Friday 30 September 2011

The Gobi dessert

Friday's come round so quickly.  This morning Carol popped in with her holiday knitting, Carol and Dave have been on holiday for a couple of weeks to celebrate Dave's 60th birthday.  Foreign holidays are no excuse to not knit she took lots of wool with her.

Not only had she done plenty of knitting she has also washed and dried it.  All I need to do now is label it and get it photographed for the online shop.  Paul has just updated our online shop this evening too!

The hill is progressing nicely, the builder rang with updates this afternoon and said it was so hot and dry it now resembled the Gobi dessert, living in a caravan in the dessert sounds like it could be quite acceptable.  We are off up there in the morning so I will make sure I take the camera so I can share progress with you.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Trip to Hexham Mart

I had planned to go to go to Hexham Mart this morning as it was the hill sheep sale and we will be needing some hill sheep for the top of the hill.  I was hoping to have someone to go with for a spot of moral support even if they wouldn't or couldn't give advice.

Unfortunately Alan, my farmer friend was too busy cutting beans and I couldn't find anyone else to accompany me so off I went on my own with advice, pen, paper and cheque book (just in case).

First job set up an account for the new farm; check. 
Pick up auction catalogue; check.
View a few pens; check.
Find a good seat and observe.......

When I walked into the ring I felt rather out of place and checked to make sure I did only  have one head!  A strange woman walking into a male dominated room obviously doesn't happen very often.

Anyway to cut a long story short I did sit on my hands for the bulk of the sale but did bid on a few lots.  All went for more than I dared to pay, all I kept thinking I could buy a nice alpaca for that!

When the sale came to an end I wished I'd been braver and come away with some, so note to self, be braver next time.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

It only takes a minute girl

I've had a major incident today, don't worry all the animals are fine, it was me!

I got locked out, no key's, no phone, no shoes and no neighbours to call on - not a good place to be.  I'd nipped out of the back door to check on my knitwear which was drying flat on a drying net (yes I know I should have put some shoes on).

I'd left the door pulled too, but not closed, because I've not let the cats out at the mouse house because of the busy road and I didn't want them escaping.  The a lorry or tractor went past the the draft blew the door shut which has a Yale lock on it.

Umm, after a few choice words I needed to think of a plan.  My neighbour who is moving out in a day or two had left early in a taxi so I wasn't sure if they would even be coming back.  I had no phone or car keys so couldn't drive to get help and with no shoes on I didn't fancy walking down the farm track opposite in the hope that someone might be in.

Luckily the farmer who farms the field behind us was rolling his freshly ploughed field so I asked if he was any good at picking locks.  He wasn't but offered to ring Mitford Estates who we rent the cottage off only to find he had lost his phone, great!

Being the typical helpful sort of chap you get round here he drove in his tractor (without the roller which he unhitched) to a field down the road where his brother was working to use his phone for me, 15 minutes later the nice man from Mitford Estate came to let me in.

I wouldn't mind but normally every time we step foot out the house no matter how far we are venturing I always insist we have a key.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

The foundations start

Ooooh exciting times.  I had a meeting on the hill this morning with the builder to talk a few things through and whilst I was there the shed foundations were being dug.  At last it feels as though things are starting to happen. 

This was position at the weekend when we were up there.

Hopefully by next weekend we will have the house foundations poured and the shed foundations in, then things should start moving much quicker; she says in hope!

There is so much for me to sort out before we move into the caravan, not to mention all the packing again....

Monday 26 September 2011

Canadian visitor for breakfast

The sun has been shining, the alpacas are happy and I have been talking alpacas all day so I am happy.

This morning we had a visit from Jane Orrom from Laurentian alpacas in Canada, we had a lovely chat over the morning alpaca feeding routine.  It was really interesting to compare the routine things we do and talk about how show differ across the pond.

The alpacas were rather damp but a little fleece fondling was a must and as usual Minimus was a firm favourite, he is such a cutie in every sense of the word.

After spending a couple of hours with the alpacas we came back to the house to look at what I do with our fleece and give Jane even more determined to learn to spin and knit - I'll be keeping my eye on your website Jane so you better stick to your word!

