Wednesday 28 December 2011

Only visiting honest!

Christmas has been a bit of a none event for us for one reason and another, none of which I really want to go into on here, but after blood, sweat and tears things are starting to take shape on the hill.

I thought I'd share a quick blog with you as we've called in to Carol and Dave's this evening to have a bath; just when she thought she'd got rid of us!  We still have no hot water on the hill and you can only cope with so many cold wash downs.

Life on the hill has certainly been blowy the last few days, the alpacas have had a wash and blow dry and on occasions have actually looked quite clean.  I've not bought the camera with me so can't share the proof.

The littlies (alpaca weanlings) have christened the barn.  I took pity on them on Christmas night as it was wet and windy and they were looking rather wet so in they came.  They seemed to like it especially Nadia who is a real people paca.  Each time she saw movement in the caravan we heard her shout us.

The boys are all getting on well (she says with fingers crossed), even Golden Guinea seems happy enough sharing a field with everyone else.

As for the girls, they are stuffing their necks as quick as their little mouths will let them.  Poor Willow has had an abscess on her face which has needed some attention but it is now drying up nicely.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Alive alive-o (Paul)

Hello all - just a very quick blog as we pass through a wi-fi hotspot!  The great alpaca migration was completed with support from Trigger and Dave.  All 51 of the Barnare Alpaca herd are now on the hill (doing their best to eat all the grass as quickly as possible of course!) to keep the 138 black face sheep company - just the chickens to go (thanks Colin for feeding them this week)...

As for the house...don't go there or we might just explode!

Happy Christmas all

Sunday 18 December 2011

Movement complete

We have had a major movement operation on today.  All the alpacas are now on the hill and we are in caravan mark 2; for hopefully only a few days before the house is habitable.

The weanlings were very well behaved and were so much better than I was expecting.  They aren't haltered trained but because we are in the process of fencing they needed to be lead up to their new paddock.

They were all fantastic and despite the snow and ice walked well, the star of the class had to be Emery, our grey girl who we expected to be a nightmare.  You may recall we once failed to halter train a cria, that was Midnight Star, who is Emery's sister.

We can never begin to thank Carol and Dave for everything they have done for us, particularly in the last two months.  Dave has been helping us all weekend again with Carol keeping us supplied with food, drink and still knitting!

It just leaves me to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year as until BT get their act together we are without a phone or broadband connection so hill updates will be by twitter only (see the left hand panel on the blog).

Friday 16 December 2011

Snowmen, where's the carrots?

What a day we have had today.  We woke to a sprinkling of snow at Scots Gap, over at Angerton there was just frost, then up on the hill there was a covering of snow.

We were busy fencing again ready for the arrival of the alpacas on the hill.  As the morning progressed so did the snowfall, it got heavier and heavier. By lunchtime fencing was proving rather difficult, the builders had left and we were resembling snowmen.

Then we had a visit from Animal Health, they were a really nice couple of chaps who actually came to look at the sheep but were very interested in what we do with our alpacas and were fascinated by our shed and the way we follow the whole process through with our alpaca business.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Aga sneak preview (Paul)

It has been a rather challenging day at the hill today.

Progress on the paddock fencing was steady but not great as Trigger and I did a great days quarrying (digging out stones) and not a huge amount of fencing.  As he said to me, if it wasn't for the stones, bumps and trees fencing would be easy - wise words indeed!

There are tradesmen all over the house (but not the shed which still remains unfinished) and some working through the night - can't fault the commitment of some of them.

The blue submarine (our new water tank) was 'sunk' late yesterday and to everyone's amazement actually filled up overnight - 10,000 litres filled up overnight - blimey!  No wonder the land is wet as this comes from just one of the 3 springs (that we know about) on our land.  I'm sure there must be an opportunity for a commercial spring water facility (Peckham Spring?!) - I'll have to Google that one and have a word with the farm diversification people...

