Sunday 31 July 2011

Kelso revisited

We are still glowing from our success at Kelso and have really appreciated all your congratulations, thank you. 

One of the most important classes of the show is Sires Progeny, this shows the sires ability to pass on his positive phenotype (physical characteristics), and genotype (his genetics) to his off spring.  We had entered both Legend of Spartacus and Golden Guinea.

We had a superb result here too, coming away with first place for  Legend, who the judge said there wasn't a cigarette paper between his three progeny, Casiphia, Niveous and Wynfor.  Golden Guinea came second with Meketaten, Lady Godiva and Lavender-Bee's Tatiana.  Completing the line-up in third were some wonderful greys who the judge, Rob Bettinson was very impressed with from Sudell Alpaca's Blue Circus.
Thank you to whoever took this photo for me (sorry I was so excited I didn't see who took it!).

As a bit of a celebration we have decided to do a special offer on our stud services for a limited time only.  We are very proud of what our boys have produced and are happy to share their success, subject to strict bio-security conditions.  We have progeny from all four boys on farm to view so you can see the results for yourselves.

Saturday 30 July 2011

Border Union Show 2011

We have had a very busy two days at the Border Union Show, hence the lack of blog and tweets!  We had more animals this year and nine different breeders which was good.

Friday morning we were up early and headed off to Kelso to build pens and the ring and get the fleece judging done.  Kelso is a Composite show, so the fleeces are judged on the Friday with the animals on the Saturday and the scores combined to obtain the overall placings.

It can all get very complicated but with Rob Bettinson from Toft Alpaca's judging the show we were in safe hands.  Just to prove the fleeces were judged here is Rob with apprentice judge Melanie Douglas hard at work yesterday.
Before I get too excited and tell you more about it, I must say a big thank you to all the stewards who helped out, Judith Millburn, John Waugh, Mike Griffiths, Carol and Dave Pearson and Paul who as always was entertaining the crowd with his commentary.

We had taken along 6 animals, 3 boys and 3 girls.  As it was a colour championship we started with the blacks and worked through to the whites.  Our first alpaca in the ring was Meketaten, we had high hopes for Meketaten as she has a fabulous fleece, thankfully the judges clearly agreed commenting on her fabulous fleece, 1st place - thank you very much. Meketaten who is from Golden Guinea also went on to win Brown Champion.

Next up was Sandstorm, our adult boy.  Another first place in a very close class, so we were very pleased with this one.  Sandstorm is a compact alpaca with excellent conformation, with a very pleasing head type and fabulous fleece; the description the judge gave of him in his summing up.

Then it was the turn of Lady Godiva, another of our Golden Guinea progeny, she came second  in the Intermediate Female class.  She was exceptionally well behaved in the ring.

In the fawn colour championship we were then delighted that Sandstorm was awarded best fawn.

Next was the turn of the whites, we had Niveous and Wynfor in the same class, Intermediate Male.  These two boys are from Legend of Spartacus, the Supreme Champion at the 2009 Scottish National Fleece Show, so we were hoping for good things from them.  After a little deliberation, Niveous was placed  1st and Wynfor 2nd, how impressive was that, Rob said there was only a cigarette paper between them.  I was pleased that I agreed with his placing too!

The final show team member was Barnacre Casiphia, now this girl is something very special.  She is a well grown with an outstanding fleece and great conformation.  She was actually in a class on her own, Intermediate Female. 

In the ring the judge asked a number of times the date she was sheared as the rate of her fleece growth is fantastic, she already has an inch of very impressive fleece.  First place again followed by White champion!  Not bad eh, we take white, Fawn and Brown animals and win all three champions.

Casiphia then went on to win Supreme Champion and Best of British, with Meketaten, yes the brown (!!) being awarded Reserve Champion.  What can I say we are so so pleased, it just goes to show what you can achieve with a lot of hard work and good breeding.

I will tell you more tomorrow, yes there is more.

Thursday 28 July 2011

Hay presto!

With no sign of Geena's baby arriving today I decided to head off up to the hill to see what progress had been made.  Groundwork was delayed because of the torrential rain last week and was scheduled to start on Monday.

Well how disappointing, some machinery had arrived on site but there was no sign of any workmen or anything happening - not impressed it's almost two weeks since the scheduled start date and we have got nowhere.

