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Wednesday 14 December 2011

Aberlour makes new friends

After being isolated with Boz Flag for 2 months the time came for Aberlour to meet the other boys . It was a slightly torturous morning , since he refused to leave the field where he has been for the last couple of months - Flag proved his value again , I put him on a halter and we spent the best part of an hour coaxing Aberlour , an inch at a time , out of his field and into a new one ! We walked back and forth endlessly , unitl Abe decided to pluck up all his courage and venture along the bridle path to meet his new friends .
Then , a complete change of tune , no longer the shrinking violet , he went into total domination mode . There then ensued an hour of squealing and chasing , where Abe tried valiantly to impress upon the other 7 boys that he was going to be boss . Surprisingly , Teifi Magic ( from whom I expected trouble ) stayed largely out of his way and was pretty calm about this new interloper. Suffice to say it has taken a couple of days for complete calm to be re-instated , and Abe is firmly part of the herd now , thank god!

Monday saw the second round of Vit injections . The boys behaved really nicely, except for Magic , and were all injected with the minimum of fuss . Not so the girls - plenty of spitting from Athena on her and everyone else's behave , screaming from Kirtsy , and an escape bid from Artemis which was frankly laughable - a huge suri trying to squeeze under a gate with only 6 inch gap ....
All this in a sea of mud , but we remained up right and largely unscathed.

The weather is calm for the moment , the rain and snow have been and gone , fingers crossed that tomorrow is not as bad as predicted

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Announcing a new arrival!

I feel like it has been a long time since my last confession /blog, on one hand there is not so much to relate , the alpacas are all well , first Vit injections of the season have been done , no dramas ( I had my fingers crossed as I typed that so we should be ok) the chickens are fine , the baby chicks are now fully fledged but still minature , what more can I say ? Oh , the title !

Well , after much deliberation and searching I am pleased to announce that we are now the proud owners of a new stud male - he is a dark fawn , with dark tips , a fab pedigree and an even better name- introducing Andaw Czars Aberlour....

His father is Silverstream Czar, and he has a long and prestigious pedigree with a Jolimont and a pperuvian for grand parents and great grand parents . I hope he will do very well for us , with both a white and coloured background I am looking forward to some lovely fawns and who knows what else. Aberlour is still quite young , only just over 2 , but judging by the activity in the paddock he is very keen , poor old Bozedown Flag , who is his companion until quarantine finishes , is putting up with his amorous intentions in a resigned but fairly relaxed way!

He has been with us for about a month and is settling well , having come from a home with no children he is finding my youngest son hugely interesting , and a routine is developing - every day on his return from school Huw takes a short cut across Aberlours field in a bid to get to the cakes first and avoid the roosters! Aberlour loiters near the gate and follows him at fairly close quarters , its a bit like the keystone cops , Huw walks Aberlour walks , Huw gets nervous and trots Aberlour trots , Huw breaks into a flat out run so does Aberlour - its hilarious to watch , but both are secretly enjoying themselves. So far Aberlour has not vaulted over the fence at the end , but I'm sure the day will come !

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Chickens are not as stupid..

as Turkeys! Our turkey is lovingly trying to hatch 15 plums that she has gathered on the compost heap! She is very protective of her plums and attacked DH when he picked her up to put her to bed . In theory if Turkeys could hatch plum jam I would be thrilled ( we have tons of plums this year) but what I can't get my head round is how she's going to get the jam into the jars ....?

Wednesday 31 August 2011

A close shave ...

I was upstairs just getting changed ( isn't it always when you have your clothes off?) that the alpacas in the front field all suddenly stood up tall and faced the same direction . PANIC! I have been watching a couple of dogs chasing my neighbours sheep this evening , and despite his and our best efforts we have not been able to catch them or their owner , so I immediately thought that they were back . I yelled for DH and we both shot out of the house , him through one door me through the other , taking our dog with me , just in time to see a very large fox , turn tail and shoot off up the drive - the dozy chickens were all standing looking at him ! Close call!

Sunday 28 August 2011

Safe and dry!

