Wednesday 29 April 2015

The boys haven't had a good day

Well today was Castration day for our two young Llamas and an Alpaca.  The Vet arrived early this morning and gave all three their sedative.

Leo first who soon dropped to the ground and was sound asleep.  The vets both young girls did an excellent job and leo was totally unaware of what happened.

The next in line was Teddy a four year old Alpaca who is going to join the llamas in the trekking team, his sedation wasn't quite as effective but we put him down on the floor and he was restrained whilst the Vets did there stuff.

Then it was Mr McGee's turn, well he had sedation but he was doing his upmost to fight it, even propping himself up on the gate whilst his back end wobbled around, but there was no way he was going down and he was still too lively to operate standing up.  So it was decided to give him some more sedative, after a few minutes he was on the floor, sound asleep.  The operation went well and we waited for him to come round, and we waited and waited.  His breathing was deep and regular but then he started to groan and his breathing was becoming shallower,  I was thinking should I be worried at this point, the vet didn't look worried.  After a few minutes the vet decided to give him the antidote for the sedative, much to my relief. After a few minutes Mr McGee was more alert and we helped him back into a cush position and then he finally got up although he was very wobbly for a while afterwards.

When we were happy that all three were OK we left them with a bale of hay, some ReadyGrass and some water in the barn until this evening when we walked them back up to their paddock.  They see none the worst for their traumatic day and we can now look forward to them joining the rest of the Trekking team.

These two Llamas are really gentle, easy to handle and I think they will be a great asset to the team.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Not much going on here

Really not much to report!

Still running around like headless chickens, still trying to find time to finish the Shepherds Hut.

We have been very busy with our Llama Walks so I though a few pictures would be good.

 These two are nearly ready to join the trekking team, they just have a visit from the Vet tomorrow before they can join there new mates
Everyone needs a hug with a Llama, this is my Grandson Josh on his first proper walk last week.

Polo can't resist gorse flowers.
 Steve has a little rest to admire the view on a walk last weekend, beautiful day but very cold.
 Halter training two weanlings ready for a show next week, they are not very good at the moment.

but they follow Zanti very well, not sure I can walk her into the ring if front of the little ones
Josh find with training easier with the help of ice-cream !

Thursday 9 April 2015

Back to the day job

Oh well we have had to stop work on the Shepherds hut for a little while as we both have had to get on with other work.  Steve had a backlog of customers wanting his landscaping skills and I had a lot of office work, accounts and general admin as well as a pressing situation of the grass growing and all our customers wanting their lawns cut.  I am pleased to say that we managed to catch up with it all except the general admin.  I had a list! but as soon as I crossed something off, two more things got added so I think it longer now than when I started.

The weather has been amazing, so warm during the day but we have had a frost the last two mornings so still too early to get the tender plants out!  but we have been doing a bit of gardening at Home.  We have never had to do gardening at home before as the garden wasn't our responsibility but now the house and garden are now ours we have to get on with tidying it up.  This is called gardening by Chainsaw! We have several large conifers which block out a lot of light and obscure the view from the house so they will be coming down.

At the weekend we weaned the final cria, very late but final got there.  So now we have the 4 weanlings in the field by the cottages and as we have had guests with children we have had a great time getting the cria used to having halters on and being handled. I was hoping to get them actually walking by the end of the week but we have run out of time.  I am going to bring back one of last years girls so I have one to teach the little ones what to do, far easier that way.

I have Thursdays off ( thats what Steve calls it) so I have been to the bank, got the shopping, one Grandson to Hockey, one Grandson still here.  I did have some fun though, I am changing my car soon so today my daughter, on grandson and myself went to Plymouth and I had a test drive, great fun, they said just take it out for a hour or two see what you think, so we did, even managed to get some lunch giving us plenty of time to explore all the dials and switches in the car while sitting in the carpark, youngest Grandson thought it was great, the interior lights can change colour.  Going to Exeter tomorrow so may have another go, just to make sure it is the right choice.

Sunday 5 April 2015

It is in place

After two weeks of solid work on the Shepherds hut it was finally time to move it into position.  It isn't finished but is water proof.  We still need to finish the painting on the outside wood and then the inside has to be fitted out.  Unfortunately Steve has to return to the day job for a couple of weeks.

