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.

Sunday 9 May 2010

Must be time for an update

Well we have been a bit busy he over the last week, so much for having more time now Steve is no longer employed. We have done some breedings with some of the open females so hopefully we will have some spit offs later this week.
Our little bantam hen who had gone broody under our shed hatched out 3 chicks from the hens eggs I put under her, one yellow, one orangy coloured and one black, no idea what they will turn out to be.
Steve has had his digger in bits and lots of new bits have come in the post, at one point these new bits were all over the front room floor, at least they were clean it's when the old oily bits come in I get worried. The digger is back together now and lives to dig another day which I hope will be later this week when he has a job to do for one of our neighbours.
The holiday cottages are full and I discovered that one lot of holiday makers are regular readers of this blog, it comes as a bit of a surprise when someone turns up and asks how Toledo is after his visit from the vet. I also discovered that they come from somewhere in Northumberland near Barnacre Alpacas, small world isn't it.
The problem with having the cottages full is that I always leave a cream tea in the fridge which means I have to make scones, which means I have to eat a couple just to check they are OK, obviously I have to put clotted cream and jam on these test scones just to get the full impact, this does not bode well for my diet!
We ran out of oil this week as well which to say the least is a bit of an inconvenience, but you do realise how much we rely on the stove to get the washing aired as well as for the cooking. So at the moment we are using two electric rings and a mirco, oven, grill thing, which actually makes fantastic scones. The upside of this situation is that the stove has had a good clean and is now sparkling in the kitchen waiting for the oil which will hopefully be delivered tomorrow.
Today we delivered Willow to her new home, as she is pregnant we wanted this to be as stress free as possible. We brought the trailer down to the field this morning along with one of our geldings 'Silver Spark', as Willow is possibly the nosiest alpaca around she was very interested in the fact that there was a new alpaca about, making it easy for us to get her into the trailer with out much fuss.
Once at her new home we walked Silver Spark aka as Sparky on a halter down to the field, Willow just followed along looking very interested in every thing around.
Once into the field she was introduced to her new field companion 'Pearl' we decided to leave Sparky there as well as an extra companion until the two girls have there babies later this summer.
There was a certain amount of broad siding, spitting and a little bit of kicking going on and a lot of running around the field, so much for keeping her calm, her new owners hadn't seen alpacas move so fast before. We wish Roland and Jo at Alpacas at Tower Park every success for the future.
Finally is this what the young Alpaca farmer is wearing this season?
I particularly like the pink wellies!

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Vets & Veggies

We spent most of the morning waiting for the vet to arrive, nothing serious just routine stuff really. We try to give Richard a list of jobs to do when he is here as his travel costs are usually the most expensive part of the bill. Firstly we wanted to do our blue tongue vaccine, but the vaccine hadn't arrived so thats a job for another day. Then we wanted Richard to deal with the fighting teeth on Toledo, he is coming up three now and we caught a glimpse of a lovely set of very sharp looking fighting teeth the other day, as Toledo is our only entire male llama he does think he is top dog and does tend to bully some of the other boys. Toledo was sedated for the procedure and was very laid back about the whole situation. So he now has a nice set of blunt teeth with which he can't hurt any of his field companions.
Then we are on to Jazz one of our female llamas, she had her last cria a few years ago and last year was not at all interested in the very handsome Stud male we had invited down to Devon just for her benefit. So this year we have given her a injection just to get her cycle sorted out and then we will introduce her to Toledo who by then will have got over his dental experience and hopefully she will be more impressed with Toledo then she was with the lovely Warrior.
Finally Richard did a inspection on the lovely Willow (which she past with flying colours) who will soon be heading off to pastures new, more about that later.
This afternoon I rushed into Ashburton to stock up on supplies which also involved having a cup of tea with Tania from Caton Alpacas, just to catch up on Alpaca gossip ( and there is certainly a lot of that at the moment). Steve had a lovely afternoon taking his digger to bits then putting it back together again not before he order a whole load of new parts though. Then we went back up to the fields, Steve chain harrowed one of the paddocks while I planted loads of salad and veg seeds in our newly weeded veg plot. So not a bad day really back to a proper work day tomorrow!