Tuesday 30 June 2009

Visitors and matings

It has been a very busy day here today. This morning we had two mini bus's full of children visiting from a local school who are thinking of getting alpacas.

The children enjoyed some hands on experience with the alpacas, the young weanling boys were happy to assist and enjoyed being walked by lots of enthusiastic children. I was able to show them the difference between sheep and alpaca fleece and the sorts of things you can do with the alpaca fleece. Some went home with bits of Horatio and Barnaby fleece to try their hand at felting.

This afternoon we had a couple of spit offs and matings to do. Guinea had a spit off appointment with Aria who ran away and would have nothing to do with him, that was her third spit off so hopefully she is now pregnant.

Next I wanted him to cast his eye of Geena who you may recall I said isn't looking very pregnant, she spat at him so I didn't push it as she doesn't have long to go if she is pregnant. His reward for two rejections was a mating with Nefertiti who was very willing.

Whilst Guinea was on the case I introduced Legend of Spartacus to Verushcka, after an initial rebuff she sat for him which was good. That was the first time Legend had managed to get her down and she had a good mating so we will see how that one develops.

Sat the other side of the gate was Imala and Angelus who are both currently empty. Angelus has had a couple of goes but clearly hasn't taken so I will let Legend work his magic on her in the next couple of days. Very worryingly Ursula was also hanging round, she has been scanned twice by the vets once negative but then positive. I have been changing my mind all along about her pregnancy state and am once again disagreeing with the vets positive theory.

Monday 29 June 2009

I'm back

We have had a couple of days away, it was my niece's first birthday party so we headed off down south.

As we were down that way we went visiting a few friends from our old life!! It seems like forever ago now, but it was nice to catch up. I left my mum holding the fort and everyone behaved themselves.

We have a couple of girls looks very close to giving birth at the minute, but they held on for me. We have another girl, Geena who I am beginning to wonder if she is actually pregnant. She is 341 days gone but doesn't really look pregnant at all. She never gets much milk so that not much of an indicator either. She was scanned by the vet last year but I remember at the time it took him a while and he wasn't as sure with her as he was with the other girls.

Friday 26 June 2009

Soggy girls and grass!

What a difference a day makes, today has been wet and miserable all day, the alpacas are all wet & soggy in fact so is the ground which is the first time in a while. Hopefully when the sun comes out the resting paddocks will have a growth spurt and we will have lots of nice thick lush grass.

I was due to do a couple more spit offs today but as the weather was so poor I decided that I'd leave them until a dry day. Both girls concerned, Alice and Molly have both spat off twice before and weren't loitering yesterday when we were mating so hopefully they are still holding their pregnancies.

Both girls were mated to Gianmarco's Masterpiece, these will be his first cria so these are particularly interesting pregnancies to me!

Thursday 25 June 2009

Spit off & a mating

I've had a few spit offs to do this week but as I needed three different boys I needed to wait until Paul was about to offer assistance. Last time Veruschka decided to try and jump out the mating pen so I didn't want to chance doing it alone!

First up was Willow who was one of the three that had a visit to Fowberry two weeks ago now, she spat last week so knew she'd ovulated. She was having none of Guinea's approaches so that was good news. Mary was the same, in fact in true Mary style she tried to kick the living daylights out of poor Guinea.

The third girl we took to be remated was Imala, not such good news on this was, she dropped like a sack of spuds at Guinea's feet. Back on a 6 hour round trip for her then.

Next was Kate's turn, she gave birth at the end of May and has not been interested in remating since. We were hoping to try Loki out on her but she was a bit too much for him. She quite clearly needed a more forceful male; having just been on spit off duties Guinea was not going to take no for an answer and she sat for him. Golden Guinea performed his longest mating to date of 24 minutes so fingers crossed that will be Kate pregnant.

Veruschka is still not keen to be remated yet, it's almost a month since she gave birth to Tenzing so I was hoping that she would be receptive by now. I don't agree with forcing girls down so I will leave her a little longer and see how we get on.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Hot hot hot

It has been very hot here today and we seem to have been invaded by flies which is not pleasant.

