Tuesday 15 February 2011

Llama walking

We went out on the moor with the llamas for our first walk of the year, it was cold, windy and occasionally wet but the customers enjoyed it and we managed to find a sheltered spot on Yar tor to stop for our cream tea.
Murphy and Merlin came along for the walk whilst Polo carried the tea.  It was Murphy's first time out on the moor and as usual he took it all in his stride, he really is a very laid back llama!
I really hope we don't have too much more of this wet weather as we have several walks booked over the next few weeks and it is much more fun when the sun shines!

We have had the confirmation that we have got the new land we were after for the next two years at least, we can now make plans for the fencing we will need to divide it up.  The field is seven acres and is a very strange shape, wide at both ends narrowing in the middle which lends itself to being split into three paddocks.  With bio security in mind we will also put a catch pen at the gate end to not only give us an area to use for husbandry but giving us a good barrier between our animals and the livestock on the common land as this gate gives direct access to open moorland. Luckily all the fences have a good thick hedge so there can be no contact with any other stock.

Monday 14 February 2011

Sun, Snow and Dartmoor Grey Drizzle

I have just spent a week in the french Alps with one of my daughters and my two grandsons,  the weather was fantastic, wall to wall sunshine and blue skies and the snow was still pretty good as well.  Great to see the boys learn to ski, how they go from not being able to stand up to skiing down the mountain in 6 days is amazing.  So a whole week away from the wet miserable Dartmoor weather, poo picking, hayrack filling and feeding up.  Luckily for me Steve doesn't do Skiing so he stayed behind and looked after the animals while we were away enjoying ourselves.  Couldn't wait to get back to them though, the llamas did give me the silent treatment for awhile, but this morning they were all back to normal.  The alpacas didn't seem to notice I was back either but then until they have had their breakfast they aren't interested in anything.

We have our first Llama walk tomorrow and as the boys have had a bit of a lazy winter we had a little training session this morning, turns out they didn't need any refresher course, Polo took the pack system as if he has been working all winter.  Blackjack just enjoyed to walk as usual, poor old Lenny is suffering with his leg and is limping quite badly so we are now seriously considering retiring him this year, although he couldn't wait to get out on the walk this morning, so it is difficult to know what to do.

We have been discussing the grass situation as we need to rest the birthing paddock.  We have the boys who will be off to Cornwall in April and the female Alpacas who are due to give birth later in the season who could be moved onto the new grass once the owner gives us the go a head,  this would leave us with just the 3 or 4 females that are due end of March/April in the Cottage paddocks.  That would mean we can shut up the Birthing Paddock for a good 5 weeks, give it a good clean up, clear out the field shelter ready for the first of this years babes.

If we decide to retire Lenny this year he will go and live with the two old female llamas and the female Alpaca herd, which I am sure he will enjoy as he does like to think he is in charge and play the protector role!

Thursday 3 February 2011

Poor little Murphy!

Murphy has not had a good day today and it was all my fault.

Murphy and his buddy Merlin have been sharing a paddock with the two weanling Alpacas Prospect and Stephano for several weeks now and the time has come for some paddock movements.  We wanted to get all the llamas together so that they could sort out their differences before the trekking season starts off and I wanted to get the five Alpacas who have been sold into another paddock with Prospect and Atlas who now form my entire Show team!  All went well, I split the groups out and let the two little llamas into the track, then let the other llamas into join them.  I was sure that everything would be OK as they have all had contact over the fence for months with no trouble.  Polo and Logan took one look at Murphy and chased him down into the bottom corner of the paddock, pinned him down with Logan (who is usually the most mild mannered Alpaca who is in the llama trekking team) sitting on Murphy's neck and Polo stamping on him.  Blackjack was just about to join in when I got to them, they gave up when I shouted at them and let Murphy get up.  He was obviously very shaken and I managed to guide him back out of the paddock into a pen where I checked him over, no damage but obviously shocked.  He is such a good natured young llamas and didn't bare any grudge towards me and we did have a cuddle.
I don't know why they picked on him when they completely left Merlin alone.
I have now put Merlin and Murphy in the small paddock with Lenny our old llama who will not worry them, I am hoping that he will take Murphy under his wing and we will introduce the others to this group one at a time I think.  Lenny usually defends the youngsters but this morning he had taken himself off to the lower paddock and was not around to help them.
Murphy is not quite sure of Lenny and when I left him this evening he was gazing longingly at Prospect and Stephano in their paddock next door, Merlin seem totally unaffected by the whole thing.
It was really shocking to see how violent these usually mld mannered animals could be, the Alpaca group couldn't have been more different............. not sure the older group even noticed the two youngsters arrival, the hay rack had just been filled up after all.