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Tuesday, 23 December 2008


I am pleased to report that the vet doesn't seem too concerned about Athena, he thinks that she may have a slight infection in her ankles . He also asked that she be put on complete stable rest ( that is not going to appeal at all ) for a week or two !! Sadly that is not going to happen , she will go demented , but I have restricted her field , so that she cannot run about too much , although currently she seems to spend some large amount of time sitting anyway. The vet seems to think she will be fine and that there won't be any permanent damage , but he did mention that her legs are slightly off straight which is quite common in alpaca .

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

Fingers crossed I'm wrong

i have been concerned about Athena for a couple of days now, and today I finally worked out what was worrying me - I think she has rickets. It's not drastic , but obviously I would prefer that I am wrong ( not often you hear me say that !) it is quite a common problem in young alpaca and I believe it is easily remedied , and apparently it is most prevalent in dark coloured animals - she is black . Rickets is due to a lack of Vit D absorption which becomes a problem in the winter months when the sun is not so high or so frequent , she has been inoculated with a Vit A D & E injectable , but due to unforeseen circumstances ( lack of available supply ) it is almost a month later than usual . I doubt whether this is enough on its own , but the vet is coming tomorrow and so I shall let you know . I do love my vets - its so much easier to get a vet to visit than a human doctor , when I rang them at 5 pm they asked if I'd like someone to visit today I said tomorrow would be fine , how often do you get to see a doctor that quickly even in an emergency ? They are always pleasant and willing to learn ( obviously alpacas are not that common in the Brecon Beacons ) and they often go away and ring me with an answer and options and they have never been wrong yet . I do love them !

Friday, 19 December 2008

Looking forward to a rest and recharge

The kids broke up for the holidays today and I am so ready for it . This is always a busy time of year for everyone and we are no exception- the added 'burden' of the animals does make life a bit busier but sometimes it is a welcome distraction . I have found the running around for the school particularly hard this year - a heavy cough has made it a bit harder - but I think the writing is on the wall for my time on the PTA. This year the credit crunch has made all fund raising hard work , which I could cope with , but what I ( and my colleagues ) have found hard to bear is the much higher level of negative comments and complete lack of support. It is inevitable , as the credit crunch hits , that people will find it harder to give and will also want more for their money , but I had hoped that it might bring a bit more of a Dunkirk spirit . Sadly this doesn't seem to be the case - batten down the hatches is more like it , and so a small band of us have run ourselves ragged for the benefit of all the children and I am tired - of the grouching and lack of help as well as physically . I hate to whinge and I very rarely do on my blog , but if I hear one more excuse about busy lives etc then I shall scream ! I have 4 small children and a small holding as well as a long suffering DH , who has to help more with the housework so I can raise money for the school - well , no more ! Next term will not see any fund raising , and hopefully my PTA committee and I will be less pariah -like in the play ground as well as more rested .

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.


I feel very proud of us ! we had another LPG delivery last week and it was just under half the amount we had last year !! all the cool ( freezing ) starts have really paid off - literally ! I am so pleased to see a quantifiable improvement in our LPG consumption

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Forgot to mention ...

I had a fab ride last week, through a beautiful conifer forest. We had a great time , I rode with 2 of my friends and we had a lovely time chatting and trotting along , I was riding a lovely little pony called Dolly , she is new to me ( second ride ) and considerably smaller than I am used to , which means she is much 'bouncier' than I have become comfortable with! We had a couple of hairy moments ,since Dolly was very excited and outside her comfort zone , but we both got through OK. It was a lovely day out , and I hope to do it again soon !

so far so good

well , so far the cria who have moved out from their mums are doing quite well . Alot less stressful than when we weaned Athena a couple of months ago I can assure you , although Artemis is very pleased to see me and cannot quite believe that I do not come bearing gifts or at least a bottle of milk - somehow the armfuls of hay and alfa-a don't quite cut it !

