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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Colour co-ordinated!

The weather has come in with avengence , and so the alpacas are coming in for the nights - well strictly speaking the white and pale colours are coming in , the black and dark brown are staying out ! Why? Does anyone know why, I certainly don't , but I have often observed that colour is a big issue for alpacas . I don't think they discriminate , but they are colour conscious , Dark colours stick together , pale colours stick together , and unless there is a bigger agenda , that is largely how they stay ! The exception to this gross generalisation is the way that little Berlioz is treated , at feeding time Bijou ( as head of the herd) gets first pickings and guards her trough to the exclusion of all others regardless of colour , but Berlioz is allowed to eat with her .I think she senses that he needs a bit of a helping hand , and makes an exception for him.

Yesterday was also Vit injection day . An event that we all look forward too ( not) . We took a different tack this time , and injected Athena first , and whilst she still had time o land one good spit in DH's face , she was quickly removed from the catching pen . She spent the rest of the time prowling the edges she could reach and trying to spit , but didn't manage to get us again and we were all alot cleaner and happier, I also managed some toe nail trimming so Hermione looks quite the lady now !

Sunday, 20 December 2009


The snow has arrived , althou a pretty pathetic attempt compared to some parts of the UK , it is sufficient to cover the ground ( just ) and cause a few slips in the car! Deja vu as I slid down the drive , but this time I did it more slowly and there was nobody at the bottom to hit - result!

The alpacas are continuing in their own contrary way - they will not come in to the stables for shelter , preferring to sit under the trees, what is their logic ? The post title refers to the weaning process for Berlioz . Since the weather has got colder and tougher have gone backwards in the process . We are back to two full bottles a day , when we had reached just one 3/4 bottle at bed time . Berlioz is always pleased to see me and guzzles the lot , so I think he must need it . On the plus side he is continuing to eat hard feed , doing much better than his slightly older compatriots , and he won't be 6 months until Jan 13........... so whilst the weather is bad and he is still taking the lot I shall carry on feeding him and try hard to quell my feelings of shame that I have gone backwards !

Our first night in our new bedrooms was very successful , despite the cries of ' who can sleep in this heat?' ( 17C) , waking to more snow and still feeling warm was a great treat which I suspect we shall come to take for granted all too quickly. It seems that all the inches of insulation are paying off !

Saturday, 19 December 2009


Wow , it is cold today ! The temp has not risen above -2C all day and the wind is making it feel colder . Last night I took the alpacas into the stables , they have a choice of 3 but insist on all trying to cram into one ! They did appreciate the round the clock hay and hard feed to order ! At last they are beginning to look fluffy again after all the rain , and the pale ones are looking their proper colour rather than muddy grey.

Tonight is our first night in our new bedrooms - so exciting . The floor situation has improved , a change of adhesive has done the job , and we should be easily finished by Wed so that I can start using the kitchen for Christmas - truth be known I have already started to fill the cupboards- but don't tell DH since he feels I should do nothing until it's finished .
The children finished school yesterday so we can wind down a bit towards Christmas , presents are all bought , but I don't have a tree , food is sorted out so we are doing ok . Finished kitchen would just polish it off , fingers crossed!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

God bless the NHS , and other bits !

I have been quite for a couple of weeks , partly because on the animal front life is quiet ( i hesitate to say dull cos that is tempting fate ) alpacas have moved to a clean field once the rain has stopped and we have had a couple of crisp mornings , so the risk of that field turning into a quagmire are less . One hen has decided that now is a good time to moult ( mad ) but her feathers are growing back quickly .

On the house front ,2 steps forward 1 step back ! All the new bedrooms are ready to go , ie they have carpets/ wood floors , blinds , beds and heating and light , voila! On the down side , the slate floors were supposed to have been finished last Friday , and by now my kitchen would have been finished and I would be filling cupboards , cooking and generally moving everything in - not so , the floors are a nightmare . The adhesive wont stick to the slate , although it has stuck very hard to the floor , the tiler is blaming the adhesive , the adhesive manufacturers are blaming the tiler , us and generally everybody else , work has stopped with 25m2 laid and waiting to be taken up , I just want my floor laid NOW! Until the floor is laid the kitchen cant be finished ......

Anyway the title of the post might suggest that we have also had experience of hospital recently - anyone like to guess which son ? Yes , Theo! On Friday he and his twin brother went to scout sleepover prior to completing a 26 mile ride for their cycling badge ,half an hour after we got back from dropping them off the phone rang , general conversation about an accident, A & E etc , 'please meet us there' . Luckily the large glass of baileys which I had just poured ( the stress is getting to me ) had not yet been touched , so off I duly set . Had to stop for petrol , not normally a hazardous job , only to get caught up in the middle of a fight , finally got out of that and got to the hospital ,to find 2 shaken scout leaders , mildly blood covered , and one very shocked and blood soaked child . Apparently during a game of hide and seek in the park behind the scout hut , which boasts swings and a roundabout , T had slipped down a bank , only to discover that he had slashed his buttock and the top of his leg on what appears to have been a piece of glass. The wound is 3 or 4 inches long and a couple of inches deep , very unpleasant . Have to admit that I did laugh when the nurses asked the scout leaders if it was a knife wound - what do they think goes on in scouts in a quiet little town in the Brecon Beacons ?! - anyway the nursing staff were brilliant . Althou we were there for 3 hours , not a minute was wasted , we had xrays , wounds cleaned etc , they were quick, efficient , but above all very , very kind to a small boy who was deeply shocked but who also showed enormous bravery and was polite and courteous to everyone even when he was in serious pain . Finally , Theo was stitched up , 3 internal and 9 external stitches , he had gas and air , which made him laugh a lot , but also made him sleepy , which was a blessing since he dozed throu some of the worst stitching , which took the best part of an hour . Now he has a lovely war wound , and is a local hero for the next couple of days - many of the scouts saw the wound when it happened and one was sick , so they are very awed by his experience . I am very proud of how he behaved, but hope never to have to see that again !

Monday, 7 December 2009

so trusting - not!

As for many , it has rained a hell of alot recently and today has been no exception.

The last week or so has been hectic - I have set us the deadline of 12Dec for us to be able to move into our new house end! I have been madly painting and fiddling, DH has been fitting kitchen , which he has done very professionally , but like most guys it is hard to keep him on task , and everything has taken a long time ! The alpaca have had the minimum of care for the last week or so - I have dashed out and fed everyone , let out the chickens and then got on with house things .

Today was a bit more relaxed - the stone masons arrived to lay the kitchen floors , so I can't fiddle down there any more , and have reached a halt up stairs pending the arrival of carpets on Friday .I have made up drawers for the kitchen etc , but DH doesn't want anything in situ until he is ready - I am champing ! Anyway , as a result I spent a bit more time with the alpacas. As always I started the day with a bottle for Berlioz , I am beginning to wean him and reducing the volume of milk he is offered gradually , today it was pelting down when I went out so I wore my full length Drizaabone , Berlioz was obviously not impressed , he was very cautious and finally decided that he didn't feel hungry enough to brave THE COAT , I went and changed and then , miraculously , he was hungry and drank the lot _ little monkey . Gradually he is eating more hard feed , and is more adventurous than the other cria , he was very impressed with the micronised peas and garlic , less so with the sugar beet . Maybe they will come in tonight ?!

