Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Radio interview and massage

I had a phone call this morning from BBC radio Newcastle wanting me to do another live on air interview with Jonathan Miles. They were wanting to know how we were coping and Jonathan enquired after his friend Loki who sneezed on him when he visited previously.

Things haven't improved on the snow front, in fact its just getting deeper. By this evening when we went to feed the footprints in our pathways had completely vanished from 3 hours previously!

I've had a bit of a treat today, one of our friends is currently doing a massage qualification and wanted a bit of hands on practice. I wasn't too sure about exposing all my wobbly bits, but he was fantastic, I'm glad I did. Thanks Chris, we can both thoroughly recommend your services.

After a relaxing massage it was back out into the snow to hump feed about.

This was Golden Guinea taken yesterday with my mobile, I forgot to take the proper camera with me. He has walked a pathway from his shelter to the gate where he comes to meet me. If it's snow he waits until the last minute and then makes a run for it - he has to beat you there!

And here we have Tilly walking her path
Unfortunately Tilly's path is no more, last night we had major avalanches from the roof and it is now under about 4 and a half foot of snow! Tilly wasn't in it at the time so don't worry.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Almost half a meter

Unfortunately the snow is continuing to fall, not only that, I was woken in the night by sheet lightening and thunder it was very spooky. When I got up this morning there was another 4 inches of snow that fell over night!

On Saturday we removed the snow from the shelter roofs, today you could not tell that it had been done so it was back out with the ladders to start all over again. We don't want any collapsing under the weight of the snow.

I measured the snow on the garden table today, we are now up to 48cm's. That is not in the drifts or where Julian has gone past with the plough, places like that are past my waist. If poor little Minimus was to stand directly behind their shelter he would vanish under the snow!

We have been giving everyone extra rations which is going down well, even Freyja and Rory have begun eating hard feed. Both started eating sugar beet for a few days then decided that Camelibra was good to.

All the water is still frozen so it is back to carting it about to fill up the water troughs. Thankfully the quad is managing to get through two feet of snow and Paul is around too so I'm not having to do everything on my own.

The alpacas seem much happier than Paul and I, as long as they have something (lots) to munch on and a dry bed to sleep on they are ok. The chickens however haven't come down from their coop for days.

I was supposed to be taking the kittens to the vet this morning to be spayed but as the snow was so bad there was no chance so they have a short reprieve.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Up to our necks in it (Paul)

I don't believe it - said the great Victor Meldrew.

Debbie has been keeping you all posted with the heavy snow fall here in Northumberland and there just seems to be no let up.

Jayne at Zanzibah - you thought it was bad in Scotland, we had the worst snow fall yet overnight. The wind has picked up to and the snow has started to drift in places.

It was really hard work getting down to the rented fields down the lane. They say owners take on some of the persona of their animals and we have to agree with that. In the same way that our sheep and alpacas like to tread the same path, so do we. Our route through the field sure seemed much deeper than it was yesterday.

For illustration purposes only I have put a well known London landmark next to the sides of our snow passage:

After a few minutes walking we were sure that we had crossed into the girls field but could find no sign of them. We rattled the food bucket to see if that attracted any attention and Princess Mallika (of course) just had to give the game away - her stomach always comes first!

After checking that the rest of the main herd were o.k. we set about finding the boys.

Guess what - no sign of them.

"Hey Loki, do you want a carrot?"


Up to our necks in it!

Paul ;-)

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Cria coat for a calf

It has been more of the same today, we had another 3 or 4 inches of snow overnight. This is no longer fun; go away we had far more than our fair share last year!

After everyone had been fed and water troughs de-iced (it looks like I'll be carrying water tomorrow as the pipes are all frozen and the troughs are now getting low!) we got the camera out to take a few knitwear shots.

Stock is dwindling rapidly but I noticed a few bits that has slipped through the net and hadn't yet made it onto the website shop.

