Saturday 28 February 2009

My little friend

With Debbie and Paul away at the futurity, i am looking after the animals. I was a bit concerned that Gaussian might not have his bottle from me. I am really pleased to say that he has had every single one without any fuss. Good boy Gaussian. Janet(Debbie,s mum )

Thursday 26 February 2009

Happy Birthday Barnacre

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARNACRE ALPACAS, it is two years since our first three alpaca arrived on site.

We have come along way since those three girls Duchess, Blossom and Willow arrived. That said, these three girls have produced ribbon winning cria including the Junior Reserve Champion at the Northumberland County Show and 1st place fleece at the Slaley Show. This just goes to prove how the breeding up theory does work.

Using the best studs can for your girls is something I can't emphasise enough. This is why we are so excited about our three herdsires who are all fantastic.

My parents arrived yesterday as Paul and I are heading off for the Futurity tonight, mum wanted to run through everyones requirements with me for a day before we went.

Gaussian has been a relatively good boy for her so far, she has given him his last four feeds and all but one he has taken. Hopefully he will continue to be good once I have left. We weighed him this morning seeing as we will be away on Saturday and he's still heading up 16.66kg (36.7lbs).

I've even shown mum how to post a blog entry so all you not at the Futurity keep your eyes open for her posting.

Tuesday 24 February 2009

The suns shining and life is good

The alpacas are certainly enjoying the current sunny spell with Willow at the start of every sunbathing session. She has been stretched out most of the day, which has given Gaussian something to do as she had a bit of a twitch!!

The vet was out this morning to do a couple of Health Certificates, both passed with flying colours. Even though you know all is well it is still nice to hear it from the professional. He was also pleased to see that Gaussian was looking better.

Duchess has a course of antibiotics which will hopefully sort out her abscess, it worked last time so fingers crossed.

I had a visit from another keen allotment owner today to collect some manure. Only one slight hitch, he managed to get his car stuck on the way. He trusted his sat-nav rather than my instructions and ended up going down a very muddy track with leads to a ford which we struggle to get through on the quad or 4x4 99% of the time - moral; don't always believe technology.

Monday 23 February 2009

Lamb update

Thanks for all the good wishes for little lamby, I am pleased to report he is doing well and has today begun sucking his bottle rather than chewing at it, so things are looking up. He already sees me as his mum so has spends ages yelling when I am out of sight.

I am determined not to have a repeat of Mia last year, so I am being stricter with this little chap and he is having to stay in the pen I have made for him. He has plenty of room to run and play, if he stays with me longer term I will put him with my lambs from last year. Alan's next sheep to lamb had triplets so no chance of him going to her!

He did follow me in to see the weanlings this morning, but they were all too frightened of him to get too close. Horatio was desperate to inspect him but didn't quite have the courage to get into 'nose' range.

Unfortunately the vet visit got postponed until tomorrow, so the insurance certificates and Duchess will have to wait a few more hours. It took me ages to convince Legend of Spartacus to go into the shelter as well - he obviously knew something was a foot.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Scanning round two

We had the BCF Technologies guy back round today with the Duo Scanner we were interested in. We had slightly more success than we did with the previous two models but still not fantastic. I knew it would be hard but with the girls in question being so far gone I thought it would be easier. We are obviously doing something wrong.

We did managed to see Imala's cria, Imala is so good natured she stood quite happily whilst we moved the probe round. She did crane her neck a few times to check out the picture for herself - maybe she wanted to know the sex!!

My little foster lamb is doing well, he wasn't keen on his bedtime bottle last night but was certainly pleased to see me at 5am. His tongue is looking very sore today and I fear it may be a little infected so he has had some antibiotics which should help.

Saturday 21 February 2009

A new addition to the fold

No not a cria, my first foster lamb of the year!! Alan (my farmer friend) popped round this morning asking if I was taking in any 'friends' this year and how could you refuse this little fellow:-

Poor little chap hasn't had the best start in life, his mum doesn't want him, not that she has any milk for him anyway, which is probably why she doesn't want him. If that's not bad enough the crows managed to attack him within minutes of being born and have taken a chunk out of his tongue. He's obviously sore because he's not very keen to suck, despite having a very good pair of lungs on him.

