Wednesday 29 February 2012

Fibre and food

The weather has been a little disappointing here the last couple of days, we had been forecast nice sunshine but it has been more cloudy than anticipated.  I was hoping to get out with the camera and get some lovely shots of the alpacas but instead I have been taking knitwear photos.  The ones I gave up on last week!

As many of you will already know, we only use the fleece from our own herd (no alpacas for meat here), that what makes it extra special, not only is is super fine and soft, sustainable with hardly any clothes miles as some of it has hand spun here on the farm it is also fully traceable.

Here are a few of the latest Barnacre creations, some hand spun, some commercially spun and all hand knitted. 

We are already thinking about shearing, we have our shear booked and I'm planning the yarn blends for 2012.  Most of our yarn is processed as individual animals but we do combine some if the animals have a connection.  For example this year I hope to blend Chiquita with the son and daughter Minimus and Piccolina.

Whilst on the subject of Minimus I'm pleased to say that his leg is healing nicely, he is still in the shed, sorry Rosemary, should I say barn although hopefully not for too much longer.  I don't want to put him out too soon and it get infected so I'd rather air on the side of caution.  I think he is rather enjoying the copious amounts of hay and treats he's getting actually.

We have had a delivery of Camelibra and Fibregest today, so stocks are replenished if anyone is in need of feed.  As usual despite me stipulating 'no large lorry access' a big wagon arrived and had nowhere to turn round so hand a long reverse back down our drive.

Monday 27 February 2012

Singing skylarks

It certainly feels like spring is on its way here.  We have skylarks hovering over the hill and playing in the tufty grass, we saw local lambs at the weekend and I have spotted why Prince Charming was about last week.....
Frog spawn!

On the alpaca front some of the girls are starting to look pregnant and some of the younger girls looking for boys, it's too early for mating yet girls you've got a while to wait yet!

I am trying to work out one of our young girls, Freyja (Oonagh's second daughter), sired by Gianmarco's Masterpiece is far from the brightest alpaca we have, but she is a sweet girl who is still rather immature for her age (18 months).

She has a fascination with Geena which is so funny to watch, I used to think that it was because Geena still had her cria at foot and that she was attracted to the baby but since weaning Brinley nothing has changed.  Freyja is rather obsessed much to Geena's annoyance.

The photo quality isn't great but I took these on my phone tonight when the light was going, Freyja approaching Geena humming away tail flipped over her back.

When she doesn't get the message Geena will chase her off, she never actually spits at her but she blows plenty of air and grunts profusely!  What on earth is going on with Freyja is any ones guess - please feel free let me have your thoughts!

Sunday 26 February 2012

Happy 5th Birthday Barnacre Alpacas

Today is the 5th anniversary of the arrival of our first three alpacas, Duchess, Blossom and Willow our foundation herd.

Our old photos are on the desktop which is packed still so I don't have many photo's dating back 5 years at my fingertips, but this was taken the day the girls arrived, Duchess left, Blossom right and Willow at the back - somethings still haven't changed Willow is still always last even now we are up to 51 alpacas!

Sadly Duchess and her daughter Blossom are no longer with us but their legacy lives on in their progeny and in fact their progeny's progeny.  Duchess would have been a great great grandma now.

Our alpaca journey has been the best thing we ever did, it took a lot of courage and determination to get things off the ground and there has been joy and heartache along the way, but it has been worth every bit of it.  I just wish we'd done it sooner.

It has lead us to sell our home, build a farm, which is still in the process of being finished but the alpacas are very happy and settled here so another worthwhile milestone in our journey.

I've learnt how to knit, spin, weave and felt and Paul has learnt how to get his hands dirty, not something he likes to do, he has to wear gloves for everything!!

Saturday 25 February 2012

Guard Dog

I'm not quite sure where today has gone, it seems no sooner had we got up it's time to go back to bed again!

After a rather large delivery of stone first thing the shed dwellers got admired again.  Deliverymen seem to quite like coming here now as even the big butch ones with lots of tattoos enjoy talking to the alpacas.

Jam-Packed and Portamento had a little hair cut so they can see again before they headed back off out to play in the sunshine.  Brinley and Jam-Packed both walked well again this morning, although the closer we got to the big boys the more excited Brinley got, I think he thought Loki was his mum rather than his half brother!

Another trip to the skip got rid of some more of caravan mark one which is somewhat of a blot on our lovely landscape.  This trip took longer than expected as we witnessed a car accident on the way.  A car heading towards us was trying to overtake another which turned right.  With one man trapped in his car and the other precariously beached over a stone wall I stayed until the police arrived to take control of the situation.

This afternoon we had visitors, more alpaca admiring and view gazing and before you know it it's feed time for everyone and bed time for the hens (eventually!).

Talking of visitors, we have a guard dog on the shed most of the time who keeps an eye out for visitors...

Minimus; he seems to have taken to guarding the shed door!

No time for more knitwear photo's today, but I need to make sure I get them done because I've had word from Dave that Carol couldn't shut her suitcase for the amount of knitting she's done whilst on holiday.

