Saturday 30 June 2012

Little helpers

Seeing as Paul is on bottle of beer number I don't know what with an old friend, his part 2 blog will have to be another night.  So you are stuck with me again!

Great news on the cria front, Snow is now letting her little lady feed.  The cria is very down on her pasterns so as a result is quite wobbly, having a wee takes a lot of concertration!  It's quite funny, this little girl certainly has Paul wrapped round her little finger.  See is a little cutie.

The alpacas are getting quite use to little people being about so our friends two kids were enjoying feeding carrots, Demmie wasn't keen on the brown ones for some reason.  Maybe down to the fact that most if not all of our brown alpacas are exceptionally friendly.

Before our guests arrived Paul harrowed another acre of mud that needed seeding and I spread the seed.  Hopefully it will grow quick and not get washed away.

Friday 29 June 2012

New baby and new nails (Paul)

Evening everyone,

Tonights blog title is in 2 parts as I'll explain, of course Twitter followers will be a step ahead on the first at least!

On the new nails, I'll let Debbie explain that one!  She's been off doing lady type things with one of my (female) business partners.  It's not often she does such things, about once every 6 years or so.

So lucky me was in charge of the 'shop'. In true alpaca style because I had some exam scripts to mark, when I did 'the rounds' at noon I was met by a bit of a surprise in the livery girls field.  I counted 3 little heads, which was a little odd as there were only 2 there earlier!  Even more odd was the colour of the third head, it was the 'wrong' colour!

Before I reveal the awaited photos, I'd like to thank the Twitter followers for their guesses on who and what colour the new baby was, especially @giddiupchicken, you know who you are! Thanks also to @shortclaws, @alifeinwellies and @rachellynd - hope to meet you all soon!

So here is the surprise:
Mum is Warralinga Gorge Winter Snow (white) mated to Bozedown Rodrigues (white) so it was a bit of a surprise that a fawn girl was on the grass!  Actually this happened to us in 2009 with Barnacre Sandstorm, the newest addition to our elite stud line up - check out his explosive genetics - it's like a who's who of the alpaca greats!  Snow was only on 325 days pregnancy and her little fawn lady is very down on her pasterns, neither is Snow letting her feed.

Despite that the little fawn girl still wanted to play with the other two cria in the livery field.  But who is that looking over the fence?  It's our Supreme Champion and stud male, Legend of Spartacus! The camera can be deceiving and he is actually on the other side of our 'channel' which is 20-22 feet wide (6 to 6.7 metres).  They are a bit young for you yet Legend!

After watching the fawn cria for 2-3 hours (I hate interferring unless I have to) the cria started to go 'flat' so I administered 'kick start' and some frozen colostrum that we have in the freezer (from one of our alpacas that we milked).  Soon after Debbie was back on duty and we led Snow and cria down the hill into our new barn where we will be able to keep close to proceedings over night.  When I say 'we' you know what I mean...

Debbie has just gone out to give the cria some milk because Snow still isn't letting her feed.  She weighs 7.29kg so despite being premature she is a good size.  Apparantly Snow has done something similar with her last 3 cria - strange?

Any how, we have more visitors arriving tomorrow who are staying with us, I'm sure there will be some pictures...oh yes and when I was watching today's new fawn cria I took some great photos of 'North, South, East and West' to try and give you some perspective of the hill.  If I get chance tomorrow night I'll post another blog and the photos - if not it will be Sunday!

Night all.  Paul.

Thursday 28 June 2012

Storm clouds

Firstly in reply to Judi's comment on last nights blog, unfortunately Paul didn't manage to drag himself out of bed first.  He's not a morning sort of person so to be honest it's probably best I get up and do the early morning check.

He has just gone to shut tweet and tweet and the ducklings in though so I don't have to go out - thank you dear!

Thankfully I decided to get on with the poo picking early this morning before the storms arrived, because when it arrived it was terrible. 

I can't ever remember thunder and lightening like it.  I don't like thunder and lightening at the best of times (I blame me mum!).  The rain was absolutely lashing down and pouring down the hill where the grass seed has yet to take hold. 

