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Tuesday 21 December 2010

time flies

It's ages since my last post , Christmas school activities seem to have been at the forefront of our daily lives. With 2 performances each and 2 children to whom this applies ( the twins don't do these things at high school) I have spent a fair amount of time ferrying people here there and everywhere. I also organised the first annual carol service for the scouts , cubs and beavers. To say I had sleepless nights over it is no exaggeration - the main problem being that nobody seemed to communicate with the other leaders in their troupe and the vicar was out of the loop completely . Suffice to say that on the night it was a huge success , the church was full ( thank God ) the troupes all sang what they promised to sing , the organist played beautifully even thou he didn't get the order of service until 30 mins before ( don't ask) and everyone enjoyed tea and mince pies afterwards ! Phew!
After that I thought it would be a breeze until Christmas - didn't factor in the huge amount of snow , the crash which saw me tipped over in the 4 x 4 or the schools closing early! Anyway , we are all safe and well . The alpacas have reluctantly taken to the stables , althou they all venture out periodically just to check that the snow is still there , and to consume huge amounts of hay and sugar beet, preferably warm please!
Bizarrely the chickens have started laying again , and I have gained the 3 school chucks for the holidays .
The shopping is done , presents and food , barr a couple of non-essentials from Waitrose tomorrow , and we are snuggled down and ready for Christmas - I think !

Tuesday 7 December 2010


Will it ever let up? I have had to ask for extra thermals to be dispatched ! It has not gone above -4 for 5 days now and frankly I've had enough. To start with I found it quite exciting to see -10 on the car thermometer as we drove to school - it's the southerner in me , it never gets that cold on the south coast- but now I've had it.
The alpacas seem to be coping fine , now that the snow has stopped and we have ice and a few green patches( not many) they are sleeping out in the fields again , scoffing hay and alpha a nuggets , and all the sugar beet I can prepare ! The hens are finding it harder . They seem mainly to spend the day in a large conifer tree on the yard , feet off the floor , pretty miserable.Last night I bought the smallest 5 into the utility room just to get warm for the night ! they make me laugh , they are like teenagers at a sleepover , they are constantly chattering until you open the door and then they all shut up!
We have entered the realms of school Christmas plays , I am loathed to say nativity since Jesus doesn't seem to make much of an appearance , he is some what swamped by the donkeys ( OK) sheep(OK) camels( a bit iffy) bees(???) mice (???) and all other manner of creature who I'm pretty sure isn't in the biblical tale . Add to that the strange phenomenon that every important speaking or singing part is held by a child with a varying degree of speech impediment , and you have a slightly surreal experience! Even ( particularly) DH commented that it was shocking to witness such a high level of talentless kids in one place !! However , they all show remarkable courage in standing up ( prob cos they don't know how bad they are ) and seem to thoroughly enjoy themselves , so we all sit through it and smile and clap , and everyone is happy . Thank god I only have 2 and not 4 this year! Am I the only parent who finds it a chore ?

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Success , of sorts

As many , we are covered in snow , not the proportions that the North and Scotland have thank god - I feel for you - but enough for hot water and extra hay for the alpacas !

They are all quite happy , some venturing into the stables at night , some preferring to sit on the yard , but all down by the yard and out of the snow and wind to a greater degree.

My success is with the sickly chicken . Finally , after a week of bathing her eye twice a day I think I have conquered whatever was the problem. Without putting you off your dinner , suffice to say that I have finally managed to get the last bits of pus out of her eye . It was congealed and set firm , but now it has gone . The eye looks a bit milky and I fear she may have lost the sight in it , but she is quite happy pottering around , albeit out of the snow as much as possible.

Other than that , we are bracing for a lot of snow tomorrow , the kids are begging not to go to school , but I feel that they may be disappointed , and we look forward to the weekend which should bring some rain and some sun , hurray!

Sunday 28 November 2010

Deja vu ?

Like most we have some snow ! and the weather is bitterly cold , 6 miles up the road they recorded the lowest temp since records began for Wales -18C ! that is cold . At 10am it was still -7!

We have moved the boys back into their field , which is earlier than I would have liked , another couple of weeks and the pastures would be cleaner , but then the cold weather will help, however the forecast is for blizzards on Tues and their field provides much more natural shelter since they refuse to use the shelters!

The mums and babies are all doing well , plenty of fresh hay and they are happy. We have been getting the barns made up to house them on Tues , they really don't like to come in , but I cannot stand the stress of having them out when the weather is really bad.

The chickens are pretty unimpressed with the weather , I have a few who are snuffly and have sticky eyes , but a dose of antibiotics should be sorting that out , except for one of my legbars , who has a truly terrible eye . If you are squeamish read no further ! She has had the eye closed now for 4 days , after the first day I started antibiotics for the whole flock , since I felt it was more than just a cold , and I started to wipe her eye twice a day. It still sealed itself between wipes and began to swell to massive proportions , recently I cannot see the eyeball which is obscured by a thick , foul smelling cheese like gunk. I have been washing this out as best I can - chickens do not make good patients and continually twitch and try to get away - so far a huge amount of this 'stuff' has come out , but I think their may be an end in sight , it seems to be less each time ( albeit is still a huge amount and foul) I just hope her eye is OK underneath . I am loathed to visit the vet , the cost being so much more than the chicken ! but equally I don't want her to suffer unnecessarily , what to do? At the moment she seems to be quite bright and is eating and drinking , not quite as perky as the rest of the flock , but not sickly unless you see her eye.

Friday 26 November 2010


- snow already . I know they said it was coming , and we are as ready as possible , the pacas have been moved so that they have access to the barn - which they will hardly use , but makes me feel better- all the bits are in the right places ie . buckets and hard feed and hay to hand , but still it fills me with dread . After last winter I really cant face another one this soon , the pipes are frozen in the new part of the house , well outside actually , 'cos DH didn't get round to burying them , clearly he doesn't take the weather forecast seriously!

Anyway, we are ready but I still hate it !

Friday 12 November 2010

Where does it go ?

I have been lucky enough to have a few days away in London , purely pleasure , very relaxing and I have come back a new woman!

Meanwhile , DH has been left running the kids and the animals , and now he needs a holiday too!

Just before I went away I had a routine visit from the vet , to get microchipping and ear tagging done . I know I could do all that myself , but I am a bit squeamish about chipping . However , having had a tutorial from the vet , next time I shall try myself , and I will definitely do the ear tagging. Anyway , All the alpacas are correctly tagged ( per the new legislation which will undoubtedly want tagging ) and identified .

The weather has deteriorated fast over the last week . We had snow on the hills on Sunday night , and the last few nights have been so incredibly windy I haven't slept very well .Luckily we are all still in one piece , and only minor casualties - a gate has come off its hinges - but the animals are fine.

Friday 29 October 2010

Thursday 28 October 2010


Having thought long and hard I have decided that the BAS board and I would not make comfortable bed fellows . Whilst the board works for alpaca owners , their ethos is a long way down the scale from mine , and I don't think that any of us would have enjoyed the experience!! Frankly , I have more positive things to put my energy into than fighting with a board who don't really want my opinions , and who I do not consider pro active enough in certain areas . Enough said .

Yesterday was a lovely day , beautiful sunshine and crisp and cool , perfect winter weather , so we took the boys out for the day to West Midland Safari park - fantastic , they provide free kennels so that you can take your dog ( just not round the safari) and a great fun fair , some rides made me so ill I had to stop going on them , but the boys loved it . Who needs disney when you have WMS?

The alpaca are happy with 'crisp and cool' , the grass is still holding out well , no wet muddy patches yet , and all quite happy. I must arrange for the vet to come and micro-chip this years cria - I just don't quite have the nerve to do it myself, and they need ear tagging as well. I ear tag the pigs quite happily by myself , but pacas are a different kettle of fish and I need to watch the experts before I try it myself . God knows what Cerys will make of ear tagging !

Monday 25 October 2010

Be careful what you wish for...

Having openly - to their faces - criticised the BAS board for their recent ( lack ) of handling of proposed new legislation to be brought in to Wales , and yes England too ( see the BAS website today) they have decided to invite me to join the board ! A case of keep your friends close..... We shall see how that will pan out , but the title refers to the board not me! :) I look forward to a long and productive time ahead , you have been warned!

