Monday, 25 March 2013

End of an era

Today has been a sad day here, it's the end of an era.  Smudge, our first ever rescue cat from the RSPCA has died.

Smudge was 20 years old and over the past few weeks has really started to show her age, she has left a huge hole that can never be filled, she was my baby.

Smudge was dumped at the RSPCA shelter in a cornflake box with her sister Willow (who sadly got knocked over many years ago) on a cold December night.  I think this may have mentally scared her for life as she has never liked the cold since, so much so she didn't like to leave the house for more than a few minutes unless it was over 20 degrees!

She loved nothing more than to snuggle up on or next to something warm, in recent years this has been the aga (Smudge on the right, Tilly left). 

When Paul and I lived in Lincolnshire we had a sauna and she used to love going in there with us. She would cry at the door until you let her in, but woe betide you if you dripped on her!

Not once in her long life did Smudge ever catch a mouse or bird, that was far too energetic, she did once find a quail nest and bought us a baby quail, still alive, that I had to feed raw mince with tweezers.

I still can't believe she's gone.

Rest in peace Smudge.

Monday, 18 March 2013

The extra's!!

After last nights blog I thought I'd better fill you in with the very exciting extra rosettes I spoke about.

Many people know I have a love of greys and following the fantastic acquisition of Sunburst from Anzac Alpacas I was so excited when I saw Elysian in the Select Auction at the Futurity.  Those nearest and dearest will know how I have been working on Paul. 

A number of years ago I had the pleasure of seeing Alpaca Stud Nyetimbers fleece at the Scottish National Fleece show where it took champion grey and I have wanted to get my hands on some of his genetics ever since.  This was only strengthened when I saw his fleece at the World Alpaca Conference Fleece Show last year where once again it took Champion grey.  This desire was only strengthened when Sunburst arrived!

Luckily for me Paul loves the alpacas just as much as me and realised that this was an opportunity we didn't want to miss, so imagine my disappointment when I arrived at the Futurity to be told Elysian had been pulled from the auction.

Elysian was shown twice as a junior and not only came first both times she won Champion Grey too.  This was her at the Futurity last year. 
And this is her now.
Elysian had been replaced in the auction by another Nyetimber cria, Strawberry Hill, now she is a real cutie and had a stunning fleece.  Here she is being judged on Friday.
She came 3rd to 2 other Nyetimber juniors.

I now had a dilemma, I couldn't get hold of Paul as he was busy working in London (to pay for alpacas!) and I wanted them both, but I knew that would blow the budget we'd spoken about - notice I didn't say agreed!!  Plus I had to get Nick Harrington-Smith to agree to sell Elysian.

With a deal negotiated with Nick and a little encouragement (thanks Stuart) I managed to secure both girls, all without the knowledge of the other half........

Thankfully when he got to meet the girls on Saturday morning he was very pleased and I'm still here to tell you about them.

We now just have to finish another isolation paddock for the girls, it's a good job we have 220 acres isn't it!!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Champion Grey!

We have had a fantastic couple of days at the Futurity, well Paul didn't make it until late on the Friday night so missed a lot of the excitement!

It was lovely to meet up with friends old and new and catch up face to face with fellow bloggers and despite all the alpaca politics (which we stay well out of), which seem to be part of the industry it was a hugely successful event.

We hadn't entered any animals into the show but we had entered two fleeces, our fantastic grey stud Wyona Sunburst and our brown stunner Meketaten.  We were delighted to come home with two rosettes and a championship sash, or then again was it five rosettes and a championship sash....

I didn't actually take my camera so it was down to my trusty iphone for the photos.

We are so pleased and proud of what Sunburst has achieved for us, that's two show outings in the last 6 months, a halter show and a fleece show, and two Grey Championship sashes.  As a celebration we have decided to offer a further five discounted matings, £75 discount (off each mating) to the next 5 customers booking matings with Sunburst and paying a 50% deposit.  In addition to this fabulous discount we also offer multiple mating discounts across all of our Barnacre Studs, if you are interested in further details please get in touch.

Meketaten's fleece which has taken a real hammering at previous shows came fourth, there is no way this fleece will make it to the National.

I think it is nice to see the fleeces on show however they do get mauled and samples by the public and other breeders which destroys them even more for the next show.

More on the rest of the event tomorrow as my bed is calling.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Sussing out the surroundings

Today was the first day that our new boys on the block Sunburst and Heart Throb got to check out their isolation paddock.  Since arriving on Monday they have been safely tucked up inside getting acclimatised to the cold Northumbrian chill.  It's been pretty cold this week with snow flurries.

Both boys were very well behaved and as soon as they got into their paddock they did a full check of the perimeter fence; they obviously heard us saying we finished it in the dark!

We are still bringing all the alpacas and goats in at night so the same was planned for the new boys.  Thankfully mum is here (she is farm sitting whilst we head off to the Futurity) so there were two of us to get the boys back in.  It has to be said that they were very well behaved and we managed to catch each of them in the open field to put the leads on and walk them back to bed.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly alpacas settle and learn the routine.  Hopefully within a few days the boys won't need a head collar to go to and from their field and like everyone else they will happily run in and out.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Sunburst has arrived

Today has been a very exciting day, we woke to snow but nothing was going to put a dampener on my day.  I was off to fetch Sunburst!!!

Jan from Castleside Alpacas had kindly offered to come along for the ride as Paul was unable to join me, so after a rather slow slippy drive over from Consett Jan and I set off for a drive down the A1.