The young Llamas are nearly at the end of their training.  Just a visit from the Vet at the end of this mouth and then they can join the rest of the trekking team

It has been a very busy time with the llamas as well, the Enjoy Dartmoor magazine has just been published and there is a double page spread about our Llama walks in it.  Hence we are very busy with our walks.  Today we have had a Cream Tea Walk with a very international feel, some of our customers were on holiday from Germany, the rest were of Chinese origin so there was a great mix of languages going on.

To continue the international feel to our week we have Italians although they live in London in one of the cottages.  The two little girls love helping with the Alpacas so this week we are going to halter train the Cria as I have willing helpers.

Bank holidays don't really feature in our lives here on the Moor, firstly we are usually working either a Llama Walk or changing over a Holiday Cottage. Secondly if we had a day off there is so much traffic around it is easier to stay home and have a day off when it is less busy.  This Easter has been a normal busy round of Llama Training, Alpaca husbandry, Llama Walk today, Cottage change over tomorrow and Steve is working with the Mini Digger for a customer. So as the weather seems to be dry and warm tomorrow I am going to finish painting the Hut, I really should be doing some Office work but I think that can wait for a wet day!

Saturday 28 March 2015

Its coming along

We have been working flat out for the last fortnight on the Shepherds hut, it has been slow at times and there is a lot of work which isn't seen.  It is now looking good and if the weather is ok tomorrow we are going to move in onto its site.

Steve spent the last few days putting the windows and door frame in then fitting the cladding on the outside of the hut.

I have been painting all the wooden bits to finish the roof and the back and front panels. All was going smoothly until I realised I had painted it all with the wrong paint.  So a quick visit to the DIY store and I managed to get the right paint in the right colour, so everything has had an extra coat.

The weather today has been foul, we had a Llama walk planned for this afternoon but the wind was terrible and the rain horizontal so we had to cancel.  As it was for a surprise birthday present and I knew it would be too late to organise anything to replace the walk, we invited the couple to come and visit the llamas and Alpacas for a short while and they are going to do their walk in a couple of weeks.  The Alpacas as usual behaved impeccably, they cam over had a look at the visitors, had a couple of handfuls of food and left when it had all gone.  We went up to visit our two young llamas who are currently being trained to join the trekking team.  Visitors are away welcome as it gives them a chance to experience different people touching them.  they get very used to us handling them but when they go into the team and go out on walks they will be handed over to total strangers so they need to have these experiences.  These two young llamas came from the Watertown herd in North Devon and are absolute stars, they are so calm and easy to handle.  We have now got them take a pack system and walk with it.  Mr McGee (brown & white) is much more confidant Leo (Fawn) takes a little longer, I think he has to watch Mr McGee first then as he hasn't been hurt or scared it is OK for him to have a go.

The two young llamas have to be castrated before they can join the trekking team for two reasons, firstly we have a couple of females in the team and don't need the aggravation that would ensue if we introduced three entire males.  Secondly young llamas like to see who is top dog, not helpful if we are stood on top of a Tor on Dartmoor and one of them decides this is the time to push one of the other off, not good for business.

Once our guests had left, Steve managed to complete the outside cladding with the hut still in a very narrow bay in the barn, it was a bit dingy and dark but as usual he managed.  He's a star really.

Lets hope that the weather isn't two bad tomorrow and we can get the hut on site, then the work on the inside can begin, except Steve has to go back to work next week! but then the clocks go forward tonight, extra hour of daylight!

Sunday 22 March 2015

Feeling very proud today

He looks better behind bars
Josh & Charlie
More of a Personal Blog today.
I am feeling very proud today as my two Grandsons, Charlie age 10 and Josh age 8 were playing for Plymouth Marjons U10's Hockey in the Devon Hockey finals.  They had 6 matches to play to qualify for the regional finals next month in Bristol.  My daughter had a very early start to get them to Exeter for 9am this morning and I got there just in time to see the first match at about 10am.  I had forgotten how seriously parents take their childs sports but there was no bad feelings or bad behaviour as at some Football matches I have seen recently, (they both play football as well).

