Saturday 27 March 2010

Birthday Treats

I had a big birthday today and have had a whole day of surprises, starting with Breakfast in bed, Bucks Fizz, croissants, pain du chocolate, tea and a lovely bunch of Roses. My daughter picked me up at about 9am still not knowing where I am going but lots of mentions of bungy jumps and aeroplanes, at which point I told her I would not be getting out of the car if we went anywhere near a airport. I needn't of worried the girls had booked a pamper session, back & shoulder massage and facial, great very relaxing. Quick visit to daughters pub to meet other daughter and grandchildren for quick drink before going for lunch in a local pub with Steve and daughter, I still had no idea what to expect in the afternoon but back to Newton Abbot for a visit to a very posh hairdresser. For someone who spends most of her time in mucky clothes picking up alpaca poo and getting wet with all this rain you can imagine what a treat all this pampering was, I was exhausted. Can't wait to see where I am going tonight, never knew they were all so good at keeping secrets! .

Thursday 25 March 2010

First Cria of the year

Phoebe and Mica



Quartz and Felspar with Atlas trying to get in the picture.

Well it has been some time since I managed to sit down with the computer so heres a quick update. Last Saturday Phoebe decided it was time to give birth, not a particularly good day, grey, misty and raining, unusual for phoebe as she normally picks a nice day. Just as the nose and feet arrived the sun came out and the clouds cleared. A lovely white female cria arrived as was up on it's feet in now time, text book stuff really, we managed to watch proceedings from the window of one of our holiday cottages, ready to dash out as soon as the babe arrived to deal with the navel and give a quick check over, then leave along for bonding time. The little cria was straight to the milk bar and suckling nicely so we left them to it until evening then put them in the field shelter for the night as the rain was forecast to return.

Everything seem fine until day three when I noticed that every time I look in on them the babe seemed to be under mum looking for milk. I checked Phoebe over and she has milk but not a lot, so I have been supplementing the cria with a bottle morning and evening ever since. The cria seems strong and is running around playing so I can only assume that Phoebe is still producing some milk. We have had this once before with her and we supplemented for about three weeks then the cria wouldn't take the bottle any more and went on to thrive. We will have to wait and see!

Apart from all this we were due to have a couple of llama walks this week which we have had to cancel because of the weather, so instead I have been painting the holiday cottages ready for the photographer to do the virtual tour next week.

So today I thought I would have a day out, so I went to the local auction to see if I could pick up some bits of furniture, pictures etc, not much there really but it is always fun to watch. Followed by a girly night out at a local restaurant, just the start of a rather big birthday this weekend|

I finally managed to download some of the pictures off the camera, some of the weanlings and one of the new cria now known as West Webburn Mica.

Friday 19 March 2010

good news and bad or maybe thats good news too!

We had the scanning done yesterday and the good news is that the girls which were scanned before the winter have all carried their pregnancies through except Ella who was scanned with twins (this was the bad news) this is probably for the best as she could have aborted late and that would have been really bad news, so I am pleased especially as Willow also scanned positive. I wasn't expecting that as she only sat once at the very end of the year. Willow is a maiden dark brown female with a lovely fine soft handling fleece, she takes after her mother Lily (aka Loopy Lil) bit flighty but full of charater, was halter trained but has forgotten every thing she learnt, so I am really looking forward to seeing her cria, she is mated to our Stud male Golden Nugget.

We are still waiting for our first cria from Phoebe who is showing no signs of giving birth, in fact when I checked them this evening she along with Carla and Midnight we sitting in the rain about 20 yds away form their lovely new field shelter. That's gratitude for you!

Still haven't got those pictures of the phone, must do that over the weekend!

Thursday 18 March 2010


We have had a lovely spell of weather this last week much easier for poo picking etc
We have the infamous Colin coming today to scan some of our females, we decided to have them re scanned rather than bringing our two males back from Lakeham Alpacas to do spit offs. Two reasons really it is a bit of a bind getting the trailer through our little lanes down to the A38, secondly with Bio security in mind, bringing the males onto the farm just to be hopefully spat at is really an unnecessary risk. later this year we will have young Calypso to use for this purpose, a little to young at the moment.

Colin was really excited when he scanned Ella last September as it was the first time he had seen twins on his scanner so he is scanning her this time for free. I am 99% sure she is not pregnant as she is a very tall slim girl and there is no sign of her putting on much girth. After listening to the Admed Tibary at the futurity it is highly unlikely that she will carry twins and deliver them, so never mind.

Apart from Ella we will scan possibly 6 others including 2 who only went to the male once at the end of Oct last year, we didn't have the males here after that to do spit offs so we will just have to wait and see.

We are also going to put the chips into last years weanlings before the show season starts. The four of them are coming along nicely with their halter training, the walking is fine, standing still not bad, being examined by a stranger, no chance!

Meanwhile the pack training with Blackjack is moving along, strangely he will let us put a very large pack over his back and he will walk around the farm like this, but you try getting straps under his belly and he really gets upset about it. I am hoping that having the bags moving about his sides and legs he will become less sensitive in those areas allowing us to pass the straps under him. We have a very large walk at the end of the month and it would be really good if he can at least carry the stake out lines on his back, a little less for Lenny and Polo to carry.