This evening I had a lovely lady who we'd met at a recent show who is thinking about keeping alpacas.  Hopefully I didn't talk too much, sorry once I start you can't shut me up, alpacas just have that effect on people.

One thing I forgot to mention last night, after all the hard work over the weekend my brother got to have a little play in the tractor, it looks like they were playing hook a wheelbarrow!!

Sunday 25 September 2011

A womans work is never done

A womans work is never done so I suppose you're best off learning at an early age!

First job feed the girls, here is Faith feeding Meketaten and Casiphia.
Next it is Golden Guinea's turn. 
Once everyone is fed we need to survey the new land to work out how much fencing is required.

Oh yes and the pink pipe cleaner, perfect size for the job!!!! 
After all that hard work there is a quick break for a picnic to build up your energy for a spot of....
Fence building, just to prove Sarah does work I captured the evidence today!

Nearly done one side.

We have had a lovely weekend with Faith (and Colin and Sarah obviously),  I think she has enjoyed herself too, especially when I showed her where her new bedroom will be.  She was so keen she was happy to sleep there tonight on the clay with no walls or roof.

Thanks for your help all three of you it was nice to see you again, see you for your next stint of fencing soon.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Fencing begins, slave labour?

With help on hand this weekend from my brother Colin, his wife Sarah and my niece Faith we have made a start on some fencing in the hay field as this is where the girls will begin.  Here it is, can you see us?
It is currently fenced to three sides and has a stone wall on the fourth.  We want to ring fence all the way round and there is a burn running along the East side so this is where we began.

First job, move the poles that we incorrectly left on the south side of the field.  I got the easy job of loading up the boys arms, why is the tractor or quad never where you want it.  I can't wait to get all our belongs back in one place! 
No one escaped a job, even Faith managed to help. 
I'm not sure the same can be said for Sarah!!  Only kidding Sarah I just don't have any photographic evidence of you drilling etc. 

Friday 23 September 2011


When we were at the Whalton Show last weekend a lady I'd met at a show in Rothbury earlier in the summer (yes we have had one) who took a shine to Minimus came over to say hello.  She had a rather exciting gift for us.

Irene Hilson is a fantastic artist and she has painted the most magnificent picture of Minimus from a photo she'd taken at the show.  He'd recently been shorn, had his head collar on and was rather damp.  I'm sure you will agree she has done a superb job and this will take pride of place in our new house when (!!) it is built.
I'm sure you will agree the likeness is fantastic, this is a photo I took of him about the same sort of time.
Hopefully we will soon be stocking some of these prints.

Thursday 22 September 2011


I seem to have been to Morpeth nearly every day this week, today I had to nip to the post office again to post another online purchase.  I thought whilst I was there I would try and tax the tractor.  Having had a major issues trying to tax the quad there a few months ago I was expecting it to be rather difficult. 

The previous owner had never taxed it as it didn't go on the road so the last tax disc in it show nineteen ninety something!  I went armed with the V5 and my insurance certificate and guess what - they did it no questions asked.  So why I wonder was the quad so hard to do when I even had the renewal notice for that?!

This afternoon we have purchased our temporary accommodation which we will be moving into in the next few weeks.  Another container is required as there isn't much room in a tiny four birth caravan with two adults 3 cats and all my knitting and spinning 'stuff'.  Wish us luck I think we may need it.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Living without electricity

I am still waiting for Paul to update the on-line shop, there just aren't enough hours in the day.  He needs to get on with it quickly as I have sold three items again today and we're still months away from the Christmas rush.  At this rate we will sell out well before the end of the year.

I am busy knitting an ordered hat at the minute, then I have a matching his and hers hat on order and a pair of leg warmers so not much chance of me knitting new stock for the shop for a little while.  Mum is busy knitting gloves like crazy for the shop. I also need to get some spinning done and some more felted jewellery.  I think I need to give up sleeping.

There have been a couple of issues on the hill today, the main one being an issue with NEDL.  Hopefully it will be resolved or we may be living without electricity long term!!

I can't believe how cold it has turned tonight, this time next month we will be living in our caravan (if all goes according to plan) so I suppose I'd better hurry up and get used to the cold!