Anyway to cut a long story short they didn't play particularly well in the first five matches but managed to win three and draw two so the last game was crucial.  Finally they decided to play Hockey and actually had a fantastic match to win 2 -0.  The outcome is they won the tournament and will go to the regionals. So I am really proud because Charlie scored three goals and Josh who is only 8 and plays in goal had a clean sheet in every match.  Josh has so much padding on he looks like a Michelin Man, at one point he had dropped his stick and couldn't reach down to pick it up, his coach had to run on and help.

Also this week Charlie played for his School team and won the Devon Schools Hockey.  The most amazing thing is that they didn't start to play Hockey until this season.

I am not sure where they get all their energy from, they never stop, when they got back this afternoon they got a football out and played with that until they had to go home.

Steve in the meantime was working on fitting the windows and door frames to the Hut.  After fitting the door frame he noticed that the threshold had a crack in it so needed to come out and we will now have to take it back and get a replacement.

I did get the sander out when I got back and started to sand down the windows ready for painting, I am hoping that I can get them primed tomorrow and then the gloss on Tuesday afternoon.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Very Spring like.

It has been very spring like here on Dartmoor this last week, I found this Periwinkle in full flower on the garden bank along with Daffodils.  The Azaleas and Clematis are starting to bud up as well.

The Shepherds Hut is progressing well, photos are in short supply as I have not been well again which means I have missed 3 out of 7 days of working on the hut.  Being ill is really frustrating as all I wanted to do was get on with painting the window and door frames as well as helping Steve with some of the heavy stuff like the boarding, all I could do was stay in bed in a darkened room.

Anyway today I have felt much better and we have managed to put all the waterproof membrane on the hut, the roof sheets are placed on top ready for Steve to fix them tomorrow.

The site for the Hut has been dug out and landscaped.  So as soon as the roof is fixed on we can move the Hut to its final resting place and complete it on site.

I would like to have the inside a bit like a Alpine Chalet which is a bit of a departure from the Shepherds theme, so we have left the pine boards unpainted on the ceiling and these will be waxed later.  We have some rather snazzy LED lights to go in, so the wiring is in place for these.  Just need to wire in for the electric sockets before we can put the internal insulation and cladding in.

I am having to leave Steve on his own tomorrow as I have promised the Grandsons I will watch there Hockey matches at the Regional Finals in Exeter.

Our two new Llamas have had a very relaxed winter so it is time to pick up their training before they join the older boys in the trekking team.  Here is Mr Magee with a full pack on for the first time, little Leo is a bit further behind.  We went for a short walk up the lane and Leo decided that the sheep which live in the field next door were just too scary to walk past, so a little more work required there.

On a Alpaca note I need to do the entries for Devon County Show and I can remember when the closing date is.  I have delayed doing them as I wanted to have a good fleece rummage with the youngsters as they change so quickly.  Hopefully I can do that tomorrow afternoon and get the entries done after that.

With all this dry weather all the Alpacas are looking lovely and fluffy and remarkably clean, even the cria which is unusual.

 Here is Zanti who always likes her Photo being taken but she does insist on doing it on here terms which means I kept getting the shadow in the picture as well.

Tuesday 17 March 2015


I was sent out for supplies yesterday morning, supposed to be there for when the builders merchant opened.  Well I got there about 9.30am and there was a long queue of builders waiting to be served, I think early Monday morning is not the best day to go, it was not helped by the computers not talking to the printers so nobody could have receipts or collection notes to pick there materials up from the yard.  I needed some nails and T&G boards for the ceiling of the hut.  After about 30 mins I got to the counter to order with the nails to order the boards, I had the sizes I needed so I thought I was prepared.  Oh no I had to go out into the yard and get a code number of the boards, then the guy was able to find them on his computer.  so having queued again I got back to a till.  Then they couldn't get through to the transport dept to arrange delivery, I gave up then and said we would collect then today.  So after a hour and 15mins I left the store with a box of nails!

Next of to the electrical supplies with another list.  Well that was a total waste of time, usually they are very helpful and will advise what we need but this time all the young lad would say is ", you need to tell me what you want I am not allow to advise you" I already brought all the wire, sockets, fuse board, all I needed help with was a site plug and socket to connect the Shepherds hut to the electric so it can be unplug if we need to move it, it can't be that complicated.  Obviously we get a qualified electrician to do all the connections etc but we need to get the wiring in place before the insulation and internal cladding goes on.  So not

a successful day so far.

