Thursday 30 June 2011

What it's all about

Just a short one tonight as I still have no phone and a not very reliable broadband connection.  Apparently BT will fix it on 4th July!

I have spent the day up at The Border Mill looking at what fantastic things have been happening since all their equipment arrived and listening to Juliet's fabulous idea's.  Then I had to get skirting my fleeces so they can start work on them.

It's taking much longer than I expected and I've only done the white and beige so I'll be heading back tomorrow......

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Loki sees double

I will keep it brief tonight as I seem to have phone issued and it's leading to Internet problems too - marvelous!

Loki had a fabulous start to his day, it is just over four weeks since Mary gave birth so I was hopeful that she might be ready to be remated.  She likes a little longer than most girls in between birthing and mating and isn't the easiest of girls to read when it comes to spit offs either.

After breakfast Mary was shut in with Kate and Willow who needed spitting off, it was my intention to keep Nefertiti in for checking but she had other ideas and made a run for it; hopefully that is her way of telling me she took last week but we'll see.

Willow wasn't impressed to see Loki which was pleasing but thankfully Mary sat immediately, which caused a chain reaction .............
Form a queue
Kate didn't take last week then, so after Loki had finished his appointment with Mary and had a bit of a rest he got to see Kate to.  Hopefully that will be two more babies like this year please team!

This afternoon I had to nip into Morpeth to post some knitwear that had been bought online and I also needed some diesel ready for a trip out tomorrow; more on that tomorrow evening.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Happy 4th birthday Hughie

I can't believe that Hughie is four years old today.  I remember the day he was born prematurely as though  it was yesterday.  He was our second cria to be born and arrived at 319 days gestation, initially and rather naively I wasn't too worried as he kushed as he should, we just didn't get any further than that.

After a while I decided that I needed to help him stand.  He was down on his pasterns and had no strength what so ever.  I decided to call the vet who came straight out.  I did have some colostrum which the vet tubed into a very flat Hughie, eventually he left telling me he didn't hold out much hope.

He had no suck reflex, very  little strength but already a huge hold on my heart.  After a crash course on how to tube feed and then milk an alpaca we soon mastered things and after three tube feeds Hughie grasped the hang of sucking.  With help he was able to stand for short bursts to feed from mum, who was thankfully the most chilled out alpaca ever.

Here is the very handsome Hughie at three days old, looking good.

There was no turning back and the bottled feeding and assistance stopped.  He did find having a wee rather tricky for a couple of weeks and used his neck and head as an extra leg!

He here he is today.

Hughie has received many birthday messaged on facebook, thank you to all those of you who wished him happy birthday.  Anyone wanting to become friends you can find him under Hughie Barnacre.

Monday 27 June 2011

Abandoned by mum

Sometimes nature does some really strange things, I'm sure it has it's reasons but it's hard to understand sometimes.

Just over a week ago now you may recall we had swallow chicks in our trailer and despite us taking the trailer away for a whole day the loyal parents returned to the nest to care for their offspring.  Sadly something has gone wrong.  I hadn't noticed the swooping in and out of the trailer yesterday so I decided this afternoon I would have a look to make sure all was well; it wasn't.

The nest was empty, two of the chicks were on the trailer floor, but not under the nest so I'm sure they hadn't fallen out and the third baby is nowhere to be found.  I wonder what made them give up after being so loyal a week ago?

I now need to remove the nest and thoroughly disinfect the trailer before we use it at the weekend for the alpacas.

On a much brighter note, my mum is fast becoming the sock expert, check out her latest fabulous socks working their way into our online store.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Who missed who more?

Having been back to Nottingham for my niece, Faith's 3rd birthday party yesterday I was keen to get into the field this morning to make sure Paul had looked after everyone correctly.

Everyone was pleased to see me, Oonagh got her full breakfast ration.  She refused to share a trough and has to eat from your hand or she'd rather go without and Paul won't always wait long enough for her to decide if she wants any or not and this can sometimes take her a while! 

The boys and yearlings were due a routine wormer so they were rounded up and injected and the summer fly cream was out again.  Everyone you speak to seems to be complaining about the increased number of flies this year - horrible things I really don't like them.

