Saturday 20 August 2011

Show season

Its been a while since I updated the blog, not because I haven't any news but the days have whizzed by and every time I think I may get a few minutes to sit and write something I fall asleep.  So here is a quick run down of what has been happening here.

Last blog 1st Aug
3rd August was the first of our craft drop in sessions held at our local village hall, we had a very good turn out and we will be holding the next one on the first Wednesday of September.  We had spinners, knitters and weavers, picnic lunch and a good laugh.
We had also entered fleeces into the North Devon Show which was the same day and came away with two seconds and a fourth place.
4th,   Honiton Show, very damp Alpacas, great show, a second and a fourth place, lots of chat and catch up with friends.
5th   Work and Hospital appointment
6th    Holiday cottage change overs, spit offs, weighing and general husbandry
7th   Clients came to visit for a second time and select their starter herd, more about that later!
8th   Work.
9th  Widecombe fun day, a fun raiser on the green in the centre of Widecombe, we have been asked to attend for the past three years and we always say we will be their if the weather is OK, this is the first time we have got their.  We took four Alpacas and there was lots of interest especially from the two coaches of spanish students who arrived quite early in the morning.  All in all it was a very successful day, we sold some knitwear and socks, the church raised over £1000 which will help pay the oil bill for another year!
10th  Work and set up for Okehampton Show
11th  Okehampton Show, when we arrived early in the morning following a very stormy night we found Liz & Mike from Lakeham Alpacas trying to put the roof back on one of the Marquees, it had blown off during the night and a lot of the stock had got wet.  Once we sorted out that little problem and got the stand set up, the weather improved and we had another successful day, lots of interest in Alpacas.
12th  We took two females up to Inca Alpacas for a breeding to Jack of Spades,  We took Charlie, my grandson with us for a day out.  We were not sure what he would make of the actually breeding bit but shouldn't have worried, he told his friend the next day about his trip whilst his mother held her breath, he said ' we put Nanny's alpacas in the trailer, drove a long way, pressed the magic button ( which we now have worked out was the gate entry button) then their alpaca got on top of our alpaca and I played foot ball with their little boy'  mother sighs big sigh of relief!
13th Holne Fete,  another first for us, we were asked if we would attend as an attraction and we said we would go if we could put up the trade stand.  Holne is just over the valley from us and has a great little pub The Church House Inn.  We went over and set up late morning then went to the pub for lunch before the fete started at 2.30 pm.  It was a proper village fete with races for the kids and bale tossing, tombola, raffle, a Pimms tent (very civilized) and their traditional completion 'Egg Tossing'! two rows of people standing opposite each other one trowing the egg to the other, drop or break your egg and you are disqualified, after each round one line step backwards two paces, the winner is the couple who throw the egg the most times with out dropping or breaking the egg.  Strange but each village seems to have it's own traditions!  We met a lot of our neigbours and lots of people who didn't know that there was Alpacas just over the other side of the Valley and several people who may be thinking of keeping Alpacas, lots of people who brought Alpaca socks! and some who brought yarn, so another good day!
14th  Husbandry in the morning, llama walk in the afternoon, lovely day, had Cream Tea on top of Yar tor.
15th Work in the morning and a trip to Somerset to look at a replacement for Ella one of our black girls who we have reluctantly sold.
16th I had a dentist appointment then Liz and I went to Torquay to follow up a lead from Totnes show, a lady who was selling some spinning equipment, which we brought, a Spinning Wheel, Drum Carder and some other bits and bobs.  Followed by Coffee at M&S and a trip to Mole Valley Farmers for Pig food etc.
17th  Work
18th Chagford Show, this time as the weather forecast was not good we decided to set up in the morning which meant a very early start, we loaded the stand and stock into the discovery the night before to save some time.  Arranged for my daughter to do the feeding so we could just load the Alpacas and go.  It was not a good start we were down by the sheep pens, crammed in between tow marquees and it was raining and it was very quite until about 11am but by 5pm we had had a great day, we sold loads of UK Alpaca Socks and some knitwear, Liz and Mike sold lots of knitwear and took orders for more.  It turned out to be the best show we have ever done.  Already had a call from someone looking for Alpacas who is coming tomorrow!
19th  Work and spit offs, the two girls we took to Inca are both spitting!
Today  Change overs in the cottages, quick lunch before  Steve and I headed off to Fibrefest which was at Bicton College, we walked in through the gate and there was Tom and Julie from Llamaland, so a long chat with them, followed by Blacklands Alpacas, Chas & Rachel from Classical Mile End, Colin Ottery, by which time it was getting late and I hadn't seen any of the stalls in the Marquees.  Finally I got a look around brought some Alpaca tops and some new bobbins for my spinning wheel before sitting down for a cup of coffee overlooking the lake, such a lovely setting for a college.  Got home made dinner and then remembered I needed to make scones for tomorrow!