Right picture time and something vaguely to do with the title.  Remember the Aga arrival picture from a few days ago?
Well just for you, here's a sneak preview of what it looked like less than a day after it arrived and the super Aga people at Walter Dix waved their magic wand:
What do you mean you want to see more?  Stay tuned for the grand unveiling!

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Green nudgy smoke (Paul)

Hi all.  Yes, Debbie is still about, I'm blogging for a couple of days whilst she writes Christmas cards and is currently having a sneaky little snooze - I just nudged her so she is awake again...she is complaining that she is tired because she has been moving fence posts and rails around all day and I have been "in my cosy tractor" - well my tractor doesn't have heated handle bars does it!

Any way, it was great to see and read all the comments yesterday about the solar pv - I did wonder if the blog posting would prompt any interest and clearly it did!  Di (at Llama Karma) I wouldn't mind details of the bluetooth thingy if you don't mind? There are so many green energy options to choose from and as ever the devil is in the detail.  If anyone out there is considering ground source heat pump or solar pv just drop us an email or give us a call and we will happily share our experiences.

(just nudged her again)

We spent all day at the hill (again) today fencing with Trigger and (carding) Dave.  We now have one paddock totally fenced and gated, with number two not far behind - I'm sure that will be tomorrows reported success!  On the flip side the poorly maintained land drainage systems are showing their age and sections of the land are really wet and muddy - Trigger tells me that is a summer job, but to remember where the winter water was - not sure my memory is that good!


Yesterday I mentioned a few of our planned heating components, like our stove (multi fuel fire) and today we were met by Steve, our lead builder who wanted to show us what the stonemasons had done with some of the stone Debbie and I had collected of our land.  We were absolutely delighted with the fireplace so far - what do you think?

Tuesday 13 December 2011

1.7 ton picture (Paul)

After the 'very' easy clues yesterday, I'm sure eveyone (except Jayne) knows what Barnacre Alpacas latest venture is?  To be fair, Jayne is more used to wind, rain and snow - so guessing that we now have a solar photovoltaic (solar pv) system was probably a little tough!

Debbie and I had many 'debates' about this, although it was something I really wanted us to do.  We are not green nuts or anything, it should give us energy security, avoid crazy oil and heating bills and (unsurprisingly) should be a great investment.  All was going well until the Government kindly made changes to the Feed in Tariff part way through our project - requiring me to spend the last month pushing and organising about 6 different companies to do their bit (including installing new power lines!) as it happens we got everything done with a couple of days to spare - good job as the new Feed in Tariffs are some 60% lower and they last for 25 years!

For anyone that doesn't know, there are a couple of types of solar installation.  There is solar thermal which is usually a couple of panels on the house roof - these warm up the water passing underneath to give you warm/hot water.  Solar pv, which we have invested in, is different.  Solar pv or solar photovoltaic is a number of panels - in our case 40 of them in two arrays 21 metres (70 feet) long and 3.5 metres (11.5 feet) high.  They sit on the south side of our new shed which stands nearly 5 metres high at the apex.  The solar pv cells on the panels capture sunlight and the silicon they are made of then create an electrical field which produces electricity.

The system should produce around 8,000 Kilowatts of electricity and we should only use around 3,000 so we will be putting lots of 'green' elecricity back into the grid.  We will also save over 4.5 tonnes of CO2 (carbon dioxide) - very green!  On the financial side, we get paid by the electricity company for every kilowatt of electric we generate - we will be smiling when the sun is shining!

As a result we do not have any gas or even an oil tank on the farm and the only electric we will 'buy' will be some cheap rate night time electricity.  Combined with our new house build insulation, ground source heat pump, electric Aga and stove (maybe I'll save those for another day) even Debbie should be warm enough!

Anyway, enough words, here's the picture that reveals all:

Monday 12 December 2011

1.7 ton quiz night (Paul)

Thanks Dave for your guesses of the 1.7 ton new purchase for the farm - unfortunately both are wrong!