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 !

Sunday, 25 October 2009


Just quickly , the house has had a massive jump forwards ! As of tonight , all the rooms are painted at least once - DS#3's room has had 2 coats , my study has had 2 coats ... the kitchen has been delivered , the doors and windows have glass, the back door / front door ( depending on your point of view) is hung ; and miracle of miracles ,DH is talking about how soon I can get carpets chosen and laid so he can start to move furniture ... must go and lie down in a darkened room to get over the shock !!

so much to tell ...

Life has been really busy , so busy that I haven't had the time or energy to blog about it , and as the days have rolled past it has become something of a daunting prospect , but finally I have time so here goes ...

Finally I have 2 pigs back from the butcher , and boy are they delicious ! The first one sold out immediately , bar a few sausages I kept for us , and the second arrived yesterday with lincolnshire sausages for a change . Haven't had time to sample them yet , but we had a joint for dinner and it was fab! My new butcher is doing a great job , such an improvement , everything comes back bagged and labelled , not just nameless joints in very large plastic bags ( I kid you not ) so it is so much easier to deal with !

Last weekend we had our ever helpful friends to stay . Lyn and I got the polytunnel in order for the winter , while the men built a plinth for the AGA to go on in the new kitchen . They love concrete , and did a great job , even if they did leave the hosepipe on and drained the ( already low ) water tank - you didn't think I knew about that did you M !Anyway , the weather was great and so everyone , except DS#4 and I , went for a fab walk along the ridge behind the house , apparently it was lovely , but longer and cooler than anticipated , so there were several cold kiddies when they got home ! We have learned from our past disaster not to let the guests near the animals ( see blog about broken hip ) and so just admired from afar . L & M have helped with injections and the like before , and I was tempted to get the Vit A D & E done , but resisted ( wish I had now ) . As always , we had a great weekend .

This week I have had my shoulder treated , a steroid injection into the joint has done the trick beautifully and I have had some good nights sleep for the first time in months !

I have also been to London with the eldest 3 boys to see Oliver ! Honestly the best musical we have seen , even better than the Lion King , but only just . The boys loved it , adn so did I! Thanks to their godmother for the tickets and the lovely couple of days we spent with her - wish she lived nearer!

Now we are all recovering from flu/ swine flu/ severe illness , take your pick!

The alpaca are behaving very well , Berlioz has even taken a bottle from DH 2 feeds in a row ! He is looking really lovely now and is full of life ! I still find it odd that his mother pays little attention to him , sometimes she is with him and other times he sleeps with another mum , Veronica , who is not known for her tolerance , and is fiercely protective of her baby , but she will let him snuggle up on the other side to her cria . I wish I could get a photo , but of course its dark and I don't want to freak them out with a flash !

I am intending to get some of the Vit A D & E injections done this week , really wish I 'd let friends help , the change in the hour has meant that it is too dark to do with DH when he gets in from work , so will have to try and fit some in before other excitement this week . A couple of the mums are looking a little bit thin , and so I am going to start supplementing them with hard feed now that the goodness has almost gone from the grass.

Anyway , still loads to tell , but enough for one night!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

what a difference a week makes

Life has been pretty steady at the moment - certainly as far as the animals are concerned . Berlioz is starting to put on weight , he was not overly keen to take a bottle , even though he clearly needed it and was hungry . A bit of stern talking , and we are away. I finally worked out that he is only happy to feed if he is in a small pen with as many other alpacas present as is possible- it must be a security thing , the more animals present the better he feeds. Mind you the rest of the herd started to get a bit stroppy about being rounded up three times a day, and I have gradually reduced the numbers so that it was only his direct family ( Riva and Artemis) and Athena , yesterday they all flatly refused to be rounded up at lunchtime , and since I have a cold and therefore a very short fuse , I started to leave the field without feeding Berlioz , at which point he followed me and fed out in the open , now that is progress ! I guess he is just a home bird who likes to be home ! Funnily enough , his mother is paying less attention to him than when they first came back , but he has been adopted by last year's maidens ( Athena , Artemis and Acantha ) who seem happy to mother him and keep him company . Pictures tomorrow I promise.

Also , last Sunday I went to a poultry auction . Not much to crow about ( excuse the pun) but I did manage to buy 1 bird - a very sweet youngish Brahma , she is not in great condition- missing a few tail feathers and with a deformed foot , but she has settled well and tonight put herself to bed in the main chicken house - also progress! She is the spitting image of Pepper , who was a tasty meal for the fox , but she is currently called Brahma !!

Otherwise , our house is very nearly finished - we have all the exterior done , all the bedrooms upstairs are painted with at least one coat , and yesterday the underfloor heating was laid in the kitchen and family room . WE WILL BE IN BY CHRISTMAS! and the kitchen is due next week!!!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Home sweet home

A busy couple of days !

Yesterday I had a visit from some delightful American alpaca owners who were in this part of the world visiting relatives and came to visit the alpacas and me . We had a jolly nice couple of hours exchanging alpaca'stuff' over a cuppa , so nice to meet nice people who have the same interests as oneself!

Today I went to collect West , Riva and little Berlioz from Sue .It's always great to visit , we have such a laugh , but always I learn something useful , another great person to sit and talk' alpaca' with. And , for those of you of a weak disposition this might be a good time to sit down , I have shifted a fleece !!!! I met a fab spinner ( in all senses) who thought West was fantastic and wanted his fleece - don't say I'm not a dedicated business woman in the alpaca world now - stud fees and a fleece in the same month! Anyway , I took Mischief and DC back and collected my 3 . They are all looking great , and Riva is pregnant ( fingers crossed) , Berlioz is doing fine , he is a little on the small side at the moment , but he has taken a couple of bottles totalling 1200 ml since we got home, so hopefully he will start to catch up with his peers soon - honestly Riva , can't you try harder ?!

But great to have them home, even if it does mean the return of soggy jeans at 7pm every night !

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Strange creatures

Today was injection day for the whole herd! Since I am awaiting an opinion on an operation on my shoulder , I am not much use in the catching stakes at the moment , so DH got the whole lot to himself , as you can imagine he was thrilled ( not) . Athena was first , having the only confirmed case of mites and being the nicest animal in the herd - and my favourite ( don't tell the others) , so I felt she would be quick and easy to deal with - WRONG ! As soon as I put my hand on her she went berserk - screaming and spitting , and generally behaving extremely badly , this I was not expecting and so was liberally covered in that ever pungent regurgitated grass. From that point on she took on the role of herd protector - every animal we handled after her was treated to her protection and we were definitely in the firing line! She reared and screamed , spat and kicked , it was quite extraordinary.