Thats the hay - we finally got the hay made on Monday night and worked late into the evening getting it onto the tractor and away in the barn, we were expecting heavy rain over night on Monday so I was really pleased and slept well , knowing that the hay was safely away for the winter . Woke to on Tues to ..... blue skies and sunshine ! The week has been largely lovely ! which is a bit of a pain in a way , ' cos the predictions were not good , and if we'd known we'd have cut the other fields as well!! However , our friendly farmer is happy to have them as silage if nec so it will all be fine .

The alpacas are all looking fantastic , Cerys had her meeting with Magic and everyone else is showing all signs of being pregnant. Fingers crossed.

we have another broody hen , which after the recent disasters , when DH took the eggs at the last minute and gave them to friends ... yuk , I am hoping will get me a few more nice hens before the winter .

DS#3 is happily heading to Switzerland as we speak - what it is to have nice friends .... I can't really speak after my trip to Mustique , but he does seem to do rather well on the holiday front!

Friday 19 August 2011

Fingers crossed

We have taken a chance and cut the first field of hay , well actually we cut it on Wed , but with 4 small children at home for the school holidays time is beginning to blur! So far the weather has held and I am quietly optimistic that we will be able to bale it on Sunday, which is supposed to be a very nice day! If not it will be silage and I will have to think again for the second field.

Th pacas are all enjoying a spot of the warmer weather , lots of sun bathing and general lounging around , everyone is looking very mellow! Today I tried the girls with some carrots , I know lots of people feed their alpacas carrots but I have always been slightly nervous of them choking ( yes i know that's slightly daft ) so today when the veggie box arrived with LOTS of carrots I tried feeding a few to the girls . I chopped them all up nicely and put them in the feeding trough , everyone came at a gallop and then skidded to a halt to look at these very strange things in their troughs. Lots of sniffing , and a fair amount of jumping about , finally only Bijou took the plunge and ate some , nobody else would brave it , so they all wandered off en masse to stand in the water trough! It's a little trick that Hermione has taught them all and I really wish she hadn't! Whilst it is very amusing to see all the alpacas taking turns to splash in the water troughs , at the moment , when the water supplies are very low it gives me a bit of headache trying to keep the water clean . I have tried buckets but Hermione tries to stand in those too and spills them all , fence buckets also get spilled but to a lesser degree .

Water is becoming a concern - two of my neighbours , one on either side have now run out of water , or more accurately their springs have dried up ! so we are being as careful as possible , flushing only when necessary - the beauty of small boys is that they are thrilled to be encouraged to wee on the compost heap- two birds with one stone so to speak!

Sunday 14 August 2011


The girls ( and the boys ) are all looking good despite the unseasonably cool weather . Tomorrow I have one more mating to do , Cerys has an appointment with Magic , last week when we did spit offs she was the only one to sit - great news for the rest , but she was mated a couple of months ago and I was hoping that she had taken , anyway , tomorrow is the day !
Still we are waiting for a good spell of weather to get some hay making done , every year its the same - the hay fields are not quite ready in June when the weather is hot , and by August the weather is too damp??
The hens are all beginning to get the hang of laying back in their houses , and the pigs are enjoying the glut of cob nuts - a last fling before the butchers on Thursday!

Thursday 11 August 2011

Exciting news at last !

Well , a long absence from blogging , largely due to the family holiday to the Vendee! Lots of sun and beaches and rock pools for small boys , kites for the not so small , and books for me!

The animals were all well cared for by a series of house sitters , and we come back to the same number we left - which is always positive!

For a couple of months now I have been looking around for a new stud to replace West , who sadly died last year , well I think I've found him ! I took a trip to sunny Devon on Tuesday for a hands on experience , and am well pleased with what I found. He is a youngster , not quite 2 , but with fantastic blood lines including Jolimont , Silverstream and pperuvian amongst others , a dark fawn , who i hope will add to my herd very positively. Awaiting vet checks before I bring him home , and then I shall reveal all!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Looking to the future.

Sadly , on Sunday we had to make the descision and have Diablo put to sleep. An abscess had burst in his ear canal on Friday and I was really praying that the antibiotics would have begun to act - he was on a third type by this time - but unfortunately not . I took him on his last visit to the vet and made the vet promise not to mention that I cried , when he next saw me! It was incredibly quick, seconds really , and then home to the herd for mum to begin to realise he was gone. Poor Veronica was distraught and stood by him for the whole day. Finally I took him away at dusk , I really didn't want the foxes to get him . Veronica is still unhappy but is slowly getting better.

