Sunday 31 May 2009

It's official Guinea is back on top form

We have been busy doing some paddock maintenance today. After shearing everyone was treated to fresh grass so there were paddocks to clean, cut, harrow and rest. We ran out of hours in the day to do it all so that will have to be on the top of tomorrows job list.

Everyone seems very pleased to have been shorn although there aree a lot of midges about annoying the poor alpacas and me! Once all that fleece is removed they are much more susceptible to being got by the little blighters.

I thought I would share with you another of Paul's photo's from yesterdays shearing. You may recall a few weeks ago now our brown stud, Golden Guinea managed to get himself beached on the fence. You can clearly see the line along his groin where he got stuck.
He is pretty much 100% recovered now and we decided to see if he felt like mating. There was no stopping him he was straight on the job.

Saturday 30 May 2009

Alpaca shearing at Barnacre

Today was the big shearing day here at Barnacre, James Dixon and his wife Kim arrived bright and early to relieve the herd of their coats and in view of the temperatures over the last few days I think there were some sighs of relief.

Typically the girls, especially the white ones had decided to find the dirtiest and dampest spot possible to have a roll which is never a good thing, especially not this morning.

Here are the girls waiting for their turn, Kate thought if she sat down quietly she might not get noticed! She definitely took the crown for the noisiest spittiest participant, closely following by the infamous Little Miss Irraquoy of YouTube fame.

Paul was busy with the camera taking more movies so watch this space for new coverage!

Whilst we were hard at work my lovely little niece sat in her deckchair watching and taking it all in. I'm not sure she could quite work out what all the noise was about. I'm getting her interested at a young age, an extra pair of hands always come in handy!!
As I predicted Veruschka cut the biggest fleece weight at a fraction under four and a half kilos with our super special stud Legend of Spartacus a close second. More on the fleece and weights tomorrow. I was up just after 4am again this morning and my bed is now calling.

Friday 29 May 2009

Hughie has a friend

I've had a busy day helping my farmer friend Alan with his lambs and blue tongue vaccinating the ewes.

This evening my brother, his wife and my little niece, Faith, have arrived for the weekend. Faith wasn't sure what to make of my noisy sheep and lambs or the weanlings. Hughie however was a different story.

As usual Hughie was trying to say hello to my brother and sniff his nose which Faith thought was highly amusing. I can tell that she will get on great with Hughie once she is walking.

It's an early start in the morning, James Dixon (the shearer) arrives at 8am - early night all round I think!

Thursday 28 May 2009


It has been another very warm day today and Milly has been paddling in the water trough again. She will certainly be pleased to have her fleece removed on Saturday, which is shearing day here at Barnacre.

Milly, who has a huge fine fleece is one of the pregnant girls we have for sale, she is a daughter of EP Cambridge Accoyo Remarque who has many show winning progeny.

Veruschka's new son (who has yet to be named) is doing really well. In fact he has put on weight in his first 24 hours which is a first for us, we have never had a cria gain weight on the first day before.
Whilst on the subject of cria, Paul has finally agreed to allow me to call Kate's little girl Barnacre Midnight Star, Star to her friends. She is full of mischief, you can certainly tell she is related to Horatio!
Keeping on the cria topic, you may recall when Heidi was born she had a floppy ear which I had taped up. It is now just perfect and the tape has been removed. She was very well behaved this evening when I took the tape off which couldn't have been very nice for her.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Double whammy

We've had a really exciting day today. Veruschka gave birth this morning, much to my mums delight. She has produced a solid white boy, he looks huge at 364 days but weighed in a kilo less than Kate's baby from last week.
As you can see everyone was straight over to introduce themselves.
At lunchtime I had a spit off to do with Molly, as I expected she sat so Gianmarco's Masterpiece got to have his wicked way with her. He actually set a new record for him 29 minutes!
Whilst he was 'on the job' Legend worked out what it was all about and set about trying to do the necessary on a rather impressive Ozzie girl who had been patiently sat along side Molly and Marky.
This was Legends maiden voyage if you get my drift, and he was far too excited to concentrate and spent more time falling off and loosing his balance. I didn't want to knock his confidence so I thought I would just let him have a bit of a play on this occasion. There will certainly be a next time so I will keep you posted!