Gaussian has managed to break through the 16kg barrier, I was secretly hoping that he would be at lease 16.2kg but he actually weighed in at 16.42kg, so I am really pleased.

It was AD&E paste day for some of the herd, it does make me laugh how some of them love it and want more whilst others hate it and try and spit it out. The weanlings get it every two weeks over winter and thankfully they are all quite happy to take it. Aodhfin and Horatio queue up for theirs.

Friday 20 February 2009

A great way to clear your head

As the weather was good again this morning I was back out with the muck truck. It is great when you have things on you mind to just get out there and do some sucking! I feel like I have spent all week doing it but it does look much better for it.

Once you get behind with a job like that it is a nightmare to catch back up, it seems like a never ending task. I'm now hoping that my regular manure collectors will come collecting as I have a rather large collection building.

I think Duchess's abscess is back again. I treated her for it last year and thought that we had succeeded in getting rid of it, but I fear it is back. I have the vet out on Monday to do a couple of health certificates so I will get him to check her out.

Unfortunately we had some rain this afternoon so my outdoor jobs came to an end. I came inside and finished the latest knitting project, a pair of long armed fingerless mittens. They have been knitted in the Gabby & Imala yarn mix, a lovely fawn colour. Once I have sewn them up they will hit the shop so keep your eyes peeled.

Thursday 19 February 2009

Working the land

I have spent all day outside today, it makes such a change to be able to get out. The girls field is now nice and clean; well it was! Just the shelter to do now which is on tomorrow's job list.

As I have been in the field most of the day I took the camera with me, check out Molly's 'bump' it's growing by the day. She is just over 10 months gone now so not long to wait now and she'll be a mummy.

I also took a new snap of Gaussian, he has had his coat off again today. His 'coat' is now officially his 'pyjama's' as I am only putting it back on at night. He's not that keen on me putting it on so it's a bit of a wrestling match after his tea time bottle.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Oh for a rich daddy

Not much to report today. It was dull this morning so I decided that I would spend the morning on the PC designing some leaflets, but I wasn't getting very far - the creative juices just weren't flowing. So off I went to do a spot of knitting, I got a bit engrossed though and never got back to the PC!

Gaussian showed a very small amount of interest in the food troughs today :-) At lunchtime when the girls got their sugar beet he actually looked into the trough which is a first! Then this evening whilst Duchess was clearing up any crumbs which might have been left (this is a ritual she carries out at every feed) Gaussian went and sat next to the trough. Here's hoping that over the next few days he may decide that he will actually eat from one.

Finally, I have just read Rolf Barbakken, a fellow bloggers posting about an article in the Wall Street Journal, talking about scientists exploiting an unusual feature of the immune system of alpacas to develop new treatments for diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and Alzheimer's. Apparently llamas, camels and their alpaca relatives are one of only two animal families that create extremely small antibodies, the molecules that are the soldiers of the immune system.

My dad is riddled with arthritis so this is something that I found very interesting - best tell daddy he needs to buy himself some alpacas to borrow some of their antibodies. Better still he could buy them for me as he can hardly walk so wont be able to care for them! I have my eye on a couple who would fit in at Barnacre very nicely.

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Positively spring like

This morning was positively spring like, so much so I decided to remove Gaussian's coat, not that he seemed bothered either way! I've been hat free all day.

I had a new manure man come collecting paca poo this morning. I never thought to ask him if I could mention him, so I'd best not name him, so manure man he is! After he departed I was back out with the muck truck catching up on the cleaning duties so the empty sack he left didn't last long.

I have been putting the finishing touches to my craft projects I have entered into the Futurity craft competition. So I will get them posted tomorrow (well I will send Paul to the post office for me). I won't post the pictures now just in case the judge reads my blog!!! Pictures will follow after the event though - promise.

Monday 16 February 2009

In positive figures

It has been positively warm today, we have gotten so used to minus temperatures it felt almost spring like. I even shed one of my many layers and did Gaussian's lunchtime feed with no hat or gloves on!!

Even the boys seemed to be feeling rather spring like and were getting rather excited when the girls were near their fence line. Unfortunately for them most of the girls are pregnant so they soon got put in their places.

