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!

Friday 29 August 2008

Golden Guinea has a house!

Today we completed the first of our field shelters so Golden Guinea now has a house; hopefully he will like it and put it to good use. One down five to go!

The girls are munching their way through their current paddock, so we will move them onto fresh pasture tomorrow before the next band of rain and thunder arrives.

Finally my gorgeous niece has arrived this evening (with my brother and his wife obviously!) so tomorrow I will introduce her to the alpacas; I'm sure Hughie will love her!!

Thursday 28 August 2008

A trip to Purston Alpacas

Sorry for the lack of blog yesterday, but we were far too tired to turn the machine on last night having completed a 548 mile round trip. The long awaited day had arrived when we could go and collect our animals from David Barnett, down at Purston following their blue tongue vaccinations (we are still in a free zone up here).

All went according to plan and they seem to have settled in, I'll tell you more about them in the next few days. Golden Guinea our new brown stud has taken to Northumberland folk already, this morning he introduced himself to the workmen who are converting the barn across the road, not to mention Alan our farmer friend and our resident chickens! Hopefully he will be as taken with Ursula tomorrow when he gets to meet her and the the Barnacre girls.

We have been to the sawmill again today to purchase further supplies for field shelter building - Paul just loves having a week off work!!

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Extremely uniform, advance fleece type. Very attractive fleece!

These were the comments from the judge at yesterday's Hope Fleece show for Legend of Spartacus who came first in his class, and was awarded Reserve Champion (being pipped at the post for Supreme Champion by half a point).

Little Miss Irraquoy came second to Legend in the Intermediate class and our grey girl Kate came third in her class. We were very pleased with the results and the very complimentary comments received from the judge.

Moving on, we have had visitors again today. It is always a pleasure to show keen people around the farm and talk alpaca to them.

Monday 25 August 2008

The Dyke Neuk Show

Yesterday was another chance for Hughie and Loki to meet their public, their presence had been requested at the local Dyke Neuk Show. The weather was fantastic which certainly brought in the crowds, the place was packed.

Hughie did his usual and insisted on greeting everyone who came near and hum loudly at those trying to walk by without paying him any attention. He really is a character that you can't help but love, everyone always passes comment about him. Loki was also allowing a select few to stroke him, his much more selective than Hughie!

It was nice to spend the day talking to lots of people about alpacas, there were a few people who had met the boys before and others who were very keen to keep alpacas. It is nice to be able to educate a few people too who are adamant that they are llama's.

My cucumber also won third place in the cucumber section of the vegetable show - growing it in alpaca manure obviously did it some good!!!

Saturday 23 August 2008

We're building again

Following the arrival our our stud boys, and the further division of our land, we are in need of some additional shelters. So we decided to have a go at building a few smaller ones, for the boys initially, ourselves. This afternoon was the beginning of attempt number one, and so far so good.

We have begun in what will be Golden Guinea's paddock so we didn't have any help whilst we were establishing the best method of construction. Gianmarco's Masterpiece spent the whole time watching over the fence humming advice. I think he agreed with the way we were doing it!

Marky is in a good mood today, he got to have another 'go' with Duchess who hadn't ovulated following her mating last week. You may recall I did say she wasn't her usual co-operative self, she obviously knew the timing wasn't right. Today she had sat down and was waiting for her man before he had even got near the mating pen let alone in it! Hopefully that means she will ovulate this time and hopefully hold a pregnancy.

Friday 22 August 2008

Hughie gives chase

I think Hughie has been watching the Olympics, and fancied breaking Ussain Bolt's new world record this morning. There was a fox in the neighbouring field, with four sets of eyes and ears glued on it. Legend & Gianmarco ran to the top of their paddock with Hughie and Loki along side in their paddock, then came the action!