Tuesday 20 September 2011

A sneak preview

Having spent most of the afternoon drafting out numerous shop updates, due to lack of hours in the day Paul has failed to upload them into the shop, so here's a sneak preview of a few of the new items.
Not much else to report today, except we have also placed an order for a rather large and very expensive duck egg!

Monday 19 September 2011

It wasn't me!

Cria are great aren't they, we have some real characters again this year.  Emery our biggest baby of the year weighing in at over 12kg at birth to the only miserable alpaca of the Barnacre herd Kate, thankfully hasn't inherited her mums avoidance of humans.

As you can she here she is this morning sneaking up on my mum about to try and pinch her coat.
Her friends (from front left round to the right, Nadia, Spadicious, Seymour, Brinley, Cazanova and Piccolina) were observing from a safe distance.
Emery retreated to the safety of her mum's side admitting nothing!

Sunday 18 September 2011

Sunday hill update

Following the vet visit in the week and Palm-Olive being estrumated I wanted to mate her today.  It seems to have have done the trick, she sat much better today and it is the best mating she's had so hopefully it will take this  time.  All the other girls spat off which is good.

This afternoon we have  been up on to the hill, it has certainly made a difference where we have cut so we wanted to get more cut before the weather turns. 

Here is my dad surveying the grass having been driven up on the quad; he doesn't walk well.  Talking of not walking well I fell in one of the streams, lucky for me I didn't get to dirty and I had hold of the camera so no one could take a photo!
Paul hard at work going round and round and round and round.

And here was have the levels for the house, and Jayne thought she had a puddle!!!!!

Saturday 17 September 2011

Whalton Show and Sheep Race

We woke to rain this morning but thankfully it soon brightened up as we headed over to the Whalton Village Show.

It was going to be a very busy day as not only did we have our alpacas and knitwear there I was also racing my sheep again.  I had high hopes for the sheep as we won three of the four races last year and went  on to win the championship race with Mocha.

Mocha was first out for the Barnacre stable today, and here she is leading the field!
First past the the finishing post was the defending champion Mocha.

Next up was the turn of Mia, my extremely overweight pet lamb from many years ago who thinks she is a short alpaca.  She was the only one of last years team that didn't win her race so I wasn't sure how she would do.  I needn't have worried, she did us proud, another first place.

In the third race I had one of my lambs running, this race was so funny as the sheep didn't want to run.  They kept going the wrong way, going back to the start and generally not doing what they were supposed to which the crowd thought was hilarious.  Eventually with a little encouragement (called a feed bucket!) my little lamb was on the move and and winning, until the last 10 feet that is!  He ended up second.

The final race was easily won by one of the vet Dick Thompson's (Alan my farmer friend's cousin) sheep.  So the championship race was between two of mine and two of Dicks'. 

This race didn't quite go according to plan, both my sheep and Dicks are very friendly and used to being round people and none of them wanted to leave us, or then again it could have been the feed bucket they had spied just over the fence at the start line.

Eventually I managed to get Mia moving and then she spotted a feed bucket heading to the finish line so she set off, excess weight, wonky legs and all and won by a complete lap!!!!!!  Here she is proudly posing after securing Barnacre the winning cup for another 12 months.

Thankfully my parents are still here at the minute so they were able to help out with the alpacas who as always proved super popular.  We also saw a very clever lady Irene who came laden with the best gift ever, more on that tomorrow.

Friday 16 September 2011

The night before the races

Just a quick blog tonight as nothing much to report.

The weather couldn't have been more different today than yesterday.  It has been dull and grey most of the day, then at tea time the rain arrived.  Not good as we had the sheep racing team to move in readiness for tomorrows sheep racing at Whalton Show. 

We have had to make a late substitution as Ebony was looking a little lame this morning - typical.  She was probably putting it on because she didn't want to go racing.  Ready and looking for bets tomorrow is Mia, Mocha and her two lambs.

The alpacas are also going to the show, we promised Rory he could go this week seeing as he was so keen last week and got left at home. 

Thursday 15 September 2011

Pregnancy scanning

It's been another busy day, I've been cracking the whip with mum and her knitting.  It's working well that's three pairs of gloves finished in one week!

