concerned!)

Friday, 6 November 2009

so far ...

fireworks have been minimal!Alpaca are mildly concerned but not neurotic , still confined to a 'safe' field at night , this is also about the time one of ours was killed by a dog last year , I am the one feeling neurotic!

Read a very interesting article in Alpaca World today , about berserk alpaca , and feel that Athena must be pretty close to the line , on occasion , especially when I am feeding Berlioz, she has taken to pulling at my jacket or wellies ,ahh! how sweet , but definitely a sign of berserkness ( is that a word Eliane ?). Talking of feeding Berlioz , the rain held off tonight , and it was so peaceful and quiet , very dark with lots of stars and I found it very relaxing , apart from the mad alpaca nibbling my sleeve of course.

Tomorrow more house things , luckily 2 sons are going for a sleepover , the electricians are fitting all the sockets , switches and light s( second fixing I believe it's called ) almost a complete house , oh , and I found the perfect loo today in Abergavenny of all places ! So 3 being collected tomorrow by DH and fitted as well , bath going in .... almost home and ready for Christmas ! DH has had to do a last minute dash for lights , since the sparks have got ahead of us , and whilst chosen I had not purchased enough lights to keep them out of mischief tomorrow!

Also , need time to check that winter housing for the 'pacas is ready in case of really bad weather or snow .. not enough hours , especially light ones !

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Bah guy fawkes !

Love fireworks myself , but only at organised events away from my animals! I have had to move the alpaca to a sheltered field nearer the house for the next few days since the risk of my neighbour letting rockets off over their heads in the other field is pretty high ! Why do people live in rural areas and have no thought for the welfare of animals ? Every year I collect a bag full of rocket debris which I return to him from my field , and gently (?) point out the hazard they represent to unsuspecting animals - does it make a difference ? NO!

This year I might not be so gentle - watch this spot for fireworks on Monday ! :)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

cold wet rain !

there is something about having to go out in the rain , when it is cold and dark , that adds insult to injury!Currently , I am having to go out every evening at about 7.30 to feed Berlioz, he is usually pretty pleased to see me which makes it better , but yesterday the weather was so bad that he wouldn't even get up ' no way my patch of grass is getting wet '! so I had to crouch and feed him sitting down , now that is decadent !

It is beginning to get colder during the day as well , and so far we have resisted switching on the heating , last year we managed without central heating well into November , maybe even early December , but this year I don't have my little green friend ( actually very tall green friend ) to spur me on to greater things - no , she has bailed out to warmer climes , and I am not sure that my resolve will be as strong without a healthy dose of competition ! On the plus side , the new house will be loads warmer than it was last year , we have had the maximum amount of insulation put in in every room ! Financially , it made a huge difference last year , and whilst we are having a fire every evening , we haven't had to buy in wood yet , so free heat ! We will have to buy in soon - alot of the wood we have stored won't really be good to burn until next year . Anyway , it seems that DH 'd plaintive cry that I had't been ill yet has jinxed me , and now I am ! Not as bad as the rest of the family was ( but they are all men) , but still not 100% , and so I had a couple of hours sleep during the day after my physio , and I shall have an early night whilst I watch the new series of 'Spooks'.

Monday, 2 November 2009

what can I say ....

the whole family ( 'cept me ) has been down with 'flu -- swine ? I don't know and to be honest neither do the doctors unless they do a test , they just happily add you to their stats !

The house is cracking on brilliantly , yesterday DH and I laid the wood floor in DS#3 's room and DH is laying the wood floor in DS#2's room as we speak ! That will be 2 rooms completely ready ( when the skirting boards go on ) for people to move into ! Dates are booked for the slate floors to be laid downstairs , and in order to do that the kitchen will be in ... sooo exciting .

My friend Eliane , seems to be settling well in San Francisco , and I am so jealous - would love to live out there for a couple of years , maybe we'll do a swap when she comes back in 3 years !

The alpaca are fine , yesterday we managed to get some Vit AD & E shots done , we only had a short window , so we did all this years cria and the black girls , since they find it hardest to synthesise the vitamins in this weather . To be honest the weather has been pretty good and there has been sunshine , but it is probably too low to do much good . The rest of the herd will get done next weekend . To be honest it's the hardest part of DH having a full time job, I simply can't do some jobs without him , and with the early evenings it means that the weekends are the only time we can do things that require us both . I have also started supplementing the feeding dams , hopefully they are pregnant as well so are beginning to need a little extra feed , but the maidens are fine and the cria are not yet eating much in the way of hard feed .

Some long over due pictures !

Berlioz looking great ! the darker patch on his neck is from his plasma transfusion but is gradually growing back !

Bourbon , looking suitably handsome !