Friday 31 July 2009

Guinea is not happy Legend had a job

This morning I had a mating to do and a few spit offs. Golden guinea had a couple of girls to do pregnancy spits with and Legend had an appointment with one of the ladies. Good news for everyone except Guinea was his two girls spat so he had to watch Legend doing his stuff.

This did not go down well at all, Guinea was so revved up refused point blank to leave the girls field and go back this own. It took mum and I an hour to get him to leave the girls, we pushed and pulls, bribed him and in the end I left him and took Legend off in the hope he would think that he had another job.

It worked in the end but it was hard work. You may recall me saying he didn't want to leave earlier in the week but today he was so naughty.

Oonagh is really getting grumpy now with anyone (with the exception of me and Paul). She still has about three and a half weeks to go but is so large I'm not sure she will last that long. Her mum and grandma have always had their cria quite early so I think she is going to follow in that trait.

Thursday 30 July 2009

I can see the floor

I have been having a major tidy up in my work room/studio today. It has been a complete mess in there for a while now, what with one thing and another I'd lost control of it - thankfully Paul doesn't stray into there; it's my space!

Following on from shearing there were bags of fleece everywhere, not to mention all the boxes of knitted stock, felting paraphernalia and show stuff. You can now see the floor and almost everything is reorganised. I will finish it off tomorrow, honest Paul.

My parents arrived this evening, mum bought some more knitwear for me so I will have to get the shop updated. There are already some outstanding alterations to do and I have sold a couple of items on line this week so there is plenty to do. Paul is usually the website man but he is so busy with other things it looks like I will have to add it to my job list.

Since I started topping up Heidi with the bottle she is coming on tremendously. She runs to meet you when she sees the bottle and is happy for anyone to feed her which is away good. This even my dad gave it to her then supper it was mums turn.

Finally, just for Jayne's benefit your rosettes are on there way to you!!!

Wednesday 29 July 2009

I can't help it

Following on from my posting last night I will just share with you a few more of the super statistics we got back from Yocom-McColl and the dilemmas they cause.

Our best fleece came off Lualeni, who is Blossom's daughter from last year and fantastic. She is the finest we have produced so far and has a very impressive micron of 14.8. With a standard deviation of 3.1 and Coefficient Variation of 20.8% and only 0.4% over 30 microns this is certainly a girl to keep your eye on.

Hughie's second fleece stats also make interesting reading, with a micron of 18.9, SD 3.7, CV 19.8 and 0.6% over 30. He has very good conformation and a fabulous handle to his fleece too which has been commented on by both judges and the mini mill. All this said Hughie has a spot behind his ear and because of this I wouldn't use him over my own girls. If I had more and could take a chance on one I would give him a go. He has a lovely nature and would love to have his change with the ladies.

The boys we have for sale also scored very well, with Aodhfin having the finest fleece of the four. Horatio did very well for a black at 19 microns which beats Loki's at the same age. The dilemma here is should I be hanging on to Horatio for my own stud purposes??? I have a couple who are interested in him and his friends coming next week - they obviously have an eye for quality.

I do find fleece statistics and genetics fascinating so I can go on - sorry! But after all we are breeding alpacas for their fleece so the fibre statistics are very important.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Fantastic fleece stats

This morning started off with a mating with Golden Guinea and Gabby as promised last night. Both seemed happy for the reunion so hopefully she will take this time.

I left Imala in the pen with them to see if this encouraged her to sit because she has been giving far from convincing spit offs. She was having none of Guinea before he did the business with her best friend, but after the event was a totally different story and she sat for him. In fact she ran after us as we left the field which then meant I had to drag Guinea away!

I have finally received my fleece statistics back from the USA and boy do they make good reading. I was so pleased with them, our studs are fantastic; feast your eyes over these stats:-

Legend of Spartacus - 3rd fleece Micron 19.2 SD 4 CV 21 1.3%>30
His micron has come down from last year

Gianmarco's Masterpeice - 3rd fleece Micron 17.9 SD 3.7 CV 20.4 0.5%>30
Not only has Marky's micron come down the % over thirty has only increase by 0.1%

Golden Guinea - 4th fleece Micron 24.1 SD 6.6 CV 27.4 12.3%>30
Again this micron has come down as has the percentage over 30. Both David Barnett and myself were very surprised by last years results, we both thought Guinea's fleece was finer than the results said and this years test confirms this.