The fox (quite clearly not very old) made the BIG mistake of entering Hughie & Loki's paddock, Loki stood and watched whilst Hughie sped off like a bolt of lightening after it. The grass is quite long in the middle of the boys field and I had long since lost sight of the beastie but Hughie hadn't, twisting and turning from left to right, backwards and forwards. Eventually the fox managed to find it's way into the sheep field and legged it as fast as it could whilst Hughie looked most disgruntled and ran back up to me to tell me he'd tried to get it.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Much of the same

Today has been a case of finishing off jobs I'd already started, first on the list was to deliver the fleeces I'd skirted ready for the Hope show.

Then it was back to the ear rings; wet felting is such a time consuming process. The new designs do look good though, even if I do say so myself. Check out the online shop in a day or two when I've been able to take some photographs.

Short and sweet tonight, but not much else has been happening.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

New faces at breakfast

This morning everyone was in for a treat, one of Paul's work colleagues Sam bought her nieces Chloe and Ebony over to meet the alpacas so they had the pleasure of feeding everyone. Imala took full advantage of the situation and ate more than her fair share before it reached the troughs!

As you would expect Hughie loved seeing new faces and the girls enjoyed him to, even Loki hung around to say hello. Ebony got to meet Ebony the lamb, not forgetting all the others, Mia was pleased new visitors had arrived because it meant she got breakfast, which is something she doesn't get at this time of the year when there is so much grass.

This evening we did a spot more halter work with Legend and Marky who were both very good, panic over for the show (she says with fingers crossed)!

Gaussian's mid week weigh in went well too, he'd put on half a kilo despite hardly taking any bottle all week. He's obviously getting something from somewhere.

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Fleece skirting

The weather has been very mixed again today, just as the herd started to dry off it rained again. I'm sure we are going to go straight into winter this year!

I have been busy skirting fleeces ready for a show at the weekend, it's not a job I really enjoy doing but one that needs doing. At least they weren't as bad as the youngsters I had to skirt for the Scottish National composite show at Kelso.

Duchess bless her is having udder issues again this year, the flies just love her. Thankfully she is very co-operative and happily lets me cream her up, she's not so keen on the fly repellent though. Just as I think we are getting somewhere the pesky things get her again.

Monday 18 August 2008

Hughie & Loki ear rings

It has been another nice summers day; not!

As it has been raining again, I have been on internal duties most of the day, this afternoon making some felt ear rings out of Hughie's prize winning fleece. I also thought it would be nice to combine Hughie and Loki's fleece, as they are such good friends, I thought it would be a nice touch - they turned out pretty well too; even if I do say so myself.

The post arrived this morning (well lunch time out here in the sticks!) with another reminder of how lucky we've been, it was the pedigree certificates for Legend of Spartacus and Gianmarco's Masterpiece. Their genetics really are fantastic.

Sunday 17 August 2008

Mia stays put!

Having spent many hours yesterday trying to make the sheep paddock Mia proof (regular readers will recall, she is the orphaned lamb I have, that thinks she's half alpaca and half human) thankfully this morning she was still in the field. She has the most amazing ability to assess and reassess the situation until she works out a new way out once you block off the last one. Even our life long local farmer is amazed by her abilities and has never seen anything like it. My guess is two days and she will have fathomed another way out!

It's been a mixed bag of weather today, thankfully this morning we managed to put the new extra large hay manger in situ in the girls paddock which Ursula came straight over to check out (before it was even filled) which went down well. I want to get a couple of the smaller ones before winter.

Did a spot of halter work with the boys today, they were both very good. We purposely took them on their own this time as they are very close and stick together like glue.

Saturday 16 August 2008

Our boy's a man!

Saturday morning is weigh day here at Barnacre for the cria, so we got on with the job with much more haste than normal (I'll tell you why in a minute), everyone is putting on weight nicely. Even Gaussian is steadily going in the right direction despite still being a complete pain when it comes to the bottle, if anything now he's munching much more grass he's getting worse - yes that is possible!

Next job on the list was a very exciting one, we were going to give one of our new stud boys the chance to work. Gianmarco's Masterpeice being the older and very advanced in the nether regions (according to the books his bits are the size of an average 3 years old and he's not quite 2 yet!) was going to have first go.

