Sunday, 30 December 2012

Solar girls (Paul)

OK Miriam, I admit the last blog was mine! Pictures and more details to follow...if you're a good girl...

Today though there is more good news to share.  A very excited couple joined us (again) yesterday as they have decided to begin breeding friendly champion alpacas for quality fleeces .  The good news (?!) was that all this rain we have had meant the entire herd was under cover and so fleece rumaging was the order of the day!

Some of our fleeces are developing very nicely indeed and one of the truly special ones is from a boy called Tenzing.  His dam is Veruschka, one of our very best girls who at the 2007 Royal Fleece Show scored the 2nd highest score ever recorded in the UK. Veruschka (and Legend) also blessed us with Casiphia, our home bred Supreme Champion, below:

Any way, despite the very close attention afforded by our core herd, led by Meketaten who found that her head fit nicely under the arm of our visitors...three female alpacas have been selected to form a new breeding herd.  The line up inlcudes Iolani and Lady (two girls with us on livery) and Barnacre Lacie, one of our youngsters from this year, daughter of Verushka and Gianmarco's Masterpiece.  All very exciting and more details and pictures will follow!

Regular blog followers might recall that one of the other livery girls, Barbilla, acquired new owners a short while ago and she will stay with us on livery - same arrangement different human owners! Now that Iolani and Lady have been sold we have decided to advertise two of the other livery girls and details are on our sales page.  Both are from very exciting genetics and offer exceptional value for the discerning breeder.

Solar panel time!  What a great year to install solar panels!  Last December as the house and shed were nearing completion we installed 40 solar PV panels on the Alpaca shed roof.  The system is 9.6kWp and was supposed to generate 8,002 kWh  and save over 4.5 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per year.  Well despite the fact that Mr Sun has been conspicuous by his abscence we actually beat the original estimate and generated 8,114 kWh!  That means our panels have generated enough electricity to power two average households - not bad eh?

For the solar anoraks, the graph above is our weekly generation by week. The high point is the first 2 weeks of June and the other high was the last 2 weeks in March can you believe! We are happy to share our solar experiences and are delighted to recommend our installer, Chris Cassells of Opus Green - did you see our press release?

Friday, 28 December 2012


Thursday, 27 December 2012

Hello my little Shetland mates (Paul)

For those of you wondering what soap and shower gel mix I bought Debbie for Christmas you will have to stay in suspenders for a a little longer I'm afraid!

It seems that I caused a little confusion on Twitter yesterday when I tweeted on @BarnacreAlpacas about my little Shetland mates.  Philly Drummond-Arnot who lives up in Shetland (where Barnacre Horatio is doing some manly jobs ;-) ) tweeted back to say Merry Christmas - now whilst I consider them good cyber friends I'm afraid I was actually referring to our Shetland Sheep, the finest fleeced primitive sheep in the UK you know!

In the picture is Galaxy our 3 year old brown Shetland tup (top left) with his 9 lady friends.  We have another 3 Shetland lambs that live with the blackie and lowland (jacob-texel cross) lambs higher up the hill.  Here's for a busy and bumper Spring lambing!


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas from Barnacre (Paul)

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

We have a house full (as usual) and Debbie is busy cooking Christmas dinner so for anyone who is having a sneaky play on their computer here's a festive Barnacre blog seeing as Debbie seems to have forgotten how to type over the last few days - she should find more time to relax?!

Anyway, up and at it on Christmas morning was the mother-in-law (Janet) who after her relaxing day yesterday chasing sheep up and down the hill was on goat patrol.
This lady moves that fast that she is a blur on the camera!  The Angora goats are certainly munching through the hay, no wonder their fleece grows so fast!

Anticipation was high across the farm because this is the day that Santa has been (Colin, the brother-in-law thinks he spotted him at the end of our drive last night shortly after the big glass of whiskey that was put out for Santa vanished...).

The livery girls were excited and some of them are also looking forward to their new homes as they have been causing a fair bit of interest up here in the North...
Basil the goat was so excited that I spotted him accidentally kicking one of the Blackie sheep in the head...
Naughty Basil!

The main herd were excited as always.  The weather has been so wet here recently that they seem to spend more time in the shed than out, they do like the waitress service mind!

The excitement builds...
The bellies rumble...
Emery (our prize winning grey girl) and Chiquita sense that they have been pipped to the hay post - can you see Chiquita's son, Pablo, from this year (Minimus's brother) - yes he has found a nice little spot under the hay heck...
And as for Debbie, she was full of excitement and anticipation - what flavour soap might Santa have bought?
Quick Debbie, come see, Santa has left you lots of sacks, they must be stuffed full of presents - lots of soap??!!
Oh oh, has someone been a naughty girl, have all Paul's shirts ironed and his dinner cooked? No??!! In that case what has Santa left you...
Not even a bar of soap - poor Debbie.  Perhaps the Barnacre Blog readers can save her and wish her a Merry Christmas??!!
Merry Christmas everyone have a good one and an Alpaca New year.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A year in

This week marks the anniversary of the animals (and us) moving onto Liberty Hill, it only seems like yesterday that we were freezing our ears to the pillows in the caravan!

The animals have settled and we are starting to get things sorted, it's a slow job when you are doing fencing and the like yourselves and with friends but we're getting there and we will be eternally grateful to our wonderful friends and family who have been helping.  As a little thank you we are having the Barnacre Christmas party on Saturday night!

