Wednesday 30 September 2009

As promised

You may recall that I had been knitting my first garment with holes, a lovely dark brown shawl / scarf from Nefertiti's yarn. Jayne at Zanzibah was complaining that I'd not posted a picture of the finished article when I spoke to her yesterday.

So out came the mannequin and shawl today and here goes. This picture doesn't really do it justice, I am very pleased with the finished piece and it will be in the shop very soon. Once I have got Paul to sort out the picture size!
I have had to take Twiggy (my cat) back to the vets today for another blood test. She is being treated for hypothyroidism but we have been struggling to stabilise her. I have to ring up for the result tomorrow so fingers crossed she is now sorted or we may have to consider surgery. Twiggy is 16 years old and very thin so not the best candidate for surgery which will be a last resort.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

A lovely chat

I had a lovely chat this morning with a lady, Lorraine from Devon (as I never asked permission I'll not give her full name) who reads my blog. It is always nice to hear that there are actually people out there that read it! She was offering advise to fellow blogger Jayne at Zanzibah, which I passed on.

I do think it is so nice how the alpaca community are always willing to offer support and advice to complete strangers. No matter how long we have these enchanting animals there is always more to learn and different experiences to share.

Talking of new experiences I shared a new one with Golden Guinea today - tomatoes. Some of the girls have had them before and I was giving them a treat with some little plum tomatoes. So as I walked past the boys field I offered Guinea one. He took great delight in putting it to the edge of his mouth and popping it so the seeds shot out then licked his lips. He did the same with the second one, he wasn't bothered about the ones I'd cut up.

My knitting needles have been smoking today, I am still working on my special orders. I need to get on with them so I can get some more stock for the Christmas shoppers (hopefully). I have been checking up on my mum who is knitting a cardigan which has been ordered. She even took it with her to hospital today when she took my dad! It was a routine visit before anyone thinks I made her take it during some emergency!!!

Sunday 27 September 2009

Last one there stinks!

We had a good laugh at the girls this morning, I wish we had taken the camera with us. The cria have been 'collecting' various things on their fleeces of late, bits of leaf and the like that they pick up rolling under the trees, so this morning we decided that we were going to try and suck as much up as we could.

This was when the fun began. I was busy sucking up the bits of leaves, cones and dust from the trees and as you can imagine it was very dusty so half the dust was going in one end of the of the muck truck and blowing out the vent all over me. I was filthy, covered in brown dust but at least the rather large dust bath the girls have created looks better; hopefully so will the herd in the morning.

Anyway, Angelus spotted us up to something under the trees and started to head down the field so investigate. When she reached about half way she broke out into a trot, obviously thinking we were stealing something that she wanted, which caused the rest of the herd to charge after her, so it was then an out and out sprint to see who could get their first.

They then proceeded to running from leaf to leaf as they blew off the trees munching them before someone beat them too it. It doesn't sound half as funny as it was; honest.

After all this excitement I cleaned their water trough and cleared up some poo which we then delivered to one of our regular manure collectors, Carol and Dave. Carol had kindly offered to do some knitting for me so we took some manure over as well as the yarn.

On the next trip into the field we took the camera, typically there were no shenanigans but Paul captured an up to date photo of Kealani.

Saturday 26 September 2009

More visitors

We have had more visitors today, Trevor and Pauline, who live near Newark. They have been holidaying in Northumberland and wanted to come and see the alpacas. As you can expect Hughie was pleased to have someone new to day hello to, and as the photo show Heidi was very grateful to Pauline for her bottle!
Saturday is weigh day for the youngsters here, and this morning was no exception. The weight gain had slowed this week and a couple of the older cria had actually lost a few grams. They have all been vaccinated this week and this can effect the weight gain so I am not too worried. I will however keep a close eye on them.

We had some pregnancy spit offs to do today too. All three gave poor Marky what for which is great news for us. Hopefully that is all girls mated pregnant (fingers, toes and everything else crossed). We have two more that will spit off on Monday however I am sure at least one of the is holding because she has become a real grouchy girl.

Friday 25 September 2009

Tree pruning

The girls have been doing a bit of tree pruning today. I went to check on everyone and give Heidi her bottle at lunchtime and found Ursula climbing the fence to get at a tree! We have a few girls that love pruning, mainly Ursula, Geena and Imala.