The girls were so hot at lunchtime, whilst I was scrubbing out the water troughs again (they keep climbing in and they are constantly dirty!) I put the sprinkler on for them. Geena loves it and wouldn't let anyone else share for quite some time, Angelus then spoilt all the fun by sitting on it.

One of the cria, Tenzing, was getting very confused by the whole thing. He couldn't make out why it was raining at a funny angle, you could see him trying to work out what was going on.

Gabby's little boy is such a cutie, I thought he might dry light fawn but he has dried white, with a little brown spot on one leg. Where that came from I don't know as dad was white and mum fawn.

To try and keep the flies at bay I have cleaned the paddock again, I try and do it most days although that is not always possible. I need to do the weanlings field tomorrow because I ran out of time today. There are never enough hours in the day.

Monday 22 June 2009

A positive start to the week

This week has got to be a better one, and what better way to start it than with a new baby!

Gabby finally gave birth this morning at 367 days to a lovely little boy. She was that quick I missed the birth. I thought when I gave the girls their breakfast that she was going to give birth today, so I quickly went to feed the boys and the weanlings.

By the time I got back to the girls field she had already given birth, passed the placenta and the little chap was up on his feet and very mobile! How quick was that.

We are still thinking of a name so I will keep you posted on that one.

Thursday 18 June 2009

Happy Birthday Oonagh

Today is Oonagh's second birthday, and as her name suggests she was our first cria born here at Barnacre. I can't believe it is two years ago, how time flies, Oonagh is now pregnant herself and we will soon have second generation Barnacre cria - how exciting is that.

Oonagh was Blossom's first cria so Blossom will soon be a granny. Blossom is actually causing me great concern at the minute following the death of her latest daughter, Zahirah. She is still refusing to eat and is just sitting either in the shelter or under the tree. This has been going on all week now and she is losing weight. If anyone out there has experience of grieving mums and has some tips I would greatly appreciate some help.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Appalling weather

The weather has been appalling today, just after I finished the morning feeds the heavens opened and it didn't stop until late this afternoon. I was supposed to be doing some spit offs but decided again it, it will have to go on tomorrows list now!

As outside jobs were off the agenda I thought I'd better get the online shop updated. Along with some other breeders, we had a stall at the Northumberland County Show and I sold quite a few bits which I'd not taken off the website. Mum and I have also been busy knitting so there are some new lines to look at including slumber socks and a gorgeous baby shawl knitted from dear Blossoms fleece.

Talking of Blossom she is still grieving, she has been really low today and has hardly moved. Hopefully she will be back to her old self soon as I hate seeing her like this.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Thank you

Just a short post tonight to say thank you to everyone that has rung, sent emails and messages and left comments on my blog and facebook. It is comforting to know that I have so many friends I can reply for support.

Blossom and I have been grieving today in our own ways. Poor Blossom is giving me a little cause for concern as she is keeping herself to herself and doesn't want the herd near her, she is not coming in for feed either. I took her breakfast to her and she had a little feed from my hand but nothing much.

Her first born daughter, Oonagh, has been humming to her and sat close by (but not too close), she is obviously trying to comfort her mum. Alpacas are such intelligent animals and clearly need the support of other herd members just like we need the support of our friends.

Monday 15 June 2009

Feeling lost

I'm not sure how or what to write tonight but having received so many good luck wishes I just feel I have to do this.

Sadly poor Zahirah lost her fight for life this morning after a very up and down ten days. If I'm honest in my heart of heart I knew last night things were not got good and I was going to lose her.

I spent most of the night laid on the bedroom floor next to her willing her to fight but she just got too weak. By 7am this morning I knew I was going to have to call the vet as she was beginning to infrequently struggle for breath and I couldn't bear to see her in pain or suffering.

Poor Blossom quite clearly realised yesterday that she was going to lose her baby because she lost all interest in her and when I took her out for a wee in the evening she didn't even bother to get up and come over to see her which she had done on every other occasion.

