Tuesday 31 March 2009

Birthdays and babies!

At last we have babies, yes plural, two in fact. Before you get too excited though I'm talking about lambs not alpacas. Mocha has given birth to her little lambs, they are both black and have yet to be named but here they are.

This is the little girl.

And this is the little boy.
They will share a birthday with Blossom, one of our three foundation herd who has celebrated her fifth birthday today. Blossom has produced two fantastic daughters for us, Oonagh who was the first cria born here at Barnacre and has won ribbons for us at both Northumberland County Show and The Scottish National at Kelso. Her daughter last year Lualeni makes her show debut this year and will hopefully be as successful if not more so.

Monday 30 March 2009

Computer crashes

I will keep this short and sweet tonight as the broadband is playing up and keeps crashing. This is in fact my third attempt to post a blog!

I am pleased to say all is well at Barnacre, I spent all morning out in the field with the girls. I was keeping a very close eye on............. no, not Molly, Aria. She is just short of 11 months gone and was humming a lot first thing. I've been saying since Christmas she was going to beat Molly!

I think the baby must have been laid awkwardly or something because she settled down and was back to her usual self by mid morning. It gave me a good excuse to observe everyone and not feel guilty about watching. I did actually make some of our now famous fire bricks whilst I was observing which caused great interest amongst some of the girls who were watching me for a while.

Sunday 29 March 2009

British Summer Time begins

The first day of British Summer time and it has been a glorious day, but you guessed it Molly has still not had her baby!

One of Paul's brothers and his wife have been up for the weekend, it was a while since they'd been so it was nice to see them again. They went home with a bag of alpaca poo for a friend and some eggs for themselves.

The weanlings have been on the halters again today, they are all quite good now with the exception of Aodhfin who is still not keen. He will walk but it is more of a drag on occasions. We keep mixing up who we take out together so they don't get too used to being with their best friends.

Our neighbours daughter Hannah has enjoyed feeding Eubank his bottle today, he's back on top form having been a bit quite for a couple of days.

And finally I just have to say well done Jenson Button and team Braun GP on a fantastic Formula One win.

Friday 27 March 2009

The quad gets a face lift

As the weather forecast was for the day to deteriorate we got straight on with the jobs first thing.

Once everyone had been fed and hay supplies replenished we did a spot of halter work with the big boys. They've not been on their halters for a while so thought they'd better have a bit of a refresher.

They were all very well behaved and it gave us an opportunity to take some new photos. Usually Gianmarco's Masterpiece and Legend of Spartacus are so close you struggle to get one without the other.

From left to right we have; top row Loki & Legend and bottom row, Hughie and Masterpiece. Don't they all look fantastic.

Paul has also given the quad a bit of a make over, the metal bars were all starting to get a bit grubby so he gave them a lick of paint. Very good job he did too!

Incidentally still no baby from Molly.....

Thursday 26 March 2009

March madness

Paul was up at the crack of dawn today seeing as he didn't have to go to his paid job. It was blowing a gale and we had the odd shower first thing but it turned into a really nice day.

Despite the sun shining Molly has hung on again, so there is still a chance for some lucky person out there to grab a bargain. One is almost two and in a fit of March madness I've decided to throw in a free mating to any of our stud boys if she is sold before she gives birth - that's three for the price of one!

Once we were sure nothing was going to occur on the birthing front we headed off to purchase some more feed troughs. Things are getting a bit messy so we thought some extra trough space may help, or at least give Kate something else to spit on.

We've cleaned all the fields which it has to be said is much quicker with two people, Paul can ride the quad whilst I suck up the poo. OK so just in case Paul reads this he did get off the quad once.

Last job of the day was helping out Alan, our farmer friend. His tractor was involved in an accident today, thankfully no-one was hurt except the tractor and the car which collided into it but it meant the beasties were not going to get fed. As we are used to manual bale moving Paul went along to assist.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Still no baby

It has been another sunny day, albeit very windy but Molly still hasn't produced! Alan our farmer friend stopped by this evening for an update as he felt sure she must have obliged in todays sunshine.