We still have, and will always probably have fencing to do but the next major project is shelters.  We don't as yet have shelters in all the fields.  Although with the weather as it is at the minute no one is wanting to step foot out of the shed to venture into a field. 

We have had driving rain and high winds all day.  On a plus point I did finish my Christmas shopping, not the knitting though so I'm off..................

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Knit type, type knit

Just a very quick one tonight as I am madly knitting; yes another one required for Christmas, mad I know! Like Barbara at Beck Brow my tree and decorations still remain in the shed and I haven't even finished buying presents let alone wrapped them!!

I have a poorly lamb in the shed tonight, he's been in there all day.  He's been dosed and had a good talking to but he's not looking any better, no worse though, so in sheep terms that's not bad I suppose.  Basil isn't too keen on the 'thing' in the corner of his pen, he keeps looking at him as if to say is that all you do sit there!?

The weather is foul again so everyone is glad to be in, in fact despite it being dry and not too bad this morning the girls took some convincing to go out, coming back was a different story though, they would give Usain Bolt a run for his money - Willow excluded of course.  See details of Willow on our meet the herd page.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Today has been quite productive, despite being germ ridden and lacking in energy. 

After the morning rounds I managed to get my last knitwear order labelled and ready to post, so then I finished writing the Christmas cards that needed posted and headed off to Otterburn to post them.  The post box was rammed full so I'm just hoping that Mr Postie empties it as it seemed a bit strange that a big postbox in somewhere like Otterburn was full to the brim on a Tuesday.

I now just have one knitting project to get completed then I can fully turn my attention to Christmas.

I have noticed that Cassiopeia, the 17 old grey girl here on livery, had recently taken to feeding Luca as well as her own daughter Lily.  Lily is a big girl and about to be weaned were as Luca is much more dainty, so much so Lily has to lie on the floor whilst Luca stands along side in the usual manner.

I will try and get a photo as this is the second time in a few days that I have spotted it happening and Cassiopeia seems to just let it go on.  Because of her age she is already on extra rations so I am keeping a close eye on her to make sure that it doesn't have any detrimental effect on her condition which is quite good at the minute.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Visitors galore

We are coming to the end of another busy weekend.  Yesterday we gathered all the blackie sheep up again and all but two appeared to have coloured bums so that's good.  Hopefully having been serviced means they will all be pregnant.

I've not actually seen our Shetland tup Galaxy doing his stuff and he doesn't have a raddle on so I think I may have to get those girls scanned with the pet lowlands (I don't can the blackies).  Unfortunately we lost the old Shetland ewe on Saturday, she was old with no teeth so most 'proper farmers' would have sent her away by now but not me!

Today has been a full on alpaca day with three lots of visitors, first Eric and Pat, new owners of Seymour, Leonidas and Olly-Impic.  Next up was a walk and talk couple who I forgot to ask if I could name so I'd better not.  It was a surprise anniversary present for the husband and they both had a lovely time so that was good.  Nadia, Piccolina and Angelica got to go for a walk today.

Finally Barbilla had a visitor from her new owner, Fran (& Simon) Barbilla is on livery here and will stay on livery for the foreseeable future.

Having got all excited about having finished all my knitwear orders I received another one this morning, so the knitting needles will be steaming again this week to make sure I catch the last posting date for Christmas.  I can never say no!

I'm trying to get my Christmas cards written tonight although I don't seem to be getting very far in between answering Paul's accounting questions, ironing and stopping one of the cats scratching the door - she obviously wants out but I don't like them out overnight; sorry Tilly!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Planning ahead

This morning I had to head out for a meeting, a very exciting meeting.  We have lots of things planned for next year and this meeting was about one of them, so keep posted for more details on that one in the new year.

We have a few things in the pipeline for next year so we expect Barnacre to go from strength to strength, it's all very exciting.

Following my trip to the post office yesterday I received a lovely email from one of the customers today to let me know that her hat and scarf had arrived safely and she was very pleased with the beautifully soft set, ideal for these cold days.

I'm still working on my latest order, mum had just finished the pair of fingerless gloves that she needed to do and I suspect Carol has done hers.  Umm note to self, dish order out to mum and Carol not yourself!!  On that note I best get back to them if I want to get to bed tonight....

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Post office pile

I braved the shops today, I needed to post four knitwear packages (and mum did a 5th from Nottingham), and I needed to get a few more Christmas presents.  I can't believe Christmas is round the corner and I've not finished my shopping yet!  I still need to get Paul something....

Morpeth car parks were a nightmare but I managed to park my new car, affectionately know as the tank.  Getting out of the space was worse than getting in it!

The alpacas have enjoyed another day in the barn, we had more snow overnight and during the day and seeing as the girls don't have a shelter in their field I thought they would much prefer staying inside and munching their way through lots of hay.

The goaties coats are now starting to grow back which is good as it's really cold, angora's coat grows at about an inch a month so they soon go from bald to bursting with fleece in no time.  I still have their clip to deal with, it's in a big pile at the minute and needs skirting and sorting but I think it is going to have to wait until after Christmas now.

Talking of Christmas, I best get back to my my flip top mittens order as that's a Christmas present for one lucky lady.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Cozy customer christmas presents

I'm not sure where the last week has gone, I can't believe it was last Wednesday when I last blogged.  Thanks to the two people complaining here I am!

