Wednesday 29 December 2010

return of the Dartmoor mist

and I for one are not moaning about it .............. yet!  Yesterday was the first time I had been able to get my car home, it had been parked at Poundsgate since we got home from Madeira last Tuesday.  The road between Poundsgate and Ponsworthy was only passable sensibly in a 4x4 until yesterday morning when the milder air and Dartmoor mist managed to melt the solid ice compacted on the road.

Feeding the Alpacas now takes a fraction of the time and not having to carry water is great, but don't the fields look miserable?  We need to do some serious poo picking this week.  We are going to wean the final two boys and Merlin the llama tomorrow (hopefully)  This will involve collecting the females and the two boys from Widecombe, the females will go into a clean field in front of the holiday cottages and the weanlings will go into the top fields well out of sight of their mums.  They are all eating from the troughs and they should have been weaned several weeks ago but with the cold weather and difficulty getting to Widecombe, let alone towing a trailer over there, we left them a little longer.  Jazz, Merlins mum is losing condition now so she really does not need to be feeding this huge boy, he is a bit of a mummy's boy though, so I am expecting to have a very upset little llama tomorrow!

We are off to a fancy dress party on Friday so I have been shopping for suitable clothing today and I had the normal things such as banking etc to do as well.  Now I don't like Newton Abbot at the best of times but this morning was just about the limit.  Everywhere I needed to go was either shut or opening late or the que was right out the door, even the O2 shop wasn't open!, the opticians had a note on the door saying back in 10 mins which was there for 45mins.  Thought I could get fish & chips for lunch, they were shut!  'Pasties' I thought, butchers shut, ..............half day closing! Sandwich bar shut! So gave up and went home for scrambled egg on toast!
Just got in, listened to the phone messages, one from holiday cottage guests.............. no cold water in the shower and the DVD not working.  So spent all afternoon trying to sort that out,  DVD sorted, shower not!

Looking forward to the new year, wishing everyone a good one.

Friday 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Just taking a short break from preparations to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a fantastic New Year.  Lets hope that the weather improves and we can get back to poo picking and halter training.  Before we know it we shall be in to the show season, first the futurity and then for us the SWAG Spring show. We look forward to seeing you all in the show ring.

We have had a busy year here at Dartmoor Llamas/ West Webburn Alpacas,  on top of that Steve and I found time to get married on the 9th December, we had a lovely day with friends, a fantasic lunch at the Coombe House Hotel, we spent the night at the Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter with dinner in the Micheal Caines Restaurant  which was a present from one of my daughters, followed the next day by a Family dinner, finally a visit to our local pantomime on the Saturday evening, before flying off for a week in Madeira which turned out to be a little longer than planned due to the bad weather in Exeter which resulted in our plane not being able to leave the airport to collected us.  Credit to the holiday company who put us up in a hotel, fed us until we could leave the next day.  Troubles were not over as we could only drive as far as Poundsgate which is a couple of miles from home but where our Holiday cottages are, so we had to spend the night in one of the cottages, finally getting home the next day thanks to Steve's Brother who collected us with the Tractor, my car is still stranded as our road is still only passable with a 4x4.
Christmas preparations have been a bit rushed to say the least but I think we are nearly ready now (to late if not)  This afternoon I decided that I really couldn't manage with out a Christmas Tree, so looking at the fir trees in the top garden that were getting very close to the power lines, Steve got the chain saw out and cut one of them down, taking the top 7ft out to provide me with a slightly odd shaped tree, looks great now it is decorated.  How good is that!
Any way I can't do any more now, we sat down to pot roasted pheasant for dinner tonight with a bottle of wine and we will enjoy our Christmas day.

Have a good one everyone.

Saturday 4 December 2010

A bit of Retail therapy

Dartmoor returned to it's usual December weather, grey drizzle, the trouble with this was it landed on freezing cold roads and turned to sheet ice.  We couldn't get out of the yard until nearly lunchtime, not only the roads were bad but the fields as well, Steve did the feeding up this morning and the light dusting of snow we had on the grass had also turned to ice.  Lenny in his rush to the food bucket fell flat on his face and although shocked and slightly embarrassed by this wasn't put of his breakfast.  Whilst Steve was out feeding I had a good session with the ironing, we have a booking in the cottages at the end of the week and none of the bedding had been ironed, I managed half of it before succumbing a peaceful cup of coffee.
After lunch I had to go an buy Steve's Christmas present or at least try to, the pressure is on this year as Steve normally leaves his pressie shopping until Christmas Eve but for some reason this year, he has decided what to buy and had it delivered to my daughters, neither of them are letting on as to what it is! ..........very frustrating, but it does mean I have to get my act together.  After traipsing around Newton Abbot.... not the best place for shopping I came home and brought it of the internet............ not saying what I brought just in case Steve's decides to read this ................ not very likely he probably wouldn't know where to find it.
In the meantime Steve was back up the cottages getting the bathroom walls prepared for tiling, checking the animals and shutting the chickens in, we lost 5 chickens to the fox last week including Christmas Dinner ................. a rather large young cock bird we had earmarked for Christmas!  neither mind we can always have Pork after all we have three pigs in the freezer.

Friday 3 December 2010

Long time no Blog

It's been a long time since I have written anything on the blog, mainly due to having a bit of a rough time of it lately.

Steve's Dad had been ill for some time and had been in a care home for a while, he was taken ill a couple of weeks ago and past away very shortly after.  The funeral was on Tuesday and everything went well despite it being very cold at least it wasn't snowing.

Obviously we haven't done much work over the past few weeks just the essentials, feeding, poo picking, general husbandry, we are nearly up to date with the ADE and Fasinex treatment just the Llama team to go, hopefully tomorrow.

We had a little bit of snow yesterday and as our roads don't get treated we have a treacherous journey to our fields each morning, nothing like you guys up north though.  We live on a hill and have to go both directions, the decision each morning is either up hill or down either way it is icy.

The Alpacas and llamas are all looking good they don't seem to mind this cold dry weather, they are eating a good deal of hay and what with their mix of concentrate and Alfalfa which is very dry they are drinking a good deal of water, which seems to be freezing up as soon as it is in the bucket.

Murphy and his Mum Jazz
A couple of weeks ago I was driving up to the fields to put the chickens away just as the sun was setting, I drove up onto the moor and got a couple of pictures.  I also managed to get some of our Llama cria Murphy who is growing into a fine you llama, he has such a lovely nature and I am sure he is going to be easy to train

Merlin has also been on a few walks and is doing very well, he has had a break from training over the past few weeks so this afternoon we put him into a catch pen, haltered him, he now tries to put his nose into the halter (his aim is a bit hit and miss) he had a small blanket on his back and we put a strap under his belly..... he wasn't to sure about that bit.

Merlin and Steve
The weather is causing chaos with our Christmas sales, Village Market in Widecombe last Saturday it was so cold and dull nobody much about, Leusdon Coffee morning on Wednesday was much better almost three times as much sold and tomorrows Christmas fair at Buckland has been canceled.  so thats all of our sales opportunities gone for this year.  No doubt we will have several phone calls asking for socks and yarn for pressies before Christmas but we won't sell the normal volume of stock.

