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Saturday 25 April 2009

Today I join the ranks of....

poly tunnel owners ! It is with some trepidation that I have purchased a poly tunnel , it is quite big and quite strong and VERY expensive - with this comes a degree of pressure to use it to it's maximum capacity , and herein lies the hesitation - will I really use it as well as I should ? The answer has to be yes , or DH will throw a wobbly . It has a specially large door on one end , so that in the winter it can double up as a mini tractor garage and save space in the stables and garage for the things for which they are really intended .

I do already have a host of things to go in my poly tunnel - lots of runner bean seedling which will eventually be planted out , or maybe I shall keep half in and half out to extend the growing season ( and protect against alpaca) - see , I'm getting the hang already ! and I have courgettes , aubergines and hopefully tomatoes too , as well as lots of busy Lizzie's ( I love them , my sister thinks they are somewhat naff ) and other plants to go in baskets and planters to make the place look jolly . I did also do something else for the first time today - plant geraniums ! On the whole I can't stand them ( a throw back to my child hood when my father would fill the study with cuttings all winter - they stank ) but they are very resistant to dry times , ad since I am convinced it is going to be very hot this summer I thought I would give them a try , needless to say the chickens dug them up as soon as I had finished planting , so now they are shrouded in very attractive blue builders netting until they are established and the hens ignore them .

Still no baby alpaca!

Friday 24 April 2009

the best in lawnmowers

And hedge trimmers!

They are really enjoying the grass in one of the gardens and it saves us a job !

Still no cria!

Tuesday 21 April 2009


Finally got some grass seed to re-seed the field, it is a traditional long ley variety with red and white clovers , specially suited to the high level at which we live . Hopefully we can get it sown tonight or tomorrow.

Still no baby alpaca news - every day I have looked at her and thought ' It must be today ' but so far I am wrong . Hurry up Kirsty !

The hens are largely confined to barracks until they have regained their nesting habits which suit me best , and the chicks hatched at school are enjoying their first few days as free range beings . Another lot of eggs has gone in the incubator , DH says that these are definitely the last lot this year , so lets hope they hatch eel. This time a real mixture of eggs - Legbars , a couple of buff orpingtons, a couple of black orpingtons , a brahma and 7 Heinz 57 which were laid by my hens so could be anything !

Now that term has started , the push towards a great school fete begins . We are already on top of the prelim organisation , and will have to do some pavement bashing in order to get art work and fees from advertisers in the next week or so . Much of the other work is already done , but we still have a fair amount to do and will be trying to encourage others to help as much as possible - which is almost harder than doing it ourselves , but I firmly believe in delegation , and the fair raises funds for every ones kids not just mine , so everyone else can chip in too ! Currently , the committee are all felling quite positive and enthusiastic - lets see how long that lasts !!

Friday 17 April 2009


We got one more chick - so now I have 1 buff columbian Brahma and 1 gold Brahma !

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Here she is !

At last a hatchling - not an alpaca yet !

After the power cuts I was not optimistic of any hatchings but today , bang on time , I got one wee mite . She ( I am always hopeful) will be called Rocky - she has obviously been a little fighter - corny I know ! I suspect that she may be an only chick , but at least I have 1 Brahma , she will grow to be a buff Columbian and I will be very proud . Interesting Brahma fact #1 - they cannot fly ! having seen the tiny excuses for wings I am not surprised . All in all she is the smallest chick out of the smallest egg we have ever had , and she should grow to rule the yard ! Isn't nature odd. Already she has very feathered legs , so sweet. I shall leave the incubator on for another 48 hrs to just see if there are any more , but I don't hold out much hope , I shall let you know !

Tuesday 14 April 2009

keeping me waiting

Worse than being an expectant mother is being an expectant alpaca mother ! Naively , I hoped against hope that Kirsty might do the decent thing and deliver today - it started promisingly enough , first thing she was away from the herd gazing into the distance as though she had nothing else to think about . Gradually she rejoined the herd , but continued to show lots of signs of impending birth - rolling around , scratching her belly a bit , she has taken to sitting slightly to one side since her belly is so big she cannot cush as normal and she is resting quite a lot in the way any expectant mum would recognise as ' OK , this has gone beyond a joke , lets just get it over with '! But no , tonight she is still hanging on , still looking quite uncomfortable ( in a healthy way ) and just as quick to come for a snack as usual .

And another thing , do I have the only yearlings with big fleeces who seem to actively seek out brambles to sit in ? Or are they actually doing me a favour , and allowing me to use my dagging shears on a regular basis so that I can get proficient ?

But they do love the late evenings - it gives them a little extra boost ( no idea why ) and I just love to see them all cavorting and pronking for no more obvious reason than that they can ! I let them out of their field so that they could come down the drive for a treat - they are in a new field with new access ,and I want them to be comfortable with the access so that in an emergency I can move them easily - the yearlings got everyone going , racing up and down the drive leaping and enjoying themselves - even the really pregnant girls had a gentle jog !!

Tomorrow is hatching day - I hope !!

Monday 13 April 2009

Still waiting ...

Easter has been a sunny , busy time for us . The sunshine has been great , allowing us to spend time with various friends and children - outside in the sunshine , with children playing happily if noisily near by . We have harrowed the new hay field , and admired our new piglets , and generally been pretty content with things , except for Kirsty who is clearly near to delivering , but as usual is holding on , and on past history we could have another 2 weeks to wait - can I stand the suspense ?!

The little chicks are not so little now , being nearly 5 weeks old , and nearly fully feathered , which is just as well since my next clutch should hatch on Wed / Thurs and I need their brooder. I say should , thanks to a series of power cuts on Friday courtesy of the electricity company I cannot be sure that anything will hatch , but I am seriously hoping , since these are my Brahma eggs .