There was a fair bit of bulging going on but that was it, I think she must be waiting for Paul. He is off for the next couple of days so hopefully he will get to witness the birth. He's only seen a couple so far so it would be nice.

I have spent most of the day out in the fields, cleaning up hay which seems to get everywhere in the wind, then poo picking which seems to accumulate at an amazing fast pace and generally observing everyone.

Eubank is definitely missing the weanling now they are in their new field, he's gone off his bottle. I think he's making out he's a big boy too, unfortunately the other sheep are far to rough with him yet to leave him with them.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Twiggy's on the pill

Following on from yesterday, I spoke to the vet this morning about Twiggy and we are giving tablets a try for three weeks. Her kidneys and liver are ok at the minute so fingers crossed the tablets will control the thyroid and everything else will be ok.

Twiggy isn't the best cat in the world for taking tablets but it's amazing what will vanish in a little chicken parcel!! So that is tablet number one down (and stayed down), she has to have one twice a day so I think it will be chicken and ham parcels for starters at breakfast and tea time.

On the alpaca front all seems well today, it's been very windy and the girls have been kushed in the dip of the field with their bums to the wind for a fair bit of the afternoon. It's obviously too warm for the shelter. No wonder Molly decided to hold fire on going into labour.

During the night our chicken run got blown over and broke. The chickens are only actually shut in it at night to stop Mr Fox helping himself. The rest of the time the free range all over High Angerton.

Monday 23 March 2009

Where has spring gone?

The youngsters seem nicely settled in their new paddock, even Aodhfin, who took great delight in greeting me as I walked along the edge of the field. I'm sure he was reminding me that he didn't like the nasty man that dragged and carried him down there!

Willow is quite clearly finding the last three weeks of her pregnancy hard work, she was the same when she was carrying Chiquita. Like most pregnant women I suppose just wants to get it out now.

Molly very obliging kept her legs crossed, and didn't decide to produce whilst I was at the vets with Twiggy, I think the very cold and windy day put her well and truly off. Its a good job really because any cria would get blown off their little legs. We also had a hail shower this afternoon which caused everyone to go running for shelter.

Going back to Twiggy, my little puddy cat, she was very well behaved at the vets this morning. Sadly the same can't be said for the journey there, before we were half a mile down the road she had been sick then lets just say things got a bit smelly!

Lucky for the vet and everyone else in there I know Twiggy well, and had taken cleaning materials with me and a fresh blanket for her box. It turns out as suspected she does have hypothyroidism. Hopefully it will be treatable with medication and she won't need surgery, but I have got to speak to the vet tomorrow.

Sunday 22 March 2009

Where did the weekend go?!

Well that's another weekend over and a huge list of jobs completed.

We were up at the crack of dawn, it's amazing how well Paul manages to get up at the weekend - must be the pull of the alpacas! Obviously much better than the call of the office.

Everyone had been fed, watered (or should I say milked), hay filled and hay cleared from the floor all before 9am. After Paul had had his second breakfast we then set about poo sucking so everywhere is (well was) nice and tidy.

I thought Molly might have become a mum on Mothers Day as there was rather a lot of trips to the dung pile with only the odd pellet emerging. She was getting upset if anyone got too close and on one trip to the dung pile you could quite clearly see two feet bulging under the skin. Hopefully she will hang on tomorrow because I have to take poor Twiggy (cat) to the vets first thing.

The youngsters have been on a big adventure today, we have moved them onto fresh grass. This involved their biggest halter training experience yet, as we walked them down our little lane. Other than Aodhfin, who was far too worried, they were all very good and walked nicely, I was so proud of them.

The back fields have now been fertilized, harrowed and are awaiting the forecast rains to spurt them back into growing action.

I'm pleased to say that Eubank has already forgot about his elastic band experience and is back to looking for mischief.

Saturday 21 March 2009

March sun burn, leaves and elastic bands

Regular Barnacre Alpaca Blog readers will know that Debbie gives an excellent running commentary on our life pursuing the alpaca dream, but every now and again she takes advantage of her higher status and issues the instruction “can you do the blog while I feed Eubank (the foster lamb), ah go on, everyone likes it when you do it” do they?! Well fans here is today’s gripping instalment.

