Tuesday 30 December 2008

All's well

Today has been a better day, thankfully after aborting her pregnancy last night Alice passed the plasenta over night. I had her shut in with one of her friends Angelus, just to make sure all was ok as it took her a little while to pass it. To be honest I think they both enjoyed filling their necks on hay all night!

Alice is none the worse for her ordeal yesterday and has been running the fence line clucking at Golden Guinea who is a couple of fields away. It really does amazing me how they can be so keen on boys so quickly after giving birth - must be mad!

I have had the preliminary post-mortem report back from the vets on the cria that died last week and there were no obvious reasons for the death. The final report should be back later in the week.

On a much brighter note, regular readers will recall that I had said it wouldn't be long before Aria would be eating from my hand. Well today she eat from my mums hand, she had to fight her way in because Angelus thinks that she is the only one entitled to hand feed at the minute.

Monday 29 December 2008

Ever get the feeling somebody has it in for you?

Just when you are already feeling things are not going your way, why it is something else comes along to slap you in the face.

This evening, one of our girls decided that for some reason she was going to go into labour, at six months gestation. I'd gone down to feed and noticed that after having her tea one went to lay down and just looked uncomfortable. She sat on one side and stuck her legs out, but when I wandered over she moved on and looked ok.

Then shortly after she was sat down again, I thought maybe she had a touch of tummy ache or colic. I was just about to go over again when I noticed as she lifted her tail her back end was slightly distended and she soon wandered over to strain over the dung heap. It was then obvious that she was actually in labour.

At six months there was really no way the cria was going to be viable but I sent mum back to the house to get the birthing kit just in case. Sadly just over half an hour later she gave birth to a stillborn tiny baby boy.

Hopefully after a year of not very nice luck for not only us but a few of our friends we are certainly hoping for much happier times next year.

Sunday 28 December 2008

Making the most of the weather

Hopefully everyone had a good Christmas and Santa was kind to you all. Paul & I got some excellent walkie talkies which will be a great help when one of us is in the paddock - they have been very handy to order cups of tea from my dad over the past few days too!

Despite the festive period we still have lots of jobs to get on with, and with the weather being dry for a number of days now we have certainly made the most of it.

The whole herd have had their vitamin AD&E paste which is vital at this time of year. Some are much easier to deal with than others, Gabby and Loki love it and would happily eat the whole tube given half a chance. Then you get others who think you are trying to poison them so injectable AD&E will be required there. If I can give it in paste form I would rather do than that give them an injection, but on occasions an injection is either best or the only way to ensure they get it.

I did every one's nails too, that was 256 nails to check and almost of all them needed a little trim or in some cases a lot of a trim. Again some animals are more co-operative than others, Blossom & Kate are always difficult and all of the boys are very well behaved. Kate takes her spite out of everyone else and was spitting at anyone that came within a few yards so in the end we had to put her out.

It is amazing how much some animals change, when we first got Willow she was an absolute nightmare to try and cut her nails but she now tolerates it well, albeit usually whimpers and sits down. Angelus, one of the pregnant females we have for sale, is another that was very nervous when we first got her, she completely trusts me now and she stood quite happily whilst we did everything that was needed. She was the first of the sales girls to eat from my hand.

Alice is another of the 'sales team' who has gained enough confidence to eat from my hand, I'm sure Aria won't be much longer either before she is eating from my hand. Another of the sales team Molly is looking very pregnant. She is pregnant to EP Accoyo Remarque and only has about 12 weeks to go now. She will be the first of our births next year unless she has gone to her new home before then. Molly, her sister Millie and their friend Aria would make starter herd, all are pregnant and are due to birth early in the spring.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

A sad day at Barnacre

This morning the realisation of what happened last night was beginning to hit home. We lost a female cria, all very sudden with no real warning.

When I went into the field yesterday morning I thought that she had spent the night on her own, still asleep away from the main herd. However she got up, albeit a little stiff, and went and had a drink of milk from mum and had her usual good appetite at the trough. I checked on her on a number of occasions during the day and she was happily munching on the grass.

The herd are due their AD&E vitamins so I gave her hers a couple of days early just to be on the safe side. Everyone else will get theirs at the weekend - I can't manage the likes of Blossom on my own, and I hid the tube from Gabby who loves the stuff (If you've not seen it there is a photo of her taking it on the photos page of the website http://www.barnacre-alpacas.co.uk/page_1172869167515.html ).

She had tea with everyone else and all seemed to be fine. But for some reason last night after dark, I decided that we should go and check that she'd not been left on her own to go to sleep. She had and things were not at all good, shortly after the poor little thing died in my arms. Not a very nice experience at all, and not one I ever want to repeat. I am currently awaiting the results of the postmortem.

On a much brighter note everyone else is full of the joys of a sunny winters day - obviously hoping that Santa will bring them something nice.

Sunday 21 December 2008

Fantastic fleeces

The winds have continued to be strong the last couple of days, but all our hard work in the recent field shelter construction obviously paid off because all are still standing and still have roofs!

The good thing about the winds mean things are drying off, including the alpacas which is nice. We have been able to admire some fleeces - seems a while since we were able to do that on fully dry animals. Legend of Spartacus really stands out, the brightness and crimp in his fleece is fantastic and goes from head to toe. I really can't wait until the spring to get him working on our girls.

Gianmarco's Masterpeice also has a superb fleece which is very different in character to Legends. Loki is also showing great promise, he is still only 18 months old so time will tell if he will go on to work for us. Golden Guinea is in a seperate stud field so he missed out the on inspection.

We then moved into the girls field, Chiquita's fleece just blows me away. Every time I look at it I am amazed at it's brightness and the uniform crimp running through it. We only have four months to wait for her mum Willow to have her next cria so fingers crossed it will be as impressive as Chiquita.

Friday 19 December 2008

The wind and rain returns

My word what a difference a day makes, the cold, rain and wind are back. In fact is is very very windy, I can hear things banging about outside that shouldn't be banging!

As the weather has turned the herd have headed back into the shelters. They are very predictable, slightest bit of cold and Mary heads in, closely followed by Duchess and her cria Mallika, then go the Ozzy girls and so on. If you set a camera up I'm sure I'd be able to get most of the entry order correct.

The weanlings seem a bit happier today, Barnaby decided he would have some tea today which was good. Since they have been weaned only Sienna and Aodhfin had been eating the supplement so it was nice to see Barnaby tucking in again. Whilst the three of them were eating their tea, Lualeni and Horatio where chasing round the paddock like mad things, then we had a lovely pronking display. It is the first time I'd seen Lualeni 'pronking' she never quite seemed to get the hang of it before now.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Grateful maure collectors

This morning we had visitors, new manure collectors, it's great to see how pleased people get over paca poo! The were pleased to get to meet the generous providers of said muck - Horatio enjoyed a bit of attention.

Talking of the babies they are all going ok without their mums milk, although they are still quite vocal. Their mums have already moved on and appear to have forgotten about their babies already. Nefertiti is the only one who seems to be at a bit of a loss without her daughter.

I had had a delivery of the worlds largest round bale!!! Alan,our farmer friends obviously saw me finishing off the last bale yesterday and deposited in it's place was a fresh one this morning. He's great, it saves me having to store them. As regular readers will remember I had a garage full of the rectangular ones back in the late summer. How quick they vanish in this weather though.

I know exactly who the main culprits are. I have a few of, what Rob from Wellground would call rotund, whilst the Patou man Mark would say Lardy girls. Particularly Little Miss Irraquoy who may as well move into the hay manger she is there so much. I have a couple of girls who could do with some of her bulk as being pregnant and feeding cria is taking it's toll on their condition score.

The last minute shoppers are still out there I have had a couple of phone calls today plus an on line sale so it's off the the post office for me in the morning. I bet that will be a long queue!

Wednesday 17 December 2008

I braved Tesco

I thought that I'd better pluck up the courage to brave Tesco this morning, it was manic, I dread to think what it will be like next week. They are only shut for one day for heavens sake! The lady on the checkout was saying that they'd had to call the police because there were two people fighting over the last large turkey, can you believe it!

I spent the afternoon cleaning paddocks again, I'd much rather do that than go to Tesco that's for sure. However at the rate the muck collection is growing I'll build a wall to Tesco!!

My mum makes a fantastic Christmas cake, and this year is no exception, we have a Barnacre Alpacas Christmas cake. I've not seen it in the flesh, or should I say icing yet, but here is a photo. Doesn't it look great - thanks mum it must have taken you hours.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Golden Guinea is happy again

This morning was a morning of major cleaning. The weather has been either wet or snowing for days, I've not been able to get out with the paddock cleaner and the fields were in need of cleaning.

First was the sales girls old field, I have put them in with the main herd now over winter as the main herd have a much larger paddock with more grass. It has to be said they are much messier than the other groups so theirs is always the worst to clean!

Over three hours later I'd done two stud fields and the girls and needed a cup of tea! I now have a mountain of muck but thankfully have a new collector coming on Thursday - hopefully with a very big car boot.