In the mean time Steve had started the external cladding with OSB board this is going under a waterproof membrane and coloured metal sheeting.  The hut is really starting to take shape now and I can now see how much space I will have inside.  I have so many things I need to get in there especially the boxes of stock for shows and fairs.  So we are trying to think of how we can store these in the hut so that they don't take up much space but are hidden away and be easily accessible.  At the moment I am thinking a tall cupboard where the boxes will slide in on runners so will move in and out easily, then on the door I can put some grid walling which we use to display our socks and knitwear.
Then I need a workspace and storage for the sewing and felting machines, so every space has to be used to it's full potential.

I think a trip to ikea will be needed as they are really good at storage solutions and we have to pass Cribs Causeway to get there which is a whole another shopping opportunity.

Saturday 14 March 2015

Today didn't start well either

Today was supposed to be the day when we cracked on with putting the frame together for the hut.  Well I woke up  feeling like s--t with a migraine which when I get a bad one usually means I am sick and can even get out of bed.  So I took one of my migraine tablets and went back to bed whilst Steve did all the feeding up.

By lunch time I felt well enough to get up and at least look willing, even managed a piece of toast. I ventured up to the barn and between us we managed to get the floor onto the chassis.  Steve bolted this down and then we were onto the frame, these were much lighter so Steve could lift them up whilst I steadied them until they were clamped together ready for the fixings.
It all looks different now, actually can see what it is supposed to be.

Tomorrow it is the roof, this is in two sections so shouldn't be too heavy, problem is I am only 5'2" and can not reach the top of the walls never mind lift the roof on.  So I now I have some steps! so I can stand on them inside the frame while Steve lifts the roof sections on, I am hoping we get some volunteers to help tomorrow.

Steve decided he may need some new tools to help with the build so I now have this in the lounge.  It hasn't done any work as yet and I do hope it isn't going to stay here to long.  apparently there is more arriving!  I need to check he isn't including them in the cost of the build as I do have a budget and if so he has just blown it.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Well today didn't quite go to plan!

Following a bit of a late start this morning I left Steve to feed up and then he was itching to start sorting the base out for the Shepherds hut.  I had to go to Tavistock for shopping etc and then I was coming back to start sanding window frames.  Just got to Tavistock and the phone rings!  apparently I had take both sets of keys for the van which had all the tools in---- I can say I was not the most popular person in the world at that point.  So back from Tavistock with no shopping or anything else for that matter.
Anyway the base of the trailer now has bearers bolted to the frame to support the floor and it has been wax oiled to help stop it going rusty. It doesn't look much different but it is all the stuff you don't see that takes the time.  Steve has to do the day job tomorrow so we will be back onto it on Saturday.

I spent a bit of time this afternoon just looking at the alpacas which are in the field next to our holiday cottages, some may call it daydreaming or time wasting but I think it is something we should all do periodically.  I look at the individual alpaca, consider its breeding and then wondering if we made the right decisions with our choice of Stud males last year I even get onto this years breeding decisions.

Whilst looking at Zanti (who is fast becoming my favourite Alpaca)  it was evident that some males really do stamp their mark on some females. Zanti is a Jack of Spades baby out of a dark brown female, she is light fawn! she has his head, is a well grown female who will be bred this year.  Next to her was Yolandi who is out of a black Jack of Spades female (Hebe) sired by Inca Cayenne who is Dark Brown/black, she is also light fawn. Seeing them together they are like peas in a pod, they both have that strong head shape, loads of curly fleece around the face but they are a generation apart.  This year we are waiting for a Popham Equador Cria from Hebe, we really would like a black from her this time.  The decision is who do we put over Zanti?

Wednesday 11 March 2015

So excited

Ooh Ooh Ooh I got so excited this morning - it doesn't take much I really should get out more!
The Shepherds Hut frame was due to be delivered mid morning soI got up to the fields early to feed up and move the last bits of Rubbish (sorry very useful bits of stuff).  I had just got to the barn when the phone pinged and there was a text from the building supplier who was delivering the rest of the materials for the build, OSb board, Ply, joists etc saying he would be there in a few minutes, luckily he had only just sent the message.  He arrived a few minutes later and I now have a large pile of wood and insulation,  it looks far too much to go on our trailer base!

