Friday 21 June 2013

All signed up

A few weeks ago we took delivery of a new van, new to us anyway.  We had decided that with the cost of fuel what it is we could no longer afford to use the Discovery for running around for work but we still need it to tow either for shows or for our llama walks. Hence we now have a van and it has proved to be so economical Steve has named it Duracell as it just keeps going.

We decided to have Duracell sign written and we are really pleased with the results, we certainly turn heads and I even caught a New Zealander taking photos of the back doors to show his mate who keeps llamas  in New Zealand.

Cleo our cat was waiting for her tea and couldn't understand why I was taking pictures of the van.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

My Buddy and Me

Just managed to capture this shot of the two cria sitting in the Sun this morning. They were probably having a little rest before returning to terrorising the females, as both their mothers seem to have absolved all responsibility for their behaviour.

Cassini is the next one due, but not for another few weeks so we can relax a bit now.

Monday 17 June 2013

That loving feeling!

We collected our weaners last weekend and they are a hit with the Grandchildren who have named them Gerrard and Messi.

Josh is definitely in love.
They are Gloucester Old Spots and are the calmest pigs we have ever had.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Two Complaints in Two Days!

Now I know that title sounds bad but really it isn't too bad.  The first one was from one of the guests in our Holiday Cottages who complained that I hadn't updated my blog or twittered since April - can it really be that long!  Then the second complaint came from our Friend Ricky with whom we had lunch with today and who's first words to me were 'What's happened to your blog you haven't updated for ages"  ..................... Yes I know since April!

So hear goes, whats been happing in the wilds of Dartmoor.

Well the weather improved for a short while, it has returned to unsettled and wet again now though!

Our alpacas were shorn at the beginning of June, it was a lovely dry day, Colin stopped off to shear the three boys we had sold to a neighbour before coming on to do our herd.  I met him at our customers as this was the first time they had experienced anything like this, but Colin in his usual calm fashion soon had the fleeces of the young boys,reassuring everyone as he went about his work.  The boys did look very small and fragile after their fleeces had been removed.  These three young boys have gone to a very loving home and they were tucked up in the stable for several nights after shearing day as it was a little cold overnight still.

Then on to our herd, I love to see the Alpacas without their fleece, they look so elegant and clean at least until they find the rolling pit anyway.
With no fleece it is easy to see the baby bulge on the females, we had two who were very late pregnant at the time.  Hebe who was eleven months on 24th May and Mica 8th June so we kept an extra special eye on them both after shearing.

Both females were looking very heavy and bulging at the back end for days and I spent hours just watching and waiting.  Holiday makers spent hours watching and waiting, one family who saw one birth last year were hoping to see another this year, went home disappointed.

Last Sunday we had been asked along to a Open Farm Sunday event so packed up early, checked the animals who as usual looked perfectly normal, off we went to Buckfastleigh which is about 6 miles way.  We set up the stall settled the Llamas into the their pen, sat down with a cup of Coffee and checked the camera which is on the field.  There in the middle of the field was a huddle of Alpacas, which could only mean on thing............ a Cria!
Steve jumped back into the car and went home leaving me to man the stall, he was expecting Hebe to have given birth as she was 351 days but there in the middle of the huddle was little white cria!  and Mica who was only 336 days so that was a bit unexpected.  It was all text book stuff really, afterbirth had been delivered and the cria was up and looking for the milk bar, he now named Prospero weighed in at 8.5kg and is full of energy, sired by Langaton Caliban.  Steve moved mum and babe into the next paddock so they could bond and we could see them easily on the camera and then returned to help me on the stall.

On closer inspection we think he is fawn rather then white, there is definite fawn on his ears and tail.