At the weekend we were at the North Tyneside Victorian Market with the boys and our knitwear, it's not one we've been to before.  We were welcomed with open arms and as usual the alpacas drew crowds and our knitwear and hand woven (by my dad) scarves went down a treat.

It was a very long two days, not helped by the fact it took 40 minutes to get off our drive at 5.45am on the Saturday morning, despite the fact mum and I had spent all of Friday digging out two tyre tracks in the snow and ice!

We decided that leaving the car and trailer at the bottom of the drive was a better idea when we got back and we all walked back up and down again on the Sunday morning.

Knitwear sales have been continueing this week, we had a visitor to the farm on Monday who wanted to buy his wife a unique Christmas gift.  Mrs *** will be one cosy warm lady come the end of December.  As you can see from the picture below our stock is now getting rather low.

I've had three on line sales today which all need posting tomorrow, so that will be a long queue in the post office no doubt.

I'm busy knitting an order at the mintute, so is my mum and not wanting to leave carol out she had one yesterday. 

It's freezing cold here at the minute and we still have snow, but the cats are keeping warm in front of the aga...

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Snow time like knitting time

We have had more snow today, this was the view from the lounge window when I stopped for a cup of tea this morning.  The boys were making the most of the cosy bed and fresh hay on tap!
By this afternoon our drive was so bad that the Tesco man couldn't get up, he rang me from the roadside gate and said he was stuck.  So off I went with the quad and the sheep taxi to pick up my shopping, the cats couldn't have lasted as they were almost out of food and I needed some goats milk for Azrael.  I definitely need to look into getting a milking goat.

I'm hoping the snow doesn't get any worse as we are out this weekend with the alpacas at North Tyneside Victorian Market and I also need to get to the post office to post more on line orders.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

I found it

Seeing as I've now found the camera I thought I would share some of the photo's from the weekend.  Just for the record I found the camera in the recycling - despite having witnesses that Paul had it on Sunday he's denying it had anything to do with him!

Firstly we have our fabulous Shetland tup Galaxy having a good sniff of one of his new girls, it took him about 30 seconds to get on with the job in hand.  I do like my little Shetlands...

Next up is the not so cute or so handlable Blackies.  Gill, Ross, Taylor, Dave, Paul & I gathered them up into a corner of the top field so we could count, check coloured bums and generally give the boys a chance.  There are only three of them to cover well over 100 acres.
It's a close call between Wesley (green bums) and Bruiser (Blue bums) I think Red Run needs to spend less time thinking about it and more time getting on with it as there didn't seem to be many red bums!

Final photo of the day goes to my new knitter, Izzie - well I told you orders were mounting up.

Monday, 3 December 2012

How many hours in a day

Forgive me world for I have sinned, no blogs since Wednesday!

There just doesn't seem to have been enough hours in the day (or even night) to find five minutes to sit down and blog what with three different events, farm visitors doing their Christmas shopping, shearing goats, yes I know it's cold but they are tucked up nice and warm in the shed, taking delivery of my new toy and trying to get some knitting orders done.

Oh yes and rounding up the sheep on Sunday (in the snow) to give the various tups chance to do their thing - Paul actually took some photo's but I can't share them with you as the camera seems to have grown legs and walked somewhere all on it's own!!

I was hoping to get some shop updates done as I've had a lesson on uploading from Paul but without the camera I can't do that.  It's probably a good job as I'm bound to do something wrong and destroy the shop.

We had a fantastic weekend for knitwear sales, we had been invited to Anlwick Christmas market on Saturday which despite the freezing conditions proved a very worthwhile outing.  The boys were very popular and attracted a crowd all day and the knitwear was doing a roaring trade.

On Sunday we had a visit from a previous customer who wanted to do some Christmas shopping, they took home lots of gifts and a treat for themselves too - that will be one cosy family this Christmas!

As we still have snow everyone is enjoying another night in, the hay consumption has gone through the roof so we are going to need to buy some more before the end of winter.  Hopefully what we have will last us until February.

We seem to have 3 hens that have forgotten where they live and have taken up residence in the shed.  I wouldn't mind but they don't sleep with Tweet, who does roost in there.  There has been a bit of cockerel wars going on today between Dave and Tweet, so both have gone to bed with bloody beaks!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Boys on the job

Things continue to be busy on the farm, there are all the usual jobs which seem twice as hard  in the wet muddy conditions.  We have actually has all 72 alpacas and 16 goats in for the last few days as the weather has been so bad and the fields are so unpleasant.

I'm afraid the sheep have had to brave it though, we put Wesley our blackie tup out at the weekend and we picked up a couple of tups from a local farmer who has kindly lent them to us for a few weeks.  This was them watching Paul through the bedroom window not long before they were introduced to the ladies.
Galileo has also been having lots of fun with the lady goats, he is in his element surrounded by lots of flirtatious ladies.  Hopefully we will have some very nice angora kids in the spring.

We are getting through copious amounts of carrots at the minute as the alpacas now have competition; the goats love them!  You usually get a few odd shapes and sizes in the bags but I've not seen one like this before, they usually start as one and divide.
Who said two into one doesn't go!!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Busy, busy, busy

I know I've not blogged for a few days which is unlike me, I am ok and the computer isn't broken, but thank you for the texts of concern!  Things have just been rather hectic round here.

We had three lots of visitors on Saturday which with rapidly reducing daylight hours we thought it was pretty impressive to fit them all in.

