Monday, 26 December 2011

Peace and quiet return.

Jazz our poorly llama seems to have got over whatever was troubling her, Steve went to feed up this morning and said that she came bounding over for her hard feed and then made for the freshly filled hay net.
I can't get out to do anything so I have to rely on Steve remembering to tell me what everyone is up to.

We have had a very noisy Christmas with lots of family here but today they have left to visit extended family and peace has returned although the house still has to recover from having two young boys here for several days, nothing is where it should be!

I am now going to try to work out how to use my super doper new camera, this may take a while!

Hope you all have a good time over the Christmas period.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry christmas and a Happy Prosperous New Year. I have really enjoyed reading everyones Bloggs, It is so interesting to hear how different people do things.

I haven't blogged for a while really because it is a very quite time of the year for us and there is only so much you can say about poo picking and general husbandry, but here is a quick update of what has been happening here.

We have weaned all of this years cria and decided to do it differently this year, instead of taking the cria away from the mums and putting them out of sight we took the mums away and leave the cria with the rest of the herd.  This seemed to be less stressful for the cria and the mums didn't really notice that they were missing something when they saw the fresh grass in their new paddock.

It is very muddy here and getting across the chicken pen is a bit like ice skating, I can move the electric fence around except for the bit around the hen houses, so I have to hold onto the house to get around the back to collect the eggs.  Cleaning out is interesting as you can imagine trying to push a wheelbarrow up a very muddy slope, Steve finds this very amusing to watch!

Every year we have a stall at the Christmas market in Widecombe and this year we were asked to take some animals to display next to the Christmas tree.  What with all this mud our animals along with everyone else's are not the most attractive.  So we thought we would take the most attractive ones which would be the weanlings, problem 1 they were not halter trained, problem 2 we needed to get them into the little grassy area at the back of the hall, problem 3 everything is so muddy not easy to get the trailer into some of our paddocks.  So the weanlings are now all halter trained with varying degrees of success, star of the team is Caramel who seemed to know what to do the very first time she had a halter on,  so using Caramel as trainer the other four girls were walked one at a time around the garden and up the lane.  Lalique is pretty good but she has the same temperament as Caramel, being related.  Choc Ice is so small I had to make more holes in the halter to get it to fit properly walks lovely as long as Caramel is in front, difficult if I am trying to walk two on my own, and Tigerlily is surprisingly good considering she is Lily's daughter and Lily is the most loopy, neurotic  Alpaca in the world!  Finally Ivory the oldest, biggest cria is totally useless, so glad she won't be in the show team next year, only reason we got her where we wanted her was she didn't want to be left behind on her own.  So hopefully they will remember some of their training and will not take to much training before the shows next year.

The Market was very cold and pretty damp but we had a reasonable day and as usual lots of interest in the animals.

Today Jazz one of our Llamas was not very well, she was obviously in pain and reluctant to get up when approached which is unusual, she was bouncing around yesterday.  So we took her temperature which was normal so probably not an infection, so it looked to me like it could be a colic or acidosis thing, so as she was in pain we called Richard our Vet who luckily for us was at home so not to far away.  Anyway he gave her something for the pain and some anti spasm drug and said it was probably colic and if it was she would get better or if not it could be a twisted gut in which case she would not get better but he didn't think this was the case as her membranes were normal colour.  Jazz seemed to have improved this afternoon so fingers crossed she will continue to improve.  It is good to know that your own diagnosis's was right and by knowing your animals you can notice when something is not quite right.

I have finally finished  knitting my Christmas presents, this year everyone is getting hand knits as I really don't like Christmas shopping and it gives me an excuse to knit different things.

My operation which was cancelled in November was re scheduled for December 16th and cancelled again has now been booked in for tomorrow, so after messing me about for months they have now ruined my Christmas.  I should be home sometime on Christmas day, hopefully in time for lunch.  We have all the family here for the day so at least Steve will not have to cook or wash up for that matter.

Monday, 21 November 2011

One of those days

Today has been one of those day I find very frustrating.  After my operation was canceled last week I have been waiting for them to ring me with another appointment.  Firstly they promised I would know by Friday evening, then definitely on Monday, I hadn't heard by lunch time so I rang them...... answerphone,  phone again, got secretary ....."I'm working on it and will definitely ring this afternoon".... well I am sure you can guess that I still haven't heard.  So it seems I will have to wait in tomorrow as well, we have very patchy mobile phone signal around here and I don't what to miss the call (when it finally arrives) .
Obviously they consider that my time is not as important as theirs and i don't want to ring all my customers to rearrange work until I know when I will be going in.

The other frustrating thing today is .... and I would be hoping mad if I hadn't been waiting in anyway, I was waiting for a delivery which was promised sometime this afternoon............ it arrived at 7.45 following two phone calls to say he was lost!  shame people have lost the ability to read a map because they have a Sat Nav in the cab.

On a more positive note I cleared out the bureau and the drawers, amazing how much clutter you can collect, I have a very tidy bureau now.  I have also been knitting and getting the stock ready for Widecombe Village Market which is on Saturday.  I have completed one hat and sewed up another so not a completely wasted day.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

A bit of a ranting blog

Well it is a quite time of the year for us now, Alpacas and Llamas all up to date with husbandry tasks, all the females that have been bred were spitting off when last checked and won't be checked again until spring as they would not be rebred anyway,  so fingers crossed they all hold. Not wishing to wish the time away but we are really looking forward to seeing the results of some of our breedings next year.  We decided to use some outside Studs this year as well as one of our own younger males, we will just have to wait and see.

I have been reading with interest other blogs about cria not growing, there seems to be a few this year, we have one who didn't put any wait on for weeks, wouldn't take a bottle, always under Mum who looked like she had enough milk, we gave up with the bottle and stood back and watched.  The cria 'Choc Ice' who is now five months old was still only 13 kgs at 3 months is now 28 kgs and is running around with the rest of the herd.  Not sure why she didn't grow, she is obviously smaller than the rest of the cria but she always felt solid and well covered and there didn't seem to be anything else wrong with her.  Her mother was a maiden but she was very good right from the start and we saw Choc Ice suckle so I am sure she got the colostrum very early on.  Who knows! these animals will always surprise you.

Now for the ranting bit!
It has been a bit of an odd week mainly because I was due to go into hospital on Friday so I had bee getting myself all geared up for it, rearranged work, stocked up the larder for Steve as I would be out of action for some weeks, arranged help for animals, cottages, grandchildren etc.  I even tidied the house and sorted out the office.  So Thursday came and I had finished my last job for about three months, fedd the animals for the last time and collected the eggs, got back into the car and looked at the phone to see I had a new voice message.  The hospital had been try to ring me and in the end left a voice message (we intermittent  mobile signal around here) They had canceled my operation ! now I was really upset about this, but it was to late to ring the secretary, I had to wait til the morning to find out that there was not enough beds.  Now I could be waiting until after Christmas for a new date,  to say I am not happy is a understatement, I had put my life on hold for three months which as it was winter was not too bad I could cope with that, but if the new date is going to be in the spring I won't be able to work or do anything during one of our busiest times. I do appreciate that it couldn't be helped if there were no beds available especially critical car beds then something has to go, just wish it hadn't been my operation.  So not good I have to wait until Monday now to hear when the new date will be.  In the meantime I have a whole weekend in front of me with nothing booked in as I shouldn't have been home so I am going to make the most of it and do what I like................now what shall I do!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Freezer full ready for winter

