Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to one and all.

2009 has been a bit of a roller coaster of a year for us to be honest and I am quite looking forward to the start of a new one!

We have suffered the lows of losing a premature cria after ten long days of round the clock care and then sadly her mum, one of our foundation herd, to cancer 3 days later.

To balance things we have enjoyed the great elation of one of our stud boys, Legends of Spartacus wining Supreme Champion at the Scottish National Fleece show. Not only have we had a great year at the shows we have also sold our first home bred alpacas (I'm not sure if that was a high or low because releasing them was hard!) and had the best year of knitwear sales yet.

In 2010 first and formost I am looking forward to seeing progeny from our own stud boys and planning to develop our knitwear range further.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

I spy with my little eye something begining with G

At last there are spots of 'Grass' emerging from the snow. Today has been a really miserable day weather wise, we have had sleet, snow hale and rain so the fields are very soggy from melting snow and rain.

The girls have a stream running along side the entrance to their field shelter and Imala does not like having to paddle through it to get inside. This evening she was humming away complaining about having to walk through it when Kealani had a running jump at it and went hurtling into the shelter.

I have made her a new coat today as her other one was rather dirty and was very wet. Only Milly seemed to notice that she had gone from Green to Blue!

Incidentally anyone wondering why I had not been blogging for the last few days, Paul was upset that no-one had left him any comments so I wasn't allowed to put a new entry on until someone had. Thank you Mark!!

Friday, 25 December 2009

Hello Billy, Hello Johnny, Hello Everybody!

It's Christmas and everyone is snoring on the sofa - except me hardworking Paul ;-) of course.

Santa made a special stop at Barnacre on Christmas Eve and delivered the herd a lovely sack of carrots. As you can see, I was out all night with my camera hidden in a pile of snow disguised as a hibernating polar bear, and managed to catch two of his elves delivering the carrots. I always thought elves wore green but clearly not, these funny looking chaps in matching costumes were clearly having a great time working for Mr Claus, who just stepped left of picture when I clicked the camera.

So there you have it, no need to follow the NASA website next year plotting the route of Santa, stay tuned in to the Barnacre blog!

I think the snoring has stopped so bye for now because when they wake my chain will be pulled to go and serve them more food and drink. Oh how I know how poor Cinders felt.

By the way, I think Debbie and her mum have costumes just like Santa's elves...

Happy Christmas everyone!


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Ever wondered how snow sticks to the top of your fence rails?

Well, you could ask a meteorologist.

You could ask the weatherman/lady.

You could even ask an astro-physisist, but you'd never understand them.

Or, of course you could ask me, Paul the smarter half of Barnacre Alpacas! And I would tell you the answer - Golden Guinea puts it there!

Tune in tomorrow for a Christmas Cracker...


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas

I have finished a last minute hat order today so I really am now going to have a few days off knitting! I just need to deliver said hat tomorrow then that is it.

We still have lots of snow so the herd is munching their was through copious amounts of hay. They are drinking lots of water too, I'm not sure if it is because they are eating so much hay or because of the snow. Typically the pipes are still frozen so I am having to cart this round the fields from the house. I need to look into 'heat wire' which Rolf from Knapper Alpacas suggested.

Santa has already visited the Barnacre herd, I will endeavour to get out with the camera again tomorrow to show you have they have got.

Just in case there are not enough hours in the day for my job list tomorrow I will wish you all a Merry Christmas tonight.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Snowy shots

We had yet more snow overnight, enough to cover the car tracks on the drive and most of the feet marks in the fields.

I went out armed with my camera this morning. Golden Guinea has taken a fancy to eating snow and is clearing on the fence tops for me!
This is after he had finished enjoying his sorbet

Here we have Tenzing and Palm-Olive.

And finally Kealani.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Feeding oats

We have had a little more snow today so the girls and weanlings have had a double ration of hay.

For the first time this winter I have begun introducing Oats into the main herds daily feeding routine. It is quite funny to see the reactions from the different girls, typically out of the three (Oonagh, LMI & Imala) that I am most keen to tuck into them only one so far is bothering.

Oonagh who is a bit of a fussy eater at the best of times is not in the slightest bit interested in these funny coloured things! She will only ever eat from your hand anyway and will never compete for food.