Meanwhile , matings carry on at a pace , I am determined that next year we will have a good strong crop of cria with a strong colour bias. The herd is looking well , and an infection that had started around Brizo's ear tag has subsided with the help of some anti biotic cream and anti fly cream , gosh the flies are bad this year. I am also hoping that we are nearly ready to make some hay , I leave it to the far superior knowledge of the farmer next door , but every year I am raring to go and he advises caution - he's usually right !

Monday 4 July 2011

Maybe , just maybe

we have turned a corner . I am really praying we have . Bloods and fecals came back from the VLA showing an underlying infection , so dose of penicillin and finger s crossed. Tonight he sucked his milk down on his own - the first time he has done that in 2 or 3 days , and took almost 200ml , which is more than he took all of yesterday and today combined. Not sure that penicillin can work that fast, he only had the injection 4 hours ago , but I am really hoping we may be on the way back .

Thanks for all your advice and support , much appreciated !

Still no decision but in my heart ...

I know it cannot be good news . The blood results came back and showed no abnormalities at all , so the kidneys are a slight red herring . Poor little Diablo has had a tough weekend , his weight has gone up and down a bit , but when you only weigh 6.3kgs a little is alot if you see what I mean. He refuses the bottle most times , but is not feeding very well from mum , so it really is a case of force feeding him. He looks pathetic and listless , tries hard to eat grass but is clearly not enjoying life .
I am still waiting for the fecal results , and there is a slim chance that they may suggest an infection which we can clobber with antibiotics , but I am really not optimistic and I have mentally made the decision that unless it is clear cut and pretty good odds , Diablo cannot go on like this . You may think that I am jumping the gun , but I need to be prepared cos it is breaking my heart to watch him not make any progress and seem so miserable . I really hope I'm wrong he is a beautiful little chap.

Friday 1 July 2011

Potentially tough decisions ahead

Diablo had his visit to the vet this morning . I was reasonably optimistic - he was brighter and more alert , still not keen to take a bottle but his belly seemed full enough. Anyway, the vet kept him for a few hours and then rang with the news I dreaded - it is not simple or even probable that it can be solved. It seems that he has mal-formed kidneys , resulting in urine not being passed to the bladder effectively . Currently we are awaiting blood results , but it seems that we are not sure how this will progress. It may be that his body will adjust at regular intervals , but equally he may not be able to survive and I must look at the possibility of euthanasia . Not a happy night ahead!

Thursday 30 June 2011

With a heavy heart

It is with a heavy heart that I await tomorrow . Diablo has not had a good day , whilst I would usually consider myself ' a glass half full ' sorta gal , today I feel quite the opposite. I called the vet out this morning- Diablo was lethargic in the extreme , and had lost weight over night , refused to actively take a bottle and was only taking a small amount that I was force feeding him . Blood and fecal samples have been taken , temp appears normal , no obvious pain or swelling anywhere - a total mystery. The vet has scratched her head and whilst we await the test results from the VLA Diablo will be scanned and x-rayed tomorrow morning to see if anything presents itself.
His feed at 6.30pm was also reluctantly taken , but by 10 pm he was sucking , which is the first time in several days that I have had any help from him , maybe positive? He does seem to be holding his head slightly oddly , and dribbling a bit , but I am beginning to see all sorts of things which may or may not really be a problem . Hey ho , hopefully some answers tomorrow , but I am not expecting them to be good.

On the plus side , there usually is a plus if you look , we have friends visiting from SF who we haven't seen for a year, and that is great.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Emotional roller coaster

On the bright side , matings have gone well , all the girls have been mated now except Brizo , she is a maiden who showed a lot of interest a week ago , but seems to have got cold feet now that her turn has come , we'll wait and try again in a couple of days. Hermione has spat , and none of the other girls ( who were so keen a week ago ) could be persuaded to even come and look at Magic , I take that as a good sign.