I thought I would offer a little assistance as, A, I didn't want Ursula to slip and hurt herself, and B, break the fence. I bent the tree down slightly and then got mobbed, or rather the tree did. Princess Mallika took a real fancy to it and was pushing her way to the front.

I have noticed an increase in the hay consumption over the last few days which is a sure sign that autumn is approaching. I can't believe it is October next week and we already have two girls in the second trimester of their pregnancies.

Not a lot else to report, I've been busy knitting again and have almost finished my first ever lacy pattern; I usually get mum doing the garments with holes as I never plucked up the courage to try them. So far I'm really pleased with my scarf, I will get a photo of it and put it in the shop in the next few days so you can let me know what you think.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Jonathan Miles from BBC radio Newcastles visits

I said yesterday that we had visitors again today, and they arrived safely this afternoon. It was Jonathan Miles, the presenter from radio Newcastle's morning show. He came to do some recording for his show. I wont spoil it for you by telling you about the fun we had, I will let you know when it is going to be aired and you can listen to it.
Here he is interviewing Hughie!

Anyone with alpacas will tell you that they are all different and you get to know the personalities of every single one. This is very important as alpacas are great at hiding illness and problems.

This morning I was slightly worried about Oonagh, she was humming quite a bit and seemed upset about something. She regularly doesn't bother having breakfast so that didn't concern me much, but I went back to check on her about an hour later and she had calmed down and seemed fine.

When she came for her tea this evening I soon realised what was wrong. Oonagh never eats from the trough, she hates anyone anywhere near her at meal times and will only eat from your hand. As she fed from my hand it felt very odd, so I checked her mouth and she had lost her two front teeth! They were her baby teeth so not to be unexpected, however it is usually the new set that pushes them out. Oonagh's big girl teeth are only just showing above her gum so I think she is going to look gummy for a little while yet.

We seem to have had a spate of new teeth being cut at the minute, our supreme champion stud Legend is getting his new teeth at the minute too. He is actually 7 months older than Oonagh so it just shows how they vary.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Surprise visitors

The boys were full of mischief again this morning trying to get out of their gate as I was trying to get in with the muck truck - pesky monkeys! I got in and out successfully in the end though so one to me.

This afternoon I had a surprise visit from an old neighbour Brian and his new wife Joan who were up visiting the beautiful Northumberland coast. We lived across the road from Brian two houses ago in your typical modern executive four bed development; so we are a million miles from that life now.

Brian nearly fell off the sofa when I told him that we now have 33 alpacas, when he popped in on his last visit up north two years ago we only had about 10.

It is actually three years ago this week that I left my desk job. It seems like a lifetime ago and I'd never go back.

I have more very exciting visitors tomorrow, so I will fill you in on that tomorrow night.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Looks like butter wouldn't melt - don't be fooled!

I received two lovely photo's from a guy, Ewan Grant, who we met at the Whalton show last weekend. He has kindly agreed to let me share them with the world. Thank you Ewan, the quality of these photos is great.

Don't be fooled by that butter wouldn't melt in the mouth look, the boys have been pests today. When I went to give Heidi her bottle at lunchtime Hughie was trying to mount Loki, who as you can imagine was not happy with this so they were rolling round. Because Hughie was orgling Gianmarco thought that he would join in so also started trying to mount poor Loki.

Not to be outdone Guinea stated jumping on Legend. All in all there was bedlam in the field so I decided to let them into the channel. A change of grass always takes their mind off such matters!

Unfortunately after I had given Heidi her bottle I couldn't get the pesky boys back into their field. It took me ages and in the end I had to resort to good old fashioned bribery and fetch them some food.

Monday 21 September 2009

Knitting and spitting

I have spent most of the day knitting today. I took a few special orders at the Whalton show this weekend and as the weather has not been good today I thought I'd make a start. I've already set my mum on one order; she's even taken her knitting on holiday with her!

I did a couple of spit offs this evening, both girls gave very convincing refusals. It was very encouraging as these two girls have previously not been ovulating and sat constantly. We had the vet Estrumate them both a week and a half ago and that seems to have got them cycling properly again.