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Show sucess

Apologies for the lack of blog the last few days. Things have been so busy I haven't stopped from dawn till way past bedtime for days.

Saturday morning we moved the girls onto fresh grass which went down well. The cria were running round having a great explore whilst the girls bobbled as fast as they could in case they got moved on!

Their old field was then cleaned, cut and harrowed and this evening has been fertilized in readiness of tomorrows rain we have forecast.

Saturday afternoon we had a visit from Jayne at Zanzibah alpacas way up in Scotland, she is great; in fact makes me feel very sane!! She was showing me some lovely photo's of her alpacas which I have told her she must share on her blog - come on Jayne (I know you'll read this) you know the ones I'm referring too!

Sunday we were preparing for the Northumberland County Show at Corbridge, we were taking both animals and knitted stock.

As I'd not found any time to put the weanlings on their halters since the National Show I thought we'd better have a quick halter session. It turned out to be a bit of a family outing as my parents offered to help so between the four of us we took all 7 weanlings at the same time down the lane onto some very lush grass which everyone thought was delightful. It was actually Gaussian's first time on the halter and he was superb.

Monday was a very early start, I was up for 4.30am to load the car, feed and check everyone before loading the trailer and heading off at 6.30. The traffic was much better getting into the show ground this year and all our microchips were present and correct so we were all set.

Lualeni was out in the first class, very damp and not on her best behaviour she still managed to come away with second place - great start team. Next in was Paul and Princess Mallika in a very big class, she had been switched from the brown to fawn class. Poor Mallika didn't get a rosette but she was very well behaved and we were proud of her.

Junior browns was Sienna's turn to show Northumberland what she is made of. You may recall she is our little squealer, other than one tiny little squeal she was a good girl. The judge Vicky Agar was obviously impressed with what she saw and awarded her third place.

We had four intermediates to show, first in was Chiquita in the female fawn class. Third place rosette here too.

Then it was the turn of the boys, Hughie being the first of the three. He goes along as the crowd pleaser, he loves it and it's nice for people to be able to get close and interact with the animals which is Hughie's favourite pastime. He too was awarded a rosette, 4th place intermediate fawn male.

By this time we were all very hot and bothered, fleeces were getting very sweaty and animals were getting rather bored. No one could accuse judge Vicky Agar of not being thorough, she was very meticulous and gave a critique of all the animals she placed.

Our two black boys were in the same class, Loki is 11 months older than Horatio but they both fall into the intermediate class. I find it very difficult to compare these two boys so I was looking forward to a qualified judges opinion - just has to hope they both got placed; and they did. Loki was placed first - yippee!! Horatio got placed 3rd so great news all round.

It was a fantastic albeit very long day, we were in the first class with Lualeni and the last class with Loki in the Best of British so we didn't leave the show ground until around 8pm. We were all exhausted animals and people alike. We came home with 6 rossettes from 7 animals in the biggest ever alpaca entry at the show so we were very happy. I will make sure I get a photo of the rosettes tomorrow.

Friday 22 May 2009

Parents and their 'luggage'

My parents arrived tonight for the weekend with a car full; including my husband! As I mentioned earlier he has been working away and was supposed to be getting the train back but managed to miss his connection at Newark so made mum drive back down the A1 to pick him up - the cheek of it!!

As well as Paul they have bought some more knitting, I'll get some photo's and put them in the shop over the next few days.

I have been over to see Melanie at Fallowfield Alpacas this afternoon, we have joined forces and ordered our Camelibra feed in bulk to save a bit of money so I went over to pick it up. I also had a bit of 'advertising' to collect from the printers - more on that another day.

Our cria continue to do well, Kate's baby (who will hopefully be named tomorrow) has already learnt to pronk and has been pronking and chasing round with Palm-Olive in the sunshine. Heidi would much rather stay close to her mum and the milk supply!

Thursday 21 May 2009

On your marks, get set, go......................

It turned out to be a lovely day today, after getting up to rain at the crack of dawn I thought we were in for a wet day but it brightened up.

Both Heidi and Kate's daughter (still to be named) have had their coats off today and have been soaking up the sun.

