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.