Sunday 28 February 2010

The British Alpaca Futurity

We have returned home safely from our few days away at the Alpaca Futurity. My parents have done a fabulous job of looking after everyone, as they always do.

Despite the event being much quieter than in previous years we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The lectures from Claire Whitehead and Ahmed Tibary were fantastic, they are very clever people.

We were also fortunate enough to have booked on to the birthing practical workshop. I was slightly worried about working with dead cria but it was very helpful and I think I will now feel a little more confident about dealing with malpresented cria - hopefully I won't have to put what I learnt in to practice.

It was nice to meet up with old friends and fellow bloggers who all came up to introduce themselves. I also had a number of other people who came over to say that they read my blog; it's always nice to know there are people out there reading what I have to say.

We had a fantastic result in the fleece show. According to the organisers at the evening celebrations there were approximately 150 entries. As you would expect the white classes were the biggies, and yes both of our fleeces were in the same white class.

Veruschka was placed third, she was up again Cambridge Navigator who was recently bought for £75,000 (not surprisingly he was 1st) so we were very pleased with our third place rosette. It was a very close class points wise, Legend came 7th so both of our entries were at the top end which is great news. It just shows that us smaller breeders can mix it with the big boys. Mark at Patou will tell you all about that too!

We took a slight detour on the way home but more on that another night - I've got the unpacking to do.

Friday 26 February 2010

Wet and Muddy

Debbie and Paul have gone to the British Alpaca Futurity so i am here animal sitting which i really enjoy.Its done nothing but rain all day so the paddocks have got streams flowing through them.Tonight Ken decided he would come and help me,as we had about finished and on our way out he slipped on the mud and finished up on his bottom,as you can imagine he was rather dirty,but at least he did not hurt himself.Debbie has been ringing me to make sure all is well with everyone,and she told me the fleeces that she had entered had done well,which we are really pleased about,she will be telling you about it when she gets back.Hope you are both enjoying the few days break. Janet

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Vet visit

We woke to snow again this morning, and it looks like we still have more to come. We really have had enough of winter now.

I suppose the snow made a change from rain, usually when the vet visits it rains. Sam Prescott, our vet, was booked in for a visit this morning. We needed a couple of insurance certificates doing and I wanted him to have a look at Gabby who you may recall I'd noticed had a jaw abscess before Christmas.

Sadly despite the antibiotics I hasn't gone, so I wanted his advice. He agreed that it is looking like surgery is the only option really left. However as Gabby is currently pregnant to Golden Guinea we will have to wait until she has given birth.

Thankfully the abscess seems to be causing her no problems, she is still eating properly and chewing the cud so I will continue to keep a close eye on her and monitor the situation.

Whilst Sam was here I got him to microchip all my weanlings, I really don't like that big needle! I am pleased to say that they all behaved impeccably.

Monday 22 February 2010

Snow and secrets

Well the snow was still here this morning and all the water troughs were thick with ice, so there was no halter training today. I was hoping to get Star on a daily session to try and get her used to it but it was far too dangerous.

Instead Paul & I have been out spending, Jayne at Zanzibah is not the only one with secrets you know! You will have to keep posted to see what is arriving in the next couple of weeks.

Remember me mentioning that we'd seen a nice farm and just needed to win the lottery to fund it. Well it looks like somebody beat us to it, as this evening Paul spotted that it was under offer - quite why he keeps checking I don't know; that's ever the optimist I suppose, hoping that one day he will be able to afford it.

Sunday 21 February 2010

Will they last

Our snow arrived as forecast this afternoon, and this evening we now have a couple of inches on the ground. So much for snowdrops being a sign of Spring.

We have been doing a spot of halter training today, as you may recall from a previous blog, Midnight Star was rather wild. Today she was slightly better, however she did provide one of our neighbours with a rather impressive show bucking and throwing herself into the air and onto the floor.

She did eventually manage to stand nice and calmly, walking was out of the question today but we will persevere, as the saying goes "if at first you don't succeed try try again". Tenzing was top of the class, he walked like a very good boy.

Paul has been stacking logs, he was hoping that they would be in readiness for next year however it is looking like they may be needed for this year!

He is off work next week which will be nice, we are (fingers crossed) heading off to the Futurity later in the week. My parents are booked in for animal sitting but sadly my nanna has had a stroke in the last few days which is a real worry for us all, especially my mum. So get well soon Nanna.