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


I have finally bitten the bullet and separated the cria from their mums . i find it very stressful , as do the cria for a day or two , but the mums are clearly ready for the break and seem to put up a token resistance , but quickly get on with the daily business of feeding and sunning themselves . Artemis tried harder than most to get back to her mum ( which is odd since she has always been bottle fed ) and managed to get herself stuck in a thicket on the wrong side of a 6 foot ravine . I very nearly couldn't rescue her , she is so heavy now that I couldn't lift her and we both ended up sprawled in the bottom of the ravine - me in my pink pyjamas ( why do I always do these things in my PJ's and not my work clothe s??) and Artemis is a heap too frightened to move . Eventually we both got out and she is none the worse for wear except for a few scratches on her nose .

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


I have finally given in and switched on the aga ! wow , what a fantastic difference it makes . I am still determined that we shall only have it on at weekends and over the Christmas break , but it is lovely .

Thursday, 11 December 2008

here he is ..!

This is Teifi Magic , who , if he lives up to his name , will be the new foundation for my black girls . He looks so special , and has already won best black male and best black huacaya (intermediate) at the 3 counties show 2007.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

dressing up..

why is it that people look at me in abject horror when I suggest that putting on an extra layer in the winter is not an unreasonable thing to do ? Seems perfectly logical to me . The day will come when more and more of us realise that dressing up more is not only good for our pockets but also good for the environment . T-shirts are not really sensible items of clothing when worn on their own in December !

so exciting....

Well ..... I have just bought another alpaca!!!!! actually I've bought half a share in a beautiful black boy called Teifi Magic - lets hope he is . A picture will follow , however , I am on DH computer and cant upload . I am sharing Magic with my good friend Susan , who bred him , and he has a fab pedigree and has won lots of prizes even though he is not yet 3. DH is quietly pleased , hard to believe I know , since he senses an income - I get stud fees from any matings that Susan arranges and vice versa . I shall pick Magic up in June , when Susan has finished her matings for her own animals , which is perfect for me , since I will be ready to mate my black girls from June onwards! The cria should be fantastic .

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

busy busy

This has been a manic week - by that I mean more manic than usual when you have 4 children animals and a husband to run around after .
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

still below zero

It is still very cold , and we have had to think about extra heating , we haven't given in yet , but re-distributed the heating so that we have a little upstairs . The temp dropped in the bedrooms to just about10 degrees , and so we have a heater on the landing and it is feeling much better.

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


I have just discovered a fab new hobby! Jigsaw puzzles ! Very absorbing and so good for relaxing and clearing the mind . To those of you have already done some puzzles - why didn't I ever do this before!

roll on christmas - I am ready

i am beginning to get impatient for Christmas ! I have been pretty sensible this year and done my gift shopping steadily for the last couple of months . A trip for a day of shopping with girlfriends , and liberal use of the Internet( good for my green footprint ) means that almost all the gifts I need to buy are bought except for DH and also myself ( many years ago I discovered that DH was not good at gift buying , and so to ensure a happy Christmas for all I generally buy myself a couple of books ) DH wants cycling goods so which will be pretty straight forward .

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 !


Last night it was truly freezing ! and so it has remained all day , at no point has the temperature risen above zero , it has been absolutely beautiful , a very heavy fog last night has meant that everything is covered in a thick frost and that includes the alpaca . The black animals look very striking , with little icicles hanging from ears and tails . But don't worry , it means that they are not loosing any body heat through their very thick fleeces.

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 !

olive eggs

I have been having a very exciting time with my hens recently , last week 'somebody' laid an olive green egg! with brown spots! I have had a small dream about being able to breed hens who produce such an egg , but haven't manged it so far . However, until now it hasn't happened , but now we have had 4 eggs all the same colour , so it is not a fluke . I cant work out which hen is responsible for this , probably one of the ones we bred this year , a cross between a barnevelder and a cream legbar , but she looks just like a barnevelder , so I cant be sure.

The picture doesn't reallt do it justice !

Sunday, 23 November 2008


Well , we survived a particularly cold weekend without any serious extra heating - that said we did light both log burners! I will admit to feeling slightly chilly at some points , but I combated this with a bit of serious(!) hard work , namely digging over a bit of the veggie patch , to let the frost get at all the bugs and also dig up the last of my parsnips , they were some very oddly shaped veg but boy were they tasty! Also , I did spend some time ferrying small children hither and thither , and my car is very warm!