Tuesday 19 October 2010

bTB and our community

As you are all aware bTB is a problem that the alpaca community is facing , largely for the first time , and we are all scared about the possibilities . Imagine my surprise then , to discover that some areas of the country are not offering support and camaraderie to the whole community - one of the things that I prize in the alpaca industry above other agricultural industries is the 'family feeling' , we all support and work together - but sadly I am wrong! I received a call to let me know that in the north it is being strongly suggested at group meetings , that purchasing alpacas from Wales and the South West is a very dangerous thing to do and should be avoided at all costs if at all possible ! the reason is that sadly all our animals are riddled with TB and the North does not want them . WELL , I have news for you , there is very little TB in Wales and the South West , we are just as conscientious as the north about bio-security , in fact maybe more so , because we do have the misfortune to live in an area of bTB - but the hot spots are defined by DEFRA relating to COWS not alpaca.

Lets start at the top :-

Many of us live in areas where cattle are tested at 12 monthly intervals - their TB status is very accurate , 48 mth testing leaves room for all sorts of things to be going on ( think about it if you live on the edge of a hot spot, but your cattle are only tested at 48 mth intervals!)
Our vets are very alert to TB - they test for it almost daily and see the symptoms regularly - who is better placed to spot it ?
We practice high levels of bio-security - no nose-to-nose contact with other animals , badger fencing, secure feed areas , quarantine areas for animals that are moved on to the farm etc etc . the list is long and arduous.
We run a higher number of closed herds .
The farms that have been under restriction in the last couple of years are wide spread in the UK , from Sussex to Wales , Cornwall to the north.

My point is this - it is a terrible disease and God knows that we do not want it , but we are all at risk , sensible precautions are just that , but they will not prevent the spread , and scare mongering is not only inaccurate but prevents people from doing the right thing if they have suspicions about their own animals . Whispering at meetings , encouraging people not to deal with us does nothing but spread lies and fear. It damages our businesses , and the whole alpaca community is lessened by such slurs.

What we need is education , which the Welsh Assembly Gov is taking seriously . Enlighten guidelines and restrictions , which the Welsh Assembly Gov. are assessing for use from Nov - watch out England , you will be next - read the information and the proposed restrictions and make positive changes , it may start in Wales but it will affect the whole country sure as eggs is eggs .

Finally , rant over , alpaca breeders should stick together - do not throw stones at those who have the horror of this disease to deal with, do not make it something to be ashamed of, treat others as you wish to be treated . And be warned in the North , one day it could be you, and you will want the best information and support around - that may come from Wales and the South West where we have had the misfortune to have had to deal with it first - we carve the way , support us don't ostracise us , cos' one day you 'll wish you hadn't

Monday 18 October 2010


to Lois , ,who has given me my first ever blog award , I feel really proud and a bit emotional! In the true spirit of blogging I will pass it on to blogs I read regularly and hope that they will do the same .

The rules that come with this award are:

Right click and grab the award for your site. Then post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers. Then contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen. So here goes , in no particular order.

Trauma Queen

Maggies Farm

Faites simple

Debbies alpaca blog

Westhill alpacas

Patou alpacas

Whispering acres

Coire alpacas

Thats my lot so far. Thank you all for your great blogs , full of laughter and tears and sometimes just quite ridiculous , keep blogging and pass it on !

Sunday 10 October 2010

Mixed emotions

Today I sold my first alpaca to somebody else!
I sold one of my suri girls - Bozedown Riva - and I'm not quite sure how I feel about the sale . On one hand I'm glad to have some cash coming in , on the other I love all my alpacas ( except Kirtsy at the moment) and it was a bit of a wrench to see her go . I'm sure that she will be loved and cared for , just not by me and that feels a bit odd . What will it be like when the children leave home ?

Saturday 9 October 2010

Diatomaceous earth

I think this stuff is great ! Recommended to me by another breeder , its uses seem to be wide and fantastic.

So far I use it in the alpaca hard feed and it seems to be keeping them all worm free according to the latest lab results - no chemicals , no resistance , a perfectly natural remedy .

Its second use for me is even more impressive - I use it in the chicken houses and it keeps the dreaded red mite at bay. We have fought long and hard to keep the mite away , and it has been a case of keeping it under manageable numbers rather than gone for good , but 3 weeks after putting diatomaceous earth in with their bedding there is not a mite to be found - fantastic!

It is fine like talcum powder , but made of fine crushed diatoms, which apparently have razor sharp edges for the mites and worms etc. which causes then to be sliced open and die - think thats right - but any way it works and it works very well - fab !

Friday 8 October 2010


That would be me then! For the first time ever , I was attacked by one of my alpacas today , and boy was it scary and I am now pretty shaken!

A kind lady who visits the herd regularly knocked on the door today and said she thought that there was something wrong with the alpacas, that one had something stuck round its neck . Sure enough Brizo had stuck her head through the arm of a garden chair ( don't ask how or where she got it from 'cos I don't know) but sure enough head through chair , and her mum was going berserk . Kirsty is not the calmest of animals at the best of times and is very cautious of human contact, but she was screaming at the chair and spitting , trying to trample it , and in the process freaking everyone else completely . Course of action was clear , but how to achieve it was not!

Kirsty managed to panic Brizo into putting first one leg and then the other through the chair so that she fell to the floor and couldn't get up . Cue me , who ran into the fray and tried to grab the chair , only to be spat at ( expected) , bitten and trampled myself . I know she was in a panic to protect her 1yr old daughter , but she was truly frightening . I have a huge bruise on my elbow where she bit me as I tried to defend myself , a hoof mark on my ribs where she jumped on me and I promise I won't be doing that again in a hurry.

In a nut shell , despite the onslaught , the chair was removed , Brizo has no broken bones and neither do I , but its safe to say we are all a bit shaken!

Thursday 7 October 2010


The alpacas are all well , and looking good for the winter . Of course the weather has been grim and they have got quite wet , but their fleeces are growing well , which is just as well since I hear whisperings that this winter could be just as tough as the last .....

But the excitement............ finally my fox trap has worked ! This morning we had a fox in the trap , not a puppy or a chicken , but a real live ( not any more) fox. The kids were slightly worrying thou - 2 wanted souvenirs to take into school , tails , paws etc , and the other 2 wanted to tame it as a chicken guard ! Surely they have been paying attention as to who has been killing our chickens ?! The alpacas showed a reasonable amount of interest , and the puppy was kept indoors until the fox could be removed - thanks Steve- but the chickens will be a little bit safer tonight , until the next time . But since we know it now works the trap has been reset and we are ready .

I have just added 4 more to my flock , a couple of warrens and a couple of bluebells , so egg production will increase hopefully .

ps. just looked out and the trap is working really well - just caught 2 chickens this time !

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Did I say autumn?

I meant winter ! We have a couple of mornings of hard frost and I mean completely white fields , alpacas huddled round hay feeders and chickens who won't come out - eerily reminiscent of last year , please not as bad again!

Conversely the days have been warm and sunny , is the grass still growing ? should we start Vit A D & E injections now or wait a month ? so many things to think about . Everyone is looking very well , and I am pleased with the overall herd health going into the winter . We have 3 pregnancies , and lots of girls who are desperate to be mated , as DH will testify , but I am holding off until the spring , to allow some a break , but mainly to align our breeding programme and get us back on track for spring cria in 2012 , it is just too cold up here on the hills to contemplate cria later than August at the very outside .

Soap box over !

Amazingly I lost 2 chickens on Sat , and neither to a fox - the trap continues to catch lots of things , mainly the dog and a few chickens , but no foxes - anyway , one died of old age , fair enough , the second was taken by a bird of prey ! I saw it happen and I was gobbsmacked!

Seriously thinking of buying more chickens , mainly because my egg customers are beginning to complain that my supply is not ample enough, I can see us being overrun soon.

Friday 24 September 2010

Autumn is definitely on its way

The mornings are getting darker and the air is certainly cooler , and we have rain - autumn is here.

The alpaca have started cuing up at the gate in the morning to get their hard food ration , so the grass is obviously not as good as it was . In the summer they really couldn't care about hard feed and sometimes didn't bother to eat it , but now they are beginning to pow-wow around the hay feeders and wait for their morning rations! The cria are looking very good and growing well , Cressida's fleece is amazing and Calpurnia is also showing a great deal of promise , I cant wait for shearing next year - cos it will hopefully be hot again - how quickly the memories of summer fade .