The weather wasn't pleasant but by the time we got to the services at Ferrybridge, having had a little detour as I missed the entrance and had a drive round the lorry park we pulled up in sunshine.  Literally less than five minutes later the Anzac waggon arrived and we got even more excited.

Sunburst is just as fantastic as he was when we last saw him, I still can't believe we have such an amazing rose grey boy!
Doesn't he look impressive with his equally impressive multi-supreme paddock mate.  More on him later in the week.

The drive home was very mixed, blizzards, sunshine and windy.  I was hoping that by the  time we got home the snow would have melted, however it was still there and the ice underneath meant we struggled to get up the drive.  Shovel and grit called for!

Unfortunately the weather wasn't warm for the boys arrival but they got a warm welcome from the girls who spied them get out of the trailer.

The light was starting to fail by the time I got my phone out to take this photo so the quality isn't the best, but don't worry I'll have the camera out as soon as the weather improves.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

In the nick of time

We've had a very busy weekend fencing, we needed to get the next two paddocks secure ready for two very exiting arrivals this week.

Friday I went to get the livery put on the new car, I love it and thought it would be a nice surprise for Paul when he got back.  Unfortunately for him I had a couple of hours to kill in Hexham so managed to treat myself.  I don't remember the last time I bought myself anything, other than alpaca related.

Saturday Gill, Ross and Taylor were over bright and early to get on with the fencing, we were working like a well oiled machine, each of us had a job (including 6 year old Taylor).  By the end of the day we had all the posts knocked in and some of the rails on.

Jeannine & Craig also came over to see their boys, Indigo & Azrael.  Indigo had his first introduction to the head collar and lead.  I was pleasantly surprised by his reaction. He is from Kate and has attitude so I thought he might be a bit of a nightmare but he wasn't.

We finished off the freezing cold wet day with a homemade pizza and Gill cakes - yummy.

Today Carol and Dave came over, Dave was helping with the fencing today whilst Carol stayed in the warmth knitting (after washing the pots!).

It has been sleeting, snowing and hailing today, so absolutely freezing cold and not ideal weather for fencing.  We managed to get all the rails on and the last bit of netting was being stapled on in the dark; its a good job we have working light on the tractor.

We can now sleep tonight knowing that the quarantine paddock is ready and waiting for our new grey stud Sunburst and his equally impressive paddock mate, more on him another night.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Lazy me?!

Paul has just been accusing me of being lazy for not blogging since Monday - the cheek of him!

Anyone who knows us knows how the division of labour works round here, and lazy is one thing I can't be accused of (in my opinion anyway).

In addition to the usual daily farm chores Tuesday I was playing taxi for Paul, Wednesday morning I had a meeting and in the afternoon Ant & Dec's new mummy came over to do some more halter training.

Her boys are doing really well, we then moved on to Leonidas and Olly-Impic who have been sold (along with Seymour) to a lovely couple Pat & Eric.  It was the first time these boys had been on the halter and they were great.  Just like his mum Oonagh, there was a bit of a jump thing going on with Leonidas.  You can see Oonagh's first walk on our website.

Then it was the turn of Liberty and Gypsy, as you'd expect Liberty with her laid back personality was fabulous, the free spirit that is Gypsy wasn't so impressed.

Today I had to nip to the post office with our Futurity Fleece entry and an on-line shop purchase which needed posting.  Then it was over to Castleside Alpacas to see their alpacas and have a spot of lunch - well a girl needs to eat!!  Then it was back out to do a spot of halter training with the boys and steal a little kiss or two.

In an evening I've been knitting or spinning, so not much lazing around Mr Rippon!!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Can you tell what it is yet?

Another nice sunny day meant that all the alpacas and goats were happy to go out and catch a few rays, many of the boys are starting to smell Spring in the air! 

Unfortunately this includes the weanling's, particularly Plato and Ant who are clearly going to be quick developers and both seem to have taken a liking to Lily our grey girl and Palace one of the white girls.  Palace isn't impressed but Lily doesn't seem to mind.

We managed to find time to pop out at lunchtime to have a look at our latest addition to Liberty Hill, I'm very excited.

Our first every rescue cat Smudge is causing me great concern at the minute, she'll be 20 this year and is starting to show her age.  She has been getting senile for a little while now but since the weekend she has been getting worse.  At the minute she is still happy and purring so I'm ok...

Sunday, 3 March 2013

With a little help from my friends

It's been another busy few days here, Friday the alpacas had visitors, well more specifically Ant & Dec had their new mum and dad, Jan & John, over to say hello and do a spot of halter training.

The boys had never even had the head collar on, however they were very good and had a little walk down to the gate (where the goats were waiting to come back in, as it was past 3pm!).

Over the weekend we have been busy fencing.  Gill, Ross and Taylor came over on Saturday laden with  lots of lovely homemade cakes and a pie for lunch.
We need to get another field fenced for Sunbursts arrival in a few weeks time, so today to help further Carol & Dave came over, once again laden with goodies - aren't we supposed to be the ones feeding the workers?!
Whilst Paul, Dave & I were out fencing Carol washed last nights tea pots I'd not got round to washing and cleaned my kitchen, sewed up a hole in Paul's coat pocket and did some knitting.  I feel like the magic elves have been here all weekend, thank you folks, we are so lucky to have such good friends.  Farming 220 acres is hard work!
This evening I thought as I had help to bring everyone in I could stand at the gate and take a few photos seeing as Dave at Apple Vale complained I failed on a recent occasion to get the inward bound race.
Well here it is, darkies are always first.

And trailing at the back is always one of the Willow clam, tonight it was her granddaughter Piccolina!