Steve and I have something special coming up next week which I may tell you about later, so I am desperately trying to get ready for Christmas before that.  I have written and posted all the business Christmas cards, written most of the personal cards, some of the presents have been bought but not wrapped yet, food shopping list is started..... not sure when the actual shopping is going to be scheduled in! Menu's are in the planning stage, we have a big family gathering on the 27th so that needs to be catered for as well and just to keep us busy we took all the tiles of the wall in one of the cottages today so that needs to be retiled next week......... can't think why we did that!.  

Friday 12 November 2010


It has been wet, cold and windy all day here on Dartmoor, we had to cancel a walked planned for today.  Went off to buy tiles for one of the bathrooms in the holiday cottages instead.  Hope it improves for tomorrow as we have some people coming to look at animals!

Thursday 11 November 2010

A bit of a odd week.

It has been a bit of an odd week really, not much to report on the Alpaca/Llama front really.

Monday weather forecast was terrible but it turned out not too bad, but as we had listen to the forecast, put off any work we had planned, Merlin and Blackjack got a bit of training, we went to town and caught up with lots of banking stuff.  We took the opportunity to have lunch out, visit friends and pick up animal feeds, visit more friends and had dinner out!.
Tuesday Steve had a recall appointment about his hip resurfacing operation, they wanted to discuss blood results from some tests that they hadn't actually done yet !  good old NHS we went all the way to Plymouth for a blood test that could have been done in our local surgery. As we were in Plymouth we had time to visit an old friend which meant we had lunch out............. think there is some sort of pattern here.
Wednesday actually a very nice day here on Dartmoor, Steve had work all day (good job one of had) and helping administer some wormer and ADE to his customers Alpacas,  they were animals we sold earlier this year and we offer help with husbandry as part of our ongoing support.  I managed a couple of hours of work in the morning then went to a spinning workshop ........ needed to start using some of the fleeces I have left.
Today again the weather forecast was bad, but they were right this time, wind has been terrible, wet first thing but better later, Steve has been replacing the heated towel rail in one of the cottages and tried to organise the materials ready for putting in the services for our new camera system in the birthing paddock and shelter.
I have spent the day attending a meeting of Devon farms,  who we advertise our holiday cottages with, they hare launching an online booking system and I was involved with training some of the members to use the new system............. now my brain hurts, it is not used to so much work!
We have Llama walks booked in over the weekend and the forecast does not look too could so fingers crossed they are wrong!!

Sunday 7 November 2010

All drenched and jabbed

We decided to have quite an early start this morning as I was planning a shopping trip with youngest daughter.

We got all the female Alpacas and the two cria that are still with their mums into the handling pen ready for their ADE jabs and their Liver Fluke drench.  Only one of them managed to cough up any of the drench my technique must be improving, in fact they all behaved impeccably except Stephano who is definitely his mothers son, Lily is our most neurotic female by far and Stephano has inherited this trait.  Unfortunately he is the only one in the herd who is showing any sign of fibre loss, just around his feet, a little oil and ivomec rubbed onto the affected area should sort out the problem.

That little chore over and onto the main hate it especially clothes shopping.... all that changing in little cubicles,  those mirrors in there are a nightmare just like the hall of mirrors at the funfair!!!
Anyway it was a fruitless task as the only thing I liked was far to much for a dress that I would only wear once. So four weeks to go and still nothing to wear!  we had a nice lunch though.

We stopped off at Lakeham Alpacas on the way home to pick up some bags of feed, on the way Linzi thought the car was making strange noises, difficult to hear over the CD player but I had to agree that there was a loud bumping noise coming from the engine.  Luckily we were just up the road from Lakeham, so after scrabbling on the floor looking under the front of the car it was obvious that the engine cover was hanging off and dragging on the road.  So call the RAC and have a cup of tea while waiting for the patrol man who was in the area to arrive and remove offending cover so I could get home.  Just need to take the car to our usual mechanic to get it repaired now, so really it wasn't a very successful shopping trip!

Saturday 6 November 2010

Alpaca update and Traveling Ted

It’s a while since I have updated the blog , a fact that I have been reminded of by several of my friends and readers of this blog.  As I told them sometimes I go to update the blog but with so much going on that I can’t or wouldn’t want to write about I don’t know where to start.
It is a quiet time here with the Alpacas and Llamas, just routine husbandry really, poo picking, toe nail trimming etc etc.  We decided to send some poo samples off to be analysed by the lab rather than just treating for worms routinely.  We were very encouraged with the results only one animal showed a worm burden and one of our cria showed a heavy Coccidal oocysts.  So both of these animals have been treated as well as the cria in that group, we will do another set of tests in three weeks time.  
The whole herd Alpacas and llamas will be having a ADE jab over the next week as well as a drench for Liver Fluke, this will complete their routine treatments for this year.
Over the half term we had a visit from our Grandsons and a bear call traveling Ted,  Ted normally lives at Josh's school but sometimes he is allowed to go home with one of the pupils.  Ted has to have a record of his activities whilst he is away from school and as you can see from the photos he had a very eventful time.
Ted in the Wheel barrow
Ted & the Alpacas

Ted collecting eggs
Ted on the Tractor

I can assure you that Ted did have a good wash before he went back to school not sure I should publish the pictures of Ted in the washing machine!

Monday 4 October 2010

Been away for a while

Well not actually away, just not been blogging for a while.  It has been the usual round of work, animals, walks and cottages, I keep thinking it will get a bit calmer soon but ha ho!

We have lots of things going on at home as well which you really don't want to hear about but it has meant I have less time to sit on the computer.

So what's new here!
Training has been going well with Merlin, he walks very well now, has a halter on but is not keen on putting his nose into it, you have to play catch my nose if you can for a while before he decides you can put in on.  We have started to put a blanket on his back just to get him used to having something there.  So now we try to introduce him to things he will come across when he is trekking such as cars.  On our morning walk down the lane we stop and look at the cars on the main road, it is quite good as cars coming up the road can be seen coming but the ones coming down just appear suddenly from behind the hedge.  Merlin seems to take this in his stride and is not that bothered about them, on the way back we walk back past our car, open and close the doors etc, he is not as keen on that little exercise.

Murphy is growing a pace, he is now 14 weeks old and he is huge, Jazz his mum is losing a bit of condition so is getting extra rations but I think we may need to wean him a bit earlier than usual.   We had him in the handling pen today and had a good look at him, he is very strong, good straight limbs should be ideal for trekking, he has a lovely calm temperament as well.  As you can see from his picture he is full of himself, defiantly thinks he's in charge

The girls have been moved onto some fresh grass which they much appreciated, the field they have now on has been rested since the hay was cut, so it is nice and long and lush. They certainly didn't want any concentrate anyway.  The cria including Murphy found the whole thing really exciting, charging around like lunatics.

The Llamas on the other hand are onto the hay in a big way, they seem to have plenty of grass but they like their hay.  They are having a restful time at the moment as we don't have any walks for a while.

We went to the SWAG vets day last week which was very informative and a good chance to catch up with the gossip, nice lunch as well.