Saturday 20 February 2010

Oops! I'm in trouble

We woke to a covering of snow this morning, however with the sun out it was soon melting and had almost gone by this afternoon apart from the shaded patches.

We went for a walk to see our sheep who are still with Alan's flock. We have to fit in with his buying and selling of sheep and cattle so we don't interfere with his standstill periods.

Faith was a little worried by my very friendly sheep! However she didn't want to leave them in the end which caused a bit of a problem as Mia doesn't like to be left either and was looking for a way out of the field.
On the way back I showed Faith how to put her new wellies and waterproofs to the test and we jumped in a few puddles. Oops, that them dirty then mummy!!

Friday 19 February 2010

Play time

It has been a bit quiet on the alpaca front today. After the usual morning routine, this time with help from my brother, I have spent most of the day playing with my lovely little niece, Faith (Model of our baby hats).

I did have another mad dash out to the field when the snow started again to put Kealani's coat back on. Despite the snow that had fallen over night it was nice and sunny first thing so I'd taken it off to let her get some sun on her back.

When the snow had stopped we all had a walk out into the field to see the alpacas and Faith happily stroked Duke, who will happily run to everyone to say hello.

This evening, Colin (brother), had the job of feeding Oonagh; she never likes to share a trough with anyone and will only eat from your hand. He did a very good job of fighting off all the other hangers on who thought he might be a soft touch. Even the extra white ones pretending to be Oonagh!!

Thursday 18 February 2010

An early one

I thought I would post an early blog tonight as my brother and his family are on their way up the A1 as I type to spend a few days with me.

It has been a really dull day today with some snow showers this afternoon so I had a mad rush out to put Kealani's coat on before she got wet. She does make me laugh, if its wet she comes running to meet me, and today was no exception. Then another night when she thinks she doesn't need it we have a bit of a wrestle.

She is getting ready to be weaned I think, I will leave her until after the Futurity so I can keep a close eye on her once she is a big brave girl away from mummy.

I have received some homeopathy remedies today from Jayne at Zanzibah, I am determined to get Mary back in full fleece. She had a bad case of mites a couple of years ago and has always had bald patches on her belly ever since, she's not sore just bald, bless her.

I have tried various different things on Mary which have worked on other animals suffering from hair loss after mites, like stop-it and camrosa to name a couple which haven't worked. Jayne has great success with her homeopathy so I thought I would give that a try.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Collections and cameras

It has been bitterly cold today but dry so after the courier had arrived to collect more fleece, this time for the Futurity Fleece Show, I headed out with the camera.

Our camera is getting a bit past it (another thing on the shopping list!) but I got a few shots that are fit to share with the world.

Here we have Laalgarth's Alice, she has some very impressive genetics and an equally impressive fleece. She is sired by EP Cambridge Stormcat and has the world renown NWA Ltd Ruffo as her grandsire. Alice is also carrying the first Gianmarco's Masterpiece cria which should be something very special with that genetic mix.
She is at 270 days now so not much longer to wait. Alice would be a fabulous addition for someone looking for a top quality white girl carrying a cria with fabulous genetics.

Next on the photo shoot was Nefertiti, she is the first of our own girls due to have a cria from Golden Guinea. Guinea already has a son and a client is due to have his first cria of 2010 a couple of weeks before Neferiti is due.
Next it was off to the weanlings paddock, Heidi is always up for posing. We have actually sold Heidi and she will be off to her new home in the near future.
Next up is Tenzing, he ever wants to pose on his own and today was no exception! He is a lovely natured boy with a fine fleece which I am looking forward to working with.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Panic sets in

I had a major panic on at lunchtime. When I got back in from poo sucking in the boys field, I had a message on the answerphone from Elaine at Farrlacy Alpaca Mill confirming receipt of my fleece but advising me that the box was damaged. She wanted to make sure that it was all there.

The message said she had four bags; oh no there were five! After all the problems I'd had with collecting the box this was all I needed. However when I rang Elaine back she confirmed all five were there, she'd not seen the smaller white bag - panic over.

I have spent most of the day trying to clean the boys field, after I'd cleaned their deposits I turned my attention to the leaves which are a real pain. It has taken me all day and it doesn't look much better.

The muck truck pipe kept blocking so after unblocking it for the fourth or fifth time I reverted to manually raking. Hughie and Loki were supervising whilst Legend had found himself a bit of sun to sit in, he does like to sunbath.