It will be a good few weeks before we will start the boys working yet, although I'm sure Gianmarco's Masterpiece and Golden Guinea would relish an early start. Poor Hughie is very keen on the girls too but he will be castrated this year (sorry Hughie).

Sunday 15 February 2009

The big thaw

I am pleased to say the snow has been rapidly thawing, so much so we now have streams running everywhere - we're never happy are we!!

With most of the snow now gone we were able to get out into the fields to do some clearing up, there was over a weeks worth to clean up so as you can imagine it has taken a while. Golden Guinea is a really tidy chap and hates a dirty paddock, so he was especially pleased to see the muck truck arriving. I'm hoping that all his off spring will be as tidy as him!

There was also a lot of hay to clean up from round the mangers and where the last bale had been, it takes so long to clear up yet the alpacas will have the floor covered again by the morning!

Saturday 14 February 2009

Who said romance is dead?

I take it all back, the extremely unromantic husband of mine bought me a cup of tea to bed this morning. I thought it was the start of things to come for the rest of the day, but no, it was to make sure I cooked him the full English breakfast I had offered yesterday!!

It has been a lovely sunny day and the snow is starting to melt, that hasn't stopped the girls eating their way through two bales of hay again today. The weanlings have been down the side of the house where there were bits of grass starting to reappear.

We did a spot of halter work, but the snow is not really the best for trying to get unimpressed weanlings to walk on the halter. At least I got the halter on Sienna which is a start. Hopefully conditions will be slightly better tomorrow and we can have another go. Today's gold star goes to Horatio, he was the most cooperative although by no means as good as any of last years 'first timers'.

For the first time in absolutely ages we got to have a walk over the local fields. We went to have a look at Alan's first two lambs of the year (sadly now only one). It doesn't look like it will be long before he has some playmates!

Regular readers will know that Saturday is weigh day for little Gaussian, and after holding my breath (Maple knows all about that), he is up to 15.9kg (just under 35lb) - yippee. I'm hoping that we should get over 16kg next week.

Friday 13 February 2009


With far too much snow still on the ground I have been unable to do the out door chores, so what better excuse to experiment felting.

I wanted to make some felted slippers and bought some foot lasts a little while ago but not quite got round to using them; until today that is. Felting is such a slow process and I now have hands that feel like sandpaper having been wet most of the day, but I'm quite pleased with the start of the first prototype.

They are far from finished but we have the basic shape. Once they are finished I will share the result with a photo or two.

The girls have had an extra bale of hay today as the grass is still buried, their usual ration was gone by lunchtime so they get an extra bale when I gave Gaussian his lunchtime bottle and the two skinnies their lunch. Those 10 bales from last Sunday's hay show didn't last long!!!

Thursday 12 February 2009

Oh dear, more snow!

It has been snowing none stop most of the day, not pleasant for me or the alpacas. I took this from the bedroom window at lunchtime, all the weanlings were well hidden in the field shelter!

By tea time it was much deeper and very cold. My young neighbour Holly (who I see has left a comment in the guest book!) came out to help feed - no hat, no gloves, I must be getting old I never leave the house without mine!! Anyway, when we arrived everyone was hiding in their respective shelters, the girls soon came running though.

Guinea was slightly more cautious of the rather deep white stuff, but the thought of going hungry was too strong a pull and out he came.
The weanlings ventured out for their tea but soon retreated. After following me back to the gate to see if I had a better place to shelter. This is Aodhfin almost up to his knees, poor little Gaussian was up to his and struggling to walk back to the shelter.

Wednesday 11 February 2009


At last we have had an egg from the chickens, it must be at least two months since one of them laid. I've been having to either buy them (which I hate having to do) or get them from next door. Paul had been threatening them with all sorts - not that he would have carried out any of said threats!

The snow has been thawing today so the girls now have grass to eat. The poor boys, weanlings and sheep are not so lucky, they still have snow covered fields. At least the forecast is dry for the next couple of days too so out with the muck truck tomorrow I think.

Tessa (the willow weaving freecycler) is coming to collect a trailer load of muck tomorrow so at least I should have two or three empty sacks to refill!

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Kate in bad books

Today has been another day of sunshine and snow showers, the snow showers seeming to come each time I head off out to either feed or clear up the hay! This morning I was absolutely freezing feeding and putting out the two bales of hay in the various mangers and nets.