The rest of the test results made very nice reading but I wont overload you in one go, but lets just say I'm glad I've still not castrated Hughie!

Monday 27 July 2009

Legend of Spartacus gets a special treat

Thank you to all those very kind people who left comments, sent messages and called to congratulate Legend on his Supreme Champion win. I got very excited when I saw 10, yes 10, comments on my last blog post.

As a special treat for the superstar he got so see a very special lady, Little Miss Irraquoy this evening. You may remember she gave birth just over two weeks ago now to our best cria of the year to date, Barnacre Sandstorm who is thriving and already eating hard feed.

LMI is a bit of a minx and has given us the run around with previous mating so hopefully this year will be different. Although saying that she did play rather hard to get with Legend spitting initially and then giving the old screech during the mating. She only allowed him to work for 6 minutes before throwing him off, he got back on but she soon threw him off again. Hopefully she had long enough, but time will tell.

Gabby was sat the other side of the pen so she obviously didn't take on her first mating so I will get Guinea back on the job tomorrow which will please him. He was far from happy when I took Legend and Gianmarco off this evening; he obviously knew what was going to occur.

Saturday 25 July 2009

Supreme Champion

I'm thrilled and extremely proud, so much so I can hardly type!!

As you will be aware I've had a busy week in the build up to the Scottish National Fleece and Composite show held at the Border Union show in Kelso over the last couple of days.

Barnacre took part in both the fleece and composite show, the fleece show had fantastic support with just short of 150 fleeces from all over the country from Cornwall to Aberdeenshire (that's you Jayne!).

We had a great ribbon haul, with 8 out of out 10 fleeces coming away with ribbons. Not only did we get ribbons, there was more. Our elite white stud Legend of Spartacus was first placed white adult, also the Adult Champion and went on to win Supreme Champion! How impressive is that, Rob Bettinson who was the BAS judge was very impressed with his fleece and rightly so, it is very special.
I will fill you in with the full results tomorrow as I'm exhausted but just had to share this exciting news with you tonight.

Wednesday 22 July 2009

New prices and a walk along the beach

I ran out of time for blogging last night, I had all good intentions but ran out of time as we decided to go to the local pub quiz seeing as Paul was on holiday. Incidentally we didn't win!

Yesterday was spit of testing and great news all the girls spat off although Imala was still not the most convincing but I don't want to force her down. Time will tell on her. Geena is still not sitting and is showing no signs of imminent birthing either so that's a job for the vet I think. I'll have to get him out next week.

Following direction from EP Cambridge we are pleased to announce revised prices for some of the pregnant girls we have for sale. In fact there is a whopping £2,300 reduction in the package price of the 3 stunning Aussie girls.

One of these girls, Alice, is carrying the first ever Gianmarco's Masterpiece offspring. With the fantastic genetics from both Alice and Marky this is very exciting indeed.

Today we have had a bit of a day off and had a drive over to the coast. We had a lovely walk along the beach, fish and chips and I even got an ice-cream!! We thought we'd have a bit of a jolly as it's all go with Kelso fleece judging tomorrow and Friday and the halter classes on Saturday.

Monday 20 July 2009

Fleece weighing and flat tyres

Paul is on holiday from his day job this week so he is on alpaca duties full time with me.

Today was a good one to start the week, we have been weighing all the fleeces that have been entered into the Scottish National show at Kelso this weekend. Jonathan Russell is organising the fleece show and had asked me for a helping hand with the weighing.

We got quite a production line going, me weighing whilst the boys (Paul & Jonathan) did the recording, one manual and one on the computer - double whammy just in case of technical problems with the system we didn't want to lose all the data and have to start again.

The fleeces will be judged on Thursday and Friday as we have almost 150 entries. I have come home with a car load to take along for judges as there is no way they would all fit in one car. I'm not quite sure how we are going to fit them in the vehicles when we are taking animals as well on Saturday!!