Photo shoots are always a nightmare, they always end up in an argument. Paul complains about the faces I pull (he expects me to face the sun and keep me eyes open and not squint). I complain at him for not giving me the correct instructions.
Anyway when I down loaded the photos over a cup of tea I'm not sure what is worse some of the faces I'm pulling or his photography skills; he's cut bottoms off scarves and some are blurred. This one does prove that we found something to laugh about at at one point!
We managed to get the photos taken in between the snow showers and blizzards. I actually measured the depth of the snow on the MG that hasn't moved since the snow arrived and it was 12.5 inches!!
Alan, our farming friend popped round this evening to see if I had one of my cria coats that might fit a calf. He had one born a couple of days ago that was looking rather cold and slow. He went away with the largest one I have made, which is florescent yellow so that mum wont be loosing her baby in the snow tonight - assuming they manage to get it on him!
The Christmas Fair I was supposed to be at tomorrow has been cancelled because of the weather which is a bit of a shame, but I don't think we would have made it anyway the roads are just too bad.
As some of the boys were looking a little cold this morning so I decided to move them tonight. The two youngest, Sandstorm and Tenzing are shut in the big shelter with all the hay; which they hopefully wont eat too much of over night. The other four, Legend, Gianmarco, Loki and Hughie have moved into a more sheltered field just in case they decide that one of them isn't allowed in the shelter.
I've just looked out and this is what greeted me.......

Friday, 26 November 2010

More of the white stuff

We have had more snow today, so I thought I would let the photo's do the talking tonight....

Here we have one of the kittens Izzie playing lets catch the snowflake.

And not to be left out here are the alpacas........................


Ochre and Meketaten, peas in a pod - both Golden Guinea cria.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Snow stopping the knitwear sales

We certainly woke to plenty of snow this morning, about 5 inches and it was still coming on and off.

We were out with the knitwear today, the weather couldn't have been better for selling super warm alpaca garments, however getting the the venue was a slightly different matter!

We had to get everyone fed and watered before we left and the Paul managed to take a couple of photo's. They're not great but I couldn't complain because I was complaining at him to get a move on! Here are the boys looking rather dirty , Legend with his back end to us has just been rolling in the snow!

Hughie insisted coming to cluck to me at the fence, although Paul managed to click just as he was having a stretch so he looks a rather odd shape, bless him.

Thankfully we managed to get out to civilisation, however even the main roads were bad, it was well worth it though because we had the best day of knitwear sales I've ever had. I'm not sure how I am going to have enough stock to do the remaining 5 events, not to mention the on-line shop.

There were a couple of disappointed people today who passed by and had their eye on something but when they came back I'd already sold it. Most of our item are unique and one offs, so if you miss it its gone.

It has continued to snow on and off all day and we now have in excess of half a foot of snow on the ground and it is forecast to last for a week or so. I thought we'd had more than our share of the snow last year.

Morpeth made the BBCs's nattional news tonight and one of the reports featured my vets camel not looking too bothered by the white stuff.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

First snow of the season

It was forecast, and it has certainly arrived.

We had snow and hail showers this morning so after we'd filled all the hay and fed everyone I decided to deep bed the girls shelter. Minimus was looking rather cold despite his coat, not that he seemed at all bothered. Sometimes I do feel things worry me much more than it does the alpacas.
The girls certainly liked their nice fresh straw in the shelter and Willow and Layla were straight in there to bag the best spot! Midnight Star decided that she would stand on guard at the doorway and try and stop everyone piling in. Some like Veruschka obeyed others like Ursula barged through regardless.
By 2pm this was the sight out of the study window.
By tea time we had a good covering and by 10pm Gosforth, which is where I'm supposed to be selling my knitwear tomorrow, made the national news! At least people will be feeling cold and want some nice warm hats and scarves with a bit of luck.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Stock doesn't even make the shop!

It was actually dry this morning so in a moment of madness, before we headed off to the hospital for Paul's post op appointment, I removed the two little boys coats as they were rather soggy looking. I then spent the whole time we were out worrying that they might get wet.

Thankfully there was only the odd shower followed by autumn sunshine, until this afternoon that was. Paul also got the all clear from the consultant so no more excuses that he can't do this or that - I will have to get him back to the job list.

I had a very nice lady visiting today, she was looking for some very special Christmas presents to take home to LA. She has bought knitwear from us before and was very impressed with it, so wanted some for her family in the States.

She choose some very nice scarves and managed to treat herself to a lovely shoulder cowl, it is one of our latest designs. It was only labelled up yesterday and hadn't even made it into the shop!

Shortly after my visitor had left it went very black, so I decided to head out to the field to put Minimus and Rory's coats on pretty sharpish. It's a good job I did as I arrived the girls were running into the shelter which meant they too had realised it was about to pour down.