Imala usually eats anything and everything, sugar beet, carrots, apple but not oats. You can tell she really doesn't like the fact that some of the other girls are eating them and she feels like she is missing out.

Thankfully Irraquoy seems to like them so they will do her some good I'm sure. Feeding a cria this time of year really takes it out of the girls so anything I can do to help them is a priority.

If anyone has any top tips on how to introduce oats I would very much appreciate them.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

What no water!

It has been absolutely freezing here since the middle of last week and the snow arrived with a vengeance yesterday.

The alpacas and lambs are getting through so much hay as the grass is under a few inches of snow. Thankfully another round bale arrived over one of our fences this morning - Alan is far too good to us! The small square bales disappear so quickly this time of year it is nice to be able to use a large one too.

As the weather is so cold I have put a coat on Kealani. She is only three months old, so doesn't have quite as much fleece to keep her warm as the others, not that it seems to be bothering her. It makes me feel better though.

The girls all seem to be snuggling up in their field shelter at the minute which is good. The presents they leave me to clean up in a morning is not quite so good, but never mind I'd rather clean it up than have them out in the cold.

We have a bit of a water issue as all the pipes are frozen in the fields. Typically three of the four fields we are using for the animals at the minute are the furthest away from the house. This means a rather long walk with water carriers. It is amazing how much water they are drinking too, it must be all the dry hay making them thirsty.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Just about thawed out

As I suspected we woke to more snow this morning, as soon as I stepped outside is was obvious that towing the trailer was a non starter, in fact I wasn't sure we were going anywhere either!

Having already loaded the car and got up at some crazy hour we decided that we would give it a go. We were sliding about a fair bit even with the four wheel drive and all the weight in the car. When we reached Hartburn hill there were already a couple of cars stuck, one of which was being pushed. Thankfully we managed to get up but it was slightly worrying.

Once we made it to the A1 it was fine, until that was our windscreen wipers decided to freeze! Can you believe it, I was cursing the garage thinking that had broken something as it was in for a service in the week.

The market itself was very quiet, everyone obviously listening to the radio and television and not venturing out. We were asked by many people where the alpacas were; they are famous you see. We still managed to sell a fair bit and I now only have very limited stock left.

Despite my 3 pairs of socks my feet were absolutely freezing, in fact I don't think my toes have ever been so cold. Note to self; knit myself (and Paul if he asks nicely) a pair of alpaca socks before the next market.

We have both been sat in front of the fire and our feet have just about thawed out.

This was out last event of the year so I can now declare Christmas, I have been so busy with alpaca work I still don't have my decorations up. Off I go to write my Christmas cards then it will be an early night.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The snow has arrived

We were forecast a slight dusting of snow this afternoon but as usual they were wrong.

Paul left for work shortly after 7am and at that point there was nothing so I sent in him in the little car so I could load the big car ready for the Farmers Market at Alnwick tomorrow morning. By the time it was light enough for me to begin the morning feeding and cleaning routine it was snowing.

The sky was full of it and before I had even completed the feed run the fields were snow covered and it pretty much carried on on and off all day.

The fields are now a horrible mess of slushy snow and mud. The entrance to the girls field shelter is the worst I have ever seen it they were wading through a stream at one point. I didn't turn the boys out into their big daytime field as that has no shelter.

In between the snow showers and blizzards I have loaded the car and am all set for tomorrow. It is going to be a cold one, definitely a day to get the long johns out!

This evening I have bedded down all the shelters with nice fresh straw in a bid to try and keep everyone warm. I'm sure Mary is now wishing that she had kept her coat on!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Pom tastic

Gabby was due another injection for her abcess this morning. Thankfully, with a bit of carrot for a bribe, she was soon in the shelter where she could be restrained and given antibiotics, all under the close watchful eye of Ursula who, of course, doesn't like to miss anything!

Gabby is far from the brightest of alpacas, however is very sweet natured so once she is restrained she is easy to deal with. With more carrot as a reward for being a good girl she was soon out with the rest of the team for her breakfast.