On the other hand Diablo is causing me a lot of concern . I just don't have a good feeling about this . I weighed him tonight and he has lost a couple of 100g's , his feeding is erratic , and I rarely catch him feeding from mum . She has plenty of milk , and lets him feed but far too often I find him tucked up under a hedge or sunbathing and she is not paying him any attention. As soon as I appear with a bottle then she is right by his side . We have bottle fed a couple of cria over the last 5 years and I have never had one who is not interested in the same way Diablo isn't. He started so well , coming eagerly to the bottle , but now I have to catch him , and tonight I had to practically force feed him . Undoubtedly I am going to have to take a more proactive stance on this one , we go on holiday in 3 wekks time , so I need to be sure he is doing better by then or the house sitters will have a nightmare! Does anybody have any ideas or tips , I could really do with some !

And foxes , don't mention foxes !!! I have barely had a good nights sleep for weeks due to the constant attentions of a fox. Last night it chewed the corner of the nesting box , I kid you not , sometimes a gun looks most appealing .

Tuesday 21 June 2011

still going in the right direction

I am pleased to report that Diablo continues to progress , it seems that when the weather is bad he feeds very little ( and looses weight ) and if the weather is good vice versa. Tonight he took a bottle , but that is the first time since Sat. and he has gained a couple of 100 gms , so with all the ups and downs he stands at 7.3kgs ! Still hardly a giant , but good enough for me at the moment .

Today also saw some more matings , as did yesterday. Teifi Magic spent 2 weeks in a field with most of the eligible ladies and refused to perform his studly duties , yesterday I thought I was doing pregnancy tests, but it became immediately apparent that none of the girls are preg yet , judging by the fight to get into the mating pen!! So , two matings yesterday and 3 today . Artemis is very keen on this mating business , she muscled her way to the front of the queue yesterday , and then tried again today , standing next to whoever was mating and keeping an eye on proceedings. I find it very amusing that after a few minutes orgling the girls start dropping like flies until the whole mating pen is surrounded by very keen females. Lets hope it all goes to plan and we get a bumper crop of cria for next year after this years disappointing showing.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Progressing ....

Diablo has reached the massive weight of 7kgs! What a relief. He is still coming in at night , and I am offering him a bottle morning and night but he only takes a small amount if any at all , as if he is being polite , but he isn't really interested . Whilst the rain is welcome in many ways , it is proving a hindrance for cria growth , I would love some nice sunny days for him so that he can get some Vit D and run around , but it looks set to carry on as a damp June. Anyway , the progress is small but positive . Thank you for all your support and good ideas .

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Back to square one !

Diablo lost a little weight yesterday and a little more today , so we are back to bottle supplementing! I am so disappointed , I really thought that he would be up and away with the progress he has made , but a combination of cold wet days and nights has taken its toil , and I think he has entered a vicious circle where he was too cold and wet to want to feed and then he was to weak to be able to feed , I had hoped that taking him in in the evenings would help , but clearly not enough! This evening he took 200mls of goats milk with extra double cream and it went down very quickly , almost instantly there was an increase in activity and now he is tucked up in the stables with his mum , feeding happily . Lets hope that a couple of weeks of supplementing will see significant improvement , after all there must be a tipping point when they weigh enough to feed well and run around ?!

Monday 13 June 2011


It has rained ALOT over the last couple of days , but thankfully it has been sunny today . I am so grateful for the rain , and very sorry for the farmers in the SE who are on water restrictions , but yesterday when I was knelt on the grass in the pouring rain bailing out a drainage hole that was blocked , whilst DH tried to locate the problem I was rather less grateful.


Diablo was looking very sorry for himself , cushed against a hedge in the rain , so in he and mum came for a dry off and a comfortable night in the stable . I don't think he had been feeding very much , he looked a little lethargic and sad , so cria coat back on , and plenty of feeding , he looked much brighter this morning. At lunch time I let them out for some sun , and weighed him as well . Worryingly his weight gain since birth was only 1.5kg. I guess in percentage terms that s ok since he only weighed in at 5.5 kgs in the first place , but I had hoped for a bit more . Today may have seen a greater weight gain , fingers crossed, otherwise we'll be back to a supplement bottle for my peace of mind . Veronica is a good mum and always has plenty of milk , but being so small I suppose he uses alot of energy just feeding .

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Shearing done at last!

Last night I was too pooped to blog - shearing started at 8.30 and finished 14 hrs later at 10.30pm ! and we only did 22 alpaca!