First off, I’m ginger and flowing locks of curly hair are but a memory consigned to pre-salaried years. Nevertheless, I don’t remember the last time I got sunburnt in March. “Proof” I hear you say, well you might have done, or you might not be interested, even so I have the proof that the more engrossed and caring folks demanded. Voila:

They say men can not multi task, well I took a picture of my own red, sunburnt ear whilst holding a piece of white paper for dramatic effect. Proof positive of March sunburn.

That’s one down and three to go (check title, come on, keep up).

About four hours of my life today was dedicated to raking and picking up the autumn and winter leaves that adorn the paddocks to the back of the house. They will make a fantastic base to the compost bins that we have strategically placed like black prototype Daleks. I consoled myself with the thought that firstly the paddocks looked much cleaner (Debbie said she didn’t notice but I won’t hold it against her for many months), the grass will grow quicker and pines cones won’t get stuck in alpaca fleeces as they (the alpacas) deliberately seek out the most fleece damaging sections of grass to have a good old roll on.

I have no trees, nice neighbours, but nasty trees that deliberately shake their leaves all over my paddocks.

Two down.

Poor old Eubank. Today was not one but two elastic bands day. Nope, he wasn’t carefully constructing a model plane made of Balser wood with a propeller powered by elastic bands. It was the day all little boy lambs who haven’t been identified as herdsires, I mean tups/rams (depending on where you live in the country), dread. Oh yes, it was one for the tail and one for, well let’s just say that the crows will have a little meat to go with the eggs that they pinch from next door in a couple of weeks time when some loose change hits the ground. If you’ve lost me on that one, he was castrated. Poor little man, it looked like he was really sad because he’d lost his favourite rat trap, and then was even sadder that it had found him first.

Three out of three, a free photo of my ear to treasure as a gift between internet friends, and hopefully a little smile on your face before you head off to bed. Alternatively, consign this piece of literary insignificance to the bin, just under the leaves in paragraph five and be safe in the knowledge that my superior will be back on duty tomorrow.

Night all.


Friday 20 March 2009

Zanzibah come to visit

It is the first day of spring today and it has certainly felt like spring has sprung.

I have had a lovely day, the sun has been shining and Jayne from Zanzibah Alpacas in Scotland came to visit with her parents. Jayne & I have been reading and commenting on each others blog for a while now so it was nice to finally meet up and chat alpaca.

Golden Guinea took great delight in posing for the camera, he is such a show off and just knows that he is gorgeous. Hughie, never one to miss a visitor, also took delight in meeting new faces. Jayne thinks we're mean to castrate him - I've passed on her comments to Paul who is the driving force behind said act!

Willow is starting to look like she is finding the later stages of her pregnancy hard work, she had been sun bathing most of the day and seems to have a touch of wind! The baby is obviously pressing on something.

I see we, the BAS that is, is chairman less - so who's the hot favourite for the post then?

Great to see you Jayne, I'm glad you came round to say hello - I know you'll read this!

Thursday 19 March 2009

Flying visit to the supermarket

I nipped out this morning to get some more goats milk for Gaussian and petrol for the quad and muck truck. I don't like venturing far when there is a baby due, so it was a quick run round the supermarket and petrol station and back.

All was well when I return. Molly's cria is still hanging in there, she is spending a lot more time sitting down now and today she has been rolling round on mole hills - we've had an invasion of the mole!!

In fact Molly started a bit of a thing, there was a queue waiting for the mole hill. After Molly went Aria, Willow, Kate (who are due to birth in that order strangely enough) then Gaussian and Nefertiti.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

An early start for Paul

Last night I noticed that Loki had a bit of grass in his eye which despite trying I failed to get out on my own. Holding Loki, stopping Hughie from helping and removing said bit of grass all with one pair of hands just didn't work.

So this morning Paul had to get up early to give me a hand before he went off to the day job. Anyone who knows Paul will know he hates mornings so this is not something he likes to do. However this morning there was no complaining and up he got and off to the field we went, only to find Loki has removed it himself!