In theory we now have a little breather before the final four births are due which shouldn't be until the end of July, if everyone goes to their usual averages.  In the meantime I thought you might like so see this weeks new arrivals. 

Firstly born on Wednesday afternoon we have Seymour, who is a lovely solid black boy who this evening weighs a chunky 11.16kg.  If you look closely you can see his half sister Celestial in the background who is also solid black.
Then we have Veruschka's little man who has yet to be named.  I didn't manage to get a photo of him dry on Friday before I left for Paul to share with you all.
He has certainly inherited his dad's vocal chords! 

Friday 24 June 2011

Surprised by Veruschka (Paul)

I was 'working from home' today and was surprised when Debbie sent me a text this morning to say Veruschka was in labour.  Veruschka is fantastic - an amazingly dense fleece that makes the shearing clippers groan - and despite her considerable bulk she resides well down the pecking order of the herd.  Her last two progeny, Tenzing from 2 years ago and Cassiphia from last year both have super fleeces. This year Veruschka cut 4.3kg, Tenzing 4.67 and Cassiphia 2.9kg.  Tenzing is sired by El Maestro of Purston and Cassiphia by our very own supreme champion, Wellground Legend of Spartacus.  This years Veruschka cria is from EP Cambridge Gianmarco's Masterpiece.  What a selection!

Anyway, Veruschka generaly likes her cria very well cooked, well over a year, and yet today she 'fired one out' at 334 days and nearly 10kg!

The usual sequence of events occured. First the herd 'big noses' check things out

then the herd 'little noses' check things out - from the left: Veruschka, Emery, Celestial, Ellie-May (I think), Spadicious (brown), Seymour and then Princess Mallika (big and dark fawn).

and then the littlest nose of them all gets a well earned drink

Thursday 23 June 2011

Where's the water wings

What a horrible day, we've had torrential rain and this evening hail. 

Star's baby, named Seymour, who this evening is in dry coat number three, doesn't seem to have been perturbed by the weather and has been off playing with the other cria.  By tea time Star has decided it's easier to let him play as he comes back when he wants to be fed! 

I would like to say a big thank you to all your comments and emails giving advice on the troublesome flies.  I am currently trying Aloe Vera which seems to be helping (she types with her fingers crossed).  I am also going to get some Lavender oil to add to our sudocrem which I use regularly, thanks Liz.

It's great to read that Willowbank Alpacas down in Leicestershire are very pleased with their cria from Legend of Spartacus, he is certainly passing on his Supreme Champion fleece qualities on to his progeny.  Our biggest cutting weanling fleece this year was from one of our Legend cria who cut over 3kg with less than a years growth.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Star delivers a whopper

Can you believe it, I spend hour after hour in the field, but with no one looking likely to birth I decided to nip into Morpeth for some essential supplies and then get on with some jobs at home. 

Then this evening when I went to do the evening feed run on my way to the Cambo yarn group there to my surprise was an extra black cria!  I hadn't actually realised initially, Spadicious was running round the field with a black cria I assumed was Celestial. 

After shutting the chickens in I went over to feed the girls and as Star walked past me I noticed she'd halved in size (she was enormous) and it was blatantly obvious she'd given birth.  A second glance at Spadicious's new playmate it was apparent this was Star's baby. 
A very big solid black boy, very well done Loki.  We weren't sure what we'd get from Star who is a not very consistent grey. He weighs a massive 10.21kg, thankfully despite Star being a maiden she managed to birth without any assistance.  These babies are certainly big this year.

After checking all was well and baby was feeding I headed off, albeit slightly late to the yarn club, more on that tomorrow as I need to update my birthing records before bedtime. 

Monday 20 June 2011

Can anyone help Imala

I spent the morning catching up on some paddock cleaning, the boys were very grateful and followed me round to make sure I didn't miss any.  When it came to Golden Guinea's field he thought it would be a good opportunity to try and escape whilst I was driving through the gate, lucky for me on this occasion I won!

The new hens have obviously settled in because one of them kindly laid me their first egg today.  I think it is from one of the black rock's but I'm not sure who lays what yet, but I'm sure it won't take long to work them out.

This evening we have been doing mass matings, well it's mass to us anyway!  Four boys and four girls, the noise was deafening as they were all competing to be the loudest.  It makes me laugh how they all make different sounds.