Hopefully next week will be equally as convincing when it comes to pregnancy spit offs. Whilst Gianmarco's Masterpiece was in the pen I had Sienna and Lualeni with their heads through the gate desperate to have a chance. Then Star came along to see what all the excitement was about.

Paul is away so I was doing this alone which can prove difficult if Marky decides that he's not leaving until he gets his way with someone. As he had three very nice young girls (one far too young) interested he was going nowhere. Eventually I managed to manhandle him out of the pen and back to his mates.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Sunshine photos

It has been a lovely day today and we have taken full advantage. To be honest we have been a bit lazy and spent time enjoying watching and interacting with the alpacas.

We took the camera out with us and took some shots of garments for our on-line shop. As you can see Duke was keen to get in on the action. I am modelling a Nefertiti shrug here which is lovely - note to self knit one for me.

Duke is a friendly little chap who will make a very nice pet along with his friend Tenzing once he is weaned. I have a little while yet to enjoy them, I hate parting with them. Keep an eye on our sales page or contact us for further information.

Saturday 19 September 2009

Whalton Village Show

We have been out with the show team today, Hughie and Loki were pulling the crowds at the local village show. Thankfully the weather stayed fine, we even had sunshine at times, although at one point the wind picked up so much I thought the gazebo was going to take off.

Our knitwear range was admired by many and some lucky people now have luxury alpaca garments made from the Barnacre yarn. Mum and I also have some orders to get on with too, so bear with us if you don't see any new lines in the shop for a little while. Although saying that there are a few things that I haven't got on-line yet.

One gentleman came up with a new question for us today; does an alpaca have more or less bones in it's neck than a human. This stumped us, so we told him we would check and confirm on the blog. I can confirm that they do actually have the same number of bones as humans and in fact all mammals, 7.

We did a spot of weighing this evening and the youngsters continue to thrive. I like to keep track to make sure all is well. It is also nice to see how the compare to previous years too.

Friday 18 September 2009

Wellies and a spit off

There has been a very autumnal feel to the weather today and we have been thinking about our winter grazing. We have been and bought new wellies as the morning are getting very damp now, it will soon be overalls and thermals weather. It doesn't seem two minutes ago we were looking forward to the birthing season in spring.

Talking of birthing Oonagh gave a very conclusive spit to poor Gianmarco today, no question there, she has definitely ovulated. It was clear from about 50 yards that he was going to get 'what for' when we arrived but it had to be done to make sure.

We had another go at rolling today but had to give it a miss after we almost got stuck again; Paul decided that if he ate some chocolate he might put on a pound or two and it would help with the grip - he was obviously taking note of Rob's comment on yesterday's blog.

I have been busy sewing labels into the latest shop stock, just need to print off the information labels and then they will be ready to take with us to the Whalton Show tomorrow.

Thursday 17 September 2009

Oops it's stuck!

With Paul off from his 'proper' job, well the one that pays the bills, this week we have been hard at it today trying to roll the latest addition to our growing grazing land.

If you have been reading this blog for a long time you may recall our farmer friend, Alan, purchased us a roller from a farm sale last year, which is a bit too big for our little quad. As long as you don't stop and I sit on one side at the back whilst Paul stretches and sits on the other it is usually ok.

Well we have been doing lots of clearing in the new field and there were some deep tractor tyre ruts in there that we wanted to try and flatten. So that was this mornings job as we thought it had dried enough to do it without getting stuck. All was going so well until I said as much, then on the next lap we got stuck in a rather large rut.

Paul being Paul tries spinning the wheels and covering me in mud as it flies up into the air to no avail. A set of tow straps later and different angles we were just getting the thing deeper. Time to fetch the car, which you will probably remember is not the best in mud, but it was better than the quad.

Eventually the car managed to free the roller and off to firmer ground it went. We now have a very large rut to try and rectify - maybe we will let it dry a little longer!

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Home from home

I'm sure you noticed my absence from the blog, the reason for this is we have had a couple of days up in bonnie Scotland.

