Friday 29 April 2011

Happy 40th birthday Paul

We had our own royal celebrations here at Barnacre today, it was Paul's 40th birthday. 

He wanted to celebrate his birthday with a picnic on the hill.  Before we headed off we had all the usual jobs to do, then we had tea and sausage rolls with the alpacas.  Paul decided to let the weanlings play with one of his balloons, can you spot the ball??
Once I felt confident that the girls weren't going to birth we went off for our little private party.  A nice little BBQ followed by a walk.

Off now for a quick pint to show off another of Paul's birthday presents.  I'll take a photo for tomorrow nights blog.

Thursday 28 April 2011


Today has been much the same as yesterday, the girls have been lazing round the field too hot or tired to do much.  Sienna and Princess Mallika are looking particularly tired, they are both at 349 days into their pregnancies and looking like they won't be too much longer.

I did manage to work out how to move the forks on the tractor this afternoon so I had a little play with that, well I can't have Paul having all the fun now can we!  I needed to work out how to use it because I'm supposed to be rolling a field for Alan soon.

It's his birthday tomorrow, so royal wedding, 40th birthday and maybe a baby too......

Wednesday 27 April 2011

What's in a name

I've had another long day out in the field, needs must when it's birthing time.  As well as the knitting I took the laptop along today with the dongle to try and catch up on some emails.  It wasn't too bad, there was definitely better connection in the field than there is in the house.

Sienna is looking like she won't be much longer before she gives birth, hopefully by the time she does have her cria Lualeni's little girl with have a name we can agree on.  Paul has been given two more options tonight and if we can't agree then it's close your eyes and pick one. 

We do have a list of a few names but they have to match with the baby and none of the reserve names are suitable this time.

I did nip into Morpeth this afternoon to pick up a foot, now all I need is a pair or ladies socks to go one them, hint hint mum! 

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Pronking parade

The temperature has certainly dropped today, but no sign of any rain which some of the fields are crying out for.

I thought with Paul busy at work I'd have a sneaky go of the tractor.  I was all pleased with myself when it started first time and unlike Paul I didn't need to call for advice.  Things then went down hill as I couldn't work out how to  lift the forks which Paul had pointed down to the floor. 

I spent most of the day in the field, birthing time is a great excuse to spend all day with the alpacas without a single twinge of guilt.  At one point there was a mass pronk, the girls (almost all of them) where looking very elegant pronking round their field with the weanlings in the neighbouring field pronking round too.

Here's Gabby just making sure she's still got a following!
Little Miss Irraquoy got a little carried away with things and tried to get the new baby to join in, however Lualeni didn't appreciate her baby being jumped on and a bit of a tussle errupted.

Just because I know how much you all love looking at cria photo's here are a couple more I took this afternoon.  As you will see baby is now almost fully up on her feet now which is great news.  She is also putting on weight nicely and now weighs 6.72kg.

Monday 25 April 2011

Halter training

The main jobs on the list today were toenails and topknot trimming for the weanlings and the big boys followed by a spot of halter training which has been slipping somewhat this year.

I always find it fascinating how different the youngsters are, some take to the halters like ducks to water whilst other react in completely the opposite way.

Today's gold star goes to Pearson who was great and happily walked round the field only stopping briefly for a call of nature (which about half of them found the need to do!).  Here is the golden boys posing nicely for the camera. 
Ochre was also a good boy, he is another of our Golden Guinea cria from 2010.  Both his daughters did very well too, it must be something to do with there laid back nature.

Rory (below) happily stood for his picture to be taken and with a little encouragement wasn't too bad, but he needs a bit more work yet.

As for Wynfor, well where do I start.  Firstly the head collar was that heavy he couldn't lift his head up, then he was exhausted and needed to fall to the ground....

Eventually with a lot of persuasion and pushing and pulling we did get a little forward momentum, which is more than can can said for Frejya!!

Hopefully they will all get there in the end.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Boys toys

Anyone who follows our twitter feed will know that Paul was rather excited this morning when I heard Julian Thompson heading home with a low loader on the back of his tractor. 

Paul has a large birthday fast approaching and on the low loader was Paul's birthday present. 

Not knowing the first thing about tractors we'd taken Julian along to give this new purchase the once over last weekend and he had kindly agreed to pick it up for us.  It is a Case International 4 wheel drive tractor, I've got to admit it seems bigger that I remember now it has arrived.

Here we have Paul driving it into our field, I was keeping out of the way just in case; I think those spikes need taking off until we get used to it, just in case.

We have a couple of jobs to do for Alan so we can get used to the feel of the controls; although starting it was the first thing we needed to get the feel of as we couldn't do it.  Julian and Alan both had it start first time and when it came to Paul's turn it wouldn't even make a murmur let alone start. 

With Alan and Julian out Paul rang the guy we'd bought it from, no doubt that provided him with a good chuckle.  Well ow were we supposed to know that you had to have your foot on the clutch despite everything being in neutral.