On a much brighter note Steve had kindly cut our hay, I'm all excited, for the first time ever we will have our own hay - not enough though!
I'm at Kelso tomorrow for he Border Union Show, fleece judging tomorrow then animals on Saturday.  Another busy couple of days, mum will be left animal sitting, hopefully she will get plenty of knitting done on the bench!

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Happy birthday Rory

It is Barnacre Rory's first birthday today, Rory is one of the four young boys we currently have for sale.  He is a lovely friendly boy who had his first outing the weekend before last and was a little star.  He happily let people stroke and admire him (despite the horrible weather at Otterburn).

Rory was partly bottle fed as his mum Geena can't produce enough milk, it is an annual job with all Geena's cria.  Thankfully Rory was a good little feeder and was even happy to have my two year old niece help out, aren't they both sweet!
He has turned into a lovely young friendly boy with a very fine fleece full of character, which despite his mum being black is exceptionally bright.  Here he is today celebrating with his friends, Minimus, Niveous and Wynfor.

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Big box of fleeces

I received a rather large box full of fleeces this afternoon ready for the Border Union Show at the weekend up at Kelso.  It actually feels real now the  fleeces are arriving; it should be a good show.

Geena is still hanging on to her cria, she's not actually due until next week but she is looking like she wont be too much longer.  Mum is hoping that she will have it whilst she's here over the next few days.

The cria are all continuing to grow up and gain weight nicely, its amazing how quickly they grow.  Emery, Kate's daughter is by far the biggest despite being the fourth one born.  I am slightly concerned about Spadicious though, I think he is a little constipated again.  He was like it a few weeks ago but I managed to sort him out and he was going ok so I am keeping a very close eye on him.

Oh my word it's already 11.30pm and I've not done any spinning yet and I have an order for some grey gloves which mum can't knit until I've spun the yarn.  Carol is also complaining she has almost run out of yarn!  I need more hours in the day.

Monday 25 July 2011

Lights, camera, action

In comparison to yesterday the temperature has been rather cold today, in fact this evening it is somewhat cold.

In between the jobs today I did manage to take a few snaps of the cria to share with you.  The first one being of Chiquita and Piccolina, she is growing nicely and this evening weighed 7.27kg which is just under 1.5 kg growth in her first week.  We actually met a little Piccolino at the weekend at Wooler, how spooky is that.  He came running over to tell us and see if we had Piccolina with us. 
Next is her playmates, Nadia on the left and Jam-Packed on the right, both of which are gaining weight nicely.  Jam-Packed is now over 8.5kg. 
Finally photo is of double trouble, on the left we have Emery and to her right her half sister Celestial.  These two along with Loki's other cria Seymour are always on the look out for trouble with a capital T!

Sunday 24 July 2011

Wooler Festival

We have been out today at Wooler Festival with some of the alpacas and our knitwear.  The weather was much kinder to us this weekend than last!

The sun shone and the crowds gathered, there were a number of people who came to say hello who had seen us in the past elsewhere.  In fact the Pearson family (no relation to Carol and Dave!) came especially to see the alpacas which was very nice of them.

In one of my brief quiet moments I did manage to snap this photo, as you can see the alpacas were proving very popular, as was our knitwear despite the hot temperatures.
Many people were fascinated by the alpacas and commented on how friendly our boys were and we received lots of compliments on our product range which seems to grow every time it goes out. 

I now have a lot of updating to do on the shop; some things won't even make it on-line which is always encouraging.

Saturday 23 July 2011

The great outdoors

There was a big job list to get through today, so it was another early start.

After the morning feeding routine we decided to move a bale of hay and straw that were in one of the rented fields.  It was a good excuse for Paul to have a play with the tractor and forks.  Thankfully all went according to plan and other than a broken pallet.

Next on the job list was the weeds, Paul needed to do some strimming whilst I was doing a bit of poo picking. 

We wanted to let the new rescued hens have a bit more freedom, they seemed to have coped well with their big kennel and yard so we thought it was time to release them into the wild outdoors!  It took them a while but by the end of the day most of them had ventured out.  Hopefully they will remember to go back in to lay their eggs or I will have a daily egg hunt!