I think Paul was beginning to think that Loki was going to be there all night, he'd started to walk Guinea back to his stud strip but came back to see where we were because we were so long and Loki was still hard at it!

How spooky is this last year we did four matings on the same day once, and it was also the 20th June.  Just for the record two of the girls were the same both years.

Finally does anyone have any good suggestions for keeping the flies off a sore.  Imala got a small nick during shearing and the flies won't leave it alone.  In fact they are making a real mess of it by keep opening up the wound and it is growing.

I've tried various insect repellents all of which are failing, crovect only seems to last for a couple of days so not long enough to let the wound heel.  We have never had flies like it, they are terrible, thank goodness we are on the move soon! 

Sunday 19 June 2011

Not quite ready to fly the nest (Paul)

If you follow our Twitter (text follow BarnacreAlpacas to 86444 for free messages about what we are up to or click here!/BarnacreAlpacas) then you will know that we have been busy bees today.

Up at 6am, well who wants a Sunday lie in anyway, apart from my father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece-in-law.  Hmm snory bunch.

Anyway, after making the flask, packing the food, car and trailer it was only fair that I woke up to and got dressed to join Debbie for our day out 'n' about.

It was a quick dash over to pick up three of this years young boys, Ochre, Pearson and Minimus.  We then headed off to Rothbury for the CAMPS show (  We were really lucky with the weather with just a brief shower half way through the day and the good folk of Rothbury really warmed to the visiting crew from Barnacre Alpacas.

Our day was put under some strain early on when we noticed that the swallows nest in the alpaca's trailer had 3 very young chics in! They couldn't have been more than a day or so old as the bits of egg shell were still there. Debbie and I really love our nature and immediately put our thinking caps on - time to pull out the alpaca fleece - we use it for bird nesting material and despite having no food (I tried really hard to catch a couple of gnats 'on the wing' but they are fast little blighters) we returned the trailer at the end of the day with the chicks still alive.  The adult swallows flew straight in the trailer as soon as we parked it - fingers crossed!

I tried to get a photo of the adult swallows, but they were too quick. I did take a snap of the chicks in the trailer - amazing!  We will keep you posted of their progress over the coming days.  What will we do when the trailer needs to be moved again??!!

Saturday 18 June 2011

New arrivals and visitors

Despite the awful weather the alpacas have had two lots of visitors today. 

A lovely family who had ordered some knitwear at a recent National Trust Hall we went to came over to pick it up and see the new babies.  They also wanted to say another hello to their namesake Pearson on his 1st birthday.  It was lovely to see you all again.

Also Sonja, one of Paul's business partners wanted to see everyone - I think it's a good job you didn't have the camera Sonja, you've got an excuse to come back when the suns out now!

This evening on the way to feed everyone we call off to collect some new hens.  We now have 6 new ladies settling into their new home, I'm sure they will enjoy free ranging with with safety of the alpacas to provide round the clock protection.

Whilst we were feeding I was studying all the girls, the jury is still out on the pregnancy status of LMI.  There is no doubt with Chiquita though.......
She isn't due for over a month, I'm already starting to get worried about the size of her.

Friday 17 June 2011

Specsavers or not?!

With the sun shining and the sheep far too hot and dry I thought I would put my new clippers to the test and shear them.

The first victim, I mean volunteer, was Mia.  For the first time ever she didn't seem to want to come out of her field; I can't think why!  Here she is before I got my hands on her, as you can see she is doing a good job of self shearing.
I've got to be honest I was very worried that I'd cut her but once I got going it wasn't too bad.  She does have one little cut as has my finger but here's the after shot. 
I don't think I did too bad a job do you, it's not as bad as the specsaver advert anyway!

Whilst I was out with the camera I caught half sisters Ellie May and Angelica exchanging kisses.  Both girls are from Legend of Spartacus and have extremely bright fleeces which we are very pleased with.

Thursday 16 June 2011

The arrivals so far

After the excitement of the last week or so today has been relatively quiet, which was actually quite handy as I had an appointment this afternoon so I had to leave the girls for a little while.