Here's a few 'helpful' clues for you and the other blog readers:

1. I love it - Debbie hates it
2. It is nearly 5 metres high
3. Mad dogs like it
4. It keeps me fit
5. It is nearly 21 metres wide
6. When I'm asleep it is useless
7. You might think it is lazy because it doesn't even move when it's working
8. Although it is green, it is so shiny you can see your face in it

How easy! More guesses please - picture to follow...

Sunday 11 December 2011

A day of rest???

I'm not quite sure where the day has gone today, Paul had added an sneaky extra 15 minutes onto the alarm this morning so that's where 15 minutes went but as for the rest of it I have no idea.

After the morning feed round, which for the first time in about a week was actually in daylight we headed off up to the hill. 

There were a few jobs that needed doing and we wanted to round up the sheep again for the tups, although looking at the colour of the sheep's rear ends the tups have been doing a fantastic job - lets hope they are all pregnant; scanning early in the new year will reveal whats going on there.

This afternoon I had a scarf to deliver to a lady in Morpeth and I have packaged up a couple of other items for posting tomorrow.  The stock levels are looking rather depleted now so any last minute shoppers better get in there quick!

Talking of shoppers, Paul's latest purchase for the farms weighs a staggering 1.7tons; any guesses?!

Saturday 10 December 2011

Mud and miles of fencing

I failed to blog last night due to exhaustion; we'd spent the day on the hill and not only were Paul & I struggling to stay awake so was Dave who'd come along to help too.  I did try to convince Paul it was his turn to blog but it didn't work!

The house is coming along nicely, we have electric (mostly) and nearly have water, the ensuite is almost tiled and the bathroom has been started, the cooker has been built..........

The fencing is growing too, Dave and I were moving the posts and rails whilst Paul & Trigger were knocking in posts.  There was one incident; Dave decided to have a mud bath at one point and I got the blame.  It wasn't my fault honest, I was just trying to unstick myself and I didn't know what was happening behind me; I didn't mean to laugh!

Today we have been at Seaton Delaval Hall with the alpacas and our knitwear.  The alpacas drew a huge crowd as usual and the knitwear was going down very well.  There was a mix of people buying Christmas presents and treats from themselves.

You need to get in quick if you have your eye on something before it's gone.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Damaging gusts

The weather has been and still is terrible, the rain was battering the windows during the night and it was still pouring when it was time to get up.

Many of the girls were in the shelter this morning waiting for me to arrive to provide breakfast.  By the time we'd finished feeding we were already soaked.

Unfortunately the weather meant that the fencing had to be postponed today, in fact most of the action on the hill had to be postponed.  At one point a big plank of wood flew up from the ground almost decapitating one of the builders.

My cooker has arrived though, well this is supposed to be my cooker!
By tea time the wind had gathered even more speed, the troughs were blowing all over the place and some of the littlies were struggling to stay one their feet.  As for the chickens, they decided the safest option was to go too bed early.

Maybe I should follow their lead and go to bed myself.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Work or play, you decide

We have been on the hill again fencing today, whilst I was moving posts and rails from the bottom of the hill to the top Paul and Trigger were knocking in posts.  Here is Paul moving one of the telegraph poles yesterday which we later cut into a gate post!
Whilst we were busy at the top of the hill the builders were busy at the bottom working out how to move our blue submarine.  It's our water tank, , it's rather large don't you think, we will be using spring water off our own land.
This water will come in very handy for our partly tiled en-suite wet room.  The tiler has done a great job today.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

The post office queue

Its been another full on day today, we could do with a few extra hours of daylight as there is still loads to do.

After the morning routine we headed up to the hill as we needed to see the electrician and clarify a few other points with the builders.  By the time that was all done it was back to Carol and Dave's to warm up the girls sugarbeet on the way to Morpeth to post another online knitwear purchase.

You would not believe the size of the queue in the post office, it's only the 6th of December, imagine what it will be like next week!