Whilst Athena did a passable impression of Lara Croft on speed , Woden went into full mating mode , orgling for all he was worth , apparently turned on by the girls sitting in protest at the injection and taking it as a sign of acquiescence. So on one hand we had a mad banshee in our faces , and right next to her an over amorous gelding , it was mayhem . At this point Artemis got in on the act , and decide that DH had grabbed her as a sign of affection , which she was only too happy to return , and she followed him very closely , sticking her nose in his face and nudging him in the back if he turned away - he doesn't really like alpacas at the best of times , but found these 3 characters very trying !

The decision was made that Woden could no longer remain with the girls and now was a sensible time to move him - madness on our part ! The clock was ticking since #3 son had a riding lesson to get too , anyway , we ( I ) decided that he had to go , so we put a halter on him and he sat down and flatly refused to move , not one inch . I haltered Athena , to whom he is quite partial ,and led her out in front , Woden moved.... 2 feet , and sat down ! At this point I knew we were loosing , but you can't give in , Athena got bored and started to prance and buck , so she went back in the field and we were left having to carry a very angry alpaca into a trailer ... DH had the worst of it , but finally we managed and I drove Woden over to the boys field , where he has been happily welcomed .

What a day! I am pretty sure , after Wodens antics , that Veronica, Athena and Kirsty aren't pregnant , and that Cerys and Bijou are , but you just cant be sure , Artemis and Acantha kept well out of the way so who knows about them .

On Tuesday I am going to collect Riva and Berlioz and West , it will be so exciting to see them !

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Bl***y Pigs !

Got home today and found the pigs out in the field again - this is loosing any semblance of amusing that there ever was - and not only had they dug up a fairly sizable portion of our newly sown field , but also chewed a hole in the poly tunnel ! Role on 1st Oct when they have a date at the abattoir!

On the alpaca front , life is quiet , Athena does have a case of mites , but spotted early and hopefully under control , Riva is spitting off well at Sue's place , Athena is not pregnant as testified by her allowing my black gelding to attempt mating ! Woden is in with the girls because he is black , and the only other blacks I have a re girls . Up until now that has not been a problem , but this year he witnessed the antics in the mating pens and has got the hang of it , and thinks it must be worth a go ! In my ( limited) experience the alpaca are very colour orientated and so I have left him with the black girls because the pale coloured geldings don't want to be friends , now he will have to overcome the prejudice and live with the boys ! I'm sure he is affecting the girls cycle , and as a result I think I have fewer pregnancies than last year , but as usual with alpacas - time will tell !

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Pigs and changes !

Well , for the third time in 3 days the pigs have escaped - this is a clear sign that they are ready for the butcher ! They have climbed over the fence and let themselves in with the alpaca , who are decidedly unhappy at this turn of events and alert me to the intruders by giving off an alarm call . I then run out and check that all the gates are shut and they cant get to the road , and then have to find a screwdriver and unscrew the door to their sty ( DH is keen that they don't take the door off , stuff that I say , you try and get them back in in a hurry !) and then lure them back in with some food and screw the door back on. Of course , they usually do this when time is of the essence - picking up time from school , leaving for Budo , leaving for football practice , I give it to them , they are not predictable , but how I wish they would stay in their own field , and the alpacas agree!

The alpacas are fine , the fleece loss on Athena's back hasn't spread( yet ) and I wonder if it was maybe a large sore rather than mites ?? Anyhow , the cria are growing well , Riva is still spitting off down in West Wales and we are calm !

Also today , I have finished my reign as Treasurer of the PTA ! In many ways I am glad to hand it on - I have done it for 3 years , not in a solely treasurer capacity , but as part of a 3 man team who have worked hard as a team ! As all things it has become monotonous and tiresome at times , but at others really good fun and we achieved alot , over £25K was raised on our watch and we are pleased with that ! But I must admit I will miss it a little bit , and it seems like I have a gap now - what shall i do instead? Well, vice chair of the governors to start with , and hopefully more involvement with the local village markets , and more work with the animals.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Athena's back...

What beautiful weather ! The animals are appreciating it all and so are we . I am hoping to get the fields fertilised soon and reap some of the benefit of the continued sunshine .

Today , whilst doing routine inspections , I came across a problem with Athena's back .I had noticed that her fleece looked a little flattened along the spine when we came back from holiday , but put it down to rolling in the mud baths . Today there is an area the size of a ten pence piece which is bald and has quite toughened skin, the rest of the area is not showing any signs of loosing the fleece , but she is a bit stroppy about being handled , which is unlike her . I have put pig oil on her skin , but my eprinex is out of date , so I shall get some of that tomorrow and treat her with that and see if that does the trick . Nobody else seems to be affected , and I hope it stays that way , we have managed to avoid the dreaded mites for nearly 2 yrs and I intend to keep it that way , now would be a bad time to get them going into winter ! Any other suggestions welcome .

DH has been away sailing in the Solent for the weekend , a catch up with the guys he did some of the round the world race with many years ago , but he is back tonight , which will be nice and we can get some more jobs finished in the extension , which is coming along nicely!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Chickens !

We are still reaping the 'rewards' of a fox's visit !
Every evening DH and I are found standing in between the hens and the honeysuckle by the front door , which is their preferred nesting site at present . We try and manoeuvre them into their house and they try and get into the honeysuckle - then DH has to get a ladder to get them down - we are beginning to have a sense of humour failure ! Plus , one cockerel has taken to roosting in the fir tree , just out of reach ! I have to climb up and grab his legs , then we have a tussle while he flaps and squawks madly and I try and hang on and climb down at the same time ! I will not be woken unnecessarily early so he has to go in a house - but why does he have to make it so difficult ?!

Another nice sunbathing day for the alpaca , and they all seem well and content .

Monday, 7 September 2009


Well , the sun is out , the sky is blue ....... the alpacas are all playing dead as they soak up the rays and relax! The grass is still growing nicely - what more could you want !?

Yesterday I topped off the paddock used by the birthing mums and now resting , in preparation for fertilising and growth for the winter . The chicken houses were cleaned and disinfected and I learnt to use a chainsaw for wood chopping - how much fun is that ! and I still have all my appendages .

The hens are looking relaxed and joining the alpaca in a spot of sunbathing , and the pigs are gorging on all the plums that have fallen into their paddock - they will taste great !

Sue tells me that Berlioz is doing fine , his mum spat for 2 tests and then sat ! What is going on this year , first everyone holds on for AGES before having their cria , and now they are all taking a while to get pregnant. I think we will have to wait and see who is pregnant after Christmas , I don't want late cria next year , maybe this is natures way of them getting a rest and starting again in the spring .... we shall see.

Anyway . hate to tempt fate , but all is good ......

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Back to life !

