Friday 31 December 2010

Hapy New Year

As another year draws to an end I feel the need to thank all those people who have helped make 2010 a happy and successful year for us, especially all the alpacas!

We had a good year birth wise with 14 healthy cria, 7 boys and 7 girls, 12 of which were from our own stud boys. These were the first of the Legend of Spartacus and Gianmarco’s Masterpiece progeny and very impressive they are too. We also had our first Golden Guinea offspring and what a remarkable and friendly bunch they are, every single one of them have inherited their fathers disposition.

This summer Loki has also begun his working career so we are eagerly awaiting his first babies next year (or maybe this depending when you are reading this!).

I managed to part with a few animals which I always find difficult, but all of them have been sold to fantastic new owners and they have fabulous new homes. I still shed a tear for every single one of them (especially Kazuo who now lives at Willowbank Alpacas).

The knitwear sales have far exceeded my hopes for the year so thank you to all our customers new and old. If wasn’t for the hard work of my mum and Carol I would never have managed to get even close to the stock levels required – ladies the bar is raised even higher for 2011.

Without Dave carding, and my dad polishing hand crafted buttons we wouldn’t have been able to knit such unique items, so thank you.

Finally a big thank you to all my blog readers, without you and your comments my babbling blog would be pointless. So it just leaves me to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Thursday 30 December 2010

A grey day

Not good, I missed the blog again last night.  We had the Barnacre Chrismas party and Dave bought me some of his latest carding and it is fab so I just had to try it out, sorry, I just couldn't wait.  Luckily I had come to a suitable point where I could change the bobbins on my spinning wheel.

As Dave has become such a competent carder I'd decided to set him a challenge to blend some of Loki's black fleece with some white to achieve a grey.  Anything in our grey yarn from Kate always sells immediately and with only one grey alpaca I never have much. 

Anyway he has done a fabulous job with the sample he bought last night I wanted to get spinning.  I'm just spinning a second bobbin so I can ply it tomorrow - it's so exciting!!!!!  I would have got it done today but we had to brave the Metro Centre to return a couple of Christmas presents after the feed run this morning.

Thankfully there is a little more grass showing this afternoon the top of the rigs in the girls field has grass poking through as does Golden Guinea's.  It looks like the other boys will have to wait until tomorrow as their field doesn't seem to be thawing as quick.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

OK I get the message!

Having been complained at by Paul and now Carol for not blogging over the last few days I thought I'd better find the time.  Especially seeing as Carol has been busy knitting stock ready for next year.  She obviously didn't get upset by the knitting needles I bought her for Christmas!!

I have had a busy but nice Christmas and received some lovely gifts including an extremely nice warm Peter Storm thermal top, very handy indeed.

The alpacas had carrots and a new double lead rope so I can walk two from one rope.  The cats did exceptionally well with lots of edible treats a new bed, shown on the right, which has been claimed by Tilly here showing off her bald patch following her op! 

They also received a nice new scratch post activity centre thing with a little tunnel which has gone down very well with the kittens. 

Like my fellow bloggers the thaw has commenced here, hopefully tomorrow the alpacas will have some grass to chase.  There is now some road visible so it shouldn' be too much longer before there is grass.

Time to get back to the spinning wheel, I hear Dave is carding his way through a very exciting project so I need to get on.

Friday 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

With the house invaded (Sarah's words not mine!) last nights blog just seemed to get forgotten until I was far too tired.

I had helpers for this mornings feeding routine, Mum and Faith wanted to help, although I'm not sure Faith is quite used to the arctic conditions we have here at the minute.  The ride on the sledge was good and helping to clean the girls shelter ready  for their bedtime was OK but after that she was a little bored and very cold.  I doubt she will be offering to help later.

Looking at the amounts of presents in my spare bedroom Santa may need the whole of the Barnacre herd to assist his reindeer's tonight.  I better give them extra rations of carrots tonight or they'll be pinching all of Rudolf's!

It just leaves me to wish you all a Merry Christmas, have a good one, stay safe.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Don't mess with me

The countdown to Christmas is really on now. I have visitors arriving tomorrow and the house still looks like a tip, the beds aren't made and I still haven't prepared the Christmas day menu - it's in my head just not on paper!

I have now wrapped all my presents with the help of Smudge (the cat) who insisted on sitting on the wrapping paper.

Paul took the car in for an MOT this morning and gave Mrs T a lift to Morrison's. I thought I'd leave my food shopping until tomorrow although from what everyone is saying this may have been a bad move.

The alpacas were all in high spirits today, I think they must be getting excited at the though of Santa visiting.