Hebe was still not in any hurry to give her Cria up and I was really looking forward to this one, Hebe is a Jack of Spades girl and she had been bred to Mariah Hill Mambo of Wessex.  Last year she lost a lovely Black female, so we were hoping for the same.
Friday I had to stay in as my Passport was being delivered (thats another long story) so I didn't see the animals as Steve did the morning feed rounds and as the weather forecast was bad the females were in the barn.  I went up at Lunchtime to let them out into the field and as I arrived spotted a cria sat up amongst the females.  The only thing was it was a fawn cria and our first fawn female wasn't due until July!   The cria was in a cush position but still wet and the afterbirth was also there along with Hebe clucking lovingly over her fawn male cria! ............. I did have words with her about it but not much we can do now is there.  He is very pretty, too pretty for a male, he weighed in at 9kgs.  I had a bit of a problem getting them all out on my own as I picked up the cria and tried to lead Hebe across the yard and down the track to the field, she kept running back to the barn and then the rest of them followed her back, chaos but I got them there in the end.
So Mica - White bred to Caliban - White produced male with definite fawn tint
Hebe - Black bred to Mambo - Black  produced fawn male
next we have Cassini who is fawn bred to a fawn so I am expecting a black female OK!

There you are Ricky I will try to be more regular with the blog, so pleased you enjoyed your nookie sorry Gnocchi

Thursday 11 April 2013


Well I have calm down and things are going along nicely here,  I was very surprised about the number of hits my last blog received, but thinking about it maybe not as I said the Alpaca community is very close knit and it only takes one person to hear or see something and it soon spreads around.  Only a couple of comments though, one of which was expected.

Anyway earlier in the week I attended a very interesting course on Poo sampling.  I am now thinking that doing our own samples is the way to go.  During the day we all had chance to look at our own or rather own Alpaca samples, as it has been so cold it wasn't too surprising that there wasn't many worm eggs present.  We did find some larvae in some samples and more worrying a couple of fluke eggs,even more worrying that one was in my sample.  We treat for fluke routinely as we know we have a problem but not usually at this time of year, needlessly to say we have now treated the whole herd with Fasinex. I am now on a mission to get all the equipment so I can start sampling practising.

The weather is warming up but being in the south west this means we are getting some rain so at least the grass will start growing hopefully.

Today we are off on a leaflet drop, we are taking our llama leaflets and delivering them around the area ready for the summer season.  This usually means a coffee stop, lunch and possibly tea as well... ah well so much for the diet!

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Good Friday

Well things were all go here over Easter with both Alpacas, Llamas and Grandchildren.  It all started lining up in the week before Easter, we have had a couple of people thinking of having Alpacas for quite sometime, we all know what I mean, "I would live to have a few Alpacas, I have the Land" but thats as far as it goes.  Then out of the blue they both decide to come and look at what we have for sale on the same day, Good Friday! at first we thought they both wanted to look at the same three animals but it turned out  one couple wanted pets and the other guards, another thing we all know that they are not the same animal!  So the upshot is the first family are now looking forward to having delivery of our three little boys Olly, Fandango and Basil once they have finished their halter training.  The boys are getting regular visits from their new owners and later this week they are coming to help with the halter training.

Olly (Olympus)

The second family were looking for some Alpacas which would be good guards for their growing menagerie of chickens, geese and sheep but they would also like them as pets.  We explained that animals suitable for pets do not necessarily make good guards.  This problem was solved by choosing a older pregnant female who is an excellent guard and a maiden female who is a little friendlier.  So Olivia and Choc Ice are also off to a new home once Choc Ice has been mated and spat successfully.  So hopefully the chickens etc will have protection, Choc Ice will be spoilt and Olivia will produce another stunning cria later this summer and these two are getting a visit from their new family tomorrow.

Choc Ice
The best bit is that both families live only a few miles from us and we will be on hand to give them all the support they need with their new charges.

We had a lovely family day on Easter Sunday, all my daughters came for lunch with the Grandchildren, a good houseful.  The children had a Easter Egg hunt in the garden, then spent the rest of the afternoon eating their finds.  We all went out later to feed and check the animals and have a quick game of football in the field before tea.