Saturday 23 April 2011

All change

Our new baby continues to do well, she is still down on her pasterns but is now finding it easier to control her legs.  Lualeni is a very proud and protective mum, but she is grateful of a little help from her big sister Oonagh who is regularly on guard of the new baby.  She has gained some weight too, and is now 6.2kg and looks chunkier already.
We haven't agreed on a name yet, names are something that always cause great debate here.  I have made my suggestion but Paul is complaining that it's another name ending in an 'a', but he hasn't come up with any other decent suggestions. 
We have been on land management duties today, the girls got fresh grass which in turn meant that they boys could all move too.  A major clear up operation then followed, cleaning, cutting and harrowing of the used paddocks just in time for showers which arrived shortly after we'd finished.  The grass will be very grateful of a bit of rain, and what perfect timing.

Friday 22 April 2011

Our first cria of 2011

As ever life had been hectic here, even more so than normal the last couple of days, it has also been an emotional roller coaster.

Sadly last week we lost my nanna, so as you can imagine it has been a hard few days.  It was all planned, I was heading back to Nottingham on Wednesday afternoon ready for the funeral on Thursday.

As anyone with animals will know it is like a military operation when you have to leave the place when it is approaching birthing times.  Alan was on standby as was Carol, they knew brown ones were due first and had been briefed.  Paul was unfortunately working away (typical).

Then on Tuesday afternoon Lualeni decided to sunbathe and show me a huge bag of milk and teats that resembled that of a milking cow.  There was nothing much there on Sunday because I had a good inspection all the girls, so she bagged up very quickly.

As is always the case I was up early and out to check the sheep on the way to the alpacas, all was well there and Ebony was still no closer to lambing.  On the approach to the alpaca field I could just tell something was going on by the way the girls were acting.  I jumped out the car and ran up the channel and could see that Lualeni had given birth.

She didn't look like she'd been born for long but she was very flat and rasping a lot.  Lualeni was only 332 days which for us and particularly a maiden is early.  It was soon obviously that intervention was going to be required, to be perfectly honest I didn't think it was going to survive.

I ended up having to tube feed her colostrum, she had some kick start and was still not looking any better.  After a couple of hours I gave her some more colostrum which this time seemed to give her a bit of life.  I tried helping her to her feet but she had no strength and her legs didn't look like they were going to work at all.

I'd rung Carol to come over with some hot water so I could warm up more colostrum and I'd left her on watch whilst I nipped back to get more colostrum from the freezer.

By late afternoon the cria had managed to get up on her back legs and walk a few paces at a time on her front knees but not stand to feed.  Lualeni was also started to loose interest and get bored and wouldn't stand still long enough for the baby to get steady and try to feed.

I penned her in just inside the channel in the hope that the nice lush grass would occupy her and keep her still whilst I tried to get the baby latched on.  Holding Lualeni still seemed to help and baby managed to feed a couple of times.  Slighter happier I left them penned in together and headed home at 9.30pm.

I needed to be back in Nottingham for 7.30am on Thursday morning so with Alan and Carol fully briefed I headed home to get my things together and have a couple of hours sleep before I returned to the field then drove down to Nottingham. 

Thankfully at 3am when I checked Lualeni was happily stood feeding her baby so the bottle I had with me was not required; great news.  So I headed down south feeling happier about the cria but still dreaded the day ahead.

Alan and Julian did the first check and all was well, shortly followed by Carol who kindly send me a text to say she was redundant as Lualeni was doing a fantastic job on her own.  Phew!

I am pleased to report that mum and baby are doing fine today and have returned to the field with the rest of the herd.  Baby is down on her pasterns and had slightly floppy ears not to mention legs that she isn't always sure what to do with but things are looking much better now. 

There is a photo taken this morning on our Twitter account showing her heading off for a little explore if you want to see.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

The race is on

As has been the case for a few weeks now (due to it being birthing season) I was up and out at the crack of dawn, first check on the sheep then round to the alpacas and chickens before dropping off the car for a service today.

Thankfully Margaret picked me up from the garage (well more of a farm) and took me back so I could get on with some outside jobs, which was great in the sunshine.  The girls field cleaning has been slipping a bit of late so was in need of a thorough clean.  It was so hot I could have done with my shorts on. 

I had a break from poo picking at lunchtime and did the lambing round, there were a few new lambs just born including a set of triplets that had been born right near the gate which one had rolled underneath!  Other that that all was well so after a cup of tea with Margaret and a good chat it was back to the field.

I was greeted by every single alpaca stretched out sunbathing, boys, girls and weanlings absolutely all of them out for the count.  Lualeni was showing off a rather large bag of milk with some big teats for good measure.  She is at 332 days so it looks like she is going to follow in her mums (Blossom)  footsteps and bring down the Barnacre average.  I'm hoping that she hold on until the weekend.

Monday 18 April 2011

It's a long long road

After a busy weekend which included a manicure for the girls this morning when I arrived many of them were stretched out admiring their nice new toe nails.

All was well on my morning sheep rounds, there was just one ewe in the pens that still didn't like her adopted lamb so it was back in the stocks for her.  She is a rather wild hog and not at all happy about being confined, her little lamb was very pleased by me restraining and soon tucking in to suckling his breakfast.