Minimus had Paul and I in stitched this afternoon, the was having a disagreement with Imala. He has this habit of sneaking in underneath people to the troughs and then defends his space like the best of them.

Well today I'm not quite sure who was entering whose space but they started pushing each other necks and Imala being at least four times Minimus's size and weight she started pushing him along the snow. He had his legs spread, head back spitting away at her, it was so funny.

I'm slightly concerned, my mum and Carol have been exchanging emails over their knitting quotas for next year; I'm slightly concerned as they've stopped copying me in!

Monday 20 December 2010

Where did that posting go

I'm not quite sure what was going on last night but I did blog honestly! I typed away and posted by ramblings to find nothing there tonight and nothing in drafts either.

The story hasn't changed on the snow front, we still have plenty. I was supposed to be at the vets first thing yesterday morning with the kittens for a wound check, however due to the atrocious weather I was already cutting it fine when I left. It takes so much longer to feed and water everyone when you have to take out warm water and the hay gets eaten as quick as you can up it out.

Despite a number of traffic obstacles we did get to the vets only 20 minutes late, we weren't alone, the place was deserted when we arrived! We've got to go back again next week for another check up, hopefully the weather will be better by then.

The roads are still bad today, I had a knitwear order that needed to be delivered so we had to venture out. It was an eventful trip but we got there and back safely and we managed to deliver Dave a couple of pallets too which I'm sure he will be pleased with.

At lunchtime I noticed that Minimus has cut his leg, he didn't seem to have noticed! Poor little man it looks quite sore so I will have to keep an eye on it. I have no idea what he has caught it on, but I'm assuming in the cold weather he's bashed it on something.

I have finally managed to find time to put up one of the Christmas trees, I like a nice colour co-ordinated one in the lounge and then I have a second one in the dining room with all the colourful and sentimental baubles on. If I don't get time to put that one up before my mum arrives I'm sure she'll help - she's good at it and enjoys it (I hope).

We do now have some oil!!!!!! Paul was able to collect 400 litres yesterday borrowing one of Alan's bowsers. We went halves with a friend who had also ran out and had family coming at Christmas with a baby. Hopefully this will now last us until our delivery arrives, just in case we only have it set very low!

Sunday 19 December 2010

Festive carding

After a very productive but cold day selling our knitwear at Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth yesterday our stock is very depleted, which is a good sign. I met a number of previous customers who came over to show off their previous purchases from Barnacre, including a lady who bought some mittens from me three years ago at our first farmers market.

I had said that Christmas would begin here today, but it's so cold in the house without oil we spent the morning doing outside jobs. Whilst dinner was cooking I wrapped Alan (farmer friend) and Margaret's (his wife) Christmas present and then we went to deliver it after lunch. We were able to warm up whilst we were there, unfortunately though whilst we were there the snow returned.

The blizzards were terrible and in less than two hours we had four or five inches of snow on top of the snow and ice that was still lingering.

After all that depressing talk I thought I would share a festive Dave busy carding just to cheer myself up. I already have a huge pile to spin so hopefully he will have a day or two off for Christmas.

Friday 17 December 2010

Flying or is it a fire visit?

It will be a quick blog tonight as it is absolutely freezing anywhere apart from in front of the fire, where I have been all night with my knitting needles.

I am just finishing off the last item of the year, hopefully Carol and mum aren't reading this as they are still knitting. I say this year what I actually mean is until after Christmas.

I have been so busy with 'Barnacre' duties that I am far from prepared for Christmas. I haven't even finished writing my cards, the tree's aren't up yet and I haven't even sent out my Christmas Day menu let alone got anything prepared for it. Oh well with no heating oil running round like a headless chicken or should that be turkey, at least it shoulf keep me warm.

Paul & I nipped over to see Carol and Dave this afternoon, partly to pick up some knitting and secondly to warm up! Thanks for the heat, tea and chocolate; we'll see you again next week :-)

The temperature hasn't risen above minus three all day but the alpaca's haven't batted an eyelid, this evening I broke the ice on Golden Guinea's water when I fed him and by the time we'd fed the girls and walked back past Guinea there was already a film of ice developed.

At least the snow hasn't arrived; yet. Poor Jayne has had another huge dump of the white stuff, but I'm sure she is keeping nice and warm.

Thursday 16 December 2010

Burning the candle at both ends

I gave up waiting for Paul to finish on the computer last night hence the lack of blog, I went to bed, to be honest I don't even remember Paul coming up!

I think burning the candle at both ends and being so busy has finally caught up with me. I have a cold, and this morning I over laid and didn't wake up until 7.45!