Still no complaints from Paul, he went back to get ready for work. When I got back to the house having filled the various hay nets and mangers the nice man had even made me a cup of tea.

This evening I have started started some more knitting, the 'Best Friends' blend of Gabby & Imala yarn is proving popular and no sooner do I finish something and put it in the shop it sells - not that I am complaining! I have also taken an order for a hat in their yarn so I can't see stocks of it hanging round for long.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Visitors to Barnacre

I had visitors here this morning who are thinking of using our herdsires so there was lots of going through fleeces and checking over boys. Everyone (with the exception of Hughie, who we weren't checking over) behaved very well. Golden Guinea is such a poser he loves it!

After that, I had a couple arrived who had seen us on Countryfile at the weekend and wanted to meet the alpacas. Hughie, who this time behaved, was a firm favourite as usual.

Duchess gave me the fright of my life this afternoon. She was sunbathing, which Duchess always does at every opportunity, but this was different. It doesn't usually interrupt feed time. I went in with the sugarbeet (she's usually got to the gate before me) and I walked all the way to the trough and she didn't move, despite me shouting her. I ended up walking over to her, crouching down and touching her neck before she woke up; I thought she was dead, really dead! Needless to say once she realised I had the beet bucket she was on her feet and over to the troughs in seconds.

I even managed to fit in paddock cleaning and helping my neighbour with a duck who has a poorly leg - all this and still have Paul's dinner on the table when he got home from work!!

Monday 16 March 2009

Happy Birthday Ursula

First job of the morning was to sing Happy Birthday to Ursula who is two today. She is a real character and so lovable, I can't believe she is two already.

At two years old Ursula has grown into a fantastic young lady, and she was actually mated to our own Golden Guinea at the back end of the summer, but as the BTV movement restrictions meant we couldn't get Guinea up until late she only got one try. She did spit off after the event but I don't think she is actually pregnant.

Being a maiden I don't think Ursula knew how to react, plus she is Mary's daughter who is very difficult to predict at mating time. I've not carried out any spit off's yet this year but think Ursula will be one of the first to try before getting the vet out to scan her!

I have also decided that the time is right today to put Aodhfin and Barnaby up for sale. These are two of last years babies who were weaned at the end of last year. They both have fantastically soft, fine, dense fleeces which I know will make great yarn.

They are the best of friends and actually half brothers who I will not separate. Aodhfin is the talkative friendly chap whilst Barnaby, despite being the older of the two, follows him around.

These boys will make great pets and fleece producers for the very lucky new owners.

Sunday 15 March 2009

BBC Countryfile Fame

Today was the big day, and I've got to be honest I think I was as nervous this morning as I was when they were filming on Tuesday!

I was so worried how I would come over, if it would look 'right' and if I said the right things. You never know what is going to be edited out either, after all they were filming all day.

My claim to fame from now on is going to be that John Craven said my name. I've watched him since being a little girl and his Newsround days. I was hiding behind a cushion to start with though, hearing yourself on the television is very odd. I was pleased with it; Rehannah and Peter from the BBC did a great job.

My phone was going like crazy afterwards with people saying how natural I was and how well it came over, so thank you. I made sure the animals all got praised as soon as it had finished. I can't believe they showed me chasing Eubank (the lamb) out of the kitchen!

Hopefully it will encourage other people thinking of pursuing a dream to look into it seriously especially those thinking about alpacas.

Saturday 14 March 2009

Gaussian's big gain

Saturday morning means weigh day for Gaussian, and seeing as his milk intake has increased slightly this week I was hoping for a decent gain. What a good boy he is, 17.5kg (38.5lbs), not only is he gaining weight he is much more playful, I'm not sure if that is because the weather has improved or he is generally feeling better.

Talking of good weather just check these out, from the top we have Gabby, Aria, Little Miss Irraquoy and Ursula catching a few rays.
The girls have been sunning themselves again this afternoon, Molly has been particularly keen to stretch out. Her shape has completely changed today and she is now at 331 days gestation so I don't think it will be long before her cria arrives.
To be honest I'm amazed that we haven't sold her, she is a fantastic girl with a very dense fleece. She has been mated to the outstanding Accoyo Remarque whose progeny did so well at the recent Futurity. Molly, (soon to be two) is for sale either on her own at £4,550 (+VAT) or as part of a package at discounted rates.