The first few alpacas that are due to birth are really finding it hard work, Mary is hardly leaving the shelter.  I'm not sure if it is because the feed is being stored in there or the fact that she is too hot or she just feels to fat to move too far!

When I went to give everyone their tea this evening one of Alan's sheep was out on the main road again with her twin lambs.  I bet it is the same one that was out at the weekend.  It is a twisty windy road with a number of motorbikes on it so I needed to get them back in before there was an accident.  Thankfully after a couple of cars just drove past me staring an old neighbour drove past and stopped to help.  The sheep had walked so far round the road I put her in a different field so hopefully she won't find her way out of this one.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Day of rest?

So much for Sunday being a day of rest, not here.

As we drove to our fields we stopped off to check a couple of Alan's sheep fields, one of which our girls are in and he'd beaten us to it, he was already doing the rounds on the quad.  So after a walk up to say morning to our girls and check on Mocha's lambs we headed back to Angerton to check and feed all the alpacas.

After the feed run we had a very exciting meeting to head off to, which we needed some expert advice on.  It was very successful and I hope to share the outcome with you very soon. Paul won't let me tell you just yet but if you guess then that's different.

We had time for a quick return to the mouse house for some lunch, so whilst I was doing the scrambled eggs (the hens are laying like crazy at the minute), Paul strimmed the lawn.  We only have the ride on mower or the flail mower for the back of the quad which would be a bit overkill for our postage stamp lawn.

After another check on the sheep we took Alan out for a little drive, he has a wealth of knowledge we wanted to tap into.  As if the Thompson's haven't done enough for us today Margaret insisted that we stay for dinner tonight - very nice it was too.  I think we should have moved in there rather than rent the mouse house.

As well as everything else we also managed to do the girls toe nails and I'm please to report everyone behaved very well, with one slight exception; yes you guessed it, Kate.  She was good whilst Paul held her only to turn round and show her dissatisfaction as she left the pen; showers all round then!

Saturday 16 April 2011

New life

We have broadband!!!!!!  Paul manged to get it working late last night so I am now back in touch with the world; I just need to make sure I now find the time to start blogging again.

Things have been really hectic here, what with helping out with lambing, tractor driving and making very exciting plans for the future.  You may have been keeping up to date with whats been going on with our tweets.

If you have you will have seen that Mocha finally lambed today.  Even Alan who has been farming all his life has been saying that she should have lambed on Thursday, but she managed to keep everything crossed until this afternoon when she gave birth to two white lambs.  Unlike Rosemary's stats these are two boys; so no organic growth to our sheep flock yet this year!

Aren't they just adorable.

It looks like it will be a little while before we have any cria.  Mallika and Sienna are at 336 days, so another 10 days before they hit the Barnacre average gestation, however these girls are both maidens so our average is a little higher for them.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Technology, or lack of it

I was really touched to read that I'd been missed following my last post, thank you.  Well there is still no broadband, but fingers crossed there will be dongle connection for long enough to type this blog.  I am feeling very out of circulation at the minute, it's amazing how much you use the internet without realising.

I have been rushed off my feet what with one thing and another since I last blogged, sadly due to the lack of technology I've struggled to keep you posted but hopefully I will be able to fill you in over time.  Our broadband should have been connected today but shock horror, flashing lights on the router and no internet!

I've been lambing for Alan for a couple of weeks now which I really enjoy, although it's exhuasting.  My sheep have still to lamb; they are always late as they don't like mixing with 'wild' sheep so steer clear of the tup for as long as possible.

Today I've been on tractor duties, I was hoping to share some photo's but the dongle doesn't seem to want to let me.  I have been rolling one of Alan's fields with his nice big shiney red tractor.  I was quite pleased with the stripes.

All the alpacas are looking extremely fluffed up at the minute and the girls reaching the latter stages of their pregnancy are positively blooming.  Willow is looking exhausted and she's not due until the end of next month.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Lambing live

Well we are now fully moved in to the mouse house with our possessions scattered all over the place!  Today BT managed to get the phone sorted out, only 5 days late and numerous phone calls later, I'm hoping that the broadband will be on on Thursday; until then I am reliant on a dongle. 

The dongle means that I have to hang out of the window, stand on one leg and smile sweetly to the thing; then if you are lucky it works.  Needless to say this wont be a long blog.

I thought I'd better make the effort as you all might have thought I'd vanished into the container along with our furniture.

It has been a really hectic couple of weeks and there is no sign of things slowing down.  Our first two alpacas to birth are at 326 days so not long left now.  In fact Sienna is starting to get a little milk coming so I'm guessing she'll be first.

I have been helping Alan with lambing today.  I do enjoy it, there's something about a lamb that is all cute and makes you feel good.  There have been a few that needed a little TLC, after a cold night there were a couple of little lambs that needed to come in.

This afternoon I did the field rounds on my own and came across a ewe with a rather stuck looking lamb.  All that was visible was a bit of nose and a googly eye.  I eventually managed to locate both feet and after a lot of persuasion I managed to pull out the lamb shortly followed by it's twin.  Phew I thought I was going to have to admit defeat!