Since moving the sales team Guinea has been missing his girls, so I have moved him up a field. He is now closer, but not to close, to his beloved girls. He is such a character I love him to bits. I let him have a munch in one of the channels whilst I was cleaning the stud field he came out of which he liked. He went to say hello to Imala who is still looking for Aodhfin; Imala soon told him what for - she's holding her pregnancy then!!

Monday 15 December 2008

Poor little babies

My poor little (or not so little) babies are missing their mummy's. I hate weaning time, a necessary evil though and I know they will soon get over it.

I do find it amazing how very brave youngsters turn into not at all brave humming weanlings the minute they are taken from mum. Even Horatio is not happy and looking for his mum to cuddle up to. It is nice that they see me as the mother figure, all five come running the minute they see me clucking away, Aodhfin is glued to me, I'm sure he would climb in my pocket if he could. Even Sienna who wouldn't normally come within six feet of you unless absolutely necessary is my friend.

Thankfully, as I expected Horatio took everyone into the field shelter last night and they snuggled up to the hay - it's the next best thing to mum you know!

The mums, with the exception of Mary who was far too interested in the freshly filled hay mangers, went back to the gate to look for their babies after breakfast. They soon moved on to eating though, so no worries there.

Sunday 14 December 2008

The nasty lady

I feel like the nasty lady today, we have weaned the first batch of this years cria today. It's a job I really don't like doing, I remember how much I missed my mum when I moved away!!

As I expected the girls made the most noise, Lualeni and Sienna didn't want to leave their mummy's. It was also the two girls mums who were the most concerned by their daughters being taken away. We have also weaned Horatio, Barnaby and Aodhfin who were slightly less bothered initially. I'm sure Mary will miss Horatio tonight as they always snuggle up close.

The cria have gone back into one of the paddocks behind the house for a week or so, so that I can keep a close eye on them. They were happy munching the nice grass when we first put them in there but by mid afternoon they had remembered that they wanted some milk and were all humming away. Lualeni and Aodhfin were chasing round looking for their mums. Aodhfin came to see if I had any milk when I went to give them their tea, having checked round my legs he thought he would try my nose.

By the time it was the main herds tea time the respective mums had all seemed to have forgotten they had youngsters this morning. They can all now concentrate on the babies growing inside them.

We have finally got the roof on the additional shelter we were building. It is now fully function albeit still needing a few finishing touches. With the very short days and Paul working all hours I'm not quite sure when said final touches will get done.

Saturday 13 December 2008

Snowing again!

Can you believe it, I've just opened the door for Twiggy (one of the cats) to answer a call of nature and we have about an inch of snow! It's been absolutely chucking it down with rain all day, there are rivers running all over the fields and now we have snow.

Roll on Spring!

I think the whole herd are living in their respective shelters constantly as this afternoon when we went to feed everyone all the shelters were rather dirty, so after another night in them with no one stepping outside in the snow they wont be very pleasant in the morning - first job cleaning shelters then!

Angelus, one of the Ozzie girls we have for sale, has finally plucked up the courage to eat from my hand. She has been thinking about it for a little while now but at last she taken the final step and done it. It's good because it allows me to give her that bit extra as she has lost a bit of condition with feeding her very demanding cria and also being pregnant again. Her cria, affectionately known as Munchkin will be weaned soon, so that should also help.

Thursday 11 December 2008

Page 3 model

No not that page three! Hughie and I have made page three of this weeks Morpeth Herald, we also got a mention on the front page. It's quite a good article even if I do say so myself. It talks about Barnacre Alpacas and alpaca farming as a solution to the credit crunch.

I had to drive into Morpeth today to deliver some knitwear that had been ordered, I walked round waiting for somebody to ask for my autograph; but alas there were no requests!

Wednesday 10 December 2008

BAS Wall Planner

We have just received the BAS Wall planner which we placed an advertisement on, so there will be a fair few posties who will have had a laugh at Chiquita and I would have been looking back at them through the plastic packaging.

Ours will have pride of place in the utility, with all the girls due dates marked on there. I work out every ones individual average gestation period which so far has worked well for us. With the exception of Gabby who hung on much longer this year than she has done in the past!

I have been doing some much needed paddock cleaning today, the ground was still frozen though so it wasn't the easiest job in the world scraping up poo which was welded to the ground! Needs must.

We have an enormous mountain of manure at the minute, so I think I will have to put another advert on freecycle to all those keen gardeners as the regulars are struggling to keep up. It's a great way to get rid of it and helps out the local veggie growers too.

Monday 8 December 2008

The Christmas rush

We have had a fantastic run on the shop over the past couple of weeks, so much so there is very little stock left. Great news for us as it proves what fantastic garments we are producing and how very sought after they are, not so great news for those of you with your shopping left to do. Don't delay get in there quick to avoid disappointment.

I have also taken a couple of orders which will clear out all the remaining earthen brown yarn, this was a one off mix so will never be repeated. There are the last few bits of brown in the shop but once they've gone they've gone.

I had to hit the dreaded shopping centre today to get the last few bits I needed, I really don't enjoy it these days. I'd much rather be at home with the animals!

Sunday 7 December 2008

Time with the animals at last

We had nothing booked in today so we planned to get on with building another shelter; yes I know we're always building, but when you rotate fields and in the wet horrible weather you can never have enough!

We still have frozen snow on the fields, in fact our little lane is a sheet of compact snow and ice in places so it wasn't the best weather for it. It was nice to be working with the inspection team on patrol; Blossom, Horatio, Ursula and Imala to name the front row. They now have sides but no roof yet. I need to go and get a bracket as we are one short for some reason so we came to a premature halt.

With all our Christmas fairs over and done with now, hopefully I will have a bit more time to get prepared for Christmas at home and do some ironing, I have to have the biggest ironing mountain the world has ever seen!!

Saturday 6 December 2008

Morpeth Farmers Market

Up and out early again today, Paul has had to get up earlier the last few weekends than he has during the week (and he doesn't like getting up)!

I did wonder if we would managed to get the trailer off the drive this morning as we still have the snow which has then froze, it was like sheet ice. We knew that once we got to the main roads it was OK but we were very careful and very slow but we got there without any issues - other than passing the gritter lorry down one of the little country lanes. It was worth it because he's been gritting.

The animals certainly went down well, as one would expect Hughie was in his element especially when the cameras came out. As you will see from the video clip a local reporter took he didn't miss out on any photo opportunity. Don't laugh at me, I hate doing things like this - public speaking is Paul's job!


It was a good day all in all and we were very grateful for all the people who complimented us on our animals and finished goods. With plenty of warm clothes on and my alpaca hat I didn't feel cold at all, I even had to take my hat off at one point.

Legend and Gianmarco's Masterpiece were glad to see Hughie and Loki back this evening, I'm sure Marky thinks that every time somebody leave the field it means this have a 'business appointment' if you get my meaning (!!), he doesn't like to think someone else is serving his ladies :-)

Friday 5 December 2008

The snow remains

Well despite the weather forecasters saying the snow would be gone by today we still have it here, the animals are munching their way through loads of hay and getting all excited when the uncover a bit of grass.

Oonagh has been rather naughty today or last night, not sure when. For whatever reason, she decided that she preferred the look of the shelter in the field next door - probably due to the hay I had stored in there in case of more blizzards this morning. She had somehow jumped the fence that has kept everyone in since the word dot, I could see her footprints in the snow and it looked like a clear jump and perfect landing.

I put her back where she belonged and gave her a good telling off, she was still in the right place this afternoon so fingers crossed it was a one off.

I've been having a chat with another journalist today, that's two in three days; we're in demand! We are taking the boys and our knitwear to the Morpeth Farmers Market tomorrow and the local newspaper were interested. You can read the article : http://www.morpethherald.co.uk/news/Angerton-alpacas-bound-for-Morpeth.4765952.jp

Thursday 4 December 2008

Life's too short

I had a really sad phone call this morning, a lovely man I used to work with died of a massive heart attack last night. He was only 53, and leaves behind a wife and three daughters, my thoughts go out to them. It really does make me feel so grateful that I was able to follow my dream and pursue something I felt very passionate about. I have become a great believer in the saying 'life's to short', so take a chance.

On the subject of taking a chance, nobody this morning wanted to take the chance of getting covered in snow! As I had predicted to Paul before he left for work Mary, Horatio, Ursula, Geena and Gaussian didn't even leave the shelter for their breakfast. They preferred to hang on in the hope of waitress service - they know me too well!!!

By the time the snow had stopped this afternoon everybody did pluck up the courage to venture out and I was able to snap a couple of shots.

Gaussian managed to find himself a patch of grass to guard.

As you can imagine with most of the grass under snow we have gone through a tremendous amount of hay today. I seem to have spent all day filling mangers and hay nets.

The on line shop continues to attract sales, so I got some wrapping and packing to do. Although I'm not sure I will be able to get to the post office tomorrow. DHL were supposed to be coming to collect a parcel today but couldn't make it through to snow!

This was the view from my study.

Wednesday 3 December 2008

All change and Mary gets excited

We woke to snow still this morning, in fact we had had another light sprinkling over night. Most of the alpacas were in the shelters, well with the exception of the main herd who were all sat in the snow!