Initially we started well , a friend bought her 3 to join us for shearing and it seemed to be going smoothly , 3 alpacas in the shearer complained that the hand piece was warming up too much and he would have to switch to the reserve hand piece , this also had a fault and so did the back-up reserve hand piece! After 3 hours of 'fiddling' with the hand pieces DH and the shearer admitted defeat and we called the whole thing off. Friend departed with her 3 unshorn animals , and we put everyone back in their fields. 3 hours later the shearers called to say that they were on their way back having got a new hand piece and would be with us in an hour! Back to square one!Call friend, round up alpacas , start shearing again at 6.30pm. This time we sheared our Friends animals first , and finally finished our own at 10.30 - at which point we all sat down fro bacon sandwiches and beer ! but only after everyone had showered!

ps the alpaca look great , and I am stiff as a board from all the bending and gathering of fleece

Sunday 5 June 2011

Shearers - a blessing or a curse ??

It has been absolutely boiling here for a good few days and the alpacas are clearly finding it hard going - plenty of showering under the hosepipe- so I was pleased to hear from the shearers on Friday night , 11pm to be precise , and find that they are coming on Monday! All hands to the pump getting the barn spotless and dust free ( yeh right ) but very clean nonetheless and getting the house ready for the shearers to sleepover as the boys put it! Well that's the blessing - the animals will be cooler and happier and look lovely , the curse is that as soon as the date was set the weather has changed- it bloody well rained yesterday , and we have gone from hot but very dry alpacas to warm and slightly soggy alpacas , which everyone knows is not a desirable state for shearing. A strong wind is blowing at the moment so fingers crossed .

Diablo is doing really well , I haven't been able to catch him to weigh him , so I take that as a sign that he is flourishing !He has had his coat off for a few days now and is truly a lovely colour , just like his dad.

I have decided to re-name Teifi Magic , it seems that Houdini would be more appropriate ! On Thurs day evening I moved him from his field with the girls back in with the boys , so that we could spit off next week and see how we stand so to speak. Having made a monumental fuss about leaving the boys 2 weeks ago , Magic made a similar fuss about leaving the girls! Finally , we walked him , on his halter , back to the boys field well out of sight of the girls . For the first half hour it all went as expected , the girls breathed a sigh of relief and got back to relaxing , Magic stood at the gate and hummed in a most upset sort of way. Dh and I got back to planting the veg beds. Gradually the humming got louder , DH looked concerned and eventually commented on how loud Magic was , suddenly we both realised that he was very loud and very close ! Magic was on the bridle path on the other side of the veg garden hedge , trying to get back to the girls! Slight panic as we tried and eventually managed to get him back into his own field with the boys. This time I left him in the catch pen by the gate with Flag for company and breathed a sigh of relief , secure in the knowledge that he could not possibly get out of there. Flag sat down and looked thoroughly bored with his companion who was still pacing the gate and humming. DH and I went to get some supper , half an hour later Magic was back at the gate , this time the gate from the bridle path to the back garden! How the hell did he do it ? Anyway , by now we had decided that we would not sleep if we weren't sure he was secure , so gave in and put him back with the girls , Magic 1 - Humans 0!
Now we are onto plan B, not sure what that will be yet, but certainly plan A was a flop!

Sunday 29 May 2011

To quote from pygmalion

- he's got , I really think he's got it ( apologies for the slight mis-quote) . Diablo is feeding himself!!! It's a bit messy and slightly unorthodox , but feeding himself he appears to be . Friday midnight feed found a cria with milk on his face , I waited a few hours and checked again , and whilst he is hardly an elegant feeder , he is managing , and Veronica's udder is reassuringly less full. Initially I was concerned that her milk supply was drying up , but after 2 days all is well , her udder is covered in the remnants of his feed and Diablo is out in the fields frolicking with the best of them. He has put on a little weight - 200gms - but now that nursing is being established I hope that we will see a continued progress. Diablo has fast discovered the power he has over the 4 girls in his field , if they get too close Veronica objects most strongly , as a result they are all keen to keep their distance if she is watching , so he has taken to running up to them and then chuckling to himself as they turn tail and leg it before Veronica gets any ideas - he has the makings of a holy pasture terror!