Friday 13 March 2009

Barnacre does Comic Relief

Well Mia does, the alpacas didn't want to wear red noses!!

The girls have been enjoying this mornings sun and I managed to snap a few photo's, I've not down loaded them yet so I will share them with you tomorrow.

I have updated the shop with lots of new stock, so have a browse and don't forget to treat those extra special mum's out there on Mothers Day.

Thursday 12 March 2009

A bit of fun

I thought tonight I'd have a bit of fun and do a bit of predicting. I like to do it every year, have a guess at who is going to produce what, so here goes for the first few girls.

First due is Molly, my guess here is a white girl. She is a fabulous white girl who has been mated to the very impressive Accoyo Remarque who is also white. My reasoning for a girl is gut feeling, plus generally my maidens have given me more girls than boys.

Next up is Aria, who is one of the girls we have for sale. I'm thinking here a mid fawn girl, she has been mated to Killawasi who needs no introduction. Aria has had three boys so far so is well overdue a little girl.

Due a couple of days later is Willow, the face of our website. I'm going for another girl, well they say things come in threes and I think she will be light brown. Hopefully she will be as impressive as Chiquita, Willow's first daughter.

A week after Willow is Kate, I would love for Kate to have a grey girl, but I think she will have a black boy. She was mated to Hornblower who has produced all black cria and mainly boys so far.

Anyone else wanting a guess feel free to leave me your comments!!

I got rather excited this morning when I checked out recent visitors to our website, we'd had a new visitor from Peru and another from Saudi Arabia - oh I do get excited.

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Back down to earth

Normal service resumes at Barnacre today following on from the excitement of yesterdays BBC filming. Thanks to everyone who has emailed and called, I'm just hoping that the coverage is good now seeing as half the world knows about it!

Our two white studs Legend of Spartacus and Gianmarco's Masterpiece were rather camera shy yesterday, today they were back to normal running to meet me to see if I had anything nice for them.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

BBC Countryfile comes to Barnacre Alpacas

What an exciting day we have had today, Rehannah Mian and Peter Taylor from the BBC have been here filming for their Countryfile programme.

I was up at the crack of dawn having hardly slept a wink, thinking about how the day would go and hoping everyone would behave themselves. They were here about nine armed with their camera and sound equipment. I was rather nervous initially but Rehannah and Peter put me at my ease and I was soon enjoying it.

We looked at the animals, talked about their care, fleece and individuality. We did a spot of halter training, bottle feeding and even little Eubank my foster lamb got in on the action.

It is the first time that alpacas have featured on Countryfile in its 20 year history, so quite an achievement for us. It will be on this Sunday's programme so don't miss it, 11am - I'll have the video set!!

I thought it was only fair seeing as I'd been on camera all day to turn the tables:-

Monday 9 March 2009

Busy busy busy

I have had a busy day today getting ready for tomorrow - more about that tomorrow as I'm not sure if I can tell you about it yet!!

I have had to loiter around the house most of the day waiting for DHL to come and collect a parcel. I wish people would give you a small time window or call when they are on their way as I had lots to be getting on with and it held me up.

Gaussian has been a little monkey with his bottles today and hasn't managed to finish a single one of them. I'm not sure if it is because he had more than usual yesterday or because the sun has been shining; he is always less inclined to have them when the weather is nice.

The girls have been sun bathing, those that are heavily pregnant are starting to spend more time sat down. I think that Aria is actually going to birth before Molly despite being due after her.

Sunday 8 March 2009


Yesterday was weigh day for Gaussian, I'm pleased to say he's up a little again :-) he's now reached the dizzy heights of 16.92kg (37.2lbs). His milk intake has increased a bit also, today he had 1.25 litres. It would definitely have been cheaper to buy a goat 8 months ago I'm sure!!