We are settling back into our normal lives again - kids are back at school today , and we have spent a couple of days just getting things straight after our holiday and house sitters! The boys have kept themselves busy hunting for the fox , armed with large sticks ! I think the fox is pretty safe , but it has given them a purpose to the last days of the holidays !The hens are a bit more flighty than usual and bed time for them is a problem - they are all a bit nervy and have taken to roosting on top of the front porch or in the honeysuckle , gradually they are using their houses again , but every evening DH has to get a ladder out and throw them down to me so that I can put them in their houses !

Jo , who house sat the first week without problem , seemed to have a good time . She had a couple of escaping pigs one morning but managed to persuade them back into their house with some food ( she'll make a farmer yet ) and rounded up the alpaca single handedly so that the vet could do some routine shots , and generally did good ! Thanks Jo , how about next year ?

The alpaca are fine , seem really pleased to see me and are keen to come over for a quick sniff ( them not me ) and sit around with me for some naval contemplating . The cria have grown so much it's amazing , and I cant wait to go and collect Berlioz from Sue to see how he's doing . Sue had a traumatic time with one of her best females ( always the way ) who had a breech cria ( dead) and a torn uterus - fingers crossed she is ok , not really very optimistic , but it will be good to see Sue and catch up . Hopefully that will be one day next week .

Since we got back the rain has been torrential at times and my mind is turning to winter - how are we going to make life easier for us all if this level of rain continues ? Last night , the water was already running off the field s, how can we cope ? We need to finish the holding area outside the stables so that we have some drained hard standing if life gets really wet or snowy , but I am
vacillating wildly between having the whole area concreted ( original plan ) and using paving slabs so that there is a bit more drainage both for water and wee - any views anyone ?

The butchering date for the pigs is fast approaching , so I need to make sure I have a list of people wanting meat and enough freezer space for us . But now I am going to do a bit of house work and read a book - I mean rest my shoulder , which may be fractured , but probably isn't !

Monday, 31 August 2009

lots to report

Well , finally back from holiday - which was awesome ! We had great weather and a truly great time, plenty of beaching and relaxing . Then we went straight to my nieces wedding , which was organised completely by my sister and was beautiful - we were all very emotional , and the bride looked gorgeous .

Then we got home last night - MAYHEM!

Our first house sitter did a great job and did some annual injections for us ( slight help from the vet) and managed to contain the pigs on an escape attempt ( more later) .

Second weeks sitters - disaster ! They are relatives of a friend , and have SAT for us twice before with great success , but this year it all went wrong . They found the alpacas too inquisitive ( have you ever heard ??) , the chickens too many and too nosey , the poly tunnel too full of wasps and generally hated every moment ! Que sera , however , as a result they chose to go home early ( 2 days early) and failed to communicate this properly to anyone .

Got home last night ....... piles of feathers - 14 chickens gone ! I know they are only chicken , but I just cried, my beautiful little pair of Brahmas - gone . All the last batch we hatched - gone , and one other I haven't had time to identify !

Added to this , Kevin , my fantastic cockerel , keeled over the day we left and died of a heart attack ! On the whole , chickens - disaster !

The boys are vowing never to go away again ( cheaper by far) , and frankly I feel similarly , it will pass , but I think we are looking for new sitters !

But the alpaca are good .

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

So far so good...

On Sat I made the trip to W Wales with 2 DS's and 4 alpaca! I returned Teifi Magic to his co-owner , Sue , and also left Bozedown West with her since she may have some clients for him . But most importantly ,Sue had agreed to look after Berlioz and Riva whilst we are on holiday . I think she was pretty impressed with Berlioz , and Riva manged to create a good impressionas well . Sue has mated her to one of her beautiful suri boys Bozedown Bartholemew , and I am really excited about what she may produce next year fingers crossed.
I had a great time at Sue's , admiring her herd and catching up on the news , and she had some really exciting ideas ... watch this space. DS #1 &#2 enjoyed themselves , playing with Sue's niece and nephew , and then we had to come home ! It has seemed strangely quiet without Berlioz for the last few days , but I am assured that he is still feeding well and generally enjoying himself.

We are getting ready for our house sitters to arrive on Friday, it's great to have them , but for somebody who loathes housework I am spending alot of my time getting the place spotless ! I really will need a holiday!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Would you believe it ?!

The last day or two Berlioz has been reluctant to take a bottle , needing first to be caught and then persuaded that it is a good idea , which is contrary to what has been happening up until now ; previously he has run up to me to be fed , has needed no persuading and has sunk the lot ! Yesterday I managed to secure the last bag of lamblac milk powder at huge expense to get us throu to weaning , and guess what .... Riva has started to produce some milk ! Not enough to stop the extra feeds completely , but enough to make up a decent proportion of his daily need ! Would you credit it ! Of course , I am really pleased , and hope it continues - who can explain them ,eh ?

Athena is no longer limping, after a good look I could find no obvious problems and concluded it must be a sprain , maybe putting her foot in a mole hill or something , but now she is fine and I didn't even have to call the vet.

Me and my shadow !
Bourbon(r) and Bilbo

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


.. on a couple of fronts ! The weather is making things difficult , everything is so muddy that I am slipping around and so the chores are taking longer , and the animals are fed up 'cos they are slipping as well ! Anyway , Athena is limping and I am struggling since I have torn the tendons in my shoulder ( a combination of horse fall and wrestling with alpaca!) and so cannot deal with her myself and am having to wait for DH to come home , which he will be thrilled about ! Also , I had a new sheep rack delivered today - which is very exciting , and so I had to put it together immediately, and it being very heavy my shoulder is in even worse shape and I will not be able to sleep tonight with the pain , but it does look great and now all the hay will be kept drier and off the ground , so more hygienic and more cost effective ! I think Athena has a cut in her foot ( I did have a quick look ) and of course the wet ground will not help - ever tried keeping a foot bandage on an alpaca at the best of times .
Anyway , on a brighter note , some of my chickens who have had a rather dramatic moult and are wandering around looking like ex- batts , everyone keeps asking if they have lice/feather peck but they don't its just moult , have started to grow feathers and now they look like ginger hedgehogs , but will be so smart soon .
Also , had a great chat with a fellow breeder who has been a friend from day1 , but haven't had a chance to talk for a while , and it is so good to catch up and share disaster / hilarious stories now that the cria season is almost safely over .

Bourbon has a surprise at the new feeder!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Oops I've done it again !

...camping that is ! We went camping on Monday and stayed until Wed , throu' torrential rain and flooding , but the boys loved it . The first day was OK , the weather was sunny but windy and bearable , I managed to get the tent up all by myself and it was all fine . DH arrived after work , having fed the baby alpaca( well tried anyway) and fed all the other animals , and I went home to feed the baby alpaca since he hadn't taken much from DH but drank all of it from me . Tues was WET , and the enjoyment factor declined in a direct correlation with the length of time it had been raining. Eventually the camp site was completely sodden and patches of standing water began to appear . After a night of torrential rain coupled with hurricane force winds , I packed up as soon as we got up and CAME HOME!