Having spent almost every living moment with Zahirah for the last ten days I can't begin to tell you have devastated I am, I feel like I failed her.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Splish splash

It has been a very hot day today and the girls have been stretched out sun bathing and the usual few have been paddling in the water troughs. I decided to put the sprinkler on for them to see if anyone wanted to play.

They were a bit wary at first but curiosity soon got the better of them. Geena and Gabby loved it, I managed to get a bit of video so I will get Paul to upload it for me tomorrow so I can share it with you.

It is quite funny, at tea time we had a shower of rain and everyone ran for the shelter. It was obviously the wrong sort of rain!

I am pleased to report that Hughie is much happier today, well until it was time for his antibiotic injection! The flies are a bit of a worry though so he is being constantly sprayed with repellent and I've been checking to make sure nothing has been where it shouldn't.

Poor little Zahirah is really worrying me, hasn't had a good day today, she has been very flat despite taking her bottle and has spent most of the day inside asleep. I'll be on the phone to the vet in the morning.

Saturday 13 June 2009

You couldn't make it up if you tried

Firstly I must say a bit thank you to all those people sending us good luck messages, texts and support for Zahirah. I am pleased to say that she has had a good day today and seems to be improving again.

As the weather has been so nice she has been outside with mum most of the day feeding from her as well as the bottles from yours truly. She has also began gaining weight again which has to be a good sign. She is certainly a little fighter, I just hope she doesn't get too used to coming in the house!

We have has another crisis this morning, yes I know, I must have done something really bad in a previous life. Poor Hughie was attacked by a dog, it was a neighbours recently rescued lurcher that got into the field and chased the boys. Unfortunately for Hughie it managed to get hold of him, thankfully the owner was in pursuit of the dog and was able to intervene before too much damage was done.

He has a number of grazes and puncture wounds, which as you can see from the photo have been cleaned and sprayed. He also requires a course of antibiotics to stop any infection.

It certainly upset him, anyone who knows Hughie will appreciate how much if I tell you he didn't even bother going to say hello to a new manure collector this afternoon.

Just for the record said dog has already been rehomed thankfully.

Friday 12 June 2009

A wobbly 24 hours

It has been a worrying 24 hours with Zahirah, yesterday evening she went down hill and fast. She was cold and floppy one minute then absolutely boiling and floppy the next. She also had a couple of episodes that resembles fits which was very worrying. All this after a day with mum on and off and feeding nicely.

I was up with her pretty much all night fearing the worst again and then at 4am she had a miraculous recovery for a short period and was able to stand and walked round the bedroom - yes she was in the bedroom! She has been up and down most of the day.

We took her to the vets who carried out a blood test and his conclusion from the results was that her liver isn't functioning properly. This is likely to be as a result of her prematurity and is causing her to have peaks and troughs. Poor little mite now has a bald patch on her neck and needs two injections every day in the hope that this will kick start things into action.

She does seem to have improved and has had a few feeds from mum this afternoon so hopefully her strong will to live will help us through the latest crisis.

On a brighter note today is Loki's 2nd birthday. Loki is a one of our show superstars, he won his class, Intermediate Black Male at the recent Northumberland County Show and is also the current Scottish Black Champion. As a birthday treat we were going to introduce him to our grey girl Kate, however events have overtaken us, so it is on the job list for tomorrow.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Off to see boyfriends

I am pleased to report that Zahirah continues to improve, her teeth have come through today and she is getting further up on her pasterns. She even managed to chase a chicken today, she is such a little sweetie.

Paul headed off down to Fowberry Alpacas this morning with three girls in the trailer. Two girls, Mary and Imala hadn't held their pregnancies over winter and Willow had sadly had a stillborn cria earlier in the year.

I had to stay back here, we have two girls overdue, one of which, Gabby, is the size of a house and looks like birthing imminently. Not only this I have chickenpox, yes chickenpox!!

I thought Mary may be an issue as she was a bit of a pest when it came to mating last year. She was well behaved though and it was Imala who didn't want to sit. Having driven for three hours this was not an option. Hopefully they will all take first time as it's a bit of a drive for rematings.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

That's my girl

I thought I would share with you this picture I took this morning of Blossom and Zahirah just to prove that bonding has not been an issue for Blossom.