I am determined not to get caught out again this winter, last year with all that snow and ice we ran out of milk and bread.  So this year I have a good supply of both in the freezer which is OK until we sent the pigs in and I collected the meat from the butcher this morning and for good measure I brought half a lamb of one of our neighbours. Our freezer is now so full I have had to borrow some room in next doors!
I carefully wrote down our requirements for the butcher to pack the meat and somehow sausages packed in 8's, came back as one large bag of sausages, so I have spent the afternoon bagging them up. I asked for the small joints except for one leg which I wanted cut into two large joints ready for Christmas, I got one half pig cut into large joints.  Not sure how clearer I could have made it, was it me or did they just not read it right!
This weekend I was going to do some baking but as there is no room left I won't be doing that instead I am going to move the Chicken pen onto some fresh ground,and tidy the veg garden. Oh yes there are three Cockerels which need dispatching, have to try and get them into the freezer somehow.
Winter is definitely on it's way the female Alpacas just about mug me for the feed in the mornings, they have plenty of fresh grass but there is not the goodness in it now.  We have started to give the males and the llamas some concentrate again now and they are having plenty of hay.
I am busy knitting and spinning as I have so much I want to get finished before I can start my own Christmas pressies, I have decided that everyone is getting knitted gifts or Alpaca socks for Christmas as I really can not face going Christmas shopping. bah humbug, I really don't like that side of Christmas, it would be so much nicer if everyone made something which would be special to the person receiving it rather than just buying something which most of the time could be brought if wanted anyway.
Anyway back to the knitting whilst Steve is still working and we are having a late dinner.  Guess what?  Pork chops! we will be eating a lot of pork now.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Comings & Goings


It has been a long time since I have blogged, not because nothing has been happening in the depths of Dartmoor.
In fact there has been a lot happening here some of which has been very painful and upsetting which is one of the reasons I haven't felt like writing anything, some good things and some comings and goings.
Firstly Steve's mum passed away a few weeks ago and although not unexpected it is still very sad and we are going to miss her greatly. This will bring lots of changes over the next few months some of which may be challenging and it looks like buying the shed for a fleece workshop will have to go on hold for a while.
On the Alpaca front we had sold some females and their cria a couple of months ago and we had their new owners over for a day to do some husbandry training.  We always like to know that our animals are going to go to people who know how to handle them.  So as we had help we gave the whole of the female /cria group their Fasinex and an ADE shot, then we weighed them all.  Very good hands on experience for their new owners.  A couple of days later we delivered the girls and babes to their new home where I think they will be very comfortable.  Sue and Andy of Pippin Alpaca were waiting for us when we arrived and the girls were let out into their new Paddock, I think they were so impressed with the lovely long grass that they didn't really notice where they were for a while. Ella, Bramble and Phoebe with their cria Salvador, Calico and Amber settled in immediately.
 Ella is always the inquisitive one and was soon of to inspect the living arrangements closely followed by her Son Salvador, nice field shelter, plenty of hay, good grass, it's all good then! We had a message from Sue and Andy to say they were fine a couple of days later but I am always sad to see any of our animals go.  We would like to wish Sue and Andy every success with their new venture .

I finally managed to get all my fleeces packed up and sent off to the mill after a bit of a trial with the courier company.  We have sold most of our yarn to a London Knitwear designer this year so I have been agonising over which fleeces to put in to the mill and which to keep out for hand spinning. In the end I decided to send some extra fleece to the mill which will give me some yarn for me to use and to sell as well as the yarn going to the designer.  We are also having some rovings mainly because I am lazy and don't like carding much. So at the moment I only have a couple of our courser fleeces and some legs and neck fleece left.

In between everything else I have bee knitting frantically to try to get some stock together for our Christmas Markets as well as some commissions. I seem to have some knitting stashed in my bag where ever I go now!


As we had sold the girls and especially Ella who was one of my favourites and possibly our best Black female, we decided to go and find ourselves another black to replace her.  We had a good search around and found one we were interested in, better still she was due to give birth this year with a cria from one of our favourite stud males.  So off to deepest Somerset to have a look, when we got there we found that although she was a lovely animal she wasn't quite what we were looking for and she wasn't pregnant.  Whilst there we looked at a few other females and picked out another maiden who was ready to breed and also had the bloodlines we were looking for.  We then looked at an older pregnant Dark Brown Female with a light fawn cria at foot.

The cria has a cracking fleece and is well built and her mum as a lovely soft handling fleece which is quite impressive for her age.  So to cut a long story short we came away with three animals.  Hebe who is black with a white splodge on her nose and topnot, Olivia,  Dark Brown with her cria at foot who we have named Ivory. We collected them a few weeks ago as the two adults are now spitting off and we have had them in an isolation paddock before introducing them to the rest of the herd. Our herd is now looking a lot darker than before which is where we wanted to be.
That more or less brings us up to date, we have been doing all the usual poo picking, feeding and all the usual routine stuff.
Today We wormed all the females and their cria before moving them into a fresh paddock and the new girls joined them so there was a lot of sniffing and a bit of spitting before they settled down to eating the fresh grass.  Just got the llamas to do now, which are a little more challenging.
Finally a few of this years cria.
Choc Ice & Lalique

Calico before she left for Pippin Alpacas

This years star and leader of the gang 'Caramel'

Thats all for now.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Day Job

Yesterday we spent the day at Widecombe fair,  the day started very early in typical Widecombe fair Dartmoor drizzle.  We loaded Lenny, Murphy, Merlin and Logan into the trailer and set off for the fair ground.  There is a one way system around the lanes on fair day so we need to get to Widecombe before this came into play.  Once set up we were surrounded by crowds for most of the day, lots of questions and the usual "they spit  don't they" comments.  Our knitwear, yarns and socks proved very popular and we had the most successful day to so far.  We didn't have time to leave the stand apart form quick dashes to the refreshment tent for supplies.  So we missed the Pantomime horse derby, Bale tossing and large straw bale rolling competitions.  I did manage to catch a glimpse of the Grandsons in the Hill Pony Display though, Josh had a hugh grin on his face all through it and Charlie fell of twice but got back on his pony to a round of applause from the crowd.  

As usual I forgot to take the camera, so no pictures again!


Today it was back to the day job

Thought I would share a few pictures of what we call work.
Steve and Merlin

Murphy and friend on Corndon tor

Break time

Don't look now but someone is creeping up on us!

Meet the locals
Amazing Views


Homeward Bound


Sometimes we have to remind ourselves we are at work!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Show season

Its been a while since I updated the blog, not because I haven't any news but the days have whizzed by and every time I think I may get a few minutes to sit and write something I fall asleep.  So here is a quick run down of what has been happening here.