Palm-Olive and the new baby have been charging round the field today, you would never believe Kates baby was less than 24 hours old. She is certainly a live wire, she is making Kate a nervous wreck. It's head down for two mouthfuls then she has to head off after her rather active offspring!

Paul is away on business for a few days so I daren't name the latest arrival without him, although I've got to be honest I'm struggling to come up with something that fits the bill at the minute.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

It's a girl, yes another one!

Well you may recall I said yesterday that I thought Kate was thinking about giving birth, well she did it this morning.

Just after 8am this morning (so Paul missed it!)she gave birth to a lovely daughter. She is black with her mums white facial markings. I wasn't too sure initially if she was very dark grey but now she's fully dry she's black.

At 365 days gestation she is a big girl at 9.1kg and towers over Heidi who is five days old now. In fact she is as tall as Palm-Olive, obviously not as stocky tho. Here they are together.
It is Veruschka's turn next, another one that is already overdue at 358 days.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Eye's wide open

I had all good intentions last night to post a blog but I'm afraid by the time I had finished doing what needed to be done I couldn't keep my eyes open!

Firstly, I am pleased to report that progress is still going well with Golden Guinea. He is now standing and walking round for up to ten minutes and is much steadier on his feet. He is almost trying a run now too - again prompted by the weanlings, in particular Sienna. He has always had a soft spot for her, he'll get to see her close up and personal next year!

Aria's baby, who we have named Heidi is doing well, and is putting on weight. It has been nice today so I took her coat off for a while which seemed to please her.

We weighed Palm-Olive again yesterday and she is gaining nicely. I also had a good luck at her fleece which is developing into something very special - I wish she were staying. You may recall she is Molly's baby who is one of the girls we have for sale.

I have spent a fair bit of time in the paddock today with the girls, I was actually using the time to dig out some weeds. I was sort of hopeful that Kate might have been thinking about having her baby. She's been sat down more than usual today and there was a lot of grumbling going on. No baby though, she's another one that will reach the year mark tomorrow!

Sunday 17 May 2009

Time flies when you're having fun

I can't believe that is another weekend over and done with, it is frightening how time flies by.

I'm pleased to report the Mr Guinea is continuing to improve, he is getting more strength in his legs and has spent much more time up on his feet today. I've not had to lift him once he's now happy to get himself up and have a little little wonder.

He managed to find second gear, and moved much quicker than normal when the weanlings ran up the channel to his fence line. So I now have another trick up my sleeve if he decides he doesn't want to move about; send for the weanlings! He has actually taken himself off to bed tonight which was good.

Today was also Alice's first pregnancy spit off and unfortunately after a bit of a run round she sat for Gianmarco's Masterpiece, so he got to have his wicked way with her for a second time. Hopefully she will take this time.

I have had my last lamb born this evening, a rather large white boy. He is bigger than Ebony's lamb who was born over a week ago. He was so large Cino needed a bit of assistance but I couldn't move it, thankfully Alan, our farmer friend was passing as I was getting rather red faced so he came to the rescue.

Saturday 16 May 2009

On the up - Literally

Sorry for the lack of blog last night, I was exhausted and feel to sleep whilst supposedly waiting for the weather to come on!

I am pleased to report that Golden Guinea is improving, he was standing unsupported for about 30 seconds and taking the odd step here and there yesterday morning. Then the vet arrived to check him over. I was telling Sam (vet) how he was improving and Guinea demonstrated his few steps and stand like a good boy. Sam gave him the once over, out with the stethoscope then the thermometer and just after the thermometer was inserted he stood up; unaided!

I was so please, Sam quickly retrieved said thermometer before there was any issue and Guinea looked round all pleased with himself; and yes he got more carrot as a reward.

The vet is very pleased with his progress and thinks he should make a full recovery thanks to Guineas determination and my perseverance. You can imagine how pleased I was to hear that.

Since yesterday afternoon Guinea has got up himself more and more and is managed longer bursts on his feet each time and last night despite the rain refused to stay in his shelter. I'm not shutting him in (on vet advice in case he does himself more damage) just taking him to bed last thing at night.