Friday 24 February 2012

Peep boo

It has been a gloriously sunny day today so I have been busy doing a few outdoor jobs, nice ones for a change!

Anyone who follows our tweets (follow us @BarnacreAlpacas) will already know I was doing a spot of halter training with Brinley and Jam-Packed who were weaned last weekend.  Brinley is exceptionally friendly and follows you round so I didn't anticipate any problem with him and Jam-Packed is also pretty chilled out, however Imala's cria are usually need slightly more encouragement when halter training.

To say it was the first time the boys had had a head collar on they were very good.  Once Jam-Packed realised he couldn't wipe is head collar off on Brinleys back we were off and walking.  We went to the gate and back with was good for first timers.

This afternoon I thought I'd try and get some photo's of the latest knitwear so we can get it into our on line shop.  Trying to find a suitable sheltered spot with a nice backdrop wasn't the easiest thing to do on the side of a hill when the wind was blowing!

I decided that I would use the shelter of the shed but I was soon heard and first Brinley decided to play peep boo.


Closely followed by Jam-Packed!

They were soon 'helping to arrange my props and stick their noses into the camera.

Very nice nose it is too Jam-Packed!

Eventually I decided that the wind and weanling interference was just to great and gave up, this is about the only decent shot I managed in over an hour.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

My Prince Charming?

What a horrible day it has been here today, driving rain and wind that has never let up all day.

I headed off out on the feed run this morning wearing my waterproof trousers only to find they aren't very waterproof anymore.  So at lunchtime when I went on the sugarbeet run I thought I would 'borrow' Paul's trousers seeing as he wasn't here to dispute.  Serves me right though, I think his let more water in than mine did, so I think on the next trip to Robson & Cowen we need two pairs of waterproof trousers.

One good thing about the torrential rain and water thundering through the drains my brother and I cleared out did prove that they were working fantastically.  It also enabled me to realise why the bottom corner of the weanling's field was getting wet.  Not all of the water was going round one of the bends because the grass had overgrown and a mole hill had appeared.

So off I headed in the rain, spade in one hand and halters in the other as I'd decided to bring the littlies in as it was so horrible.  I was quite pleased with my efforts and the water is now flowing exactly where I want it too.  I did manage to disturb the worlds largest toad - I almost had a heart attack when he jumped up and almost hit me in the face!

The weanling's weren't in the slightest bit bothered by the weather and were all happy in the field, none wanted catching anyway. 

I did decided to bring in Portamento and his mate Cazanova despite their complaints.  Portamento is a complete scruff and just like his mum likes to sit in water so he was soaked so I decided he could come in to dry off!  Both boys seemed very content with there bed for the evening thankfully.

Monday 20 February 2012

Another visitor

It has been cold again today, but wet and windy this time too, so the littlies in the shed were pleased to be in only coming out occasionally to check to see what they were missing. 

They didn't miss the visitor arriving this morning funnily enough.  A lovely lady who has purchased things from us in the past at Morpeth Farmers Market wanted to come and choose some more of our lovely Barnacre produce.

As our track is still extremely rough and tricky to negotiate in the average road car I met her at the bottom to driver her up.  We were greeted  by Brinley and Nadia, both from Golden Guinea, so no real surprise there he always produces super friendly cria.

After admiring the alpacas and our new location the hard job of decided what she wanted began, she left with a bag of goodies but as some were gifts I'd better not go into detail as I'm not sure if the lucky recipients might read this!

Sunday 19 February 2012

Frost means time to move

It has been another gloriously sunny day here today but very cold.  We actually woke to a keen frost so an ideal time for moving things with the tractor so it doesn't damage the land.
The big boys were getting ready for a new bale of hay and we needed another flipping over in the girls field so Hetty (Paul's tractor) was soon on the move before the thaw began.

I wish I'd taken the camera up the hill with us as they boys eyes popped out on stalks when the saw the new bale heading up the track.  They are so greedy I'm sure if you put a full bale in their field they would stand there eating until it had all gone.

This afternoon we had a visit from a lovely family who have been once before.  They are thinking of breeding alpacas and wanted to come and see our new place and chat in more detail.  They were greeted at the gate by our 'guard alpacas'!  Brinley, Jam-Packed, Nadia, Piccolina and Minimus  who like to vet everyone that arrives.

When we went to see the girls Meketaten and Lady Godiva came over to say hello.  In fact they wouldn't leave us alone, I'm sure Meketaten (multiple brown champion) likes to tease perspective owners as she is not for sale!  I think she was actually using us a wind break and just enjoying the attention that came with it.

Here the two boys missing from yesterdays photos, first we have Brinley.  A very sweet vocal boy who loves to come and say hello.
Here we have Brinley with his good friend Jam-Packed who has a fabulous fawn fleece; he does have legs too he just wouldn't stand up and look at me at the same time when I had the camera!