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 weather is coming...

the latest weather reports suggest that the cold weather is coming soon and could last for a week or two . I love cold and crisp , but this could seriously challenge my minimal heating regime. Yes , we are still managing on log burners and not much more , but I have almost reached maximum dressing and if it gets as cold as predicted then I don't really know what to do next. We are already using hot water bottles at bedtime with hot chocolate ( in mugs , of course ) and there is no heating in the bedrooms , kids are already thinking about bobble hats except for #3 son who insists that a dressing gown sans pj's is quite sufficient . Even DH is wearing full length trousers which doesn't normally happen until Dec!

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.

Back in the saddle at last

I finally got a riding lesson in today ! I haven't had a lesson for nearly 4 weeks and I do miss it . I rode a different horse today and she was great , at my age , learning a new anything is not a very common occurrence , and I really enjoy the fact that I come away from a lesson with a real sense of achievement as well as having had at least an hour thinking about nothing except my horse and whether I am doing what I should be doing to the best of my ability . Sometimes that sort of time out is essential for healthy sane living ! It is a tribute to the skill of my teachers that I always end on a positive note , wondering where the hour has gone - I usually have a sneaky look at the time and they have never cut a lesson short ( quite the opposite ) but it goes so fast , I could do another lesson straight after!

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

A little bit wiser ( but not much!)

Vaccinations went smoothly - too smoothly for Dh , who was seen to 'ski ' behind a couple of powerful girls before getting a good hold , luckily he skiied throu' the poo on his feet not his face as in all good vet shows , but nonetheless quite entertaining .

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

Vaccination day!

The weather is OK , and I cannot wait any longer - today we must vaccinate the alpaca. For the babies it will be their first injections and for the rest of the herd it will be annual boosters . Whilst in theory it is not a difficult thing to do , as always , the practice is usually harder.
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

at last!

My hens have started laying ! just an egg or two each day this week , but it is a start , and hopefully we will soon be hauling in a dozen a day.

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

now I know how Noah felt...

well, it has rained and hailed and generally blown a hooley for the last 2 days .Yesterday evening we had thunder and lightening to cap it all off . I went out to feed Artemis at about 6 ish , and found a veritable torrent of water rushing past the front of the house past 2 main doors, within millimetres of getting into the house , so i set too with a stick and started to clear cattle grids that have become blocked and were passing the water straight on to the house , and the gulleys taking water from the fields were all running high , so they were cleared as well. DH came out to help and in the midst of the storm we worked hard to divert the water , and after 45 minutes the waters were receding from the house , and we were wet through to the skin !

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

DH nearly killed me !

Yesterday started slowly and I got up with a touch of asthma . I was going to take it slowly since the boys were still off school , but DH had other ideas - he went off to work and within 30 seconds was back , yelling about alpacas escaping , nearly on the road - serious stuff . I shot out of the house at his instruction and dashed up the field parallel to their escape route , expecting DH to be taking a similar route up the other side of the driveway . I got to the gate onto the road , barely able to breathe , did a passable vault over ( more of a fall actually ) and jogged up the road to the drive way to cut off their access , all this in my PJ's ( shocking pink ) and crocs!

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

dark evenings

I am probably in a minority here , but I really love the dark evenings . I love the calm at the end of the day when I go out to put everyone to bed , I love the time by myself to put the chickens to bed , to chat with the alpacas as I feed Artemis her supper , to enjoy the crisp night air . The alpacas also seem to like cold and crisp , although we don't enjoy driving rain quite so much! The alpacas new shelter is looking good and they are getting used to it during daylight , none of them have tried it at night of course , preferring to sit under the trees . However , they are getting more adventurous during the day and eventually they will sit in their shelter at night too.

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

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.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008


Today has been the first wet and windy day for quite a while. The leaves are nearly all off the trees , the water butts are all full again and the ground is decidedly soggy already . DH tells me we are into a cycle of wet springs ( he is such a cheerful chap ) and hot arid summers - when can we hope for this to start I hear you ask ..... well not for another 7 yrs ( apparently weather goes in 10 yr cycles ) so we won't hold our breath then !

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

Rats !

So busy blogging I have burnt the ratatouille - made from my own home grown veggies - the kids will go hungry again tonight !! LOL

Will it ever end ?

