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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 !