Monday 15 February 2010

At last!

The courier finally arrived today after two days of no shows!

I always book my courier via Interparcel who have always been very good until this time. However in view of messing me about on Thursday and Friday they changed courier and upgraded my collection to next day delivery so it wont be much if any later arriving than it would have been had it been collected on Thursday.

Hopefully I won't have too long to wait to get my yarn back. The knitwear sales continue, I sold a scarf yesterday, so I need to keep replenishing the stock.

Typically because I had to wait in this morning the sun shone, then just before the courier arrived it started to rain. Why does that always happen.

I had taken Kealani's coat off this morning again so that she could get some sun on her back, so I had to rush out to put it back on and she ran to meet me at the gate; what a good girl.

Great news for Duke, he hasn't even made it onto AlpacaSeller and already has a reserved sticker on him. It looks like the only male weanling we will be advertising this year will be Tenzing (sired by Accoyo El Maestro).

Sunday 14 February 2010

£72 for a bale?!

It has been an exhausting day today, we've been on the go constantly.

It was just before 5.30am when I first got up and it's been none stop. We have been waiting some time now for a dry frosty day so we could move the girls field shelter without doing too much damage to the ground, and this morning was perfect.

When I told Paul it was frosty at 7am he shot out of bed - I've never seen him move so fast. Thankfully our friend 'Brick', who has chickens in a neighbours field was on hand with the tractor.

Once it had been moved we had all the dirty straw and mess to clear up. The poor shrews had to find a new home too; they had obviously found a nice cosy spot somewhere. The spot where the shelter had been is a bit of a mess so I have blocked it off before someone goes for a roll.

We have had a couple of sets of visitors too. This was a great excuse to have another rummage through fleeces and talk alpacas. As usual Hughie was the star of the show proving that our combination of fantastic quality and friendly alpacas are a great hit with the visitors.

This afternoon it was the annual Hay Show at the Gate Pub, Forestburn Gate, Northumberland, it is a charity fund raising even which has become an annual event on our calender. You may recall me mentioning our big hay bales that Alan the friendly farmer puts over the fence. Well two of these same bales sold for £72 each in the auction - I best tell the girls to slow down their consumption; I can't afford one every 10 days at that price!

When we got back from the hay show we had some toe nails to cut and AD&E paste to administer. Thankfully everyone that needed it likes it so that wasn't a problem. Toe nail cutting wasn't too bad either once we'd let Kate out of the pen who was insisting on turning everyone green.

Saturday 13 February 2010

It has been a lovely dry day today and the herd fluffed back up nicely. Kealani retained her coat overnight but has been soaking up the sun all day without it. She obviously heard the weather forecast for a cold night with showers though because she was happy to have it put back on at tea time.

We have been busy cleaning the paddocks today, I have been on muck truck patrol and pay has been on shelter and hay cleaning duties. The manure is actually starting t build up so hopefully the gardeners will be able to get out and prepare their veggie plots soon and come and lighten our load.

As the sun was shining I took the camera out. Star was too nosey to get any more than a head shot but I thought you might like to see her nose anyway!
It took me a while, but I managed to get a nice shot of Duke. He loves to come and give you a kiss as soon as you go in his field so it's hard to get a full picture of him. Duke will be put up for sale soon with his mate Tenzing - I'm trying to hang on for as long as I can because he is adorable and I'll really miss him.
He needs a little trim around the eyes so that he can see properly. I was going to do it today but we ran out of daylight. Another job for tomorrow!

Friday 12 February 2010

Not totally wasted

I have been waiting in again all day today for the courier to collect my fleece for it's little drive to the mini mill.

I was assured that they would be here before 5pm, and yes you guessed it they never arrived. Unreliability is a real pet hate of mine, it doesn't take much to pick up the phone to let me know they weren't going to make it.

As the title suggests though the day hasn't been totally wasted. I have priced up and labeled the latest batch of knitting from my mum and checked out exactly what yarn I have left and made a list of 'must haves' out of it.

I have also washed some yarn that I spun a little while ago, my spinning wheel is in need of attention and plying it was really difficult. I am very critical and think it is a little over spun so this will be used for a bag I think - definitely not a garment anyway.

I have actually ordered myself a new spinning wheel which I am collecting on my way back from the futurity at the end of the month. I can't wait to do some more spinning. I have decided I want to do a bit of a flecked effect as I have a nice idea for a scarf. You may have to wait a while to see the finished product mind!