Duchess, our oldest girl was open and ready, so here goes. One suggestion we recieved was to put them in the pen together for four hours and see what happened. Duchess decided for some reason she was going to make Marky work to get her down and he did it within 30 seconds without trouble and got straight onto the job in hand like a seasoned pro. He was quite clearly very pleased with himself as he was orgling away as loudly as the very experienced boys we've used in the past. I'm sure he wont mind me showing him off in action, and Duchess was very proud of her toyboy!

After the excitement of Gianmarco's first ever mating it was on to more mundane jobs, cleaning the paddocks and moving the stud boys down to their purpose build stud paddocks. We did a bit of halter work with Legend before we set off because he wasn't too keen when we tried to load him into the trailer to come home. He was very well behaved, so we decided to walk them down the lane rather than get the trailer hitched up - they were brilliant and happily walked without issue; good boys!

When we got them to their new paddock they met Hughie and Loki over the fence, surprisingly enough it was Loki who was first in line to say hello. They all seem to be getting on nicely, we will keep the studs and younger boys separate though at least for a while and see how things go.

Friday 15 August 2008

Almost a whole day without rain

At last we managed almost a whole day without rain! Just as we went out to give everyone their tea it started though - thought it was too good to be true. I took full advantage of the morning sun and did a spot of paddock maintenance and pulling out weeds. I also got the muck truck out and did some cleaning ready to fill up to compost bag for the freecycle collectors.

I noticed this morning that Imala's back foot was looking a bit sore. On closer inspection this evening it was a bit weepy, so it's been cleaned out and sprayed - one to keep my eye on! Strangely enough it is her cria that had sore feet a little while ago.

Thursday 14 August 2008

We're still on cloud nine!

I have spent most of the day watching the new boys - don't tell Paul though, he alrerady thinks I sit on my deck chair all day! They are great; this evening Gianmarco's Masterpiece came and nibbled some camelibre from my hand. That first time they trust you always makes me feel good.

They have been checking out the new view all day, running from one place to another, checking out every different noise. We even have different looking chickens up here!

Rob and Les at Wellground Alpacas kindly gave us name plates for the boys stud paddocks that look really flash, they also have one of the rather fancy Simpaca Show Halters each - we will look very posh, just as these special boys should.

We took Oonagh down to Rob yesterday for an appointment with the mighty Samson, from all accounts both parties were very pleased to see each other - Oonagh has never been shy; that's what happens when Blossom is your mum!

Having slept on it...

We are still excited!

The boys seemed to have settled in nicely, checking out their new surroundings. It was getting pretty dark when they arrived home last night. Despite this and being in a totally new environment and with strangers Marky happily walked on the halter with Legend trotting behind, to their temporary paddock. We've got them in one of the girls resting paddocks so we could keep a very close eye on them last night.

We also managed to collect Kate yesterday on the way home who had been down with our friends Trevor & Dick at Farrlacey to be mated to their great black boy Hornblower. She looks good, they hadn't managed to improve her attitude mind you :-) . She has a wonderful fleece but is a bit of a kicking spitter when she wants to be! Thanks for the tea and cakes guys they were lovely.

Back off out into the rain - I'll be back with another posting tonight.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

A new chapter at Barnacre

Well the day finally arrived and boy were we excited. We were up at the crack of dawn and off on the road to pick up......................................

Our Boys!!!! We were very fortunate to get the opportunity to buy Wellground Legend of Spartacus & EP Cambridge Gianmarco's Masterpiece, so jumped at the chance. Rob & Les at Wellground Alpacas down in Wilsthire were very lucky to breed two stunning boys, now we are the lucky ones!

These boys have stunning pedigrees, including EP Cambridge Spartacus, Jolimont Commisario, Jolimont Gianmarco, Sculptor and Encantador. To say we are excited is an understatement, we are looking forward to getting them working and see what they produce - Duchess is eagerly awaiting their services.

Matt Cook from Three Oaks Alpacas kindly gave us the use of his field for the handover which was great, thanks Matt. Saved us a good few hours on the road and we got to see his lovely herd too!