On the alpaca front everyone is happy, Geena is our only girl left to birth and she's not actually due until early August.  All the cria have been enjoying playing in the sunshine, followed by a snooze or two.

Gabby had obviously decided to leave her daughter, Lady Godiva (her 2010 cria) to babysit her full sister Nadia.  Gabby is very protective of Nadia who isn't allowed to play with the other babies, she is the same every year. 

Friday 22 July 2011

Alpaca love

It has been another busy day, albeit with routine jobs, but as I'm sure all those alpaca breeders out there will agree even routine jobs are pleasurable when you have such a good view.

Our youngest two cria, Jam-Packed and Piccolina are full of energy and very much the best of friends, where Piccolina runs Jam-Packed isn't far behind.
This evening we had two more matings to do, Lucia is very well grown and had been showing a lot of interest in the boys so we decided to see what she thought to Loki.  She was clucking away before he'd even got in the mating pen and dropped like a stone the minute he sniffed her.  Sat the other side of the pen were her friends Meketaten, Layla and Freyja; they are all younger and smaller than Lucia so they will have to wait until the spring before they are mated.
Also on the list to be mated was Palm-Olive, she is a very impressive Accoyo Remarque girl and we had lined up Gianmarco's Masterpiece for her.  As you can see she is never far away from her mum Molly, so she insisted on watching  over proceedings, until Marky sniffed her that is. Molly is already pregnant to Legend of Spartacus.
Palm-Olive and her mum Molly (with Portamento, her male cria) are for sale, to be honest I'm surprised Palm-Olive hasn't been snapped up as she has an impressive pedigree and a fantastic fleece which was admired when it went off for processing.

Thursday 21 July 2011

Sit, spit or run

At  last the sun has been shining, Jam-Packed and Piccolina have had their coats off and have been enjoying the sun on their backs.  They are both extremely active and independent, racing off on their own.  Both Imala and Chiquita seem pretty chilled about the whole thing - it's a good job really as there is no stopping them.

The rescue hens seem to have settled in nicely and are getting braver by the day, most of them have already got the hang of laying their eggs in the nest box rather than wherever they were standing.  They actually stood round watching me clean out their house today waiting to see what they could scratch around in.

This evening we had lots of spit offs to do, I suspected Kate was going to sit before I'd even fetched Loki and she did.  This is very out of character for Kate, it normally takes her a little while after birthing before she wants to be mated but she usually takes first time.  If she doesn't take this time I think I will have to speak to the vet.

Veruschka also sat and did Kealani, however she is a very submissive maiden so I'm not entirely sure if she is pregnant or not - one to scan I think!

Everyone else spat, ran or just gave me 'that' look, once you get to know your animals you soon learn to read the signs as all the girls do act differently to the males advances.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Little Piccolina

I must apologise for my lack of blogs so far this week; I have been tweeting though as I can do that on the move!  Things have just been so hectic and by the time I stop at night I can't keep my eyes open.

Anyone following our twitters will know that Chiquita gave birth on Monday morning, what a good girl she waiting until I was back from the weekend show but not waiting too long that mum was still here (my mum has a soft spot for the Willow clan, Chiquita's mum).

Last year Chiquita gave birth to tiny Minimus to Gianmarco's Masterpiece, so we were keen to see what she would produce second time round.  This year to Golden Guinea she has produced a lovely little fawn girl who we have named Piccolina.
She weighed in at 5.87kg which is just over 45% than Minimus was.  Born at 336 days gestation she is showing signs of prematurity, her teeth haven't erupted, her ears are a little floppy and she is slightly down on her pasterns, but none of this is holding her back.
She was so energetic when she was first born she wasn't even bothering to look for the milk bar she was too busy getting used to her Bambi like legs running round the field.  I was beginning to get slightly concerned about the lack of feeding but we got there in the end without the need for a bottle or tube which is great.

Chiquita and her mum Willow have always been very close and with two younger sisters and now a daughter of her own it will be interesting to see how this family stick together.  Chiquita's sisters, Layla (Brown) and Angelica (white) were soon on hand to inspect the latest addition to the clan! 

Finally I thought I would just share with you a photo of Imala's exceptionally cute baby with his taped up ear, Paul is wanting to call Jam-Packed, so anyone with any better suggestions best comment them soon before he gets to recognise his name!