It's a short blog tonight because a special order Paca Pom Pom hat is being finished to be delivered by Paul tomorrow in readiness for a special Christmas present.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Yippee the scarf is finished

The rain is back again, so much for a cold dry start to the week. After two days of rain the fields that were starting to dry off slightly are sodden again. I have also noticed that one of our shelters that isn't being used at the minute has a leaking roof. I will have to attend to that before the girls move into that field in a few weeks time.

I have been frantically knitting today and have finally finished the scarf that was on order and have now moved onto the hat. Said hat has to be finished for Paul to take with him on Thursday morning so it could be a late night tomorrow.

Loki was a very good boy this morning and let me flush out his abscess area and give him his antibiotic, so he is once again supporting a nice blue tint.

I managed to get some photos of our latest knitwear so need to get that on the website as it is nearing the deadline for Christmas on-line shopping.

This evening I have had to barricade the chicken coop up, as last night we had a visit from Mr Fox. The new hens have been sleeping downstairs and were obviously spotted. He dug a hole and had obviously had a good go and getting hold of them as there were feathers everywhere. Thankfully they were ok so I'm hoping that he doesn't return. We have never had a fox problem before.

Monday, 14 December 2009

A new coat

I am glad to see that you were all amused by yesterdays photograph! Carol my knitting friend was all excited about what she was going to be able to knit in grey next year until she saw the photo - sorry Carol.

In all the excitement of last nights blog I forgot to tell you about Mary's new coat. Regular readers may recall Mary is one of our black girls who seems to feel the cold so I ordered her a coat. As the temperature was set to drop we thought that we would put it on her yesterday before it rained and she got wet.

Having seen how they sometimes react when one of the cria get a new coat and not wanting to spook Mary we put her in a pen and put it on. She wasn't impressed initially but seemed to get used to very quickly so after a little while we released her.

Bad move; she shot off round the field with the others in hot pursuit. I'm not sure what was worrying her more
  • The fact that this 'thing' had dared to follow her out of the pen,
  • The coat making a strange noise when she kick out at one of the others who were checking this strange looking alpaca, or
  • The fact that some of the others were spooked and running away from her.

We then had the unenviable task of trying to re catch her to take it off as I didn't want to stress her out anymore. Luckily a bit of food and an open gate works wonders and said foreign body was soon removed. Wasted £45 there then - never mind at least we tried.

I have had the vet out today, Loki had a huge abscess which burst yesterday, this has obviously been brewing for a little while. He had some stiffness just over a week ago but had fully recovered from that. I was slightly worried by the size of the opening so wanted it checked out. The vet was very impressed by how well I had been cleaning it out and is happy that with continued flushing and antibiotics he will be just fine.

Loki has a fabulous nature and hasn't complained at all when I have been cleaning, squeezing or poking, he just grumbles when it is time for his injection. It is a good job he is such a good boy as doing things like this on your own is not the easiest thing in the world.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Unveiling of the new girls

Following on from yesterdays blog I was out this morning with the camera, Dave and Irene were obviously very keen to see the new girls; so here goes.......

You were all excited weren't you expecting three grey alpacas - I wish! I love the greys and would love another one, hopefully Kate (our grey) will give us one in the spring when she is due to birth.

Our grey girls are actually Moran hens that have been hatched by a friend. They have got to stay in for a little while so they know where home is and where they are supposed to lay their eggs. Once they have settled in they will be let out to roam with our original old girls, who at the minute are not impressed with their new housemates.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Three new girls

It has been another busy and exciting day today.

We have taken delivery of three lovely new grey girls, by the time we had got sorted it was getting too dark to get a photo so you will have to wait until tomorrow to see them.

It was paste and weigh day for the youngsters, all take the paste very well with the exception of Sandstorm who is never too keen. His mum Irraquoy keeps a beady eye on you when you've got hold of her boy. I don't think she is going to like weaning time one bit, Oonagh on the other hand wouldn't notice if you walked off with Kealani.

We have also been working on our marketing - more on that another day I need to get off to see the Strictly Come Dancing semi final!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Better late than never

Can you believe it is the end of another week, where on earth do the hours go? I could do with a few more in the day please to keep up, or rather catch up on the job list!

I had to take Paul to work this morning as he had left one car there yesterday, this meant the herd got a late breakfast. This did not go down well, I was being glared at by 33 pairs of eyes as I approached.