Whilst all the cria were chilled out this afternoon I thought I'd get a picture of all of them so you can see the bunch to date.
Here we have our first born Neelie (after my nanna Eileen spelt backwards).

Next to be born were Sahara & Ellie May.
Next on the list on the left we have Emery, then on the right it was Celestial.  The lovely little white girl who I'm wanting to call Angelica was born last week.
On the same day, our first boy of the year, the rather impressive Spadiceous (meaning obscure chestnut colour) was born.
Finally here is yesterday's arrival, a very vocal chap, who has yet to be named.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Push Molly push

What a lovely morning, after the girls had had their breakfast it was back to a little snoozing round my feet as I sat on the bench and had my breakfast.
It was soon obvious that at last Molly was going to have her baby, so a quick text to Carol to let her know so she could come and see if she wasn't busy. 
Shortly after a little pink nose poked out the baby was out and on the ground, a lovely solid white boy who is exceptionally vocal.  He was always active whilst inside Molly and this trend continued, within a couple of minutes he was kushed and soon on to his feet and feeding.

Then he was off running round the field with Molly running after him.

He weighs 9.82kg which again is the biggest cria Molly has ever had, 4kg heavier than her 2009 cria and 2kg heavier than last years.  So far this years average herd birth weight is a kilo more than in 2010.

To celebrate this afternoon Carol and I had a lovely afternoon tea whilst in Alnwick; thank you Carol it was lovely.  Next time it's my treat.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

And still we have seven

Another passed and another day Cambridge Molly has some how managed to keep her legs crossed.  How on earth this cria has not been born is amazing.  She's now at 360 days and the weather forcast is saying that things are set to turn so fingers crossed for tomorrow.

The seven cria we do have are all doing well and having grerat fun chasing round.  I forgot to take the camera out with me today which was typical as there was lots of playing and photo opportunities.

I did manage to catch this one on my phone of 6 of the 7.  From the front we have Angelica (white), Sahara (Fawn), with her back to us we have Neelie (white), Emery (grey), Spadiceous (brown) and in hot pursiut we have Celestial (Black).

Sunday 12 June 2011

A long job list

There was a long job list to get through this morning before the forecast rain was due to arrive at lunchtime.  I'm pleased to say that we managed to get it all done in time.

First on the list was some spit offs and matings.  Oonagh, Lualeni and Sienna all spat off nicely which was good, so then it was on to mating. 

Following shearing on Friday Princess Mallika and Golden Guinea were pleased to see each other, both were very heavily fleeced so we'd made the decision that they would have to wait until they had been sheared, that way there was no worry about any issues.  I've heard a couple of not very nice stories!

We had Ursula and Little Miss Irraquoy in the channel whilst the matings were going on as I'm really not sure what is going on with them.  I'm pretty sure Ursula isn't pregnant but she's not at all happy anywhere near the male so I think some Estrumate is called for. 

As for LMI, she's supposed to be at 324 days but has been flirting with the boys at the fence for a few weeks now but spits at them if they come near.  Now that she's been sheared she's not looking very pregnant although she has hide her previous two pregnancies well.  Anyway today she sat, doh!  However when Gianmarco's Masterpiece went to do his stuff she started moaning so I pulled the poor chap away. 

With her being so close to her due date her hormones might just be all over the place so I'll keep a close eye on her and see if I can spot any movement, surely now she's sheared and she's that far on it shouldn't be to difficult.

Next job was a batch of routine injections which all went well, I even managed to get Paul to do his first ever alpaca injection without even having to ask.

The then girls got to move onto some fresh grass, long lush green grass which went down a treat.  After moving the girls all they equipment then has to follow, hurdles to make feeding and mating pens, feed troughs etc.  By the time we'd finished that the clouds were starting to roll in, and shortly after then rain arrived.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Maybe I should keep this quiet

Having fed and checked everyone this morning we headed off up to Scotland to an alpaca auction that was on.  As is always the case when I travel any distance in the car I was busy knitting! 

Carol and Dave were on Molly watch and thankfully she behaved herself, no new arrivals today.  Molly looks so uncomfortable, I don't think she'll be long, just waiting for the weather to improve.