Sunday 17 July 2011

Day two at Otterburn Festival

After yesterdays downpours and torrential rain all night we weren't really looking forward to a return visit to Otterburn Festival, but it's all about fund raising for the Air Ambulance and Help for Hero's so off we went.  It was a birthday outing for Minimus, he is one today!

We were dressed in waterproofs from head to toe, but as we arrived at the show ground to rain finally stopped.  We were lucky enough to set up in the dry and the rain stayed off for a little while, but just as the alpacas were starting to dry off it heavens opened.

Sadly for the charities involved the weather certainly meant that visitor numbers were down on previous years but the alpacas still proved very popular.  The sun finally did shine just in time for the RAF parachute team, Rory was trying to work out why there was a smoke flare being set off. 

They put on a fantastic show.

 Lets hope they raised lots of money and get some sponsors to help make next years show a success.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Otterburn Festival

Today we were booked to take some alpacas to Otterburn Festival which is held annually to raise funds for The Great North East Air Ambulance and Help the Hero's.

The weather wasn't good, in fact it was terrible, we have had torrential rain all day.  It is such a shame when the weather disrupts an event that has been a year in the planning and does such good work for charity. 

Thankfully the alpacas didn't seem to mind and still attracted lots of attention.  They always go down well and there were lots of people that remembered that we had to make a speedy exit last year because little Minimus has been born and were very pleased to actually meet him today.

We have chatted alpaca all day which is great, there were a couple of people who are seriously thinking about keeping alpacas which is nice, they are such a pleasure to own if they do take the plunge I know they will have no regrets.

We are back there tomorrow so if you are nearby do pop and see us and the animals, they really will be pleased to see you.

This evening we had to nip over to Sonja's to collect our rescue battery hens that she had kindly collected for us as we were out with the alpacas.  The poor things clearly aren't use to having much room.

Friday 15 July 2011

Imala baby shares his brorthers birthday

Shortly after breakfast this morning it was clear that Imala was in labour, like a number of our girls this year she too was much earlier than her previous pregnancies and personal average.  I had said on Tuesday when her best friend Gabby had given birth that she wouldn't wait for her due date.

Imala has always produced smallish babies that grow on nicely and so far has given birth to 3 boys so we were well overdue a girl.  Well Imala true to form has produced another boy and this one weighs in at a tiny 5.77kg.  He is a little sweetie though, even with his inside out ear!

He actually shares his birthday with his brother Wynfor who is one today.

We are really pleased to get some colour from Imala, she was mated to Gianmarco's Masterpiece who has been allowing colour but you never know, especially as the two previous white males Imala has been mated to produced white cria.  Her son, who has yet to be named is a more consistent colour than his mum Imala too which is good.
Tonight the little man has his ear taped and his coat on and was happily running round the field with his mum in tow!

Thursday 14 July 2011


Following Gabby giving birth on Tuesday I decided I no longer had any excuse not to move the little girls away from the boys.  I knew they wouldn't be happy.

It was the first job after everyone had been fed, the first three to walk up the lane was Meketaten, Casiphia and Lucia.  These three all walk well and happily trotted off once they'd left their mates. 

Meketaten decided that the road didn't look like it should be walked on and froze at the edge of the grass!  Once the other two walked on it and having sniffed and tapped it with her foot she decided it was safe and happily walked up the road.

Once we reached the main herd the girls went off exploring, Casiphia soon found her mum but was sent packing.

Then it was back down for Layla, Lady Godiva and Freyja.  Freyja isn't the best on the halter but she was surprisingly well behaved and walked happily up the road, maybe we've turned the corner there.

The boys were not happy at the girls leaving, in fact Niveous was screeching, spitting and standing in front of the girls so she couldn't move, he is usually very quiet!

Minimus is not at all happy that Lucia has gone, he has been moaning all day and wouldn't even eat his tea tonight which is not at all like him, he's usually the last to finish.

The young girls stuck together but were checked out by every one, little Sahara decided to join them and has spent most of the day with them.  As you can see she's with them here.
Layla was trying hard to attract her mum Willow's attention, but when she was ignored she started jumping on Willow which didn't go down well.  Willow is so close to her first daughter Chiquita, particularly when they don't have cria at foot so it will be interesting to see if she is so close to Layla once her current baby Angelica is weaned later in the year.

