Friday 28 October 2011

Freezer full ready for winter

I am determined not to get caught out again this winter, last year with all that snow and ice we ran out of milk and bread.  So this year I have a good supply of both in the freezer which is OK until we sent the pigs in and I collected the meat from the butcher this morning and for good measure I brought half a lamb of one of our neighbours. Our freezer is now so full I have had to borrow some room in next doors!
I carefully wrote down our requirements for the butcher to pack the meat and somehow sausages packed in 8's, came back as one large bag of sausages, so I have spent the afternoon bagging them up. I asked for the small joints except for one leg which I wanted cut into two large joints ready for Christmas, I got one half pig cut into large joints.  Not sure how clearer I could have made it, was it me or did they just not read it right!
This weekend I was going to do some baking but as there is no room left I won't be doing that instead I am going to move the Chicken pen onto some fresh ground,and tidy the veg garden. Oh yes there are three Cockerels which need dispatching, have to try and get them into the freezer somehow.
Winter is definitely on it's way the female Alpacas just about mug me for the feed in the mornings, they have plenty of fresh grass but there is not the goodness in it now.  We have started to give the males and the llamas some concentrate again now and they are having plenty of hay.
I am busy knitting and spinning as I have so much I want to get finished before I can start my own Christmas pressies, I have decided that everyone is getting knitted gifts or Alpaca socks for Christmas as I really can not face going Christmas shopping. bah humbug, I really don't like that side of Christmas, it would be so much nicer if everyone made something which would be special to the person receiving it rather than just buying something which most of the time could be brought if wanted anyway.
Anyway back to the knitting whilst Steve is still working and we are having a late dinner.  Guess what?  Pork chops! we will be eating a lot of pork now.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Comings & Goings

It has been a long time since I have blogged, not because nothing has been happening in the depths of Dartmoor.
In fact there has been a lot happening here some of which has been very painful and upsetting which is one of the reasons I haven't felt like writing anything, some good things and some comings and goings.
Firstly Steve's mum passed away a few weeks ago and although not unexpected it is still very sad and we are going to miss her greatly. This will bring lots of changes over the next few months some of which may be challenging and it looks like buying the shed for a fleece workshop will have to go on hold for a while.
On the Alpaca front we had sold some females and their cria a couple of months ago and we had their new owners over for a day to do some husbandry training.  We always like to know that our animals are going to go to people who know how to handle them.  So as we had help we gave the whole of the female /cria group their Fasinex and an ADE shot, then we weighed them all.  Very good hands on experience for their new owners.  A couple of days later we delivered the girls and babes to their new home where I think they will be very comfortable.  Sue and Andy of Pippin Alpaca were waiting for us when we arrived and the girls were let out into their new Paddock, I think they were so impressed with the lovely long grass that they didn't really notice where they were for a while. Ella, Bramble and Phoebe with their cria Salvador, Calico and Amber settled in immediately.
 Ella is always the inquisitive one and was soon of to inspect the living arrangements closely followed by her Son Salvador, nice field shelter, plenty of hay, good grass, it's all good then! We had a message from Sue and Andy to say they were fine a couple of days later but I am always sad to see any of our animals go.  We would like to wish Sue and Andy every success with their new venture .

I finally managed to get all my fleeces packed up and sent off to the mill after a bit of a trial with the courier company.  We have sold most of our yarn to a London Knitwear designer this year so I have been agonising over which fleeces to put in to the mill and which to keep out for hand spinning. In the end I decided to send some extra fleece to the mill which will give me some yarn for me to use and to sell as well as the yarn going to the designer.  We are also having some rovings mainly because I am lazy and don't like carding much. So at the moment I only have a couple of our courser fleeces and some legs and neck fleece left.

In between everything else I have bee knitting frantically to try to get some stock together for our Christmas Markets as well as some commissions. I seem to have some knitting stashed in my bag where ever I go now!

As we had sold the girls and especially Ella who was one of my favourites and possibly our best Black female, we decided to go and find ourselves another black to replace her.  We had a good search around and found one we were interested in, better still she was due to give birth this year with a cria from one of our favourite stud males.  So off to deepest Somerset to have a look, when we got there we found that although she was a lovely animal she wasn't quite what we were looking for and she wasn't pregnant.  Whilst there we looked at a few other females and picked out another maiden who was ready to breed and also had the bloodlines we were looking for.  We then looked at an older pregnant Dark Brown Female with a light fawn cria at foot.

The cria has a cracking fleece and is well built and her mum as a lovely soft handling fleece which is quite impressive for her age.  So to cut a long story short we came away with three animals.  Hebe who is black with a white splodge on her nose and topnot, Olivia,  Dark Brown with her cria at foot who we have named Ivory. We collected them a few weeks ago as the two adults are now spitting off and we have had them in an isolation paddock before introducing them to the rest of the herd. Our herd is now looking a lot darker than before which is where we wanted to be.
That more or less brings us up to date, we have been doing all the usual poo picking, feeding and all the usual routine stuff.
Today We wormed all the females and their cria before moving them into a fresh paddock and the new girls joined them so there was a lot of sniffing and a bit of spitting before they settled down to eating the fresh grass.  Just got the llamas to do now, which are a little more challenging.
Finally a few of this years cria.
Choc Ice & Lalique

Calico before she left for Pippin Alpacas

This years star and leader of the gang 'Caramel'

Thats all for now.