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Sunday 28 October 2012

Always room for one more surprise

As the nights draw in , and the days get colder , we are all looking to our winter husbandry regime . Hay is being munched at a greater rate , how glad I am that we had a good crop this year , sugar beet made with hot water is not far away , and of course Vit A D & E to be administered. We have always used injectable vits , but i am considering ingestible as well - any views or experience ? Can one mix them , since we have already done one round of injectable ....
Anyway, the surprise relates to Esti . Since we have raised her on a bottle she is something of a favourite! Gradually we have weaned her , currently she is almost bottle free , the impediment is me - I do enjoy that small moment of contact once a day, and the secuere knowledge that she has a hot meal in her belly. Honestly she is becoming a bit of a porker , but I would rather that as we go into winter  . For the last 2 days I have observed the strangest thing - as the temp has dropped over night I have seen Esti snuggled up with ..... her mother ! That is really strange , Artemis has paid no attention except for the odd spit , scream or even kick , since the day Esti was born , but now they sit together almost happily . I still detect a slight froideur from Artemis , but she IS snuggling !? Alpacas can be so odd !

Sunday 19 August 2012

Up dates

As you may have noticed , my blogging has become less frequent . In lots of ways this is positive - oh yes it is - because it means that the things I blog about are all going well , and there is little drama to report. Having said that , not all drama is bad news , and we have had plenty of drama recently.Firstly , the hay is ALL cut and put away, and we got more than last year, it smells great and I can sleep more easily knowing that there is no stress related to winter feed! Grateful thanks to our belgian visitors who helped with the physical putting away , very different from what I think they thought they'd be doing on a weeks holiday in the Brecon Beacons !

And now the fun bits . Well true to expectation , all the alpaca girls have delivered happy healthy cria in the predicted time span- to the day!! Not quite in right order I must confess , but still within the dates I hoped for .Since my last update we have now got the full complement of 9! Six boys , 3 girls . 3 black, 3 choc, 2 mid fawn and 1 white!! Isn't alpaca genetics fascinating , all from the same sire , Teifi Magic , himself a blue black , out of mums varying in colour from black to white . 2 of the black cria are from black mums , the third is from a light fawn ? The only white is from a light fawn , and all the white mums had choc babies - it s a bit of a logic puzzle , which I have given up trying to solve , lets see what next year brings.

Elf , who had ' inside out ' ears at birth , no longer has 'inside out ' ears . Interestingly this is due to 2 things , initially I did nothing ,then at 2 weeks old I vet wrapped both ears , one bandage came of within hours the other stayed put for a couple of days = one fine ear , one dodgy ear . Poor little thing looked even weirder , but was easy to pick out in a crowd! Gradually the other ear straightened all by itself , and now I struggle to tell the difference between her and Enzo. Ain't nature clever.

The final four arrived in a fairly civilised manner, Veronica gave birth to Ewart on my dads birthday which was a week earlier then predicted , especially after last year when she was very late. He is a real beauty, with the most fantastically tight curls which are growing out to show amazing crimp, fingers crossed. Currently he is still a bit small , but she is an experienced mum and he seems full of the joys , so we will watch and wait.

The last birth was quite interesting- I have been waiting for Cerys to produce since the 22 June , at shearing the shearers agreed that she was pregnant , I sat back and waited , and waited and waited .... nothing happened , and some days she did look pregnant and other days I couldn't really tell. I couldn't feel a cria ' bounce' and she bagged up a long time ago - the signs were highly confusing! Anyway , on Aug 1st I put her mum , Boz Bijou , into the mating pen with Teifi Magic , and lo and behold Cerys insisted in going in too . I was pretty exasperated - only a week before she was spitting like mad over the fence at him .I felt pretty peeved that she had finally
decided to reveal her open state after all the weeks I
have watched and worried , but at least I knew for definite as she sat sedately next to the mating pair waiting for her turn.

And then I saw a foot , actually 2 feet appear and disappear with regular contractions ! Clearly the old adages are true - sex does have an effect on a pregnant creature , just not the one I expected . Fairly quickly after that she stood up , I let her out of the pen , and within 10 mins she had produced a gorgeous black boy, all fit and healthy and up and away within all the predicted time limits .

He goes from strength to strength , despite the fact he has no name . I know , its shocking , but true , he is nameless.

And so the herd is complete for this year .

Matings have taken place at the appropriate times , and Andaw Czars Aberlour has started his career as a sire of prize winners - we hope !

Thursday 28 June 2012

Lots to report!!

Well, since our first cria , now named Estrella (swedish for star , Esti for short ) we have had a few more additions. But first Esti, she is a super star , hence the name . I am feeding her 6 or 7 times a day and she is a dream, needless to say she is growing fast and very friendly . I am slightly cautios about the 'friendly' bit, I know it can be a bad thing later , but for now we are all enjoying her . She comes when called and the boys love racing around with her , of course Esti never gets out of second gear but they all seem to enjoy themselves .