We were very concerned about taking her cria away on Friday but to be perfectly honest if we hadn't she would never have survived, there was almost nothing left when we separated them.

Today has seen another vast improvement, when I reunited them this morning Zahirah ran to mum and went straight to the milk bar, well she found it eventually! She has been suckling on and off all day and hasn't has anywhere near as much milk from me. At tea time she was totally uninterested in her bottle which is good.

Monday 8 June 2009

Naming ceremony

Little Blossom has taken a giant leap forward today and has managed to suckle from mum on a few occasions. I have been trying all day to point her in the right direction but she hadn't quite managed it until this evening.

Having sucked almost every inch of Blossoms undercarriage except the right inch, I know she'd find it in the end. Then came that great sound we all love to hear when a newborn cria finds the milk bar. She's far from finding it easy and there is still a long way to go but at least we are getting there.

We have had a visit from the vet today who gave a positive opinion on 'Little Blossom', she has also had the nod from Alan Thompson (our farmer friend). So we have decided that we can now name her, and at least one regular blog reader will approve, we have called her Zahirah, which is Arabic and meaning shining & Blossoming.

Sunday 7 June 2009

Getting stronger

Things with our little premature cria are still going well, thankfully she is gaining strength in her neck and legs and is getting mobile, as you can see on this video. She is managing to get up on her own now occasionally and has been out to see mum a few times.

Mum Blossom is clearly pleased to see her baby and greets her with licks, kisses and humming, her daughter unfortunately doesn't seem to appreciate that it is her mum. Despite me trying to hold her under Blossom's udder and point her in the right direction she is totally oblivious to the fact this is the milk bar, even trying to milk blossom into her mouth isn't working yet.

Hopefully once she is more stable and doesn't need as much concentration to balance we will get there, thankfully Blossom is standing over her trying to get her to feed which is half the battle.

We have managed to fit in a couple of spit offs today, Alice and Aria both spat at more Golden Guinea. He got very excited when he noticed Willow and Blossom close by, both are empty and I think he fancied his chances!

Little Blossom update

Little Blossom, as Paul is currently calling the new baby (we won't name her just yet) is slowly gaining strength and increasing her milk intake. We are now at 2 hourly feeds which was certainly a blessing overnight!

We reunited her with Blossom last night whilst we did one of the many milking sessions and were relieved by the reaction from both of them. Blossom was humming and licking her baby and the baby finally had a wee - I'm struggling to get her to do anything from that end.

She still has little control over her neck or legs however does have the odd burst of energy and strength to look round and try and stand. She has managed to hold her own weight a few times now and we are persevering with this as the sooner we can reunite her to mum the better for both of them.

After 30 odd hours in the shelter Blossom and her shelter dwelling companions Willow and Chiquita everyone was getting very fed up at the confinement. So after last nights milking we have let Blossom out. Catching her for milking has now become a major operation!!

Saturday 6 June 2009

Photo update

Just a quick posting to introduce the little lady causing all the concern. Here with mum and big sister Oonagh standing guard shortly after birth.

Tucked up all nice and warm with hot water bottles, blankets, towels and in the sunshine for good measure. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed she will soon perk up enough to be reunited with mum.

Friday 5 June 2009

From one extreme to the other

What a day.

We have had girls hanging on to their babies for silly amounts of time this year, until this afternoon that is, when Blossom decided to give birth in the rain at 317 days. Blossom always births quite early but this is far too early even for her, her average gestation period for her two previous daughters is 334 days.

Her latest daughter, yes three girls on the trot (you may recall Blossom doesn't like boys so clearly managed to steer clear of producing one again this year) is obviously much smaller than her usual babies weighing in at 5.8kg. She is very weak and was struggling, unable to stand and initially with no suck reflex.

After warming her and failing to get any suck on a bottle I resorted to tube feeding her a mixture of Blossom's colostrum which we milked and some powdered colostrum. It's very early days but since the initial tube feed I've managed to get her to suck on a bottle and have been milking Blossom.

