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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