Last blog 1st Aug
3rd August was the first of our craft drop in sessions held at our local village hall, we had a very good turn out and we will be holding the next one on the first Wednesday of September.  We had spinners, knitters and weavers, picnic lunch and a good laugh.
We had also entered fleeces into the North Devon Show which was the same day and came away with two seconds and a fourth place.
4th,   Honiton Show, very damp Alpacas, great show, a second and a fourth place, lots of chat and catch up with friends.
5th   Work and Hospital appointment
6th    Holiday cottage change overs, spit offs, weighing and general husbandry
7th   Clients came to visit for a second time and select their starter herd, more about that later!
8th   Work.
9th  Widecombe fun day, a fun raiser on the green in the centre of Widecombe, we have been asked to attend for the past three years and we always say we will be their if the weather is OK, this is the first time we have got their.  We took four Alpacas and there was lots of interest especially from the two coaches of spanish students who arrived quite early in the morning.  All in all it was a very successful day, we sold some knitwear and socks, the church raised over £1000 which will help pay the oil bill for another year!
10th  Work and set up for Okehampton Show
11th  Okehampton Show, when we arrived early in the morning following a very stormy night we found Liz & Mike from Lakeham Alpacas trying to put the roof back on one of the Marquees, it had blown off during the night and a lot of the stock had got wet.  Once we sorted out that little problem and got the stand set up, the weather improved and we had another successful day, lots of interest in Alpacas.
12th  We took two females up to Inca Alpacas for a breeding to Jack of Spades,  We took Charlie, my grandson with us for a day out.  We were not sure what he would make of the actually breeding bit but shouldn't have worried, he told his friend the next day about his trip whilst his mother held her breath, he said ' we put Nanny's alpacas in the trailer, drove a long way, pressed the magic button ( which we now have worked out was the gate entry button) then their alpaca got on top of our alpaca and I played foot ball with their little boy'  mother sighs big sigh of relief!
13th Holne Fete,  another first for us, we were asked if we would attend as an attraction and we said we would go if we could put up the trade stand.  Holne is just over the valley from us and has a great little pub The Church House Inn.  We went over and set up late morning then went to the pub for lunch before the fete started at 2.30 pm.  It was a proper village fete with races for the kids and bale tossing, tombola, raffle, a Pimms tent (very civilized) and their traditional completion 'Egg Tossing'! two rows of people standing opposite each other one trowing the egg to the other, drop or break your egg and you are disqualified, after each round one line step backwards two paces, the winner is the couple who throw the egg the most times with out dropping or breaking the egg.  Strange but each village seems to have it's own traditions!  We met a lot of our neigbours and lots of people who didn't know that there was Alpacas just over the other side of the Valley and several people who may be thinking of keeping Alpacas, lots of people who brought Alpaca socks! and some who brought yarn, so another good day!
14th  Husbandry in the morning, llama walk in the afternoon, lovely day, had Cream Tea on top of Yar tor.
15th Work in the morning and a trip to Somerset to look at a replacement for Ella one of our black girls who we have reluctantly sold.
16th I had a dentist appointment then Liz and I went to Torquay to follow up a lead from Totnes show, a lady who was selling some spinning equipment, which we brought, a Spinning Wheel, Drum Carder and some other bits and bobs.  Followed by Coffee at M&S and a trip to Mole Valley Farmers for Pig food etc.
17th  Work
18th Chagford Show, this time as the weather forecast was not good we decided to set up in the morning which meant a very early start, we loaded the stand and stock into the discovery the night before to save some time.  Arranged for my daughter to do the feeding so we could just load the Alpacas and go.  It was not a good start we were down by the sheep pens, crammed in between tow marquees and it was raining and it was very quite until about 11am but by 5pm we had had a great day, we sold loads of UK Alpaca Socks and some knitwear, Liz and Mike sold lots of knitwear and took orders for more.  It turned out to be the best show we have ever done.  Already had a call from someone looking for Alpacas who is coming tomorrow!
19th  Work and spit offs, the two girls we took to Inca are both spitting!
Today  Change overs in the cottages, quick lunch before  Steve and I headed off to Fibrefest which was at Bicton College, we walked in through the gate and there was Tom and Julie from Llamaland, so a long chat with them, followed by Blacklands Alpacas, Chas & Rachel from Classical Mile End, Colin Ottery, by which time it was getting late and I hadn't seen any of the stalls in the Marquees.  Finally I got a look around brought some Alpaca tops and some new bobbins for my spinning wheel before sitting down for a cup of coffee overlooking the lake, such a lovely setting for a college.  Got home made dinner and then remembered I needed to make scones for tomorrow!

So as you can see it has been a bit hectic, all our cria have arrived and are doing well, our breedings for next year are nearly complete, hay is in the barn. I am dreaming of a few days off to have a short break somewhere, just so we can recharge the batteries but I am not sure when we will have time!
We have people coming tomorrow morning to talk about starting with Alpacas and in the afternoon we have another llama walk.

I did take the camera to all the shows, didn't take any pictures!



Monday, 1 August 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

It has been a very hectic time here over the past week or two.  The weather finally settled and we had an opportunity to cut and bale our hay, this is the first time we have cut our own hay we usually buy hay from Steve's brother which means transporting it everytime we need a bale, not ideal.  So this year we rented a 7 acre field which we divided in two, grazed one part leaving about 4 acres to cut.  The grass was cut a week last Sunday and we baled it on Friday, all 409 bales were in the barn by Saturday teatime and then it was straight onto getting Roger's hay in.  The problem was it was Totnes show yesterday (Sunday) so I had to take all the stand and stock down to Totnes on Saturday evening to set up whilst Steve was hauling bales around.  Mike and Liz from Lakeham Alpacas share a stand with us at some of the local shows so they were there to help set everything up.
I was up very early on Sunday morning to get down to the show field to finish setting up the stall, it was a lovely day, not very sunny but warm.  There was lots of people around and we were in a very good position opposite the food tent, so we had a good crowd all day.  We had our normal stock for sale, our own fleeces, yarns and knitwear, UK Alpaca socks and yarns, Teresa from Batsbrook Alpacas also had some very classy looking spectacle cases made from felted Alpaca fleece.  This year we also had a display of fleece to yarn, showing the process that our fleeces go through to make our knitwear, this proved very popular.  Liz was doing some knitting and I took along a spinning wheel, although I am not very good yet I was able to demonstrate how it is done.

Today it was raining so after feeding up we got back home and did some much needed office work, after lunch it was drier so we had a husbandry session.  The girls and cria were all weighed, some cream administered where needed, all our blacks seem to have a bald patch on their nose, not sure why it is only them, but their fleece has started to come back through now. We did some spit offs, Bramble who had spat off three times previously was looking longingly over the gate at Caliban, which I thought was rather strange so we put her into the holding pen to test her again, she sat immediately which is a bit disappointing.  Carla who had previously spat off a couple of times also sat so 4 out of six are still holding.  Marietta's cria is now two weeks old so we will be planning a trip to Dorset with her and Ella next week, Ella has been desperately sitting next to the breeding pen waiting to be mated for weeks but we have been waiting for Marietta so we can take them both at the same time.
Finally we moved the Llama team back to the hay field, they had been moved out while the tractors were going in and out as they are so nosey they would have been in the way if we had left them in there.  I love watching them when they go into a new field they look so elegant when they are pronking around the field.  The two youngsters, Murphy and Merlin get so excited they charge around the field like race horses then slow down into a pronk.

I just wish I had the camera with me again!

 

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Making hay

The sun came out today and the decision was made to cut the hay, Steve's brother cut his fields then went straight on to cut our new rented field which is about 4 acres.  We are just hoping now that the weather will hold for the next few days so we can get it turned, baled and collected in.

Our spinning course which was last Thursday was a great success, Jean field brought lots of different fibres for us to try our hands at, mohair, soya (didn't like that) wensleydale. We had a good lunch plenty of tea and coffee and lots of chat.  I think we will be holding a Spinning group once a month during the winter.

I have been out of action for the past two days due to a visit to hospital for a investigation procedure but will be able to do something tomorrow, hoping to get spit offs done and then we are taking some Alpacas to Leusdons Church Animal Blessing which takes place on Leusdon Green and is followed by a cream tea.  In fact most things that happen around here seem to be followed by cream teas!