We decided a little while ago that assuming Oonagh had given birth and all was well at home we would venture over the bridge and visit Jayne and John at Zanzibah Alpacas. My parents were left in charge of everything and did a sterling job as always; even managing to get Twiggys three enormous tablets down her everyday.

We had a lovely time, it was like home from home. Spend time with the animals, who always do something you say they don't (I'll let Jayne tell you about that one!), talk knitting and felting, check the blog of an evening and then have a 'discussion' about selling stock.

There are some lovely little places near where Jayne lives and just to prove we did actually venture out here is the proof . Shortly after these photo's were taken we saw a pod of dolphins.
Thanks again Jayne & John for a lovely couple of days.

Sunday 13 September 2009

Cria update

We have been out with the camera, I thought you might like to see updated pictures of the two female cria we have for sale with their mums.

Both girls are growing nicely, this is Heidi. She is a very friendly girl with a lovely light fawn fleece. She is from the world renowned Killawasi and this shows in her fabulous fleece.

Aria, Heidi's mum, has been scanned pregnant to our brown stud Golden Guinea so we would expect another fabulous brown or fawn cria next spring. This pair are currently for sale for £6,000 plus VAT and would make a great addition to someone looking to add colour and quality to their herd.

Palm-Olive is sired by Accoyo Remarque, the sire of many prize winning offspring.

She is now five months old and weighing a very healthy 27 kilos will be weaned shortly so the time remaining to purchase her and mum Molly at a fantastic price of £6,750 +VAT is running out.

Molly has been scanned pregnant to our elite stud Gianmarco's Masterpiece, who won first place Adult White Male at last weeks Westmorland Show, so the expected cria (due early May 2010) should be a stunner.

After we'd taken some photo's I thought I would give my mum a break from the knitting today and she has been helping me with cleaning the boys field. The boys got to chomp away on the race between fields whilst we did the cleaning.

Mum has finished off the ladies gloves that she bought with her and is now working on a hat. I finished my gloves to match the stripy hat that I sold at the recent show we attended. I'm now working on a new scarf/wrap thing but I think it is going to be a slow job.

Saturday 12 September 2009

Pronking rather than proms in the park

There is not much to report today, we weighed all the cria this morning and everyone is gaining weight nicely. Midnight Star, (Kate's daughter) continues to thrive, she is going to be a big girl. She is just over 31kg and is not even four months old yet, Chiquita wasn't much more than that at 18 months old!

Kealani is also growing very quickly and has now gained over 3kg, not bad for less than two weeks old. She is also now happily playing with all the other youngsters and is particularly close to Sandstorm, they are always neck wrestling and jumping on each other.

This evening all 7 cria where pronking round the field and chasing each other at break neck speeds. Sienna and Mallika joined in for a little while but soon got tired. Oonagh and Gabby were getting concerned that their babies were too far away and where humming away and calling them back - not that Duke and Kealani were taking any notice what so ever.

We did a couple of spit offs this morning, both were very sure they did not what the Champ Legend anywhere near them which was good news. They are booked in for scanning when the vet returns in months time.

Friday 11 September 2009


First job of the day was mating Oonagh, after Gianmarco's first place ribbon yesterday I'd promised him a girlie visit as a treat.

He was very taken with Oonagh and was straight on the job, after carrying out a few spit offs before hand. During the mating Sienna (who also won her class yesterday) was hoping that she might get to see Marky as her treat. It is the first time she has been so keen to be mated, however she is only 15 months old and we have decided to leave her until the spring.

This afternoon we have had the vet out to do some ultrasound scanning. Almost all of the girls are spitting off so we were hopeful that we had them pregnant, but as we had had a few that spent all winter spitting off despite not being pregnant, you can never be too sure.

Great news anyway, we have confirmed pregnancies for all but two of the girls which the vet could not be 100% sure on. They both spat off this morning so we are going to leave them a little longer and trans abdominally scan them when he does the final few in a few weeks time. It is so exciting as all but two of these 12 girls are carrying babies from our three studs.

After another busy day, and having been up half the night listening to a neighbours dog barking I am having an early night tonight!

Thursday 10 September 2009

Westmorland County Show

We had a very early start this morning to ensure we got to the show ground on time, 3.45am the alarm went off. Thankfully everyone loaded into the trailer without any issues despite the fact the internal light wasn't working and it was pitch black.