Once everyone had been fed I was soon forgiven and an extra large supply of hay for the girls put me firmly back in their good books. We seems to be steaming through the hay at an alarming rate this year.

I had a nice surprise at lunchtime, the postman returned my fleeces that I had entered into the cancelled heart of England fleece show. Legend of Spartacus obviously scared off the competition!! :-)

As usual there are a few two man jobs on the list for tomorrow so no lie in for Paul. I may actually treat myself to a bit of an early night and make sure I am in bed before midnight tonight.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Best month yet

It has just been routine day of jobs here today, nothing very exciting to report, other than Loki is now back to his old self which is good. I think my theory of one of the others being a bit rough was probably correct. This is great news at he has an outing to Alnwick scheduled with Hughie next week.

Did I mention that Hughie is now on facebook!!!

I have been busy knitting a scarf that is on order. Whilst on the subject of my knitwear, I am pleased to report that I have had my best month of sales to date. It is good to see all the hard work paying off.

I am playing taxi tonight for Paul who is out on one of his Christmas party's - story of my life!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Fresh grass and an abscess

The girls have moved on to fresh grass today, their previous field was so muddy I was worried everyone was going to end up with trench foot or something!

Joking aside it is very easy for alpacas to pick up sore feet in the cold, wet muddy environment and for them to go unnoticed because of the amount of dirt on their legs and feet. With this said I have been looking closely at every ones feet - a little too close yesterday as I got kicked in the head. Thankfully my nice thick hat helped to soften the blow.

Kate has a little sore on the side of her toe so I am keeping a close eye on that. She is the most difficult of my girls to handle and has a real chip on her shoulder. As you can imagine she is far from cooperative and I'm trying to check, keep clean and blue spray her on my own.

I had also noticed that Gabby looked like she had a lump developing on her jaw. Oh no, not an abscess I was hoping. There was certainly nothing there 10 days ago when everyone received their routine cydectin injection because I checked jaw lines.

I penned her in on her way into the new field and I'm afraid my fears were confirmed there was a lump. This called for a trip to the vets for some Nuflor and fingers crossed that will sort her out.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

A cuppa with Carol

Having completed the morning routine I nipped over to my knitting friend Carols. She is knitting like crazy so I was delivering more yarn to keep her busy, she had run out of Guinea's own yarn so I replenished her stock! Thanks for the tea and biscuit Carol, not the mention the knitting I brought back with me.

I have started the scarf which has been ordered and mum is doing one of the hats which is on order. I always feel better when all my special orders are complete and with the customer.

Loki is much better again today, in fact he is almost back to his usual self. So much so I turned the boys out into the big field this morning rather than there bedtime field. He happily trotted off with the others, as usual Legend was at the back. He is always holding up the rear!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Updated shop

Following our weekend of knitwear sales we have been updating our online shop and to say there is not a lot of stock left is an understatement. There are lots of sold labels in most of the categories.

I received nothing but compliments at both events on the quality of our products. It goes to show that having high quality animals is a must. Without high quality fleeces such luxurious end products would not be achieved.

A particular favourite was items made from the yarn from one of our stud boys, Golden Guinea. The Milly, Molly, Willow and Blossom mix was another that sold well, this is not a mix that will be repeated either as we have sold Milly and her sister Molly is also currently for sale.

With this years cria's fleeces looking great and the herd growing I am already planing which fleeces I will blend and who will get processed individually. I am looking forward to a couple of new shades for next years markets and fairs.

Loki is looking much better today, I'm not sure if it was as a result of the second injection he had yesterday or threatening him with the vet! I will continue to keep a very close eye on him and see how he goes.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Cambo Christmas Fair

It was another night of heavy rain, I laid in bed for hours last night listening to it, and feeling so sorry for the animals. I hate the fact that there is so much mud in their fields; oh to be lucky enough to have a nice big barn........................................... one day!
It was another early start as we had the animals to feed, Loki needed another injection and we were off to Cambo Christmas Fair with the fleece products.
Loki seems to be improving, I am going to have a chat with the vet tomorrow as he is still not himself. He seems to be spending longer than normal at the poo pile as though he's constipated but he's not because I've seen him go. I've not seen him have a wee though, so I'm not sure if there is an issue in that department.