Riva shows no more signs of delivering a cria , so I think we can conclude that she is not pregnant , another week and she will be sold I hope - unless she comes up with another spanner in the works - maybe she just doesn't want to leave us?

Last weekend was spent trimming trees and trying to get some of the garden hedges back under control .Some of them have not been touched for years , maybe even decades , but the time has come to get some light into parts of the garden that have become dark and a bit dank . DH has broken his chainsaw , so proceedings were slow and much sorer the next morning! but we do have a bit of light and firewood .

The tiny chicks are growing well , the adults have nearly finished moulting and I am waiting avidly for my cream legbars to start laying .

Thursday 16 September 2010

The sun is shinning.....

the grass is still growing and everybody is pretty chilled .

We have completed a 5 day course of worming with the alpaca, this was a drench and its fair to say that DH and I are now fully wormed as well , so much came back at us one way or another! DH got a severe headbutt , and in a man sort of way insisted his jaw was broken - but it hasn't stopped him talking ( read complaining) so it can't be so bad. Every evening of the worming bought new amusement ( for me) , a different member of the herd played up each day , either sitting and then standing suddenly , or screaming and head jerking. The only member of the team who was consistent was Artemis , she spent all her time after her worming leaning against DH , sometimes this was a help , but mainly it was a hindrance .Artemis is desperate to be mated , and she has decided that DH is the man for the job!! Now that they are all wormed they have been moved to clean fresh pasture , and the summer fileds are going to be left until the spring , to make sure that the frost gets to them and cleans it all up . I am desperate to get out and top off , harrow and generally get ready for winter , but until today the weather has been very wet.

Riva continues to keep us guessing , but I really cannot believe that she is pregnant , she would be close to 12 months and 1 week , not impossible I know , but pretty unlikely. She has until the end of the month , and then she goes to her original purchaser , who has waited very patiently to see what is what. The only thing confusing me still is the inflated udder, it doesn't look as full as it did , but is still more than before . Any ideas anyone ?

The baby chicks are now outside in a coop full time , and are being allowed to range freely with the rest of the flock , they look so sweet.

This weekend sees a clear out of the polytunnel , time allowing , and some new winter cabbages and sprouting broccoli and parsnips to go in , maybe some onions!

Sunday 5 September 2010


My posting has been a bit sporadic recently , and that is because it all feels a bit flat!

Currently , we have no great dramas( done it now!) and everything is plodding on nicely . Life is full of minor frustrations - Riva has still not produced , and I am beginning to think she has had a phantom pregnancy, I am struggling to find a buyer for bulk alpaca fleece , it's raining !

On the bright side , we have started a worming programme prior to putting the girls on their winter pasture , the hay is in and stored and we have plenty, the fox is not calling anymore - think it was run over! so nothing major , but just plodding . i could do with a lift- it all seems very dreary going into winter , and if we could at least determine Riva's status we could finalise a sale and put some money in the ' alpaca bank'.
Oh , and the cria are beautiful ! The two girls are showing great promise , with very highly crimped fleeces with fab lustre , Cassius is great too , but experience has taught me to wait for the first shearing before getting my hopes up too high ! as Bilbo has shown , he had a fab first fleece , but the second fleece is growing back with a distinct roan look to it , which is interesting but not quite what I was hoping for from a mid brown boy.

Sorry this is dreary , I will try to do better :)

Saturday 21 August 2010


Yesterday was amazing ! We had torrential rain , and thunder and lightening! The rain was much needed but a little to intense , but the streams are beginning to trickle a little so we have reaped some of the benefits . Much to the amazement of our paying guests , i was out in the rain clearing cattle grids and ditches to allow for a peaceful passage of water ,I quite enjoy that sort of thing ( which is just as well) , at one point the youngest son opened the back door to see what I was doing and found the water rushing past 4 inches deep and just lapping at the sill!

Needless to say the animals were un impressed with it all , Riva is hanging on to her baby I think , but I have to admit that I have no mating date for an accurate guess. Mind you , it sometimes seems pointless knowing the due date anyway , since I haven't met an alpaca yet who has read the same books as me about gestational periods . Still watching and waiting . Luckily we have secured a farm sitter for next weekend - who wants to bet that that will be the time !? :)

Third son is still in Sweden , and rang today to say that he is happy to stay ...... forever! So far he has caught 5 fish with his new rod , is promising to teach his brothers ( that went down well , NOT) has tried all manner of new foods and is generally happy and content with the world. His surrogate mum is happy with him , and says that he hasn't stopped grinning since he got their 10 days ago , whilst he misses us a bit (!) he is having the time of his life , how much he will have to tell when he goes back to school , and on Tuesday he is going riding on Icelandic horses!!

The weather forecast is dodgy to say the least , hoping this means a hot September , I really need a few hot days to really make sure that the hay is thoroughly dry - I have my doubts at the moment , and Yes , I am watching it closely!

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Busy , busy

The last week has been very busy . As if three boys ( one is away in Sweden ) wasn't enough , we have guests staying in our holiday cottage , which is good for the bank account , but also time consuming , not only washing and ironing bedlinen , but chatting and giving advice about walks ( yes , me !) , pubs to eat in and generally passing the time of day .

Last week saw toenails trimmed , and a nasty sore area covered with summer fly cream , polytunnels sowed and then re-sowed , after the slugs had had their fill. It is never ending .

We did finally get a hay harvest in , but it was touch and go as to whether the grass would be dry enough for hay or just silage . I really wanted small bale hay , and we were lucky . Last night we got it baled and stored , so we are set for the winter , just before the rain came down again.

Riva is keeping us on our toes , she looks pregnant- big udder , loose ligaments- but hasn't produced yet , and now her daughter is looking the same !Do alpacas have phantom pregnancies?

I know that this is a slightly disjointed blog , for which I apologise , but this is how my brain is working at the moment !!

ps. we had a superb selectionof veg for supper last night- all home grown !

Sunday 8 August 2010


We may have surprise arrival. Last week I was all ready to sell Bozedown Riva , my light fawn suri , and had a buyer ready to come and collect her , so I went out for a final nostalgic chat with Riva , and as I looked at her across the field I thought ' She's pregnant' . All stop on the sale , cos she is clearly close to delivering - full udder gave it away- and a quick chat with a friend who happened to be delivering me Teifi Magic back for some stud work. Long and short , Garry came and had a look and a feel and confirmed my suspicions , we could be expecting a late arrival! Riva is a little monkey , she was clearly interested in mating back in April , but having tested her I held off , partly while I decided who to mate her too , and partly while I decided whether to sell her . The two are related strangely , it is hard to find a suri stud of good colour etc within a reasonable travelling distance , and Riva's babies have so far needed a lot of supplementing in the early days , I felt like a year off and that it would be better to sell her as a companion animal , having made it clear she can breed abut requires a lot of imput for the new cria .
Anyway plans of mice and men etc. looks like my year off may not be happening after all!

Friday 6 August 2010


On Sunday we hatched 9 chicks ! One of them struggled from the moment it hatched and finally died on Wed afternoon , the first to spot this was the youngest son , who promptly claimed the dead chick as his new best friend , what can I say , he's 5! Anyway , after a little while he promised to put the chick in a box and wait for Dad to come home so it could be buried . Then we went out to a party.
Imagine my horror on Thursday morning when I could find the box in the kitchen on the island , but no chick . Had he sneakily taken it to bed with him ? Put it under his pillow ?

No , he fed it to the dog!

Friday 30 July 2010

peace - and quiet / of mind

The VLA got back to us today with the results of the pm , and they were as good as could be hoped for - perforated ulcer , no parasites or worms , no threat to the herd . Thank God .

In celebration DH has taken the boys camping on the coast for at least one night , so I am peacefully sitting with a curry , a bottle of perry and some chocolates with the TV remote on the arm of the chair , rubbish TV is beckoning , a good book is also waiting and I might get to have an undisturbed bath as well - luxury.

Tomorrow brings a new dawn- chicks are due to hatch , they are jumping and wriggling in their eggs in preparation , and I may get to sell my first alpaca...........

Thanks for all the support over the last few days - much appreciated , hope I don't have to do it for you !

Thursday 29 July 2010

what can i say...

Sadly , after every-bodies best attempts Panteg Binky died during the night. I felt in my heart of hearts that she would not see the morning , and I hope it was quick and as painless as possible .