This was only possible because double trouble, Tilly and Izzie, the two kittens were spayed and Izzie had her hernia repair op yesterday. We didn't get the early morning madness, they were obviously still feeling a little sorry for themselves, poor Izzie is still feeling a little delicate.

We woke to more snow this morning, just a light dusting but then came the big heavy flakes; great just as the alpacas were starting to get a green landscape back. It is now absolutely freezing both inside and out as the heating oil is running very low; we need to save it until Christmas as we have family up and the oil company aren't delivering the new supply until the new year!

As it is so cold and the snow is back I separated Tenzing and Sandstorm from the big boys this evening and they are shut in with the hay supplies. They happily trotted off in the opposite directs to their daytime mates, clearly remembering it was much better to be on their own. All being well Tenzing and Sandstorm will be out meeting and greeting the public at Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth on Saturday.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

It's all live

OK so Paul didn't quite make the 24 hour dead line we set last night, but the new
Barnacre Alpacas Knitwear shop is now live!

It is much more user friendly, and not only can you pay by paypal but you can also pay by all major debit and credit cards at no extra cost. All of the sold items have been removed so all that is showing is available now, there isn't much left and we are at Sanderson Arcade, Morpeth at the weekend so if you have your eye on something don't delay, get it today.

This morning we had a business meeting booked, in a previous life I would have had colour co-ordinated suit, shoes and nail varnish, but not any more, for starters nice nails are a thing of the past!

It was a very useful and hopefully beneficial meeting so now that the main backbone of the shop is in place Paul can start working on the next project on the list. I have got three more days of manic knitting and then I can concentrate on Christmas.

Monday 13 December 2010

Shut eye over needles

Firstly I must apologise for the lack of blog last night, I was so tired I fell asleep over my knitting needles, I think it must have been the thought of Carol's housework that did it. Although having been to her house last week to find Dave ironing, I was thinking of taking mine over there not doing hers!!

Sunday was a busy day, we had a house viewing which was a story in itself, but I won't go into that on here. Then we were off to the Cambo Christmas Fayre, which isn't too far from home which was nice and we did well.

After the weekend sales I spent the morning updating my stock lists and the on-line shop. There really isn't all that much left now which is good for me, but not so good for those people who have not yet done their Christmas shopping.

We are at the Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth on Saturday which will be our last event of the year so I am busy knitting the last couple of bits to add to the depleted stock. Hopefully Carol is knitting too! Anyone not able to visit Morpeth at the weekend might be interested in the new online shop which should go live in the next 24 hours.

There is still snow and ice on the ground which means we still haven't been able to return the trailer to its rightful place, although Paul has been busy smashing up some of the ice so hopefully it will be back to where it should be tomorrow, just in time for the next lot of snow we have forecast.

All the alpacas have obviously heard that we have more snow on the way as they have been munching on the exposed grass like crazy today. The poor lambs field is still pretty much snow covered so they are having to dig the snow to find grass.

Saturday 11 December 2010

Mum's are great

This morning the alarm went off at 5.15am, we were heading off to Alnwick Christmas Market with a couple of boys and our knitwear. Here I am at the market with the Barnacre knitwear stall:

Before we could head off though I had to try and move the lambs, not the easiest job in the world when it's dark, 4 of the 5 happily came out of the field but number five just kept running to the feed trough rather than out the gate! In the end I gave up and added it to mum's job list.

The boys weren't too impressed with their early start but once they'd woke up they happily trotted up the road and into the trailer. Then came the first issue, getting off the drive, that wasn't pleasant we got stuck! I dug and pushed and we were off, it was slightly hairy until we got to the main road, but we arrived safe and sound at 7.30 as requested.

We've had another good day, so hopefully no one will buy anything from the on-line shop this evening because I haven't got time to update it this evening. I've got another fair tomorrow, someone coming to view the house and have to wrap some Christmas presents for my parents to take back to Nottingham - no sleep for me tonight then!

Talking of no sleep I don't think Carol could of had any last night the amount of things she has knit today, she's a real trooper.

Friday 10 December 2010

The big melt

I'm not quite sure where today has gone, I can't believe it is already gone eleven o'clock!

I'm pleased to say that my parents have arrived safely, we have had a tremendous amount of snow melt today, so much so there massive river flowing all over the roads and huge puddles appearing in the snow in the fields - great from snow back to mud.

Not only did mum bring up knitting for me, she bought up carrots for the alpacas, food for the cats, copious amounts of Christmas presents and her wellies so she could lend a hand.