At least I wasn't on the Tyne Bridge!

I was worried about the alpacas in the storm so I went out and braved the weather to try and get the girls into the shed as they were all huddled in the field.  There were obviously quite happy with their location as the only one who would get up was Liberty, and that's because she can't bear not to say hello.  It was so muggy there was certainly no chance of anyone being cold.

Lets hope that's the end of the rain and summer can now arrive......

Wednesday 27 June 2012

No rest when there's babies about

No matter what the breed when there are babies to look after there is no time for rest.

Here are the baby goldfinches on either end...
 I wasn't quick enough to get the baby swallows!

Then there was the livery girls

and the ones still to birth!!!! 
And with no babies guess where Paul is...... yes you guessed it, in bed!

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Sandstorm missed out today..

The morning started off with some matings, three to be precise.  Unfortunately for Sandstorm it wasn't his turn today and he wasn't happy, as you can see by the look on his face!  With his fabulous genetics, fleece stats and show success he does have plenty of lady appoints this year though.

Oonagh had sat the other day when we'd been doing a mating so she obviously hadn't taken, which to be honest we were quite pleased with as we'd decided that we were so impressed with how Leonidas her Legend cria is developing we wanted to repeat the mating!

So we had Legend and Oonagh, Loki and Mary and Layla with Golden Guinea, all orgling away trying to be the loudest and last the longest.  Loki and Guinea couldn't be more different when it comes to mating, Guinea knows 6 minutes is enough whilst Loki would go for an hour if you'd let him!

Once one stopped they all stopped so there was no embarrassment and hopefully all three girls have taken.  We will see what spit offs bring next week.

Loki & Guinea clearly thought that after their loving they needed some of that  special 'greener grass' the other side of the fence!
 And especially for his new mummy and daddy, here's the gorgeous Declan......

Sunday 24 June 2012

Alpaca release

Another busy weekend draws to an end. Yesterday we had lots of helping hands so fencing was in full swing despite the occasional downpours, whilst Paul, Ross and Dave were fencing my mum was knocking in staples and Gill and I were poo picking.

Young Taylor had quad driving lessons and a post knocking job at one stage so despite being 5 years old he was a great help.  He even left me his Milky Bar moose dessert!!  Aren't I lucky.

Today we, well I say we, more the alpacas, have had lots of visitors.  This morning a lovely couple who had already reserved two of this years cria came to visit the first of their babies.  I forgot to ask permission to name them so I'd better not reveal their identity just yet.

Then this afternoon the alpacas had another visitor, again I forgot to ask permission, so they will have to remain anonymous, came with a view to reserving another of the cria. 

I know that both sets of visitors will love the alpacas just the way we do which is essential for each and every alpaca we release. 

Talking of releasing alpacas, after a lot of discussions and debates we have decided that the time is right for us to release our first home bred female.  It has taken quite some time for me to build up to this so it is a major event here!

Lady Godiva is now on Alpaca Seller, she is from our award winning brown sire Golden Guinea and has been mated to our Fawn Champion stud Barnacre Sandstorm which should produce a stunning cria for her new owner. 

Everyone who has met Godiva loves her, she is another of our exceptionally friendly and easy to handle females with a great fleece to boot.

Friday 22 June 2012

Mine’s 38.4 metres long (Paul)

Well, not to be outdone by my shopping, Debbie and her mum have gone out for the day - I'm sure she will tell you all about that tomorrow.  That meant (of course you will already know if you follow us on Twitter @BarnacreAlpacas) that Ken (father-in-law) and I were left 'home alone'.

First up of course was the morning feeding run, although on my way up the hill I noticed some 'pirates' can you spot them?

You can't see them?  Maybe a bit more zoom on the camera will help?!
Pirate pet lambs!
It was humid on the hill this morning and the rain was on and off.  I do like our hill and to say we both are from the middle of town with no farming background we sure have come a long way.  Of course a hill isn't essential for new alpaca owers and our first 3 pregnant girls lived very happily in less than an acre of paddock at the back of our house, and what a pleasure they were too! As ever, if anyone is chewing (or being chewed) about the idea of keeping alpacas, if a couple of desk jockeys who were responsible for a cat from the RSPCA can do it, so can you!  Call or email us if you want to chat? Visitors are always welcome (by appointment please!).
I'm afraid I'm no David Bailey although I took a photo from the girls field this morning.  As you can see they were all going about their alpaca business.  Do you like thier view?!