Not only did it pour there were malteaser size hail stones beating down on me whilst I was putting the coats on. Minimus is such a sweetie and stood happily whilst I fastened him in, Rory on the other hand always grumbles and wants to get back to his mum.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Heat at last

Thank you for all the advice on the chicken, for those of you asking for its age, it is five or six months old now so I would have expected an egg or a more manly comb by now. Looks like I'll be buying eggs again this week!

It has been absolutely horrible here today, wet cold and very grey all day. The mud patches are growing, in fact the boys are making a mess. Tenzing is filthy and has obviously been rolling, he has mud everywhere.

Rory is enjoying his bottle again, the novelty of the new grass has obviously worn off. I'm still wanting to weigh him but I like to do it when he's dry, so it may be a little while yet. We have rain and snow forecast fro the rest of the week.

Thankfully we had a delivery of oil today so the heating is back on, we had a slight technical hitch in that Paul forgot to order it and we ran out, so we've been without heating for a few days. Hence the lack of blog last night I didn't want to leave the log burner and venture into the cold study.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Hen or Cock

It has been a very wet miserable day today so other than the essential outdoor jobs it's been inside for us.

This morning I was greeted in the chicken coop by a dead hen. It was the last of our original brown hens, she was a ripe old age and had been getting slower and slower and not venturing far for a little while now. In fact I had to put her to bed last night as she didn't seem able to climb the ladder. So it came as no surprise, poor chicken!

This now leaves us with three young birds, none of which are laying, in fact we've not had an egg for weeks now.

The jury is actually out on one of them as to whether is it a hen or cockerel . This Light Sussex has never laid an egg but equally it has never cook-a-doodle-do'd. It is quite a bit bigger than the two Marans and has started to run at my legs. If there are any experts out there here 'it' is, what do you think.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Tops and toe nails

I'm please to report that mum did finish her beret this morning, we both had a very late night, or early morning depending on how you look at it. We were knitting frantically and kept having to nudge each other as we were both struggling to keep our eyes open.

Paul was away last night on business and I think he must have a web cam up somewhere because as we were dozing he rang which woke us both up with a fright! We eventually hit our beds and were up bright and early as usual; the kittens see to that.

With the hat finished and Hughie's toe nails cut this morning she headed off home after lunch. As always thanks for your help mum.

Dad was also working hard this morning before they left, he has made me a new lid for the boys hay manger. It was really funny, dad and I were working and all the boys were watching. Hughie and Loki kept sticking their head in between us to see what was going on. Unfortunately I'd not taken my camera with me.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Caribbean knitting

It has been a cold but dry day today. Thankfully the wind has helped to dry up some of boys mud a little which is good as Tenzing has been having great fun in rolling in it. He's turned from a lovely bright white to a very mucky looking browny grey!

Tilly, one of the naughty kittens didn't seem to think it was that cold though. This morning I found her wading through the dirty water in one of the water troughs in a resting field. She was soaked and filthy but purring her head off when I picked her out. These kittens certainly are mad.

My parents are still here, they go home tomorrow, although I've told mum she can't leave until she has finished the beret that she is knitting at the minute. Carol keeps calling me a slave driver so I may as well be one!

Hopefully Carol is busy knitting in Cuba as I type, she has taken a few less clothes so she ha room in her suitcase for her wool and needles. That's dedication for you don't you think.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Getting there

I got a bit of a shock when I eventually came to blog last night to see Paul had already beat me to it! I was busy doing the Christmas shopping with my mum whilst he was playing with his new phone and we had had a brief pause for a cup of tea and to check our lists. By the end of the day we'd all had enough but I got a fair way through the list.

Thankfully today I have been able to stay here with the animals, shopping is no longer the fun I remember it being. Paul had to head down to London on business so he got a few hours on the phone to play even more on his new blackberry.

I have been busy washing the latest batch of knitwear which will need labelling ready for the busy run of events we are attending in the run up to Christmas. Mum is still slaving over her needles in the lounge as I type.

The courier finally turned up today to collect some fleeces which are heading off to the mill for processing. Hopefully after Christmas I will be able to do some spinning here as the carding that Dave has been doing is mounting up.