Once these two boys have settled after weaning we will be releasing them for sale with a couple of the other boys Cazanova and Portamento two white boys are are best buddies.  That will leave me with two boys from last year, Spadicious and Seymour who I an going to keep for a little while longer as they are both looking very promising to be future herd sires - both are doing everything they can to try and trash their baby fleeces mind you!

PS. Anyone who read Paul's tweet earlier about road kill for tea, it wasn't real road kill it was a homemade pizza that many years ago got affectionately nicknamed roadkill because of the shape of my first one.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Weanling or weanie

Today I thought I'd share a few photos of our shed dwellers.

The shed is a brilliant addition to our farm I love it, in fact I think its the best bit of it!  We made good use of it in between Christmas and new year when the weather was terrible and most of the herd was inside for a while.

At the minute we have a little group in the shed for various reasons.  Firstly we have Minimus who has a rather nasty knee (as the blue spray gives away).  He'd not been himself for a few days but I couldn't work out what was wrong.

As it turned cold and wet I decided to bring him in (with Gianmarco for company who is a bit on the thin side) to see if I could establish the problem.  Alpacas are great at hiding ailments so sometimes it takes some working out.

With him penned in and me checking from top to toe I soon realised the problem he had a very sore knee, in fact is was full of puss.  It is now drained and he has had a course of antibiotics, but it is clearly still very sore.  As it is still an open wound I don't want him sitting out in a muddy field so he's in for the time being.  Because of where it is it is taking ages to heel and I'm worried it will end up infected again.  So if anyone has any top tips please share them.

Since Gianmarco went back out weenie Minimus has been joined by weanling's Nadia and his half sister Piccolina.  The three of they are so funny and move round on mass.  Nadia who is only 7 months old is actually bigger that Minimus who is 19 months old!

Nadia Sandwich...

Piccolina sandwich...

 They have been joined by the final two weanlings of the year today Brinley and Jam-Packed who will spend a couple of days in before joining the rest of the weanlings out in the fields.

Thursday 16 February 2012

A girlie update

Thank you for all your lovely comments last night, its nice to know that I've been missed.  I really missed blogging sometimes; other times it has to be said I had far too much on my mind.

I thought I would update you on the girls tonight. Just a few days into their new home the alpacas got snowed on, as you can see the girls didn't seem to notice.  After the amount we had last year they just saws this as a dusting I think and carried on hunting the nice new grass rather than settle for the hay.

Thankfully it was soon gone and the main herd have been able to enjoy the nice grass which will actually be our hay field.  This is the view we have of the girls from our patio - not that there will be much sitting on that for a long time yet!

Mary our black Chilean import girl has her coat on this year, we thought as we were moving slightly further north and higher up she may appreciate it as she does feel the cold in winter.  Her registration details put her at 8 years old but looking at her teeth and arthritic movement we think she is much old but her fine fleece made her appear younger at screening.

There are 25 females and 3 youngsters in this field, soon to be 25 as hopefully the last of the cria will be weaned this weekend.

We have tried to make the move as least stressful as possible for everyone, especially the pregnant girls, as many of you will know stress can be a cause of abortion.  We haven't actually had any of the girls scanned this year however many of them are hopefully pregnant to seven different sires.

Sadly we have had one girl, Imala abort her pregnancy.  She was at 175 days and was carrying the first offspring from our home bred Fawn Champion Barnacre Sandstorm.  Thankfully Imala is ok so we will now leave her until the spring and re mate her then.

Our first cria are due in April and two of the girls are already looking rather swell, I have seen babies moving round inside too which is always nice.

The final picture to give you a bit of perspective of our farm layout, this is the view the boys have of the girls, I took this when feeding one morning.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Remember me?!

Yes, it really is me, I'm back in the 21st century, I have broadband and my (well Paul's) laptop plugged in.  When you blog almost daily as I did prior to caravan living you wouldn't believe how out of touch I've felt and I know many of our followers have missed our updates; Twitter just isn't the same. 

I have lots to report, but I   promise I won't overload you all in one go!

The house is almost finished, more on that another time though as I'm sure you are more interested in the alpacas and outside activities.

This weekend my brother Colin, his wife Sarah and my niece Faith have been up to see us and help with a few jobs.  Faith (& Colin & Sarah) helped with the feeding.  Here's Faith concentrating hard on holding the tub for Loki whilst he munched his breakfast.  She kept telling him off for being 'so hard' he was pushing hard on the tub!

Pearson is much gentler so she could smile for this one!

Sarah kindly kept us warm with tea and kindly cooked dinner and made sandwiches which was a great help when the daylight hours are still quite short.

One job my brother was helping me with was digging out a couple of drains which weren't working very well.  First he broke the handle off the shovel....

Not satisfied with that he then completely destroyed it.  Sorry he said turned it into a dustpan!

As you can see grass is certainly something we are not short of.  Fencing however is!  We have lots of fencing to do and shelters to build.  At the minute we are making use of the big 'shed', our barn which is great.

I'll be back tomorrow with more of what's been going on so do return.