Following on from yesterdays blog, Kealani kept her coat on last night. This probably had something to do with the torrential rain that begain minutes after I blogged about nice fluffy alpacas!!

Thursday 11 February 2010

Where is your coat?

I was met at the gate this morning by the usual gatherings, boys who get fed first. Next on the feeding rota is the weanlings, Duke and Sandstorm always need kisses through the gate before you can open it!

Next it's the girls who push and shove to get closest to the opening end of the gate. There was one slightly odd thing this morning however, Kealani had no coat on. Where on earth was it and more importantly how had she managed to take it off.

It has been a lovely dry crisp day today and the herd have fluffed up again, some, mentioning no names (but they were all white once) are still looking rather dirty.

I was hoping to get out with the muck truck as it was dry but I've had to wait in for a workman to come and repair the hole in my ceiling and for the courier to collect my fleece for the mini mill. Not that the courier ever materialised!

Shortly after I put Kealani's coat back on this evening I think I may have worked out how she gets it off. She went to talk to Lualani (who is her aunt), they had a little hum to each other, then Kealani started to roll at her feet whilst Lualani pulled at the coat!

It is obviously so bright it is keeping Lualani awake at night and she wanted it removed. This was the sort of thing I would associate with Ursula not Lualani.

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Top notch fleece

I have been sorting some fleece today to be sent off for processing. I am almost out of current supplies of yarn so need to replenish the stocks.

It is all really good stuff, even if I do say so myself! It is mainly the fleeces that I had kept back for showing. All but one of the fleeces shown won rosettes so it was not surprising that I was pleased with it.

In addition I had kept back the fleeces of the three Aussie girls we have for sale. As all three girls have now grown plenty of fleece I am having this processed too. All three fleeces are fabulous in different ways so I am expecting some very nice yarn to come from these three.

I really enjoy working with the fleeces that our herd produce, it is amazing what can be done. As I am very careful only to use the best fleece for our Barnacre Knitwear range so it essential that we produce the best we can, hence we sourced the best herdsires we could to enhance the herd further.

As I make use of all our fleece in one way or another I am currently working on some new felting ideas. More on that another night.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Staying in from the cold

It has been freezing cold today with sleet and snow showers, I was planning on doing some paddock cleaning but decided against it. The channel between the paddocks was so wet it would have caused damage.

Instead I have been doing some paperwork and updating alpaca seller. Now that Palm-Olive is a big girl she is for sale. She is sired by Accoyo Remarque, who has sired a number of show winning progeny. She is also available as a package with her mum Molly who is due to give birth in early May.

Talking of giving birth Mary is looking rather swell at the minute, Mary is one of those alpacas who goes from looking normal to extremely pregnant all of a sudden. The stays looking very wide for what feels like months. She's still got three months to go (she's 245 days) so she still has a way to go yet.

This afternoon Melanie from Fallowfield has been over to pick up some sacks of Camelibra and give me some advice regarding Kelso Show. It was nice to chat and catch up over a cup of tea, I don't seem to do this often enough!

Monday 8 February 2010

I'm back

I am pleased to report I have returned safe and well from my trip down south to the BAS Shows Committee meeting. My word was it a long meeting at over 6 hours and a long lonely drive back but definitely worth while. Well we did all say we wanted a voice!

In these challenging times it is good to be able to gather thoughts and idea's from across the BAS membership to help protect, further and enhance the alpaca industry.

I am pleased to say that Paul coped with all the animals and himself in my absence. Oonagh was however very pleased to see me this morning, she obviously didn't feel that Paul's service was up to standard.

The weanlings were also trying to imply that they hadn't been fed, they were starving this morning. By all accounts they did very well on the food front as Paul used the wrong measuring tub for one feed which meant they had extra rations.

Whilst I was in Nottingham on Saturday night I nipped to see my neice, and my brother and his wife. After we'd had a bit of a play and a bath she did a spot of modeling for me of the two latest hats.
It was funny you know!

Saturday 6 February 2010

Safe to send a girl down South ?

With all the things you read, I'm just not sure.

The North seems to be safe and so why head South?

I wonder if the warmer temperatures are a boon or an issue?

Will it be worth the journey?

Is the risk acceptable?

Should expert advice be sought before travelling?

What makes it even worse is that she will be travelling alone. I've read that isn't so clever. The stress of travelling alone isn't good, everyone knows that.