Mary seemed cold again, so I decided that I would swap everyone round before the heavy snow arrives that is forecast tonight. The sales girls stayed where they were, but all the boys moved to make way for the girls. Hughie, Loki, Legend & Marky have much better sheltering facilities (until we finish the last large shelter in the girls field) and I know Mary has been dying to get back into their shelter - they used that field last winter.

Golden Guinea had to move first, I don't trust him next to Ursula, he seems to remember that she gave him a good time and he is somewhat obsessed with her and tries to get over the fence when he can see her! He is now in the sales teams resting paddock with the other boys in the stud field next to him.

As usual everyone got very excited exploring their new fields, the cria were very taken with the lambs in the neighbouring field which pleased Mia! Poor Gaussian got left behind when the stampede began into the new field. He is far from bright bless him and needed some encouragement to go through the gate.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Another wintery morning

We got up to a covering of snow again this morning, it had fallen on the already sheet ice so it was treacherous.

Mary seemed to be feeling the cold, not that it stopped her wanting her breakfast. I think she remembered it was the day for her cream and she didn't fancy it. She's pretty good really, I'm trying 'Stop it' cream on her bald patches to see if it works. If it does I will try it on Duchess too. Thankfully Mary is quite cooperative and I manage to do it on my own in the open field. Surprising what the promise of a little extra food will do!

The hay consumption is on the increase again, I don't think they have seen the grass without thick frost or snow on it for well over a week now. The sales team virtually live in their shelter or snuggled round the hay manger, they are so predictable. Angelus' cria temporarily named Munchkin is getting very friendly with me. She comes to say hello every day now and we exchange a little nose nuzzle and hum.

Talking of the sales team we recently got the fleece stats back for Katia. Her second fleece was a very impressive 21.1 micron (SD 3.7 & CV 17.7), with fleece stats like that and with her first cria due in May she would be a fantastic addition to anyone looking for quality alpacas.

Monday 1 December 2008

November record

Having been at the Hexham Christmas fair over the weekend and all the preparation involved I don't seem to have found time to do the routine jobs for ages. So this morning I've been doing some catching up.

The good news is that November was our best month yet for sales, with the fair and the online orders coming through the stocks are going down so get in there soon for your Christmas presents before we sell out of your favourite items.

The second bit of good news, just over a week after Barnaby was brave enough to try the camelibre supplement we feed the herd he's decided he loved it. Today he was the first one to the troughs and was helping Duchess clear up long after everyone else had moved off!

After the weekend off from the knitting I have picked up the needles again this evening. we have a stall at the Morpeth Farmers Market this weekend, so thought I'd get at least some gloves done. We are also taking along Hughie and Loki to show people where the knitwear and jewellery comes from, so if you live locally come and say hello and show your support.

Saturday 29 November 2008

Hexham Christmas craft fair

Today we have been at the Craft Fair at the Wentworth Leisure centre in Hexham selling our wares. It has been a good day so well worth the hours of preparation knitting and making everything look nice. It is good to show people what magnificent things can be created from alpacas.

It was a very early start (5.20am), as I had a few last minute things to get together and the car needed loading. It was absolutely freezing , in fact the car was showing -7 on the way over to Hexham. I don't think I have ever seen it so low.

My parents were still here, so mum fed and checked everyone for me this morning before she headed back to Nottingham. Thankfully the fog wasn't as bad as had been forecast so their journey back wasn't too bad. My parents have been a great help this week mum's had steam coming from her knitting needles and I also set dad on wrapping the Paca poo fire bricks - more about those tomorrow!!

Thursday 27 November 2008

Back in contact with the outside world

I'm back at last! Our telephone has been off for the last few days and the mobile signal round here is pretty none existent so I've felt very isolated. It is amazing how reliant you become on technology isn't it.

My parents are here at the minute, mum delivered her knitting (in her new car!) ready for the craft fair at the weekend. I've been busy getting everything labelled, tagged and priced today. Also managed to fit in some ear ring making, I love doing them but they do take ages.

I had to give the second Bluetongue vaccine to the bulk of the herd earlier in the week and following on from the NEBAG AGM I took extra precautions - anyone there will know why! :-) You will all be pleased to know both me and all the alpacas showed no side effects!!!

Sorry its a short one folks but having had a number of very late nights this week I'm off to bed. I'll be felting in my sleep........

Monday 24 November 2008

Felting frenzy

I have a poorly Paul; yet another cold! This time bad enough to have him stay in bed which is rather unusual. Smudge (the cat) was none to impressed with having to share the bed during daylight hours, that's her time!!

Another day of appalling weather; this afternoon we have had rain, hail and snow. I thought I'd timed feeding just right this afternoon when midway through the heavens opened and I got hailed on!

I have been busy felting some ear rings ready for the weekends craft fair, they usually create a lot of interest so hopefully this weekend will be no different.

Sunday 23 November 2008


This afternoon was the annual AGM for NEBAG our regional alpaca group. It was good to catch up with people and welcome some new members to the group, alpacas are certainly increasing in popularity in this neck of the woods which is always a good thing.

We woke to snow this morning so as I've come to expect the girls we currently have for sale were snuggled nice and warm in their field shelter until the last moment when you have to run to the feed troughs.

Angelus's cria who we have nick named Munchkin has become very inquisitive and likes to come and say hello to me now. We exchange a spot of nose to nose contact before she runs off to join the rest of the herd. As I have mentioned before we have left registering her for the time being so that her new owner can have the pleasure of naming her.

Gaussian managed to put on a few grams again this week which was pleasing. He has now managed to reach 15.74kg so still heading in the right direction, albeit slowly!

Saturday 22 November 2008

The north wind doth blow....

And we shall have snow! Blimey it's been cold today and we have had snow flurries on and off all day.
I thought seeing as I am always talking about the lovely Horatio you might like to see a photo of him covered in snow - you can see where he was obviously snuggled up to mum along his side.
I've been home alone all day, Paul has gone down to Twickenham for the rugby - oops! The less said about that the better I think, especially as I had to be up and out by 5.45am to take him to the train station. I dread to think what time I will have to fetch him back.
Our Aussie girls are certainly not used to these Arctic blasts we get up here, most of them have spent the day in the field shelter munching hay out of the wind. Until that is they here me opening their gate, then it is a mad rush to the troughs.
We have had a first with Barnaby; he has finally tried camelibra. He has been thinking about it for a few days putting his head in the trough but not quite plucking up the courage to try it. Hopefully he will now show Gaussian how it is done, he is the only one left not eating it, typically the one who really needs building up!

Friday 21 November 2008

Our first snow

As forecast the snow arrived this morning, it was the first time the cria has seen the fluffy white stuff and just as you'd expect Horatio got excited. Bless him, he was trying to pounce on the snow as it landed; although he soon got bored of that game and went back to annoying Sienna. He is a total mischief from the minute he wakes to the minute he settles down at night, he's been like it from the minute he found his feet.

Once the weather had picked up I went to the vets to pick up my bluetongue vaccine, as the second injection is due next week. Paul had taken the 4x4 this morning and managed to slid off the road twice before reaching civilisation, so I thought taking my little MG out first thing wasn't the best idea.

I checked on Pepper and Mocha as I went past, they were guarding the haylage and well away from the other sheep - that's my girls! They don't mix with the common sheep, they think they're far too good for that.

This afternoon the temperature seemed to plummet even further, and everyone had retreated to their shelters when I went to give them tea. The sales girls made me laugh, they pared round the shelter wall, waited until I'd got to their gate and then it was a mad dash to get to the troughs first and as soon as they'd finished it was a mad dash back to the shelter; first one in gets the best spot, last one in gets the draft!!

Thursday 20 November 2008

Hay boys come here!

As it was a dry morning after everyone had been fed I thought I would have a wrestle with the large round bale and fill up all the mangers, hay nets and bag up a little spare in preparation for the bad weather that is forecast.

The bale is covered in the boys field and as soon as it was opened and uncovered they were there like a shot! Loki and Legend were queueing up, and not wanting to miss out Hughie was hot on their heels. It took Marky a little longer to wonder over but there were soon four mouths munching whilst I filled the bags.

I also had the five lambs yelling and looking hopefully over the fence; well Mia in true Mia style tried to climb the fence. Some people have no patience. Don't worry they got their share too.

I have also been sewing in Barnacre labels into the latest knitwear ready for the Wentworth craft fair over at Hexham the weekend after next. I'm quite looking forward to it, it will be the first one of the Christmas season.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Pepper & Mocha go on their holidays

It has been another busy day, starting off this morning with the muck truck and cleaning all the paddocks. It never ceases to amaze me how much 'out put' you get from the herd. Hopefully the manure collectors will be round soon as the pile is growing rapidly.

Pepper and Mocha (our two sheep) have gone on their annual holiday to see Alan's tups (or rams, depending on where you are reading this!). It is slightly later than normal this year. As the weather has been so poor, and all the ploughing and sewing hasn't been done it is now going to have wait until the spring, which means lambing has had to be put back a couple of weeks. It would be impossible to lamb and sew at the same time.

It also means that we should have our lambs after the grass has had chance to start growing. Hopefully we will get a decent spring and summer next year, we are certainly over due one!