The girls were glad of their sugar beet treat at lunchtime, Blossom gets upset every time the girls get it because she doesn't like and and she hates to think she is missing out on food!

This evening Kate got told off - not that she cared. Gaussian was not too interesting in his bedtime bottle so I put it back in my pocket and was feeding the girls; they usually wait until Gaussian has ad his bottle. Just as I bent to put food in one of the troughs Kate kindly spat at either me or one of the other girls (I had my head down so didn't see).

I think she must have managed to hit Gaussian's bottle, not that I could see anything but he wouldn't touch it after that. He has had a full bottle every feed for days now so I'm sure she must have contaminated it!!

Monday 9 February 2009

As requested

Following on from yesterdays posting and Lucy's request for some photos I went armed with my camera into the field this afternoon. Here are the three amigos (from left to right) Willow, her daughter Chiquita (one of the haircut crew) and Angelus. It looks like Chiquita could have done with a little more fleece trimming off!
Then we have the boys, Legend was the other alpaca in need of a trim, he now has eyes!! As usual he is with his best mate Gianmarco's Masterpiece who is stood behind him. These two are never far apart and I am intrigued to see if they remain as close during the working season when their testosterone levels will be raging or if we will indeed separate them as we had initially planned.

Some of the meet the herd section was getting a bit out of date so I have been busy updating that this afternoon. Lets see who can spot the changes.

Sunday 8 February 2009

Hay Show and hair cuts.

This morning I did a bit of top knot trimming, two of our finest fleeced animals were struggling to see. Legend of Spartacus, one of our elite white studs has a fantastic fleece which grows rapidly and despite giving him a trim not that long ago his eyes were disappearing under a blanket of fleece.

Chiquita, our little fabulous fawn girl with a super fine fleece (17.6 micron), was the other in need of a trim. She has the most adorable long eyelashes which I didn't want to cut so I had to be very careful.

Both Chiquita and Legend were very well behaved and happily stud whilst I snipped away. They both went straight back the the haylage without a second thought for their improved vision.

This afternoon we went off to the annual Hay Show at Forestburngate to top up on our hay supplies. Hay is obviously is short supply this year as it was much more expensive this year. We came home with 10 bales from the auction, including one of Alan Thompson's (my farmer friend) which I'd managed to sniff out!

Saturday 7 February 2009

Don't mind me!

This morning I was helping out my farmer friend with more sheep scanning. Unfortunately for us, it started to snow just as we began and didn't stop all morning. I was able to pick the brains of the guy scanning regarding probes etc for my own use. Tom has been scanning sheep for 30 years and has done a few alpacas in the past so I thought he may have some advise for me.

Whilst I was out in the cold freezing my fingers and toes off Paul was in doors 'playing' with the website. Well, after he had done the morning feeding anyway! Incidentally, Gaussian was not impressed with is breakfast waiter!!

The website has now had a few updates and we have launched our 2009 sales prices.

The weanlings have had their AD&E paste this afternoon, they get it every fortnight over winter, and today there were no complaints from anybody. Aodhfin has decided he loves it and was begging for more whilst his mates were getting their share and the pest that is Ursula was trying to take it out of Gaussian's mouth whilst I was giving him his. I managed to keep it out of sight of Gabby, she absolutely adores the stuff, you can see her enjoying it in our photo gallery.

Friday 6 February 2009

Visit from the scan man

This morning I had a visit from BCF the scanner people, you may recall me saying in an earlier post we were thinking of investing on a scanner of our own.

Unfortunately they did not have a demonstrator of the Duo-Scanner available, which is the one were had enquired about but they came armed with a couple of alternatives, both were considerably cheaper, so worth a try.

Sadly there were not up to the job though, we tried scanning a few different alpacas but couldn't get a good enough picture from any of the them. It was quite funny Ursula was desperate to be scanned but we were concentrating on the girls we knew were definitely pregnant as we were struggling to get a satisfactory picture. Poor Ursula was feeling left out!

We have now got to wait for a Duo Scanner to become available and see how we get on with that.

Thursday 5 February 2009

Carry On Farming!

I had a rather eventful morning which resembled something from a carry on film or something similar.