Monday we had a Llama walk booked, the forecast was for some Sunshine but we woke up to dull cold weather, not good for walking on top of the moor.  Our two couples were keen to go so we chose a route which would keep us out of the wind for most of the route.  We tucked ourselves under a Tor to eat our Cream tea and we had a great time.  One of our guests wants to come back and see the Alpacas with a few to buying a couple later in the year.

So all in all we had a great easter weekend and I finished it off today with a Spa day with my eldest daughter, my birthday pressie from last week, so I am feeling very relaxed now, but I am now going to catch up with todays e.mails.

Monday 18 March 2013

Show Time

It has started,  Show time and I have really missed going to the Futurity, it sounds like it was a great show and everyone enjoyed themselves and some people had some impressive results.  We had planned to go up and watch the proceedings and catch up with the Alpaca gossip. didn't miss the politics though.

Anyway all the talk of shows has spurred me into getting some show entries sorted, I printed the forms and even got onto the BAS site, then I couldn't decide who was going to make it into the small but perfectly formed Show Team.  The discussion has taken place and we have decided to have another look at fleeces before we actually do the entries.  not sure why as they will look completely different before the shows anyway.

Then there is the question of Trade stands at local shows, after last years disastrous show season we are all hoping the weather plays ball this year, we have a very busy July and August planned.

I have been busy making Bridesmaids dresses for my eldest daughters wedding in July, it is a while since the old sewing machine has been in action but I am quite enjoying myself, I think I could get back into it if I didn't have so much to do with our knitting yarns, there is just not enough hours in the day.

With the wedding coming up my youngest daughter wanted to go shopping for a hat, didn't know what she was going to wear but was going to buy a hat!  so Sunday youngest, eldest and myself went to Exeter for the day Shopping!  we had Coffee, we had Lunch, we looked at lots of hats and had a laugh but we didn't buy anything, never mind we will just have to go again!

Well we will need to buy something to wear!

Right I am now going to try to update Alpaca seller!

Wednesday 6 March 2013

A few more for the list!

As Promised a few more Pics with just a few words with the list for Alpaca Seller in mind

Ivory, maiden female, ready for breeding, first place at Devon County
may have to be on the Sales list.

Lalique, another one bred to Jack of Spades, now it is either her or Iona but not both!

Mica bred to Caliban not on the list 

 Tigerlily, she is such a sweetie, probably could be persuaded to put her on the list

Cassini, pregnant to Golden Prospect, could be exciting, mum to Choc Ice and last years cria was female as well, Tiffany, she was on the list, possibly, maybe!

Olivia, pregnant to Caliban and on the list

I still have a few to photograph and then theres the cria but my Sales list doesn't look very big yet!

Tuesday 5 March 2013

The Sun is out, the Sky is Blue

And about time too, I have spent the last few days listening to the weather forecaster telling me that is is glorious in Devon, when we have been living with cold, grey cloud with a bitter cold wind thrown in for good measure.  Today started of much the same but about mid morning a strange bright glow appeared and the sky became a strange blue colour, I think I remember it happening before but it was such a long time ago!  anyway it was a welcome change and did a lot to improve my mood after yesterday.

We have made a decision which I am sure will divide opinion but here goes.  Hummingbird was such a lovely girl and her fleece was such an amazing silver grey, not great quality, somewhat lacking in all those traits we hear the judges waffling on about and there was a lot of it.  As we have a Sheepskin processing plant locally to us we have decided to have her skin as a rug.

I did the feeding up this morning on my own as Steve was on a job (playing on his mini digger) it was a bit strange only the five cria but they all seem happy and thankfully healthy.  I even managed to take the camera and get some shots of the females, unfortunately the batteries in the camera ran out before I got back up to the cria so hopefully it will be dry tomorrow and I will get some shots of them.