So as you can see it has been a bit hectic, all our cria have arrived and are doing well, our breedings for next year are nearly complete, hay is in the barn. I am dreaming of a few days off to have a short break somewhere, just so we can recharge the batteries but I am not sure when we will have time!
We have people coming tomorrow morning to talk about starting with Alpacas and in the afternoon we have another llama walk.

I did take the camera to all the shows, didn't take any pictures!

Monday 1 August 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

It has been a very hectic time here over the past week or two.  The weather finally settled and we had an opportunity to cut and bale our hay, this is the first time we have cut our own hay we usually buy hay from Steve's brother which means transporting it everytime we need a bale, not ideal.  So this year we rented a 7 acre field which we divided in two, grazed one part leaving about 4 acres to cut.  The grass was cut a week last Sunday and we baled it on Friday, all 409 bales were in the barn by Saturday teatime and then it was straight onto getting Roger's hay in.  The problem was it was Totnes show yesterday (Sunday) so I had to take all the stand and stock down to Totnes on Saturday evening to set up whilst Steve was hauling bales around.  Mike and Liz from Lakeham Alpacas share a stand with us at some of the local shows so they were there to help set everything up.
I was up very early on Sunday morning to get down to the show field to finish setting up the stall, it was a lovely day, not very sunny but warm.  There was lots of people around and we were in a very good position opposite the food tent, so we had a good crowd all day.  We had our normal stock for sale, our own fleeces, yarns and knitwear, UK Alpaca socks and yarns, Teresa from Batsbrook Alpacas also had some very classy looking spectacle cases made from felted Alpaca fleece.  This year we also had a display of fleece to yarn, showing the process that our fleeces go through to make our knitwear, this proved very popular.  Liz was doing some knitting and I took along a spinning wheel, although I am not very good yet I was able to demonstrate how it is done.

Today it was raining so after feeding up we got back home and did some much needed office work, after lunch it was drier so we had a husbandry session.  The girls and cria were all weighed, some cream administered where needed, all our blacks seem to have a bald patch on their nose, not sure why it is only them, but their fleece has started to come back through now. We did some spit offs, Bramble who had spat off three times previously was looking longingly over the gate at Caliban, which I thought was rather strange so we put her into the holding pen to test her again, she sat immediately which is a bit disappointing.  Carla who had previously spat off a couple of times also sat so 4 out of six are still holding.  Marietta's cria is now two weeks old so we will be planning a trip to Dorset with her and Ella next week, Ella has been desperately sitting next to the breeding pen waiting to be mated for weeks but we have been waiting for Marietta so we can take them both at the same time.
Finally we moved the Llama team back to the hay field, they had been moved out while the tractors were going in and out as they are so nosey they would have been in the way if we had left them in there.  I love watching them when they go into a new field they look so elegant when they are pronking around the field.  The two youngsters, Murphy and Merlin get so excited they charge around the field like race horses then slow down into a pronk.

I just wish I had the camera with me again!