Berlioz is doing OK , he always looks a little dejected to me , but that is just me personalising him , but he is taking his bottle well ,and guzzling in excess of 1200ml a day so he is doing fine . Soon he will be off to West Wales for his hols , I hope to see a big change when I get back . AS far as his mother goes , I shall give her one more chance - she gets mated again and then if she cannot feed her cria next year I will sell her as a non-breeder. I am concerned about the condition being genetic, and I shall see whether her daughter has the same problem before making a final decision .

The alpaca have spent most of the day in the back garden today, freaks the postman out ! - keeping the lawn down and making cutting a bit easier for me - the weather has been sunnier and the grass is growing like mad , if we could get 4 good days we could make our final fields of hay and be ready for winter - fingers crossed .

Four out of five of this years cria

Sunday, 26 July 2009

So busy , so little time !

Well , the vets came on Friday , after the plasma arrived , and we managed to get the plasma into Berlioz without too much fuss . Of course , he wasn't thrilled at me holding him still for the best part of an hour , but I'm sure it's worth it . Today he is bounding around with the other cria and is still taking his bottle very nicely , he even let DH feed him yesterday!

On Friday night we had TORRENTIAL rain , which caused the cattle grids to block up and the water to rush past the front door in am alarmingly high level . Cue DH me and some of the boys feverishly clearing cattle grids and diverting water pouring from the fields into them . I have never seen rain like it , and the fields are already waterlogged - and it's only July !?

Saturday was chicken house cleaning day . We have fallen victim to the dreaded red mite , and it is almost a full time job keeping them at bay. Most mornings I go out with a flame torch and burn all the little beggars I can see - it is a truly cathartic process ! But at the weekends I take apart a house and blitz it with a pressure hose and then spray liberally with Jeyes fluid , that keeps them at bay for a couple of days and by the next weekend we do it again ,which seems to keep them at acceptable ( I use the word loosely) levels for the hens .

Also managed to get rid of 2 cockerels to good homes, one to the electrician and one to the vet . 2 down 5 to go!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


A hitch in posting , means that the plasma won't now be here until Friday, but Berlioz seems to be doing well . I am trying to be careful about not getting too friendly - we don't want a 'berserk alpaca' in the future - but he is so sweet and so smart , he has already cottoned on to the fact that me + bottle = feed , and he comes over to me without too much hesitation . Riva helps , she seems to know that I am feeding him to keep him alive , and so she comes and stands nearby when I feed him and he always goes straight back to her when he has finished his bottle and has a quick suckle with mum . He is smarter than his sister Artemis who took several weeks to realise that I was on her side .

I think I have solved part of the riddle of why the girls are spitting and then sitting in a slightly random fashion , well Athena is anyway , today I have caught our gelding , Woden , trying to mate with Athena , who seems quite comfortable cushing and letting him get on with it . Tomorrow I will separate him off into a field with girls I believe to be pregnant and who will have none of this fuss . Woden is a slight oddity in that he goes mad if he is separated from Bijou ! I think it's because he is the only black gelding and the fawn ones all sit together and exclude him - have you noticed how they tend to sit in colour groups ? Anyway, Woden is much more comfortable with the black girls , but this simulated mating thing could be a problem , may even induce ovulation which will really muck up my mating schedule !

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Berlioz ...

bad news from the vet today , it appears that after an IgG test ( levels of immunity) Berlioz has not got a sufficiently high level and will need a plasma transfer . This is due to his mother not producing enough colostrum , and whilst we can produce our own colostrum it is tricky and needs a spinner , which neither our vets nor us possess. Thankfully , Mary-Jo has a supply of frozen colostrum which can be couriered to us for Thursday , the vet is on standby to come and do the transfusion , and I am stressed !

Royal Welsh

Yesterday was a day out for me minus kids - hurray!

Amanda and I went to the Royal Welsh Show near Builth Wells , the largest agricultural show in Europe allegedly , and an annual trip for the pair of us . We had a fab day , with great weather and some great stuff to look at , the horse events were brilliant especially the Inter-hunt relay , nerve racking and so exciting to see all the these horses competing against each other and the clock , and the commentator was hilarious.
Sadly , no alpacas at the Welsh , but huge numbers of beautiful cows and pigs , thousands of sheep ( yawn) and cute curly goats . I was also very tempted by a new mini tractor , DH says we can manage until next year ( boo ) but it was pretty cool to be trying out a tractor - who would have thought that Peter Jones could lead to this !

Berlioz is taking to 2 bottles a day well , and the newest cria , as yet unnamed , is doing really well, shame about the weather .

Quick house update - the roof is on , the stud walls are up , the plumbing is going in as we speak and the electrics start at the weekend.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Fifth and final!

Today at 11am Veronica had her cria ! I had a feeling that she was going to produce today when I saw her at breakfast , and sure enough she did , althou' we had a few tense moments when a head but no legs appeared , and when they finally did appear they were in the wrong position , but everything finally slotted into place and our latest and last edition arrived - a girl ! As yet unnamed , but very bonny and big and strong , up and feeding easily - a corker .
Veronica is quite the reverse of most of my girls , who become sweet and loving for 24hrs after giving birth and will let you stroke and cuddle them when they would normally run a mile - Veronica becomes quite savage when she is in labour , and chased me out of the field , having done something I have never heard of before - she bit me ! quite hard on the back of the arm , and it hurt !! Now she is calm , but not friendly , baby is feeding well and we are all at peace with the world .

Berlioz is another matter ! Riva is clearly not producing enough milk and I have deceided , on vets advice , to supplement twice a day . As I have said this presents me with a problem whilst we are away on holiday, but during a conversation with my dear friend Sue , the answer appeared ! I shall take 2 of my studs to her along with Riva and Berlioz and she is happy to feed him twice a day . Thank you Sue . We are both caught in the bTB problem , Rules are different in Wales and only the state vet can do the test , which means they are not prepared to come out for one animal but to do the whole herd . The theory is good but the practice is flawed and that makes me nervous .

Friday, 17 July 2009


.. we had a small weight gain since yesterday morning, 300gms , but better by far than I had anticipated , seems like I might get away with one top up a day after all . Will keep you posted .
The name game continues , I fancy Berlioz and the kids fancy Biscuit - good , since that is exactly his colouring , and DH gets to vote for Bossanova ...... will let you know !

The weather is foul , so he is wearing our very fetching cria coat in bright red - makes it so much easier to spot him in the field , and my resident farming expert says we have enough grass to cut for hay , if the sun ever shines again !

Thursday, 16 July 2009

I gave in ! and a dilemma ...

