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Wednesday 21 January 2009

Further updates !!

It is ages since I found time to sit and blog , which means I have been really preoccupied 'cos I can always find time for my computer ( or in this case DH's laptop) above almost anything constructive on my 'to-do list '!

Partly busy with alpacas , who are all doing well , Athena is showing no ill effects from her trip to the vet and all those X-rays , the results of the blood tests show her phosphorous levels are normal , althou' my vet was quick to cover his **** by saying that they aren't all that accurate , meaning rickets is still a possibility , however , the X-rays showed that the growth plates at the end of the long bones have grown more on one side and caused the appearance of bent legs . I'm sure that I have read that this is a condition that will rectify itself over time - any views anyone ? , but am too busy to do the research on the net ! Repeat of the vitamin injections should help and certainly won't hurt , so you can guess what DH and are doing this weekend!

Veronica is till waiting for the super strength antibiotics to arrive , but is putting condition back on and seems perfectly happy and bright in her daily life .

Kirsty is only 2.5 - 3 months away from her baby being born , so I am being very careful with her - last year she aborted , and the year before the cria died , so I'm hoping for third time lucky . Of all my animals she is possibly the best quality , but she is nervous and not friendly as a result , and she also happens to be white ( my least favourite colour ) so she has less going for her in some ways than my coloured animals of slightly less good quality but great personalities . Still I am hoping for a great cria - fingers ( and everything else ) crossed .

Now for the cause of my distraction ...... we are about to undertake a major extension on our house! We are extremely lucky to be able to do this , 'cos it will give us a house which will be near perfect for our needs, how many people can say that ! However, we are having to move out for the next 7-8 months whilst the work is done . Second extremely lucky par t- we have a smallish holiday cottage next door where we can live ! However( is this getting repetitive ?) it is designed to sleep 4 people who are on holiday , not 6 who have a lifetimes ' stuff' to accommodate . Hence I am busy de-cluttering , re-homing and trying to bring calm to the ensuing chaos ! I am not normally very keen on house work ( as many can testify) so it is a job without much merit , and thus very slow because I can always find something better to do! DH is getting exasperated with the (lack) of speed , and I am getting stressed 'cos I know it has to be done and will all end horribly if I don't get my finger out SOON ! Simply can't transmit that urgency from brain to limbs - much happier to sit and admire my new tidy , uncluttered ( cos it 's all still next door ) living space .. que sera sera as Doris would say !

Thursday 15 January 2009


Yesterday was the dreaded visit to the vet ! With a friend for moral support , the alpacas loaded easily and we set off for the vet , about 30 mins drive. In the event , reversing the trailer was not even attempted by me , and both Wendy and I were very impressed with the way in which the vet reversed straight into a gap we were dubious about , with no hesitation .

Athena was first out and she behaved absolutely perfectly. She stood patiently for nearly an hour whilst the vets ( at times we counted 5 ) played around with X-ray distances and other technical elements in order to get the perfect piccie which is being sent to various alpaca experts to determine whether her slightly bent legs are normal/rickets( my guess) / fixable etc . they also took blood and finally after much petting and admiration she returned to the trailer and out came

Veronica . Normally she can be a bit feisty and I expected trouble in strange surroundings , but I was completely wrong ( not something I often admit so savour that !) and she behaved beautifully . We did an X-ray of her jaw which showed up an abscess at the base of a tooth root . It was under control from the penicillin already administered , and she has already been eating and putting some weight back on , for which I am thankful. Even the vet agreed that she was doing well , phew! The choice is tricky , but we are going to try a new remedy , since nothing in the UK is actually licensed for alpacas it gives a greater degree of freedom in a strange way , some items are tried and tested and some are not . We are going to use a medicine usually prescribed to humans , for TB !! The rational is relatively simple - it will penetrate further into the bone than regular penicillin and hopefully negate the need for tooth removal . There is a slight risk , but my vet thinks it is worth taking and that the odds are in our favour hugely , so here goes !!!

The return journey was uneventful and everyone is back in their field s without too much stress. Thank you Wendy for standing around in the cold for 2 hours , and to the vets for their efforts . Lets hope we've got all the right solutions

Friday 9 January 2009

Oh no , here we go....

I had the vet visit again yesterday, some might think I have a thing about my vet but let me assure you that since I see a different one nearly every time it's not true ! but they sure love me - I must keep them afloat recently.
Anyway , another visit , Athena is still a bit rickety in my view ( and no I haven't passed my vet exam yet ) so we had further discussion about her knees and eventually came to the conclusion that we couldn't be categorically sure either way , so she is off to the vet's on Wed to have an x-ray which might give us a clearer view and cost me £££'s!
Then we moved onto Veronica who has been sitting around a bit too much for my liking the last day or 2 , yesterday she started dribbling , this is not normal , and so vet visit! We did agree this time that the cause would be largely oral and came to the view that she had a definite tenderness in her lower jaw , possibly bone infection , and she is on penicillin for the next 2 weeks . I am worried about her , she has lost condition very quickly over the last week , and is now getting the royal treatment to try and get her to put weight back on - breakfast sugar beet( nice and soft and wet) lunch - micronized peas and alpha-a , dinner more sugar beet . I cannot do any more but it seems so little . The vet would like to see her on Wed too , but I will see about her strength before we try a sedative for x-ray.
That leads to the scariest thing - reversing a trailer into a stable from a main road with people WATCHING !!! Yuk ! will let you know how I do !