The first two lots of visitors were other alpaca owners who came for various different reasons, Jeannine & Craig wanted a fleece skirting lesson ready for sending their fleece up to the Border Mill.  They bought Jam-Pack's fleece over, ooh how I loved his fleece, he was one of our Gianmarco babies from last year and a real cutie and has a stunning fleece.

They also wanted to see the two little boys they have reserved to add to there fabulous herd of fibre producing boys.  Indigo and Azrael are at opposite ends of the size scale so it will be a while before the boys are off to join their existing gang.

Our third set of visitors came to walk the alpacas on one of our farm walk and talks.  It was a birthday treat for Lyndsey and her family and they thoroughly enjoyed it.  As you can see they proved a big hit with the girls.  From left to right we have Lyndsey, Cathy and Alec (dad was proving rather camera shy). 

Here they are off on their walk with Nadia, Minimus, Angelica and Piccolina, once again dad was hiding from the camera. 
Our walk and talks are proving very popular gifts at the minute, it's a great idea for a Christmas present as we make personalised invitations.

Sunday we had a full house of Pearson's cracking on with a rather long job list.  The daylight hours are so short we didn't manage to crack the whole list but we did get the most important jobs done and Ross took home a Barnacre Christmas Tree so he was happy!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Proving popular

Galileo is certainly a popular chap both on the blog and on the farm, the girls are desperate to get close to him; not much longer to wait girls!

All the alpacas seem to be enjoying their routine of going out in the morning and coming back in for their tea and bed.  I had an appointment today (more on that next week hopefully), so I was running a little late and it was getting dark by the time I got back but everyone knew the way.  It's the first time the new girls have had to come in when the light is fading but they didn't seem to mind.

All the chicks have finally worked out how to go upstairs in their coop to bed too which is great news, I've been having to reach in at night and put them upstairs and in typical chicken style they find the most awkward place to go were I can't quite reach them.

Our knitwear is proving very popular at the minute, mum, Carol (that's the two legged one not the four legged new girl) and me are knitting like crazy at the minute, I'm taking Christmas present orders as well as trying to replenish stock for our next outing next week.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Meet Galileo

Just a quick blog tonight as I am drowning under a number of special order knitwear projects which I need to somehow find the time to fit in between everything else I have to do.  I'm currently knitting a scarf to go with a slouch hat ordered via a Twitter customer!

As I have had a number of requests for photo's of Galileo our new angora buck I nipped out to take a photo, only thing is he is friendly and rather nosey so kept coming to say hello and getting far to close to the camera so most of the shots were nostril shots.

This was the best of a bad bunch I'm afraid.

He is currently being quarantined before being introduced to the ladies who spotted his arrival and seem rather excited.  

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A new arrival

We've had a busy weekend at Kirkley Hall Christmas fair this weekend, there were lots of people out Christmas Shopping.  I even managed to get a couple of stocking fillers which was good.  The alpacas were certainly missed, we were asked numerous times where the alpacas were - you'll have to come to Alnwick Christmas Market to see them next!

The new card machine has been put to the test, all we have to do now is wait and see how long it takes for the money to arrive in our account.

At home the hay consumption is rocketing up, the girls are getting through loads of the stuff.  It's a good job we have a hay field so are able to cut some of our own; although at the rate we are getting through it will be buying more in.

We have also taken delivery of our fab new angora buck, he looks very impressive, he arrived in the dark tonight so we can't wait to see him in the light.  Galileo, as he is registered obviously made an impression on the ladies as within 15 minutes of him arriving one of the girls had spotted him and had 'found' her way out of bed and was the other side of his pen looking on longingly.

We used a pet transport company, Expressley Pets, to bring him up, who did a fantastic job.  If ever anyone is looking for a transort company I woundn't hesitiate to recomend them, they're fully licenced, caring and reliable.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Alpaca Visitors

We have had a lovely afternoon talking alpaca with our alpaca visitors who are planning on breeding quality fleece producing alpacas. Once again I forgot to ask permission to name them - I really must stop doing that!  They fell in love with a couple so I had to check the boot before they left.

It was a great excuse to have a rummage through some cria fleeces, I always find it fascinating how these evolve and change as the youngsters grow. 

Paul was trying to get them to take Basil, my little billy goat back to Scotland but I won't be parting with him anytime soon.  He is such a friendly chap and he clearly had a very rough start to life I intend to spoil him for a little while.

We've had more on line sales today and our new credit card machine also got tested with a purchase from the farm.  There are certainly lots of people Christmas shopping now.  Maybe I need to take a leaf out of their book as make a start on mine..... 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Hay you that's my milk

Pablo, this years little pocket rocket from Chiquita is such a little sweetie, just like his half brother Minimus and full sister Piccolina.

From being a few days old he has tried to feed from whoever is closest, not because Chiquita is lacking in milk just he can't be bothered to walk to her.  It has to be said she doesn't feel the need to stay close to her baby.

He certainly isn't shy, our herd grump Kate (grey one at the trough) has been stolen from in the past and today was the turn of Little Miss Irraquoy.
Irraquoy is completely bonkers and had she spotted Pablo there is no doubt he would have been spat at profusely and chased round the field.  Pablo isn't daft though, he usually times his thefts when the girls have their head down in the trough, or when there own cria is feeding and he'll sneak in the other side.