Despite Rory not having much bottle lately he has moved into the next size cria coat which is a good sign, Minimus has also moved out onto the next set of press studs on his coat! I will be weighing them all at the weekend so watch this space for an update.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Too busy to blog

Hi folks, Paul here.

It has been manic here today and I'm sure Debbie will update you all tomorrow.

Luckily I managed to take a quick photo (on my shiny new Blackberry Curve 9300 smartphone) in one of Debbie's rare 'moments' of calm - ah ha caught in the act!!!!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Frost with Midnight Star

We had another keen frost this morning but once the sun came out it turned into a lovely day.

Rory has been a bit of a pest since they all moved onto the fresh grass, he's been really hit and miss with his bottle. He is obviously filling up on grass and getting some milk from his mum so I'm not too bothered.
I've had more knitting supplies delivered today, mum and dad are up for a few days and I nipped over to Carol's to pick hers up to. I now have a batch of washing and labelling to do, There are a couple of new exciting additions too so keep your eyes peeled in the shop.
Talking of keeping your eyes peeled, I thought I would share a photo of Midnight Star who is keeping a beady eye on Paul to make sure he wasn't handing out carrot or apple.
Star is from our grey girl Kate, when she was born we couldn't decide on her colour, she looked dark grey but other times looked more of a black and grey multi. Once she was sheared it was much easier to tell, but by then she was registered as dark grey!
She is now pregnant to our black boy Loki, so it will be interesting to see what she produces. The jury is out on whether we will keep her or put her up for sale. Unfortunately at the minute we are restricted on the amount of land we have so harsh decisions have to be made.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

She's all yours now mummy!

I've had a lovely weekend spending time with my niece (and brother and sister in law!).

I had particular fun this morning with Faith, she came to help with the morning feed with her daddy. After a particularly wet night it was rather muddy and we, well I say we, more like she, sort of got a little bit dirty.

Oops I didn't mean to do it mummy it just happened, and we did bring you a leaf back that we found! I do like this auntie business, you can give them back when they end up looking like this!!!

They have now gone home and Faith is counting down until she next comes to see us at Christmas. I'm not so sure her mum and daddy are so keen :-)

The rain returned this afternoon and I had to rush down to put the two boys coats on. Mimimus was very pleased to see me and comae to meet me, he was clearly trying to tell me that he was getting wet and needed his coat on quickly. Rory was not quite so bothered and needed a little encouragement.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Knitting lesson

We have visitors this weekend, my brother and his family are staying. Faith my two year old niece has been looking forward to giving Rory his bottle all week, she's been counting down from two weeks!!

Unfortunately Rory wasn't quite so pleased to see her this morning and refused point blank to take his bottle from Faith and her mum Sarah. Golden Guinea was happy to take the carrots she had on offer though.

I had everyone earning their keep this morning, my brother Colin and I had a big round bale of hay and one of straw that needed moving. No tractors here unfortunately so it was brute force to get them on to pallets.

Faith and Sarah were helping Paul to fill up the mangers with hay, although with all the nice grass on offer at the minute they hay consumption has reduced considerably.
After spending time out in the fields with the animals we moved back in doors and I decided you can never be too young to learn and Faith had a knitting lesson! Well can see that I am going to struggle to keep up with demand for our knitwear so an extra pair of hands will be handy.

I've told Faith now she has worked out how the needles go she needs to get Grannie to show her how to use the wool on Monday when she babysits!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Family album

I have been keeping a real close eye on Chiquita following her periodic limping and am pleased to say that all has been fine. She is looking somewhat rotund at the minute, particularly following the move onto the fresh grass.

Here is a photo Paul took of her earlier in the week, as you can see Minimus certainly isn't draining her condition.
Speaking of Minimus it would be a shame to miss any opportunity to share another photo of him, taken at the same time as his mums. He made us laugh at tea time, despite his small stature he takes no nonsense from anyone. He was polishing off the camelibra and Ursula came over to join him, she wasn't welcome and he started pushing his neck down on hers grunting his dissatisfaction. When she took no notice he stated spitting at her, which she still ignored! An explosion could occur at the side of Ursula mind and she wouldn't bat an eyelid!

Just to complete the family album here is Willow, Chiquita's mum and grandma to Minimus with her female cria from this year, Layla, who has also inherited the same rotund shape as Chiquita.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Shop updates

The weathermen certainly got the forecast right for this evening, the wind has gathered momentum as the afternoon as progressed and now it is blowing a gale outside.