Moving on to the Cambo Fair, we'd not done this one before so it was a bit of the unknown. It was indoors so Hughie didn't get out to see his public today! Despite it being very quiet we did ok, so that is more stock gone out of the online shop. At this rate there will be nothing left for our trip up to Alnwick Farmers Market - not that I'm complaining.
Here is a photo of today's stall.

This was yesterday at Morpeth Farmers Market.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Morpeth Farmers Market

It's a late one tonight as I treated myself to a night in front of the television with Rod Stewart! Well I was ironing so not really a night off.

Well, that sunshine I reported yesterday didn't last long; we woke this morning to rain. Not what we wanted for our trip to the farmers market.

Thankfully the rain dried up once we'd set up. It was another busy day which is good, and as you will see from the on-line shop stocks are diminishing rapidly. We are out at Cambo Christmas Fair tomorrow too. I haven't bothered emptying the car, I didn't think there was much point.

I actually remembered to get a photo of the stall before the crowds arrived to show you, but the camera is still in the car so it will have to wait until tomorrow night.

Friday, 4 December 2009

All set

I am pleased to report that the sun has been shining and Loki is looking much better today. So much so I let the boys into their big field, Loki hadn't wanted to venture far out of the shelter the last couple of days. He has been stood all day munching and is not as stiff, here's the evidence!
As the sun was out and the herd was drying I thought I would take a few photos for the blog. The only trouble is the girls come far too close and all I get is noses or ears. Here are a few that I managed to salvage.


Irraquoy and her cria Sandstorm

I am at Morpeth Farmers Market again tomorrow so I have the car loaded and ready to go. Hopefully it will be dry for us, if it's wet it's not much fun. Fingers crossed for a bumper day of sales. I am not taking any more order now as I picked up a couple on Wednesday and I managed to sell a hat and scarf set on-line whilst I was at Paul's work where I also sold the same set! I have agreed with the on-line purchaser to do it in a different yarn as many of my items are one off''s.

Thursday, 3 December 2009


I've had another busy day, I had to nip off to Morpeth first thing to pick up some medicine for Loki. I think one he has been playing with one of the other boys (probably Hughie) and has pulled or strained something as he's walking rather stiffly. I have checked him over and there are no lumps, bumps or abrasions and he's eating and going to the toilet without any issue.

Thankfully Loki is a very well behaved boy and I was able to inject him on my own. Hopefully this will help and he will be back to running round in no time.

Kate has also developed a limp this morning. I think with the cold and wet they are a bit more susceptible to knocks. She has improved as the day has gone on so fingers crossed she will be back to normal tomorrow. It didn't stop her running and beating me to the troughs this evening.

Carol, my knitting friend requested some more wool last night so I popped that over this morning too. The is no doubt knitting like crazy as I type!

I received a lovely email today from a customer (Peter), who had bought some baby garments recently for a friend in France. There was a very sweet photo attached of the very cute baby wearing her new hat.

I have another busy day again tomorrow. I need to finish knitting a hat and load the car ready for the farmers market on Saturday, clean the fields (if it doesn't rain more over night) and I may have a job to do for Alan my farming friend. He suffered a rather nasty accident on Tuesday and ended up in hospital requiring 50 stitches so I have offered my services.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

A busy couple of days

There really aren't enough hours in the day! I'm not sure where yesterday went, I spent most of the day getting new stock ready for my sales event today, it's amazing how much time it takes to sew in labels, print off labels and price everything up.

Today I was at Northern Rock with my stall. I have had a busy day selling lots of knitwear, some jewellery and the infamous paca poo bricks. I now have to get it all ready again for the weekend as we are out both Saturday and Sunday.

Mum has been a great help over the past few days, if she hasn't been knitting she's been helping with the feeding routine. As you can see the girls enjoy it when she comes because they all think they are entitled to be hand fed and she ends up getting mobbed. This was yesterday morning.
Whilst I was out today mum and dad fed everyone for me which was good as I left in the dark and returned in the dark. They have now gone back home with more yarn supplies and a list of requirements!!