Once we were back from Morpeth it was fence dismantling at Angerton in readiness for more fence erecting tomorrow on the hill.  Then this evening I've been knitting away as I need to get a pair of flip top mittens finished for Saturday to take to Seaton Delaval Hall Christmas Fair.

It's all go here!!!

Monday 5 December 2011

Divven dunch the tractor

We have spent the day on the hill today and are bushwhacked!  We had arranged to get some help with the fencing, Trigger who works for Alan amongst others was coming to sort out the poorly tractor and show us how to use the post knocker.

Typical, we woke to snow; not a good start to the day as we were going to pick up caravan mark two which Ken and Sue Bell had kindly been storing for us (thanks Ken and Sue if you are reading this)!

Despite the snow we did manage to get the van to the hill, albeit a rather slow journey slipping and sliding and dodging a car which had bounced off the crash barrier protecting our fence before going through our neighbours fence and ending up in his field.

We did need Trigger to pull the caravan up the last bit of our 'drive', but it is now in situe and almost ready for occupation.  With the caravan tucked up we moved onto fencing.  I think Paul was having a great time 'playing' with his tractor and new post knocker.  I did take a photo on my phone but for some reason I can't download it.

Instead I took a photo of our new power line, not the nicest view I know but it's very important so we keep admiring it.  I'm sure the novelty will soon wear off! 
And this one is looking to the west

We came away with a number of fence posts and cross bars put up and a few strainers in so things are starting to take shape.

Whilst Paul and trigger were post knocking Dave and I were traipsing up and down the hill with posts and cross bars.  At one point Dave said to me 'Divven dunch the tractor' I think the cold must have gone to his head and he'd switched to some foreign language.

The house is also taking shape, this is the kitchen which has now been painted; things are starting to get exciting now. 

Sunday 4 December 2011

First snow of the year

It has been a busy day again today, this morning we were moving some hay that we manged to buy in the summer but had nowhere to store.  Now we have an almost finished shed we have put it in there.  It looks rather lost in the huge space, we are used to having to squeeze things in.

The mezzanine is now up in the shed and looks huge (photo below).  Hopefully it will be used for hay storage amongst other things.  I think we need some steps though as it's a long way up and the ladders I found didn't feel very secure.

When we arrived up at the hill there was an army of NEDL (Northern Electric) workmen, vans and machines sorting out our electricity line.  All being well we will have electric to the house in a few days.

Whilst I was moving and stacking the bales of hay the boys were getting the fencing materials ready for the morning.  As is always the case Paul was sat on the quad whilst poor Dave was having to run behind; at least it's not just me he treats like that!
Whilst we were up on the hill we had the first snow of the season.  It was absolutely freezing, all I can say is I hope our heating is good because it is going to be a cold up there.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Frozen to the bone

It was a freezing cold day today at Morpeth Farmers Market.  We were up and out in the dark so the girls were still in bed when we arrived, it didn't take them more than a few seconds to jump up and beat me to the feed troughs though!

Then we went down to the boys field to feed and pick up three volunteers for the day at the market.  As usual there were plenty of boys wanting to run into the trailer, they do like a day out, probably due to the fact they get the best hay, carrot treats and lots of attention.

With Ochre, Pearson and Minimus loaded Paul tried to reverse the car up the channel to the trailer, however the car had other ideas, it was slipping and sliding all over the place.  With the help of some wood and lots of welly he made it.

It was a well worthwhile outing, we sold lots of knitwear, educated lots of people and created lots of interest.

The only downer on the day was that I have lost my mobile!  I'm hoping that in daylight tomorrow I will be able to find it in the field somewhere.

Seeing as we still haven't thawed out yet I think we deserve an early night, I might even have to take my (alpaca) hot water bottle to bed with me.

Friday 2 December 2011

Jack frost pays a visit

We woke to a very frosty start this morning, here are some of the girls (and Brinley) waiting for their breakfast.  From left to right we have Palm-Olive, Piccolina, Chiquita, Lucia, Kate, Brinley and Geena.
Briney did have a coat on when I left him last night, but if you look closely in the next photo you may see it keeping the wheel on the hay heck warm! 