I held out for the best part of 4 days , but I have given in and bottle fed our latest cria ! I have been really good up until now , and just sat back and watched , he is nursing really nicely but I just knew he wasn't getting enough despite my best attempts with his mum . I have weighed him each morning and his weight has slowly declined , he started out big so I knew he wasn't in any real danger , but tonight I gave him a bottle and he drank 250ml straight down ! The vet also came out today to take some blood for an IgG test just to make sure he got enough colostrum - results tomorrow . I intend to just 'top up ' at night if possible , which should be a lot easier , but we shall see , I think his mum might be a little over conditioned ( fat ) which can affect milk production .....nobody really seems to know .

The next dilemma on the list is - to test or not to test ? I spoke to one of the BIG breeders today about mating for Riva in a couple of weeks , and they said that if I want to do a drive by then fine , but if I intend to leave her then they want a bTB test done . In theory I have no problem with this since I know , as much as one can, that my animals are clean , however, the test is so inaccurate that you cannot be 100% sure of the result and I have mixed feelings about taking a test which only has a 60% accuracy when the result could mean a cull . On the other hand , I have house sitters coming to stay for 2 weeks whilst we are away , and the added pressure of having to do an evening feed for our baby may prove a problem so sending the pair of them to a big breeder for a couple of months has its appeal . I shall cogitate on that one , any views are very welcome , what would you do ? or have you done ?

Monday, 13 July 2009

Another baby!

What a day ! It never ends , on returning from the school run I found that Riva , my suri, had given birth . The builders were all sitting on the new roof watching , and clearly found it all fascinating !

The new arrival is a beautiful colour darkish fawn and sooo gorgeous , with the most fantastic lock structure and lustre to die for. My only regret is that he is not a girl - that would have been amazing ! Also we have an issue for the future , his mother is a suri so he has the appearance of a suri due to the dominant phenotype , but his father is a huacaya .

This means that in the future , if he were to breed, matings to homozygous ( pure) suris would result in phenotypically suris , whilst mating to a heterozygous suri or a huacaya could produce a huacaya . Worse things have happened , but it does mean careful thought when the time comes .Meanwhile , Riva is the devoted mother and the cria was up and away very nicely , feeding well and weighing a healthy 9.1kgs. I dashed over to the vets to collect a dose of oxytocin, to help milk production , since last year she wasn't able to produce enough to feed her cria which meant I was bottle feeding for 6 months .

I have had a quick feel , and only 2 quarters have milk at the moment , fingers crossed that we don't have the same problem again . If she can't feed this one , then I will have to think about her place as a breeding female - she produces lovely cria , but am I committed to always feeding them for her ??

Plus I have fitted in hospital visits , my friend is doing OK and had an operation this afternoon to pin the fractured hip and seems to be recovering well from the op , I shall see tomorrow !

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Dreadful day !

Before you worry all the animals are fine ! Managed to get a couple of matings done this morning - mixed results , Athena and Hermione had both spat before but decided to sit today , Hermione was very reluctant so not quite sure what is going on there , Cerys spat - good sign , and Acantha had her first mating with Bozedown West , so fingers crossed !

On the way back from the mating pens , my friend was leading Magic and I had West , I went down the steps to the bridle path and she followed with Magic , he started , she tripped and the next I know she is flat out , unable to move and he is heading into the sunset ! Yikes ,friend or alpaca? Friend won , easily , and Dh came to help as did her DH , but she passed out and I began to really worry .
Eventually found Magic waiting patiently by his field gate , and Friend went to hospital , whilst we looked after her 2 boys as well as our 4 . The up shot is that my Friend is admitted to hospital awaiting a hip operation for a fracture , her family are returning to the south of England tonight and will collect her on Thurs all being well .

I feel so awful for her , she says we're quits ( my son broke his leg whilst staying with her a long time ago ) but it happened on my land with my animals , GUILT!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Senior moment !

For the first time in my life I have lost one of my children ! Not strictly true , as in he was not really lost , just mentally lost if you see what I mean . I went to put #4 son to bed , and having had a row with all 4 boys about folding school clothes each night , I was mentally ticking off who's clothes I had folded , when I couldn't find any for #3 son - and that was because he was still in them somebody elses house , from whence I should have collected him over an hour before !!!
It really is the scout leaders fault , he moved the site of the cub meeting and that totally threw my routine , hence I lost #3 mentally from my agenda. DH has gone to the rescue of said son , who is quite happy staying out late on a school night , and luckily the parents of the child he is visiting are out as well so we only have to deal with their babysitter , who clearly thinks I am quite mad ( she may have a point ) but is also thrilled to have met him since she is a cousin of #4 son's best friends , who is famous ( infamous) within their family ! Help!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Alpaca Creche

Bourbon and Bilbo

Cerys sniffing Boubon , while Bilbo stands by.

They never cease to amaze me . I have spent hours ( literally ) watching the alpacas in the fields , and as all alpaca owners know it is a very easy way to loose lots of time , but they can be so charming . Since the day that they were born the 2 brown boys have hung out together - they are uncle and nephew - and their mums - mother and daughter- have been very relaxed about them , unlike Kirsty who is still very cautious about letting Brizo out of her sight , initially I thought that Bijou as mother and grandmother to Bourbon and Bilbo respectively , had taken control ,since I always saw her with 2 cria in tow , and you may remember that Cerys took some time to bond with Bilbo so I assumed that her mum had come to his rescue . Cerys has always fed him , but not really shown much interest , until I noticed the other day that she had 2 cria in tow , and now I realise that they run a creche system between them so that each mum gets time out - how very clever they are !

Bijou and her daughters Cerys and Athena , followed by Bourbon and Bilbo

I am still awaiting 2 more cria - due any day - I wonder if their mums will join in the creche ?

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Mixed blessings

Today was my official last day as a member of the PTA . It was the school fair ! It started in a slightly dubious fashion , having been trusted with the school keys ,I found that I didn't have the code for the security pad - and neither did anyone I could think of ! Finally , we got everything off the ground and it went pretty well , fair day is always very busy and quite stressful , not made any easier by people telling me ' I don't think I can......' of course you can , but you must try .

We had a good fair and the weather was pretty good to us , only raining towards the end , but I am glad that my term is over in many ways. Such a lot of effort goes into the events that we have done for the last 3 yrs , and as a committee we have worked well together , friendships have been forged and strengthened , we have had a huge amount to laugh about , but enough is enough , and whilst the friendships will continue( I hope ) the sleepless nights and running ragged must end .

The down side - I now have plenty of time for house work !

Monday, 29 June 2009

Camping ??!

Yes , it's true I have been camping ! I know how hard it is to believe that , but I have . We ( en famillie) went camping with 2 other families to a great place near hundred house , the site itself was good and had nice ( is there really such a thing ) showers etc . and a stream for the kids and best of all .... a lake! Now I am not really that keen on the great outdoors and would prefer my creature comforts but I do like messing about on the water ( as the song says ) . Luckily , we had great weather and Hugh bought his Canadian canoe and a kayak , so we spent most of Sat pm boating and the children swam alot , so Wendy and Hugh swam alot too as the life guards , and I paddled up and down the lake ferrying a plethora of kids backwards and forwards , some helped with the paddling ( quite alot hindered) but we all had a great time and a touch of sunburn at the end - Wendy do you have a picture I can put up ? Thanks Hugh for a fab idea !