I have managed to get some photos yesterday but the battery has died on the iphone and it is now on charge, may be I will get them posted tomorrow.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Uncertain times

I am feeling slightly apprehensive at the moment as yesterday we went to see the consultant who do Steve's hip resurfacing operation last year. Steve had made a good recovery and had been pain free until about a month ago when he started to get pain in his hip. Following a visit to the GP a appointment followed very quickly. Although the x,rays look as if everything is Ok there is alot of clunking, clicking going on in the hip. so further investigations are needed. All this comes just as Steve has given up his fulltime job to go back to being self employed. Landscape gardening is not know as light work so I am not sure what is going to happen. We are very busy with the llama walks and bookings for our cottages are coming in well but at the end of the day we still have a big mortgage, I am sure we will survive with some adjustments and we will have more time to work on the Alpaca business. We will just have to wait and see!

On a lighter note we are watching Phoebe closely as she is now 333 days in her pregnancy sitting down alot and looking very large, she usually just gets on with it when we are not looking and I have only seen her give birth once in the last 4 years.

On an even lighter note have a look at this sent to me by Steve and his colleague Lucy who are supposed to be working. Alpacas surfing

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Sustainable Tourism

I spent today at a Sustainable Tourism conference which was very interesting especially the bit about car free days out for our holiday makers. Very good having the theory but in the real world this isn't going to work. If a customer wanted to get a bus to us from Newton Abbot they could only do this on a Wednesday and they would have to wait a week before they could get a bus back! I will take some of the ideas on board such as suggested local things for our guests to do rather than big attractions which are miles away, getting them to shop locally etc but I don't see many of our guests not using their car for a week.

The scales we purchased at the Futurity arrived today luckily the delivery driver phoned yesterday to say that he didn't think he could get his 26 ton lorry to us but he thought he would check first. We have a 7ft 6" bridge one way and a narrow lane the other way on the road to our farm so small lorries are essential. Anyway it was duly delivered and they left it in our front porch so I had to climb over it to get in the door, as my main priority was to put the kettle on once I got in, I left the parcel where it was until Steve got home. With great glee the parcel was brought into the front room to be unpacked (which means we will have to keep the box probably in the hall for a few weeks incase it needs to be returned) then left just in front of the sofa for me to trip over whilst carrying a cup of tea, stubbing my toe and spilling tea over me and the sofa. Not sure how long it will stay there, probably till the weekend when I am sure the whole herd will be weighed, now that should be fun!

I have had three enquiries about llama walks today so it is looking good for this season we are already busier than we were last summer but then the weather is better than last summer!

Why haven't I got the camera when I need it, I happened to go into the new field to check on Phoebe this afternoon just as Midnight was charging around the field alternating between flat our gallop and pronking, she is a blue black intermediate female and looks so elegant when she is pronking, such an amazing sight, I would love get some video of it.

Monday 8 March 2010

Weanlings identification crisis

We wean our last cria at the weekend and both mum & babe were un fazed by the whole experience. It wasn't until we introduced Quartz to the other weanlings that we realized how much alike he is to Felspar. They are both sired by Collabear Gilbert out of a mother and daughter so hardly surprising they are similar. I was naively thinking that as Quartz is a good two months younger there would be a difference in size, well if anything Quartz is slightly taller than Felspar. Although they are all microchipped this doesn't help with everyday identification. So off to Tuckers our local country store to see what I could use as a makeshift collar, I found some light weight green plastic chain link which is idea using a D clip to join the two ends. We don't like using ear tags as we have seen some very messy infected ears and it seems and unnecessary with such a small heard, we always put the tags in pre sale though.

Any way Quartz is now modeling a very smart green necklace, I must get some pics of these two just to see how similar they are.

I did manage to take some pics of the girls and their new shelter which I am sure they still haven't used yet and some of the older weanlings.

Girls outside the shelter and the view from there!

Titan in true paddock condition, not sure how I am going to get all that hay out before the SWAG Show!

Atlas looking all gorgeous and fluffy

Sunday 7 March 2010

Brrrr it's cold outside

A beautiful day today but boy was that wind cold. We went for a short walk on the moors this morning as Charlie our grandson wanted to go out for a picnic with the llamas. So all wrapped up with hats and gloves and many layers we set off. First up Corndon Tor where there had been some swaling earlier in the week (burning off of gorse) so lots of blackened areas then up to Yar tor our favorite picnic spot. The view from this tor is fantastic and I never tire of it, you can see for miles from the south coast to the high moor, with the sun out and a clear blue sky it takes some beating.

This afternoon we took it a bit easy really, a late lunch and then back up to the fields to check every thing and everybody, we pumped up some fresh water into the tanks. We are getting through a lot of water at the moment as they are eating so much dry matter. Once the grass starts to grow they won't drink as much.