Having fed everyone I was filling all the mangers and hay nets with the haylage and as I walked off with the boys nets I thought I saw one of Alan's cows out of the corner of my eye wondering round outside it's field. I didn't have my glasses on and when I got back I couldn't see it so thought I'd imagined it. I carried on humping huge pleats of haylage round the various mangers then all of a sudden there was a rather loud 'moo' the other side of the bale (and girls fence). I'm not sure who jumped the most, me or the girls helping themselves to the bale!

It had obviously smelt the bale when I opened it. I covered it back up and decided I best try and get said beastie back in it's field. Cow's are not really my thing, I find them a bit scary, in fact five years ago I wouldn't even go near one let alone try and get it back in it's field.

By the time I'd gathered all my bits and picked up my stick (in case of emergency!) the cow had started to walk up the lane past my field entrance. That means I'd be the wrong side of it if I left the conventional way. So I took a slight detour over Golden Guineas fence and into the neighbours field and out onto the road. So far so good the cow is heading in the right direction now .........

It then called all it's mates in the field, not good, there were 20 or so of them and only 1 of me. I still had to walk it 200 yards down the lane to get it to the gate. Don't look at them just keep shooing it down the road I was telling myself. It was now back to where I had first seen it not far from the gate, but so were the rest of the herd on the other side of the gate I needed to open!

To cut a rather long story short I spent the next 45 minutes trying to get the cows away from the gate so I could open it to get the escapee in it. Another walk up the road and back (for both the cow and I) with some rather angry sounding cows I decided I was beat.

I left it (and a message on the farmers answerphone) near the gate talking over the fence to it's mates.

When I saw the farmer at lunchtime and told him about the carry on he said 'yes I saw it was out this morning, it will come back when I get the tractor with a bale'. Needless to say when I went to feed this afternoon it was back in the field.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Who's a clever boy

Gaussian of course! Today for the first time he didn't spit out the few cria pellets I put in his mouth, he munched on them instead. I have been doing this almost daily for what feels like an eternity now and this is the first time he hasn't spat them out almost immediately.

He also opened his mouth for his vitamin paste at lunchtime which is a first. He normally happily eats it once I have opened his mouth and got the tube in, but today he happily opened his mouth for me.

Hopefully this is all going to culminate in a decent weight gain at the weekend!!

Monday 2 February 2009

Last one in's a sissy!

The weanlings have had me in stitches today, we woke to a covering of snow and the weanlings had decided that they would have a bit of a lay in.

They have a set routine, breakfast then off to play in their daytime field (which only has tree shelter and no field shelter) then back into the main field for tea and off to bed in the field shelter. This morning after they had finished breakfast Horatio gave the signal (hummed in Aodhfin's ear) and in unison all six of them scarpered back to the field shelter.

By the time I had turned the troughs and walked over they were all sat down and making it quite clear that they didn't think the weather was fit to play out in today!

I left them and went to feed the main herd and give Gaussian his bottle. By the time I had fed everyone and filled all the hay mangers and come back they had decided that they wanted to play in the playground after all and Horatio was sat at the gate waiting to be let in.

Again tonight once they had eaten their tea on Horatio's hum they all shot off to the shelter, last one in's a sissy! Just in case you were wondering Lualeni was the sissy!!!

Sunday 1 February 2009

Snow flurries

We have had snow flurries on and off all day today and it has been absolutely freezing. Gaussian has been glad of his coat and his warm bottles - another litre of goats milk today! I'm sure it would have been cheaper to buy a goat than keep going to the supermarket. And before anyone asks, no I don't want a goat.

I thought today I would introduce Paul to the muck truck again, it's usually a job I do midweek whilst he's at work but I thought it was about time he had a go. I was going to say we are about on top of the girls field, but by now they will have visited every pile that was and replenished it!

I have been looking at the Futurity magazine that arrived yesterday, I'm really looking forward to the event again this year. If last year is anything to go by it will be fantastic.

It was nice to see the awesome EP Cambridge Accoyo Killawasi and Remarque as nominated sires. These are the herdsires to three of the cria currently being carried by the girls we have for sale. Remarque is Millie's sire and she certainly has her fathers striking looks and dense fleece.