Finally, I thought I would share with you a photo of Aria's little Killawasi cria; isn't she sweet. As you can see she has her little ear taped up at the minute as it is a little floppy. The weather turned nasty shortly after this shot so she got a second coat on and took in the shelter for a little while.

Thursday 14 May 2009

A better day

Firstly thank you to all those very kind people that either commented on my blog, emailed or phoned it is nice to know so many people care, thank you. Jayne you didn't leave your number so I could call you back (obviously lost it from last time)!

I am pleased to say that there is a slight improvement with Golden Guinea, in fact at the day has gone on he has improved more. He managed to hold his own weight this morning for the first time. Then this afternoon he managed a few steps unsupported, I was so pleased I cried.

He is quite clearly very sore and it takes lots of effort but the steps have increased as the afternoon progressed and this evening he stood long enough to eat from my hand. Hopefully tomorrow there will be even more progress although if the weather is as bad as the forecast I doubt he will want to leave the shelter.

The second bit of good new, drum roll please, Aria finally gave birth this afternoon!!!!!! It was rather late as far as alpaca birthings go, at 4pm. A lovely solid light fawn girl (I predicted that one right too Jayne).

Despite being at 373 days gestation the cria is far from big and weighed in at 6.7kgs. It took her a little while to get going but she is happily suckling from mum now and has a nice cosy coat on to keep her warm.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

The trials and tribulations of alpaca farming

Yet again I find myself having another trial to deal with.

Our superb brown stud, Golden Guinea decided for whatever reason that it would be a good idea to try and get over his fence. This is despite the fact there are no ladies nearby and he has the same boys for neighbours that he has always had.

I think Hughie and Loki were probably play fighting and orgling with each other and Guinea probably thought there was a lady and needed to get in there. The four boys have been play fighting and trying to mate each other since the weekend on and off so this is the only explanation I can come up with.

The poor chap managed to get himself beached on the fence and got into a complete panic. Luckily I was out in the fields (watching the very overdue girls) when I heard squealing, initially I thought it was one of the boys playing but soon realised that something was not right.

I was straight down to the boys and weanlings fields to find a very distressed Guinea stuck. I somehow found the ability to hurdle two gates and get to him but I couldn't manage to move him on my own, however I could support his weight.

I yelled my neighbour who thankfully was off work doing some work on the entrance to his paddock and eventually managed to attract his attention and he came running (thanks Steve I don't know what I would have done without you). We got him back in his field but it was clear that he had done some damage to himself as he was struggling to stand.

The vet was straight out and he was checked over. Thankfully there are no breaks, however there is a lot of muscle and tendon damage so he was dosed up with drugs and it was a case of observing and waiting.

Thankfully Golden Guinea has a fantastic temperament and is very cooperative, having had a second visit from the vet and more injections he seems slightly better although is still unable to stand without my help.

He is trying to stand and is moving around on his own which is a good sign. Today he is managing to take more of his own weight so things are heading in the right direction but he's got a long way to go. I am getting him up hourly for a little walk and giving him some physio to stop him stiffening up but I think it is going to be a slow process.

Monday 11 May 2009

National show reflections (by Paul)

Evening all, I am indeed back from my travels down to Newark and the National show so I thought I would reflect on the long weekend.

First of all I must say a massive thanks to Mike and Carolyn Birch for a fantastic and well run event. With such a large number of animals, owners and members of the public anything could have happened - but it didn't!

This was the first time Barnacre had attended the National (as competitors) and it was great to meet some old friends and make a good few more - hello everyone.

Despite travelling solo and arriving after dark the show team was safely unloaded and (eventually) the tent errected for a cold nights sleep. Thanks to the many owners who pointed out how warm their hotel rooms were (Just Alpacas!), it's about time room service and central heating came as standard in tents if you ask me!

The 'public' were very very interested in alpacas (Alison - buy some alpacas to keep the horse company!) especially those that were taken on walks to try and combat the humidity of the show building - not something I'd factored into account. Horatio (our 1 year old Hornblower black male) thought that he might keep cooler by hanging his head out of the pen for the whole weekend - I think Hughie might have a little bit of competition there for the affections of the public!

To the alpaca owners out there who haven't shown any of your animals, go for it. Our bag of ribbons is proof that dedication to the welfare of your animals and sensible investments of time and money can produce great results.