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Beginning to see the light

.. at the end of the tunnel I hope ! Diablo , as he will be called, is making progress thank God. Monday night was stressful , with a couple of night feeds from me , so I was tired by the morning . Luckily Tuesday was glorious , and so the little chap went out to meet some of the herd , red cria coat and all. Everybody was very excited to meet the new cria and there was alot of running around and of course lots of sniffing . Veronica was torn , on the one hand she wanted to get at the grass and on the other she really didn't like the others getting too close to her baby . In the end a compromise was reached by putting her in a small filed next to the rest of the herd . Diablo took it all well , initially he couldn't get up by himself , but once up could stand for a short while before folding himself back into a perfect little cush. Despite being over due by forever , he is tiny at just 5.8 kg , by far the smallest cria we have had.

Today he is able to stand and walk about by himself and he has spent a large portion of the day outside. The yearlings are very excited and there has been a lot of skittishness , Diablo is keen to join in but the flesh is not quite up to it! I am still milking mum about every hour and then giving it to her cria , his sucking reflex is a bit weak , thou' it seems to be getting better , and he is having trouble keeping his tongue under control , but that too is getting better. He is keen to feed from mum , but with a slightly out of control tongue and still wobbly legs he has not managed to perfect latching on , he knows where to go and is very keen so I am hopeful that within a couple of days it will all come right , meantime I am milking mum and supplementing with goats milk from a bottle . Still fingers crossed!

Monday 23 May 2011

At last!

Finally , on the day with the worst weather conditions for at least a month, Veronica has had her cria!!! A beautiful dark fawn boy , the spitting image of his dad West who sadly died last year. It has not been a smooth start , hence no picture yet , I just haven't had time , and I don't want to tempt fate.
After a gestation which must be the longest in history, 391 days, Veronica chose today to give birth. It is about the only day for weeks which i discounted due to the appalling weather conditions- we have had rain or drizzle all day alongside a gale force warning and incredible winds - and here in lies my mistake. I checked her a couple of times this morning - nothing , checked again just before I sat down for lunch - nothing . Then at 2.20 something made me check again - somebody shouting nearby I think - and she had a cria. I pelted outside with a towel to find a flat , wet , cold cria with the sack still over his nose , and a mother who was clearly concerned and had already delivered the placenta. Quick run to the stables , lots of rubbing and several prayers , and I was getting nowhere fast. Grabbed the heat lamp - ping! the bulb blew! Don't own a hairdryer - slight panic setting in .Called a neighbour who was luckily in , and had a heat lamp which he bought over pretty fast- things were looking up , but the crias temp was very low , so I decided to stick him in the bath - which i had just un-plumbed in readiness for moving it - oh s**t. Large tub trug came to the rescue and after half an hour in hot water inside a plastic bag , the cria started to struggle and hold his head up - success.

We are not out of the woods yet, he is finding leg co-ordination tricky , and cannot stand for long periods , so I have supplemented with mothers colostrum ,they are both having a rest at the moment, and i shall be back out every 20 mins or so for a bit more colostrum until he can do it himself!! Now to choose a name!

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Still waiting!

I can't believe it - we are still waiting for anybody to produce . Veronica is at 378 days and Kirsty is at 373! Veronica particularly looks like a battle ship , she is so huge , everyday I've looked and agreed with myself that today will be the day , but no , so far I have been completely wrong . All the signs are there for both girls , but neither seems in a hurry to produce . Both these cria are from Boz West and are the last of his line so I am really hoping for something special.

I can see that this year is going to be a long one ! I have decided to have a go at field mating , to that end I have put Magic in with a filed of perspective girls with high hopes that nature will take its course and I will not spend so much time walking him backwards and forwards to the mating pen , which requires haltering him first - an activity he does not like and makes as difficult as possible. 2 days now and no mating has occurred ! At first he was quite keen and the girls were pleased to see him , but within a few minutes they had chased him just a little too much and he is not remotely interested . All that posturing is fine when there's a fence between us .... he's turning into a bit of a wuss. So back to the drawing board , he will go back with the boys and we will return to pen mating !