Progress on the hill is coming on nicely, with the exception of the fencing and we have a poorly tractor (again) today.

Tomorrow we are at Morpeth Farmers Market with our knitwear and some of the alpacas.  Hopefully it will prove to be a very successful and enjoyable day.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Fence or foe

After collecting our post knocker this morning Paul had the slow job of driving the tractor over to the hill in readiness for the arrival of our fencing materials.  Which is the next job.

The fencing arrived, or should I say some of it did, the rest is now arriving next week.  Don't ask!

As you can see there is rather a lot of it, we were expecting it to arrive on pallets so we could use the forks on the tractor to unload it.  Unfortunately it wasn't on pallets so we had to resort to tipping it off the waggon.  There was at least one crack and snap.

We then planned to move to to where it is going to be erected.  After dropping one bundle of cross bars onto Paul's foot, breaking the pallet we tried to load them on, loosing a pin off the post knocker, wading through mud, mud and more mud we decided to call it a day and return to the alpacas to feed them and remind ourselves why on earth we are doing what we are.

We are now planning an early night in the hope that tomorrow will be a better day!

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Major operation

It has been another busy day today, when you have your possesions scattered all over the place and have no place to call home, even the simplist thing become a major operation.

Todays 'major operation' was trailer cleaning, we have no water, no electricity and the pressure washer is in completely different place to the trailer.  I know one thing, I'll certainly not take anything for granted for a long time once we get everything and everyone on to the hill!

We also needed to get the tractor jump started as it had a flat battery, Trigger came to the rescue as I'm not sure the Honda would have the power to sort it.  We now have a working tractor again ready for unloading a few pallets of fencing we have on order.

At lunchtime I managed to get a few photo's of the latest knitwear ready to go into our online shop, assuming it doesn't all sell at Morpeth Farmers Market this Saturday.  If you are in the area do pop by to say hello to the boys, Paul and I.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Hay theives

The winds have returned today, thankfully the hay hecks stayed put this time.  The tarpaulin covering the hay bale blew off during the day and we returned this afternoon to find most of the girls camped out at the bale munching away! 

I can't wait to get the hay in the shed out of the elements and away from theiving mouths.  Why they prefer stealing it from the bale to eating it from their hay hecks is beyond me.

Rosemary at Westhill Alpacas will be keen to see the latest concrete which has been poured at the hill.  The builders, New Forest Developement have sent some updated photo's over this evening. 

We are really looking forward to having some great handling facilities, it has been a long hard road to get where we are but it will certainly be worth it in the long run.

Monday 28 November 2011

In trouble again

Thank you for your kind comments on last nights blog; I am grateful that not everyone agrees with Paul.

Today we have been doing a spot of dismantling.  All the fencing and shelters will need to be removed from our rented land and as we need to get the animals moved pretty soon we thought today would be a good day to make a start on things.

After the morning feeding we took down the 'bus stop' field shelter in the empty stud strip.  As is always the case there were a few screws that didn't want to budge but we got there in the end so that is now stacked on a pallet ready for resurrection on the hill.

This afternoon we started loosening a few of the screws on the cross bars in the channel but I ended up in bad books again.  I didn't know my own strength and managed to break Paul's screwdriver bit for his battery drill.  It just snapped honest!

As the boys have hardly anything left to eat in their field we let them in the channel to munch whilst we were working.  Hughie and Loki kept sneaking through the gate into the empty field next to Golden Guinea every time Paul's back was turned.  I thought it was quite funny although Paul wasn't so impressed because getting them out wasn't always easy.

The next lot of fencing materials have been ordered for up at the hill so we will soon be erecting and demolishing at the same time.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Dirty alpacas

Paul kindly informed me today that, along with a long list of other things I'm rubbish at, I am no good at writing the blog.  Needless to say I am now reluctant to do it!