The pack training with Blackjack didn't go according to plan and he totally refused to have the pack done up, happy to stand with it on his back but nothing else. we will persevere over the next few weeks.

Saturday 6 March 2010

ADE and a day of movements

We were hoping that it would be dry this weekend and so far it has been dry and sunny although still a cold wind. We had planned to give all the females a shot of ADE and to move them all into a new field. This field has not been grazed for a couple of years and had a hay crop of it last year, so it should be free from parasites. It is full of course clumpy grass which our girls really seem to like, they were not interested in their concentrate and fresh hay this evening anyway.

We decided to wean the last cria from last year (Quartz) as we had the trailer there to move Phoebe back home today, Midnight cam home as well for refresher halter training.

The whole process went like clock work, we are lucky with the fields in Widecombe as they have an ancient drift between the garden of the house and the fields so we let the herd into the drift, set a pen up at the end of the drift, drove the girls who were staying in Widecombe into the pen, gave injections, trimmed toe nails and checked for bald patches, signs of mite, body scored etc. Then drove them though the garden and into their new field, Happy girls!

The fun started when we did the same process with the three animals coming home except they went straight into the trailer rather than the new field. Quartz just realised his mum wasn't in the trailer and made a dash for the field gate, luckily he isn't to big to be lift up by Steve and carried into the trailer, Midnight who is coming up 18 months still acts like a 6 month cria when separated from Mum, Mum (Ella) was running up and down the fence making a racket and generally making a fuss, but with a little persuasion Midnight walked into the trailer followed by Phoebe for their short trip home.

A quick move around at home, Jazz & Georgina the two female Llamas have moved down to the bottom paddock which is showing some small signs of growing some grass, the weanlings moved next door to a fresh paddock and with Quartz added to their numbers were happily grazing and also didn't bother with their feed tonight. Phoebe and Midnight who have been joined Carla have gone into the new paddock with the lovely new Field shelter, not that they have even looked at it, more interested in the lovely mix of new grass we had sown last year.

Well that's what we did this morning, this afternoon we were joined by our Grandson Charlie who luckily for us like picking up poo. So some poo picking and then racking up all the spent hay from under the racks and bags, with the threat of the grass starting to grown we don't want to leave old hay on the ground causing bare patches. Home for a cup of tea, followed by updating medical and movement records, dinner, blogging, bathing grandson, washing, cooking flapjacks with grandson.........................

Is Sunday still a day of rest ?

Ah yes, we have a Llama walk tomorrow.!

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

Since our weekend away things have not stopped around here, I think it may be because the sun came out.
We are having one of the bathrooms done in our holiday cottages, so first thing, go and check out the work that Claude our builder had done. He always does a good job so we don't mind leaving him to it. The bathrooms always reminded me of hospital facilities as they were tiled white and had lots of functional fittings and grab rails. We have put new tiles from floor to ceiling with those little mosaic tiles in between, looks great, new basin, shower and lovely new accessories. Still suitable for people with limited mobility but looking good as well. Just waiting for the new flooring to be fitted next week to complete the job.

We have taken several bookings for the cottages this week so I hope that our customers old and new will appreciate the new facilities.

The bookings for our Llama walks are coming in again, two next week all ready. We are going to try to get Blackjack to take a pack this weekend, last time I tried he was very good and I managed to get one strap done up, I didn't want to push him to much so we rewarded him for his efforts and took the pack away. I think this time he will be OK to get the second strap done up and then we will leave him in a pen for a little while to get used to it. It will be a few weeks before I happy to take him on a walk with a loaded pack but I am happy with the progress he is making.

This weekend we are planning to move Phoebe one of our Alpaca females back from Widecombe as her cria is due early April, she will go into the field which was reseeded last year and has our new field shelter.
She will have Carla and Midnight for company, Midnight will come back as she needs a refresher course in walking on a halter in preparation for the SWAG show in April. Halter training is also on the cards for Atlas & Titan who I have also entered into the show, these two are pretty good at walking, standing still and letting a stranger delve into their fleeces is another matter. After watching some of the juniors in the ring at the futurity jumping around I would like to avoid that if possible, mind you some of the intermediate females were a bit lively as well but then they were probably pregnant (good excuse).

Monday 1 March 2010

Sunshine & Poo Picking

Well the sun finally came out yesterday afternoon giving me the incentive to get on with picking up poo as you can imagine with 6 Llamas as well as the Alpacas there is a considerable pile of poo. Fortunately we have some eager gardeners waiting for supplies as the are anticipating spring is about to arrive. So with the help of the link box on our little tractor the bays were filled and loaded then put into my trailer ready for delivery today. I managed to get the big paddock done so today I will start on the smaller paddocks (it is like painting the forth road bridge never ending) . I am working on getting one of those poo pickers as seen at the futurity.

It is great to read about every ones experiences at the Futurity and I must congratulate Debbie at Barnarce for her success in the fleece show and Mark at Patou Alpacas for his tremendous success in the ring, it is good to see these results from smaller breeders up there with the big boys and this should encourage more people to enter the shows this summer.