Monday 17 November 2008

Normal service resumed

After a busy weekend normal service was resumed this morning and the boys were certainly pleased to see me. Gianmarco's Masterpeice was trying to make out he had been starved to death in my absence and almost mugged me for his breakfast! They do make me laugh, it's nice to know they miss me.

We have had another wet day for a change, it really is bad. The ground is so wet the arable farmers locally have still not managed to get their fields ploughed let alone get the corn and wheat sown. There are still lots of bales of hay and straw in fields which are to wet to get it, it's a nightmare.

Enough doom and gloom, I'm pleased to say the new jumper in stock has gone down well. I have had a couple of people who have taken the trouble to tell me how nice it looks - it feels great to wear too; I want, no need one!

Sunday 16 November 2008

Happy Birthday Legend

Today is the second birthday of one of our elite studs, Legend of Spartacus, who as the name suggests is the son of the legendary Peruvian Spartacus. He also has Jolimont Commisario in his pedigree and is one cracking boy. We are eagerly awaiting the start of his working career in the spring.

It has also been my Niece and God Daughters dedication today so we have been back to Nottingham for a flying visit. It's all go!

Yesterday was weigh day for Gaussian and thankfully he managed to put on a little bit of weight, he's now up to 15.7kg, we were hoping with all the fresh grass he would have managed a bigger gain, but maybe the very wet weather last week didn't help.

The stock in the shop is also increasing, we have a lovely long brown lacy jumper now in stock - I love it and may have to have one knitted for myself.

Friday 14 November 2008

Strong winds up north

It has been another very windy day today, the alpacas are great at sheltering themselves and knowing where is best to get away from it all. Most of our fields have the old rigs and furrows and most of the girls were snuggled up with their backs to the wind in the furrows at tea time.

I had to laugh as Horatio quite clearly wanted a drink but Mary didn't want to get up, so after humming and nuzzling mum to no avail he began climbing on her when this failed he tried running and jumping on her, which didn't go down well - did the trick though because mum got up. She did make him follow behind begging for a while before she stopped to let him feed.

Horatio is getting ready for weaning soon, we are just waiting for a couple more and they will begin 'big boy' life away from mum.

I had a lovely chat with a lady at lunchtime who is looking into getting her first alpacas. It's good to know that there are people out there who enjoy looking at the website and reading the blog.

Thursday 13 November 2008

The RAF have a nosey!

Over the last couple of days we seem to have had an RAF helicopter exercise going on, there have been a number going overhead at quite a low altitude.

This afternoon there were two more going over, and one seemed to take a bit of a detour to come over our fields. It was that low I could see the pilot pointing out out alpacas to his co-pilot! The alpacas weren't bothered in the slightest, far too interested in munching on the nice lush grass.

I managed to get most of the paddock cleaning done this morning before the rain came, hopefully our muck collectors will come soon as there is a bit of a pile accumulating!

I'm home alone tonight as Paul is out for a charity dinner, a night of knitting then. Having made a couple of internet sales in the last couple of days I need to keep stock levels up as Christmas is only 6 weeks away!!!!

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Fresh grass for the sales team

As the main herd and the sheep have had fresh grass this week, today was the turn of the sales team. The six pregnant girls and 'Munchkin' Angelus's cria who is awaiting a pedigree name (we have left off officially naming her as we thought it would be nice for whoever buys her to give her a name) were very pleased to move to fresh pasture.

It is always nice to see how excited everyone gets over new grass all of them tried to get through the gate first and literally took one step and all heads were down, poor Munchkin couldn't even get through the gate!

Rotating the paddocks is very important for both alpacas and the land, it helps keep parasites to a minimum and also helps the grass recover and freshen up.

Alice one of the elite Australian girls is so funny, she loves to try and put her head trough the fence to eat somebody elses grass and this afternoon was no exception. Only this time she was putting her head through to eat the grass I'd just took them off - why is it the grass always greener elsewhere?!

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Barnacre get BBC coverage

Following on from the Beeb visit last week, the article has now been posted on the BBC Online website. Check it out below:-


Hughie is famous again; never one to miss out on a photo opportunity! I'm really pleased with the article actually, its always nice to introduce new people to alpacas and the herd enjoyed the attention too - any excuse to talk alpaca!! Hopefully people will enjoy reading it, the website counter has ticked up a few more than normal today so I think it's aroused some interest.

The weather has been pretty poor again so not only have the animals been trying to hide away so have I. Well I have been knitting, it's only two and a half weeks until our first Christmas fair over at the Wentworth sports centre in Hexham. I have also made another online sale this evening so have a hat to wrap and post in the morning. It's all go!

Monday 10 November 2008

Happy herd

Everybody seems to be enjoying the nice fresh grass and the excitement of a new paddock is keeping everyone on the move.

The weather was atrocious last night and there was standing water everywhere this morning, not nice, but thankfully today has stayed dry. Despite the strong winds overnight everything was still standing this morning. The forecast isn't particularly good for the whole week.

Paul went off to work this morning and had to come back and change cars, he needed the 4x4 to get through the flood water!!

Sunday 9 November 2008

All change

Today has been a big move day, the main herd (all the mums, babies and pregnant maidens) have gone into their winter field, and this year it's a new one. Regular readers may remember me mentioning earlier in the year that we'd rented some additional land from our neigbour and that is where the herd headed today.

It was a bit of a job because there were a few who decided that they didn't want to move, they also had to pass the boys and Golden Guinea got extremely excitable and was trying to get to the ladies!

It was great to see once everyone got through the gate it was heads down and munching. Blossom pushing as much lush grass as possible into every mouthful just in case she was only passing through. Geena was getting a bit stressed because she really dislikes change, but as soon as she saw all the new grass she was happy.

Hopefully the grass will give everyone a boost as the weather forecast isn't good for the next week. Also fingers crossed it will help Gaussian pile on a few kilos. He's up to 15.6kg now so slowly heading in the right direction.

The sheep also moved onto fresh grass which pleased them, the sheep are so greedy I can't imagine it will last them long. The two ewe's, Pepper & Mocha are hopefully going off to the tups this week.

Friday 7 November 2008

Muck, muck and more muck

Today has been a day of paddock cleaning. With the quad having been away for repairs and having to manually clean and then the atrocious weather the paddocks were all in need of a thorough clean.

So a few litres of petrol later and a couple of dumpy sack of manure for collection things are looking much cleaner. There is the boys field left to do so that will be on the list for the weekend.

I have also taken delivery of a large round bale of hay from the fantastic Mr Thompson. We are getting through the small bales like crazy and it's not even winter yet, so I thought I'd get a large one before the weather totally deteriorates. Hopefully it will last me about a month, but we'll see.

Thursday 6 November 2008

A marked improvement

This morning Lualeni was looking slightly better, nowhere near as stiff as yesterday and as the day has gone on she has improved further. Bless her, she really was feeling sorry for herself yesterday. Hughie seemed completely recovered and had forgotten that I was the nasty lady yesterday!

It has been a really miserable day with constant drizzle. Mary and her off spring, Ursula and Horatio have spent most of the day in the field shelter eating hay. Willow and Chiquita have spent a fair bit of time in there too.

Family traits among our alpacas fascinate me. We have Mary and her two, who both think other peoples ears are for biting, then there is the Blossom effect, both of her daughter take no messing from anyone. Willow has passed on many of her traits to Chiquita, the 'Willow dawdle' when it comes to going anywhere, the call of nature on route to the feed troughs and rolling straight in front of them when you do get there to annoy everyone! Geena passed on her vocal abilities and Gabby her 'please don't get me' streak.

Then there is the Duchess line, Blossom, Hughie, Malika, and her two granddaughters Oonagh & Lualeni who all have extremely 'healthy' appetites.

I can't wait to see what next year brings.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

A visit from the beeb

This morning the alpacas and I had a visit from the BBC, they were doing an article for their website. It was really nice to talk alpaca and explain how we got hooked. The herd enjoyed the attention too, the usual suspects came running as soon as they saw the camera; Hughie, Imala, Little Miss Irraquoy and obviously Horatio! I'll let you all know as soon as it goes live.

Following on from the Bluetongue jabs yesterday poor little Lualeni is very stiff today and feeling very sorry for herself. She has been demanding lots of extra milk from mum to make herself feel better. Thankfully as the day as gone on she has improved slightly. The only other one showing any stiffness was Hughie but nothing to bother him too much. He was still able to run to say hello to passing workmen and journalists!

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Good & bad news today

It's been a really mixed day of emotion today. We had the vet coming out to carry out a couple of pregnancy scans on two of our maidens and also give those not already vaccinated their BTV8 jab.

First up was Ursula for scanning and here came the biggest disappointment, the vet couldn't find any foetus. She is supposed to be pregnant to our very impressive brown stud Golden Guinea, I'm hoping against all hope that the vet has this one wrong - well he did once before. He has quite large hands so doesn't like to go in too far with the rectal probe as the girls get that bit further on.

I'm going to leave her a few days and carry out another spit off and see what happens, if she's still spitting they we'll have to get the vet back out again. By then surely something will show transabdominally; our vet likes the girls to be about 3 months gone to do TA scans.