Irraquoy's own baby, Pepe (aka skunk) was slightly bemused that his milk bar was busy so took to eating hay off Pablo's back whilst Pablo stole his milk!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The turn of the ladies

Sorry you had a little longer than I anticipated to meet the new girlies, I had mouse issues, it wouldn't work.  I think it may have taken exception to the cup of tea I gave it to drink earlier in the day!

The new girls and their babies have settled in remarkably, they have already got into their routine and know their way in and out of the shed.  The chickens are something they are obviously not used to seeing as they get some very serious looks, especially if they are in the girls bed - so most evenings!

So let me introduce you, first up we have Cara, this girl has everything, fabulous fleece stats, the look, great conformation and she's pregnant to Patriot.  Her son wanted in on the photo too so that's his nose you can see!
Next up is Divinity, she too is the complete package, in fact her fleece stats are very slightly better than Cara's. 
Next up is Nicosia, we both fell in love with her as soon as we saw her, she has a very dense smoky fawn fleece and is pregnant to The Chief (grey) who sadly died earlier this year.

Then we have the two old girls; well it seemed a shame not to!  First up is Carina, she is a laid back girl with a very dense fleece for her age. 
And finally we have Carol, now how could we not bring Carol home to meet the other Carol!  This girl is so funny, she seems to have taken charge of the new herd (who are in quarantine at present).  She is very chilled out, unless that is you dare to touch her baby! 
Oops not quite the two girls we went to pick up was it!  Never mind you only live once......

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The introductions begin

Sorry Dave, I was very tired last night so thought I'd keep you in suspense; plus I wanted photo's of the new arrivals.

And here they are, yes I know slightly more than the four we were supposed to be picking up.  It wasn't all my fault, Paul was as much to blame if not more, it was him who asked Mary-Jo to get a few alpacas in that met the criteria we were looking for.

I will start with the cria as they were easier to get some photo's of.  Here we have Cara's little boy from Bozedown Wisdom.
Next up we have Divinity's boy from Bozedown Rodrigo, a super fine boy still carrying 21 microns at 15 years old. 
Next up is one of the 'extras' that found themselves in our trailer, well how could you resist those fluffy ears and gorgeous apricot fleece. This boy who is about ready for weaning is from Bozedown Omen. 
Next up is the only female cria of the bunch, not that that seems to bother her, she is from Bourbon the Brown Futurity Champion for the last 3 years.

I'll save the adults until another night or this blog will be huge!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Home at last

What a busy few days we've had.  Thursday we headed off down to Bozedown to meet our new girls we purchased in the Alpaca Classic auction and bring them home, we were both excited about seeing them!

We ended up heading off much later than anticipated due to various issues, one of which was leaving mum and dad with the water not working.  So what was meant to be a leisurely drive down to Bozedown admire our girls, chill in the hotel and have a nice meal ended up with me driving on fumes in the pitch black looking for somewhere to park the trailer so we could eat.

After various calls to mum to make sure the animals were OK and they were managing with their depleting tank of water, a quick swim in the pool and sauna we headed off like a pair of kids on Christmas morning to meet Divinity, Cara and the two boys.

Having never been to Bozedown before we were very impressed with their setup, and as for our girls they are as stunning as the photo's.  Having looked at some more alpacas Mary-Jo had picked out for us we headed home with a full trailer via Beckbrow Alpacas to drop off their two girls too.

Literally from the minute we hit the A34 all the way up the M6 we sat in queue after queue after queue.  As I'm sure many of you can imagine this was a very long slow drive home what with traffic and alpaca stop checks it was very late when we arrived at Barbara's, who thankfully offered us a bed for the night. 

We wanted to let the girls have a bit of a stretch of their legs and answer a call of nature as they had not been at all in the trailer despite the the regular stops.  Down went the back door and out came the girls and cria, which had multiplied, Paul Heatherington's face was a picture, he thought they were going round in circles!

Bet you want to know what we squeezed into the trailer.............

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A day of two halves

Today has been a day of two halves, this morning I want to try and forget and this afternoon a much pleasant experience; we went to collect some more angora goats.

I will talk more about this morning when I have something to report at the minute I would rather stick to a happy blog - this week was supposed to be a nice one.

So off we set to Scotland as mum and dad set off for our house, first one there was on the feed rounds - that was mum then!

We found the small holding we were heading too with no difficulty at all which is pretty amazing with our satnav which is only any use if you are looking for a town centre type address.  Anyway the six angora girls were shut in a stable waiting for us.

They are so sweet and will be a great addition to our existing flock, so instead of 7 goaties left to shear I now have 13 - umm Rosemary are you sure Carl doesn't fancy a bus mans holiday!!!

By the time we got home it was dark so no photo opportunities and mum had fed everyone with the exception of Azrael who was making out she'd done his bottle wrong.  Once I got home he took it from her no problem which is good because we are off on another long exciting drive tomorrow and mum's in charge here..........

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Additional heads to count

Today we have been adding to the head count here at Barnacre.  Today it was Shetland sheep, we choose a tup for our girls a few weeks ago and we had arranged to go and collect him today, we also managed to coax three ewes out of the same prize winning herd.

When we got there today Phillip, the young owner had sorted out two other girls he thought we might like, so instead of three new girls we came home with five.  So our new tup (who in true Barnacre style needs a name) has 9 maybe 10 girls to tup in the next few weeks. 

He can't actually go out just yet as we want to go to the Alpaca Championship show in April so I can't lamb too early as leaving mum and dad to look after the farm is bad enough without the posibilities of babies too!