Then I went to Cold harbour Mill last Saturday for their open day, I took our neighbour who is going to teach me to weave this winter.  Audrey was a textile teacher before she retired so she was interested in what Jon Arbon is doing at Cold Harbour.  We had a tour around the workings of the mill while Jon talked us through the process from fleece to yarn.  I could resist buying some sock yarn in anticipation of the darker evenings.

So up todate now we had the girls scanned today and as expected Midnight scanned not pregnant as did her mother Ella.  It is getting rather late to breed now so if we can't get them to the males this week we will leave them till next year.  Everyone else scanned pregnant except Jazz the llama but then she scanned negative last year and we now have Murphy, so who knows!

Whilst Colin was here to scan the girls I got him to put the chips into this years youngsters so now just need to do the paperwork!

All for now will try not to be away for as long now.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Over for another year

Well that's Widecombe fair over for another year.  It was a pretty miserable day, typical Dartmoor weather, mist and drizzle.  We had set up the stall on Monday evening so it was just a matter of installing the animals in their pen and putting out the knitwear, yarns and socks.  The crowds were well down on last year and we can put that down to the weather.
Once set up there was time for a spot of breakfast.

The boys settled down very nicely, only Lenny the Llama had been to the show before, the Alpacas are all last years crop of boys.  They drew a good crowd during the day prompting all the usual questions, we are lucky in the fact that we are the only Alpacas/Llamas at the show.

My daughter and grandchildren came along for the day and Josh is pictured below taking part in the Dartmoor Hill Pony display, I think he is supposed to be a miner showing that the Dartmoor pony was once use down the mines.

As you can see he is thoroughly enjoying himself and he has only been on a pony once before!

The worst part of going to shows where the weather is wet is the packing up and getting everything dry, as you can imagine I now have all the stock off the stand spread all over the spare room.

While I had the camera handy, something I don't do often enough, I took some pictures of Steve's latest work project. Since giving up being employed Steve has returned to Landscaping all be it part time.
He gets to do a large range of jobs but I think some of his walling is the best.

Today I moved the pregnant females to a clean paddock they had been getting a little short of grass as we were waiting for a late crop of hay to be pick up.  They are so easy to move as there is a drift between the two paddocks so I could just open up all the gates and just let them run from one, down the drift and into the next.  As the hay had only just been picked up they have plenty of long grass around the edges of the fields and in some of the less accessible corners.  They clearly were impressed by having something decent to eat that they didn't bother with the concentrate I offered them or rather bribed them with.

This afternoon we had a Llama walk with a cream tea, it was only two people so we took the opportunity to take one of the younger Alpacas with us.  We are always amazed when we take the out for the first time, it doesn't seem to faze them.  Today it was the turn of Quartz or it could have been Felspar as we still can't tell them a part, he walked really well didn't jump about and even allowed cuddles during the walk.  A great trekking Alpaca in the making!

Monday 13 September 2010

Merlin will not go to the fair.

Merlin has been having a five minute training session most mornings since he arrived at Dartmoor Llamas. All this training has paid off as he is now a very calm young llama,  We can catch him in the pen by laying a rope over his back, he now tries to put his nose into the headcollar although his aim isn't too good yet.  He walks well on a lead and we have been going on short walks up and down the lane with one of the other llamas for company.  We have introduced him to cars, open and closing the doors with him in close proximity, going in and out of gates, even meeting a neighbor in the lane with their dog.  He does still get jumpy sometimes but he is getting more confident all the time.  We were thinking of taken him to Widecombe fair tomorrow with some of the younger alpaca boys but it is a long day and if he doesn't settle to it we can't get him home until the end of the day, so for this year he will stay at home.

Widecombe fair is our local show, it is a very long established fair famous for Uncle Tom Cobley and all, it is a truly local fair with many unique events.  We have been taking some animals to this show for a few years now and we always have a great day.  We set up the stall tonight and will load the boys in the morning, we are taking Felspar, Quartz and Calypso who are up for sale as a package, Atlas and Titan who we have shown this year with great success and to represent the llamas side of the operation will be the old timer Lenny.  Lenny is great at shows as he will allow stroking even cuddling, never gets upset and can be mischievous and entertaining, has been know to flip the water bucket over onlookers feet.
It will be a long day but it is a great time to catch up with neighbors who we haven't seen all summer.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Typical Dartmoor Weather!

We had to cancel our llama walk this morning due to the unpredictable Dartmoor weather.  We woke up to torrential rain and when I was finally brave enough to look out of the window it was obvious that we wouldn't be going out on the moor,  the mist was really thick and there was that heavy drizzle just to make it even more miserable.

I rang the customer to give them the option of starting later or postponing as our walks are supposed to be fun and I don't find walking around on the moor in the rain much fun and walking up there in the mist is just plain stupid and we don't do it.

The upshot of canceling the walk is we had a proper Sunday, no rush to feed up, I picked some veggies in the mist, put loads of veg in the freezer, did some ironing in front of the TV and even cooked a roast dinner.  As we were eating our roast we realised that everything on the plate was our own produce, Potatos, carrots, turnips, french beans, courgettes and pork from our last lot of pigs........not bad and it tasted good as well.

We moved the young alpacas and Merlin into a paddock next to the trekking team in preparation to amalgamating the two groups which will give us more flexibility for walks and training.  Merlin is at a stage now that he will benefit from being taken out with some of the older llamas as he will learn from them.  We were really pleased with him this morning as he actually put his nose into the halter when we presented it to him........... quite a milestone really.

Saturday 4 September 2010

A well earned brake

We finally managed to get a week off,  my niece got married last week end in Maidstone so we took the opportunity and took the week off.  After the wedding we spent a few days touring around Kent, stayed on a farm on the North downs, did a historic tour of Canterbury which was really interesting.  Once we had 'done' kent we headed off to Oxford, did the tourist bit, eat out a lot and finished off with a day at Blenheim Palace before returning home today.
To get a whole week away took some organising, someone to do the changeovers in the cottages, someone to check and feed the animals, I did begin to wonder if it was all going to be worth it but once on the road I was OK.  That was until my daughter (who was in charge of animals) rang to say ' is it normal for Lennie to let you walk up to him and let you stroke his head'  panic---------No it isn't I said,  I suggested she got some feed in a bucket and see if he was interested in that before I packed my bags again and got back in the car.  Ten minutes later, phone rang--------daughter said ' it's Ok I walked up to him and he winked at me, got up and eagerly ate the food from the bucket', seems he had been sunbathing and really couldn't be bothered to get up.  I asked for an update the following morning when it was reported that everything was normal.
I had diverted the phone to my mobile, took my diary and computer so I could keep in touch with everything including fellow bloggers.  During the week we had a variety of calls, there was the guy who rung to ask where Dartmoor Llamas where based and would it be Ok if they arrived in about 10 minutes for a llama walk, he wasn't too impressed when I told him I was in Kent and wouldn't be able to get there in 10 minutes!
Anyway arrived back this morning, dropped bags off and then straight to the fields to see how everyone faired with out us, pigs looked fine-----then they really weren't bothered who fed them.  Chickens all survived and looked fine, chicks have grown and are about twice the size there were last week.  Then to the trekking team, they actually looked pleased to see us, we called out as we got to the gate and they all came running up to us, Polo came right up to me and sniffed my face and Lennie didn't let me get anywhere near stroking his head, I am sure he was just angling for more food.
The young Alpacas and Merlin the young Llama did seem bothered that we were home-------Merlins training will restart in the morning.
Once the animal inspections were over, a quick check on the feed situation revealed a trip to Mole Valley Farmers ( Steve's favorite retail outlet) was needed, Pig food, cat food, Steve food needed.
All of a sudden a week off seems a long time ago, Llama walk tomorrow.