Talking of milk Chiquita has obviously smelt Willow's (her mum) beginning to develop. Willow is due next month. This morning she went to check out Willow's under carriage and was begging for milk. Thankfully Willow was having none of it, and despite Chiquita's persistence she we was told in no uncertain terms that it was out of bounds.

Those of you who have been following my blog from the beginning may recall that Chiquita was a nightmare to wean and kept trying to get back to mum and after months apart went straight back to check for milk.

Friday 6 March 2009

Great news for your herd

We have been discussing our 'sales team' with Matthew and Catherine Lloyd of EP Cambridge, and as a result we are delighted to announce revised prices and packages which can be found on our sales page. These girls are all pregnant to some of the finest herdsires in the country and would be a great asset to both the established breeder or new owners alike.

With the first one, Molly, being due to birth in the next couple of weeks and Aria just a couple of weeks behind her, these prices will of course be reviewed very shortly when their cria arrive, so grasp the opportunity whilst you can.

Thursday 5 March 2009

It's Snow good is it!

Can you believe it, snow again, thankfully not too much and it's rather wet so it hasn't hung round for long. It did mean everyone made use of their shelters last night leaving me plenty of 'presents' to clean up this morning.

The hay consumption has increased again, the girls have quite clearly sought out all the nice fresh green shoots that were emerging and have now reverted to the hay. I will have to get another bale ordered from Mr T!

My blogger has been playing up tonight not wanting to let me sign in, I was already late because Paul has been hogging the machine all night doing various updates on the website.

I have had a couple of very exciting phone calls today, more on them over the next few days as my little lamb has just started yelling that it is supper time! He obviously heard Paul put the kettle on for his bottle.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Gaussian knew what was coming

I have been busy with excel spreadsheets and paperwork today, not my favourite job but someone has to do it. Thankfully Paul is usually the paper work man so I don't have to do much of it other than the husbandry reports and fibre statistics.

Chiquita has a bit of a sore leg so she needed some cream on at lunchtime, she is very well behaved and will happily stand whilst I do the necessary. However Tessa, one of our regular manure collectors called at just the right time, so she was able to hold her whilst I had a good look, and I'm pleased to say it is looking much better already.

This evening Gaussian happily stood for me to put on his pyjama's, he doesn't usually like you fastening it up and putting the tail strap on. Tonight though he obviously knew that the weather was about to turn as he was very cooperative. It is now snowing heavily - he must have been able to smell it!!

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Award winning knitwear

Following on from yesterdays Futurity blog, I thought I would share with you a couple of photographs of my craft entries. I was delighted that my knitted bag was awarded 4th place, so I have come home with a nice 2009 Futurity rosette.

There were 85 entries so not bad going I thought. I wasn't so lucky with my felted slippers or ear rings. I was quite disappointed that the slippers didn't get anything as they took me absolutely ages and I received loads of compliments about them. See what you think....
My parents have gone home today, I'm sure the animals will miss them, they all know mum is a soft touch so like her at feed time. Once again thanks for your help mum and dad, not sure what we would do without you!

Monday 2 March 2009

I'm back!

Firstly, I must say well done and thank you mum for looking after everyone so well and even posting a blog! She was very pleased to have received some comments and asked me to thank you. She even managed to get Gaussian to put on 40 grams (just under a pound) whilst we were away!

The Futurity was a great event again, the new location at Stoneleigh Park was fantastic and with 350 animals being shown it was a credit to the organisers, it ran like clockwork. It was lovely to meet up with many friends and catch up, not to mention all the people who came up and introduced themselves as blog readers - thanks folks.

I know there are a few of you out there who were interested in the auction, and wanted to know how things went with the extremely impressive Cambridge Opus in particular. Well I can tell you she was sold for £8,500 guineas to Rachel & Chas at Classical Mile End Alpacas - they have a fantastic girl there.

I am pleased to say that Molly did as she was told and didn't panic mum whilst we were away. She is 320 days now so not long to go. She is one of the girls pregnant to Accoyo Remarque whose progeny were doing well in the show classes over the weekend, winning numerous ribbons and attracting comments like 'exceptionally dense fleece' 'very fine' etc. Needless to say I'm looking forward to her babes arrival.