So not wanting to bore anyone, I thought I couldn't go wrong with sharing a few photos that I took of the rather dirty alpacas today. 

Here we have Oonagh, the first cria we had born on farm.

This is her sister Lualeni.

Here we have Casiphia our Supreme Champion daughter of Legend of Spartacus and Veruschka

and her brother Cazanova, who just like his sister loves dirt!

Saturday 26 November 2011

Night on the tiles

It has been exceptionally windy here today, in fact the wind has knocked the electricity out a few times at Carol & Dave's, so that's before we move up onto the hill.

The alpacas are all looking very dirty at the minute, hence the lack of alpaca photo's, they are a disgrace.

Instead I will share with you pictures of the tiles we are thinking of using for the bathrooms at the hill.  Its the first ones we've actually agreed on so I think we should order them quick before one of us change our minds!

The plan for the kitchen and utility is muddy boots style tile.  You can hardly tell the difference between the dirty concrete and the tile - maybe we should stick to the concrete and save some money!

Whilst I'm on the subject of my kitchen, I think I need a new towel, the builders seems to have found a towel and are using it as a flag.  It looks like it's past the point of retrieval.

Friday 25 November 2011

Counting sheep

The alpacas have had another another delivery of Mr Thompson hay today.  I really don't know what I am going to do when Alan is not on my doorstep.  The herds intake of hay has certainly increased over the last few days.

We have been up to the hill again today, we wanted to round all the sheep up again for the tups. Dave (carding Dave) came along for some fresh air and to help.  He wanted to go and explore the very top of the hill as he's not made it that far before. 

It seems to be working as there are lots of coloured bums up there now.  Once the sheep were gathered the plan was to count them, so off you go - how many can you see? 
The shed is coming along nicely now, most of the cladding is now on, it has one door and most of the concrete floor is down. 

I can see a nice little spot for the caravan in that back corner.

Thursday 24 November 2011

It's a pink job

After the morning feeding routine I needed to collect some poo samples from the big boys.  Anyone who follows our tweets will know that Paul will use any excuse not to collect them.

The first volunteer to offer a sample was Hughie, Paul was in the boys field when I spotted Hughie was about to go.  Paul tried being deaf when I yelled 'quick get the bag and catch it'.  To cut a long story short I was able to get in the field and catch the sample before it hit the ground whilst Paul found something else to do.

Gianmarco's Masterpiece and Loki needed a little help to part with their samples, I will say no more than that!!  The boys then had a vitamin injection, poor things haven't had a good day really.

Things are progressing on the hill, early this morning the place resembled Piccadilly Circus, hopefully tonight half of the barn floor has nice concrete drying.  The other half should be poured tomorrow.

Whilst we are on the subject of the hill, last nights pictures of Wesley loving were taken by my own fair hands Dave, glad you liked them.  It took me a while to get him to face me, initially he was a little camera shy.

We are all yawning this evening, so I think it will be early nights all round!

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Whispering sweet nothings

Yesterdays sheep activities were interesting to say the least.  As you may recall at the weekend we put raddles on the three tups so we could keep track on who is doing what with the ladies.

The sheep are on the 'top field' a 120 acre Northumberland hillside,  so as we walked up we were guessing where the boys would be and how many of the ewes would be marked (from the coloured crayons they are wearing).

The first batch of 20 or so ewes we came to had one of the tup lambs with them.  It was Black Out, however there were 9 ewes marked with red chalk and 1 in green.  Umm very strange, surely there should have been at least one black bum.  I'm worried that his raddle isn't on properly.

Wesley was at the very top of the hill, he couldn't have been further away if he'd tried.  He to had a hareem of ladies.  The biggest group of ewes were with Red In, which probably explains why the biggest concentration of markings are red.

We walked Wesley and his ladies down the hill to gather everyone back up again to give the tups a better chance of getting the ladies.  Wesley soon spotted a lady interested in some loving.