The postman arrived this morning with the North Devon Show information and numbers etc, this prompted me to actually skirt the fleeces and get them packed up ready to go to the show ground.  Unfortunately the class numbers didn't agree with what I had entered, as far as I can work out I seemed to have been entered into the halter classes although I only entered fleeces. So I don't know what numbers are for which fleeces and it would appear that I have entered a senior black class, which I haven't got a fleece for!  As usual in this situation there was nobody on the end of the phone to talk to so not sure what to do now.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Why have I never got a camera!

Yesterday we finally got around to doing our spit offs, we should have done them on Friday but it had been so busy over the weekend and next door had a wedding with lots of guests around so orgling Stud Males may not have been appropriate.  We had seven females to test and at the moment 6 out of the 7 spat off just leaving Midnight again not pregnant.  Not sure what to do with her now we tried mating her at the end of last year, she spat off one week then sat so mated again, same thing happened.  so left her to this spring and she is still sitting one week, spitting off for one or two weeks then sitting again.  Her grandmother was much the same but once she actually got pregnant she has been very reliable since.

We had a llama walk today which should have been yesterday but the weather was so bad we postponed it,  the rain stayed away for most of the time.  We had a lovely walk, took Polo, Blackjack, Logan, Merlin and Murphy, four customers, Steve and myself, lunch was served sitting on top of Yar tor, stunning view and the sun was shining.  Not a bad days work!
Anyway when we got back to the Alpaca field we check on the girls and cria, little Lalique was sat down next to her mum and next to her was her half brother Salvador who is huge at only just over two months. He was nuzzling her and licking her face, something I have never seen before, they sat there for quite awhile before Salvador decided it was time to continue to terrorise the rest of the herd closely followed by Carmel who has now taken on the role as his wing man.
We had a quick look at Lalique's fleece because when she was born her fleece was so shiny but seemed to be very straight and not a lot of it which is very unusual for Marietta's cria and we were wondering if this had something to do with her illness but today on further examination it is much better.  Not that you can tell to much at this age. This is the first female from Marietta her previous three boys have all won prizes when we have shown them, so we have high hopes for Lalique.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Final cria of the year arrives!

I haven't updated the blog for several weeks as there really hasn't been anything happening except for the routine things and several things which I really couldn't  or didn't want to write about just yet!
Marietta & Lalique
We have been waiting and worrying about Marietta's cria since she was so ill earlier in the year.  She has made a full recovery but we still worried about the cria, over the last few weeks Marietta seemed to get bigger by the day and we could see the cria moving about.  Anyway when I arrived in the field this morning there was a lovely Dark Brown Female sat in the field still wet so she hadn't been there to long.  Marietta had obviously read the text book, gives birth in the morning, up on their legs in 30 mins, suckling within the hour.  We have called her Lalique, her sire is Blacklands Picasso and she is a gorgeous chestnut brown colour.  So that makes six out seven cria are female this year, not bad!
Caramel, Amber and Caliban ambushing Summer
Our neighbours had a wedding on their property this weekend and we had some of their guests staying in our cottages, so little Lalique had loads of visitors this morning as the news spread around about her arrival.
Choc Ice

We have also had two lots of visitors over the weekend both interested in owning Alpacas, todays visitors arrive a couple of hours after Lalique arrived, great timing I would say.
Caramel & Tigerlily

We are well into our breedings this year, we were hoping to do spit offs but cria and visitors and an afternoon BBQ seem to have delayed that so we will now do them tomorrow after we have been on a llama walk. At the moment we have three spitting off, Bramble, Lily and Mica,and four which were bred last week Carla, Phoebe, Cassini and Midnight, we are holding on to Ella until Marietta is ready to bred and then I am hoping they are going to visit a rather special Black male who resides in Dorset. That leaves little Summer who is still quite small and I am thinking we should leave her until next year.
Salvador with his harem 
All this means that our first Cria will arrive late May early June next year. Can't wait !

Thursday, 9 June 2011

A Really short blog today

Just a quick one as I am on the way out,

Not a lot happening here apart from the usual routine stuff, we have a short gap now until Marietta is due to give birth so we are keeping our fingers crossed now.  The jury is still out as to whether Demeter is pregnant or not she is 354 days today according to my records but she just doesn't look pregnant to me but definitely won't let a male near her. So who knows!

Hope to have more interesting news soon.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

100% record

We had our last another cria last night and another girl, this time it is a lovely dark fawn possibly light brown, we will have to wait and see.  This female is our final cria from Golden Nugget this year although he has several more to go for his co owners Lakeham Alpacas, so far he has only produced females.
Carla with her lump
Carla has been looking uncomfortable for weeks now, she was 363 days yesterday and spent most of the morning sat in the shelter chewing the cud.  We checked her at 1pm and she was looking just the same but when we got back at about 5.30pm it was obvious she was in labour, Carla always has her cria in the afternoon so we weren't too worried.  After about half an hour of nothing happening and carla pushing I thought I had better have a look, Gloves on and lube I had a little feel around to discover the head and one foot but the other leg was bent back at the knee.  This was quite easy to sort out so I left Carla to finish the job which only took another ten minutes before a little brown female cria was deposited on the ground.  She was up and about in about half an hour but seemed more interested in running around the field than finding the milkbar.  As we hadn't had dinner and lunch seemed along time ago we put Mum and Babe into the field shelter, turned the light on and went home to watch proceedings on Alpaca Cam. Carla soon past the placenta and babe eventually found where the milk was kept after sucking the walls of the shelter for what seemed like ages.  Alpaca cam comes into its own in situations like this. we have swallows nesting in the shelter............. not sure what they made of having the light on all night but is interesting to see them caught mid flight on the camera.  The cria has been named Golden Caramel (aka Caramel) which is a name my daughter has been suggesting for all Golden Nuggets cria but it actually suits this one.

Carla with Caramel
The rest of the crias are doing well and I managed to get a couple of pictures whilst in the paddock last night.  Choc Ice seems happy to share her Mum with Amber, Cassini doesn't seem to mind feeding them both!
Amber & Choc Ice sharing the Milkbar

Salvador continues to be a bully if the girls don't want to play he jumps on them and bites their ears.  Calico is nearly as bad and seems to one step behind Salvador all the time.  Finally Lily's cria now named Tigerlily is getting stronger by the day, she was a little early and her tendons in her back legs were a little loose, so she was wobbly for a few days, very funny to watch her trying to keep up with the older ones.


Tigerlily
Shearing was on Thursday and it was very hot, poor old Colin was suffering a bit but the girls especially were relieved to their fleece off.  My house is now full of bags of fleece which I need to start skirting before deciding which ones to enter into which fleece shows and what to have processed into yarns and tops.
it's been very hot here today but I managed to get some seeds into the veg garden, they are a bit late  but the soil is very warm so I am hoping things will catch up.  Tomorrow we are going to collect the Studs ready to start our breeding program, I am hoping to get all our births in May and June next year, wishful thinking I think!

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Well today was the day!

Quick blog tonight, just got back in from a very nice evening out with friends.

Lily gave birth this morning with very little effort or so it seemed to another large white/light fawn female, not sure what's going on this year.  Lily is dark brown, mated to Nugget who is dark fawn and she produces a very light cria,  we have had two other Nugget crias from fawn dams, one which was white and the other a fancy, white with black and brown.  Last year all his cria were fawn, we have one more to go which is Carla who is now 360 days, she normally produces darker then the sire but I am not holding my breath.  We thought we were in for a colorful field of cria but so far white 3, fancy 1, black 1.  I am just hoping that Mariettas cria will be OK  after her illness as she is mated to Inca Picasso so it should at least be dark ( I can hope anyway).