It was a good day, with 110 animals entered into the show it was a great turnout. Paul took Sienna into the ring where she was awarded 1st place Intermediate Brown Female.
I had the pleasure of taking Lualeni into the ring. This was a very close class, we were in the ring for ages, in the end we came away with third place.
I also took our stud Gianmarco's Masterpiece into the ring. Paul was supposed to be taking him in but he was too busy eating an ice cream. What a result he was awarded first place, his fleece is fantastic mind you so well deserved.
It was nice to see Horatio and Aodhfin at the show, their new owners were showing them. Aodhfin saw me as soon as I arrived and we exchanged kisses. Horatio is much more independent and was happy just to glance in my general direction. There was far too much going on to pay me too much attention. Horatio did well for his new owners, Lavender Bee Alpacas, and he got 2nd place - well done H man!

Wednesday 9 September 2009

On your marks

The car is packed and mum is making the sandwiches as I type (She's good isn't she!) ready for our very early start in the morning to Penrith. I'll let you know tomorrow night how we get on, assuming I'm still awake by the time I get to sit down.

I got the results back today from Twiggy's (one of my cats) blood test, not good news I'm afraid, she is still not stabilising. We are going to try another drug, but this is the last resort, the next option is surgery. She is a 16 year old tiny cat with hypothyroidism so far from the best candidate for survey so I'm hoping that these tablets do the trick.

Today is one of our studs 3rd birthday, Gianmarco's Masterpiece who has an amazing fleece, his 3rd fleece was a very impressive 17.9 micron and 0.5% over 30. He has a number of girls spitting off so we are really looking forward to seeing his progeny next spring.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Nice shiny trailer

As promised yesterday my first job of the day after the feed run was to clean the trailer. It is something I take very seriously so out with the disinfectant and pressure washer and off I went. I always manage to get soaked but at least we now have a nice shiny trailer again.

The mats are back in so is the dividing gate and it is ready for the off very early on Thursday morning.

I weighed Kealani again tonight and she had put on another 260 grams today. She is the fastest growing cria of the year so far, taking the crown from Star who was over a kilo and a half heavier at birth. She is looking like she will be a quick developer just like Oonagh was.

Now the birthing season is over for another year I have been working on the statistics. I am very stringent with my record keeping and I like to compare year on year and see what trends and anomalies I can pick up on.

I will share some of the figures and averages with you over the next few weeks but not tonight as I need a break from figures.

Monday 7 September 2009

Twiggy's turn for the vet

It has been a lovely sunny day today so out latest baby Kealani was finally able to have a whole day with no coat on. She is growing fast, and has put on over 1.5kg's which is fantastic news. I don't usually like cria this late in the year but it certainly doesn't seem to be holding this little lady back.

After the morning routine of feeding and checking everyone it was off to the vets with Twiggy, one of my cats. She has an over active thyroid so has to have tablets everyday and regular blood tests. I will have to call tomorrow for the results, I wouldn't be surprised if they have to alter the medication again.

Whilst I was there I ordered a couple of bottles of lambivac so I can vaccinate the cria, poor little things I hate having to inject babies, it always seems so cruel. A necessary evil though I'm afraid.

I was supposed to be cleaning the trailer out from the weekend move of the girls but didn't quite get round to it, so that is on tomorrows list. I always give it a thorough clean after every use, and it is needed for Thursday as we are at the Westmorland County Show - that's going to be an early start! I'm really looking forward to it as we will get to see Horatio and Aodhfin (my recently sold babies) again.

Saturday 5 September 2009

The end of summer

Today officially marked the end of summer for Barnacre Alpacas. All the girls are now in their winter fields, well the first of their winter fields.

You may recall we moved most of the herd last weekend but kept Oonagh and a few friends back until she had given birth. Following the safe arrival of Kealani, as she was doing so well we decided to reunite everyone and moved the stragglers down the lane.

Oonagh was not too keen on going in the trailer with her baby. We ran the girls up in the spring but with baby in toe it was easier to put them in the trailer rather than cross our neighbours two horse fields. It's only a few hundred yards down the lane and they were all fine.