Friday 27 August 2010

Broadsiding ponies

Just thought I might share this picture of Calypso broadsiding a Dartmoor foal whilst out on a Llama walk this week.  The picture really doesn't do it justice, we were walking back to the carpark after enjoying our picnic lunch on the top of Yar tor , the llamas were having a munch on a hawthorn tree, Calypso who isn't much interested in hawthorn was just stood with his handler waiting when a little foal approach, Calypso really wasn't sure about this and presented a broadside display to the foal, who not speaking the same language just carried on approaching until he was in sniffing distance, sniffed and decided it wasn't a funny looking pony so ran off to find its mum.

We have been busy with walks this week and the weather has mostly been dry if not sunny.  The gorse and heather is looking amazing at the moment, I have tried to get a picture of it but it is not easy to get the true colours.

We have returned Nugget and Caliban to Lakeham Alpacas as we have finished our breedings for this year.  We have decided to put Langaton Caliban up for sale as we don't have that many light coloured Alpacas to use him on now, so we will be looking for a Black or Grey stud male for next year s breeding program.  Also up for sale is West Webburn Titan a young dark brown male who was placed first at Devon County Show and a third at SWAG this year.   The only other animals we have for sale at the moment are a group of three young males who are being sold as a package for ridiculously low price.  we are very short of land so at some point we have to sell something, but I can always find a reason not to sell any of them.

All the females have returned to Widecombe for the autumn and winter, to grow their babies on the lovely fresh grass they have over there.  They always seem to thrive, left to themselves except for a daily check from us to feed them and make sure they are all well.  They come home in the spring about a month before the first cria is due.  Having this facility allows us to rest the fields so we don't have a big parasite burden  and the fields they go on to are only used for hay so they don't get a problem from there either.  It is a bit of a pain having to travel over there to see them but it is worth it in the long run but the owners of the fields get to enjoy them all day.  Oh for more land!

Friday 20 August 2010

A face full of spit!

As usual it has been a bit hectic what with holiday makers , work and the animals.  Last Sunday we got all the female alpacas in weighed them and checked for any mite, trimmed any toe nails which needed to be done before putting them all past the males for a final spit off  before taking them over to Widecombe for some fresh grass.  Thankfully everyone we expected to spit off did, which is great as they are well and truly pregnant now, the first one due at the end of March next year.  Demeter (96 import with attitude) jumped the hurdles last time we put her in with the male, this time she looked at him------- he stood in the corner looking the other way, she looked at me as I was guarding one side of the pen in anticipation of her jumping out again and gave me a full blown mouth full of the smelliest, greenest spit ever seen------------I think she may be pregnant!
We then loaded most of them into the trailer for the short journey to Widecombe where they will stay until spring.  They are in a field which has been cut for hay several weeks ago and it now has a lovely lot of fresh grass.  We held back a couple of Alpacas as they needed one more spit off,  the two female llamas and of course Murphy, just because I don't want him to go just yet as he is growing so fast and is such a character.
In the afternoon we had a visit from my Mum & Dad, Sister and family, daughter and family and younger daughter, funny you don't see anyone for weeks and then they all turn up.  It was a lovely afternoon and we went and introduce them to the llamas, alpacas, pigs and chickens before having a picnic in the field.  Just what Sundays should be like.
We had to cancel a llama walk this morning as the weather was so foul, thick mist, rain and a howling gale not what you need for an enjoyable walk on Dartmoor.  hopefully it will be better by Monday as we have a half day walk booked.
Merlin our young llama in training is coming along nicely, he is very calm and walks around the field very well now.  It won't be long before he can be introduced to the trekking team and will start to come on short walks with us.  Over the winter he will get lots of training on the moor where he will meet all sorts of new things and by next spring hopefully he will able to be part of the team, but not carry a pack until he is at least two years old.

Monday 16 August 2010

Finally managed to take the camera

I finally managed to take the camera out with me and I got some pictures of Murphy and Merlin

Murphy first, he is now 7 weeks old and is full of life and attitude, he really struts his stuff around the field.  He is nearly as tall as our adult females so he towers over the Alpaca cria who are all older than him.

We have been putting a halter on him just to get him used to been handled, he is going to be very big and if he isn't well trained he will be a nightmare to work with.

Merlin is now reluctantly walking around the field each morning with his two mentors, Atlas and Titan are well used to walking on halters and Merlin doesn't want to be left behind, I am sure he will look more like he is enjoying the experience with a few more days training.

Merlin is much calmer whilst in the handling pen, he stands still once you put your hand on his neck, we can touch him all over his back and belly area which is important as he will be trained to take a pack system when he is older.  I am touching his ears an mouth in preparation for any drenching that he may need.  It will be so nice to have an animal who is easy to do all the husbandry on because if a llama doesn't want to do something is is a different proposition from an Alpaca.

Now it would be nice to get some up to date pictures of the Alpaca Cria.

Saturday 14 August 2010

I forgot another High

We have managed to get Merlin our new young llama to have a halter on, he now stops when we put a rope over his back, will take a halter and is starting to walk around the pen when asked too, not quite as good at walking around the field following the alpacas though but that will come over the next few days.  We are getting him used to having his sides and tummy touched in preparation for having a pack on.  It is great to see the progress he has made from being a scared little llama never handled to accepting that we aren't going to hurt him and learning new things every day-------he no longer runs out of the pen when his lesson is over often just standing there until we leave him!  Must get some pics of him!

Highs and Lows

10 days since my last blog and I have had several comments from certain quarters about my lack of blogging.  My only excuses are lack of time and not really knowing what to say!.

The highs have been that we have had our busiest week ever for llama walks, not that we have done more walks then usual but we managed to combine several groups together meaning we could take more animals out and I have to prepare more lunches, cakes and our famous cream teas.

We had a lovely day at the Honiton show, great weather and we came home with a 3rd and a 4th Rosette, met lots of lovely people and spent all day talking Alpaca -------what could be better!

We have started to get enquires for our cottages for the Autumn, we are full until the end of September (except for 6 nights) and have already got bookings for October, November and next year.  So thats looking really healthy, I am now looking at what advertising has worked best this year and where I should be looking to target for next year.  This is work I usually save for rainy days but we haven't had that many  of those lately, not that I am moaning about that although the grass could do with it ------ never satisfied are we.

