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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 !