Next to arrive is another light brown female , as yet unnamed , who has slightly bent ears . She is a beauty with a great fleece , and the ears give her a very elfish look, I know that they need to be dealt with , but I have not yet manged to catch her and wrap them , her mum is super protective and will not let me near. DH thinks they look cute , however, they should be straight and thats how they will be - eventually ! When she was born, her ears were wrapped around the back of her head like cabbage leaves , each day they look a little straighter ..........

On Tues arrived our first male of the season , a dark fawn with a fab curl. He is the smallest of
the lot to date , but none the less up and away without any help and doing really well. His mum , Cressida, is really a teenage mum , being only just 2 herslef and on the petite side , but her cria is great , also unnamed , but I am leaning toward Evan .
Yesterday( Wed) we had a giant delivered. Elvis is Bijou's 5th cria for us , and a corker! He is huge , at least as big as Esti if not a bit taller, certainly heavier! and a fantastic blue black like his parents.

Elvis ( 4 hrs old ) and Bijou
Today saw Hermione produce a white female , who is called Elizabeth the Third ! for obvious reasons. Again a tall cria , she is safely tucked up in a stable with mum for the night , just to make sure the bond is strong , and feeding is going well .
Elizabeth III with Elf in the background

Thats all folks .... for today , still 4 more due this week!

Saturday 23 June 2012

Elderflower cordial

Well , I have to say that I am feeling quite pleased with myself - for once nothing animal related , I have made elderflower cordial! It is remarkably easy , and yet I have never done it before. The elderflowers are just coming into their own, so there may be plenty more to come, but for now I am freezing it ! Alpaca news to follow , and yes we have another cria , but details will be later!! Meantime , my turkey has gone broody again, but I cannot find where! Periodically she reappears for food , but I have not had the time or luck to find her nest , safe to say the fox hasn't either , yet .

Sunday 17 June 2012


A new addition to the herd. On Wednesday lunchtime Artemis gave birth to a female , chocolate brown suri cria. She is absolutely beautiful , but sadly her mum doesn't think so, hence the lack of blog ! i saw mum giving birth , and the labour was a little slow and obviously painful , so a gentle tug and everything was OK. Artemis looked genuinely shocked by the birth , and as a first time mum was completely stunned by her newborn . The cria - yet to be named - was fantastic , cushed in 5 mins , standing in 20 and nursing within 45 mins - perfect. Gradually , as the initial euphoria wore off , it became evident that Artemis was less than thrilled . She let the baby nurse for the first couple of hours and then began to reject her. I have tried everything - confinement in the barn for a day or 2 with a companion , check over by the vet , mild sedative, pain killers , even lavender oil on them both , but to no avail . Quite simply mum is not remotely interested , and whilst not aggressive , will not let her cria within feet of her . So , I have a bottle baby! Luckily she is easy to feed and doing really well, gaining weight , and out with the rest of the herd today now that the weather is better. My one big concern is that she identifies with the other alpaca, currently she is very happy to follow me and stick by me , I am keeping my distance and gradually one of my maiden females seems to be taking an interest , fingers crossed.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Never cease to surprise

No not the alpacas on this occasion , but the hens! One of my broody hens has abandoned her chicks and returned to the more glamorous world of the chicken house , and amazingly the other hen has adopted her chicks !! I have never seen this before , and I am amazed - I really didn't think they would do that .

On the alpaca front , nothing! Just nothing. The pregnant girls are all looking very pregnant , and some are beginning to bag up , but other than that , nothing . DH has been on birth alert , and in all honesty I am glad nothing has happened on his watch, I really want to be around when the cria are born , there's a silver lining etc , good chance I may be here. On Friday we are shearing , we have never sheared with animals who are so close to giving birth , one year the only female due around shearing gave birth just before the shearers arrived.... so I am a little anxious , but the shearers are experienced so we are all in good hands.

Any news will be swiftly reported I promise

Wednesday 23 May 2012


Despite the fatct that the cria are yet to appear , it is never too early to start planning who the daddies wil be for next years cria! Lucky old Panteg Artemis has a date with a lovely brown suri male - Raphael - from Snowshill , which i purchased as part of the Futurity event. The only problem so far is that she is still very pregnant.

My new stud Andaw Czars Aberlour , is about to complete his halter training , and then does he have a fun time ahead . I feel that a truly lovely cria willl be the result of a date with Acantha , she is possibly my most beautiful alpaca , she has huge eyes and a lovely head , a great peachy( mid fawn ) fleece and a very gentle nature. Aberlour has had a relaxing winter just settling in , but now the work begins , both for me and him! When he arrived , Aberlour could kick like I have never seen before; a most impressive flying kick which was almost level with my head , and quite scary. Gradually , with a bit of desensitisation he has stopped kicking , and has become a delight to handle and train .