After Debbie complained about my shopping again a couple of days ago, I was pleased to see great guesses from Barbara and Dave (see comments 2 days ago) that my new 38.4 metre purchase is either a boat or a replica of the Angel of the North, not right though!
It will be 2 or 3 weeks before my ‘thing’ turns up and you get the photos so in the meantime I thought it only fair to offer a few clues:
  1. You could take it to sea (Barbara!)
  2. Although there are no oars or motors with it
  3. My bit will be the top half and Debbie’s the bottom half!
  4. A wifeless rough hen
  5. It’s still 38.4 metres long
  6. And 2.5 metres high – oh yes this is big!
  7. Are there any wheels? No!
  8. I might be storing eggs and fleece in it
  9. The YHA might be interested in it?!
Easy peasy - any more guesses please??!!

Thursday 21 June 2012

Ear ear, I thought it was summer

What a horrible day, the weather couldn't have been more different from yesterday.  Our livery girls didn't even want to leave the shed this morning, not that I can say that I blame them it's been driving rain, wind and fog.

Bad weather was the incentive we needed to get on with some paperwork and knitwear labelling, thankfully mum was on hand to help with the labelling!  As many people will know we follow all our knitwear through from the animal so it takes a lot of work, but it's all worth it.

All the cria are growing nicely and have been enjoying races in the rain.  Luca, from Isadora and Navigator has had his ear tape removed and now has a perfect little ear.  It does have a bright white stripe on it now where the tape was; he likes to rub his head in the dust.

And as for Paul's shopping yesterday, no boat Barbara but watch this space hopefully it will be here in three weeks then I can go shopping......

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Paul's been shopping

First job on the list this morning was some spit offs and matings.  I always like to try and give the boys a 'job' after they've been spat at.  Lualeni, Sienna & Imala all spat off which is good, hopefully all three are pregnant to different ones of our studs.

After getting spat at Willow, Nefertiti and Lady Godiva were mated.  Unfortunately Mary wasn't interested yet; she usually takes between 4 & 6 weeks so it wasn't a big surprise.

Shortly after we finished the matings we had a visit from a couple of very interesting ladies who wanted to see the alpacas and what we do.  One of them actually bought a pair of bed socks from us three years ago and is so happy with them decided to start her Christmas shopping today and has bought 6 pairs of fingerless gloves.

Once the ladies had left we headed off out, Paul needed to go shopping.  Its amazing how we can always go shopping when it's for him.  His latest purchase is 38.4meters long!  Can you guess what it is?

Whilst we were over that way be nipped in to see Gill Pearson and have a cup of tea.  Then Paul treated me to chips on the sea front for tea - he knows how to treat a girl!!  The view was stunning..

When we got back there was some fence posts to move, looks like we will have a busy weekend.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Growing up

It has been a pretty routine day today following yesterday's excitement of Kate's birth.

I thought I would share a couple of yearling photo's with you today.  Piccolina is the smallest of the group and always seems to find a dip to lay in to make her look even smaller; and to emphasise her size more she's sat next to Emery the biggest of the youngsters.
 Piccolina has a fabulous fleece, she was the finest of the 20 we had tested at the weekend at 16 microns, her SD was also a very impressive 3.8 and 100% comfort factor.  Piccolina is from Chiquita and Golden Guinea, and had a very impressive fleece from the minute she dried out at birth so we repeated the mating! 

Emery (full sister to yesterdays new arrival) is another of the young girls who we are very pleased with.  She is a very eye catching girl and an impressive consistent grey.  For a grey her fine fleece stats were pleasing too 21 microns, SD 4.2 and comfort factor of 96.3%.
Her sire, Loki is holding his stats well for a black, his four fleece was 25.8 microns.  With grey in his pedigree Loki seems to work very well over grey so he is soon to have a union with a very fine girl Cassiopeia of Bozedown.