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Ouch !

today was a riding lesson day , my instructor asked me what I'd like to do and foolishly I said ' I want to work hard and polish a skill ' !! So that 's what we did , we practiced jumping . Now jumping is pretty scary for me , it requires lots of elements at once and some I find quite hard , cantering in circles is my big nightmare , and of course I canter in a semi-circle to approach the jumps. Plus jumping position is soo uncomfortable - stand up , bottom out , heels down , shoulders back , breathe .....
Anyway, add to this a new outdoor school which is causing the horses a degree of excitement and skittishness , and you could almost predict disaster . Not quite disaster , but after 45 mins when I 'd done quite well , and jumped quite well and cantered in circles , a magnificent flying buck from Murphy and I landed firmly in the sand! having soared through the air with the greatest of ease ( nobody told me flying was part of the deal ) OUCH!

I did what you have to do , and got straight back on and started again - a little walking , a bit of trotting , a few circles and then a build to canter . First 'ask' we cantered OK , so we did it again with a circle in mind , and then it happened again - I fell off ! All my fault this time - I was slightly unbalanced and lost my nerve , panicked slightly and BANG I hit the dirt again . Double OUCH !

Repeat the above , except this time I stopped at a trot circle and no more accidents . But boy am I sore now - I didn't soak in the bath , that just makes it worse , but I shall be really sore by tomorrow !!

Monday 5 January 2009

At last!

...the alpaca are using the stables ! Hooray!

We have had some snow and the last few days , almost weeks , the temperatures have been very low . The alpaca have got into the habit of coming down into the corral for supper and last night they CHOSE to spend the night in a stable , well 4 out of 5 did. Bijou , as head of the herd , slept across the doorway , not sure whether this was to protect the others or to prevent them getting out ! But it is much easier for me if they will use the stables voluntarily , since if they don't I have to confine them on really bad nights and that means mucking out in the morning , if they use the stables by themselves then I don't lock them in and they visit the dung heap freely - we are all much happier .

Tonight is predicted to be -9 !!! so the pregnant girls are in the stables , the boys are safely under the trees and the youngsters are cuddled up to the hedge near the house and should be fine . Whilst I love the cold weather , I would really like a let up in this cold spell - projected to be the coldest spell since 1997 - and hope for a bit of sunshine , and dare I say it , a drop of rain !

Thursday 1 January 2009

Musings at the turn of the year

Well 2009 has finally started , although it hardly seems a year since 2008 started . All in all it has been a good year on balance . We have acquired 6 new alpaca - some bought some bred - and lost one ( RIP Pudding ) .
We have successfully hatched alot of chicks ( 12 ) and still have more of them than Mr Fox ! and our flock has survived colds and sicknesses and is still laying well . With the help of good friends we have constructed shelter for the alpaca ( ' thou the ingrates still won't use it often ) and with support and encouragement as well as some great modifications from many friends we have improved our fencing and pastures , dug our first fruit beds , raised and eaten some fab pigs and had help with the care and rearing of our children , made new friends , oh , and visited much loved family in the USA, what more can you ask !
There have been trials along the way, notably the death of Pudding , and some friends who did not prove too be as good as we once believed , but as year's go it has been good .
And so to 2009 - #4 son starts school full time in a week , and we have more alpaca cria to look forward to in the spring, the PTA is taking a back seat for a while , and my riding is coming along well ( I think ) , we have a holiday booked with dear friends in the summer and a family wedding to look forward to .... all in all it looks like 2009 could be good as well - watch this space!!

Winter wonderland

Well , as you can probably guess things are pretty cold here ! I know some of you get to -20 but for us it is unusual to remain below zero for long ( if at all , soft southerners!) but we have not got above -4 for the last 3 days and life is truly cold and white ......

The animals are beginning to find it hard , and it has significantly increased the workload and the payroll, since we are having to feed hard mix and hay which we would not normally do all day everyday - hay yes , but warm sugar beet only for lactating mums and those who have lost a bit of condition. Still they are reluctant to come in at night , but since we are predicted snow on Monday that may change . What were you saying about a mild winter Eliane ??

We have fires lit at both ends of the house and DH is good at getting logs , and before you ask , they are not PJ's hes wearing but a particularly natty pair of 'slouching around the house' trousers !