It is quite ironic that now we have some animals to show Debbie had to stay behind and look after the 'next generation'. The challenges of alpaca farming keep rumbling on.

Bring on Northumberland show in 2 weeks time...


Sunday 10 May 2009

Paul & the team return victorious

It seems to have been a really long weekend here knowing I was missing out on the National Show - I didn't miss sleeping thin the cold tent though!

Paul had a good run back with the show team and was home for around 6pm with our haul of 6 rosettes; we are so pleased. We have come away with a second, two thirds, a fourth and two fifths, not bad out of six animals entered and three fleeces.

I have a query for any of you judges out there. Our white stud, Legend of Spartacus was awarded third place in the intermediate white fleece class, but he had exactly the same points as the fleece in second place, so why were they not joint second. Is there a decided factor that puts one above the other in the event of a tie?

The girls in particular were glad to get home and tucked into the first bit of grass they saw. The weanlings have moved onto fresh pasture this evening as a treat so I doubt there will be much sleeping going on in their field tonight.

Hughie was so pleased to see Loki return, he has been really miserable the last couple of days without him. They are really close having grown up together and are never very far apart. It is the first time they had been separated and Hughie didn't like it one bit.

Despite me having serious words with all three overdue girls this morning and the sun shining they have all remained crossed legged. I just knew they would, if I'd left to go to the National Show it would have been a different story.

Saturday 9 May 2009

Excitement all round

I'm pleased to say that Paul arrived safely at the Newark and Notts showground last night and everyone was unloaded without a hitch and he even managed to put the tent up (or so he tells me)!!

This morning didn't start quite so well as I received a text from him just before 6am, and Paul does NOT do mornings just saying 'Have a flat tyre'. Oops, both mornings and wheel changing are usually my department so I'm not sure how that one has evolved; I've not asked.

My parents were off to offer a helping hand with the animals and I'm sure mum must have arrived before the show organisers as she left home at 7.20 and only lives half an hour away. I just knew she'd flapping; bless her!!

I've been getting various updates through the day so here goes:

Lualeni our white junior was out in the first class, and as you'd expect it was a large one of 32 so it had been split in two. Loopy Lou, as I affectionately call her came third, what a result the judge commented on her 'amazing brightness, fantastic fleece'. Blossom should be so proud because I am.

Sienna, our squealer in the junior brown class also did fantastically well and was awarded 5th place. I'm not sure how she behaved in the ring as she is quite nervous especially without me.

My mum had the pleasure of taking Princess Mallika into the ring, she had been changed into the dark fawn class. She didn't come anywhere but mum said she was very well behaved. She also took Chiquita into the ring, she was in the intermediate medium fawn class and came away with another rosette, 5th place.

The two black boys are still to go in the ring. Hopefully they will be as successful tomorrow.

We also entered three fleeces into the fleece show and apparently have a full house there with three more rosettes. I'm so pleased, we have a 2nd, 3rd & 4th. It the minute I'm not sure who has what but I entered two whites, our fantastic stud Legend of Spartacus, Little Miss Irraquoy and our grey girl Kate.

I'm afraid I am feeling very left out up here, the most exciting thing to occur here has been Eubank (my pet lamb) finally losing his tail!

Friday 8 May 2009

It's a boy!

I'm pleased to announce the safe arrival of a little white boy this morning. He is from a brown mum and a white dad but before all you enthusiastic alpaca breeders start complaining that you are still waiting for your girls to produce, so am I. It was one of the hogs that was 'got' accidentally!

Here is Ebony and her new son. Hopefully it wont be long before he's playing with the other lambs.

On the alpaca front there has been no movement with the girls, well there is plenty of ripples and kicking but no birthing.

Paul is now on his way down to Newark with the show team without me! I'm really disappointed not to have been able to go, but with three girls overdue I just can't aford to leave the farm. You can bet nothing will occur now.

Thursday 7 May 2009

The lush grass is vanishing!

The nice lush green grass the girls moved onto at the weekend is going down a treat. I'm sure they have already polished off a quarter of it already.