Unlike the young tup lambs, who like the younger generation seem to like the 'wham bam thank you mam' approach Wesley seems to like to have a bit of a smooch and loving before taking the opportunity to do the deed.
After a little sniff, lick whispering sweet nothings in her ear he shows his true colours..

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Eye in the sky

We have been up on the hill most of the day today, meetings with the builders, checking on shed progress and rounding up the sheep for the tups.  Yes it did take nearly all day!!  Details of the sheep activities to follow tomorrow with more photos.

Paul managed to take some fabulous birds eyes photo's today which we thought you might like to see.
This one is a different shot showing our drive, if you look in the distance (top left) you can see the builders' vehicles.   Any volunteers to sweep the drive speak now!
 And these two are especially for my mum; here's your bedroom!

Monday 21 November 2011

Bathroom fit for an alpaca maybe

I'm a little concerned about Gianmarco today, he's not his usual self, in fact he was rather grumpy tonight.  He is eating, but I can tell this is just something not quite right, I will see how he is in the morning.  Hopefully he will be back to his normal self tomorrow.

Paul and I are still trying to sort out the bathrooms for the hill.  You would not believe the time we have spent on them and we are still not sure we have got it right.  How can it be so difficult.

We know that after a long and muddy day on the farm we want to have a nice bath and shower to relax in but other than that we are struggling!  I think the main problem is we are more bothered about the alpaca facilities than our own.

I've just noticed that all the pictures of the house that we've posted on the blog have been taken from the south or the east side so I thought you might like to see one from the opposite end.. 

We have another meeting with the builder tomorrow so hopefully there will be more exciting developments to reveal on the blog tomorrow night.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Kirkley Hall Christmas Fair

Another busy day at Barnacre today, the alarm was set for 5am as I'd not got all my wears ready for the Kirkley Hall Christmas Fair.  Luckily it's only round the corner so we were able to feed everyone before. 

The photo quality isn't great but here is the stall.

While we were up at the hill yesterday we took some more photo's.  Things are really progressing with the house, it is now partially plaster boarded and looking good.  I think the builder is worried that we will carry out our threat of having Christmas dinner with his family if the house isn't finished!

The shed is finally looking like it will soon be finished, I'm not holding my breath mind you!

Shake, raddle and roll (Paul)

It's a sheepy one tonight!  So if you're having trouble sleeping, keep reading the blog and there's that many sheep in it you will be off to the land of nod before you know it.

Today it was time to set our tups (or rams depending on where you are from) on to the 'ladies' at the hill.   We now have 115 Blackface ewes and they need a boyfriend if we are to be lambing in the spring!

Regular blog followers will know all about Wesley, so no need to introduce him.  However, despite him only being one and a half years old (or a shearling), he already has some young pretenders!

A friendly nearby farmer, Jeff Paxton of Greenleighton Farm near Morpeth has lent us a couple of tup lambs to add reinforcements to Wesley - why you might ask?  First of all genetic diversity, secondly practical!  Dave and I shepherded (well, he ran a lot and I was on the the quad) all the sheep to the 'top' field yesterday and it is 120 acres in that field alone so we need more than Wesley to track down the ladies!

Here are the two (very) young boys:s
Given their horn directions I have called them In (of the left) and Out (on the right).  You can see some of the big alpaca boys behind them: Loki (black and far left), then Hughie looking at the camera and Tenzing behind him.  I'm not sure who's the bum is!

So with our 3 tups we secured their raddle or harness with a block of colour under each so we can see who mates the most ladies.  Out of course has black - making him Black Out.  In has red and Wesley has green.  Place your bets!

With harnesses secure we then shepherded them up the hill.  With Dave still resting I needed a new runner - queue Debbie - come by lass!
The boys were soon up in the 'top' field and mixing it with the ladies - scores on the doors (or ewe's backs) to follow later in the week...

Whilst we at the hill we checked on our latest additions to the flock - an investment for next year, some Black faced ewe lambs (you mate them in their second year, not the first).
If you count how many there are you can either let me know the answer or you will be now fast asleep zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday 18 November 2011

late oooh-key (Paul)

Hello all you night owls - shouldn't you be in bed asleep by now?!