The problem with taking pictures is that Caramel seems to think she has to be in all the pictures.  So it took some time to get shots of everyone who Steve says has to be put on Alpaca seller.

Oh and this is Caramel

Yes Caramel again

Then some of the others whilst Caramel was otherwise engaged

Iona - maiden female bred to Lillyfield Jack of Spades, possibly going on the sales list.

Hebe, Jack of Spades Daughter bred to Wessex Mambo, really looking forward to seeing her cria so not on list until after she has produced (maybe)

Choc Ice maiden female not bred yet, even though she is cute she is probably on the list

Marietta (my favourite Alpaca) bred to Langaton Caliban, every cria she has produced has own a Rossette - definitely not on the list.

More photos tomorrow and I will have to start adding some to Alpaca Seller!

Monday 4 March 2013

Short blog

Just a very short blog tonight as I don't really know what to say. We had to put Hummingbird to sleep this afternoon as she had got worst overnight and the Vet was called again, he diagnosed Meningitis, which he said was very rare.  That doesn't help much but at least we tried to do as much as we could.

Sunday 3 March 2013

A little worried

To say I am a little worried is an understatement really, I am very worried about Hummingbird our grey cria who is about 9 months old.  She was weaned three months ago and had been reintroduced to the herd with no problems until two weeks ago we weaned the rest of last years cria and decided to put Hummingbird with the rest of her piers, this would make halter training easier as all the weanlings would be in one place.
A few days ago we noticed Hummingbird was looking a bit lethargic and wasn't eating, every time we went to their paddock she was sitting down, not interested in anything.
Ok what could it be the rest of the group were all as bright as buttons, Worms?  gave here a dose of Zolvic, she picked at her food the next day but really wasn't any better, she had a dose of Vecoxen and we gave her a mineral drench.  still no improvement but no worst either. I was afraid she was becoming dehydrated so gave her a syringe of water a couple of times a day.  By now I was becoming a bit desperate so we thought we would try some Cows Colostrum just in case it would help.  After a couple of days and no improvement I wasn't sure what else to do next.  Last resort I tried some honey rubbed inside her mouth, well don't know if it was a coincidence but she was up and went straight to the hay bag, started nibbling.  There hasn't been much improvement since but I am going to continue with the Colostrum for a couple more days and she had another dose of honey today, she seems to be a bit brighter but who knows!

Why do we put our selves through all this?

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Feeling off colour

It is still bitter cold here, the forecast said max temp 7 deg but it has only just got to 3 deg here,  we are at over 900 ft up on Dartmoor so it be expected really.

The females were all wormed with Zolvic on Sunday, yesterday most of them spent the day sitting around which is unusual as they had fresh grass and today one or two still look a little lethargic.  I was wondering if this could be due to the wormer having never used it before.  we have not had any reaction to any of the previous wormers we have used so I was really expecting them to have any problems.  If anyone has any suggestions it would be much appreciated as I was going to worm the weanlings next week.

The three males are still behaving themselves although I think they may have had a bit of a rumpus as there was a lump on fawn fleece on Calibans (white) back this afternoon.

Oh well better get the accounts done, VAT qtr ends this week, at least it is warm in here.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Basil has finally got it!

Brrrrrrr its b...y cold out there this morning, good job we had plenty to keep us busy.  First we fed the weanlings and moved there pen onto some fresh grass, Basil who had been feeding out of my had and then out of the scoop finally leant to put his head in to a bucket, all be it a very shallow bucket.  He ran off when he first felt me loosen my hold on him but soon when back to finish off the hard feed  left in the bucket, so hopefully tonight he won't need much encouragement.