There was the usual mad greeting when the girls met their friends and as one would expect Kealani received huge amounts of attention which really worried Oonagh, she kept running off with her baby but this made things worse as everyone ran after them.

Things soon settled down and normality was resumed. Lualeni was very pleased to see her big sister (Oonagh), she was clucking away to her. Unfortunately Oonagh was not so pleased to see her sister and sent her packing. Hopefully one Oonagh is settled with her baby they we become close again.

We nipped over to the collective sale at Hexham Mart this morning, we were hoping to get a sheep taxi (a small trailer for the back of the quad to move a couple of sheep or hay bales about), but they didn't have any worth bidding on. Never mid we will keep looking.

Friday 4 September 2009

Past soggy

It has not been pleasant again today, this morning was very wet. Thankfully Oonagh, Kealani and their friends made the wise decision to sleep in the field shelter last night. In fact they stayed in there until lunchtime when the rain slowed down.

Despite the appalling weather the new cria is doing very well, she has gained another 220grams today so at this rate will soon catch up with the other cria. Mind you I'm not surprised she is growing so quick as she is always under mum feeding.

I have been doing a spot of knitting, I need to replenish the stock sold last weekend at the Dyke Neuk show. I've done a pair of booties and am not knitting another pair of those stripy glove to match the stripy hat as they sold. I've set mum on knitting some other gloves too because they sold well last weekend.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Weather warning

For once the weathermen got it right, we had a weather warning for heavy rain today and boy has it rained; again!

The girls had decided not to go in the shelter last night but both fields of girls had gone under the trees. Little Kealani was rather wet and a little cold this morning but thankfully the rain stopped first thing so I changed her into a nice dry coat and she was happy.

As a bit of a treat for Oonagh and her friends I decided to let them onto the drive to chomp on the grass along side the house. There is a four or five foot strip the length of the house that was nice and green and in need of a cut. Kealani was not sure about walking across the gravel drive but managed it in more of a bounce than a walk.

Once the rain return it was torrential and the field was so already so wet there are now standing puddles everywhere. I decided to shut Oonagh, Kealani and their friends in as the rain was so bad.

Thankfully it had eased off again now so they are out for a bit, I'll see what it's like later but I think they may have a night in tonight. Maybe I should think about buying the herd some wellies, although that would be 64 pairs required which sounds rather expensive!!

Despite the rather wet welcome into the world Kealani is thriving and in two days has put on exactly half a kilo. You would expect a newborn cria to loose weight initially so this is fantastic, as I've said before Oonagh has obviously inherited her mums milking abilities.

Finally I'd like to say Happy Birthday Little Miss Irraquoy who is three today.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Flaked out

The herd took full advantage of the lunchtime sunshine and this is the scene that greeting me when I took Heidi her midday bottle. I couldn't fit them all in but the whole herd was stretched out.
Our latest arrival is settling into the outside world nicely. Oonagh is certainly following the family tradition and proving to be a fantastic mum. She has also been blessed with her mothers fantastic milking abilities. Oonagh has bags of milk and her adorable little baby has gained weight in the first twenty four hours which isn't very often the case.
We have named her Kealani, which is Hawaiian and pronounced Keh-a-lah-nee. It means spiritual & white heaven.
The weather has turned this evening so it was back on with the coat, and just in time before the rain arrived. The forecast isn't good for tomorrow so it looks like she might have to keep her coat on for the next couple of days.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

It's a (solid white) girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oonagh did it! Our first ever Barnacre baby became a mum today and Oonagh gave birth to a lovely little girl fathered by Wellground's Supreme Champion stud Samson. She arrived in text book style just before 10am this morning weighing in at 7.52kg.

She was lifting her head almost immediately after hitting the ground and was soon up and feeding. In fact she is the first cria I've had that has managed to get up from kushed to standing on their first attempt. She even found the milk bar but didn't manage to stay still enough to suckle - amazing don't you think.
Oonagh has taken to motherhood fantastically, mind you with Blossom as her mum I would have expected nothing less. Your mum would have been proud of you Oonagh, a little girl too so keeping up the family tradition.
More on the new arrival tomorrow I really need to go to bed before I fall asleep over the keyboard.