Sunday 19 July 2009

RAF red arrows and another tow

We were back at the Otterburn Festival today, this time we took Horatio and Barnaby. I was actually Barnaby's first ever outing and he was a very good boy. You never quite know how they are going to react but he was fine, but then end of the day he was happy to walk to the edge of the pen to be stroked .

Horatio had a great time, like Hughie he love to interact with the public. I had to stop him from hanging out the pen on more than one occasion.

We managed to enter the show ground under our own wheel power this morning which was good. However after a few heavy showers during the day an lots of traffic we had to rely on a tractor to get us out.

The festival is held to help raise funds for the Air Ambulance which is a fantastic charity. I'm not Sire what the grand total is yet for this year but lets hope that it is up on last year.

Saturday 18 July 2009

Barnacre Alpacas at the Otterburn Festival

Well despite the rain and foul weather the Otterburn Festival is going ahead and we (Hughie, Loki, Paul & I) braved the elements and got on the show site. Yes you guessed it, we were towed on and off the site.

The weather hasn't actually been too bad today and things have dried out a bit during the day and I understand it is supposed to be better tomorrow so hopefully the crowds will be out.

Hughie has had a very enjoyable day meeting his public and Loki let the privileged few stroke him. The pair have been having a few play fights this afternoon and Hughie tried to mate Loki a couple of times but other than that they behaved. Well there is only so much you can do to entertain yourself in an 8 foot square!

I received lots of nice compliments about the various creations I have made from the herds fleece. I also spoke to a very nice couple from Darlington who have a wool shop and make handmade buttons. I'm always on the look out for unique handcrafted buttons.

Sandstorm finally dried out today so I have managed to get his coat on again tonight, poor little chap had to go without last night as he was too wet to put it on. He is piling on the weight and has already put on one and three quarter kilos in 8 days - what out Heidi he's catching you up.

Friday 17 July 2009

Feels like winter

The weather has been absolutely terrible today, we have had torrential rain pretty much all day. The wind has really picked up too, in fact we have a very large branch off one of the neighbours trees in the girls field and another in the field that the sheep are in. Thankfully there has been no major damage to the fences or any injuries.

The fields all have standing water in them and almost all of the shelter have standing water in them which isn't good. The poor girls shelter is the worst, I've had to bale it out this evening. The cria have been the only people moving all day and they have been chasing round in the rain, all the adults have been finding whatever shelter they can.

I made Paul take the big car to work today as it needed some diesel, it's a good job I did because had he gone in the MG he wouldn't have got home without taking a detour as the local roads were under so much water.

It is a good job Sandstorm was born last Friday and not this one. Just for the record whilst on the subject of Sandstorm, LMI still hasn't really got to grips with keeping an eye on her son. She still forgets about him, luckily for him he is very independent and active and is happy chasing round with the older cria.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Spit off in the rain

After a nice morning the heavens have opened this afternoon and it has tipped it down. I had three spit offs that needed doing today and as the three girls concerned have been quite high maintenance with their previous spit offs I thought I would wait until Paul was home.

Kate as I expected went mad and spat and ran like crazy. That is two pregnancy spits she has done now so fingers crossed she is holding her pregnancy to Golden Guinea. It will be interesting to see what we get from a brown and a grey bearing in mind we have had a bit of a multi coloured girl from her this year.

Next up was Ursula, she ran round the pen and rebuffed Guinea's advances. This was an ovulation spit off, so hopefully that means that she had ovulated, however as she has been spitting off most of the winter when she wasn't pregnant I will reserve judgement on this one!

Finally was the turn of Imala, last week at her ovulation spit she tried to flatten poor Guinea. This week was not so conclusive, she tried to get out of the pen but never spat having spat last week. Guinea was unable to get her down though, she locked her legs and refused which is not how she was before she was mated so I am hopeful. I will test her again next week and see what happens.

I have also been skirting my fleeces for the Kelso show today. Baby fleeces take ages, why do they insist in collecting so many 'bits'. My dad has made me a fantastic skirting table, it works a treat dad (mum can you pass that on). Knowing how dad struggles with his hand it must have taken him hours and no doubt the air was blue during the construction.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

LMI strikes again

Little Miss Irraquoy has had me in stitches again tonight. I went out to put Sandstorms coat on just in case he finds himself left somewhere in a rain shower overnight and LMI went mad as I approached. She was squealing so loudly at the coat, not me, that the neighbour came running from their stable to our fence to see what was going on.