So this morning we set off at 8 am with 4 small boys and Binky in the back of the people carrier ( mercifully not a hot day and the air con is powerful) and took her on a last , in fact her only trip from the farm , to the VLA for autopsy. After along journey we delivered her and answered endless questions , the best guesstimate being that she died as a result of an ulcer , possibly brought on by the stress of shearing . Since we run a closed herd largely , and have certainly had no additions ( apart form our own cria) since last Sept , the likelihood of coccidia or worse , E.Mac , look remote. The grass is not grazed by other animals , and is kept clean as Eliane can testify after her first experience of poo picking, All her jabs are up to date and a worm count revealed nothing. Now we sit and wait , and try to remember that things could be worse. Also we shall think about the joy she brought us and try to decide whether to still enter her fleece for the GW show.

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Still on a knife edge

Mixed results toda y.

Small miracle - Binky is still with us ! I was prepared for the worst this morning , but at 6am she was sitting up with her mum cudding . By 9 am she was looking a little less bright .I made 2 trips to the vets today - the first to pick up anti inflammatories and anti biotics .The second to pickup more antibiotics and wormers . Advice from the RVC camelid department suggested that we should hit every option hard, and that is what we are doing. twice daily anti biotics and antiinflammatories , plus panacur, for 5 days .
Binky is very weak, but still alert and eating , all be it very small amounts , but she always has grass in her mouth when I go to inspect. Tonight she is in a stable to keep her warm, she cannot stand alone , but is still alert. I hope that the anti biotics will begin to kick in . We are still not really sure what we are dealing with . Fecal tests have not found any worm burden, but we are assuming the worst. Yet again I'm not sure what to expect in the morning. Pls don't uncross everything just yet - I hope we have a way to go!
ps . thanks for all the support

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Prayers please , or at the very least crossed fingers!

What an afternoon !About 4 pm I went to get the mums in for their afternoon tea - extra rations for mums - and as the herd advanced to be sorted into eating and 'not eating' Binky didn't come with them . At first she looked like she was enjoying a spot of sunbathing , but in a twinkling of an eye it became clear that we were in a very bad zone. She was almost cushed , but sitting on one side like they do when they are heavily pregnant , but she is only 14 months and not bred yet, she didn't even attempt to stand and paid no attention as the herd headed to pastures new without her. PANIC. I pushed her into a cush , and knew that with all the flies around her she must be ill- CALL THE VET.

The vet arrived within 40 mins , meanwhile I had a clean bucket of water which she had manged to stand to drink ( good sign ) but had dreadful scouring ( bad sign) , she also looked a bit bloated - my first thought was burst ulcer , peritonitis etc. and so was the vet's! Not hopeful. He ran some fecals-no worm burden- and other bloods which indicated a serious infection . Penicillin was already on board , but he rang to say that if this was cow or a horse he would recommend euthanasia . Finally , he came to have a final look and do what had to be done - and Binky was hard to catch in the field! She looked perkier and a stomach puncture relieved a little gas and she belched a few times , even began to eat a little Camelibra . We decided to hold off until tomorrow - antacid and pain relief were administered , and she trotted off to join the herd. I have hand fed her some hay and she was last seen munching on the grass.

Time will tell - if she is still with us in the morning we stand a chance ..... pray , dance , cross what ever you can, I would so like a little miracle please

Sunday 25 July 2010

the good news or the bad news?

The good news is that the fox trap works !

The bad news is that we have only managed to catch nosy chickens so far! Oh the irony of it.

Today we were brave , and let them out all day , which is the first time in a week , and I was very nervous all day. DH and I were outside nearly all day doing various jobs that we had held off whilst we had visitors ;the polytunnel has been weeded to within an inch of its life , and new rocket , lettuce , spring onions and carrots sown. I have also planted the cucumber plants I have been nurturing and also the pepper plants ,so the tunnel is full.
In order to do this we had to pick a cabbage ( which we had for supper fried with bacon and mushrooms in cream ) and ditch some lettuces which had gone over .

We cut down an oak tree which had not survived the winter , and I topped off 2 alpaca fields and mowed the front lawns - all in all we look pretty neat and tidy.

The cria are doing really well , Calpurnia seems to have regained full movement in her ear and they are all running around like mad things enjoying the summer weather .Hermione seems to have gotten over her desire to keep Cressida away from the others and now allows her to join in their games and sometimes even instigate them!

One week into the holidays - only 5 to go!

Monday 19 July 2010

From near disaster to disaster

Oh how life is sent to try us !
Yesterday we had 35 people for a bbq - in honour of friends returned from far flung places - just before they arrived there was a sudden yelling from DH which was frantic , ' get me a knife ' is not his usual cry , but he really meant it . On going to do a final tidy of the yard he found the alpacas humming in a desperate sort of way , and found that Calpurnia had become entangled in a football net that the boys had left in the field ( Yes I know , it should not have been there , that said ) she was hanging lifeless by the neck - panic , but luckily she was 'just' in shock . Mad cutting of said net and some rubbing , she returned immediately to mum , apparently none the worse for her ordeal - I needed a strong drink, and since it was 3.30 on a sunday , I had a strong drink!

On closer inspection , one ear is not working quite right , I hope it is a temporary thing , but honestly if that is the worst that happens - I'm lucky. Disater averted.

Today I made my annual pilgrimage to The Royal Welsh show - truly a day not to missed . 8.30 arrival then 8.30pm departure - 12 hours well spent, sans enfants. On my return , chuffed with my day and head buzzing with the antics of the Royal Kings artillery , my house guest tells me that at lunchtime he saw the biggest fox ever wonder throu the back garden having killed another chicken! I do not know what to do with the bloody thing, any printable answers would be most welcome . Shooting is clearly very tricky on two fronts
1. it is so unpredictable
2. I don't want guns around the alpacas

any other suggestions pls. At this rate by the time the kids go back to school I will not have a single chicken - damn that bloody fox.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Perfect trio

At last Hermione has produced the baby I have been waiting for , for the last 3 years! Actuallythis cria has been cooking for 358 days so it has been a long wait but finally we have - a girl! A beautiful light /mid fawn ( hard to tell since she is still wet ) , typically Hermione waited until I was out at the Year 6 Leavers assembly to produce , but the cria was still wet and wobbling so I think not more than an hour old . She has gone straight into a stable with mum , to keep warm , she is keen to feed bubt is taking a while to find the right place , I haven't weighed her , but she feels the smallest of the 3 cria , but she is super special being the last cria born to Bozedown West , god love him , and so I am thrilled she is a girl .
So this little girl makes 3 cria for the year - 2girls and a boy, one fawn , one dark brown and one black - a perfect trio!

Saturday 10 July 2010

Bloody foxes

Well they would be bloody if I could get hold of the damn thing !

Another visit from the fox , this time in broad day light, mid afternoon. Lost 8 hens , and I am really p*****d off . I cant poison it , in case something else takes the bait like a dog or a red kite , and I can't shoot it cos I never see it , so trapping is the only answer , and I haven't got a trap! Hoping for a nasty road accident.

The alpacas did save some hens , they were making such a racket with their alarm calls that DH went to see, cos he was in at the time!! and I think between them they scared the fox , but not before he had taken my beloved Brahma !

And yesterday I heard of somebody in a town near here who feeds the damn things ?! ....

Thursday 8 July 2010

And now a girl!

Yes , finally , Cerys has delivered a beautiful dark brown girl! She is up and wandering around , seems to be feeding well - mum is not very interested and is content for her to sit with the rest of the herd while she is off eating grass, in fact she is the same as last year! Cerys takes a couple of days to become really engaged with her cria , this year she is better than last and is letting the baby feed and is quite agitated if I pick the cria up and take it to her , butt otherwise content for her to run riot around the field with whomsoever she likes . Consequently they are now in splendid isolation with the rest of the herd in the neighbouring paddock , until the bond has strengthened.

Sadly , i am unable to give details or even time of birth , DH was home all morning on alpaca watch , but failed to watch very closely, despite sitting with his feet hanging out of the window facing the birthing field whilst he varnished frames! The first I heard was after I got back from pilates ( yes , I know I swore I'd never exercise ...) and he yelled ' I think there are 2 black babies - are there s'pposed to be ?'

Anyway , all's well etc . Now just waiting for Hermione......

ps . She's called Calpurnia!

Wednesday 30 June 2010

So much to say - too tired to say it !