We are struggling to keep her temperature up though, so we have had to bring her into the house and wrapped her up. She's been back out to her mum a couple of times who is shut in and there is a bond there so hopefully tomorrow we will be able to reunite mum and baby.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Fleece skirting

Most of the day has been spent skirting fleeces so I can get them off to Norweft, the mini mill for processing next week. I had a total of 65kg of fleece shorn last weekend of which 32 kilo's was the best blanket fleece.

I have already decided who is being blended with who and which are being processed as individual animals so it is all very exciting. Hopefully I wont have too long to wait for the yarn to be return.

I did get a break from the fleeces to show a new manure collector the pile and help him bag some up for his newly erected raised beds. Hopefully he will be back for more as we have quite a collection at the minute.

The cria are continuing to gain weight, since I have been softening Aria's teats with udder cream Heidi seems to be getting on better and has put on half a kilo in the last couple of days. Prior to this Aria's teats were getting so large I think she was struggling to latch on properly.

Veruschka's son, who we have named Tenzing, is gaining weight nicely. He is scouring a little this evening so I will keep my eye on that, he was fine this morning and I've seen him chewing on dock leaves so not sure if that has upset him.

Anyway, short and sweet this evening as both Paul and I are germ ridden (I blame my niece from the weekend, either that or the very cold swimming pool we went too!) so it's off to bed early tonight.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

Guinea goes mobile

It has been a busy day for our stud boys today, this morning our brown boy Golden Guinea went out on his first mobile mating. You never quite know if the boys will be willing to work in unfamiliar surroundings so the first time out is always a bit nerve racking.

Nothing to worry about, Mr Guinea got to do what stud boys do, despite a rather reluctant lady. He had his eyes on the other ladies who were watching, he took a fancy to a rather sweet fawn weanling who was far to young - maybe next year!!

When I got back I had a mating and some spit offs to do myself. Both the spit off resulting in spits, so that's promising. They were only ovulation spit off's so fingers crossed for next week.

The mating was with a very impressive Gianamarco daughter, Angelus, so this meant that Legend would get another try as it is Marky's half sister. After his efforts last week I had high hopes for him and he delievered. He was a bit slow off the blocks, Angelus sat there patiently whilst he watched his mate for a while. Once he got down to it he looked like a pro; he's obviously been talking to Marky and Guinea since last week for tips!

I thought whilst I had the boys up at the house I would see if Kate was interested in remating, her daughter Midnight Star is two weeks old today. Kate was not in the slightest bit interested in being mated so I will try her again in a few days.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

BBC fame once more

This morning I had another fix of media fame, this time a live interview on BBC radio Northampton. We used to live in Northamptonshire before moving up to Northumberland, they were talking about changing your life and I've certainly done that since moving away.

You can listen to the interview on BBC iplayer , you will need to fast forward to 2 hours 17 minutes and no laughing please!

Today we have taken a giant leap forward with Gaussian, one of our white weanlings. Regular readers will recall the trails and tribulations I've had with him and his complete lack of appetite and desire to feed. Well today he ate some Camelibra from the trough for the very first time all of his own accord. He has been building up to it for a week or two now but today he finally did it, not only at breakfast but also at tea time.

Getting him eating is slightly tinged with sadness as I now have no excuse not to put him up for sale along with his two mates, Aodhfin and Barnaby.

Monday 1 June 2009

Alpaca dentistry

I've had another busy day today, I don't actually remember the last time I didn't have a busy day come to think of it!

I have cleaned all the stud / weanlings fields as everyone was treated to fresh grass after the shearing. All resting paddocks have now been cleaned, cut and harrowed and are hopefully going to recover and have a growth spurt very soon.

We have a very special visitor coming soon so we want to get things prepared - more on this exciting announcement will follow on a later post!

I thought I would share with you a couple of movies Paul took of James Dixon doing a spot of dentistry on golden Guinea and Imala. Both of them needed a little bit of a trim of their teeth. Golden Guinea also had his bottom set of fighting teeth so they were also removed, although Paul didn't manage to catch that bit.