Finally our ducklings are now enjoying a bit of a paddle and swim so I hopefully they will soon have their own pond to swim in.

Monday 18 June 2012

Kate delivers a grey!

Long standing followers of our blog may recall last October we came very close to losing our grey girl Kate, who spent time at the vet hospital.  We were so pleased when she pulled through and returned to her old self.

As she was so poorly we thought she would lose her baby, but to be honest that was the least of our worries.  As the winter progressed I watched her gain condition and thought that just maybe she had miraculously held that pregnancy.

It became obvious that she had held her pregnancy and the cria was alive as it has been very active.  I still worried that all the drugs and medication that Kate had needed to keep her alive would have harmed her unborn baby.

Well today at 333 days gestation Kate gave birth to a lovely grey boy, from Loki.  He is happy and healthy and weighed 9.65kg.
He is far from shy and has been running round introducing himself to the rest of the herd.  Double trouble Declan & Ankhesenamun are inspecting the new arrival; who for some reason thought the poo pile would be a good place to have a rest!

Sunday 17 June 2012

Catch me if you can....

We have had a brief break in the rain this afternoon; typically we were out at the time so couldn't get to take full advantage.  We were at a fibre testing seminar with Paul Vallely of AAFT; got some great fibre results but more on that another night.  It's late and Paul is moaning that he wants his laptop back!

When we did get back the cria were enjoying the dry conditions and the usual culprits were causing mayhem.  Darkies are always in the thick of things here; Venus was at full speed..

chasing Anka & Declan

Not wanting to feel left out Liberty joined the party and they all went to try and get Molly's little boy, who is yet to be named, to play!
With the main chase over Declan thought that he would annoy Anka  

These two are great friends 

Saturday 16 June 2012

I am a mole and I live in a hole

We have had a great day today, despite the bad weather.  Gill, Ross and Taylor came over to help with the job list, so the boys have been building a field shelter; which is now finished which I'm sure the alpacas will be grateful of it, and I have been giving Gill a fleece skirting lesson - she's a natural!

Whilst the three boys were up on the hill they managed to find this poor little chap, a mole.  He looks like he's been in the wars a bit, and whilst they cause lost of the damage I do think they are very sweet. 

Gill and Ross were also got to see a mating (alpaca obviously!), Golden Guinea had another session with Oonagh who hadn't taken and Little Miss Irraquoy sat for Gianmarco's Masterpiece.  Hopefully the others are all pregnant as they were no-where to be seen!!

Friday 15 June 2012

Olympic Torch comes (nearly) to Barnacre Alpacas

This morning after an early start I managed to get a very rare few hours off to go and see the Olympic torch passing through Morpeth.  For once I was actually clean, Paul was obviously impressed because he found the need to tell the world on Twitter - I'm not that bad honest!

We were lucky enough to be able to watch the precession from Sonja, one of Paul's business partners office.  The poor crowds outside must've been freezing, and very wet.  Paul was enjoying soaking up the atmosphere, as you can tell from the attached movie!
The crowds were amazing, as you can see Amii and I had a great view.
The build up was fantastic, which is a good job as the torch was a little late. 
And finally here's the torch. 
On the alpaca front, Kate, our grey girl is looking huge, she's not actually due until the beginning of July but if she lasts that long it will be amazing.  This is one birth that I am worried about, having been so ill last year I'm not sure how Kate managed to hold on to her pregnancy and what effect all the drugs will have had on her unborn baby.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Molly throws a curved ball

Alpaca's certainly like to keep us on our toes, and today it was the turn of Molly to do just that!

Molly decided to give birth this morning almost three weeks before her due date.  All Molly's previous pregnancies have been very long, approaching 365 days, however this year she decided 341 was ample cooking time!  Last year she surprised us by having a massive cria compared to her usual weighs, so she do like to keep me guessing.

She showed absolutely no signs of giving birth at feed time this morning, or at 9.30 when I was cleaning and filling the water trough.  I went out to check on everyone just over an hour later, as soon as I left the yard I could see Molly had a white cria behind her with no coat on and all the little white ones had coats on!