The weather was terrible when we left home this morning, brightened up for us during the day and by the time we arrived home treacherous, it was like monsoon season with flooding everywhere.

Now you will see why Paul has been hogging the computer, all the website updates will go live in the next day or two.

After a mentally exhausting day I think it's bed time!

Tuesday 12 August 2008

The great British summer

Would you believe its summer, its been raining on and off all day & then the heavens opened just as we went to feed everyone so we all soaked.

I've been busy working my way through paperwork today and sorting out some of our knitwear. I did manage to clean an old hay manger in between the showers, which we are going to make use of for the girls in the new field.

This evening we have been moving round the cars and getting things ready for an early start in the morning ....................................

Monday 11 August 2008

A dirty job but someone's got to do it.

Well following on from our trip to the Slaley show at the weekend I had some serious cleaning of the car and trailer to do. We take bio security very seriously, so after every trip out the trailer gets disinfected and pressure washed to help minimise any risk of infection or contamination. This time there was the added half ton of mud we dragged out of the field with us whilst being towed out, which somehow seemed to have managed to hang on all the way home.

You can imagine the state I was in when I'd finished, so I thought I may as well go out with the muck truck and clean up the paddocks again. I'd had a visit from Carol and Dave our regular manure collectors, so I thought I'd restock the bag! There is getting more and more of it as the cria get bigger and numbers increase.

Tomorrow will be a day of clean jobs I think - and trying not to get too excited. Only two more sleeps until our big announcement!

Sunday 10 August 2008

Another entry in the accident book - and this time it's not me!

It has been a very busy day today and Paul tried to get off with light duties! Our neighbour has generously given us the use of their paddock now that they no longer have sheep grazing it, so we had another spot of fencing to do.

You would think that we are now getting to be experts at said task, however, Paul got slightly carried away, and lifted the post knocker too high and somehow managed to hit himself on the head with it. He has a lovely bruise and cut, not to mention a very sore head. One way to make sure I knock in my fair share of posts I suppose, but a bit drastic though!

Anyhow, with the job complete we were able to move the girls and their cria onto the nice fresh grass. I just love to see them when they get onto fresh grass, they get so excited running and skipping about, even more so today when it was grass they'd never been able to go on before.

Once everyone was off the old grass we did all the necessary, cut the long grass round the toilet areas, harrowed, rolled then then for good measure put some fertiliser down. It now looks terrible, but it will come back better than ever - well that's the hope!

Saturday 9 August 2008

Slaley show shocker

What a day, the rain tipped down all morning whilst we were in the ring with the alpacas at the local(ish) Slaley show, we all looked like drowned rats animals and handlers alike. It was more like an autumn day rather than summer.

To our great amazement Hughie came first overall in the fleece show and Chiquita's fleece came third, they both also came forth in the halter class. Not a bad result all round, we also won prize money! It's the first show that we've entered where you actually get an envelope with your winnings in - it was great.

Thankfully the rain did eventually stop and the sun even made an appearance, although not until the entry / exit routes had been totally churned up. So the next bit of excitement for the day was trying to leave - umm our car doesn't have much grip in the mud with the trailer full of animals, especially in foot deep mud! Needless to say, along with about 95% of the visitors we had to be rescued by the tractor and pulled out. I wish I'd had my camera to hand because at one point there was a tractor pulling a tractor which had got stuck pulling a horse box!

Whatever happened to summer?!

Friday 8 August 2008

Another week flies by

I really can't believe it is Friday already, the week has flown by with general alpaca duties taking up most of my time.

This week has seen two of our cria making the leap onto hard food, Lualeni & Princess Mallika are now munching on Camelibre. Typically, Gaussian, who is the one I really need to start trying it is still not in the slightest bit interested in the troughs, let alone their contents. He continues to be a little monkey with is bottle too!

I am now the proud owner of a weaving loom!! Something I have been after for a little while now and was lucky enough to spot one on freecycle, the site I use to give away the alpaca dung to gardening enthusiasts. I am really looking forward to getting started with it. I am already signed up to a craft day next moth that NEBAG (North East & Border Alpaca Group) have organised so now I have a new toy to take along!