Once the feed round was complete it was on to the females who had to be weighed and because we have had some dramatic weigh losses in the past few weeks which was worrying they have been wormed with the new wormer Zolvic.  Then it was on to the big move around, the girls were going up the lane in to our large lower paddock still out of sight of the weanlings but first we had to move the three Adult boys, Atlas and Prospect who are brothers live together over the track from Caliban our white Stud Male who really doesn't like Atlas & Prospect and has almost pushed the fence over before in his quest to get at them.
The plan was to move all three down the lane to a new paddock and put them together and let them sort out there differences.  So Caliban was loaded into the trailer first with the partition in followed by the other two.  Atlas & Prospect were released in to the field and did the usual inspection, then we put Caliban in, at this point I was expecting fire works but no, Prospect ran over to Caliban for a sniff and then walked off and we left all three exploring with no sign of any aggressive behaviour.  We spent the next hour or so moving respective hay racks, feeders etc just keeping an eye on the boys, still behaving even sharing a bucket when we fed them.  When we left they were all grazing peacefully, but I am keeping an eye on them with the camera while keeping the other eye on the Rugby.

So now we can rest the paddock we will use for birthing this year, get it cleaned up and chain harrowed when the time is right. Just need some dry sunny, warm weather please!

Saturday 23 February 2013


Today has been frantic, our own fault really, we have been decorating the holiday cottages and had nearly finished the second one but had ground to a halt with lack of enthusiasm.  Today was D day as we had guests arriving this afternoon and the hall way in the last cottage needed paint on the walls.  So an early start was called for, steve painted and I cleaned the kitchen,, bathroom, bedroom, made up the beds and put the cream tea and fresh eggs in the fridge.  Three hours and we were done, all the decorating equipment was out the door and the cottage was finished.  Once we had packed away ladders, paint etc it was home for a well deserved cup of coffee.

We have had a house full for the last couple of days as it was eldest Grandsons birthday yesterday.  After the excitement of opening presents we all went off to feed the Alpacas and Llamas.  The weanlings have settled down, still a little humming when we arrive but I think thats for our benefit, just to make us feel sorry for them really.  Once the chores were done we all went off for a day at the Zoo, it was bitter cold but the boys were running about so didn't feel the cold like the oldies.  A lovely day was had by all but it was a welcome sight to see the woodburner still alight when we got back in.  A lovely cup of tea and a slice of birthday cake just to finish the day off nicely.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Exciting Day

In my mission to be a more regular blogger I thought I may share are exciting day in London Yesterday.

Myself and Liz (Lakeham Alpacas) had been invited to a private viewing of a fashion collection by a knitwear designer we have been supplying fleece and yarn to for a couple of years.  After much deliberations we decided that we really should go and see what is happening to our yarn as most of the garments end up in Japan.

So bearing in mind we don't see a bus up hear from one week to the next the thought of negotiating the undergound was very daunting!  Liz does live a bit near civilisation (she has a bus stop outside her gate).  We got the train from Exeter to Paddington with a change in Bristol as I couldn't get an advance ticket on the direct route. Once we had arrived it was lunchtime so Oxford street seemed like the best place and of course we could go to john Lewis, nothing like playing safe!.  We had a very long lunch in fact it was nearly tea time by the time we left the store, well you have to browse don't you!
We had to be in hampstead by 7pm so we planed our route to get us there via St Pancas Station since it had been do up, last time I saw it there was scaffolding everywhere.

We spent some time having a coffee and people watching before having some Dinner and getting to the venue in Hampstead.  What an amazing place, not sure what is was but now it is used as a shared workspace, our knitwear designer, a weaver, printer and several more.
We saw all our yarns made up and the photos which had been taken last month which despite the weather were really good.  Bit the best bit was talking to so many people, designers, knitters, the agents from Japan and just people who wanted to know about the Alpacas.  apparently they are all coming to stay in the cottages and meet the Alpacas in person.
Thank fully there was someone there who was also going back to Paddington at the same time as us and knew the quickest route back, for which we were really grateful as we were to catch the last train back to Exeter.
It was a very tiring day but very much worth the effort, it is so good to know that the yarns we produce are so much appreciated by the people who use them as well as their customers who are the end user.

