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.