Thankfully things went according to plan with Oonagh; fantastic, marvelous, superb, there it was a tiny paca baby growing nicely! Oonagh was not amused at this scanning lark mind you, and I got covered in green spit - thanks Oonagh. On this occasion under the circumstances I let her off. The vet thought it was funny until I pointed out she'd got his back also!!

Oonagh is certainly her mothers daughter, Sam (the vet) noticed the resemblance also. Hopefully like her mum she will provide us with text book birthings and some lovely cria. She is pregnant to the Supreme Champion EP Cambridge Samson, thanks again for everything Rob & Les.

I've been really worried about giving everyone their BTV8 vaccine having heard a real mixed bag of comments. With the amount of livestock we have in this part of the world and the risks involved we had no choice but to vaccinate. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed everyone will be ok.

Finally, the quad is fixed!!!!!!!! Manual poo cleaning was a nightmare so normal service is resumed and I will be able to give the paddocks a thorough clean again now. I did start today but now the nights are pulling in so quick I ran out of light.

Monday 3 November 2008

Why are we waiting!

This morning I had to drop Paul off at work as he had left his car there on Friday so after feeding the main herd and giving Gaussian his bottle off we went. The 'sales team', boys and the sheep had to wait until I got back and boy were they not amused on my return - I wasn't that long!!

Normal service was soon resumed and everyone was fed, watered and hay supplies replenished, the sheep consumed theirs immediately in one sitting. I think they were making a point.

I've been out with the camera again to get a shot of the new arm and leg warmers which hopefully going to be popular this year.

Paul has gone to the football tonight (he's not a football fan so its not something he enjoys particularly) so I'm now off to sit in front of the fire with my knitting and watch autumn watch. That reminds me, I saw a red squirrel this morning for the first time in a few weeks which was nice.

Sunday 2 November 2008

Lewis Hamilton, World Champion!!!!!

What a nail biting race it was too, but justice was done in the end. Despite all the FIA have thrown at Lewis in the latter half of the season he has got the well deserved title, World Champion.

Going back to the alpacas, it's been a nice dry day today so we have been out in the fields doing jobs. There was a bit of running repairs to carry out on one of the field shelters and a couple of gates that needed tweaking.

As the sun was out we got the camera out for the latest knitted hat which will be on the shop shortly. I'm busy knitting some matching wrist warmers now. There are also some leg warmers in stock now too, ideal for these cold autumn days.

I've got a busy week ahead, but more on that next week.

Thursday 30 October 2008

Gabby goes mountainerring

With the grass no longer growing the amount of hay being consumed is increasing on what seems like a daily basis and today was no different. We have a small amount of hay stored in the girls field shelter to allow them to munch inside along with hay nets and the long hay mangers. I like to have plenty of space to stop the more submissive members of the herd going without. Blossom and Lualeni think they have a monopoly when it comes to hay!

This morning I was completing the morning ritual of filling mangers, hay nets and putting another bale into the field shelter only to find Gabby 'mountaineering'. She was stood on one bale so that she could reach the back of the fresh one I had just placed on top.

The sales girls also love their hay and were waiting for their manger to be filled this morning, I'm sure they see me as nothing more than a waitress. Whenever they see me they either run to the feed troughs or the manger!

Wednesday 29 October 2008


What more can I say today, it's been another freezing cold day and after the routine morning jobs feeding, filling hay mangers and cleaning it was back in doors to the warmth and my knitting needles!

Mum & I are busy knitting for the Christmas craft fairs and website sales. Alpaca garments and jewellery make fantastic Christmas gifts, certainly something your loved ones will appreciate.

When it came to feeding this afternoon Horatio had the mischiefs on him; something he has on a regular basis! He was 'helping' me to catch Gaussian to give him his tea time bottle however pulling a clump of fleece from his neck did not go down well. Then whilst Gaussian was taking his bottle (after some persuasion) Horatio thought it would be helpful to bite his feet and try and neck wrestle. Pesky little monkey!

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Autumn watch

Paul & I (and the cats!) really enjoy watching Autumn watch and I've decided that I think I will have to nip Gaussian over to the Farne Islands to have a bit of seal milk. It's only half an hour or so to the coast from here and we can pop on a boat, if Lucky the seal pup can put on a couple of kilo's in a day it's got to be worth it - Guassian takes a couple of months to manage that sort of weight gain!

Now the clocks have gone back I'm struggling to give him his bedtime bottle on my own, Paul doesn't leave work until well after dark. The last couple of days I've had the help of Holly the girl next door giving me a helping hand which is nice. She thinks feeding Mia the orphaned lamb was much easier!!

It has been freezing here all day, after I broke the ice on all the water troughs this morning most of the ice I removed didn't even thaw out during the day. It's set to get colder over the next couple of days - I've already got the thermals out.

Monday 27 October 2008

Sales girls get fresh grass

This morning I moved the six girls we have for sale onto fresh grass, I just love it when the alpacas are moved onto fresh pasture. No matter how old and staid an alpaca is they all go loopy on fresh grass and these girls were no different.

Our brown stud Golden Guinea got quite concerned when her saw his ladies on the move this morning. I think his biggest concern was that Gianmarco's Masterpiece and Legend of Spartacus were going to get what he's been dreaming for since the girls arrived!! They are all already pregnant to elite EP Cambridge herd sires so no chance for anyone to work until the spring.

Hopefully I will be feeling a bit better tomorrow, Paul had kindly passed on his germs, so it's an early night for me tonight.

Sunday 26 October 2008

An extra hour in bed

Last night the wind was terrible up here, we were laid in bed listening to all sorts being buffeted and blown about. I've got to be honest we were slightly worried we'd get up to find our newly constructed field shelters in pieces. Thankfully not, everything was as we had left it, all be it covered in lots more leaves.

We nipped to a local craft fair at Wallington this afternoon, it is one I was thinking of taking my knitwear along to earlier in the year. To be honest I'm glad I decided against it as there weren't too many people spending. I bought a Christmas present and then we had a lovely walk round the grounds which are fantastic.

Saturday 25 October 2008

Wildlife weekend

After saying goodbye to my parents who have travelled home today we headed off to get on with some outdoor jobs. Before we got to the boys paddock a deer ran in front of us and through the field, the hounds were out and about and had obviously disturbed her.

Then we had the pleasure of watching a stoat that was playing chase with a leaf on our lane, it was so engrossed it didn't notice us for quite some time. The funniest wildlife encounter of the day was actually the first one, Paul picked up a sack of weeds and promptly put it back down again asking to borrow my dads walking stick. Why you might ask, he thought he saw something in the sack; having been bit by a snake some years ago it has to be said he is quite paranoid about 'things' hiding in dark places.

After poking the bag and nothing appearing he then jabbed it a few times and a tiny field mouse come running out which caused Paul to screech like a girl!! It did honest. Poor little mouse will now have to go and find a new warm and waterproof house. It made my parents and I laugh if nothing else and I've been telling him all day I was going to tell the world he squeals like a girl!

Friday 24 October 2008

Sunny autumn day

It has been a lovely sunny day today, breezy but dry which was good because without the quad to pull the muck truck it has been shovel and rake muck collecting morning; it takes hours! My parents are still here and thankfully mum is always happy to assist. So there are now six large sacks ready for collection by the gardeners and the rented paddocks are all clean again.

Now the grass has stopped growing the hay intake has increased substantially. I definitely miss calculated how long our garage full of hay would last. Thankfully Alan (our local sheep farmer) has plenty of large round bales we can buy to keep us going until the hay show.

I'm busy sewing labels into the knitwear that mum & I have been slaving away over recently. I've put a couple of new items in the online catalogue and there will be a couple more in the next day or so. Now is the time to start that Christmas shopping to avoid disappointment because once the yarn is gone it's gone!

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Back to manual

I just had to share this with you, Hughie was checking out who was collecting his manure. He gets a good view by standing on the wall. Thanks to Carol & Dave for the photo - it was them he was watching.

Talking of muck, with the quad still waiting to go in for repairs I had to revert to manual collection and used the rake and shovel. With over thirty animals to clean up after that was going to take too long.

No problem my parents are here so they were the new quad , they pushed and pulled the muck truck whilst I cleaned up. They just did it, I didn't ask! Paul has certainly not offered to do that for me.

Monday 20 October 2008

Batten down the hatches

It has been very windy here today, there are things blowing all over the place, but don't worry Aodhfin is trying to help the situation by attaching as may leaves, bits of twig and anything else physically attachable to his fleece!! He looks like a walking compost heap. He is so sweet mind, and came over clucking to me tonight whilst I was giving Gaussian his bottle to show off his collection.

Talking of Gaussian and his bottle, we have a new record, he has actually taken 600ml today which is an all time record. Hopefully that will keep the weight ticking up nicely.

My parents have arrived today with all the knitting mum has been doing. As usual mum had to go straight to the field to say hello to everyone and try and work out who was who. If in doubt shout a name and the right one usually looks or comes over.

Sunday 19 October 2008

A slow start

We were out at a wedding reception last night in a marquee down the road, so for once I didn't have to drive because we were able to walk home. So for the first time in I don't know how long I was able to have a drink; I'm obviously out of practice because I could tell this morning I'd had a few.