Alpaca shower

The alpaca are loving the hot weather - except for my remaining pregnant 2 , who are finding it tough I think , thank goodness they have been sheared . Yesterday I gave them all a shower and they loved it , first Veronica came over and stood whilst I sprayed her with the shower attachment of the hose , she didn't like the water on her face but reveled in being sprayed all over . Gradually all the others came over , some lay in the jets of water until thoroughly wet and others danced in and out . The cria were mystified initially , but soon got the hang of it and I think they enjoyed it since they haven't been sheared .
Today we had a repeat performance and I just loved watching them , they were so funny , I shall try and get a photo .

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The wanderer returns

I have been away for a few days in London . This was my old stamping ground before we moved to the country and I have to admit , that despite all the beauty surrounding us , I do sometimes crave the bright lights and hustle and bustle of the city. So 3 clear days steaming up and down the Kings Road , meeting old friends and being indulged was bliss . I met some really interesting and high powered people( luckily they were both or it would have been a tad dull ) and living the life of a ' lady who lunches ' - facials in Peter Jones , sushi , dinners out and general high living , how lucky can you be ?!

Well , now I am home again , and I am stunned to see how much has changed in 4 days - the cria are bigger and livelier , the grass is looking lush , the boys are relaxed ( alpaca boys ) and my family are all alive ( pretty much !) . But most astounding of all is the poly tunnel - we had our first feast of purple french beans tonight and it was fantastic , we also had lettuce leaves which DH liked so much he had a lettuce sandwich to go with his lettuce leaves! Everything has shot up , rows of glossy lettuce and courgettes which are flowering madly , purple beetroot peeping through - it is truly awe inspiring . I am so proud .
Tomorrow I finish poo picking the birthing field , to give it a good rest before a couple of later due mums are ensconced , Oh , the roof is very nearly on the house , slates and all !

Ah ! such contentment . The calm before the ( school fair ) storm !

Saturday, 20 June 2009

what a busy week !!

Our cria are all doing well , thank god ! and everybody is looking well .

On Tuesday I got the chance to go and see 'Take That ' in concert on Wednesday night - never really been much of a fan ( Thought that Ronan Keating was in the band) , but I have to say it was a stunning show - slightly ridiculous to be watching grown men in silver jumpsuits , but still a fab show and a very late night .
Wednesday saw Teifi Magic out on the road for some mobile mating - not a great success , he was so stressed by being in new surroundings he was barely able to perform , so I ended up bringing 2 girls back for mating here . On his home turf it was a different story - keen as mustard . One girl was equally keen - fingers crossed - and the other wouldn't sit for very long - who knows ! All in all a very time consuming adventure , but soon I am off to London for a few days R&R with my oldest ( longest standing ) friend - hurray

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

I think...

I saw the new cria feed this afternoon ! I am trying not to think about it too much , but I have decided to weigh him each morning to check his weight gain - Bijou's udder did not feel so full this morning which I hope is a good sign . When I looked out of the window today I think he was feeding , but he stopped almost as soon as I looked !
Otherwise , all doing well , I think they are pleased not to have their heavy fleeces on since the weather has been very warm for the last few days .

Monday, 15 June 2009

textbook baby?

Why don't I ever get the textbook baby?
Does anyone ?
The latest baby is giving me a small cause for concern - logic tells me that all must be OK , but I have only seen him feed twice , on both occasions with a bit of prompting from me - but he must be feeding , he runs around like a mad thing and would surely have run out of energy by now , but I would just like to see him feed !
He was up and looking for food really soon after birth , and I have seen him nosing around the milk bar , and he shows no signs of being hungry ...... he must just feed when I'm not looking . I want the textbook one who feeds whenever I look out of the window and gives me peace of mind !!!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Shearing and much more..

Today was shearing day - weather perfect ! First time we have ever sheared with the sun and not rain , in fact , despite shearing inside , we were a bit hot on occasion and the alpaca were definitely sweaty !
Last night we bought all the boys in from the back field , which was an operation in itself - 3 are halter trained , 3 may not / are not ! eventually I walked the halter boys round to the stables and then went and picked the rest up in the trailer - relatively straight forward . Today , bright and early , we got all the girls into close fields so that we could move everyone around with ease . I was so busy getting ready for the shearers to come that I forgot to check Bijou as I went to get fresh bread , and I forgot to check on the way home as well - my children will tell you that I ALWAYS stop for a couple of minutes at a certain spot on the drive up and check all the girls , not today ! Guess.... Bijou had her cria an hour before the shearers arrived ! We were all home and none of us saw it happen , I looked out of the bathroom window and saw a cria sitting by the fence , did a quick head count and realised it was new .
Rushed out and lo and behold a beautiful chocolate brown boy with dark points - spitting image of Cerys ' cria ! Actually , he is a shade darker but soooo similar it is going to make life tricky. Mum and baby doing fine , as always I stress about feeding , but luckily the shearers arrived and I was busy for the next 3 hours and had to leave everyone to their own devices . Shearing itself went very well , we managed to move all the animals around at lightening speed and even the shearers said it was one of the smoothest operations they had seen so far this year ! We had the usual screamers and spitters , but everybody is now in their summer outfits and boy, do they look different . Cria are slightly confused at the change in mum , but they are all with the right mum , so ...
DH marvelled at the work involved - he has never seen shearing before , was very impressed with the angle grinder used to trim teeth ( now wishes he'd asked to have a go ) and helped move animals and pull ropes . DS#4 held bags open for fleeces to go into and kept up a non-stop line of inane chatter , interspersed with trips to climb a tree , no time for trips to casualty so we all just let him get on with it .

After the shearing team had departed , we did a couple of spit-offs and a mating ( everyone was here so it seemed sensible ), put them all back in the right fields and finally painted the chicken house blue - I have no idea why , but it seemed like a good idea at the time , all this and the shearing didn't start until after midday! Frankly , pooped now and off to bed !

this is the latest cria
and here is Bilbo , actually the picture below on the previous blog is better show of his true colour , they are very similar indeed

Friday, 12 June 2009

By George , she's got it !

At last , Cerys ' maternal instinct has surfaced and she is proving to be the good mum I knew she could be . A couple of days in a stable with her cria and the bond is cemented , this morning I let the pair of them out to graze with the others , I separated off the bulk of the herd and just let Kirsty and Brizo for them to play with and so far Cerys is being the ideal mum . She is clucking to her cria and was very concerned when he fell over after a very fast circuit of the field which saw him trip- she ran straight over to check . I have seen him feeding loads , and I think we might re-name him, he is so pretty that I think he might be Beau instead . I am inspired by my friend Sue , whose alpacas all have fantastic names , she says they name themselves ... I think I might try that !