I think I may be ripping up my breeding program and starting again.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Lazy day

We have had a bit of a lazy day today, we got up late, so good to have Alpaca Cam, we can check the girls without going down to the fields.  so after a late breakfast we went and fed everyone, gave the sickly cria a bottle which she drank much better today. Then I went off to see a friend for coffee whilst Steve fed the llamas and took the two youngsters, Murphy and Merlin for a short walk down the lane.  Then we had quite a long lunch break, Steve had a snooze whilst I ironed the bedding for a changeover tomorrow.  Then we went back and poovered the girls paddock, I got the driving the tractor part of the job so that wasn't to arduous.
Grandsons and daughter arrived to give me a lift back home to get dinner whilst Steve topped one of the other paddocks.  After dinner Steve and I  went back to check all the animals and we spent a good half hour just sitting in the field watching the heavily pregnant girls grazing, just looking at their cria's moving around, Carla is now 357 days and Lily 341 both look fit to burst.  Demeter should be 345 days but the jury is out on her, she looks to slim to me and her crias are normally very active, I can't see anything move in her and she has no signs of a udder, so who knows. It's great just sitting, watching and discussing future breedings etc whilst daughter bathed the boys and got them ready for bed (much quieter in the field).  On the way home we had a wander over to our hay field just to check how the grass is doing.................. conclusion is we definitely need some rain.

Looking back at what I have just written makes me think it was me that had quite a lazy day, Steve seems to have done rather a lot today!

We have shearing on Thursday and the forecast is good, we will start this years breedings next weekend.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Tooth Ache

Haven't blogged for a while and the only excuse is that I have had raging tooth ache since coming home from the Devon County Show.  Finally got an emergency appointment on Wednesday and an xray reveled a tooth abscess. So I have antibiotics to take and the next available appointment was 29th June so I thought I was in for a long painful wait.  So an early morning call this morning took me by surprise, so I am now minus the offending tooth but still in some pain, which I am sure will pass shortly.

Anyway down to Alpacas and Llamas, still only 4 cria, 3 are growing and acting normally but little Choc Ice is not putting on weight, we are topping her up with a bottle which she takes sometimes and not at others. she sits down a lot and doesn't join in the games even when Salvador jumps on her and bits her ears.   Not sure what do do now, she has had ADE today so that may give her a boost, so any suggestions would be gratefully received.

We have two more births due, Carla who is now 358 days and Lily 337, Lily normally manages to surprise us by giving birth early usually when we are closely watching on of her field mates.  So this year I have been watching her closely for the past two weeks, she looks very uncomfortable.

Oh yes Devon County show I almost forgot, we took Atlas and Prospect, I put them in the shelter the day before the show as rain was forecast.  I took a quick look at their fleece and almost dismissed them both, they were both over fleeced and due to the damp weather things didn't look promising.  So we were very surprised when Prospect was placed 3rd in his class of junior fawns.  Atlas wasn't placed in his class but I had entered them in the Dams Progeny class where we picked up a 2nd place.  Both boys are from Marietta who has been so ill recently, not sure she understood what I was telling her when I showed her the rosette, she had produce 3 cria all males and all have been placed in shows.  She is still carrying this years cria, we are hoping that it will be OK but are just pleased that she has recovered from what ever was wrong with her.
Now Dentist told be to rest and be waited on today so I think I will try that.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

3 girls 1 boy, not bad!

Today Bramble gave birth to a lovely female cria or maybe I should say Bramble was present whilst her baby arrived.  She has been looking uncomfortable for days now and this morning she was sat down, rolling and occasionally standing up, this seems to be her main problem, she spent the whole day sat down, not only that she was usually sat facing down hill .................. has nobody told her about gravity!  it was obvious she was in labour and she was quite swollen at her back end, so I left her to it for a while.  Came back she is still sat down .......... facing down hill, off I went again, came back lunchtime, exactly the same, she wasn't in much discomfort so I left again for a while thinking that by 3. O. clock even Bramble would have given birth but she wasn't even straining!
I decide that I would take a look and see if anything was happening.  Now Bramble is not the most co operative of girls at the best of times and I was on my own so wasn't to hopeful.  Bramble was still sitting down and I approached her she gave me that .............. don't you dare come near me look! , but stayed put and I managed to feel inside to see if anything was going to put in an appearance ............. there was two feet and a head but I couldn't feel the nose, a bit of gentle feeling about and I found the nose, the head was slightly back presenting the top of the head instead of the nose.  Once I got the head around the right way Bramble started to push ............... still facing down the hill so she pushed uphill, but at least she was doing something.  So at 3.45 pm a large (8.5kg) arrived, sired by Caliban and we have named her Calico, standing up and suckling with in the hour, not worst for her slightly drawn out arrival, tonight she has her coat on and is running around the field with the other three cria.

Bramble still facing down hill!
Bramble & Calico this evening

So far this year we have 3 girls one boy , we have 3 possibly 4 more births this year so it will probably even up, but a good start anyway.
I have been out with the camera today as I spent so much time in the field tried to get all three cria in one photo, this only happened when one sat down.  The little brown and white cria has been called Choc ice,  Ember still weighs less than Salvador and Choc Ice even though she is nearly two weeks older.



Embers rear end, Choc Ice sat down,
Salvador trying to play.
Salvador.
All I need now is for Carla gave to give birth tomorrow, she had the same due date as Bramble and has been looking fit to burst for days now.  Devon County show starts on Thursday and it would be so nice not to have to worry about births for a few days, the next two just coming into their birthing window.

We are taking two of the boys up to the show and as they are forecasting rain and mist tomorrow I have put them into the field shelter, which they are not at all please about.  The inside of the shelter is now plastered in green stuff and I am not sure if the same green stuff counts as field condition!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Alpacas like buses wait ages and two come at once!

Golden Ember age two weeks
We have had another eventful weekend, Friday saw another change over in the cottages, so a quick clean out before getting on with Alpaca things.  We had noticed some fibre loss on one of the females feet so we got them all in for their weekly check over and treatment was administered where necessary.
Ella who was by now 355 days pregnant had been looking a little uncomfortable but came in with rest of the herd so whilst checking everyone over I thought she was looking a little agitated, so I let her and a couple of others out whilst keeping Demeter in.  I am doubtful if Demeter is pregnant as she is very slim which is not like her she usually by now be a very wide load.  As we had a Stud male available we wanted to do a spit off just to see, so Humming Rolex was collected from his paddock and put into the pen with Demeter who proceeded to spit like a good un! then launched herself over the hurdles back into the field.  So that puts a new light on the matter she is either pregnant or is not going to get pregnant, she is very old and may be had enough.

Whilst this was going on Ella decided to give birth to a very large black male cria (9kg) with absolutely no fuss at all in fact I don't think she stopped grazing through out the whole process.  His father is Inca Picasso and he is a half sister to our Champion Black female so we look forward to seeing how he develops.
West Webburn Salvador meeting his Granny Lily (left dark brown)

So two down in the last two weeks, one boy one girl.

Saturday we should have been going on a llama walk but the weather was not suitable which was a shame as two of the people on the walk had to be canceled earlier in the year for the same reason.  They under stood and were quite happy to come and see the two youngsters.  We will reschedule and hope for better weather next time.