Chiquita is positively blooming and is due to have her cria later this month, hopefully it won't be too much longer for her sake she's looking like she might pop!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Baby baby

It has been another lovely day today, great for cria playing chase.  Here we have Ellie May and Angelica both from Legend of Spartacus.
Here we have Emery on the left and Seymour on the right, both from Loki.  Emery is also auntie to Seymour as her mum is Seymour's grandma.

And now the trouble causers, Spadicious (brown) and Celestial and Seymour.

And finally the latest addition to the Barnacre herd Nadia, named after the gymnast Nadia Comăneci who scored the first perfect 10 at the Olympics.  She was constantly doing somersaults whilst inside Gabby so we thought it was rather apt.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

It's a girl

Well she did it, Gabby gave birth this morning to a healthy little girl looking very similar to her full sister from last year lady Godiva.  This was a remarkably fast delivery, it was two minutes from pushing the nose out the her going splat on the ground.  It took more effort for Gabby to pass the placenta.

Not yet dry here she is, does anyone recognise that smile?!

As you can see Imala was close on hand to keep guard on the new born baby.  Gabby and Imala are inseparable and Imala always plays body guard until she births herself. She is due in a couple of weeks time.
The new baby was quite small compared to some of our other births this year weighing in at a healthy 7.58kg.

Monday 11 July 2011

Gabby getting ready

Gabby has been particularly uncomfortable today, grunting and groaning.  There clearly isn't much room in there because she didn't even bother having any tea, she just watched everyone else eat.

I think her baby with need some sort of gymnastic name as I have never seen an unborn cria move about as much as hers.  It appeared to go completely sideways at one point, poor Gabby; I was in pain just watching.

This was taken this afternoon just as one of the many back end bulges appeared.

And just as it was going back down again!
Gabby usually likes her babies well cooked and if she goes to her own averages she's not actually due until the end of the month but at the rate she is going I doubt she will make it past the end of the week.

Her best friend and yarn blend pal Imala also has milk now, she too is due at the end of the month but looks like she will be sooner.  Poor Chiquita is looking increasing huge but no closer to producing.

Sunday 10 July 2011

Starting young

We had more matings to do this morning, I was hoping that Pal-Olive would decided that she did want to be mated, so far she's not been at all keen and we are not in the habit of forcing the girls down.

Anyway with the help of her mum Molly (who was mated yesterday) showing her what to do she finally sat, not for long though.  As soon as Molly got up she started to try and get up and she eventually managed for free herself from a rather determined Gianmarco's Masterpiece.
Also showing Palm-Olive how to behave was Midnight Star who was keen to be mated yesterday but Loki was otherwise engaged with her mum Kate.  I thought this pair were going to be there all day, in fact in the end I removed Loki before we were reported for disturbing the peace!

Seymour was taking notes from his daddy and soon decided he needed to practice; he's obviously going to be keener than his dad was who was a slow starter.

Saturday 9 July 2011

Mass mating followed by a sting

Today we have said goodbye to our John Deere ride on mower, we decided that it wasn't really going to be much use to us when we move onto the farm so we have sold it.

Before it went off to it's new owner, we have cut three of the four stud strips.  I think Paul wanted one last play.  We have a big flail mower for the quad and hopefully in time for next year we'll have a topper for the tractor so we can make our own hay - assuming we've got into the tractor by then!!

We had a busy morning with matings today, Gianmarco's Masterpiece, Legend of Spartacus, Loki and Tenzing all got a go.  As is always the case Loki takes the crown for the longest stamina.  Hopefully all four girls will take, two were on their second sitting but all the other 9 already mated spat off.

On his was back to the field Loki got stung by a wasp, as we were walking down the road all of a sudden he started jumping about and pulling.  It's not like him and as I went to shorten his lead rein I saw the wasp on his bottom lip.  Being all brave (wasps scare me to death) I went to knock it off and I noticed it had left it's sting in him.

Poor thing wasn't too keen on staying still for me to pull it out but with the sting removed he soon seemed to forget about it and happily trotted back to the field.  I thought his lip would swell but it wasn't too bad at all.