Little Palm-Olive is obviously doing well on it too as she had put on a kilo since arriving on it, which is her biggest weight gain yet. She has now doubled her birth weight in just over 4 weeks which isn't bad going.

After cleaning the paddock I have been writing lists and getting things ready for the trip down to Newark and Notts this weekend. It is looking like I will have to stay behind on 'baby watch' so Paul will be on his own. I'm not sure how my babies will cope away from home without me - they need me, since they were weaned I'm their mummy!

Thankfully my parents are going to the show so mum will be able to check up to make sure all is well and will be able to give Paul a hand in the show ring. You never know I might make it if we have a couple of arrivals tomorrow :-)

Wednesday 6 May 2009

And still no babies...........

Well another day of anticipation and still no cria, it is looking like the girls are not wanting me to attend the National Show this weekend. I was so hopeful first thing when the sun was shining too.

I have made the cria coat I cut out yesterday, so that is now 'in stock' and ready for use should it be required. I have quite a nice little set of them now.

I now have a confirmed shearing date in the diary for the herd which is good. It always amazes me how different everyone looks without their fleeces on and if we do get the hot summer that has been talked about everyone will be glad of a short back and sides!

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Happy Birthday Horatio

Our little monkey that is Horatio is one year old today. It doesn't seem a year ago that Becky and Pete experienced the great excitement of his birth. From the minute he got to his feet he has craved mischief and a year on he is no different. Just like his sister Ursula, he loved to pinch things be it the feed bucket or your hat and gloves.

It has been a really miserable day weather wise today so the heavily pregnant girls have all chosen to hold on a bit long. I really am beginning to wonder if Aria is ever going to part with this cria of hers.

I tend to worry about girls going too far over having far too big babies. To be honest of late I am worrying about anything and everything, girls looking huge, girls not looking pregnant at all. It's a good job I love my job!

As the weather has been so poor I have been doing inside chores, paperwork and purchases (I haven't dare tell Paul how much I have spent yet). Then this afternoon I have cut out another cria coat ready to make, just in case these girls decided to have their babies in the nasty weather. I have a few different sizes but no duplicates so that is what I am doing now.

Monday 4 May 2009

Still hanging on in there!

As I have been so poor at blogging the last couple of days (wine with dinner and an afternoon hike to the pub and I'm useless!) I thought I'd do an early(ish) morning one whilst everyone else is in bed.

We have been doing a spot of moving round again, firstly the female hogs (young sheep) have moved back in with their mums ready for them lambing. Alan, our farmer friend suggested they go there so he can keep an eye on them too as he passes. It was really quite sweet Pepper quite clearly remembered her daughter from last year and they exchanged a few hello's. Then Pepper noticed her daughter was pregnant and there was a distinct tone change in her bleat, I think she was complaining at her for coming home in that state!

Then was the turn of the alpacas, we have been waiting to move the girls into their usual birthing paddocks but with Aria and Kate intent on holding on to their cria we have hung off. There was no grass left where they were so we decided it had to be done anyway so we walked them through two of our neighbours fields and home.

It all went according to plan and without a hitch. Kate was slightly reluctant to leave her field but soon got excited when she saw the green grass waiting for her.

There has been no looking back since everyone is head down munching. We are now waiting for three girls to birth who are all over 340 days so hopefully the fresh grass and exercise will help encourage them.

Friday 1 May 2009

Roughing it!

I've been out cleaning the paddocks again this morning. Following on from the 'sample' I took to the vets for a worm count, Mallika did have slightly more eggs than we would have liked so all the weanlings have been wormed and moved onto fresh grass, which incidentally they think is great!

Mallika is already much better so hopefully that has solved her little issues. Thankfully the nice fresh grass took their minds of the fact I had just had to give them an injection. It always upsets me much more than it does them.

Don't laugh but today I have been and picked up our new tent; we are camping at the National Show next weekend!! So not only do I have to remember all the animals bits and pieces, show coats and so on, I also have to remember to pack all the camping bits - will I need my hot water bottle I wonder?

As the girls were showing no signs of parting with their cria or lambs I decided to brave the supermarket as we have friends up this weekend. Becky and Pete witnessed Horatio being born last year when the visited so are hoping for a similar treat this year.