Perhaps a mitigant will be good quality food for the journey and fresh water?

Risk assessment seems to be the buzz phrase of the moment - but it's easy to say and less easy to do - where do you start?

Then there's the cost - fuel is so expensive - surely it's better to stay up North?

It's not that were against the South, it can be quite sunny down there.

Decisions, decisions. To send the girl down there or not.

Well to be honest it's too late to take your advice, she's gone, earlier today in fact.

I do hope she will be O.K.

Good luck at the BAS National Showing Committee in Stoneleigh tomorrow dear!

Paul ;-)

Friday 5 February 2010

A tree through the fence

It has been a really miserable day today, misty and that horrible drizzle that soaks you without you realising it.

Somehow this morning Kealani managed to take her own coat off! It was on at breakfast but then when I went back into the field a couple of hours later she met me at the gate coatless! How odd, not sure how she managed that one, she obviously didn't like standing out in the crowd.

This afternoon when I went to feed the boys there had been an incident. A huge branch had fallen off one of the neighbours trees and gone through the fence; marvellous, another job.

Thankfully the boys were ok and no one had been hit or decided to explore the other side of the fence. This was lucky as the fence was put up to stop the animals being able to reach laurel and rhododendrons.

The branch is so big I couldn't move it on my own, I didn't want to get the quad to pull it as it was likely to bring the whole lot down. So off I toddled to fetch the hurdles to block it off until tomorrow when it will need some chain saw attention.

Thursday 4 February 2010

David Bailey

Thankfully last nights snow pretty much gone other than from the sheltered spots. It has been a very dull grey day thought.

With nothing much to report I thought I would take the camera out. Firstly, here we have Kealani in her new multi coloured adapted coat.
I also managed to get a couple of shots of Hughie's new teeth growth. Just look at his fangs.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Two lots of excitement

Kealani has a new coat, I've adapted one of the existing coats to fit as her current one was too small. She is now fluorescent yellow which caused great excitement this evening. Kealani was after a drink from Oonagh who was not amused with her daughters new fan club.

The other bit of excitement today was the wood lorry toppling over. As I've mentioned in an early post the woodland behind one of our fields is currently being harvested. As the vehicle was making it's way to the road the trailer over turned spreading the 3 meter lengths of wood everywhere.

Alan came to the rescue with one of his tractors to put the trailer back on all 10 wheels. Shortly after the workers left leaving the wood where it had fell - I think they had had enough for one day.

Finally I must report that the weathermen were correct, it has snowed again this evening - grhhhhhh!

Tuesday 2 February 2010

You're a day early

I'm with Jayne at Zanzibah; when will it end!

After rain during the night it started snowing just before 8am and by the time I'd finished my morning feeding routine the road and fields were white. Paul had taken the big car so no shopping for me today, the snow wasn't supposed to arrive until tomorrow so I thought I go before it came.

Thankfully by lunchtime the snow had stopped (and we didn't have as much as you Jayne), by tea time most of it had thawed. Hopefully we won't get the four inches that were forecast for tomorrow.

Lets change the record.....

For obvious reasons it has been inside jobs today, I had a long list but don't seem to have managed to get very far down it. I have been concentrating on the shop stock. I had garment labels to sew in, information tags to print off and the shop to update.

The shop takes ages, Paul showed me last night how to alter the picture sizes to make everything line up. I can now see why he hates that job and appears to have passed responsibility over; it took all afternoon and I still have a few things to put on.

Monday 1 February 2010

Full bellies and half teeth

The girls certainly seemed to have enjoyed their first night on fresh grass, I bet they hardly slept a wink; too busy filling their bellies.

Aria was in trouble this morning though, when I arrived I watched her go into the extremely clean shelter to go the the loo and come straight back out again. When I shouted her she blatantly turned her head as if to say if I can't see you I can't hear you. Pesky monkey!

They are obviously enjoying the grass as some of them never even bothered to come for their sugar beet at lunchtime and Sienna wasn't interested in carrot and she would usually kill for carrot.

We had visitors this afternoon, Anna, George and baby Harry came to collect some ridge booties that they'd ordered for little Harry. They went down a treat and will certainly keep his little toes warm and cosy.

Hughie is teething! He is getting his big boy front teeth so appears to have to fangs at the minute as his new teeth are only about half way up. In fact it felt like he had razor sharp fangs when he ate from my hand tonight and scraped his teeth on me.