We have another busy weekend ahead of us, more details on that on tomorrow nights blog.

Thursday 7 August 2008

Pregnancy spit offs

It is two weeks today since Blossom, Imala and Geena were mated, so time to do their spit offs. Blossom, in true Blossom style tried to flatten poor Inca - pretty conclusive then! Geena & Imala also rejected his advances.

Gaussian has been a little monkey today and refused to take his bottle, he's obviously missing my mum who'd been helping with the feeds over the last week. Maybe had something to do with the Lambivac injection he had yesterday.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

Pregnancy scans and a happy vet

It's another late blog today as Paul has been hogging the computer all night getting various updates ready for the website. There is a lot of to get through as we have big news on the horizon!!

I had our vet out this morning, Sam Prescott, who is very good. He was doing three pregnancy scans on Willow, Gabby & Mary. I was pretty sure that Willow and Gabby were pregnant, they had followed that standard alpaca rule book and spat when put back to the male at weekly intervals. Mary however is a completely different kettle of fish. As regular blog readers will know Mary gave us a bit of a hard time when it came to mating, firstly refusing to sit, and then spitting through her first mating giving the poor stud a pretty tough time.

Because Mary is so anti alpacas doing spit off with her was pretty difficult, until one day she came over and sat for Inca, so we had a quick mad dash up to Fowbery before she changed her mind! That visit obviously did the trick because the vet today confirmed that she was pregnant. The relevant diary entries have now been made.

We also had an insurance check on Oonagh before she goes on her travels who passed with flying colours. She had been helping Sam with the scanning so got slightly concerned when he lifted her tail - no need to panic on that score just yet Oonagh.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Handy work

As we have spent so much time doing our infamous fencing today I thought it was time share a photo of all our hard work with you - not bad for a girl and a desk jockey eh!

We need to start thinking about phase two now! Maybe we will have a week or three off first.

Today was paddock cleaning day before we get the rain which has been forecast for tomorrow. As my parents are still here mum helped out, it's great to get help with those sort of jobs. The dung piles are growing so I put another advert on freecycle and have a couple of collections booked it. With the number of animals increasing the manure does the same I'm afraid.

Monday 4 August 2008

Rain interrupts play

Today has been a day of sunshine and showers so most of the day has been spent catching up with paper work. First things though I had a trip to the tip to get rid of 20 sacks of weeds - we only have so much space to compost here!

I have been updating all the cria monitoring sheets and as I predicted Princess Mallika did overtake Gaussian on weight by the weekend, in fact she has put on the most weight in her first 10 days of all this years cria. Maybe Duchess has produced another Blossom (Mrs Muscle) in the making.

We have some very exciting things on the boil here, (keep your eyes peeled for details over the coming week or two) so I have been busy preparing for that. We are so excited we might burst!!!

Sunday 3 August 2008

Summer Soiree

We have had a lovely couple of days down south. We had been lucky enough to be invited by Matthew & Cathy Lloyd of EP Cambridge to attend their Summer Soiree at their lovely Baydon home. It was a pleasure to accept and we had a wonderful time, the two seminars were fantastic Jane Vaughan gave a particularly interesting talk as did Ian Watt.

It was nice to see some familiar faces and also meet some new alpacas enthusiasts. We also cast our eye over a number of very nice alpacas - well it would have been a shame not to when there was such an exclusive collection there!

Friday Paul was working, so I took the opportunity to go and see Rob & Les at Wellground Alpacas where our lovely Little Miss Irraquoy has been covered by their very impressive stud Buckingham. Hopefully she is holding her pregnancy and will spit off tomorrow. More news on that one tomorrow.

Gaussian has been a complete monkey whilst we have been away, refusing to take milk from my parents who had been left holding the bottle so to speak. Despite his stubbornness and refusal to even put the bottle in his mouth for them, he has put on a bit of weight, thankfully now he is nibbling on more grass it is obviously helping. Today he has been a good boy and drank for me, he must have been hungry because he beat his previous record for milk intake in one day!