We got up to watch the grand prix but we had a slow morning after that. We managed better than the father of the groom who hadn't surfaced at lunch time - his beast had to wait a while longer for their breakfast today!

We have put another extra wire on the sheep field this afternoon to try and contain Mia who is back to roaming Angerton. Even last night when we wanded past the field at some ungodly hour she spotted me and started to head back with us.

Friday 17 October 2008

Winter is getting closer

You can really tell that winter is approaching now, everyone is really starting to tuck into the hay. The stock pile is never going to last as long as I had planned - I'll be getting more off our farmer friend much sooner than anticipated I'm sure.

The two sheep are getting ready to go for their holiday to see the tups (or rams depending on where you are from). They always feel rather hard done to when they have to socialise with the 'wild' sheep. Alan always says my sheep and lambs think they are better than the masses! They are just used to being spoilt. I'll walk over and visit them regularly, they always come and greet me to see what little treat is in my pocket!

Before we know it we'll be weaning the cria and working out who will be in next years show team.

Thursday 16 October 2008

Checking out AlpacaSeller

We've now put all three of our stud males on alpacaseller, and they are a pretty impressive line up even if I do say so myself. Having had a little play we are very proud that we own two of only four boys advertised with the following top class fleece attributes one would look for in an elite stud:-

Solid colour
AFD of <20
SD of <3.5
% over 30 <1
CV <20

Impressive eh, check it out for yourself on http://www.alpacaseller.com/index.php?Country=United%20Kingdom

Horatio, our black cria from Mary, who is now five months old and I have been doing a bit of bonding today. He is an absolute monkey, but totally adorable, no matter what you are doing he is there 'helping'. After I'd had my morning wrestle with Gaussian and his bottle Horatio wanted some attention so I sat next to him and cleaned some of his 'attachments' from his fleece. He's so much like his sister, Ursula, who also likes to collect things.

It gave me a fantastic opportunity to revel in Horatios magnificent fleece. His sire is Hornblower of Farrlacey who won 1st place black fleece (48 month +) at this years Bath & West fleece show. Horatio has a lovely fine fleece, which is very is very bright and has a good even crimp; we have high hopes for him in the show ring.

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Autumn injections

After a night of heavy rain the girls paddock is rather soggy today particularly in the feeding enclosure, which is also where we do a lot of the routine husbandry if it's not done in the field shelter.

Today typically was the day I'd pencilled in to give the bulk of the girls their cydectin injection, which meant it was going to get even muddier under foot. Paul managed to get home to give me a hand which was good. I don't have the same flash facilities that Rob & Les have down at Wellground which would mean I could do it alone!

Thankfully everyone was well behaved, even Blossom which is unusual. She grunted her dissatisfaction but other than that was quite cooperative. Gabby was the worst, she's always a bit of a drama queen when it comes to toe nails, injections or scanning!

The knitted stock is increasing ready for the Christmas rush (she says hopefully!) my poor mum has been knitting none stop for weeks now, my dad is a great slave driver - saves me worrying about her slacking. I know they'll read this!!!

Monday 13 October 2008

Sales girls scrutinised

It has been another busy day today, first on the job list was paddock cleaning. I do like to keep the fields clean, it helps keep parasites down to a minimum as well as being much nicer for all concerned.

Thankfully we have regular muck collectors who are equally as grateful for the manure as I am for getting rid of it. They are very kind and we have had many nice things that have been grown with the assistance of said muck. Today we had a queue of collectors which was great, I was almost poo free for a while!!

Enough of that............ Well it will be for a couple of days because I managed to get a puncture in the quad which I didn't think would be possible. So that is now going to have to go in for repair, thankfully it was getting ready for two new tyres anyway and needs a service so it may as well have the job lot done.

We have also had a couple of people over to look at the girls we have for sale, they were all scrutinised and complimented. They were very keen to discuss the advantages of elite genetics within the herd.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Happy Birthday Katia

Katia one of the Australian girls for sale, celebrated her second birthday. She has such a lovely character and is very funny to watch; although she probably thought I was funny to watch when I sang happy birthday this morning.

Now the girls have settled in we had a more detailed look at their fleeces, they all have fantastic advanced fleeces with exceptional brightness. Angelus was very vocal and a kept a close eye on us whilst we were checking over her cria who we have nick named Munchkin. She is only two months old and not been registered yet so if she is sold shortly the new owner can have the pleasure of naming her.

Duchess had her third pregnancy spit off to do this morning with our herdsire Gianmarco's Masterpiece; Marky to his friends. Being an older experienced girl Duchess hates doing spit offs, she doesn't see the need! As soon as we arrived within her sights she was on her toes, puffed herself up and clucking (she doesn't do spitting - she's far to refined for that; well she is a Duchess). Needless to say we are pretty sure that Duchess is pregnant and carrying the first Marky offspring.

The final job of the day was a not very nice one. I had to remove an ear tag which had become to tight and was getting very sore. It was so tight I really struggled to get it out, but after a bit of gentle persuasion, some bathing and then blue spray it's already looking better. I know why ear tags are used but I really don't like them.

Saturday 11 October 2008

12 out of 13 & the biggest weight gain yet

I almost fell in a heap this morning, as you regular readers will know Saturday is cria weigh day, and this morning Gaussian really gave us a shock. Can you believe it, he actually weighed 14.54kg, his biggest gain yet. Hopefully he will continue at this rate so he is big and strong at weaning time.

With all this years matings now completed and the final couple of 'spit offs' well underway we are hopeful for 13 cria next year. We have a fantastic line up of prospective fathers too, in fact 12 different herd sires all selected very carefully for each girls specific needs. Two of the girls are carrying cria from two of our own elite stud line up which will be extremely exciting - as if a new baby isn't exciting enough!!!

Friday 10 October 2008

Hot off the press....................

I have news, very exciting news, very very exciting news - oh dear and Mark (Patou man) is now in France!

As many of you will know we have scoured the length and breadth of the country to build up our herd which has involved many an hour travelling down south, where the bulk of the top quality alpacas reside.

There is a real lack of top quality females for sale in the Northern regions and we are now able to address this. We have been fortunate enough to become agents for EP Cambridge Alpaca Stud and as such have a selection of their elite Austrian and British females for sale. We have a fantastic range of girls, including top quality Australian genetics.

We have six pregnant females, three Australian imports (luckily before the introduction of the recent £2,000 registration fee, which will apply to future imports) who carry some of the finest genetics available, one with the added bonus of a female cria at foot from EP Cambridge Neptune. There are also three british bred girls also pregnant to top class herdsires.

For full details of the girls see our website or give me a call. To whet your appetitite here are a couple of photos of the girls settling in.

As you can see it didn't take long!

Thursday 9 October 2008

Yippee the mower is back.

Today I got the news that the lawn mower was fixed, so it was a trip out with the trailer to go and fetch it, thankfully the bill wasn't as bad as I was expecting.

Whilst I was out with the trailer I went to pick up a new hay manger that we'd ordered a couple of weeks ago, only to find out they had order the wrong one! I was far from happy as it was a 60 mile round trip to go back again. We had purposely timed the collection to fit round picking up the lawn mower from the same area.

To cut a rather long story short I ended up having to drive to another of their country stores to get the one I'd ordered. Some times I do wonder how these places stay in business, customer service isn't what it used to be, I didn't even get a discount!!

Duchess has had her final Nuflor injection today so we're keeping everything crossed that the abscess clears up and doesn't return. She is so good when you are working with her, it's horrible having to keep injecting her and messing her about.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Gaussian reaches 14kg!

Wednesday is Gaussians mid week weigh in, and at last this morning he has reached 14kg; it's a milestone I seem to have been striving to for ages. It has taken him 3 months instead of the three or four weeks it takes most cria, bless his little cotton socks, or should I say fleecy feet. As the bottle is still his worst enemy I'm assuming the fresh grass has helped with the gain.

I've been busy registering this years cria today, it's something I've been meaning to get round to for a while, thankfully it's now done.

Whilst out with the camera the other day I took an up to date shot of the sheep. I thought as you hear so much about the pest that is Mia, you might like to see how she and her friends (not that she sees them as friends; she doesn't do sheep, more an alpaca sort of girl!) have all grown.

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Paperwork day

After yesterdays freezing temperatures today we had to put up with driving rain. The girls have spent most of the afternoon in the shelter which means I'll have some cleaning up to do in there in the morning. I got soaked chasing Gaussian round for his bottle and having just got back from the hairdressers I was not pleased! At least he took his tea time feed which is good.

As the weather has been so bad it has been a day of paperwork and updating computer records. Barnacre now has a presence on AlpacaSeller with our elite stud line up. It is a work in progress so keep looking for the latest information.

I have also been working on our 'Hot News' which should be announce by the end of the week. It's all go at Barnacre at the minute.

Monday 6 October 2008

Winter has arrived

Winter has definitely arrived here at Barnacre, this morning we had our first frost of the autumn, I even had to break ice off a couple of the water troughs. I kept telling Paul last night I needed a hot water bottle or Hughie snuggled up on my feet!!!