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The boys are here

Very exciting - all the new boys who I am borrowing or partly own have arrived today - well actually I collected them . I had a great trip down to collect them , and was there by 10.15 , I had a couple of minor panics when I thought I must be lost ( having decided not to take a map - I know the way !!) and a stop at the Co-op for sweets , muffins and crisps - no road trip is complete without snacks . Anyway , a welcome cuppa awaited me and I had a chance to catch up on alpaca news before loading Teifi Magic , Teifi Dreamcatcher and Teifi Mischief and heading home . We made good time , despite me having to contend with putting the car in and out of 4 wheel drive ( how confusing ) and got back in time for me to put the boys into the field ( a masterpiece of trailer reversing if ever I saw one , and with the army watching ) and off to collect the kids from school .

The boys seemed delighted to be in the field and set to straight away rolling and stuffing their faces - our boys , Bozedown West , Boz Flag and Boz Bajaja spotted them and came over to say 'howdy' , all went pretty well - lots of sniffing and a bit of spitting when the sniffing got too invasive, but now they are all companionably munching - successful day in my book !

Hens can count !

I know this because my broody hen , who I turf off eggs every day , always goes back to sit on the nest with the most eggs in , even if I move the eggs around ! She is obviously very clever - I know 3 yr old humans who cannot count to 6 , what more can I say ?!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Maternal instinct ?

Bilbo seems to be doing well. Mid-morning the weather was beautiful and so I let Cerys and Bilbo out to join the rest of the expectant mums and new cria . Cerys was clearly delighted to be let out , so much so that she paid little heed to her son , who was engulfed by the herd and sniffed from head to toe . Bilbo took it in good spirit , Woden got very excited - leaping about and showing off . Cerys rolled in the dust bath , stretched in the sun and got on with some fresh grass - no concern for her son . By now I was concerned , I know that as a first time mum she may take a while to get into it , but I have never had a mum be this relaxed with a new born cria . Kirsty is a holy terror and will not let her baby more than 2 feet from her , and let anyone sniff - forget it ! She has relaxed a bit , now that Brizo is 3 weeks old .

Anyway , I left them alone for an hour or so , and Bilbo was clearly confused as to which black alpaca was mum , so i moved Cerys , Bilbo and Bijou into a side paddock ,adjacent to the main herd but so that they could only look over the fence , in the hopes that with fewer to choose from mother and son would bond a bit more . Whilst I didn't sit and watch for hours , I did keep sticking my head out of the window , and I never saw Bilbo feed . Cerys was much closer to him and he seemed quite content , not panicky or hungry at all , but still I was a bit concerned . So after 4 hours in the sun , it was back to the stables for mother and son - probably me being a bit neurotic , each birth I promise that I will trust to nature and leave well alone , but it is really hard not to try and make it all perfect ! Back in the stable I have seen him feeding , so I am happier .
One other small cause for concern is the fact that his front legs are a bit knock kneed, I am trusting that with a bit of excercise and some sun for Vit D they will straighten , but I shall keep an eye on him.

Tomorrow I am off to my dear friend Susan ,Alpacas of Wales , to collecet Teifi Magic , Teifi Dreamcatcher and Teifi Mischief , who will be staying over the summer - how exciting , just pray that Bijou doesn't choose tomorrow to deliver !

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Introducing Bilbo

Here he is at 6 hours old - what a beauty!
After a degree of indifference from his mother , Cerys , things are going well . Bilbo has been outside bumbling around in the sunshine , and after a long period when his mother wouldn't let him feed , things are now going well in that department too. Cerys was a bit surprised to find she had a cria , I think , and looked at him with that detached view you take to nieces and nephews , who however gorgeous can be handed back when the going gets tough !
Tonight , mother and son will spend inn the stable to try and cement the bond forming , and tomorrow they will be out in the field with the other s, it will be interesting to see Brizo's reaction to a new playmate .
p.s just realised how like his daddy , Bozedown West , he is !

First Panteg boy !

Hot off the press ! Well I guess the title is slightly misleading since we do have 4 of our own , but this morning at 8.50am Cerys delivered the first boy that Panteg alpacas has so far produced ( we have been lucky with girls so far) - he is a fab chocolate colour which is becoming lighter as he dries , but I am confident that he will be a mid or dark brown .

As I drove up the drive to take the kids to school I stopped in my usual spot at the gate just to check , and lo and behold Cerys was half way through delivering her first cria! Head and legs were clearly visible , so the kids went back into the house and I dashed for towels and other birthing bits and waited , Cerys looked slightly distressed so I had a closer inspection and he was a big cria ( as you would expect for 361days ) so I gave a gentle tug and nothing moved . Slight panic from me - I decided to call the vet ! By the time I had got the phone from the house and charged back up to the field things had moved on and suddenly - whoosh , there he was ! Beautiful ! Cerys was completely disinterested and looked slightly shocked - this is her first cria , so I think she was a bit surprised. She let me go up to her and stroke her chin , which is not something I am allowed to do very often , so with the help of the boys ( who were well and truly late for school by now ) we herded everyone down to the corral and separated Cerys off , letting the rest back up to the field, and leaving mother and baby to get to know each other . Once the placenta was delivered Cerys started to show a bit more interest - fingers crossed - her mum , Bijou , is excellent , so lets hope she will be the same , she has plenty of milk ....

Thursday, 4 June 2009


Just wanted to let you know how much I adore Athena . She is such a fab alpaca . Of the whole herd she is the one who will always come over to me and nuzzle my face , always 'clucking' at me , always pleased to see me - she is a joy. And the funny thing is , that of all the alpaca we have bred ourselves , she has had the least intervention Cerys was premature and I nursed her for 3 days getting up every 3 hours day and night to milk her mum and feed her until she was strong enough to stand and feed for herself - whilst quite friendly , she will sit next to me in the field , she will as soon kick me if she is in a bad mood = ingrate ! Artemis was fed by bottle after her mum had little milk , for 6 months I fed her 3 or 4 times a day rain or shine , now she skips around me but will never let me touch her- ingrate . I could go on , but you get the picture , Athena is just a very friendly and affectionate alpaca , and with a new half brother / sister due any day , and a new niece/nephew due any day I hope that they inherit some of her friendliness.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

missing eggs

Yesterday I was a little confused ( doesn't take much these days ) ! I had been watching one of my hens' who had been laying in the hedge , and gradually others had been following over a number of days . I knew where the nest was , and every couple of days I collected all the eggs - so far so good , until yesterday . I went to collect the eggs , there should have been 8 or so , but instead there was 1. I looked around , but could find no trace , so I concluded that a magpie or crow had also found the nest .

Today , I went to the nest and caught the culprit in the act - one of my warrens was chomping her way through the eggs !! Now I have a problem - once an egg eater always an egg eater , I shall have to confine everyone to barracks until I solve the problem!

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 .