She then started spitting at the coat and me whilst Sandstorm and the rest of the herd looked on in confusion. Once I had put the coat on her son it was as though nothing had happened and off the wondered together. She's nuts!

I got a lovely parcel of knitting from my mum today, more ballerina booties, a baby hat and a peaked beret in the very popular Gabby & Imala mix. We are off to the Otterburn Festival this weekend so the extra stock will come along with us (unless the weather is really bad and I will leave it at home). Thanks mum you're the best.

Tuesday 14 July 2009

A sheep day

After my morning feeding rounds and routine checks, I went off to help Alan, my farmer friend with the last of his shearing.

Whilst the ewes were in with their lambs the lambs all got dosed and sprayed with crovect to keep the flies at bay. I also attended to some feet, boy did I see the worst, smelliest maggot infected foot ever. The smell was so bad I was heaving, I really felt sorry for the poor girl. Hopefully with the hoof sorted and the nasty things removed and sprayed she will be fine and dandy very soon. Give me alpaca feet to deal with any day!

Little Miss Irraquoy continues to keep me entertained. She keeps forgetting that she has a baby to look after and wonders off or runs to the feed troughs and then remembers she forgot something and panics. Because she does have these momentary lapses of mothering duties I have been putting a coat on Sandstorm at night in case he gets 'left' somewhere. This morning LMI didn't want me to remove it and was squealing at me and trying to push me off. I think she thought I was removing his skin or something.

I'm still thinking that Geena isn't pregnant. I thin I may have to get the vet out to have a look at her, I'm wondering if she has a retained CL and she was scanned incorrectly last year - she won't be the first. Oonagh on the other hand is looking very pregnant and is starting to look warn out carrying round all this extra weight.

Monday 13 July 2009

Our little man has a name

We have finally agreed on a name for our new little man. Well I say we have agreed, I've convinced Paul that my name is best; Barnacre Sandstorm he is!!

The weather has been very mixed today, sunshine and showers so everyone has been out and about one minute and running for cover the next.

This evening I thought I'd lost Horatio, the young boys were munching away and there was no sign of H as he is affectionately know in the field or the shelter. Panic set in; calling his name as I doubled the speed at which I was walking along the edge of the field he emerged from behind the shelter wondering what all the fuss was about!

Horatio has a such a great character, he is currently for sale as part of a package and I will certainly miss him when he finds a new home. He loves human contact, happily eats from your hand and is constantly looking for mischief - just what you'd expect from an offspring of Mary (Ursula, her first cria is just the same).

Sunday 12 July 2009

Little man update!

I'm back! I was struggling to keep my eyes open last night after a night in the shelter with zero kip hence Paul was on the blog job.

I'm pleased to report that all is well with LMI and her absolutely gorgeous son (who we have so far failed to agree on a name for!). He has the most appealing face and at a day old already has a very attractive fleece, the best of our cria this year.

He is very active and running round the field with his mum in hot pursuit. In fact all of the cria are happily playing with each other. Little Miss Irraquoy obviously has some very good milk as he is already back above his birth weight. I though you might like to see a couple of photos.

We have done some more matings and spit offs over the weekend, this morning Golden Guinea and Legend of Spartacus were having a competition to see who could last the longest and who could orgle the loudest. It was really funny, I could tell Guinea had finished but was refusing to give up until Legend stopped. Needless to say as soon as Legend stood up up within 5 second Guinea was also finished - boys eh!!

Saturday 11 July 2009

LMI puts us to work on the evening shift - Paul's blog

It seems that there is never a dull day at Barnacre Alpacas. Little Miss Irraquoy whom we purchased at the 2008 Alpaca Futurity Elite auction is pregnant to Cambridge Buckingham and was due to give birth any day soon (expected on Monday 13 July) so Debbie has been doing the 'usual' check every few minutes.

Friday night after a particulary hard day at work on my 'day job' and after we had the usual 'road kill' for tea (Debbie's home made pizza which is absolutely superb, but the first time she made it, it wasn't shaped so I cruely nicknamed it road kill which has stuck ever since) we set off to do the feed run and check that all is well.