Shetlands have for generations been noted for their very soft and well crimped fleece, with their wool being the finest of all native breeds which is why I have chosen to keep them.  They also show an amazing variety of colours and patterns.  Our new boy who is brown has a lovely fine fleece which is surprising long.  It was too dark to take a photo when we got sorted so that will have to wait.

On the alpaca front, the girls all stayed in today as it wasn't very nice, they seemed quite content to sit in eating hay; as did the goaties!

Bridie's sore has been bathed and filled with intrasite gel, she is one tough cookie and takes everything in her stride.  She has started bending her legs a bit but having had them in plaster most of her short life it is clearly something that doesn't feel very normal.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Free to roam

I'm not sure what happened to last nights blog, I had plans to write one, but after a long day out in the fields and evening in the shed we sat down to watch the grand prix and I did some knitting and I just couldn't keep my eyes open again - it was late; honest!

Gill and Ross came over, Paul and Ross were fencing whilst Gill & I mucked out, well Gill actually did most of the mucking out as we had alpaca visitors so I spent the afternoon with them showing them round and talking alpaca.

It was great to talk alpaca with some very enthusiastic potential alpaca owners.  The girls took great delight in showing off how friendly and approachable they are and Barbilla too a real shine to Fran.

Today was a big day for Bridie, she was booked in to have her plaster casts removed.  She's never really been too keen on these ones so I was looking forward to getting them off as well as I hated seeing her with them on.

She was her usual waiting room crowd pleaser, she is so calm and relaxed.  Having been cut slightly when the last lot were removed Sam was paranoid about his none cut saw!  First to come off was the right leg, the worst of the two and it looked good.

Second was the left, this one wasn't quite such good news.  When he started sawing I thought I smelt something not very pleasant, but just before we'd left I'd been dealing with a smelly goats foot so thought it might have been my hands (despite washing them three times!) so I didn't say anything.

Unfortunately it wasn't me it was Bridie's leg, she has a nasty dressing sore of the back of her knee.  I wonder now if this is why she has not been happy with this set of casts.  Her sore has been cleaned and treated and I will do this for the next few days and this will hopefully heel nicely.

Her legs are looking much better so we will see how we go, because of the sore we couldn't put anything on her left leg even if we'd wanted too.  Sam was pleased with the improvement which was encouraging.  This girl is a fighter......

Saturday, 3 November 2012

soup, pastie and coffee? (Paul)

Evening all,

Debbie is yawning her head off to I'm going to publish a few words on the blog tonight otherwise we get text messages of 'wheres the blog??!!'.

Today was an early start - like so many Barnacre mornings! I thought I'd let Debbe wake up first (at about 5am) for a change, regular blog readers know that I'm often up first and bring her a cup of tea to bed, but today she just beat me by an hour or so.

We were off to Morpeth farmers market, a favourite of ours and despite a -2 degrees start to the day and very icy roads, we made it there and set up in good time.  The morning weather wasn't the best, it was cold and drizzling with rain, but the alpaca watchers were soon out in force and new and regular Barnacre Alpaca customers were soon packing the market to our fellow traders delight and Michael, the market manager who always makes us very welcome.

This year's regular trio of Minimus, Niveous and Seymour were as good as ever.  It always brings a smile to my face when I get asked (every 10 minutes or so) 'why are your alpacas so friendly?' - ha ah!

Thanks to everyone who came to see the alpaca, us and the knitwear.  We had another really good day and I suspect we are going to sell out of everything, again, before we get to Christmas.  So if there's something in our online shop that you have your eye on you'd better buy it, email or phone us quick!  A newish face on the market was a good friend of mine, Louise and her (nearly) able chaperone, Colin who sensibly invested in a new Barnacre Alpaca beanie!  Louise makes brilliant hand made cards so if you need one for a special birthday or christmas, please drop us a line and we will put you in touch.

Debbie and I also spoke to several people who are considering the alpaca dream.  Can you believe it is nearly 6 years since we got our first 3 alpacas - what a change from the cat we had at the time!  We have learnt so much along the way and we know how difficult it was to get good advice in our early days.  This is something Debbie and I are very passionate about sharing.   Alpacas and owning them is brilliant, so is good honest advice.

Seymour had some very special visitors today at Morpeth market, his new owners! So if you had your eye on a promising black stud male then sorry, but you are too late!  More details to be revealed in due course!

As for the title, a special thanks to Pat for the soup, Carol for the pastie (and more knitwear) and Dan for the coffee. It was a very cold day and I'm glad I had my alpaca hat on, and equally glad for the warm things that these kind people bought me.

Right, I have a bit of paperwork to do and then it's time to hit the sack myself.  Now shall I wake up first or second in the morning...

Night all. Paul

Friday, 2 November 2012

Farm walk & talk

Just a quick blog tonight as I still have lots to do before tomorrow's Morpeth Farmers market.  It's always the same I end up running round like a headless chicken the night before a fair.  The boys are tucked up in the barn though for an early departure!

We had a lovely family round today for a farm walk and talk.  Minimus, Piccolina and Angelica had a good walk up the hill, they all really enjoy their stroll up the hill and don't mind at all that they are being led by complete strangers.

The girls went out for a bit this morning, getting them in there field wasn't quite as easy as getting them into the shed.  Some ran past their gate others ran back to the barn, but we got there in the end.