The lows---------- we lost an Alpaca this week--- Himma was a gelding we inherited when our friends decided to return to Wiltshire and we took over their herd.  He was the first cria they had born and he was over handled as a youngster, to be honest he was a pain in the neck as he got older--------- what started as being quite cute and amusing started to turn into threatening behavior as he got older.  When he was about two years old he got a kick from a llama shattering his shoulder, the vet operated on him but I think he was always in a little pain and he did tend to sit down a lot.  Anyway last Sunday we had been out on a walk and when we got back we noticed he looked a little bit off colour, nothing you could put your finger on but just not right.  We took the decision to see how he was in the morning whilst putting him in the shelter for the night.  Any way Monday morning he was dead, I felt so bad I should have rung the Vet but knowing Alpacas -  if they look sick it is probably to late.  We arranged for a Postmortem which revealed nothing conclusive but did confirm that it wasn't anything nasty which could affect the rest of the herd.
Himma was always a reminder to us not to over handle young cria especially males they can become a problem (BMS Berserk Male Syndrome) which may not show up until they adolescents and they start to treat humans as they would other alpacas which we all know is not alway pleasant.  We do routine husbandry with the cria as we do the adults and we have bottle fed several cria but it is strictly feed the bottle and leave alone.  Once they are weaned they are handled everyday until they are halter trained and are behaving calmly, easy to catch in a pen and can be stroked once caught without them trying to escape.  All the young males get to go on walks with our trekking llamas who are all calm and well behaved which they seem to pass on to the youngsters.
I also remember the advice from an experienced breeder when we were first looking at buying our first Alpacas-------- "beware of over friendly Alpacas it isn't their natural behavior" 

Wednesday 4 August 2010

North Devon Show

Just got back from avery successful show, the weather was very wet this morning delaying the start of the halter classes.  We had only entered fleeces this year as we are showing a couple of animals tomorrow at Honiton show.  We got a 1st place with West Webburn Atlas’s fleece, he was a junior when he was shorn and has worn a couple of ribbons earlier this year. Atlas a fawn scored highly on his fleece weight, fineness and handle and his lack of guard hair.  Lack of guard hair had been commented on in previous shows so we were pleased to see him highly scored on this element.  West webburn Titan got 4th in his class although the black and brown had been combined.  He also scored very highly on fineness and handle but lost marks on his fleece weight.  I think I may have over skirted this one as I wasn’t sure what to remove and what not too.
Anyway as a first attempt we are really pleased with the results.

On a different note we have managed to get a halter on Merlin the new Llama without much fuss.  We have spent the last couple of weeks just gaining his trust and although he is still a bit jumpy he will let me put the halter on and do it up with out moving about.  We let him keep the halter on for a few hours just to get used to it, the next stage will be leading him around the pen.

Sunday 1 August 2010

More Ramblings from Dartmoor

Following another busy week I have finally sat down to write something in the blog, so now I can't remember what we have been so busy doing.
ahh yes it was Totnes show last weekend so we set up the stall on the Saturday afternoon ready for the show on Sunday.  This is the first time that they have held the show on a Sunday but as the traffic queues were so bad on a Thursday the decision to change days was made.  We had a combined stall with Lakeham Alpacas and Bats brook Alpacas and we took some Llamas as well.  To keep to the best bio security arrangements we could, Bats brook had a pen on one side of the Marquee and we had ours on the other side, so the animals were unable to see each other let alone get within spitting distance.  As it is a small show we were the only Alpaca stand there.  The sun shone and there were lots of people around although it was very slow to start with, I think as it was a Sunday people got up a little later before coming in but they stayed much later and it was after 6pm before we thought about packing up. The rest of the week has been the usual round of feeding up, picking up poo, holiday cottages and a lovely llama walk yesterday.

We or rather Steve has been doing some handling every morning with Merlin the young llama and has got to the stage where we thought we could get him to take a halter.  Firs I showed him the halter and let him sniff it then put the nose band over his nose and just let it rest for a while.  He took this well but drew the line at letting me do it up, he is still very jumpy and I think it is going to be a long process but we are getting there.  I really must get some pictures of this young boy for you to see, her really is very handsome!

Later this morning we had a visit from Inca Picasso from Blacklands Alpacas for a drive by breeding with Marietta.  We had been trying to get Midnight covered by Picasso but for some reason she wasn't too keen, but would sit if you put her in with our Stud Golden Nugget who we had been using for spit offs.  So we made the decision to let her have here way with Nugget and to try Picasso over the very reliable Marietta, who is a much more willing partner, she sat when I let her into the breeding pen and Picasso was only half way down the M5 at the time. so fingers crossed we won't have to take her to Blacklands next week for a repeat meeting.

Just after Blacklands left for home we had some people turn up for a look around and discuss keeping Alpacas which was great as we don't need much encouragement to talk Alpaca all afternoon.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

What defines a spit off?

We did spit offs with all the females today in anticipation of sending the girls back to Widecombe for fresh grass.
We have such a range of so called spit offs.

Firstly Lily who when she is ready to breed sits immediately so if she runs away from the male she is usually pregnant and boy did she run but no spit.
Next up Bramble who is another sitter, one spit and then looks to get out of the pen.
Phoebe who just glares at the male, which in this case was Golden Nugget and he stood with his back to her not interested.
So looks like those three are pregnant.
Next up Ella who nearly climbed over the hurdles to get away.
Cassini who runs around and looks like a scared Rabbit.
So they look promising.
But the best spit off today goes to Demeter our old girl 1996 import sold to us with the comment she has attitude.
We put her in with Caliban, she took one look at him and jumped from a standing start over the the alpaca hurdles and ran at full pelt across the field.  Would you call that a spit off?
That just leaves Midnight and Marietta.
Marietta will be going to Inca Picasso in a couple of weeks, As for Midnight, she really hasn't got a clue about spit offs, we are not sure if she is spitting off or sitting as she can do both at once.
If they all go according to plan we will be having a very busy spring next year.

Whilst we had the girls in we weighed the crias and they are all putting on weight nicely and they are full of energy.

Merlin our new llama seems to be settling down, he is not looking to get out of the field all the time now.  He will also eat food from a bucket that I am holding but still doesn't like to be touched.  He does seem interested in watching the other young boys being haltered and lead so hopefully he will look and learn.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Sad Farewell

We said goodbye to Toledo yesterday, he was our Stud male Llama and as we only have one female llama for him to breed with we decided he was wasted here.  He has gone to live in Cornwall where he will have lots of females to entertain. Having Toledo here had become difficult, we couldn’t take him on treks which meant we had to leave another llama or Alpaca with him when we went out, this obviously meant we were a llama down in the trekking team. 
In exchange we have brought home a seven month old male llama who we are hoping to train for trekking.  Once home we put the young male now named Merlin (as he comes from Cornwall) in to a paddock with last years young male Alpacas but Merlin only had one thing on his mind which was finding his mum and eventually this morning he worked out how to get through the wire of our fence.  Once he had worked out how to do it there was no keeping him in so he is now in the yard with a companion until he settles down this usually takes a couple of days.  I will try to get some pictures tomorrow, he may be calmer by then.