Little Miss Irraquoy (LMI) was rolling around and looking quite uncomfortable at 7.30pm. Closer inspection revealed that contractions were occuring and so we hit the usual birthing action stations (didn't someone say that alpacas give birth early in the morning?). By 7.47pm we had a head and then shortly thereafter the front two legs appeared, the shoulders followed at 7.51pm and at 7.54pm out popped the lastest addition to our herd.

Fortunatley the weather forecast was not too bad but a birth at this time is not great and we were concerned as the cria wasn't showing much activity and wasn't attempting to get up. I phoned Alan (our friendly farmer) to borrow his heat lamp (note to self and fellow breeders - buy one) and dashed off to get it from his lambing stables.

Meanwhile Debbie looked after the little man and put him in the kush position but he kept falling over.

By about 10pm LMI's little man was standing but the temperature was falling and LMI didn't really seem interested in him and so we caught Chiquita to be stable company and took the cria into the field shelter pursued by LMI - at least she was showing some interest.

Things then started to deteriorate. Despite the company of Chiquita, LMI was clearly more interested in getting out to see the rest of the herd and refused to feed her little man. Every time he tried to feed she just sat down. He was so hungry he was sucking the wall of the field shelter. We really don't like intervening if we can help it but by 11pm something needed to be done and so Debbie went into the house and defrosted some alpaca colostrum that we have frozen. Little fawn man took this well from a bottle but LMI was still not interested. Given our knowledge of alpaca gut changes we knew that more colostrum was required quickly and so in an undignified act we were left with no alternative but to wrestle LMI to the ground and milk her, to be fair she put up little resistance - most unlike her!

More milk/colostrum was then bottle fed to the little fawn man and by 12.30am I decided to hit the sack and Debbie set up camp in the field shelter. The heat lamp was on and yet another night time vigil commenced.

All being well Debbie or I will update you tomorrow...


Thursday 9 July 2009

Topping, spit offs and shearing

Sorry for the lack of blog last night folks, blame Paul he was hogging the machine and I was so tired at 11pm I gave up and went to bed!
I was helping Alan, my farmer friend with his sheep shearing yesterday afternoon and this afternoon. I was in charge of getting the sheep in the pen and up the ramp ready for the guy shearing to shear.

This morning I had to do a bit of topping in one of the resting fields before it got to long for our ride on mower. After that I thought I'd cut the back lawn, I always complain at Paul for just 'tickling' it, I'm sure he thinks it's a paddock. So I cut it on a lower setting than he would. I'm waiting for our neighbour to pass comment as he aways laughs at Paul for just driving round the lawn.

This evening we had a list of spit offs to do, most went very well. Imala who was mated last Thursday tried to flatten Guinea so at least we know she's ovulated. Also spitting at ovulation stage was Neffertiti and Veruschka which was good. Mary, Willow, Kate, Molly all had convincing pregnancy spits.

Things were not so positive for Ursula and Aria. You may recall that Ursula has been giving very confusing signs for some time now. Like last week she sat, so this time we have let her be remated. It is very disappointing as we were counting on her to give us our first Golder Guinea cria after her one mating at the end of last summer.

Whilst this mating was going on Aria sat the other side of the pen waiting for her turn. She had already spat off once but has clearly not held. Star took full advantage of the situation and had a good climb and chew on her ear tag. Star is such a little character, I just love her to bits.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

More rain

We have had another day of very heavy rain showers that lasted for quite some time so I have been catching up with some updates on the website. In particular the shop, which was slightly out of date following some recent sales and further knitting projects completed by mum and I.

I also had some paperwork that needed doing so I'm almost back up to date now, which feels good. Paperwork used to be my daily job, now I hate having to sit at it. How times change.

On the alpaca front there have been no changes, Geena is still showing no signs of being pregnant let alone giving birth. She is 348 days today which is the average gestation period of her previous pregnancies. I really do hope there is something in there! Little Miss Irraquoy on the other hand is enormous, she is 335 days and doesn't look like she will be too much longer.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is supposed to be a little better so fingers crossed I can get on with some outside jobs. Yet again the weeds are taking over, in fact if I spent the next month out there digging them out constantly I don't think I'd win the war!