We have had a busy couple of days , and quite frankly I'm knackered.

The shearers decided to come a day early , which threw me into a total panic and saw me racing around the countryside at speed limit defying speeds to collect vaccine for annual injections , paper bags for fleeces etc. etc. and then they were 6 hours late , whilst glad to see them I could also have christened them - but we got stuck in straight away, and by 9 pm all the herd were shorn and very beautiful if a little thinner than they started the day! I always look forward to shearing day , the excitement of seeing the alpacas back in their glory , of getting to see how cria have REALLY developed over the year .... but half way throu I always remember what a dirty , back breaking sort of day it is and I wish it was over . This year our shearer was a lovely lady called Penny , who handled the alpacas with great care and kindness which the pregnant ones really appreciated and so did I .
I also got 3 great fleeces for the Great Western Show , so all I have to do now is learn to tidy them up ( my mind has gone blank , but you know what I mean ) and then we are set.

Through all this the alpacas behaved well , a couple of screamers but only one spitter and no gratuitous kicking as happened last year . I think they are all relieved to be cool again , and so whilst chaos reigns I have put the little boys in with the big boys , on the grounds that since they don't recognise each other anyway , everyone starts from a level playing field and some of the squabbling may be avoided- we shall see !

I meant to take some 'before ' and 'after' photos , but I am too tired and it was too dark for the 'after' so that will have to be tomorrow. It is amazing how the family resemblances become really clear when they are all shorn , you will see what I mean from the pictures.

Enough for today , I am off to water the poly tunnel.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Finally - Teifi Magic is a father!

At last Bijou has delivered her cria . A beautiful black male cria , she is thrilled , he is very strong , everyone is content .
Yesterday , after returning from the school run , I went to inspect a broody hen ( who against the odds has hatched one !) and look at the alpacas . DH says he saw her puffing when he left for work at 7.30 ( seriously doubt it myself) but as i watched Bijou went to the poo pile and it became clear that the straining was going to produce more than just poo. I dashed for a change of clothes ( for me ) and my birthing box just in case , and by the time I returned , literally 5 mins , a head and 2 feet were out . All in all it was 20 mins from start to finish , I barely had time to apply the sunscreen ( again for me ) or organise the deck chair and can of coke . He was cushing within 5 mins , up on his wobbly legs within 20 mins and feeding within 40mins - the easiest delivery we have ever had . Bijou has tons of milk and is a great mum , all should be well.

Wednesday 16 June 2010


my first sale of fleece! A lady locally has bought some fleece from me to spin, she is a member of a local craft group so who knows where it may lead .

Bijou is still holding onto her baby , lord knows how she is able to walk ! I really thought that today would be the day , the weather is perfect and set to be so for a couple of days , and at lunchtime I'm sure she was having contraction s , but when viewed again 15 mins later she had gone back to chewing the cud.
The latest canine addition to the family is progressing well , she has a great desire to carry things around ( must be the gun dog in her) and to collect things for her 'nest ' , to date she has a fluffy pencil case , a woolly hat and some odd socks ! She hasn't chewed them just collected them , she reserves chewing for the sheep droppings she has found in the fields - why do they chew poo? All the boys are thrilled , althou' their devotion has varying levels , #2 son happily picks up poo , whilst #1 son doesn't even like to take her out for a wee.....

Back to watching and waiting , fingers crossed , uncross those legs Bijou , we need a bit of positive excitement!

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Mixed blessings

Today has been a bit of a roller coaster emotionally, poor old (5yrs) West has never been far from my thoughts , and after the initial flurry of activity to get a postmortem sorted at Shrewsbury VLA there is not much more I can do except sit and wait . The vet says it is unlikely to be anything that will be of concern to the others, fingers crossed, the wethers in the field with West have all looked a bit subdued and a little bit lost , but maybe that's just me. Talking to the local farmers , who have been very sympathetic , a diagnosis is emerging - apparently yesterday at approx 2.30 threre was a humm dinger of a thunderclap and a lot of lightening ( thou not the rain we so desperately need) and all the animals went berserk , the sheep farmer said all his sheep were shocked into silence and then all hell broke loose. Could this be what killed West? the timing fits , my rough estimate was that he had been dead about 4 hours when I found him at 7.30 , judging by the level of rigor etc , and there was no sign of a struggle , heart attack is where my money goes at present.

Anyway on a happier note , i collected our puppy , Jasmine, today. She is an 8week old black lab , and truly gorgeous . The boys are thrilled with her , and she is currently sleeping peacefully after a very tiring 20 minutes with the boys !

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Oh B*****ks

Just been to check on the alpacas , and find that my stud male West has died .Fine this morning , now stiff as a board.Why is it always the good ones? No obvious sign of injury , fit and healthy, looks like he just fell over and died . His tongue is hanging out at the side , but that could just be the angle of the slope.......

F***, f***, f***

Saturday 5 June 2010

Sitting on my hands!

As for most people the last week or so has been glorious weather , sunny warm , in fact darn right hot on occassion! The alpacas are enjoying the sunbathing and the regular showers I am giving them . Veronica started it - she heard me watering in the polytunnel and came to wait outside , she made it clear that she wanted to be 'watered' too!I started with her toes which she held out very nicely , and worked up until I got to her face , she is not keen on having water sprayed directly on her face but will stand under a sprinkler if it is held well above her head like rain! Gradually almost all the alpacas came and joined in, some got very excited , particularly Artemis , who threw herself around and I was in danger of a good kick but luckily she missed . The funniest was Kirsty, she just reminded me of the ladies who manage to swim calm lengths without getting their hair wet or smudging their mascara - her whole demeanor was' don't wet the hair'! She held each foot up nicely and eventually sat so that I could really wet her back - but not the hair or the face!

I can confirm categorically ( I think) that Hermione is expecting - hurray hurray hurray! Judging by the bulge and the foetal movements I feel quite confident in this statement, by my reckoning she is due on the 19 June .....
Bijou is also looking huge and her due date was yesterday.... hence sitting on my hands. She comes in quietly every morning for extra rations in peace and quiet , but is looking uncomfortable , the shearers are due in the next couple of weeks , how precise is that! , which kicked things off for her last year .....
I am still not 100% about Cerys , she is refusing any advances , and I have stopped testing her on the basis that if she is pregnant then I don't want to stress her , she will also be due on 19 June , so we shall watch and wait . Her belly is swollen but not as big as I would expect - has she just had too many pies?

Yesterday we did Bluetongue vaccinations, a bundle of laughs as usual , not hard but it was hot and sweaty work. I took the chance to tidy up some nails and do a bit of essential 'dagging' , boy did I smell great by the end of all that!

Sunday 23 May 2010

I did it !

The pink Walk for breast cancer was last weekend , and I did it! Along with 2 friends we trudged the tow paths on the Brecon and Monmouth canal until we reached Llangattock - it was good fun , but the last few miles were hard , very tender feet were OK as long as you kept going but when we stopped ....ouch! We finished in the first 100 , anad took just under 5 hours , so those of you who promised money - now would be a good time to cough up!

Saturday 15 May 2010

Clear as mud!

I did some spit=off's this morning , and really life is no clearer!

West shows great enthusiasm for the first girl , but if he gets a knock back , he goes off the boil and isn't very interested in any of the others - kind of tricky when spit-offs are the order of the day. Help from the 2 eldest boys is actually more of a hindrance , but I never seem to remember this until they are already 'helping' , #'s 3 & 4 sons , althou' smaller are much more help! anyway, with 'help' everyone was rounded up and penned for said spit-offs , first up was Kirsty who gave a resounding spit or several- good result.
Second up , Acantha , she is a really sweet little girl , and whilst not spitting , refused to be caught , conclusion - pretty sure she's pregnant. At this point West sat down himself , in sheer frustration I think!
Third up was Veronica , she spat for Wales - pretty good , but West hardly moved off the spot , took one look got spat at and refused to show any further interest.
Tried for a fourth result with Hermione , who's status is unclear but leaning towards pregnant, West refused to budge , had a cursory sniff , she spat he ignored her ! Cue me doing a passable orgle to see if that would get things moving - definite interest from all the alpaca , but more om the lines of ' what the hell is she doing now' , and a few surprised walkers .......

hey ho , life is never as simple as I'd like ! Off to view new puppy who is now 4 weeks old !

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Big decision!