At feed time this afternoon the girls obviously spotted a shower heading their way, and all charged on mass to gather round the hay hecks. They obviously provide a good wind break and food source as the shelter didn't attract any ones attention today!

I'm pleased to say that Chiquita's leg is absolutely fine again, you would never believe she was looking uncomfortable yesterday evening. It's very strange, if I only checked on them once a day I would have missed it.

As the weather has been so terrible I've been updating our online shop. It is a never ended job what with Carol, mum & I knitting at a rapid rate and the sales doing very well. I have already sold more knitwear this year than last and that is before I reached the busy time of year for it.

I have a batch of our fleeces to send off the the mill next week as I'm almost out of white yarn. Here at Barnacre we only use our own fleeces, we don't buy it in, and all our knitwear it traceable to specific alpacas so it is a very unique. Don't worry if you are reading this Dave, I've kept some back for you to card!!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Heads down and tuck in

It has been a lovely sunny day today in complete contrast to yesterday, although it has turned very cold again this evening.

We decided to move the girls on to fresh grass today before all the goodness goes out of it. In a few weeks they can go back into the paddock they have just come out of.

As you can see the grass is rather long and lush so hopefully this will give everyone a bit of a boost going in to winter. Excuse the shadows on the photo I was trying to take some shots as they went running through the gate. A couple of the feeding mums are starting to loose some condition so this and some extra rations for those concerned should help them out. Their babies will also be old enough to wean very soon.

Moving from one field to another means all the hay hecks and feed troughs need moving which takes ages so I didn't get time to clean the field so that will have to be added to the job list for later in the week; in the rain by the sounds of the forecast.

Loki was getting very excited at the girls moving, there is a big empty field in between the boys and the girls but Loki was keeping a very close eye on proceedings. Paul took this shot on 80 times zoom, not bad eh!
This evening when we went to feed Chiquita was limping on her back left leg. She did the same thing about 10 days ago, I couldn't feel anything and within a couple of hours she was walking normally so I thought maybe she had just twisted it. I will see how she is in the morning but I have the Finadyne on standby.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Rory report

The weather has been truly miserable today so I thought I would cheer everyone up with a nice photo and Rory report.

Rory is my little bottle fed boy, he's not completely dependant on the bottle his mum Geena doesn't have enough milk to fully support her cria. It is not a one off, Geena has never managed to completely feed any of her cria. It is something that we knew when we bought her so it is just part of the routine when it comes to Geena's cria.
Whilst we were up in Scotland last week feeding Rory was one of my mum's many jobs, and what a fantastic job she did of it. He had every single bottle he was offered which is more than can be said for the one day I left Paul in charge a couple of weeks ago!
I promised my mum I would let her know how Rory's next weigh in went, well mum credit to you he gained over a kilo in a week, 1.3kg in 8 days which is very good going for Rory, thank you.
Here he is at the front of the shot with Lady Godiva behind him and little Minimus at the rear, who also put on 800 grams since his last weighing.
Rory will be one of a few boys we will released for sale once he has been weaned in the new year. I never like that bit, but I'm always very selective where they go. He is a lovely friendly boy who has a fabulous fleece which would be great for a hand spinner.

Monday, 8 November 2010

I'm back

I'm back, after a busy week up in Scotland last week working hard on the Scottish National Fleece Show which was being judged by Cameron Holt.

There was a fabulous turnout with 267 fleeces. There were some very impressive fleeces indeed, with the Supreme Champion being awarded to Acer Alpacas down in Bristol.

Barnacre Lualeni did us proud, in a very competitive intermediate white class she was placed fourth which we were very pleased with. The two stud boys we entered came away with rosettes too, 1st Senior Brown with Golden Guinea and 5th with our white stud Legend of Spartacus. Legend won Supreme Champion last year so it is nice to see he is still up there in the mix.

Veruschka was 5th in her class (senior white) and Sienna was 7th in the intermediate brown just outside the rosette positions.

Sadly having spent all week doing the hard work I wasn't able to stay on the Saturday to enjoy the talks and meal. I had a farmers market to go to. It sounds like a good time was had by all.

Thankfully the Morpeth Farmers market was well worth coming home for, I had one of my best days ever. Its a good job really or I would have been very annoyed at missing the meal in Scotland! More on that another night.