Monday 6 July 2009

All change

The weather has not been pleasant today, we have had very heavy showers and thunder. This was bound to happen as the field the girls went into yesterday has no field shelters, it has plenty of tree shelter but that's not the same.

We also seem to have been invaded by millions of flies in that particular field, it was horrible, so I've moved the girls again. No shelter and flies; I couldn't leave them like that.

They were very happy to be in another field of nice long lush grass (which I intended to leave for another two weeks). Tenzing and Duke, the two youngest cria have never been in this field so they were having a good explore with Star leading the way!

Before the heavens opened this morning I managed to get their old field fertilized which was good. It has already washed in so hopefully the first bit of sun and it will be sprouting nicely.

Sunday 5 July 2009

Cambo Village Fair

We have had another busy weekend, yesterday the boys had an outing to the nearby village of Cambo. We, well the alpacas to be precise, had been invited to the village fair which is an annual event. Hughie and Loki were only to pleased to oblige and it was a lovely day.

I was slightly worried how Hughie would be with strange dogs following his recent dog attack. I thought that as this was only a few hours it would be a good test and I could easily bring him home if he got worried. He was as good as gold and happily said hello to everyone and most of the dogs that came close enough. There were two or three dogs that he was very wary of, I can't say as I blamed him on one occasion, I asked the owner to move it away from the pen as they clearly had little control of it.

Despite it being a scorcher of a day, I sold some of our Barnacre knitwear, some Hughie ear rings and a few other bits and bobs. A good day was had by all and we already have an invitation for next year.

Today we have opened the next gate to allow the girls onto fresh grass, they love it. As usual Ursula and Angelus had a race to see who could get through first and Willow was last having to stop on route for a call of nature - they are so predictable!

We then cleaned, cut a few tuffy bits and harrowed their old paddock just in time for the heavens to open and the thunder to roll in. Great timing as this will help it to grow again.

We also managed to fit in a quick trip to another local fair, well more a dog show which has been organised by our farmer friends daughter, Marcia Thompson. We went on the quad as we were delivering some water and it was only down the road, through the ford and up a track. We came home having bought a rather nice orange cake which I hung on to for dear life all the way back!!

Friday 3 July 2009

Another week flies by

Can you believe it is Friday already, where does the time go.

I've had another couple of busy days, yesterday I headed down south on a six plus hour round trip to Fowberry Alpacas to remate Imala who didn't take when she visited two weeks ago. Fingers crossed she will take this time as it is a long drive and didn't appreciate being separated from her best friend Gabby.

Talking of Gabby she is finally letting her baby son, who we named Duke, play with the other cria. It is lovely to see them playing, he has been jumping on and wrestling with Tenzing and Star today.

This morning, after the feeding round I had the shelters and trailer to clean, it always get a thorough clean when I get back from taking it out, bio security is something that has to be taken very seriously.

This afternoon we has some rain which was a welcome relief from the heat we have had the last few days, the girls were enjoying it to and for the first time in ages stayed out in the rain and enjoyed it.

Wednesday 1 July 2009

More mating and spit offs

We have been on paddock cleaning duties today as the flies were out in force and I've not had chance to do it yet this week. My parents are here visiting so mum was helping, she's even brave enough to drive the quad now!

The girls had a play in the water sprinkler this afternoon, they were all very hot and went paddling in the water troughs that mum and I had just cleaned out so I thought I'd get the hosepipe out for them. Geena loves it and is aways first in line.

Once the temperatures cooled down we had a few jobs for to boys to do. Legend had an appointment with Angelus who is the biggest floozy I have ever come across. After last night with Ursula sat at the gate when the mating were going on I also wanted to test her with Guinea, can you believe it she spat and squealed like mad. I really don't know what to think, she comes over to the boys when we are mating then spits at them, I don't think she knows if she is pregnant or not so what chance do I have!

Willow is much easier to read, she spat and is clearly holding her pregnancy as did Mary so fingers crossed for them.

I have also decided that we are going to have to sell all four weanling boys, Horatio, Barnaby, Aodhfin and Gaussian. I have decided that I will only sell them as a package as they have always been together and get on so well. Parting with them will be hard but land constrains mean I must.