The last few days have been hectic but very productive , hence the blogging gap. Over the bank holiday, with the help of generous friends, we managed to get new gates hung at the bottom of the drive onto the yard , new fencing on the side of the field by the drive - it all looks very smart on arrival now- rose hedge trimmed , beech hedge trimmed ( understatement ) all the rubbish clippings burnt , veg gardens weeded..... all this with 6 kids in tow , a very arduous ( and for everyone else) enjoyable walk- I don't like steep hills so it was on the side of torture for me , and a riding lesson for the children. Pretty pleased with ourselves right now.

Plus the grass is growing ! We seeded and rotivated etc. a large patch of lawn and it is definitely green. Also managed to get the empty alpaca fields fertilised and it then obligingly rained... fab.

I have also been doing spit-offs and matings , which seem to be going well,I still wouldn't stake my life on Hermione being pregnant , but she is certainly doing a good impression. Bijou is looking larger by the day , she is due in 3 weeks so fingers crossed that we don't have to endure the wait like last year.

Now for the decision- I have put my first alpacas up for sale! I feel slightly sick at the thought of selling them , but it has to be done . Bourbon and Bilbo , my beautiful brown boys , do not have a place in my herd , being too closely related to most of the girls , but Bourbon particularly shows a lot of promise and I have tried every which way to keep him , not to be . The two of them are so close I think it is fairer to let them go together . I have also put Bozedown Kirtsy on the sale list. She is a great animal who has produced a couple of lovely girls for me , fab quality , but she is white , and my dream goes towards the darker colours , so sadly she too is going . Although I've put them up for sale , parting with them will be another story - gin will be in order !

Friday 30 April 2010


The weather has been lovely , and the alpaca have been making the most of the gorgeous sunshine . Today , I did some pregnancy testing , and got a couple of surprises - Riva isn't pregnant going by the joyous greeting she gave West when she saw him . That is a shame ,but hey ho . Artemis was very keen to make friends with West ( little hussy) as was Acantha and Veronica. I wasn't expecting any of them to be pregnant , so Veronica was the first to be mated this season. Kirsty did a runner as soon as she saw West , so I didn't get a chance for a close encounter - the jury is still out on her status.Then came the surprises, Hermione is now 4 and a half , and for 3 years we have been trying to mate her with no success. Today , she went berserk and turned into the resident spit fountain , I have my fingers firmly crossed, interestingly , just before I went outside I had been reading an article on an alpaca forum in the states which was specifically saying that big boned animals ( Hermione ) and those with accoyo( Hermione) take longer to mature and may not be mate able until 3 or 4 years old ! How spooky is that. Athena was the next surprise - the jury is still out , but it looks promising - she spat at West , and after much sniffing he didn't even try mating with her , can the males tell I wonder?

The chicks were due to hatch today, and sure enough last night I saw a few piping . By this morning we had 7 chicks, 6 were bouncing and one looked distinctly dodgy , but tonight we have 14 healthy chicks including the dodgy one . I am really pleased- 5 barnevelders, 5 buff Sussex and 4 heinz 57 from my own flock. Currently they are all flaked out in the incubator like a huge chick carpet.

Saturday 24 April 2010

chickens always make me smile

Today I went to collect eggs , and just had to laugh. One of the hens had very carefully collected my lemon shaped and coloured egg timer into the nest and was contentedly sitting on it ! Moments like that are just so few and far between , but make life a little bit lighter .

Tuesday 20 April 2010

What goes around.....

What a busy weekend . No paying guests so we took the opportunity to do some gardening - well rotivating actually. We ( DH & I ) worked all weekend rotavating and stone picking an area of approx.400m2, and boy did we find plenty of stones to pick ! It is back breaking , shoulder knackering work , followed by rolling and raking . Luckily it is all now done , and fertiliser has been applied , just waiting for the weekend to grass seed the whole lot - keeping the chickens and the children off should be fun!

Along with everything else , I am now on the look out for a puppy ! 2 litters look promising , but we are on a waiting list for both, I am after a black lab bitch , and the people on the list ahead of us cannot decide between black and yellow , so we are holding our breath and praying quietly that they prefer yellow!

The days are beautifully warm and the alpacas are sunbathing a lot which is lovely - get those Vit D levels up girls- and the hens are doing fine as are all the chicks , incubator still purring away nicely -D Day is the 1st May

Monday 12 April 2010

alpaca make over

The sunny weather just keeps on coming ! A week now and the days are just lovely , the alpacas are doing some sunbathing and so are the hens. It is lovely to see everybody laid out and relaxed after a tough winter.

Yesterday I moved the mums into a new field next to the weanlings and yearlings , in order to clean their field and let it grow for the births in June , needless to say that within a couple of hours 3 alpaca had made it back in with the mums , funnily enough not the ones I would have predicted , all the boy weanlings stayed away , and since they were all mummies boys I'm quite surprised , and Brizo didn't bother either , but her older sister did! Anyway , it became clear that keeping them in separate fields was a bit of a farce , so I let them all in together , amid much excitement ( well 2 mins worth) and then it all settled down and they got on with munching and sunbathing .
Today , we rounded them up and did a bit of toe nail trimming , and a bit of facial hair trimming , Brizo and Binky have fantastic fleeces , with great crimp and lustre and it grows all over their faces , so much so that their eyes were fast disappearing , which in a huacaya is a bit disconcerting ! Anyway I trimmed and trimmed and tried not to go over board , but I fear I didn't make much difference and we may have to repeat the performance tomorrow. I also did a bit of dagging and washing of hind legs for the same two ladies who have a habit of getting their legs gummed up with any twig or bramble within a 5 mile radius and then get into a horrid mess , so a good wash was called for after the worst was cut away - we don't want fly strike , that's for sure.

The school chicks are spending their first night out in a coop without a heat lamp , the day temps have been great and they are all fully feathered so it should be fine ........

Also , I had a bit of a shopping spree and am now the proud owner of ..... 4 cream legbar chicks - all hens ( they are autosexing ) and an incubator full of eggs ! 6 Barnevelders , 6 Buff Sussex , 3 Panteg khaki and 3 dark brown eggs of the Heinz 57 variety ! Hatching date is May bank holiday so fingers crossed .

I have my sister to stay for the rest of the week , and then next week I start halter training and spit-off's for real , with a dose of mating thrown in for good measure . Watch this space !

Friday 2 April 2010

After the snow ...

came the rain , inches of it all in a very short space of time , we had over 3 inches in about 2 hours today - the fields are water logged ,the animals bedraggled and at one point the stables were flooded! Marriage to a water engineer has its benefits , but sorting out the drains around the stables is clearly not one of them!

On the positive , I have made a great start in the poly tunnel ; today I planted little gems , radishes , spring onions , carrots , rocket and mixed lettuces. So our salad intake is about to go up and our waistlines down I hope , sadly it never works that way for me , maybe I should give up the chocolate and the full fat coke as well as eating salad? No , life is too short .

The cockerel with a penchant for beating us all up has finally met his maker , today he was dispatched by my generous neighbour , he knows that I cannot quite bring myself to do it , and with DH being a veggie ( of strict proportions ) -no hope there , so he does it for me , which is very kind and very helpful too. At least now the kids ( and visitors) can walk around without fear of an attack being launched at the back of their legs - more shocking than painful , but pretty irritating .

Fingers crossed tomorrow is sunny .

Wednesday 31 March 2010

snow again

what can i say ? just as everyone ( alpaca wise) was looking relatively clean and fluffy the snow has come down again and we are back to muddy bedraggled animals who are craving some decent grass and a bit of sunshine .I am really thankful that we don't have any cria just born 'cos that would be giving me a deal of stress , the temp is back down to 2C and we are feeding expensive amounts of alpha pellets and peas , which I thought we had almost stopped , this winter seems to have gone on for ever! Berlioz is looking a little bit thin , as are a few of the others , not worryingly so , but I shall be glad of some good rampant grass growing very soon .

I had hoped to spend Easter weekend trimming toe nails , getting some vaccinations done and checking a couple of pregnancies , all of this in the warm spring sunshine - looks like it will be muddy toes and essential vaccines , the rest will have to wait , the ground is really slippy and I don't want to risk any injuries by testing pregnancies .