We are at Alnwick Christmas Market tomorrow so if my mum was hoping to come up for a rest she was very much mistaken, she's more than lending a hand tomorrow she's on feeding patrol solo handed all day because we will be up and gone before day break! She is good to me.

I've already had her sewing in labels in the knitwear she bought up and what I picked up from Carol this afternoon. They really are great I don't know what I'd do without the pair of them.

As Paul has already headed off to be I'd better go and fight for my space, one husband, one cat and two kittens means the last one in struggles for quilt and space.

Thursday 9 December 2010

A new venue

I'm pleased to report a little bit of thaw has been going on here today which is great news as my parents are hoping to pop up for the weekend to deliver some much needed knitting supplies and bring some Christmas presents. No doubt the later will be for my niece in the main, as all being well (weather permitting) my brother and his family should be spending Christmas with us.

Hopefully it will be warmer than last Christmas when our heating broke, however I have just been talking to a friend who has ran out of heating oil and can't get any delivered until 2nd January; we have been trying to book a delivery all day without any success!

We have been out with the knitwear again today, over to a new venue for us in Sunderland. It wasn't the most successful event we've been to but, at least it means I still have some stock left for the two weekend stalls.

Being out meant that the herd were a little late getting their tea which they were not at all impressed with, there was even more pushing and shoving going on than normal. I wouldn't mind but there is plenty of trough space they just all insist on trying to eat from the one you are filling up!

Time to get back to the knitting......

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Flat on his back

It has been absolutely freezing all day today, the water troughs were so think with ice this morning that the ace was the only thing going to break them. At least we have water in the house which is more than can be said for some of our neighbours so I'm not complaining too much.

Talking of neighbours our little lane is so bad even the tractor got stuck today! Julian was trying to get past the boys field and was going nowhere, eventually with the help of a second tractor and some road salt he managed to free himself and hopefully with the huge ruts that have been dug and copious amounts of salt we may get a little bit of thaw down there as it is lethal at the minute.

Having just read Barbara at Beckbrow's blog I think we must have been muttering the same thing this morning about filthy cria fleeces. If she thinks hers are bad just look at Layla, Lucia is even worse; I couldn't bare to even take her picture.

The girls pathways are getting really dangerous, they are so icy and slippy we humans are finding it hard to walk on. This evening Paul went all his length and ended up on his back, thankfully he was ok, just a sore arm and no doubt a bruise or two by the morning.

All the littlies went over to make sure he was ok, or was it to see if he had anything else to eat - I'll let you work that one out yourselves.

The alpacas seem to have no problem with the tracks, in fact some of the youngsters have been pronking round in their triangle track.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Cables corrected

Having rectified the glove situation I am back, I'd got so carried away I'd cabled on the wrong row - how annoying; it was Paul's fault for babbling on about his shop construction.

We woke to more snow this morning, only a sprinkling, but more none the less. It has been absolutely freezing all day too, so no sign of any thaw yet.

My mum is hoping to come up for a couple of days to bring some knitting and Christmas presents but there's not much chance of that just yet. We actually got post today for the first time in two weeks, I'm not sure the postman will be back tomorrow as he got stuck and Paul had to give him a push!

The alpacas have finished another big round bale today, that's only lasted them a week, and they've had some small square bales during that time. I can see there is going to be a shortage of hay round these parts if the weather continues.

Monday 6 December 2010

The (Paul) art of great conversation...

...I'm not talking Doctor Dolittle and talking with the animals (although the Barnacre herd do all know their names and listen to what we are saying about them), but marital bliss on the back of an evening's great conversation.

We are very busy bees at the moment. Debbie has taken a rest from the snow-day job of supplying the alpacas with what seems like a conveyer belt of food and is knitting like crazy (although not as fast as Carol) to ensure we have enough stock to make the end of the year (no hope!) meanwhile, I have been working on our new online shop.

The evening's conversation has been enthralling and repeated below in full:

Debbie - "you've made me lose count of the rows, I'm going to have to pull down the last six rows now."

Paul - "ah, I nearly had that working..."

Night all. (Paul)

Sunday 5 December 2010

What's good for the goose

I seem to have done nothing all day but feed everything, clean out shelters and break ice on the troughs. No sooner had we finished the morning feed it was lunchtime for the girls and what seemed like very shortly later it was tea time.

It has been a bitterly cold but sunny day today and there has definitely been a bit of melt going on which is good. As you can see from the photo below of Golden Guinea, the snow has now pretty much melted from the trees and the fences.