Saturday 30 April 2011

things are progressing ...

just not quite the right things! No , we still don't have a cria on the ground - Veronica is at 368 days ( our current longest gestation ) and looking huge , very uncomfortable and hot. She has been coming down everyday for a good soaking from the hosepipe which she plainly loves , and I have been telling her how much better she will feel if she would just get on and have it , but to no avail.

My broody hen has produced 6 chicks - would have been 7 but she trod on one - so I hatched the rest in the incubator for the last 24 hrs just to be safe , she is happily touting them around the garden showing them all off.

Finally we have aquired 2 new pigs ! Petunia and Daffodil ( don't ask) arrived yesterday and are saddleback piglets , 9 weeks old . Amazingly , our pig rearing feats range far and wide and we are well known!! When DH went to collect them , the breeder , whom we purchased from 5 yrs ago , said that he had heard about our first pigs from the butcher - I did say infamous didn't I ?- who apparently still recalls the 2 elephants we took to him all those years ago , and the breeder is in a different county!! These 2 are not destined for such greatness , a modest 70kgs will be fine !

Monday 18 April 2011

Observation of the day

... spring is truly here! How do I know ? Well , simple really - the alpaca are not showing much interest in their daily ration of hard feed , so the grass must be really good !

Currently I am waiting on a new cria , which should have been due on the 13 April , judging by last years days , 351 to be precise , but now we are into the final run up to 365 and still no sign , Veronica is very large and clearly uncomfortable , and the weather is perfect so it has to be any day now , but when ? Every morning I 've got up and had a quick look and thought' today's the day' but clearly I am wrong. I have had everyone on standby whilst I was away in Mustique , but nothing , so expect the news very soon , with pics I promise . This also means that mating must surely be on the horizon , still a couple of decisions to make , and plans to put in place , but on the whole we are ready to start , and I even heard from the shearers today - nothing concrete of course , but progress.

The sole remaining turkey has started laying , which is very exciting but not as exciting as if we had a stag, DH is dying to try soft boiled turkey egg , watch this space.

All our chicks seem to be growing fast , and since I have a broody sitting on 10 eggs I am debating the need to incubate another clutch myself , well in an incubator actually , ha ha . If I do hatch another lot and the broody does well I could end up with a grand total of maybe 42 chicks hatched this year , if they can avoid the fox I may at last have enough to sell !!

Since my last post we have been battling lumpy jaw in one of the young males , daily antibiotics have certainly helped and the swelling is less than a quarter of what it was originally , but after 6 weeks it is still not quite gone . The vet is unsure as to what may have caused it , a kick maybe , or bizarrely , hay that was too ' nice' - not enough hard chewy bits ?? Luckily Bilbo has started to put some weight back on , having got pretty skinny , so things are looking better , it would just be nice to see the back of it once and for all.

Sunday 6 March 2011

Tree climbing dogs ?

A bit of a gap since my last post and quite a lot has happened , I shall try to be concise !

Firstly the alpacas are all well , Calpurnia is still not eating hard feed , but is tucking in nicely to her hay , I'm not overly worried but we are going to run some fecals just to be sure there is nothing else going on .Veronica is due to produce at the end of March / beginning of April , which is when I am away so DH gets to watch and wait a bit , fingers crossed she does it before I go or hangs on for a week until I come back . Out of interest , the alpaca people reading , can you tell me how you deal with birthing season , do you have somebody watching them all the time ? or just checking a couple of times a day?

This morning has produced another fox in our trap!! Hurray I am shouting . The last couple of weeks have been somewhat trying , I knew he was around but I couldn't catch him , and then on Wed he tried to take the big white turkey literally under DH and DS3 's noses! He didn't manage it , since DH was close enough to give him a good kick, but we have been on tenter hooks every evening since waiting for the poultry to go to bed ,we have almost mounted an armed guard except that we don't own a gun. On the positive , we have had our first turkey egg and our first blue egg - on the same day!!

And now to the title of this blog , as I am sitting here typing , I can see the children and the dog in a field and they have just taught her to climb a tree ! Not a small tree either , all 4 of them are perched in the tree and so is the dog ! Incredible , but I'm not sure how useful a tree climbing dog is ?!