He was already up on his feet and running round his mum.  Here he is just starting to dry off.  He is looking good, sired by Legend of Spartacus.

Whilst all the excitement of a new arrival was happening Ursula was on creche duties, next to her in the blue coat we have Dec (named by his future mum/owner), in the green coat Ankhesenamun and in the red coat Palace.  All was very calm.......

 ...... the whirlwind that is Liberty arrived!
Oh and by the way Jayne, Paul's dinosaur egg was in fact a Rhea egg!

Wednesday 13 June 2012

His and Hers

The morning started off with glorious sunshine which made a nice change, all the cria coats were off and the littlies were getting some sun on their backs.

My main job for the day was sewing 2 acres of grass seed by hand!  I harrowed the area first to try and break it up a bit because it seems to go from wet to rock hard within hours.  Harrowing also meant that it pulled up all sorts of rubble and builders junk.  I found all sorts, including a full curved drain slab which Northern Structures used in our barn - that will be handy for the drive!

The poor hens are now shut in for a little while until the seed starts to take or they will eat the lot within days and grass seed isn't cheap.  I'm hoping that despite the wind and what appeared to me to be a small amount  of seed (the suppliers told me how much I needed) the lush green grass will soon replace the brown barren land very soon.

Whilst on the subject of hens, check out our his and hers eggs, bet you can't guess which one was mine!
Here's Paul's in a pint jug.. 
Tonight before I put all the cria coats back on I weighed everyone, with the exception of Kirkley who escaped!  All the cria are doing well and I had a good fleece rummage, I've got to be honest I'd not looked closely at the two oldest boys Leonidas and Thor for a while and boy was I impressed.  The character and style in the fleeces is fabulous, both different but very nice and Thor's is so bright whilst Leonidas has a long staple for only 5 weeks fleece.

The two boys have some mighty impressive genetics, Leonidas has Peruvian Spartacus and Jolimont Commisario whilst Thor has Jolimont Commisario, Gianmarco, Sculptor & Encantador in his pedigree.  Exciting stuff!

Tuesday 12 June 2012

A play mate for Lily

Firstly I must apologise to Rosemary and anyone else out there with cria envy, we've had another arrival today.

I'd said to Paul yesterday that one of the maiden females we have on livery was looking like she wasn't going to be long before she gave birth, and sure enough this morning she was looking mighty uncomfortable and didn't know what to do with herself.

Not long afterwards a nose appeared, then a head, eventually one foot and with a little help a second foot, by this time poor Isadora has no idea what was going on and despite keep asking her friends no one, other than Lily (Grey cria) were interested.

Soon we had a lovely little white boy on the ground and kushed within minuted.  He is only small (334 days gestation) and has an inside out ear, which has now been taped and should be fine.
This boy has some great genetics so it will be interesting to see how he develops.

Despite him being kushed in minutes it took him quite some time to feed, despite me showing him where the udder was and mum being very patient initially we weren't getting far.  By the time he almost found the milk bar mum had got bored and wouldn't stand still!  He got there in the end and once he latched on mum stood like a statue.

Lily is really pleased to have a playmate, she has been driving her mum mad the last few days jumping on her and wanting to play.   They have already been having a bit of a chase.
Our other new additions to the farm, Jamima and Beatrix are settling in well, two Aylesbury ducklings.  I've always wanted ducks and these are the start - I have a few eggs in the incubator so hopefully they will have some friends next month.

Monday 11 June 2012

Lots of loving & a strange device

There is never a dull day here, well unless you're talking weather anyway!  This morning we had a couple of men arrive with some strange devices......
Whilst the men were doing what they came for Gianmarco's Masterpiece had a very exciting meeting booked with our White Supreme Champion girl Casiphia.  Following shearing at the weekend she was up for some loving.  Being a maiden she wasn't too sure what was expected of her when Marky arrived in the pen but she soon settled down and looked longingly into his eyes!

This evening it was the turn of Golden Guinea to see Sienna (daughter of Nefertiti) , during her showing career she was the Brown Champion at the Yorkshire Show in 2010, so we hope this union will produce something special.