After Carol's comment on last night's blog I thought I'd better spend this evening doing some spinning, I've just started doing some grey that Dave has blended.  I love it, I think we will be arguing over this one!  Maybe I should just keep my spinning activities quite then I can knit with it without mum and Carol knowing.

Friday 10 June 2011

Shearing part 2

I was on tender hooks all night worrying about what the weather had in store for today as we were booked in to shear the bulk of the herd following the rain interrupting the last time.

Thankfully I woke at 4am to a bright dry  sky, I decided that 4am was a little early even for me so I decided to dozed for a little while longer.

The girls were relaxing before our shearer, James Dixon arrived, Princess Mallika was once again using her Daughter Ellie May as a pillow.
 Willow was being more considerate and letting her daughter use her!
Shearing all went according to plan and despite some very black clouds heading over at one point it stayed dry. 

Sahara couldn't quite work out what was happening to her mum Sienna who was screeching throughout her ordeal.

Thankfully Carol and Dave were on hand to help out today, thanks guys I really do appreciate it.  I'm not sure what I'd do without them sometimes.

I now have lots of gorgeous fleece to get skirted, ooh it is so exciting!

Thursday 9 June 2011

All fluffed up

After yesterday's great Barnacre first, the excitement of two cria being born today seemed somewhat quiet - not that I'm complaining.  Both babies are on the move and happily exploring much to their mums concern, especially Nefertiti, she'll have a sore throat with all the humming she's doing.

I'll keep this short as I really need my bed, but I thought you might like to see a couple of photo's of the newbies now they are all fluffed up!

Next on the due list is Molly; as you can see she's looking rather wide. 
She is at 355 days, but she does like her babies well cooked.  If she goes to her own average she is actually due on Sunday so watch this space.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Two in one day!!!!

Well what a busy morning I've had today.  As is the case during birthing season I'm up shortly after 5am and straight off to check on the girls.

This morning shortly after their breakfast it was obvious that Nefertiti was in the early stages of labour, bang on her due date too.  It took her quite a while to progress to the second stage but once there was a nose visible the baby was on the ground in seconds.

A lovely solid brown boy, well the run of girls couldn't last forever could it. He looks like a fabulous boy to so I'm very happy with that. 
Not wanting to feel left out and miss her slot before Nefertiti had actually given birth I'd noticed that Willow looked like she was in labour too.  It didn't take her long to unceremoniously splat her cria on the ground, and I was just quick enough to catch the last push!

An adorable little girl!  She is a real cutie, my mum has a real soft spot for Willow and I know she will just love this baby too.

 This is Willow's 4th girl on the trot, not bad eh.  This one is by far the biggest yet for her weighing in at 8.32kg.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Spot or not to spot

Anyone who follows our tweets will know that the weanings were doing a spot of guarding this morning.  Not all alpacas are cut out for flock guarding, but one of the youngsters sounded the alarm when they spotted Mr Fox.

I didn't see who it was, but at a guess it would have been Ochre or Pearson who are excellent spotters.  It certainly wasn't Minimus, he's not cut out to be a guardian, he seems to have inherited his grandma Willow's approach, look away and leave it to someone else!

After a morning of hoovering the paddocks I treated myself to a cup of tea on my deckchair and knitted a few rows of knitting.  I had plenty of watchful eyes making sure I didn't drop a stitch or anything.

I had the camera to hand an managed to catch a photo of Midnight Star relaxing, check out the bulge, I wonder who she takes after!!

Yes it is Kate's daughter, she's still go a month to go and is a maiden so I'm hoping that she doesn't follow in her mums footsteps when it comes to the cria's weight.

Well I must get back to my spinning wheel, Carol is running out of wool so I need to crack on.

Monday 6 June 2011

Who looks like butter wouldn't melt?!

Despite the lovely weather the girls decided that today wasn't a good day to give birth, well I suppose they know best.  Looking at the teats I still think Nefertiti will be first despite her being the last of the three mated.

I have been busy taking photo's of the latest batch of knitwear, and there is quite a bit, including ladies socks (knitted by my mum).
Whilst I was taking the photo's the cria thought it would be fun to keep sneaking up on me then charging off.  The mob was headed up in the main by Emery who as you can see is a little sweetie, even Neelie is back to full time playing now which is great to see.