No matter what the weather or where he is Golden Guinea is always remarkably clean and tidy with not a bit of fleece out of place or a speck of straw or hay on him. It's a pity some of the others don't take a leaf out of his book. Guinea is certainly the biggest poser of the Barnacre herd.
I did manage to get our on-line shop up to date again, it's a never ending job at this time of year. Paul is currently working on a new design for shop which will hopefully be more user friendly and launched next year. He keeps telling me it's a complex activity - so is knitting Paul but you like to pressure me!!

Saturday 4 December 2010

Morpeth farmers market

It was an exceptionally early start for us this morning as we were off to the Morpeth Farmers Market and everyone needed feeding and watering before we headed off.

Unfortunately due the the weather we weren't able to take the boys with us, there was no way we could even get the trailer off the drive let alone try and tow it to the main road. To be honest I think the boys were pleased they got left at home, standing in a cold market place wouldn't have been much fun for them today.

Despite not having the boys to draw the attention of passers by we still had a very good day and sold lots of knitwear. I find it such a complement when people come back year after year to either add to their collection of Barnacre knitwear or by presents for others. There is no better endorsement for our products than a returning customer.

Thankfully it was slightly warmer today and we've had no fresh snow, in fact there has been a slight melt during the day. I think my three pairs of trousers and three pairs of socks was probably slightly over kill, but at least I didn't get cold.

I took a couple of orders (despite promising myself I wouldn't), I'd rang one through to my mum before we'd even packed up! I've already given Carol a list as long as your arm to work her way through and I've got two pairs of gloves that need doing. We are back in Morpeth 18th December at Sanderson Arcade so the customers are collecting them then.

Having had two glasses of wine I decided making up a pattern tonight is not a good idea so my next job is going updating the online shop instead.

Friday 3 December 2010

Where did that carrot go?

It has been another day of much of the same, feeding and cleaning out shelters and constantly filling hay mangers and nets. The water is still frozen so it's still a case of manually filling them, at least that way the get warm water for a little while, although it's still soon freezing.
Paul has probably been doing a bit too much lifting following his recent hernia surgery as he's been in a bit of pain today. So it's back to me only lifting (nothing new there then!), for a few days just to be on the safe side.
The girls and most of the cria are enjoying their veggie treats of carrot, turnip and apple. I think (from left to right) Imala, Lady Godiva and Gabby are searching for the piece we dropped.

Thursday 2 December 2010

What a difference a week makes

Carol & Dave finally managed to make it back home today from Cuba. The local roads are still very bad and there is no way they could get their car so we picked them up from the Metro station and delivered them home safely. It was nice to be able to do something for them for once and they are so good to us and always helping us out not to mention doing all the knitting and carding.

Talking of knitting, despite being on holiday Carol has been busy and returned with a pile of goodies for me. I think I prefer her knitting location to mine......
What a difference a week makes, this was what greeted them earlier when we dropped them off at home. It was 2.30pm and already the temperature had dropped to -5.With the bitterly cold temperatures we have frozen pipes again so it is back to carrying warm water down for everyone, the girls in particular are drinking lots of water, probably down to the vast quantities of hay that is being consumed! Thank goodness for Alan's' top quality hay supply.
As has become he norm, the boys were all queued up at the gate ready to go to bed. It really is funny how they know they go in separate directions too.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

We got out!

It is now a week since it begun snowing and there is no let up. We are all fed up with it now, everything is such hard work and takes so much longer when you are having to trudge through two feet of snow.

The wind has also picked up today so the lying snow is starting to drift, at one point when I was looking out of the study window the snow was coming down from the sky and up from the field!

Thankfully all the alpacas seem to be coping remarkably well, as long as they have food, water and some shelter to retreat to, they seem happy enough.

Saying that, this morning during a blizzard Minimus was trying desperately to get his mum to go into the shelter with him but she was happy enough outside. He was humming to her, pushing in front of her and generally making his feelings well known to everyone, except it seems Chiquita. In the end he decided to go and sit with his Grandma, Willow and her daughter Layla who were camped down in the shelter.

As we were running low on human supplies (we've been without milk for two days), we decided that we were going to have to try and dig the car out and attempt a trip to Morpeth. The windscreen was covering as quickly as we could clear it!

We finally managed to get off the drive (after a few sideways slides and a lot of welly) and very slowly we made it onto Morpeth, so I was able to get some food, post some knitwear which had been purchased from our on-line shop and get some petrol for the quad.

Hopefully the postman might make it soon, we've not seen him for a week now and I am waiting for a number of things including Barnacre Knitwear labels which I am desperate for, particularly as the rest of the team (Carol & Dave) are currently travelling back from their holiday in Cuba and Carol is bound to have some knitting for me. They are in for a shock aren't they!!!!