Friday 8 July 2011

Pastures new

As you know we sold our house earlier in the year and are currently living in a rented cottage with the animals on our old rented land, but we have made progress............................ remember that hill on a previous blog.

It is all very exciting, we have purchased some land not too far away and plan to build on it.  Luckily it already has outline planning for a small cottage and an agricultural shed.  We are really excited about the whole thing, I think excitement will soon turn to stress mind you!

Our minds are working overtime, there is so much to plan.  There will need to be some major fencing projects to undertake, lucky we recently bought a post knocker for the tractor.  The only problem is we have lost the tractor key.  Paul is blaming me, but he was the last one to use it, but the key was last seen on the big bunch of keys I use daily, so I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that one.  Anyone got a metal detector?!

Thursday 7 July 2011

Face up to it

This morning I had to face up to Brick, who I'd mistakenly texted yesterday.  I was swapping half a dozen fresh eggs for half a dozen of his hopefully fertile eggs for my broody hen to sit on - she'll know doubt get bored before the due date.

We've had rain, thunder and sunshine today, it's been a real mixed bag, it meant I got some in door time.  The lasted batch of knitwear needed labelling and cataloguing ready for Paul to upload into the shop (not that he knows yet), well he will if he reads this.

Here's a sneak preview of a couple of the sets, the grey is hand spun the black mill processed yarn.

On the animal front little Spadicious's constipation seems to be improving which is good, hopefully he will be back to normal in a day or two.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Beware of the text

The swallows have built another nest in the trailer, can you believe it, you certainly have to give them ten out of ten of persistence.  As they are so determined I have left them to it, but they are going to have to have an outing or two before they fledge, if they make it that far.

I have had a very embarrassing occurrence this evening.  It had today become apparent that the yearlings need to be separated, Wynfor who isn't a year old until later this month, has decided that it is a good idea to try and mate Casiphia who is happy to sit for him!

This evening when we had visitors we walked in on a juvenile orgy, Wynfor was trying to mate Casiphia, Rory was on Layla and Niveous on Freyja.  I sent Paul the following text, "mass orgy underway, separation is a must".  The only problem is instead of sending it to Paul I sent it to someone else by mistake!  To make matter worse I didn't realise until he text me to ask where!!!

I quickly replied that I was talking alpacas, how embarrassing is that.  It's a good job he couldn't see how red I went.  Paul thought it was highly amusing when I told him what I'd done.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Sheep shearing

This morning I was determined to get the last of my sheep sheared, I was going to do it last week but with a sore knee and finger I decided it could wait.  With rain forecast for later in the week it was today's job.

Once I eventually got the generator working; I pulled and I pulled, I moved and moved the generator to see if that helped but all it kept doing was spluttering and stopped.  After I'd resorted to giving it a bit of a kick it seemed to get the message and started. 

All I'd done was start the generator and I was already sweating like a pig and worn out!  Shearing was much more successful and no need for any blue spray, not a single nick so i was very pleased.

With mine all done Alan wanted a bit of help with his so I spent the rest of the day getting his sheep penned ready for a professional shearer.  I'm sure Ricky was shearing about a dozen to my one!  Oh well you've got to start somewhere.

On my return the the alpacas it looks like the cria felt as worn out as I did..... 

Monday 4 July 2011

Say cheese

I think today I'll let the photo's do the talking.  Chiquita here is at 323 days, and if she goes to the same sort of gestation as she did with Minimus last year she has over three weeks to go.  I'm slightly concerned about the size of this bulge, it certainly looks like it will be bigger than Minimus was!
Talking of Minimus, especially for Rosemary here he is.
To give you an idea of his actual size here he is with Lucia who is his foster mum.  She is only two months older than him and will be moved at the weekend to stop his suckling at her.

Another one for Rosemary, the girl you fell for was Meketaten, she is a fabulous brown girl from Golden Guinea. 
The final picture of the day is of Portamento, Molly's son.  He has certainly inherited his dad, Gianmarco's Masterpiece's fleece and vocals hence the name.  Portamento, meaning a continuous, unbroken glide from one note to the next that includes the pitches between.
As you can see the flies continue to be a pain, no matter where abouts in the country you are everyone seems to be complaining this year.  There must be a reason for it, I just wish I knew of something that would get rid of them once and for all.