All the mischief hunting was obviously exhausting!!!!

Sunday 5 June 2011

Minumus goes up

Today has been rather wet so after a brief spell first thing without their coats Neelie and the latest cria (who we are still undecided on a name for) were back in their coats. 

Wet weather meant that in between checks on the girls I have been able to do a bit of spinning.   I need to get my finger out because we are almost out of yarn and sales of knitwear are going well so I need to keep the stock levels up!

Willow was looking rather uncomfortable this morning before the rain arrived.  She was humming a fair bit and had her ears back so I was keeping a very close eye on her as she is over her due date.  Her personal average over her previous pregnancies is 345 days and she is now at 351 days. 

All of a sudden there was a massive kick from her unborn cria and she looked much happier and stopped humming and returned to grazing.  I'm assuming it was in an awkward position and once it had moved she felt happier!

We weighed Minimus, he's not been weighed since being sheared and we were keen to see if he had actually gained any weight as I don't think he's grown any.
Well he weighed 19.4kg, at this rate Sahara will have overtaken him by the time she is two months old!  Despite his tiny frame he did cut just under 2kg of fabulous fleece so if you add that to what he weighed this morning he's done well. 

Friday 3 June 2011

What a scorcher

It has been an absolute scorcher today, even I was too hot let alone the poor alpacas who still have their coats on.

It was far too hot for giving birth!  In fact two of the three that are due now have spent pretty much all day in the field shelter out of the sum

Whilst cleaning the fields I had to put my mechanic hat on as the muck truck died on me, and the thought of manually cleaning up after forty odd alpacas didn't sound like something I wanted to do.

Eventually after taking a few bits off and putting them back on, having a tea break and taking a few photo's it decided to work again so I was able to finish the job I started.

I thought you might enjoy looking at a couple of the photo's I took.  Here we have Lualeni sat down with Chiquita stood next to her.
And here we have a much brighter looking Neelie (white) with Emery to her right and Mary behind her.

Neelie seems to be improving which is good, she is back to doing solid poo (I know you really wanted to know that; not!) and she has actually gained weight again today, only 130gms but it's better than nothing.  She has also been more energetic which is nice to see, even doing a little running round.

Thursday 2 June 2011

I didn't get much sleep last night, I was very worried about what I might find in the field this morning but thankfully Neelie was looking slightly better than when I left her.

She has slowly improved as the day has gone on, so whilst things are still rather concerning I think at the minute we are heading in the right direct.  In fact this evening when I came to antibiotic time I had to go after her as she got up and tried to run away.

It has been so hot today the water trough has proved a very popular hang out zone.
Many of the girls have been paddling and Gabby and some others have been doing a bit of neck dunking!

 Just in case I didn't think there was enough colour on her neck she added a little extra........

Wednesday 1 June 2011

A poorly little girl

Just a short one tonight as I'm exhausted and it is going to be another very early start in the morning.

I'd booked for the vet to come out today to scan Ursula as I had no idea was going on with her, I'm not sure she knows either!  Anyway as I thought she is not pregnant, so that's not good but at least now we know and can try and focus her mind on getting pregnant!

I also needed all the weanlings chipping,  I really can't do that, the needle is far too big.  Anyone that knows me will know I'm rubbish with needles and pass out every time I am in close proximity to one even if it's not for me so the fact that I can give all the injections is a pretty impressive thing for me, even if I do say so myself.

I had told Sam (our vet) I was going to try whilst he was here to do it but after watching him put the first one in and remembering how big the needle was I bottled it.  Maybe this should be a Paul job?!

Sam was also looking at Lady Godiva who has had a bit of discharge from her right nostril.  He thinks that it has been caused by a hay seed so just carry on with her course of antibiotics and we'll see how she gets on.

I was pretty lucky he was coming today as this morning Neelie started with diarrhea and was rather lethargic so I got him to take a look at her.  As the day went on she deteriorated and by this evening I went to the vets to pick up some electrolyte to see if that helped. 

I'm not sure if it was the Vecoxan, antibiotics or fluids but tonight she seems livelier and happier in herself still very runny mind you.  Fingers crossed we have now turned a corner and she's on the mend, poor little thing can't be ill the other four cria won't allow it!