Hermione is not well again , and I am waiting for the vet as I type . I don't think it's critical , maybe an allergic reaction to the antibiotics she had last week , but I feel like I am contributing to a vets practice all of my own . My husband says I should do a vet degree in my spare time ( what spare time ?) since it will pay dividends in the long run , he has a point ,but I don't believe you can do vet. medicine at night school ( and if you know better please don't tell me in case I feel compelled to do it !!) My chickens have gone into a full moult and I nearly have enough feathers for a pillow , but no eggs !

Over the weekend we beefed up security and have protected the night paddock and driveway with laser alarms - come calling at your peril , but it should do the trick and gives me peace of mind !

#1 son got stung by a bee in the middle of the night - dont ask how , 'cos I have no idea - but since he is allergic to stings it made 2am much more interesting than usual . He is fine now , if a little sore .

My little suri , Artemis, continues to go from strength to strength .This is she on her birth day .Bottle feeding is not nearly as onerous as I had anticipated , and she is always very keen to see me , which is lovely.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Still on tenter hooks

Today started OK , no visitors during the night , but when I went to let the alpacas out of their night field Hermione was slow to come . Normally a reticent animal ,she is always quick to exit any situation , however, today she ambled past me in what can only be described as a relaxed fashion.Throughout he morning it became clear that she was unwell , and by lunchtime she was staggering and unsteady - I thought she might fall.I called our vets' , who are excellent , and they came out immediately. It soon became apparent that an abscess on Hermione's neck was to blame - she may have been winged in the attack on Friday - but could easily be treated with antibiotics . She is doing well now .

Hermione in the foreground

Sunday, 21 September 2008


This is Pudding before her untimely death .

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

Sick to my stomach...

I am writing to you at 4 am because I cannot go back to bed , I am so ANGRY and upset - some thoughtless ( I hope thoughtless) bastard has let their dog into our field and it has attacked and killed Eve's Pudding . I simply do not know what to do with myself , the police have been , and very kindly said that it is unlikely they will get anyone , but they were very nice about it !!John and I were woken by the alpaca screaming , and I stuck my head out of the window and saw a light shinning into our field , I yelled , small commotion from the car , doors slammed and they drove off. I thought the alpaca were just scared , but when I got out to check , Pudding was down and breathing her last. She was such a fab animal , how could anyone do something so stupid or unkind . Maybe I'm not cut out for this - aren't farmers supposef to just shrug and go back to bed ? very tearfully yours...

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Sunny autumn ?

Well , today has been glorious! Sunny and warm - chickens and alpacas alike have been stretched out in fields , sunbathing ! I have been recovering from my #4 son having a tummy bug , why do kids always throw up all night and by morning are fighting fit again , whilst I am wiped out but get no respite ?! #2 son has moved all the eggs from the nest in the brambles and so nobody laid there today , so tomorrow will require me to keep everyone in the house until lunch time and then follow the most likely candidates until they show me the new nest site - lets hope its more accessible than the last one !
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

autumn is certainly nearly here!

For the first time I lit a fire as soon as I got back from the school run , this is the way the days will start more and more regularly , cheaper and more eco-friendly than central heating especially if you can get a plentiful supply of free wood , which we are lucky enough to do.

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


Well , the weekend has been extremely productive, despite the sudden appearance of in-laws ! Actually , they were in a very productive mood too , so LOTS got . DH has finally managed to up-root my fantastic blackcurrant bush , divide it , and re-locate it into the field recently ploughed by the pigs . Fab! This leaves a now almost completely clear space to start erecting alpaca shelter for the winter.
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


Today has been a day of personal fulfilment or should I say a day when I pleased myself ! Started well with aPTA fundraising meeting to secure dates for the coming terms diary , and then I had a most hedonistic moment and went riding . Riding is my relatively new found passion , I started just over a year ago from a position of total fear , but with my 3rd sons' best interests at heart , and I absolutely love it , in fact , I cant wait for my lesson each week. Missing is not an option. For the first time in my life I am actually doing regular , enjoyable exercise , which is brilliant not only for the body but the mind also. I have an hour when I have to focus on something to the exclusion of everything else , and my 2 brilliant teachers make it such fun ( despite the falls , and there have been a couple...) that i cannot believe how fast the time goes. Thank you Fiona and Sam , if you ever read this , you will never apprecciate how much this has meant.
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

here we go.....

Hi !
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 !