Sunday arrived and we still had to do a llama walk for two customers who were staying in the cottages so we were all prepared for that when we notice that Cassini was looking very restless, she is a maiden so we decided to watch for a while to see if she was in labour or not, she is 348 days. it soon became obvious that this cria wasn't going to wait for much longer and the legs and head were soon visible.  we went up to the top paddock to collect the llamas and bring them down to the Cottage field ready for the walk.  By the time we got back about 20 mins later another very large cria was on the ground in a cush position,  the sire is Golden Nugget who is dark fawn, his mother is a mid fawn and this is what we got.
No name as yet (suggestions on a postcard or e.mail will do!)
we have never had a fancy before but we have to admit she is very pretty, she weighed in at 8.5kg.
Once we had dealt with navel, admiring the cria and watching the rest of the herd come over and say hello to the new arrival we went on out llama walk which was very pleasant if not a bit windy.

Tonight we have been watching all three cria racing around the field on Alpaca Cam and I am sure they are entertaining the customers staying in the cottages.

and finally and update on Marietta, she has continued to improve and can now get up and down on her own, she is steadier on her legs and has spent most of the day grazing, she is still not right and has lost a lot of muscle condition but we are optimistic she will make a full recovery, we will just have to wait and see about her cria.
Marietta

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

A little bit of good news

This morning we were doing some Physio with Marrietta who was complaining loudly every time we lifted her.  We lift her five or six times and make her stand for a few seconds until she flops back to the ground, this morning she was particularly reluctant to stand.  As we were walking back up the field discussing what to do next etc etc, we got back to the field shelter put away the buckets and feed bag.  Steve looked back at the Alpacas, Marietta was up or was it one of the other fawn girls standing in front of her, no it was definitely Marietta standing on her own.  She stood for about five minutes before trying to walk, which she did rather unsteadily for several meters across the field and then started to graze before eventually collapsing back to the ground.
We were amazed, it will be two weeks tomorrow since she went down and we were beginning to wonder if she would ever get up again.  We have been back to the field several times during the day and she has been moving about a bit, she is still very shaky getting back down but it is a big improvement.
The only trouble is we still don't know what it was that caused the problem in the first place or which of the treatments have made her improve, but I am so please she is.

On the pregnancy front we are still waiting for our next cria to be born, Ella is now 252 days, Cassini 245, Bramble and Carla are both 328 just got a feeling they may all be waiting for Devon County show week!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Finally we have a name.

Our first cria of the year is now over a week old and doing well, I am giving her two bottles a day which she takes easily.  She now has a name after a lot of deliberation  We try to use some of the sires name so as I can remember who the sire was, So as Golden Nugget is the sire it was decide it would be West Webburn Golden Ember.
An update on Marietta ........... she is no worse but not much better either, she is bright in herself, eating drinking but not able to get up by herself.  We lift her several times a day and she can now stand for a few seconds on her own, very shaky legs but at least it is an improvement.  Her blood tests suggested she was low in Selenium so we have given her a drench but it is difficult to know how much to give,  Vet says the injection has now been withdraw.  We don't want to give her to much as this can be bad as well,  so if anyone has any experience of drenching with Cobalt, Selenium Drench please let us know.

We went to the Collabear Auction on Saturday, very interesting to see and get our hands on so many animals.  Good to see so many other breeders there, also surprising to see the coloured animals fetching higher prices than most of the whites.  We came away with a young brown female and a part share in a grey stud male, very striking looking animal with a fine, soft handling fleece for a older male.  We especially wanted a grey male to use over a couple of females this year and Lakeham Alpacas also wanted the same so it made sense to try to buy a male between us.

We have had several enquires for boys over the last few days, why didn't we buy some whethers!

Friday, 29 April 2011

A little bit better today.

Just a quick blog to let you know that there has been some improvement on the Marietta front, this morning when I arrived at the field she was laid flat out, (quite shocking at first) so I up righted her and she had a little munch on her hay.  I gave her her drench and the Vit B12 injection the vet had left for her.  Marietta had over the past few days managed to reach the bottom of the paddock and the only way we could see to move her was in the link box on the tractor,  She wasn't to keen on this at first but sat nicely to be transported to a flat spot at the top of the paddock.  As we lifted her out of the link box we held her up and she actually took her wait for about a minute which is a major step forward.  she has been happily sat munching her hay for the rest of the day.
We met the Vet later this afternoon to collect some more Vit B12 injection and the results of the blood test. Everything looks normal except for the Selenium which was a little low, but her symptoms did not look like Selenium deficiency.  She has higher levels of Calcium and Magnesium which was to be expected as she has had a lot of Calciject 6.  The blood test was taken before she had been given the Selenium drench so this has probably improved by now.  So we continue to hope she carries on improving little by little.

Thanks for the messages of support and the telephone calls we have received offering suggestions, good to know that Alpaca people are prepared to discuss problems they have had and pass on their experiences.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Some good, some not so bad!

I haven't blogged for a while as there has only been one thing on my mind for the last 11 day, Marietta! she had not been well since a week last monday, the shaking has now stopped but she is still sitting down, she hasn't walked since last Thursday.

The Vet came on Tuesday ............ sat on a bale of straw and scratched his head, the jerking action of Marietta's neck he described as weird and he had never seen anything like that in any animal before except a chicken!  He took some blood and we are waiting for the results, he has given her a shot of Vit b12.......... and the following morning there was a marked improvement,  the jerky action had gone .............Vet put this down to the cocktail of treatments we had been giving her over the last week.  Anyway by Wednesday I was getting concerned that she had been sat in the shelter for over a week and the floor was starting to get wet mainly because Marietta kept  kicking the water bucket over.  I decided to put her outside the shelter where she could get some sun and the floor of the shelter could dry out, so after she had had her treatments I helped her out of the shelter and settled her with feed, hay and water, she looked set for the day and her mates could visit her.  When I came back at lunchtime she wasn't where I had left her, great I thought she's up ................ but no she had rolled, turned or somehow moved about 10 mtrs down the field and she seem quite happy with life, so we left her out.  Over the last couple of days she has moved herself around the field and the rest of the girls seem to stay around her.  We are continuing to give her the treatments and I make sure she has access to water and hay when ever I go back to check on her.  Today she has started to eat grass for the first time for 11 days and she has started to try to move when we approach her, so we are still hopeful that she will continue to improve.

Phoebe on left having breakfast
So that was the not so bad and now the good, last Sunday our first cria of the year arrive in text book style.  When we got to the field Phoebe (259 days) was looking like she was in labour so we started to feed the rest of the herd as usual, Phoebe who very much likes her food saw this going on and not wanting to miss a meal ran up the field ate her bucket of feed and then returned to her previous position, less than an hour later cria was on the ground, a female cria, the fourth in a row for Phoebe, sired by Catons Golden Nugget.  The cria was up, suckling and having a pee within an hour and a half ........... wish they were all like that!


One hour later.
As we are aware that Phoebe never has much milk for her cria we have been prepared with ewe replacer, bottles etc.  Phoebe is OK for the first two days, plenty of colostrum but then not much milk, we can always tell as every time you look at them the cria is underneath and soon starts to have a little bald patch on her nose.  So Monday evening I started to give the cria (no name yet) a bottle which it took with ease,  we only give two bottles a day as we like to keep them it keen to feed of Mum and we only usually have to do this for about three weeks when the crias are no longer keen to take the bottle.  For some reason after this time Phoebe seems to be able to satisfy her babies hunger.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Todays Blog part 2

Today has been glorious again and we have been pretty busy, firstly I had to do a changeover in one of the cottages.  Both cottages are now full and both with returning customers from several years ago before we brought them, it's good when people return year on year.  Whilst I was doing the cleaning Steve was using the supa dooper poohpa hoover in the rented paddocks so they are all nice and clean ready to be rested for a few weeks.  This afternoon we took four of the trekking team out for a walk with friends, it was good to be out on the moor where there was more of a breeze.  Looking down towards the coast it looked as if they were having a good shower of rain, we could hear thunder rumbling in the distance but it stayed away . When we got back from the walk the guests had arrived back from their day out so we let the children meet the llamas and walk them back to the fields.  Once the guests had left we wormed all the llamas and put them onto new grass.  All of them were remarkably well behaved having their drench, which is unusual as at least one of them manages to store the entire contents of the drench gun in their mouths and then let it dribble out.