The chicks are doing really well , we have built them a large wooden pen in the garage, with a heat lamp , and they are growing really quickly, last sunday they even got to go outside for a couple of hours since the weather was really nice and warm. One of my hens is showing signs of going broody , when I am sure that she is I can crank up the incubator and take a trip to the Wernlas collection for some pure breed eggs - I really would like some cream legbars and also some barnevelders , they are my favourites and my little flock is being over-run with hybrids, time for some new blood!

Wednesday 24 March 2010

flashy lawnmowers

It was a lovely day today , and the mums came down into the back garden and did some much needed lawn mowing for me ! They really enjoyed the grass which is looking pretty lush compared to the fields , and it kept them out of mischief almost all day .there is enough for at least another days worth of grazing , the only slight downside is that they are in the garden of the rental cottage and so the alpaca poo will have to be cleared thoroughly before our first guests arrive next week. Like all of us , I am praying for the grass to start growing , the consumption of hay and hard feed is slowly going down , but the grass is not growing nearly fast enough yet.
The yearlings have found a hole in the fences which means that they can get into a field that I was resting , I really need to get it sorted out , but I have so much going on that for the time being they are doing as they please !
This year we must make some decisions about hay - do we have enough space to put a couple of fields aside for hay ? or do we just bite the bullet and buy in ? I need some fences putting up , and fields dividing , bu the fencers are somewhat elusive at the moment , it is lambing time , so we are being patient , but I would like the job done . I really need to switch the yearlings and the mums over for a couple of weeks to get the halter training done , it will be easier in the mums field 'cos the catch pens are better and it will be less stressful for all concerned. , and then swap them back to do some spit-offs and see who's pregnancy has held over the winter , and start some matings for those girls who open . I need to think about getting my beautiful black Teifi Magic to come and do some mating work , I am sure that Athena is open , and they would have a beautiful cria. Bijou and Cerys are both expecting Magic cria in June / July , and I think that I will leave them open and re-align the breeding programme , so that most cria are due in April and May, which is the perfect time for us , being quite high up we can still have some pretty chilly nights and the snow has only disappeared of the tops in the last day or so , and by April /May it is much warmer whilst still giving them a good long season before the winter sets in .

The chicks are coming home from school on Friday- I don't have enough hours in the day to deal with all this and do the housework, guess which isn't getting done?!

Thursday 18 March 2010

for once it's welcome

Finally we have had a little bit of rain , only a really small amount , but just enough to get the grass going , and the ground is so dry we do need it . Luckily with rain comes warmer temps and it has reached 14 degrees today and is still 10 at 8pm . Thats what I want right now . We have had some dreadful heath fires , where acres of mountain have been destroyed , and its only March - god help us in July.

The pacas are pleased with the rain , well I am on their behalf, they will be a bit cleaner soon and I am tired and broke from buying in so much hard feed, luckily we grow our own hay , but even that is coming to an end .

The polytunnel has its first crops growing nicely, I have added a couple of hanging baskets of strawberries to the tunnel , and the 'first earlies' are dong well. All the tomato plants and courgettes are going well in the house , and some capsicum peppers are coming up , so we will be able to make our own ratatouille at this rate - that has always been my goal!

Wednesday 17 March 2010

I've gone and done it now!

Physical exercise is not really my thing . I know I get quite a lot of exercise running around after 4 kids , alpacas ,the school and of course DH , but structured exercise has never really appealed to me . I do ride ,not as much as I would like at the moment , and I have started pilates , which I love , but it is fair to say that this is the most I have ever done in my life , more than I have ever done all put together ,and I am getting on to be starting out !
Anyway , I have agreed to do a sponsored walk ! It is a cause with which I have far too much personal history , my mum died from it far too soon and far too long ago , it is breast cancer. There is an organised walk along the lines of the moonwalk, but not at night and you can wear clothes ! So now I am in training for 20 miles of canal walking , can't quite believe that I have agreed to this , I normally only walk to the car and then into waitrose and back to the car ....... the walk is called 'the pink canal walk ' and I am doing it with a couple of friends ( more may materialise ) one is a really keen and sporty type , the other is like me - a couch potato , I shall keep you up dated on our progress.

Sunday 14 March 2010

Thank goodness !

A while ago ( about a month) I lent my incubator to the primary school so that they could hatch some eggs into chicks (!) .I did have a few sleepless nights when I prayed fervently that the eggs would hatch , and a few nightmares when nothing did and I had 200+ upset children to deal with , but last week the chicks began to hatch.

On the monday night the first egg'pipped' and by Tues morning we had 2 chicks - sadly one died almost immediately - but Tues and Wed were a hive of activity in the incubator and a source of fascination for children and staff alike .By Thurs we had 10 chicks and the final two hatched early on Thursday. Thank god we had 12 chicks . We had put 18 into the incubator , 4 were infertile , 1 died at birth and 1 never made it out of the egg , but on the whole I am pretty pleased with 12.

The children and parents have been a source of amusement for me and my children . I forget that , despite living in a rural area, many do not have the slightest idea how hens are made ; the parents have been as amazed as the children and the best question ( worst) was from an adult who asked what the chicks would be when they grew up ! hens ?! my reply was that yes they would be hens , or maybe roosters , the parent said ' thats fine with the yellow chicks , but what will the black chicks be ?' ' Hens '. the light began to dawn- ' do you mean that all chicks aren't yellow'? I suggested that different breeds might be different colours like dogs are different shapes and sizes ......

We have to choose 3 chicks for the school to rear and keep in their hen house ( not yet built) , luckily we put 3 different types of hens' eggs in , and will hopefully have 3 different coloured hens . There are 2 yellow chicks ( white hens) 3 stripey chicks ( legbar crosses) and 7 black chicks ( barnevelder crosses) - so fingers crossed.

Friday 5 March 2010

I hate ...

world book day! there. I don't hate the concept - getting everyone to read a book must be a good idea , but the level of commercialism surrounding it is frightening . I have 4 small boys , all of whom are required to dress as a book character on world book day - great you may think , how much fun is that , well none at all for me . First think of 4 different characters which are appealing to said boys , and then get the costume . I'm afraid that I refuse to spend lots of money on buying or hiring costumes so it has to be feasible from what we already own. But it always causes a row , when we get to school and have to stand next to rented or bought costumes the degree of amusement for us all begins to pale , the kids all complain that their costumes don't look as good and I have a sense of humour failure ! Thank god it's only once a year

Friday 26 February 2010

doing it again

Spring really is on the way ! there, done it again , but this time I'm right ( only this time ??) My daffodils are coming up along the driveway . Hurray! AND the soil in the poly tunnel is warm enough to start planting ( I think ) so tomorrow I shall commence planting with a few lettuces just to see how we do .

AND the chicks are due to hatch on Tuesday ! We have lent our incubator to the school , and Tuesday is the day of reckoning , pray something hatches , I cant bear the stress if nothing happens .

Tuesday 23 February 2010

My epitaph!

My epitaph will be ' spoke too soon ' ! The snow is back , I cant believe the length of time we have had bad weather , nearly 2 months now , that must be a record . The animals are coping with resigned determination , the weanlings are doing really well and I have to say that the whole weaning process was much easier this year - maybe 'cos there were 5 of them and 3 'aunts' , now we have the trial of halter training , generally I enjoy halter training , but I am itching to get on with it and the ground is too hard and slippy to be safe ......

Since last week we have escaped the cold of Wales for a trip abroad... to Disneyland Paris , and it was just as cold there! We took the 2 eldest boys and left the other 2 with my long suffering sister . I'm petty sure she enjoyed having them , and they certainly enjoyed staying, we have a constant whine of ' I preferred Aunty Nessa's'! Anyway , the rest of us braved Disney , sorry to say it does nothing for me and DH , we are just too old and sensible ! but the twins loved every minute of it . It really is a master piece of marketing , cos when you look at it dispassionately you spend a lot of money to stand in queues, run from one queue to another and walk alot without actually going on too many rides ! But we had some lovely family time and we don't get to spend much one-to-one time with the twins, so on the whole it was nice , but we could have done it at West Midland Safari Park for a fraction of the cost!!

The veggies are sprouting nicely , and DH has dug over the beds in the poly tunnel and redefined them , so we are nearly ready to plant something , the early potatoes will be my first planting - cant wait. Despite the snow the hens have gone into overdrive and are laying a dozen a day, which I am finding hard to get rid of! but luckily a couple of new mums at the school gate have asked if they can buy eggs from me so ...