This afternoon I'd booked for the vet to come out to scan four of the girls.  Ursula who has been a pest with spit offs in the past, then three maidens, Lucia (Ursula's half sister, same dam), Palm-Olive and Kealani.

The first volunteer was Lucia, a lovely black girl who had had one mating with Loki.  She has spat off once and on the other occassions I've tried to do a spit off she's either escaped or refused to come in.  Great news, she's pregnant, we could see a feotus very clearly.

Second up was the turn of Palm-Olive, she has had two matings but neither of which she has been keen on so I had no idea on this one.  There was a slight hitch during this scan, the vets scanner battery was not holding its charge and we couldn't get our generator started!

Thankfully I didn't upset the people who bought West Barn (our previous house), so having had a quick word with Brian we walking the girls into his garage so we could borrow his electric.

Unfortunately both the rectal and transabdominal scans proved negative for Palm-Olive, as you can see she was very well behaved.  Having checked her over she has been given some estrumate and we will try again to mate her in the next few days.
Ursula who spat off all last year and never produced a cria has been scanned pregnant this year which is good.

Finally it was the turn of Kealani, she is a very submissive girl who has been mated three times, we weren't sure if she was sitting just because she is so submissive or because she wasn't holding a pregnancy, it was the latter, no baby in there.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Proving popular

I thought I would share a few photo's with you tonight taken this morning.  Here is my mum proving very popular with the girls and their cria.  Gabby and Imala are checking out to see what if anything mum has in her hands!
And here especially for Cristina and Dave here we have the gorgeous Jam-Packed, son of Imala and Gianmarco's Masterpiece. 
Here we have double trouble Seymour (black) and Spadicious (brown), who is the full brother of our double brown champion Meketaten.
The cria are already growing fast and before we know it it will be time to start weaning the oldest girls - I never like that bit!

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Knitting stash

I was slightly concerned about what might greet me in the field this morning after the terrible winds overnight.  Thankfully other than an over turned hay heck and bench and having to gather a few feed toughs all was well.  The girls had decided that it wasn't a good idea to sleep under the trees last night and had settled in the middle of the field.

I thought they'd said that the winds were supposed to be dropping this afternoon; I think someone forgot to tell the wind.

Mum and I nipped over to see Carol this afternoon and pick up her knitting, and my word was it worth the visit, she has knitted loads, 3 baby hats, one lady's hat, 3 pairs of fingerless mitts to mention just a few.  Mum is also doing a cracking job knitting this week, having already done two pairs of gloves and she is now on the fingers on the second glove of the third pair.

We are at the Whalton Show this weekend with the alpacas and four of our sheep for the sheep race.  It is well worth a visit if you are in the area, fingers crossed for a calmer weekend.

Monday 12 September 2011

Exhausted Minimus

We have had a very busy weekend at the Berwick Slow Food Festival, they loved the alpacas last year and had invited us back with our knitwear again.

I'd invited my parents up to stay and animal sit as we'd decided to stay up at Berwick over night on Saturday.  We were set up and ready to go when the gates opened and as usual with Paul on the microphone the public flocked over to see and hear all about the alpacas.

It was a long, busy two days and exhausting weekend and as you can see even little Minimus found all the attention exhausting, he was fast asleep in the pen at one point.
Anyone who follows our tweets will know we did have an evening off and paid a visit to the beer festival Saturday night with a couple of fellow traders.

Today I've been sorting out all the knitwear as we packed up in a hurry as the wind was really picking up so I hadn't put everything in it's rightful place.  I now have a lot of updating to do in our online shop before I sell something that was sold at the weekend.

I have also taken a couple of orders that I need to get on with, there is never a moments rest her.  I'm cracking my whip at mum to and am off to see Carol tomorrow to see what she has been knitting from my constantly growing list of requirements from her. 

I also have a reqest for Joan (mums neighbour) who knits me some lovely baby cardigans and jumpers, the lastest heart hoody sold in minutes Joan; please can I request another one.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Photo's from Westmorland

Following on from last nights blog, as promised I now have some photo's to share with you. 

First out was the gorgeous Meketaten...
Wearing her sash with pride...