This is a picture taken from our alpaca cam this evening of Marietta sitting in the shelter, looking at her she looks perfectly normal, she just won't get up, seems to have enough strength in her legs but just not going to do it.  She can move her legs because when we lift her to give her some massage and physio we leave her with her front legs out straight and she almost immediately gets back into a cush position.  She is about 8.5 months into her pregnancy perhaps she is going to sit there until she has her cria, what else could a girl want, she has hay and water to hand and gets concentrate delivered to her, no pushing at the trough or fighting over the hay bag for her!.  The alpaca cam has come into it's own this week as soon as it is light I can check how she is with out getting out of bed, how good is that.  if anyone has any ideas how to get her up we would be grateful for them.  It has been so good to get info from fellow breeders not only from the UK but all over the world.

Marietta day 6

This morning Marietta looks fine but will not get up, twitching stopped.  She has had Vit B with the Selenium drench, Epson Salts again this morning and we are now doing Physio twice a day, having her sat on a hay bale whilst we stretch out her legs, plenty of strength there but reluctant to stand.   Just continuing to hope she improves.

Off for a walk with the llamas before next physio session.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Not good

Marietta to look at looks Ok not much twitching or shaking but she won't get up.  We have tried to lift her onto her feet but she squeals constantly.  I don't think she is in pain just stressed and not wanting to stress her any more we haven't tried to lift her again.  I phoned the Vet again and he has no more idea as to what can be the problem, I also phone one of the contacts from the BAS emergency contact list who was very helpful and went through all the things he could think of, most of which we have considered.  So far she has had several injections of Calciject 6, several doses of a glucose drench, some selenium and some epson salts, ADE injection.

As she is now down I really don't know what to do,  it is so sad to see her and not be able to help.

She is tucked up in the shelter and we can watch her on the Alpaca cam, I am hoping she will improve overnight.

We spent the whole day up in the fields so we did get a day off.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Another quick one

Thought I would do a quick blog this evening whilst waiting for Steve to return with the Indian Takeaway.  We have decided to take tomorrow off and spend the day in the fields with the alpacas but not actually doing any work ................. thats the idea anyway............. I am sure we will find something which will just have to be done.

Marietta is still twitching but seems much better in herself, even came up for a cuddle this evening .  She is still having trouble sitting down very shaky legs, she is quite jerky/ twitchy and seems to keep locking her legs straight  if you know what I mean.  We have kept her off grass but she is eating and drinking well.  So I don't know what to think, just keep her quite and hope she continues to improve.

Still know cria, but the girls are really feeling the heat, both Phoebe and Ella are looking very  heavy and uncomfortable.  Hopefully they will produce something tomorrow while we are lazing around in the fields!

Anyway Indian is about to arrive so better get the wine out for Steve I shall have something non alcoholic as I don't want to have a bad head to ruin my lazy day!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Quick blog

Just a quick one tonight:

Still not Cria.

Marietta still shaking but no worse, still of grass.

Great llama walk today, lovely weather, great company, not a bad job really.

And I took another cottage booking.

Pretty good day really.

Hope fully I will have some good news tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Marietta Update.

Just to give you an update, Marietta has still got the shakes and twitching, she has had another shot of Magnesium. In fact I think she is slightly worse, she seems to have a problem sitting down very shaky action especially on the front legs although she gets up OK. I am starting to wonder about Selenium now as well, not sure what the symptoms are.

I spent most of the night trawling the internet for anything which might help me sort out the problem and talking to people from all over the place about the possible causes.

Marietta is now in a small enclosure incorporating the field shelter she seem happier if she is outside,  it's quite nice to watch the others coming over to check on her, leaning over the hurdles and may be a little hum then back to grazing.

Phoebe still looks content to hold on to her babe, but Ella looks really uncomfortable this evening so who knows perhaps I should open a book.

We are going out for a llama walk tomorrow, half day so I need to prepare coffee and lunches as well as get the linen etc prepared for a changeover in one of the cottages.

Hopefully we will see some sort of improvement in Marietta and I will have some good news to report.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Help please!

Today we have had a problem with one of our pregnant females, Marietta, probably our best female, she has only produced prize winning cria.  Anyway today when Steve went to feed up and check this morning he notice straight away that Marietta was not right, she was shaking and was walking with a jerky action but she was still eating her concentrate and grazing.  She was very distressed when penned and became very flighty when handled which is very unusual as she is a very calm animal usually.

We have had a similar problem in a llama a couple of years ago which the Vet diagnosed as Rye Grass staggers but now we are starting to wonder if this was correct.  Marietta was not grazing the same field as the llama was, there is no rye grass in the field as it is old lay, so what is it?  There is eight other females in that field none of which are showing any symptoms, there is nothing poisonous in the hedgerow.

Vet arrived and gave her a shot of magnesium  which if she was a cow would have cured grass staggers instantly, we have to give her another shot for the next two days.  We have taken her off grass now and put her into the field shelter with just hay and her concentrate to eat, this if it is the same problem as our llama should cure the problem.  She is still shaky very flighty, she nearly took two hurdles with her trying to get out of the field shelter.

It would be really useful to know if anyone else has had such a problem !  It really does pay off knowing your animals because Steve spotted that she was not right as soon as he drove into the field, to anyone else she would have looked normal.  So all those hours you spent just watching your animals isn't wasting time!

As we had to move Marietta we decided to bring back the rest of the late pregnant female to the birthing paddock, so we now have seven females all of which reach their due date within the next four weeks.  Which in reality means that they should have all given birth by mid June.  Marietta isn't due until July so fingers crossed that she holds her pregnancy though this.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

A bit of a senior moment

Just realised I said that one of our girls was 252 days into her pregnancy I should know that there are 365 days in a year which makes her 353 days now.  Anyway we are still waiting and she is still chewing her cud, the cria seems desperate to get out though, we spent some time watching it move about this afternoon.

Despite my senior moments we have been very busy this week end or rather Steve has,  yesterday he had 15 tonne of gravel to lay on a drive, he has a digger and dumper to play with so I think it was a bit of boys and toys.

Today he has rolled the field that we have set aside for hay, I must say it looks very good.

We did find time to have a picnic lunch in the fields watching the pregnant girls, very relaxing sitting in the sun with your alpacas, but work was calling. So with the rotovator fitted to the back of the tractor the veg garden is now rotovated and ready to be planted, so much easier than digging by hand.  Next came my bit, I planted the onion sets and some shallots. I also did a quick change over in one of the cottages after one set of guests left and before the next lot arrived.