It was much easier getting them back in this afternoon, they all ran straight down to the gate, with the exception of Little Miss Irraquoy - need I say more; she's bonkers!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Ladies that lunch

I've had a lovely day today, the alpaca have all enjoyed a spot of sunshine before the rain has returned again tonight and I've enjoyed some time with a great friend.

After the morning feed rounds, filling all the hay supplies and giving the two boys their bottles I headed off for a meeting about  new event for us this year, the  North Tyneside Victorian Christmas Market.  We had been invited along with our alpacas so wee needed to check out space and location.

They have a great spot for us, so mark your diaries, we will be there 8th & 9th December with some of the boys and whatever knitwear we have left, there have been more on-line sales today and we are at Morpeth Farmers Market on Saturday morning.

After my meeting Gill, young Taylor and I went for lunch, very nice it was too.  It's not very often I get me time so I thoroughly enjoyed it.  So thank you Gill we will have to do it again sometime, it made a lovely change neither of us having to cook.

This evening I have been weighing a few of the cria, there are some huge variations this year in weight gain.  Thankfully Azrael has gained weight today, mind you the way he's been tucking into his milk and nice warm sugarbeet today I should hope so.

I have quite a little following now, Azrael, Bridie and Liberty all want to eat sugarbeet from my hand and Prodigiosus comes for his milk; it's so nice to be popular!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Can you believe it..

This morning started off lovely and sunny but the rain was forecast for later so I wanted to get my outdoor chores done before it arrived as I'd decided that with heavy rain and wind forecast I would bring all the mums and cria into the shed.  Well whats the point of having this nice cosy facility if I don't use it.

The shed dwellers had a wonder round the yard in the morning sun whilst I mucked them out, although Bridie preferred to keep her eye on me so stayed in the shed supervising.

By lunchtime the clouds were gathering so after the shed dwellers had had their bottles and sugarbeet I set off up the hill to bring the girls down.

As the channel still isn't finished I thought that it would take a while as the girls can get into what will be the paddock closest to the shed (and it's quite a big strange shaped one).  The livery girls always go that way but head straight to the gate so I don't usually have to chase them out.

Anyway the girls seemed to know what I had in mind and ran straight down the channel, by the time I'd picked up three feed troughs (I couldn't manage more than that in one go) they were at the gate, they never even ventured off the channel.

I'd not opened that gate because they've never run down to that one before so Imala stood at the front of the queue patiently waiting for me to open it.  They all followed me straight into the barn (aka shed) where they have been scoffing copious amounts of hay ever since.

I'm glad they are in because it has rained most of the afternoon and the wind has really go up now.  Looking at the weather forecast they will be staying there for a couple of days.

Azrael, our skinny cria is still enjoying his bottles, I've stopped weighing him daily as one day he's up and the next he's down then back up again, I'll do it every two or three days.  He seems much brighter in himself now although he's still pretty weak.  He's had some more sugarbeet today so hopefully all this will help him gain some weight and strength.

I'm busy knitting a special order at the minute which isn't growing quick enough so I'm going to go and do a few more rows now.  Mum is also knitting a pair of ladies socks that have been ordered and hopefully Carol has finished some ordered legwarmers. 

People certainly seem to have started their Christmas shopping now, our knitwear is going down a treat; I've actually sold out of full gloves at the minute, just fingerless ones left for now.  I think I need to learn to knit in my sleep.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Exciting times

Another weekend draws to a close, in fact another month almost draws to a close, I do wonder sometimes where the time goes.

We have had a lovely afternoon talking alpacas with another couple of alpaca breeders who came to look at our boys.  I forgot to ask permission to name them so it will have to remain confidential, but we had a good rummage through the boys and their various offspring.  You can't help but gasp at the brightness of some of the white progeny fleeces even if I do say so myself.

Longevity of elite quality fine fleece is something that I am very keen to pursue for our knitwear range.  With our own stud Gianmarco's Masterpiece having a micron count of 22 for his 6th fleece (only 7.2% over 30) we are very pleased with his progeny to date.

To help diversify the genetics within our herd and help advance the Barnacre offering last month Paul and I decided to add to our core herd. I'd received the Alpaca Classic Brochure some time ago and had my eye on a couple of the Bozedown girls.

Never for a minute did I a) think Paul would agree to bid on two or b) that we would actually win them - he did the bidding not me (and for the record did one for more than we agreed!)

Bozedown Cara II is four years old and has a  fabulous fleece 20.3m, SD 4.4 & CF 96.7%.  She is sired by Supreme Champion Olympus of Bozedown and is pregnant to Supreme Champion Bozedown Patriot so as you can imagine we are very excited about this!  Not only that, look in the corner, she has a male cria at foot from Bozedown Wisdom (son of Bozedown Ulysses).

Our other purchase was Bozedown Divinity who is also four years old and has even more stunning fleece stats at 19.8m. SD 3.8 & CF 98.8%. She is sired by Tudor of Bozedown (son of the mighty Galaxy) who throws super fine progeny and Bozedown Cosmic, a multiple female Champion.  At foot she has a male cria from multiple Champion Jolimont Rodrigo of Bozedown who at the age of 15 has a fleece of 21 microns!

Divinity is pregnant to Supreme Champion Jolimont Reagan of Bozedown, his 11th fleece is an amazing 21 micron!

Exciting times!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Family photo

We woke to a slight covering of snow this morning, it obviously carried on snowing after we'd gone to be.  One good thing about the frozen ground meant we were able to take the tractor up the hill without causing any damage to the channel.