Monday 15 February 2010

calm again , spring is coming !

the alpacas are back to being 'all fine' , Cerys' limp has gone and she is looking lovely - her cria is due in July and she is in really good condition , not missing baby Bilbo at all!

Finally I have got round to preparing the ploy tunnel - I have dug in a huge amount of alpaca poo , so handy to have a factory in high production - and have started my first seedlings. Last year we didn't get the polytunnel until June so we were a bit late starting, but this year I am determined to be off to a flying start . Sadly , my mentor and inspiration ( competition?) have moved to the USA , so I don't have quite the same level of 'go' that I had last season , but I see that Eliane has planted her tomato seeds as well , so who knows , competition from across the pond?

I have planted 6 different types of tomatoes , 2 types of couregetttes and some peas, the lettuce , rocket and radishes will go straight into the ground , and the potatoes are chitting on the window ledge. A little bit later I will plant runner bean and french beans ready for the glorious summer......

Monday 8 February 2010

spoke too soon !

Did I honestly say that life had been a bit on the dull side ? did I ? You may have thought that by my grand age I would have got the concept of tempting fate , but clearly not!

On Thursday Cerys was cushing a lot , When she did get up she was not weight bearing on her front left leg - oh joy - first thought , broken . But after a few minutes she did begin to bear weight albeit very gingerly , and as the day progressed she got better . I did have a feel but she was not impressed , and it is difficult at my majestic height ( not) to hold and examine a front leg whilst the examinee is trying to sit and spit .... I put it down to pins and needles ! On Friday morning I looked out and this time she was hobbling on left front and rear right - quite a feat- and clearly there was more of a problem than pins and needles. Call to the vet , a very nice 'girl' came out and had a look , she'd never really seen alpacas before , except once when she came to me to do some micro chipping when she was a student ( get the picture?) Cerys is normally pretty cool , apart from the kicking , which she is very generous with , but on Friday she spat and screamed , tried to sit and was generally the most uncooperative she could be . I tried to keep her calm by talking gently to her but she couldn't really hear me since she was screaming so much , more in an indignant fashion than one of pain , but still ear splitting . Eventually the vet agreed with me that there was nothing really to find , and it was probably a sprain in all the slippy mud . Hurray! A dose of bute and she was fine - now why didn't I think of that ?

Today all is well , and the snow has started again!

ps . can anyone explain why DH always splits whole bales of hay , when I have specifically bought racks which hold a full bale ??

Sunday 31 January 2010

snow and weaning !

It's back! the snow came down last night and is covering the ground quite nicely , enough to mean that the animals cannot eat the grass , back to hay and warm water and hard feed every couple of hours .

Coupled with the fact that I chose yesterday to split the cria from their mums - stress! Actually , the babies are doing OK , so long as they have food to keep them occupied than they seem happy , it's the mums! they are pacing the fence lines , calling and calling for their babies . I am trying not to listen , normally they give a token call and then seem to settle down to putting back some condition on . They can't see the weanlings (!) who confined to the yard and stables , but I guess they can hear them, and with the snow I can't move the weanlings to a further field, cos they won't have access to the stables easily . Clear up snow , you're getting in my way now !

Wednesday 27 January 2010

times passing ...

It's been a while since my last blog ( confession?) for 2 reasons
1. I have pretty busy with animals , house , children etc
2. The animals are all fine and that also means a bit dull to write about ( there, I've gone and tempted fate)

We are motoring on the jobs list , the'new' house is coming together , yesterday I laid ( the cheapest) lino I could find in the boys toilet , any of you with boys can work that out , since it will have to be replaced reasonably regularly! I was pretty proud of cutting it to the right size etc. and new porcelain has been purchased for the shower room , bath sides for the bath room , new hot water tank for rental cottage . All of this is great , but it doesn't do much for the general tidiness of life , most of these things are sitting around in big boxes waiting for DH to get to them . I have toyed with plumbing in a toilet , but don't feel quite up to that without supervision just yet .

I have also bought FAB radiators for our bedroom and the second lounge ( being the only rooms without underfloor heating) really great old fashioned ones that look a bit like the ones we had in school - who would ever have thought they would be desirable?

The alpacas seem to be fine , we have had the odd limp , mainly centred round slipping in the snow , and they are all happily troughing through a small nation's budget's worth of hard feed as well as the grass and hay ! Particularly popular are the micronised peas , unfortunately this is a shared favourite of the chickens who are right in the troughs helping themselves!
Berlioz has been weaned from me - no more bottles - and after a couple of days of pestering me he largely ignores me , such gratitude! Actually , I'm pleased that he is behaving like that , I was worried about berserk alpaca syndrome , something which his sister is close to I think , and in a male would be intolerable . I still see him having a quick suck from his mum , but I have never been sure exactly what he gets if anything . All the cria are ready for weaning , some over due , and as soon as the weather is nicer I will separate them , but with more snow due on Friday , it won't be this week!

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Not more!

Yes , more snow ! School is canceled yet again and I have HAD ENOUGH ! the world has gone mad , and before you start me on global warming- don't!

Saturday 9 January 2010

chickens are so amazing .

The other day I went out to do the animals first thing in the morning . Because it was cold and I like figures I decided to open my car door to see what the temp was - there being a thermometer as part of my car . I had not used the car for at least 2 days ( the snow was undisturbed) and possibly for at least another 36 hours before that . I opened the door , strange smell unlike the usual child infested car small , and a gentle cluck! Sitting on the passenger seat was a chicken ! I knew that I was one down and had looked for her , but never checked the inside of the car . Significant amount of chicken poop, but luckily without a food intake they can only poop so much, so I rushed her inside , gave her some corn and a bowl of warm water - and she was fine ! I mean absolutely fine . She chased the cats who came to look at her . Pooped on the floor and then I let her out with the others . Ostensibly no harm done - how amazing is that!
Oh and the temp was -10C ! not bad at 8.30am !

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Finally our house!

Recognise that Eliane ?!

DH has wireless connection in the warm, but only if you sit just there!

A few pics for our friends and those who have put up with house building in an alpaca blog!!


Not a particularly original title , but true nonetheless . We have finally got some real snow , school is closed , the kids are thrilled , DH is working from home ......

The alpacas are not enjoying it very much , the blacks slept out all last night and came in this morning looking like pandas , the whites slept in and looked very smug this morning . They are all tucking in heartily to the hay , my friendly farmer next door has delivered me a large bale for the first time since we are getting throu so much - should prove interesting trying to unwind it in the confines of the garage - DH's idea ! The warm water is going down a treat as well , funny how all the animals like warm water , and the sugar beet is also proving popular . I make it up with boiling water , so it retains a bit of the heat and they absolutely wolf it down . All day they have not moved from the barns and it looks set to stay like this for a while - I think school will be shut until Monday , since the council has nearly run out of grit , so even the main roads are pretty ropey compared to normal , and DH would have done well to have bought the bag of rock salt when I asked him ......

Little Binky with the cute lips!

The poly tunnel has discovered another use , the hens have spent the day in there! I think they find it a bit tough on their feet in this weather so they have been able to do a bit of digging today , which hasn't happened for many days recently .

Back out now to make up stables with straw for bed time and some more water - I really need an out door tap that does hot water , but since we have woken to frozen internal pipes a couple of times recently , I don't think that's a goer!

Sunday 3 January 2010

Houdini x 2!

After another restful morning , where nobody woke before 9am , the peace was shattered when #DS said ' Mum , are the pacas s'posed to be in the back garden ?' NO! BY 9.02 we were all outside - the building work has necessitated the removal of several farm gates - the one to the road , the one from the garden to the bridle path......Panic . The boys live on the other side of the bridle path , and as if by magic they became aware of the girls at just the same moment we did , a race to see who could call them first . It was close , but I manged to block their imminent arrival on the bridle path and then get them out of the garden and back into their field, where it transpired they had ( again ) opened the gate . Little monkeys , they have learn to open one of the gates , an extra lock has been put on , but at some point last night someone ( me ) forgot to put the second lock on , hence the escape .

A sigh of relief , breakfast all round , relax . Then at 3pm - ' Mum , should the pacas be in the back garden ' AGAIN , NO! This time, the children had left the gate open when they went to retrieve their sledge before an epic sledging time on the mountain .
Tonight I have checked and double checked those locks , if they are out tomorrow I don't know what I shall do !