The rest of the afternoon was spent laying on the grass watching and waiting, sun shining, lovely warm breeze, so peaceful and quiet..................... then the grandchildren arrived!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Still waiting

We are still waiting for Phoebe (252 days) to have her cria, we seem to have been watching her for weeks now, at least since we were in Stoneleigh for the Futurity, thank goodness for Alpaca cam.
The camera in the birthing field really enables us to get on with work and other things and when we can't be sure that we can log on to it we can get someone else to keep watch and ring us if there is something happening.
With this in place we went to the spring Show last weekend, really enjoyed meeting up with everyone and the weather was really good, breakfast on the decking at the Hand centre on Saturday morning, great facility.
No rosettes for us this time, but with our show team of two fawn males up against such fantastic quality animals in very large classes, we were not surprised. It was good to see some other smaller breeders doing so well though.
Well it was back to work this week, very busy with our gardening work, holiday cottages are starting to get busy as well now so I have to get back into the swing of change overs etc and at this time of the year it is short breaks, so more change overs than usual.  The holiday bookings are definitely different this year, starting much earlier than last year and more last minute, which means we still have a few weeks left in the summer season which was full by this time last year, so who knows, very difficult to predict what is happening!
We went on a lovely Cream Tea walk this afternoon, we weren't sure if it was going ahead when we got up this morning it was thick mist and drizzle but it turned out fine in the end and it was great to get out on the moor again.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Filing cabinets

As it has been raining most of the day I thought I could catch up with the accounts whilst watching the pregnant females on Alpaca cam.  Phoebe is looking very uncomfortable and sitting down a lot so I don't think it will be long before her cria puts in an appearance.
As I had filing all over the floor this morning the conversation came around to filing cabinets, decisions had to be made, carry on filing into box files,......................... never can find anything when needed quickly.  Purchase a suspension filing cabinet, ...................wood or metal, I would have liked wood, Steve liked Metal.  Do we go out to purchase or buy on line, ....................can I get out of filing now and maybe have coffee/lunch out ...............easy decision there then,  ............... go out and purchase two two draw metal filing cabinets.  Had coffee out, Steve has spent the rest of the afternoon putting together said filing cabinets. (I think the wooden ones would have been easier to put together) Lots of cursing and lots of mess later tools and packaging all over the front room and I think the first one is almost complete.

I have roasted a joint of our pork in anticipation of Steve's eldest son coming for dinner tonight and am now not sure if it was tonight or tomorrow, still haven't done much filing or accounts but its been fun watch the construction progressing, don't think the other one will get done until we get back from the SWAG show at the weekend.

It's still pouring down with rain and I still have to go and check the animals and collect the eggs.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Thought this was funny

Josh with the alpacas
I just had to share this.

4 year old grandson in car with his Mum, passes a stock trailer/ horse box, asks Mum  "are there Llamas in that horse box?  .................... not cows ................. not sheep ............... or even a horse ........... what have I done to him!

Went out with older daughter, Leanne this afternoon for my Birthday treat,  foot spa with little fish, I must admit I wasn't sure about it .................... and I am still not sure as it didn't happen!  Apparently the company were due to open a second shop today on the Barbican in Plymouth but the fish didn't arrive in time, so instead of canceling the new shops appointments they tried to fit them all in the one shop.............. chaos.  We waited for quite a while after our appointment time than had to leave as Leanne had to go to work. So we will try again another day.   We had a lovely lunch and look around the shops, quite a treat for me ...............I don't get out much!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Thought it was time to update......

Well it has been awhile since I blogged and I have been nagged at for not keeping up to date with everything that is happening here on Dartmoor.
In the last two weeks we have been very busy starting with a deliver of a bright red shiny new paddock cleaner which we purchased whilst at the futurity, very exciting, Steve took the day off as we also had the vet coming to do a vet certificate and some castrations........ more about that later.  Any way delivery went like clockwork even the driver remembered to ring about an hour before arrival so we could be ready waiting for him.  Lorry arrived, large pallet on back of truck with no tail lift, driver had been told he didn't need one!  Luckily we had the tractor with link box on had so we slid the pallet into the link box and lifted it down, signed deliver note after a quick check over .......... bye bye driver!  We quickly removed the wrapping ready to hitch up to the tractor.............. never been so excited about picking up poo.   Steve being more technically minded instantly noticed that although the wheels were on the machine they weren't actually fixed on ...... something about split pins!  How b.....y infuriating.  A phone call to the parts department resulted in the said split pins arriving the next day............... no apology though.  any way not to be beaten a couple of large washers and two nails later and we are picking up poo.  Not a bad job as I got to drive the tractor whilst Steve did the poo sucking............ funny he isn't as keen on using the hoover at home.  We now have lovely spanking clean fields and the veg garden has a good load of manure ready to be rotovated in.

The same morning as our exciting delivery Richard our vet came to  vet check Titan and castrate Felspar, Quartz and Merlin, a little sedative and some local anesthetic and job done, all three grazing in field.  When we checked on them later in the day it was obvious that Merlin was not happy, on closer inspection we could see he was bleeding badly from his wound, his fleece was all matted so he had been bleeding for a while.  Safely in a pen I was able to wash him down and check his wound which had now stopped bleeding, sprayed him with purple spray and left him separated from his field mates in the track next to his field with Murphy as a companion.  We are not sure why he had bled so much but there was evidence of some blood on one or two of the other llamas, so whether there had been some altercations going on we don't know.  Merlin has now fully recovered from his ordeal thankfully.


Last weekend we took the llamas to Hound tour for a 60th Birthday party, we had been asked to help carry the guests picnics up to the tor.  There must have been over 60 guests there but what we didn't realise was that they all brought their dogs!  the llamas took a it of interest in all these dogs arriving but weren't that bothered.  We didn't know what to expect when all these people, dogs and llamas walked up on to the moor and I was getting worried that they would get really upset about it............ not a problem, why do I worry like this......... The llamas lead by Lenny calmly walked carrying bags of food, totally ignoring all the dogs............. I am sure that they sussed out that these were very well behaved dogs and were not going to be a threat to them.  We even had a bit of a sniff at any dog that dared to get close enough..... even young Murphy had a sniff with a spaniel.  So I now need to rethink our no dogs rule!

Last sunday was my Birthday so we had the day off, drove down to the coast, had lunch and walked along the coast path at East Prawle and then had some dinner before we came home, so nice not to have to cook!

On Wednesday we held our Spinning course, Jean Field came and gave us some excellent instruction, our friend Norma provided a lovely lunch including some very nice cake.  I have now spun quite a bit of Titans fleece and now need to decide what to knit with it.

Yesterday we had  a llama visit from a local hospital OT Dept, it was too windy to go up on the moor so we had a walk along the lanes and had tea on the patio of our holiday cottage.  We really enjoy these group visits as everyone seems to get so much out of the experience.

Finally today we delivered the five Alpaca boys to Cornwall, Titan and Calypso to join Carpalla Herd, we unloaded them into a six acre field which is great but it was misty and after a few minutes they disappeared into the mist.  They are going to be very busy boys as the girls were in the field on the opposite side of the track and they all looked very ready and eager to meet the boys........... a lot of flirting going on along the fence line!  I think Nigel and Margaret are going to be very busy over the next few weeks as well and we can't wait to see the results next year.  Good Luck to you both.
Felspar, Quartz and Stephano have landed on their feet, they have gone to live near Fowey where they have holiday cottages.  We unloaded and settled them into their new paddocks which had so much grass,  at least 6 inches high and really lush and green.  After some basic instruction on how to handle them, put halters on etc we left them just munching away, they didn't even look up, not sure they notice we had gone! that gratitude for you!  I will really miss this group of boys in the morning when I go to feed up, they were such a lovely group. Now we just have Atlas and Prospect who when we returned with the trailer were a bit bemused that their friends had not returned as well.
Felspar & Quartz
So as you can see it has been busy here, tomorrow as a birthday treat! I am having a foot massage and something which involves little fish ............... not sure what thats all about!