Now we have all the young boys together we can start to do some training with them so they to can all be taken for walks on the moors.
We will miss toledo very much as he has been part of our lives since he was 6 months old, we have his half  brother Blackjack who has been pacing the fence line today so he is missing him too.  I am sure Merlin will settle in nicely and become part of the trekking team.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Hospital visit

We took two llamas, Lenny and Polo and Logan the Alpaca to Wonford House hospital this morning.  The rain held off for most of the time we were there.  I always fine these trips amazing, just to see how within an hour the llamas can make friends with so many very nervous people.  One guy was so nervous he wouldn't even stroke Lenny on the neck, Lenny is so calm and nothing upsets him, anyway by the end of the morning the guy was leading him around the grounds of the hospital and feeding Lenny treats.
We are only there for such a short while and I come away feeliing very proud about the way the animals behave.  They really seem to have an empathy with people with special needs or disabilities.

I spent the afternoon make a couple of batches of Scones and a very yummy orange and Almond cake, did some of the holiday cottage ironing and then sorted out some fleeces to send away for carding in preparation for my weaving lessons this winter.

This evening we did another spit off with our female Llama 'Jazz' and 'Toledo' we were surprised when she gave birth this year so it would be wonderful if she could do it again next year.  We had arranged to swop Toledo for a young male that we could train up for trekking, so we wanted to breed Jazz before he left, so fingers crossed.

Our Stud males are coming back tomorrow from Lakeham Alpacas we will put all the females who had been spitting off back to the boys, just to check they are still rejecting, before sending them off to fresh grass in Widecombe where they will stay for the winter.  That will leave us with just three females to finish our breedings this year.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Not much time for blogging

Well it has been a long time since I have had time to sit down and update this blog.  Today it did rain as forecast, but not a lot.
All the Llamas and Alpacas are looking good, although the grass here is looking a bit thin, we are giving hay ad lib and the usual concentrate.
We weighed all the females and cria last weekend and the youngsters are all gaining weight.  The little Llama cria "Murphy" is great, full of energy just like a jack in a box, he charges around the field barging into the females who give him short shift.  He is very strong now and has a lot of character, thinks he's the bees knees.
It has been the usual round of work, holiday cottages, llama walks and field maintenance, Steve's three day week is working OK, so today we had a day off!!!! ---------------so after strimming around the chicken fences, cleaning out the chicken houses, putting up some bean sticks, spreading so Rooster booster, it was coffee time, then Steve took some belt things off the Flail mower which needed replacing, filled the car up with some rubbish to go to the tip, had lunch .....................then off to Newton Abbot to go to the bank via Tuckers to get some gate hinges, Mole Valley Farmers for pig food, find somewhere to buy the new belts for the mower etc etc, ................I think this is what is called a day off !!!! Oh I did get to see the Grandchildren for about half an hour.

We have had some lovely llama walks over the past couple of weeks, the weather has been perfect, we have met lots of lovely people and ate loads of lovely picnics............. so much for the diet !
Tomorrow we are taking some of the llamas to visit Wonford hospital, this is something we do regularly and is a lovely experience for the patients as well as us.

Monday 28 June 2010

Now that was a bit of a surprise or two

Over a week since my last blog, the hot sunny weather is still with us and this has brought out the tourists and the campers although Steve did see a little more of one camper than he really wanted.  He was driving to the fields ahead of me one morning when he caught site of a naked man diving back into his tent which for some unknown reason he had decided to pitch right next to the road, obviously been out for his morning constitutional, good job he wasn't a couple of seconds earlier he would have got a proper eye full.

With the tourists we get the usual mix of idiots that can't reverse, the ones that stop without warning to photograph a sheep but the best are the ones who seek you out to tell you that there is a cow in the road and are amazed when you tell them that they are supposed to be out loose as they are grazing on common land.  The worst kind are the ones who let their dogs off the lead, let them chase after our llamas whilst we are out on a walk and then when you ask if they can put it on the lead they tell you "it is OK their dog wouldn't chase anything".  Not sure who's fault it would be if one of the llamas kicked their dog?

Tuesday morning we got another surprise when Steve was feeding the females he discovered that Jazz had produced a cria.  Jazz one of our llamas was breed last year but had a negative scan, we introduced her to ur male earlier this year and we had a very obvious rejection, not much difference from when she was put to the male last year so we thought that she just wasn't going to breed.  A couple of weeks ago we noticed that she had a bit of an udder but still weren't sure as she didn't look any different size wise.  Any way a lovely male cria but very weak and flat and a very over protective mum, we couldn't get near without being cover with spit and she meant it.  In the end I managed to get a halter on her and Steve lead her up to the field shelter whilst I carried the baby.  
Once in we penned Jazz and I was able to milk off some colostrum which we fed to the little one, I did this a couple of times and also gave him a little glucose.  By late afternoon he was up and suckling but very wobbly so we left them in the shelter as it was very hot and they had some shade in there.  He was much stronger by the next morning so they both went back to join the herd, Jazz much calmer and cria the object of much attention from the alpacas and their cria.  He has gone from strength to strength and is now playing with the three alpaca cria although he is already much bigger than them all, he looks like a little deer when he runs around as he is brown and grey on top with his underside being white with black spots.  It has been hard thinking of a name for him, father warrior, mother jazz, grandfather Zulu - we came up with Michael  as Michael Caine was in Zulu ! Duke after Duke Ellington!, Shaka after  a Zulu king............ and then settled on Murphy!

Friday we did some spit offs with Nugget and Caliban before returning them to Lakeham Alpacas for a few weeks.  Mike and Liz had a cria from Nugget born that morning so we had a good look at her, lovely, same colour as our Nugget male cria born last weekend.  All our females are now spitting off except for Midnight and Marietta who will be mated when boys return.

We have had some lovely walks with the llamas over the last week the weather has been great lovely and warm with just enough breeze to make for comfortable walking, lovely picnics and great company, I have to remind myself that this is work!

Monday 21 June 2010

What a week that was!

The trouble with this lovely sunny weather, there is so much work to be done, not forgetting the Alpaca watching especially in the evenings.  We seem to get in later and later ......I don't seem to have much time for blogging.
The girls have spent a lot of time sun bathing flat out...... all looking like dead Alpacas...........
We did get a day off Friday and went to Exeter for a little shopping and to arrange something for later in the year (more about that later).
Saturday we gave the llamas and the Stud Males their Lambivac injections, enlarged the pig pen as the three weaners have almost doubled in size, ran the hoe over the veg garden etc. All this before taking Caliban over to Tower Park Alpacas for a return visit to one of their females (Pearl ) who adamantly spat off mainly down Steve' s shirt....... so Caliban back in the trailer ready to go back home after helping Rolly give the Lambivac injections to Willow, Pearl and Sparky.  It was such a lovely afternoon just right for sharing a bottle of wine in the garden with Rolly & Jo before checking out the new arrivals, a couple of Runner Ducks.......... I really would like some!
Hopefully their pearl will spit off again next week as Caliban and Nugget will be returning to Lakeham Alpacas for a while.
Marietta and Cria

We finally managed to get the weighing scales set up on Sunday, we got all the girls into a holding pen and one by one we weighed all the females. Whilst they were confined in the race we gave them their lambivac injections as well.  Marietta (340 days) came running in to the pen with the rest of the girls and although we didn't stress her by weighing her we did give her a jab and then let her back into the field and carried on with the rest of the girls.  I went to let the next girl out and noticed Marietta had decided to give birth and the head and the legs were already out.......... no hanging around for her then.  By the time I had weighed and jabbed the final two girls......... she had delivered a lovely brown male cria.  Marietta has been such a reliable female, her last cria Atlas was born 360 days before this one and the previous one Calypso 372 day before that.  She always lets us know when she is ready to be mated by sitting next to the pen whilst other matings are going on.  Both her last cria have been placed in the show ring and this one looks the best yet, sired by Caton Golden Nugget, his fleece looks great, he has been named Golden Prospect and we are really pleased with him.
Prospect and Stefano

Talking about females letting you know when they are ready, Lily who gave birth just over two weeks ago to Stefano, sat next to the breeding pen on Sunday so I opened the gate and in she came, sat down,  so we put Golden Nugget over her, she is not quite as reliable as Marietta but if she is ready who are we to argue!