Next it was the turn of Lady Godiva who Dave took in to the ring, I think they were both enjoying the experience.

 Then it was Casiphia's turn...
Finally it was the turn of Niveous who as you can see wanted to aviod the mud!

And finally the Westmorland County Show team and their haul of rosettes and sash.

Well done team I am very proud of you all.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Four alpacas, five rosettes and a championship sash!

It was a very early start today, the alarm was set for 4am as we were heading off to the Wesmorland County Show. 

Paul has been working in London today but thankfully Carol and Dave were on hand to give me a hand.  Everyone should have a Carol & Dave, they are great!

The weather was not pleasant, by the time we arrived at the showground it was pouring down and there was mud everywhere.  Carol passed comment that it was the first time she had witnessed me panicking - I was worried about getting stuck in the mud with the trailer.

With the animals unloaded and the car safely parked (without getting stuck) and facing the direction for the messy exit it was time for the show.

Being a colour championship the running order was from Black to white so first up for us was Barnacre Meketaten in the Intermediate Brown Female class.  She has fabulous presence, a stunning fleece, good conformation and substance of bone with an impressive fleece length, in the words of the judge, Liz Barlow.  The judge was clearly impressed as Meketaten was awarded first place, and subsequently went on to win the Brown Champion (again! if you remember she was also brown champion at the 2011 Border Union Show).

Next up was the super friendly Lady Godiva, Dave was taking her into the ring and she behaved very well for him, other than sitting down bored at one point waiting for her turn to be judged!  This was another big class and we were very pleased to be awarded a second place rosette, I know this will be particularly pleasing for one very pleased couple???...

After lunch it was the turn of the whites, Casiphia was in the largest class of the day, Intermediate White female.  This was a very tightly contested class and there was lots of to ing and fro ing of judge Liz and apprentice judge Shirley Bettinson.  Casiphia was awarded second place, as was Niveous who was pipped to first place by the alpaca who went on to win supreme champion.

On the subject of champions, Meketaten was in close contention for Reserve Champion and being dark brown again a light fawn this is very impressive.  The judge said it was so close and they were so impressed she awarded a 'special award' of the show (the only one!) to Meketaten - what a superstar!  The judge described the feel of her fleece as running your hand through a silk carpet and suggested that breeders and public alike should check her out, which they duly did!

Hopefully (if Dave managed to work my camera) I will have some photo's to share with you tomorrow night, my bed is calling me now!

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Pairing bales

Paul and I have been having a bit of practice using the forks on the front of the tractor.  We have been moving bales of straw for Alan.  We were gathering and placing them side by side to speed up his collection and stacking.

Paul shouldn't have taken a photo of the one bale we had an incident with!  I say we, I actually mean Paul!

After driving over to the alpacas on the quad this morning, luckily for me it was dry, I got my car back, it now feels much better although the handbrake now feels like it needs taking up a bit. 

The alpacas heading off to Westmorland Show tomorrow have been shut in, the girls have been in most of the afternoon but I decided to leave Niveous out and when I was back at the house it absolutely threw it down with rain so he is now shut in but very damp.  Hopefully he will dry off a bit.

Well as I have a very early start I think it's time for a shower then bed.  Keep posted to the tweets for updates tomorrow.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

No wheels on my wagon

I had arranged to take my car in today to have some new brakes as they are in need of attention.

Living out in the middle of nowhere always makes things like this become a bit of a major job.  I had enlisted the help of Carol to pick me up from the garage and take me back later to pick it up.  The plan was I'd spend a couple of hours with Carol doing some knitting (flip top mittens as I've sold out!) and then we could go back to get my car.

However shortly after lunch I received a call to say they had been sent the wrong parts so the car wouldn't be ready until tomorrow.  Thankfully Carol agreed to take me back home, via the field to feed everyone. 

My mode of transport tomorrow morning will be the quad so please pray for a dry morning.  Just to make it even worse my wellies and waterproofs are in the boot of the car!

On the plus side I did pick up 5 pairs of baby socks, as scarf and a pair of fingerless mitts from Carol and added a couple more things to her 'To Knit' list.

I have been chatting to a lovely lady again today, in a moment of madness I did something yesterday which I know is going to end up in tears.......