We saw a lot of London Tube Stations, saw loads of London Buses mostly at a standstill due to traffic, but it was a relief when we finally got back on that train and could sit back and relax.

This morning is bright and sunny, the weanlings are still humming a bit, Basil is still not eating concentrate but the rest are, this afternoon I am going to start halter training, do I think we miss out on anything living in such a remote wild place, you have got to be joking, give me Dartmoor any day of the week, the John Lewis's was much better than ours in Exeter though!!!

Sunday 17 February 2013

It' s been a long time

I realised it has been months since I last blogged, I had a sort of block, couldn't think of what to write, it was all much of the same really.........rain, mud, cold, followed by more rain, then a little snow just for a change.  Life just carried on with the usual rounds of feeding, mucking out, worming, ADE, Fluke, just made more difficult than usual with all the mud.
I have kept up to date with the goings on, the comings and some goings  on some of the blogs I read, most people seem to have coped with all the wet weather but there has been some very sad occasions but I still could get down to writing a blog.

The last few days here have been bright and sunny and dry and it feels as if spring is just around the corner.  The daffodils are nearly in flower and the snowdrops look stunning in the sunshine.

We have spent the last couple of weeks decorating the holiday cottages and generally getting ready for the next season, they are all finished now and we have our first guests in this weekend.

All our animals have been out during the winter, they have a field shelter that they do choose to use in the worst of the weather.  Overall they seem to have coped very well, they have had ADE every month and due to the warm damp weather they have had a dose of Fasinex for Fluke.  We weigh the females and cria at least every month, more often in the winter and apart from one or two they have all maintained condition.  Carla are one and only import (96) has lost quite a bit of weight for no apparent reason, she has been wormed and fluked and seems to be holding her own now, she is feeding a cria and is (possibly)  pregnant, she is still stroppy which would suggest she is holding here pregnancy.  I think we will just have to keep an eye on her for a while.

The Llamas have survived the winter very well, they don't have a shelter but their very large field has lovely hedges to shelter behind which ever way the wind is blowing.  Polo has had the benefit of a pony coat which fits him well, he was shorn last summer and was lacking fleece, llamas don't seem to grow fleece as quick as Alpacas.  The coat came off yesterday after several weeks wear and we took all four llamas and Logan the Alpaca for a walk, thought they may need the practice and we have a appointment at the Hospital next week.  We often take them to our local hospital to meet the patients.

Today we decided would be the day to wean all of last years cria, so were over due and the last two were just 6 months.  One of the youngest 'Norma' is Carla's cria and here growth rate had dropped, it looked as if Carla's milk had nearly dried up, so we thought it was time she had a rest.  Usually we take the Mums away and leave the cria with the herd to reduce stress, but due to the wet conditions we hadn't moved the females around to release a paddock.  So the weanlings have been given the field shelter at the top of the boys paddock with a large pen at the front, they are not happy bunnies at the moment but this didn't put them off their food.  The mums on the other had don't seem bothered, most of them didn't even look up as we drove the babes out of the field and into the trailer for the short drive up the lane.  Once the babes have settled down I will start halter training them before they rejoin the herd.

Last week our Holiday cottages and Llama Walks were featured in the Daily Magazine as one of the top six short breaks with a difference in the UK.

A few other exciting things have happened over the winter, some may come to fruition some may not.  We had a visit from a photographer who was taking pictures for a catalogue which is being produced by a knitwear designer we have been working with for a couple of years.  Tomorrow I am going to London with a friend for a private viewing of the new collection, all very exciting but it will be a long day, one of the downsides of living in the SouthWest, it takes so long to get anywhere.

We are starting to look forward to this years births and planning our breeding program, we need to decide which animals to put up for sale, always a hard decision, but one which has to be made.

What I am really looking forward to is a nice warm spring followed by a proper summer, we can but hope.