Aodhfin & Barnaby were wrestling to keep warm, I wish I had taken my camera out with me as they were charging round fighting for ages. Despite being much smaller than Barnaby Aodhfin certainly has the upper hand. At one point he had Barnaby well and truly pinned down and was looking to see if there was anyone else in the vicinity who might want to join in. Horatio was too busy chasing some young pheasants who were trying to be invisible whilst walking across the field.

As it was so cold this morning I felt sure that my little mate Gaussain would be glad of a nice warm bottle, but no, he refused point blank to swallow a single drop of milk. Thankfully as the day went on he did improve and took his lunch, albeit only a small one, and then a normal amount this evening.

Duchess was also due another Nuflor jab today, thankfully she is very good and stands there whilst I give her the injection. Great news too, the nasty abscess has definitely reduced in size - hopefully it will go completely and not return.

Sunday 5 October 2008

Duchess does it again.

Sunday means spit off day for Duchess, regular followers will know that she is tied up with one of our own elite stud Gianmarco's Masterpiece. As soon as she spotted me walking the two boys (Legend likes to walk with his mate to see what goes on!) she was up on her toes, ears back and the clucking began. Duchess really doesn't like doing spit offs, she's far to experienced to need them - well that's what she thinks!!

We are so pleased Duchess revoked all advances, as she has developed what we think is an abscess on her jaw so is currently on a course of Nuflor injections. We were hoping that it wouldn't cause her any issue. Thankfully she is so relaxed nothing much seems to cause her concern.

As the sun has been shining all day we have been out with the camera, so there are some nice new shots on the website, particularly of the stud boys who are growing rapidly. Then Marky & Legend spotted something very interesting, as Rolf Harris would say 'Can you guess what it is yet?!?!?'

Saturday 4 October 2008

Where did that week go!

Sorry for the lack of blog, things have been hectic this week.

Firstly Mark, sorry no suri's for us - in my experience they are mad (nice fleece though)! You are going to have to hang on for another day or two for the great announcement.

We've had a successful week, two positive pregnancy scans from Blossom & Imala. Blossom kindly gave the vet a huge kick for his troubles - she really doesn't like men when she is pregnant.

Also we had another rather long drive south to pick up Little Miss Irraquoy and Oonagh, who had been down with our good friends Rob & Les at Wellground for matings. LMI had scanned pregnant a week ago and we had decided that Oonagh had been mated for the final time this season. In my opinion it was getting too late to try again because we didn't want an autumn baby next year, they just don't seem to thrive as well.

She was due her first pregnancy spit off yesterday and fantastic news, she proved to be a chip off the old block and just like her mum Blossom gave poor Gianmarco's Masterpiece a good kick before I managed to rescue him - not that he was going to be put off the job in hand! So far so good.

Sunday 28 September 2008

Double delight

Well another busy weekend draws to a close. We have been fortunate enough to have had glorious sunshine which is always nice, especially when you have a long list of outside chores.

The stud boys have had a two very important jobs this weekend, pregnancy spit offs with Ursula and Duchess.

Ursula was due for her third pregnancy spit off with our wonderful brown stud Golden Guinea, and she revoked his advances again, squealing when Paul didn't get him away quick enough! You are never quite sure what response you will get from a maiden as you have no previous experiences to call upon, it's more difficult when the girl involved isn't a spitter and doesn't like confrontation. Ursula will now wait for an ultra sound scan from the vet in a few weeks time, but she is looking good to give us our first Golden Guinea cria next summer.

It was Duchess's turn this morning, so our extremely keen young stud Gianmarco's Masterpiece donned his halter and was hoping for some excitement. He has soon learnt that the halter usually means he gets his wicked way with the ladies - boy was he a fast learner! Unfortunately for Marky, Duchess made it quite clear before he got anywhere near that she was not interested in him getting up close and personal. Fingers crossed that means she has held this time.

The weather forecast for next week isn't good, but we have great things to look forward to so keep reading ...........................

Friday 26 September 2008

Anyone for sunbathing.

Today has been lovely, it actually felt more like summer than summer has! The alpacas have been enjoying a spot of sunbathing, very relaxing. Well it is until Horatio passes, he does like to take full advantage of girls sat or laid down - he really is a pest, a lovable one mind!

There has also been a growth spurt in the resting paddocks which is typical now the lawn mover is broken. It took months for it all to start growing in spring/summer and its now growing the best it has all year and it's the end of September; it's madness.

Gabby and Willow have had a bit of a 'set to' today, they are both well and truly at the bottom of the pecking order and prefer to eat from my hand rather than the troughs at feed time which isn't usually a problem. Gabby is far from bright, in fact bless her she is pretty dim, and she will regularly mistake an accidental nudge for a pecking order squabble. This morning was one of those morning, and somebody knocked her, so she spat at Willow who happened to be passing by in all innocence. Willow obviously thought seeing as Gabby was more of a match for her than the other girls she would give her what for, and the pair of them locked necks and had a bit of a wrestle and fight. Barnaby went over to check is mum was ok but no one else bothered to get involved.

Thursday 25 September 2008

The Great Escape

Yet again four of the five lambs have been on 'walkies' today, you'd laugh at lunchtime I went out to give Gaussian his bottle but when I shouted him Mia (the lamb) called back from behind the neighbours weeds - some three fields further up than she should have been!! All lambs are now safely put back where they belong and an additional fence rail has been attached to hopefully stop any further wondering.

It has been a lovely day today so I have been out removing some more of those dreaded weeds, it's a battle I don't think I'll ever win, but one I won't give up on. I managed to take a few new photos whilst I was out there so hopefully Paul will put them on the website in the next few days.

I have also been working on some exciting plans for next week - further details of those will follow.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Blummin sheep!

Today has been one of those days, you know its not going to be a good one when you start it with a trip to the dentist for a filling - I don't like dentists!

As I had to go into suburbia for the dentist I thought I'd pay a trip to the supermarket for those annoying essentials that cost a fortune for not a lot. The most annoying of all by the time I got home the sun had gone in and the rain arrived.

Gaussian has been a monkey with his bottle today too, he took hardly any from me this morning or lunchtime, when he sits on my knee he spends too much time turning his head to watch me or we get help from Horatio. He was slightly better this evening when he could sit on Paul's knee and I fed - fussy little devil! At least he'd put on some weight when I weighed him today.

Finally I've been chasing round the escaping lambs again! Following their change of field Ebony & Ivory have been wondering. The only problem is Mia is now to fat to get through the fence, so they struggle to find their way back without her. I've left Ebony in the horse field because she wouldn't play my game, hopefully she will work her way back or we are in for a noisy night!

Monday 22 September 2008

News from down south

Great news today, I had confirmation from our friends Rob & Les down at Wellground, that Little Miss Irraquoy scanned pregnant - yippee. We are so pleased, and can't wait to see what the fantastic combination of LMI and Cambridge Buckingham will produce.

We can now arrange heading back down south to catch up with Rob & Les, pick up the girls and check out their new stud, Lionheart who is half brother to our own stud Gianmarco's Masterpiece.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Bang goes the mower

It's been another busy day today, first job was a spit off for Duchess, and boy did she spit. Unfortunately I was in the firing line, she's never spat like that before, so hopefully this time she will hold.

Next we finished off the field shelters, we're very pleased with them. Our farmer friend Alan said they looked good as he drove past this morning, so they have the seal of approval.

Once construction had been completed, we moved the sheep and lambs onto fresh grass, Mocha took immediate charge of the new shelter and refused to let anyone else in. There is plenty of room for half a dozen alpacas to share it so why there is only room for one sheep is beyond me!

Then came the bang.........

We needed to top the tufty grass shoot left by the sheep and harrow it, to help aid the quick recovery. I left Paul to get on with it whilst I was busy cleaning the boys field when a rather large buff of blue smoke came from Paul's direction. After a while staring into the engine (he just about knows where it is!) he came and announced 'it's broke'.

Quad to the rescue, I towed it back to the house and have sent out for help! Hopefully the local tractor repair man, also known as Marky, will pop round and have a look. There was oil coming out of the front exhaust pipe so if anyone has any suggestions all help gratefully received.

Friday 19 September 2008

Good morning and not so good morning

First job on a Saturday morning (after I've fed Paul his bacon sandwich) is weigh day for the cria. We are only weighing the smallest three now, the others are all doing fine and dandy and too big for our scales!

Unfortunately for the first time in a few weeks Gaussian had lost weight, 180 grams since last Saturday - not good. We had a good chat to him and tried to encourage him to try the camelibre but he wasn't interested, he has had plenty of milk today though, in fact the most he has ever had.

Much better news with Ursula though, our maiden who Golden Guinea had had a liaison with three weeks ago. She revoked his advances, she doesn't spit, she's not that kind of girl! Just ran round the pen and looked at me with those 'let me out of here' eyes . So far so good, great news when a maiden is showing all the right signs for being pregnant.

This afternoon we have built another of our shelters, that is two ready for the cria when they are weaned from their mums or if we have to split the boys up further as they mature. Whilst we were building a car pulled up to look at the alpacas. Apparently there is a programme on Cbeebies with two alpacas in it, Nuzzle & Scratch and the grandparents had promised to find a real alpaca for the children to see. They found us on the Internet and hoped that the animals would be visible from the road, but as we were out they came in, so Hughie got to meet his public despite the Whalton show being cancelled!!