Monday 5 September 2011

Alpaca chatter

I have had a lovely day today chatting with four completely different people interested in four different alpaca related matters

The first was a lovely lady interested in some of our Barnacre wool which she is going to come and fetch.  I don't sell much wool as I like to turn everything into end garments so I can follow each animal from star to finish.

Another lady called round to pick up a lovely scarf that she'd ordered knitted in Ursula and Nefertiti.  Whilst she was here she had her eye on some of my yarn which was on the table!

I have also been speaking to a lovely lady about some alpacas we have for sale and a couple that will be released soon.  Anyone that knows me knows I'm not very good at the parting with them bit so it takes Paul a while to get me to agree.

I have also been chatting to a fellow blogger/tweeter about fleece processing, it is always good to talk to other about your experiences, it benefits everyone in the long run.

Just incase you read this Paul I have also been very busy working on the job list, honest!!!!

Sunday 4 September 2011

Hands on experience

Another busy day over and it's almost the start of a new week, how quickly they go by is just frightening.

Today we had Jean and Stuart over to have some hands on husbandry experience with their boys that they have purchased and will be taking home soon.

The four boys Ochre, Pearson, Rory and Wynfor have all had lots of attention from their new mum and dad, they have all had their toe nails trimmed and been wormed.  The day has given Jean and Stuart more confidence and lots of information to enable them to enjoy the boys and cater for their every need.

 In true Wynfor style he decided that he didn't want to be in the photo and went to try and see the girls instead!
Shortly after Jean and Stuart left Carol and Dave popped over with Dave's children and grandchildren to meet the alpacas.  Willow and Ursula took full advantage of willing hand feeders and had more than their fair share of tea!

Talking of tea, Carol kindly bought us over a goodie bag for our tea - aren't we lucky. 

Saturday 3 September 2011

Hill update

After the morning feed rounds we set about cutting the big boys toe nails, they were all well behaved, even Legend who let me cut all eight nails with his feet on the floor.  This was a new tactic I thought I'd try with him as he is a bet (or rather a lot) of a pest when it comes to toe nails.  It worked very well with only one little dancing moment where he didn't want to keep his foot still.

We have left all the little boys as we have visitors tomorrow coming for some husbandry experience.

Next on the job list was a spot of grass cutting, I think it is going to take some time, you may just spot me in the distance.
Am I nearly done yet..... 

The ground work is coming on, it seems to be taking ages but there is a lot to do, this is where the house and shed will be going in time.

Friday 2 September 2011

Spit or sit?!

I spoke to soon, Dave has found his voice!  He has been cock-a-doodle-do ing this morning, only a couple of times though and he didn't get into a competition with the neighbours so no complaints yet.

I had some spit offs to do today, and the only girl to sit was Princess Mallika, who was Sandstorms first conquest a couple of weeks ago.  You may recall reading his first go was a bit on and off so it didn't really come as any surprise.  Imala who was his second attempt and a much more competent mating seems to be holding which is good news.

Alan delivered me a belated birthday present today, one of his top quality extra large bales of hay.  It took Oonagh about two seconds flat to spot it and as soon as he moved the forks out of the bale she was there, no need to put it in the hay hecks for Oonagh!

I popped over to see Carol and Dave (carding Dave, not cockerel Dave), she has been busy knitting, replenishing stock following on from the weekend sales.  Dave and I checked through his rather large pile of fleece to be carded  (no rush Dave I already have a pile here to spin) and then we discussed his next project!

Thursday 1 September 2011

Meet Dave

I've been promising to introduce our latest additions for a few nights now and failed.  Not tonight, here they are; meet Dave and his ladies.

They are cream crested legbars and are producing us some fantastic blue eggs.  Dave is the first cockerel we've ever had, he is a real stunner and quite friendly, so far he is also very quiet.

My parents have headed home today, mum has a list of knitting to get done before she comes back next week so I'm sure dad will be cracking the whip for me.  He didn't get off scott free as I sent him home with a little job too!!!

Brinley is now eating hard feed, that now means that all the cria are eating Camelibra which is good, I've never had a complete bunch of cria eating herd feed so quickly.