Saturday 5 February 2011

I think i'm turning into Victor Meldrew

Honestly I am , the weather is just not suiting me ! We have had amazing winds the last couple of days . On Friday we woke to find that the boys playhouse had blown onto the hedge - it took 6 men to move it to it's original resting place , but yesterday it moved of its own accord . Today we woke to find DH's boat had blown from the field , over the hedge and was sitting right in the middle of the bridle path - what is going on ?! We have lost a couple of old trees and various items have moved around , a gate has blown down - but the animals are all fine , which is the main thing . The alpaca are all scootched up against hedges , looking reasonably content , but I am having sleepless nights with all the wind , please just let me have dull and mild for the time of year , and I promise to be happy !

Thursday 3 February 2011

Concerned - a bit

Still horribly windy , but not wet - is that an improvement I wonder ?

When doing the vit injections yesterday I did a quick condition score on everyone , all good at 3/5 except Artemis who is a 4/5 ( but she is a suri) , and Calpurnia who scored 2 - 2.5/5 . She is the only weanling who has shown any distress at being parted from mum , and even after nearly 3 weeks still spends a reasonable amount of time standing at the gate humming . She is happily eating grass , and hay , but refuses to touch hard feed like the others. I have tried feeding her separately with the rest of the herd nearby but unable to get at her bowl , but she pays no interest , I have tried sugarbeet- hot, warm cold , nothing! Does anyone have any ideas how to get her to eat better? All advice welcome , I've never had this problem quite as bad before . Calpurnia's mum still doesn't like to eat with the herd and will only eat substantially if penned next to them , is this the alpaca version of ' too posh to push'?

By the way , the new additions are ...... turkeys! A sort of rescue , 1 male 2 female , Norfolk bronze I think , but not really sure . The idea is to breed them and eat the offspring as DS #3 said to granny ' Of course we're not going to eat them , just their babies '!!

Wednesday 2 February 2011

new additions!

Today has been horribly windy and a little bit wet. Nonetheless I took the opportunity to do some Vit injections for the weanlings and their 'aunts' , Athena started spitting as soon as she saw the needle , needless to say we dealt with her first and put her outside the pen so that she had less access to us ! DH insisted on standing against the fence nearest her and then saying ( in a very male way) ' she'll just have to learn to not spit at me '!! Guess who smells particularly pungent??

I also took the chance to introduce a new member to the weanlings in the shape of Flag. He is not the smartest alpaca brain wise , but simply the nicest alpaca I have ever met. He walks beautifully on a halter , is very majestic , and just a generally great animal . I have put him in with the weanlings so that he can get to know Cassius , because in the fullness of time Cassius will have to meet the other boys and that could be nasty since he is my only male from last year - I thought he could do with a friend and Flag is perfect.Plus he is the respected leader of the boys .....

I also have 3 more new additions to the farm . Can you guess ? A clue - the male is called a stag. Answers tomorrow.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Still here!

Christmas has been and gone and now we are almost at the end of January- where has the time gone ?

Like most people it has been a busy and hard time , the weather has made sure of that , and I am personally quite tired , both of the bad weather but also physically as a result of the weather . The alpacas are all well , a couple of weeks without significant rain means they are looking fluffy and well if a little dirty - the soil is very red here so as a result he white ones are all looking pale pink , a new colour for the BAS to consider?

Now that the snow has abated for a while and the night time temps are not so low I have taken the opportunity to wean the cria . Really it should have been done at Christmas , but I couldn't bring myself to drag them away from their mums in such horrid cold. As usual , the mums have barely given the weanlings a backward glance - if they could go out on the town I feel they probably would! The weanlings and their 'aunties' , however, are still occassionally looking longingly in the direction of the others , but time spent at the gate humming has reduced to almost nothing over the course of a week.

The chickens have been doing well , until today when a fox took 2 of my Legbars - I am gutted , I only had 3 Legbars and I have just bought 15 eggs for the incubator from a very nice chap who gave me a mixed box of my favourite breeds , including 3 legbar eggs - my hopes where high that I would get a rooster and thus have a breeding quartet, not to be this year I'm afraid. Silly birds they would insist on roosting in a tree - Lord knows how the fox got them.
But the 18 eggs I have in my incubator are looking good - fingers crossed

Now my task is to get a couple of fleeces ready for the futurity...... oh , and raise £25K for the school . Ho hum