I needed two bales of hay moving up, but but the time we'd moved things round and jumped the tractor to get it going things were starting to melt!  By the time the two bales were actually in situe there was no frozen ground left and the ruts were being dug.

We'd just finished moving them when Pat and Eric came to see their boys, Leonidas, Olly and Seymour.  With the sun shining I managed to catch this lovely family photo....

I'm pleased to report that Azrael now likes his bottle and today for the first time took it without me having to put the teat in his mouth.  I also managed to get him to try sugarbeet which he decided he loved and happily took it from Pat's hand.  Hopefully all this will get him back on track, he's certainly looking happier in himself today.

I have also had a go at shearing one of the goats.  They should have been done last month but what with the weather and the guy I was going to use damaging his arm they've not been done.  To cut a long story short Nutmeg is now sheared but her fleece isn't usable - I need to find someone who can do the other 5!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Snow time to lose your spot...

We have had a few flurries of snow today, in fact it started whilst I was on the morning feed rounds, so yet again I got wet.  At least I'd put my hat on this morning.

By lunchtime the sun was out for a change and it was glorious, so out I went with the camera.  Here's the girls enjoying their sugarbeet.
However despite enjoying the nice warm speedibeet no one wanted to lose the best spot round the hay hecks so all of a sudden there was a mad dash. 
Oonagh was too quick for me to catch but hot on her heels was her daughter Freyja.

Followed by loopy Layla.

Kate cantering behind.

Nefertiti putting in a charge.

Palace in full sprint mode.

Even mum Willow managed a trot - not something she does very often.  Willow has one speed, dead slow!

Unfortunately the sun was short lived, tonight the snow is back and is settling; not good, it's only October.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Squeeze and share

Gee whiz I didn't realise it was as late as it is, I've been trying to get a special order hat done, do some forms and forecasts and all the day to day jobs and needless to say we have reached the end of another day and the hat still isn't half done.

I did have to nip out this morning to take Carol some wool for another special order, this time leg warmers to be knitted in our liquid gold yarn from Chiquita and her son Minimus,  It's a lovely colour and so soft, you can tell this yarn is special just by looking at it you don't even need to touch it!

On the alpaca front Emery had developed a pussy lump on her face which this morning I decided to lance.  There was lots of yucky puss that came out and she looks a lot more comfortable for me releasing the pressure.  With a course of antibiotics I'm sure she'll be as good as new again in no time. 

I obviously didn't upset her too much by grabbing her in the field this morning because she happily ate from my hand at tea time and would have followed me out of the field on her own this evening had I let her!

I have been a little worried about one of the cria since the weekend, Azrael has always been a bit of a loner but he's been sitting about a bit more than I'd like and he's rather skinny so he and his mum Lucia have come in to shed out of the damp drizzle to see if a few days of nice dry living helps.

I have also been offering him a bottle as Lucia has never had vast amounts of milk.  Until today he hasn't been in the slightest bit interested, in fact it's been a bit of a fight.  He'd bite the teat so I couldn't even squeeze milk into him, but this evening he decided he'd have some which was great; not sure Liberty was so pleased about having to share what she thought should all be her milk!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Spinning a yarn

I've had a lovely day today, after the morning feed rounds in the fog I rammed the car full of fleece ready for a ride up the The Border Mill to collect some of my yarn and drop off more fleeces.

I was taking Jan along with me, who recently bought six alpacas from us so she could see how the fabulous fleece from her new alpacas can be turned into great yarn by John and Juliet.  We are very keen to help everyone who buys alpacas from us every step of the way and that includes how to make the most from their fleece. 

Fleece is a real passion of mine, hence we are keen to keep other fibre producing animals like our angora goats and Shetland sheep.  I also managed to get a glimpse of some other wool I fancy, I've been trying to get my hands on the producer of for a little while now, hopefully I might manage it now I know of a friendly keeper.

After we'd been to the mill and and we'd drooled over my latest yarn we headed off for a spot of lunch at a nearby castle - great recommendation Juliet thanks.  We had a lovely lunch and a chat all things alpaca and more before heading home to feed all the animals before it got dark.

Whilst I've been away we have received a number of very interesting emails today, looks like there are a lot of like minded people about!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A weekend at Wallington Hall

We have had a busy weekend at Wallington Food and Craft fair.  It has become one of our regular events and people come with their shopping lists expecting us to be there.  As usual the alpacas drew a big crowd and on more than one occasion we were accused of hogging all the punters!

Minimus, Niveous and Seymour have been out on patrol, they are all very relaxed when they are out and about.   Minimus loves it because he knows he gets lots of carrot, Seymour just enjoys being noisy and Niveous just goes with the flow.

Not only did the alpacas receive lots of attention and praise so did our knitwear and other Barnacre products.  Lots of stock was purchased with people doing a spot of early Christmas shopping and treating themselves.  Our paca poo fire bricks went very well, so well in fact I ran out - note to self make sure you take more than one crate next time.

I didn't take the camera with me, but Paul snapped this rather poor quality shot very early on, in fact I think it might even have been before the event officially opened as that was about the only time it was quiet.

When it came to packing away we had three very willing volunteers to hold the alpacas whilst we were loading the car and putting the hurdles in the trailer!

We came away with a few knitting orders too, so mum, Carol and I all have our next knitting project sorted and we desperately need to knit more gloves as they just fly off the shelf.