I had planned to use Sandstorm as well tonight but thought I'd wait until tomorrow as we have some spit offs to do and I like the boys to get a mating after they've done spit offs, so he can earn his mating!! 

As for the new additions, I forgot to get a photo before they had gone to bed so you will have to wait until tomorrow to find out more.

Sunday 10 June 2012

Morpeth Fair

It was an early start again this morning, just after 4am and I was up and getting the car loaded for the Morpeth Fair before feeding and checking all the animals and giving those that needed it, fresh water.

For once I didn't have to get on to Paul to get up, he was an hour behind me, but anyone who knows what Paul is like in a morning will know that this is good!

We had planned to take Minimus and Loki out, however Loki thought the pen meant that he was allowed to mate Minimus which as you can imagine wasn't very pleasant for poor Minimus and would have been slightly embarrassing all day having to explain the strange noise and why Loki needed a piggie back!  Change of plan and Niveous came out to play instead.

Niveous isn't one of our regular media stars, however he was very well behaved and was happy to let people stroke him as long as it wasn't his head.

We have had a great day out educating the general public, offering advice and selling our fabulous knitwear.  Paul managed to take this photo of us setting up before the fair actually opened.  We were so busy all day there was no chance of taking any photo's once the public started to arrive.

We have also had a couple more additions to the farm, more on those tomorrow....

Saturday 9 June 2012

It's rude to stare when I've got no clothes on (Paul)

Evening all,

Debbie is 'busy' getting ready for a big day tomorrow (which reminds me I must set her alarm for 4 - mine goes off 2 hours later of course) and so I thought I'd do a blog for a change as I have been snapping today and I know everyone likes to see some photos!

Here's today's story:

Trevor and Tanja (from Australia) were coming over this afternoon to shear 3 alpacas so this morning we took some soiled hay and straw down to the muck heap and due to the intermitent rain, caught up on some paperwork - not very exciting but has to be done!

The 2 show girls from last week were getting nervous, just like when you go to the barber and wonder if you should have a number 1 or a number 1.1 - decisions decisions!

While we waited for Trevor and Tanja to arrive, we decided it would be a good idea to get a couple of final full fleece shots because they look so different after shearing.  So first up is everyone's favourite, Meketaten.  3 times Brown Champion, an overall reserve champion (brilliant for a brown) and 2nd best junior brown fleece in the world!
Next is Casiphia, Supreme Champion from the 2011 Kelso Show with a beautiful big fleece from one of our elite girls and our Supreme Champion stud, Legend of Spartacus:
Whilst all this photography was going on, I had one of those feelings that I was not alone.  In fact I was sure that someone was looking over my shoulder?  Perhaps it was my imagination?
Tweet and Tweet, our 2 new Maran chicks are very friendly and I was thinking to myself I hadn't seem them for a while.  Never mind, I thought, they will turn up sooner or later.
Anyway, before long Richard, Jessica, Briana and Ashling arrived to watch the shearing and soon after Trevor and Tanja arrived and after a quick bit of emergency wiring (sorry for the phone call Dave!) we were up and running!  First up was Casiphia, Trevor enjoyed that fleece!
Second in the barber's chair was Meketaten.  "Did you say Meketaten?" (I think I heard Trevor say) "please can I have my photo taken with her?" Go on then Trevor, seeing as it's you...big smile for the world please...
Third to go was Cassiopeia, one of our livery girls...for a venerable lady she has a beautifully soft fleece...
With only 3 shearings to do, and with Tanja doing a super fleece grading job, the event was over in a flash.  How amazingly small and clean do beautiful alpacas look after a good shearing?  Here's Casiphia:
And finally, here are Casiphia and Meketaten.  Don't forget, it's rude to stare when I've got no clothes on!
Busy day tomorrow - keep an eye on the Tweets @BarnacreAlpacas!/BarnacreAlpacas or come and see us at the Morpeth Fair, Sunday 10-5 at Oldgate.  We will have 2 alpacas and the knitwear with us.  Night all!