After all this excitement we had to take Midnight up to Blacklands Alpacas for a mating with Inca Picasso, she is our champion black girls .......a maiden who has taken a bit of time to work out what it was all about..........I think she got it this time as Picasso certainly took his time.  That means we only have Marietta left to bred for next year and I am sure she won't want to hang around!

Sunday 13 June 2010

We've had a great weekend as well!

We have had a great weekend here in sunny Devon, starting with a lovely walk on Friday with the llamas. We had a friend come to see us on Friday to go out for a llama walk so we decided to go to Hammeldown which is just above Widecombe in the moor and the views from there are spectacular, it is a great walk as it is mostly flat or gentle slopes, easy walking with views to either side of the ridge. We packed up a ploughmans lunch, some tea or coffee and homemade cake and off we went, lovely sunny day, bit of a breeze .....what could be better! It was so good we were over an hour late getting back and we had arranged to go up to Dorset for a charity event as it was we arrived just to hear the last five minutes of the talk which was followed by a "ploughmans" supper and some very nice Dorset Apple cake.
Saturday was another lovely day, quite hot in the afternoon so after turning one of the holiday cottages around ready for the next guests I went to see Tania at Caton Alpacas to do a bit of fleece skirting. I am going to enter some of our fleeces into the North Devon show, this will be the first time and although I have do some fleece judging and scoring on Alpaca assessment courses, I had never prepared a fleece for a show. We did two of my fleeces and two of Tania's and I think we may do a few more next week. All I need to do now is actually remember to send the entry form off !
Last night I had a very strange experience, I went to a school reunion, it was for my year at secondary school who have or will be having a rather large birthday in this school year. Well I hardly recognized anyone but by the end of the evening I had managed to work out who most of them were or at least recognized their names.
Today, yet another warm and sunny day we had the grandsons helping with the morning feeding, so that took twice as long as usual. Charlie wants to help with everything and Josh wants to sleep with the pigs! not sure why.
This afternoon we had a booking for a cream tea walk, so we took Lenny, Polo and Logan out and we had a great walk, lovely people, good conversation. We went to our favorite place for a cream tea on Yar Tor which sits above Dartmeet, it is so quiet up there, the view is great and the skylarks were singing away, what could be better, I really must remember to take the camera with me next time. After the walk we all went back to the Alpaca field to see the little cria born last week which has now been named Stephano, his sire is Langaton Caliban so we have followed on the 'The Tempest' theme! , we are still waiting for Marietta to give birth she is now 333 days and is looking very heavy, spending a lot of time sitting down.

Friday 4 June 2010

Cria's Cria's everywhere!

From reading fellow bloggers there are lots of cria's arriving now all very exciting!. I have tried to get some decent pictures of Lily's little cria but I either get Mica in the way or cut some ones head off but here is my attempt, Lily (or half of her anyway) with her cria closely followed by Mica.

We haven't decided on a name as yet but the little chap weighed in at 8.4kg and he is a very light fawn with a slightly darker tail, we weren't sure what to expect, Lily is a dark brown with what you might call "colour contamination" or she could just be going grey, father Langaton Caliban is white, you could call it an experiment, we were hoping for a darker colour but ha ho he is cute and will make a lovely pet or he could come trekking with the Llamas.

We are now waiting for Carla and Marietta to produce both mated to Catons Golden Nugget.
Tomorrow we will do the spit offs with the other girls if they are all going according to plan we will have early birthing season next year.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Piggies and a little surprise

On Monday we collected our three little pigs, they are Berkshires and we have two boys and a girl. We drove up to Honiton to collect them from Smallicombe Farm and once the paperwork was completed we loaded them into the trailer, they seem pretty laid back about the whole process and when we arrived home and opened up the trailer they were all snuggled up together asleep.
They soon settled into their new home.
They are quite cute really, don't think I will be naming them as they are destined for the freezer.

Like Peas in a pod!

And the little surprise!
As I said our girls are just coming up to their due period, Carla and Marietta first the I thought. Lily is alway a little difficult she never gives clear spit offs, she was mated several times last year and I am sure she sat in late July ............. at least my records show this. So it was a bit surprising when I got back to the fields this afternoon to find a cluster of females, I thought Marietta had given birth but then I saw a head hanging from Lily.........head..... no legs! as I was there on my own I had no chance of examining Lily to see what the position was.......... Then a really strange think happened, Lily walk right up to me, sniffed around my head and hands, Lily is usually the most flighty of all our girls and would never come anywhere near. A quick call to Richard our Vet and he was on his way, just as Steve pulled up in the landrover, so with an extra pair of hands I was able to check where the legs were and managed to ease them out. Finally a large male cria was delivered, very strong and sitting up within minutes. So another call to the Vet to stop him turning up!
We had planned a picnic tea in the field with the grandchildren this evening so we spent time with them and watching the cria at the same time, the little chap was up on his feet and suckling within an hour, in fact once he was on his feet his mum took him on a tour of the field examining the rolling spots, the gateways, every corner and finally the drinking trough all this with one of lily's daughter, grandaughter and a couple of other interested females in tow (why don't I have a camera when needed) . He is the first cria we have had from our Stud male Langaton Caliban so we are very excited to see what he is like, he certainly seems to have inherited his fathers head shape and there is loads of fleece around his face. I really need to take the camera with me in the morning.

Hopefully Carla and Marietta with follow Lily's lead and give birth quite soon!