Todays great weather bought a repeat of the watering from yesterday- as soon as I approach the poly tunnel a stampede occurs as the girls all line up for a bit of a dousing

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Another glorious day

Isn't it funny how the sun makes everything fine ? The alpacas looked thoroughly relaxed as they ambled around , the pregnant girls are clearly beginning to be quite uncomfortable and have started to sit with their weight slightly to one side, making them look as if they are reclining. The heat was quite immense for most of the day , so after lunch I went to water the poly tunnel , and was immediately surrounded by pregnant girls who made it quite clear that a good soaking was high on their list of desirable outcomes. For over half an hour I stood and watered them all! Even those who like to keep a reasonable distance were very happy to come and get wet, each holding out their feet for a cooling . Some were really happy to have their bellies sprayed , and they all sat around on the wet grass for a good long time after I had actually gone to water the veg.

Phineas and Ferb ( pigs ) are growing nicely , and I really need to start planning a butchering date before all the butchers go on holiday like they did last year! They have been lying around in a nice smelly wallow catching some rays and relaxing.

The turkey has finally given up her sitting , much to everyone's' relief, she was seriously beginning to smell! and after a couple of 'cooling off' days in the chicken run , she has resumed her duties of terrorising the smaller hens when they try to feed! The chick numbers are ddwindling fast - we started with 8 and are now down to 5 , one drowned , one just disappeared and one keeled over - I am seriously considering another hatch , but DH will be less than impressed , if I set them now they won't hatch until after shearing on the 8th ,any earlier and they would have needed to be in the shearing barn under a lamp whilst we are shearing , so that sounds like perfect timing to me !!

Saturday 19 May 2012

And now we wait .

Monday is B day! , that is the first day from which I will be on ' birth watch' , and when we aim to have a pair of eyes at the homestead at all times . The birthing field is ready - groomed , topped and ready for action , so tomorrow we move the girls into pastures new and WAIT! In preparation , the barns are nearly ready ( by tomorrow night they will be ) , birthing bucket freshly stocked and to hand , cria coats located , rinsed and ready to go! but good god , the weather is not with us so far . To say I am chewing my nails is pretty accurate , althou ' I really don't want to see a cria much before the 9 June , I know they could arrive any time , and I would really love it to be warm , and possibly sunny . Is that too much to ask in June?
So now we wait .

Saturday 12 May 2012

Turkeys are definitely more stupid than chickens

After last years attempt ( see ' Chickens are definitely not as stupid...) lurkey is now sitting lovingly on 6 hens eggs!! A big improvement on the plums from last year , but slightly heart failure inducing - initially I thought that the fox had eaten her , but could find no evidence apart from the lack of a turkey. After 4 days of absence I finally located her sitting quietly under a huge curtain of honeysuckle , pretending to be a bush ! Very relieved , I scooped her up and put her in a dog crate in the barn with some chicken eggs ( she has no turkey mate , so no hope of hatching her own eggs) .To giver her her due , she has been a very diligent sitter for nearly 2 weeks  , far better than some of my hens , just hope to goodness she hatches something, since I am finding it very hard to find turkey poults for her , so I hope she doesn't squash them , but Lurkey looks like she might make a great mum.

Pregnant or not ?

Today was a busy day of testing . Testing for pregnancy . The catch pens were ready , I was ready , the girls were ready , but Magic - he was not ready! After a little persuasion , he was coaxed into the pens with the first  girl to be tested- Cerys- she was having nothing to do with him , undaunted Magic had a good look at Artemis, equally mad and spitting . Gradually , Magic's interest waned , and by the time he had seen 5 girls , who all gave him a good spitting and occasionally a kick , he was paying very little attention . In fact , he was standing looking in the direction of his field mates , with a look of longing ! In conclusion , pretty sure about 6 girls , strong suspicion about a further 2 , no idea about 2 ! The date gets closer , must get my birthing bucket up to speed , 9th June is the first date - Artemis is the first , with all the rest in the following 2 weeks!! Bet your bottom dollar that it will not go to plan.

Monday 2 April 2012

Beginning to get excited....

Well last week Spring really did spring . The weather was just gorgeous, lots of sun bathing was done by all , including me - 25 degrees is not to be sniffed at , the world is pretty mellow! Grass is definitely growing , there are some pretty portly ( preg I hope ) alpacas around , 2 incubators of chicks have hatched and are safely under heat in the barn . DH is putting his foot down to geese, but i am always dreaming of more animals. Seriously , the weather has been so good that I have had to start watering the alpacas!! Who would have thought that March would be hot enough to get the hosepipe out ( while we still can ) and give the girls a little watering , they really love standing under a jet of water so long as it doesn't go on their faces . Kirsty was the first to come for a drenching , she is such a princess , holding each foot delicately in the line of water , but definitely keeping her face well away- mustn't ruin the hair darling- and Veronica just likes to be soaked from head to toe .
Hopefully over Easter we will get the fencing and catch pens back up , they had to come down whilst a huge tree was felled , and then I can confirm my suspicions about who is pregnant and who not , then begins the fun of mating and new cria arriving!!Can't wait . Meanwhile , the weather is still gorgeous , but only 19 degrees today!