It's been a busy old day today, for a change!  Debbie and I recieved a nice and empathetic email about our farm build (i.e. the house and shed on the hill) experience.  I agreed with all of the email except the bit about pulling your hair out from time to time - it's all gone!  Thanks for the email guys - you know who you are!

No doubt you are wanting to know what the blog title is all about - and even if you don't know I'm going to tell you anyway!  First the oooh:
Here's my mate Brinley (sire: Golden Guinea, dam: Geena) taking a bit of hay for a walk.  He has been enjoying the sun on his back for the last two days although I will be in trouble when Debbie is back because she wanted me to put his coat on at night - he's a big boy - nearly!

Now the key:
Now then what is this for? Well here's the clue, I was given it today although I won't be using it in earnest for a little while yet.  Can you guess what it is yet?!


Wednesday 16 November 2011

Eggcellent birthday (and pictures are back - Paul)

Firstly, thank you to Judi for the great suggestion on Carol's giant baby booty - an alpaca stocking ready for santa to fill up! The only problem is that Rudolph wouldn't get any carrot as the Barnacre herd loves them and the temptation would be too great!  Any more suggestions please?!

For those of you who follow us on Twitter (@BarnacreAlpacas) you will know that I trailed a massive story earlier today and here's a repeat of the first clue:

Obvious really, it's Legend's 5th birthday! And I made him a carrot cake:
Debbie and I were really lucky to have the opportunity to secure Legend from Rob and Les at Wellground.  He has brilliant genetics from two of the biggest Australian alpaca studs: EP Cambridge Peruvian Spartacus (his sire) and Jolimont Commisario.  His fleece is beautiful and has cut 5.5 kilos for the last two years, you can check him out on his stud page of our website.

As well as winning supreme champion at the 2009 Scottish National Fleece show (record 152 entries) he has produced prize winning progeny.  His first son, Ivory Star who is at Wheelhouse Alpacas in Yorkshire has been reserve champion twice.  His first daughter, Barnacre Casiphia swept the board at the 2011 Border Union Show, Kelso taking: 1st intermediate white female, white champion, Best of British and supreme champion - how proud were we!

Waiting in the wings we have more of his progeny, Barnacre Wynfor ("Win-vor") is excited about his new home because he has some new owners who are building him a special field shelter; then we have Barnacre Niveous from one of our elite breeding females (Little Miss Irraquoy who has the amazing NWA Ltd Ruffo in her pedigree) he looks amazing and is such obvious stud material you wouldn't believe it.  And then there is Lavender-Bee Sebastian owned by John and Juliet Miller (of Border Mill fame), we met Sebastian last week in the fading light after the fleece show when John showed us his fleece.  I asked if it was worth opening the fleece in the poor light conditions, and when we did it was like turning on a torch!  Such crimp, density and brightness, that boy is destined for great things I have no doubt!

Anyway on with Legend's birthday celebrations.  After singing him 'Happy Birthday' (under strict instructions from Debbie who is still away and sings happy birthday to all our alpacas - on their birthday of course, she isn't that mad) I fed Legend some of his carrot cake, which went down very well indeed.  In fact he was that pleased with his special day that he even did a little pose for us:
He's the man!

Oh yes, issues and fallings out to report at the Pearson household (where Debbie and I are staying whilst our shed gets built at the hill).  The chickens haven't laid any eggs for the last couple of days and so we were down to our last egg which Carol was going to use for 'sponge pudding' tonight.  Unfortunately I accidentally ate it at lunchtime - oops!

I think Dave then got it 'in the ear' when he came home from work - sorry Dave!  To make you feel better, and in true Paul style when Debbie is away can you guess what happened to the egg?...
Yum, yum in my tum - sorry Dave and Carol - it was eggcellent!  Happy 5th birthday Legend !!!!!