Sunday 30 May 2010

Shearing Day, rain and sunshine

After listening to the weather forecast last night we left the alpacas out last night as it was going to dry up and be sunny today. Not sure why I believed that as they said it would be dry yesterday afternoon when we had a llama walk and it rain all the time, cream tea in the rain sheltering under one of the Tors is an experience to say the least. the customers all thought it was fun though which is the main thing.
Any way I woke this morning to sunshine so pleased I made a cup of tea and went back to bed for a good read for about half an hour. By now it is pouring with rain, not much we could do now but hope that it didn't last long. Rain stopped and the breeze was blowing, the alpacas looked dry and fluffy and Colin rang to say he was running late due to the weather so plenty of time for them to be completely dry. Steve topped one of the fields while we waited, can't believe we are cutting grass like this, while our top paddocks aren't growing at all.
We had a lovely picnic lunch in the fields, the sun still shining, Colin arrived with Gaia in tow and set to work, they make the whole process look so easy and the job was soon done. I took the opportunity to give the Blue Tongue injections while they were restrained much easier than holding them.
We had a visit from Lucy who works at Paignton Zoo looking after the large cats and rhino, she was after some fleece to use with the lions and tigers, apparently they like to play with the fleece, it's the different smells they are most interested in, so Lucy left with several bags of leg and neck fleece and left us with a bag containing several bottles of wine. Not a bad exchange me thinks! There ought to be a competition for the strangest use for fibre
So we now have fields of lovely looking Alpacas I especially like the dark colours when they are shorn they look so elegant.
Our pregnant females are now coming upto their due dates and now they are without their fleece we can clearly see the crias moving around. The first one due is Carla she is just 10.5 months ironically she is the only one we didn't shear as she is an older girl and she did suffer a bit this winter, we put a coat on her for several weeks, she had not grown much fleece so we decided to leave her this year.
We are of to collect our pigs tomorrow and hopefully I can upload some pictures.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Devon county Show etc

Devon county show last weekend was absolutely scorching hot, the Alpacas have been moved to a new site away from the Steam engines. There was loads of room for the pens to be spread out in the two large marquees. We took 3 males, Titan, Atlas and Calypso, I had entered Titan in the junior male class then realised that he was 12 months two days before the show which meant he was moved up a class, as he was over fleeced I didn't think he stood a chance up against the older males. I was delighted when he was placed first place, so he has had a third as a junior at the swag show, not bad as his dam is a 1996 import his sire is Alpha Saturn. Saturn is also the sire of the other two boys, Atlas took third in a very large fawn class and poor Calypso didn't get placed which has now sealed his fate and he will be castrated later in the year, we had been debating this for some time, he has a lovely bright crimpy fleece but it lacks some density. He will make a lovely pet or field guard and if he doesn't sell he can come on llama walks!

We are into our breeding program now, some of the girls are now spitting off, Cassini sat again some times these maidens are a bit of a problem, she seems to think she can lay on her side for the whole proceedings, not good!. Whilst all this was going on Bramble who we thought was due next month sat next to the pen, not a good sign she was scanned in September but not in March for some reason. Anyway we put Caliban in with her and she sat straight away so she was obviously not pregnant, strange I was convinced up to a couple of weeks ago, she looked heavy and quite rounded and I hadn't seen any signs of an abortion. Oh well these things happen!
We have just heard that our weaners are ready to be collected this weekend and as predicted the pig pen has not been built yet. I knew this would happen and have been saying for weeks that we need to get it done, so guess what we are doing at the weekend in between Shearing, Llama walk, Holiday cottage changeovers and Alpaca breedings, good job it is a bank holiday.
We have just taken a booking for a week next year which is good like to get guests to rebook before they leave, if they all did that I could save a fortune on advertising!
After weeks of moaning that the grass is not growing Steve had to cut the new field last night as some of it was above knee height (Steve's knees not mine, he's 6ft 3ins).
Got to go now and get the ironing done, I was going to make a batch of scones but have run out of flour.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Finally managed it!!!

I have been trying to publish this blog since the weekend but there always seems to be something more important to do. So this one might go on a bit!.......
Well what's been happening here.
Our feisty game bird bantam with her 3 chicks is now in charge of movements in the top field. I let Jazz & Georgina the two female llamas out into the top track just as a precaution against visiting foxes, I thought! well Mrs Bantam didn't like this idea and promptly chase Georgina back into the field. She now has to pick her moment when trying to go along the top track to the veg garden where there is lots of fresh grass to eat. In the meantime Mrs Bantam has taken to demolishing the compost heap with her chicks in tow, how can one little hen make so much mess!
On Wednesday we took Lenny and two of the young alpaca boys to Two Bridges Hotel for the Dartmoor Partnership Showcase day. This event gives us the opportunity to introduce ourselves to a lot of accommodation providers who can tell there customers about us and our llama walks. Also it is great for networking with other industries with in the National park. We picked up some information about solar energy which would be great for our own holiday cottages. Dartmoor Farmers were there providing their lovely burgers and sausages. We set up our stand outside on the lawn and had a lot of interest in the Llama walks and our two little alpacas which we are hoping to sell. Lenny gets bored in these situations and has been know to tip the water bucket over visitors feet before, so I took him for several walks during the day and he also went for a paddle in the river.
Yesterday we collected the Stud males from Lakeham Alpacas and did some breedings with our girls, Demeter who spat off two weeks ago sat again, Phoebe spat off and Cassini sat again so not too bad, try again next week.
Steve's work is coming along nicely now and we have settled into a pattern of work and Alpaca / llama stuff, funny though!........ we still seem to be rushing around like mad things but at least we are getting stuff done around the place.
The llama gift vouchers we sold over the Christmas period are now starting to come in and we have loads of walks booked for the coming months.
Our holiday cottages are full until end of September which is really disappointing for one of our regular guests who rung this week to ask which dates we had free in August! and was shock to find out that they had been booked since well before Christmas...... we did tell them last year but I feel they thought it was a sales ploy, maybe they will book early for next year.
We have even managed to fill the odd few days we had free with llama walk people looking to stay for a few days. What this really means is our kitchen will look like a chinese laundry for the next few months and the Aga will not be turn off as airing washing is so easy with it on. ...........oh joy! and of course I will be making copious amounts of cream teas as a welcome gift, but I will have to test them first.
Well it is wet here today which is why I am able to finally post this blog I was hoping to post some pictures of our whites ........sorry very dirty grey boys who were taking turns in a muddy rolling patch this morning but the computer said ....."NO" I just hope the show team have not decided to do the same. Anyway back to it, may get pics on later.

Monday 10 May 2010

Spit, Spit and more spit

After nearly a full day at work we decided it would be a good time to introduce Toledo our young Stud llama to Jazz the rather stroppy female llama. Well if she had already been with a male you would have said it was a definite spit off. She was really giving it some, there was green stuff flying everywhere, poor Toledo, this was his first attempt. Jazz is quite a tall girl and Toledo is rather short and stocky but this didn't seem to bother him.
Anyway after a good period of time dodging showers of spit we decided to remove Jazz from the pen except we couldn't get near enough to put the lead rope onto her halter so had to resort to opening the pen letting Jazz out hopefully with out letting Toledo escape as well. Well he wasn't a happy boy, huffing and puffing, he must have been exhausted, we let him calm down, he really didn't want to go back into his field, he stood gazing at Jazz for ages afterwards while she just glared at him.
Not sure what to do now, she gave Warrior the same treatment last year, really not impressed with our choice of suitors. We would dearly like to breed some llamas but with this sort of reaction I can't see it happening. If anyone has any suggestion on how to get Jazz to be a little more amenable I would love to hear it.
On a happier note our little hen is bringing up her three little chicks to be independent just like there mum, she took them walk about today, I couldn't find them and suspected the fox had had them but then she appeared from the undergrowth and returned to the nest under the shed.
Our other broody which is in the broody coop hatched out one chick this afternoon and another egg was just starting to hatch when we came home, so I will have to wait and see how many she has tomorrow.
The only other bantam I notice today has started to sit in one of the nest boxes so I am going to get some hatching eggs to put under her.