Whilst enjoyable spending time with friends , it has also been an expensive holiday break ( and I use the word advisedly ) , DS#1 managed to put a football through a window in the end of the barn , I managed to puncture one of DH 's new cars' tyres and all the power cuts succeeded in destroying our central heating control panel - all in all pretty costly !

Here I am with some very relaxed alpacas, who , like me , are enjoying the lovely weather while they can ....

Luckily , they are resisting the urge to sunbathe , DH thinks it's hugely entertaining to say ' Another one's dead in the field ' at regular intervals whenever they sunbathe , which they do lying flat out as if for all the world they are dead , but it still makes me catch my breathe everytime - maybe he's after the insurance fee when he finely polishes me off with heart failure ?!

Friday 10 April 2009

More new arrivals !!

They have arrived - our 2 new weaners - Frank and Buster !! For those of you with children the reference is clear , for those without , they are 2 brothers in an animated Australian programme about 2 koala brothers .

They are quite small at present , smaller than we've had before I think , and Buster has a grunt which switches between a grunt and a squeal , abit like his voice is breaking . They are both very friendly and will already come over for a scratch . Frank is slightly bigger and paler with more black spots - he is the more reticent of the 2, Buster is redder with fewer spots and is very friendly , he is slightly smaller .

Thursday 9 April 2009

And ....

I began my run as a radio star - appearing on the Jeremy Vine show , you can hear me again and again and again on bbc iplayer , I was on at about 12.25 after Jerry Rafferty !!

Laugh ?! how stupid can I be ?

Yesterday I bought a new pair of dagging shears - very exciting ! and since I am not usually known for a clear calm think through I immediately went straight out to put them to the test . The intended victim was Acantha , who although less than a year , has a very large fleece and the ability to find any small twig or piece of bramble to entwine into it , the result is quite often an inability to go to the loo cleanly , and since I was beginning to smell her before I could see her , drastic action was required - hence the dagging shears . Anyway , off I strolled to the paddock , rounded everyone up and took them into the catch pen , and then the fun began . I caught Acantha quite easily , but her mum ,Veronica , looked pretty angry with me . I wheedled and tried to distract her , but to no avail - A huge mouthful of spit hit me right in the side of my head ! I ducked and dodged and tried to hold on to Acantha , but I was gradually covered from head to foot in progressively more pungent mouthfuls of spit !! .Eventually I admitted defeat , and moved Acantha to an area where mum couldn't reach me and finished the job .

Then , dripping in this foul stuff ( regurgitated grass is truly foul ) I went into the house and threw all my clothes straight into the washing machine - I was damp down to my underwear , so powerful was the spit . Anyway , 30 mins later the wash was finished and I pulled it out only to find I had put a pretty expensive jumper which I was wearing through out , on the wrong wash and managed to shrink it to a size even too small for my 4 yr old - I was mad at myself and the rest of the family died laughing !!!

Then today , to compound my stupidity , I had the vet to visit , the visit was valid - a problem breeding Hermione successfully . It was suggested that I have her hymen examined to see if it was still intact - it was ! So the vet had to break it . Whilst this was happening I was chatting inanely at the head end , as you do , and happened to say ' Don't you need a special piece of equipment to do this ?' cue slightly quizzical look from vet , and so I added ' I'm sure it said in my email from Claire to get her hymen digitally broken ' ever had that feeling as you said something that you had just revealed yourself to be a complete fool ?- I compounded it by giving a vague description of a probe with some sort of laser effect , by which time her hymen was no longer intact and I am confirmed as a complete idiot !!

Sunday 5 April 2009

Ploughing !!

we are getting loads done - how important it is in the scheme of things I'm not sure , and whether we are doing it in the right order ???
Today we had one of our fields ploughed - really needed doing , but do I have time for this ? It's all new so it takes longer , and we are whistling in the wind to some extent. It has also been 'disked' and will be harrowed tomorrow , then it needs to be seeded - which seed ?- and roolered , it's pretty complicated !
As yet we haven't got round to planting lots of fruit trees, we do already have a couple of old apples and some plum trees , but I really want to plant a proper orchard - where and when is the big question , and I am also trying to use old original apple trees which are native to this part of the world , I do have a friend who owns an apple farm and he says we can have trees from him, but I forget to ask and he is busy whenever I do !

It is still too cold for outdoor planting here, but my beans are sprouting on the window sill , and in a couple of weeks I can plant carrots etc. Unfortunately the bulb has just blown on my brooder ,so we have had to put in a lower wattage until I can get to the store tomorrow , they are pretty well feathered so they should be OK , they have been out in the sun for the last couple of days so they are a bit hardy!

Saturday 4 April 2009

Spring is springing! or should I say pronking

Today has been a lovely day , as have the last few , with warm days and crisp nights . We had a slight fright on Tuesday when a neighbour came round to tell us that a dog was worrying the alpaca- deja vu , panic - I rushed out in my PJ's and found no dog , but some spooked alpaca who were clearly a bit worried about something . Hopefully on this occasion it was just a dog walker who temporarily lost control . Anyway, I moved them all into the barn area to be safe , and they were not so stressed since they went straight for the hay and had a good munch .

Today I have been doing my first practical bee-keeping class . A beautiful day for it , and the bees were behaving well , nobody got stung and we all felt quite confident by the end !

Also , moved the girls into the clean birthing paddock, they were very excited at the change of venue and some jolly jumping and pronking ensued . It always makes me laugh to see them bounding around with pleasure. Kirsty has a due date of the 14th , and so I am watching her closely , the weather is due to change a bit next week , and I pray she has the sense to hang on until another bout of good weather , it makes such a difference when the cria can bask in the sun for a few days - and eases my mind , although we are quite high up so I often put on a cria coat at bed time !

Keep you posted !