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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 !