Great swap!

Shock horror, another dry day, at last the girls paddock was dry enough to take the muck truck in! I usually clean it on a very regular basis, but because of the weather it had been almost two weeks and boy could I tell. It took hours, how people can say they spend an hour a week cleaning up is beyond me - obviously aren't a thorough as I am!

Our regular manure collectors Carol and Dave came round this morning and emptied one sack, but by the time I'd done the girls field there was more than before they came - come back soon! Carol and Dave grow some spectacular veggies and bought us a lovely bag full of their home produce. Thanks guys, we really appreciate it.

Hughie also appreciated their visit, he loves to say hello. He was due to meet his public tomorrow at the Whalton show, but sadly it has been cancelled due to the field being flooded, that was his last outing until next year :-(

Thursday 18 September 2008

Visitors and sunshine

Yippee, it has been a dry day, all day, we even had a glimpse of the sun!! Thankfully it has dried everybody off and the ground too had begun to dry out. Good job really because we were all getting rather fed up of it.

We had a visit today from some prospect alpaca owners, a couple we have met and spoken to at a couple of the shows. They were keen to come and have another look and chat about the requirements and husbandry needs. I was able to help guide them in the right direction and confirm the basics.

With the dry weather I was able to make a return to one of my favourite jobs (not!), the weeds. It never ceases to amaze me where they come from and how quick they grow. Pity the grass doesn't recover as quickly.

The bulk of our fleeces were collected by the courier this morning too, so they are now on their travels to be processed. Hopefully they wont be too long as I have just booked a stall at a craft fair ready for Christmas.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Aodhfin goes exploring

Nothing much has been happening today, just mundane jobs I'm afraid. However, this evening when we went out to give everyone their tea, they all came running with the usual exception of Gaussian, and tonight Aodhfin. He had somehow managed to get through the fence and was playing chase with Gaussian on opposite sides of the fence!

I went to the rescue, Geena came running back and was clucking to him, his mum, Imala, didn't seem in the slightest bit bothered that her son was in a completely different field - tea was much more important. Aodhfin didn't seem bothered by the separation either, although he was quite pleased to see me and was clucking away to me with his tail over his back. I now need to try and work out where Houdini got out.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Yet more rain

I really don't know how much rain we can take, it's been raining all day, the animals are filthy, the paddocks are like a mud bath and it's still raining.

The poor cria look awful, particularly Aodhfin and Barnaby who think it's fun to roll and play fight in the muddiest apart of the field. Boys and mud just don't mix, they are so muddy!

I've been knitting fingerless gloves so check out the shop - hopefully Paul will put them on there when I've just finished this, but just in case here they are.

Monday 15 September 2008

Fleece sorting

I have been sorting and bagging this years fleece ready for posting off to the mini mill today. I booked it in months ago, but they are so busy there has been a long wait, but now it's my slot. Hopefully I wont have too long to wait for it to be returned as beautiful yarn.

I've not mentioned Gaussian bottle time for a long while, so I thought I'd just share with you the fact that this evening he took the most he's ever taken in one sitting, 250ml! Since the appalling weather arrived he has been taking his milk much better, particularly if it is warmer than Geena's would be - very odd! He is now looking bigger and is much more playful so things are obviously on the up.

Sunday 14 September 2008

NEBAG Craft Day

Today was our NEBAG craft day, so bright and early I loaded the car with weaving loom, spinning wheel and all the relevant paraphernalia! I had a fantastic day, it was lovely to get together and chat, try new things and then get shown how to use the weaving loom I acquired from Freecycle.

After the initial 'stringing up', which I now know is correctly known as warping, which seemed to take forever and I was wondering if it would be worth it. I soon realised it was, once I was up and running it was fantastic, and my soon to be scarf started to grow I loved it. I now can't wait to get on and finish the trial piece so I can do another and start the latest 'range' for the shop!

Saturday 13 September 2008

I'm back!

Things have been very hectic the last few days, hence the lack of blog. I thought I'd better find five minutes tonight to get on line before I got any more complaints!

It was the Westmorland show last Thursday so we had a very early start (4am) to get our five animals on board and ready for inspection over on the opposite side of the country for 8.30am. Thankfully everything went according to plan, even loading in the dark, and we were there in plenty of time.

It was a very successful day to, with five animals entered and five rosettes we certainly couldn't complain. It was a long day mind you and I think the animals were as glad to get home as we were. We did have a slight detour on the way home as we passed some friends broken down on the side of the M6, so we pulled off and were able to load their two boys into our trailer and drop them off at home whilst they waited for the RAC to tow them home.

Today was spit off day for Ursula and great news, she revoked all of Golden Guinea's advances. Fingers crossed that means that she took first time, we will try another spit off next weekend and keep everything crossed until then. Duchess has her ovulation spit tomorrow.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

What can I say.....

It's raining again! The poor animals will forget what it feels like to be dry.

I have a new toy, I'm sure we have mentioned before that in a bid to find a use for the alpaca muck and to reduce our carbon emissions we were trying to follow the Inca's example and burn the dried muck. Paul had made a mould which did the job but needed improvement, my dad then came up with a 'pipe' version which in principle was good, but the pipe was too thick. He has now adapted newspaper brick maker which is a great idea - just need the rain to stop so we can test it out.

The bad weather has meant that the knitting needles are working overtime and we have a new design in the shop:-


Sunday 7 September 2008

Morpeth makes the national news.

After the torrent of rain we have suffered for the last two days the Morpeth floods made the headlines on the national news! We were watching the weather very closely yesterday as the puddles turned to streams and lakes and the paddocks got soggier. The girls and their cria are wet through with their shelters providing very little protection from the rain.

Thankfully the rain has been slightly less today, and the animals were starting to dry off slightly when the heavens opened again. We have got through so much straw in the last couple of days I will need a further supply!

We are slightly marooned at the minute, we have severe flooding on most of our exit routes! The neighbour had to abandon his car in the flood water on Saturday night and only managed to retrieved it this evening. We have also seen the RSPCA convoy going past with their boat which is always worrying.

On a happier note, in one of the brief rain free intervals (well it was when we started the job), we carried out spit offs with Duchess and Ursula. Unfortunately, Duchess sat again giving Gianmarco's Masterpiece chance to work, whilst Ursula gave a very positive refusal spit to Golden Guinea, so she ovulated for the first time last week.

Friday 5 September 2008

Water water everywhere

It has been a pretty quiet day here, rain all day, which has got heavier as the day has gone on, the girls paddock is sodden even their field shelter is wet. The forecast is for two weeks worth of rain in the next 24 hours, so that's not good.

Hughie and Loki have camped down in their shelter but the three stud boys wont go in theirs for fear of missing out on something!

Thursday 4 September 2008

Two showers in one day!

One of the water troughs has been over flowing for some time now, so whilst my brother was on hand I thought I'd make use of his plumbing skills and get it fixed. Unfortunately there is no stop tap on this trough so we knew we were likely to get wet. Not sure how, but I ended up resembling a drown rat whilst my brother was completely dry!

Then it was off to paddock cleaning before the rains arrived, I will have to do that more often because whilst I was out the ironing fairy came (in the form of my sister-in-law) and did the ironing!

Gaussian has been a good boy again today, two bottles without too much trouble, hopefully we will have another good jump on the growth chart on Saturday.

Wednesday 3 September 2008

Good boy

Wednesday is Gaussian's mid week weigh day and with Paul away my brother was on hand to offer assistance. Thankfully the nice fresh lush grass is doing the trick as he had put on another 320gms - clever boy. He was also remarkably well behaved with his bottles today taking both without much hassle, Horatio was on hand to cause trouble this morning and his sister, Ursula, carried on where he left off this evening!

Monday 1 September 2008

Gaussian causes damage.

Paul is away in London today so thankfully help was still on hand at feed time, in the form of my brother, Colin. Gaussian was slightly distracted this morning by the 'strange' man holding him so the bottle went down better than usual. Unfortunately once it was time to get back to mum he managed to rip Colin's trousers - oops! By this evening the 'strange' man was no longer a 'strange' man so the usual fiasco took place.

Sunday 31 August 2008

Birthday treat

As it was my birthday today we managed a few hours off to go the the coast, before the rain arrived. Just got time to have an ice cream before the heavens opened!

We did have a visit from some of our regular manure collectors this morning who came with their trailer, so we managed to get rid of a nice big pile of muck to a good home. They came laden with some of the veggies from their allotment which was a great swap - thank you.

Saturday 30 August 2008

Matings, spit off and all change.

Having had a few days to settle in and have a good look round, we introduced our fantastic new stud Golden Guinea to Ursula. As you can see it was love at first sight. Despite it being Ursula's first time she was very receptive so hopefully she will ovulate and the countdown can begin to Barnacre's first Guinea baby.

Today was also ovulation spit day for Duchess, seeing as she wouldn't even enter the mating pen we were pretty convinced poor Gianmarco's Masterpiece wouldn't get near. We were quite correct, poor chap got a bit of green head gear for his troubles. Fingers crossed she will take and that will be another first for the diary - Marky baby!