About a hour later the Hut arrives and is off loaded, I can't believe how excited I am about a big pile of wood and metal!

Tomorrow if the weather plays ball the trailer is going to be wax oiled to keep it in good shape and I am hopefully going to start sanding down some windows which we are recycling from the Holiday cottages.  The windows were removed to make way for the extensions last year, we had four and had already used one in a shed now two more are going into the Hut.  The idea is to use as much recycled materials as possible. All the shelving is already in my work room at home and the small kitchen  is going to be made from some old kitchen units, remodelled and painted.  I have a piece of work top which will be used here too.

With all this work to do I did get a pressie today, Steve brought me a electric sander, which will be very handy tomorrow.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Build day minus 1

The Hut frame is due to arrive tomorrow, so today I did the final ordering of materials, so that is due to arrive tomorrow as well.  Just need to sort the barn out to get it all in and clear a space to actually build the Hut.

The trailer base is ready to have the bearers bolted on to put the floor on to.
It doesn't look much now but it won't be seen at all when the floor goes on.

I thought it was time I started halter training the female cria, all the males were done before they were sold.  As I had hold of them I did some fleece rummaging, they are not bad, I may be over critical of our animals and usually talk myself out of entering them into shows.  I need to make decisions on who to enter into CCA show and Devon county.  I have Zanti who did well as a Junior so she will go into both.  I also have Atlas who is now a senior and has always been placed when ever he has been shown. He gets a little excited when there are lots of females around, so maybe not a good idea.  It is the Juniors who are difficult, I have a black female who's got a bright crispy fleece which is very fine but has now density.  A fawn female who will be over fleeced but the time the shows are here and the white is definitely not going.
The girls enjoying some sunshine this morning.

Monday 9 March 2015

At Last

I can not believe how long it is since I sat down to write a blog.  Mainly as I didn't think there was much to write about except the usual round of winter chores, weather, mud.

Now with Spring on the way and all the expectations of a new alpaca year I thought it was just the time to try and start writing again.

So the first thing to start with is our new project! for several years I have been bending Steve's ear about a workshop/studio space for the Alpaca products, well it is finally on its way.  The concept has changed a little and the space will be used mainly as a shop for the products and a reception area for the cottages with a small work space at the back for my felting and sewing machines.  The building will be a Shepherds hut as this will be a mobile building, something which is necessary as we live in the National Park and are not allow anything permanent that could be the least bit useful!

Anyway after much discussion and planning it was finally decided that we could buy the frame of the Hut and finish it ourselves, well what I really mean is Steve can finish it himself while I supply coffee, food and advice on how to do the job!

The frame has been ordered and is due to arrive on Wednesday, we had a old flat bed trailer which needed a new floor so this has been stripped down to make the chassis of the Shepherds hut, so technically it will be road legal--- now theres a thought!

So it is all in place ready to go, I have booked time out of Steve's work diary so that he can get on with the build, which means I now have to be in charge of the work diary to prevent him booking in any customers who ring and want work done yesterday.  They are usually happy to wait a couple of weeks as long as they are in the diary, April is looking very busy!

So the next two weeks are set aside to get the build done, so at last I will have something to write about.

We had decided to got to the National Show last weekend just for a look around and to catch up with old friends, so thought we should go to the AGM as well while we were there.  It was great to see so many Alpacas in one place, everyone seemed to be having a great time.

We made the most of our weekend away, we visited the Shepherds Hut supplier in Somerset on the way up.  they showed us around there factory, even showed us our hut on the trailer ready to deliver this week. Our B&B was a lovely old Mill House near Telford so we had a visit to the Ironbridge Gorge, did some sightseeing and had some lovely meals out before traveling back on Sunday. All very enjoyable as we probably won't get another weekend off till after the summer.

We can now look forward to this years births, we had 9 pregnant as we went into the winter, we will run them all past a male in couple of weeks just to check if they have held or not, it is still to early to re breed anyway. Our first Cria are due end of May, so not long to wait.

Yet again we have sold all our young boys and we got good prices again this year.  The last two were delivered a couple of weeks ago.  They have gone to live near the coast in South Devon and I am sure they are going to be very spoilt little boys.

Well hopefully I will be back with more updates on the shepherds hut build and pictures of the progress.