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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 !