Tuesday 31 July 2012

Black to black produces what?!

It was pretty clear this morning that Geena had decided that would be the day that she produced her baby.  Geena kept coming to us at feed time as if to say don't miss it, I'm going to unpack today!

It took her a while to find a suitable place away from Freyja, her unrelated and unwanted bodyguard.
Once she'd found a good spot the pushing began and out poke a little nose.

Then came the head; hang on what colour is that?! Geena was mated to a black (outside mating).

Keep pushing Geena.


Well there is no mistaking this boy is fawn, not quite what we were hoping for but he's health which is main thing. 
Here's the wee chap all dry and just as vocal as his mum.

We bought Geena 5 years ago now and so far have only had boys from her and not a single black one.  I really thought this year we would get a black girl from her. 

Monday 30 July 2012

Legend has landed (Paul)

Evening all and congratulations to the men's GB gymnastic team - amazing bronze medal!

Tonight Debbie and I are delighted to share with you the news about Legend.

Here he is, with Debbie leading him off the trailer and a guard of honour awaiting his arrival!  Legend's journey took him past the nation's capital city although (sorry Bev) the nation was Scotland and the capital we passed was Edinburgh on our way up to Tealing, Angus in Scotland.

Why you ask?  I'll tell you in a minute, there are some pictures to enjoy first!
 Legend checking out the surroundings - are they alpacas in the distance?
 Hello ladies!
 Facilities in Tealing, Angus are very regal, check out this amazing shelter with panoramic views! The construction is fantastic and you will be pleased to know that the sides are now on and Legend is making good use of it, not before he was caught on his first night nipping through one of the spaces in the framing!
So what's going on?  Well we are so excited to announce that Legend is now co-owned with an equally excited Alison and John Wiseman of Balnuith Alpacas.  Several of our alpaca girls have Legend cria on the ground and some are pregnant to him as well.  Alison and John wanted to give their super herd of girls a fantastic genetic boost and after considering a number of options decided that Legend is their man.

We expect that Legend will be standing at stud at Balnuith Farm for the foreseeable future and Scottish breeders are very welcome to get in touch with either Barnacre or Balnuith Alpacas to arrange a viewing of this new Scottish resident.

Debbie and I are really looking forward to our partnership with Alison and John, they are great company and made us very welcome at their home.  Their was even opportunity for one of my favourite past-times (thanks Alison it was superb!):

Saturday 28 July 2012

A kiss or whispering advice? (Paul)

Evening everyone.  Good news tonight:

a) there is no mention of any warehouse shelving (see earlier blogs)
b) Debbie has been telling me off for my blog of a couple of days ago ("words are not enough") and said I shouldn't be so cryptic because the blog followers don't like it (except Dave and Andrew who might just be on my wavelength, there is a cure though). I think she is just really worried that I might get more comments (that's blown it, no comments for me tonight).

So tonight Matthew, I'm going to be as straight as a straight thing and explain what the pictures were all about a couple of days ago.

Once upon a time a very special male alpaca was born shortly after his mum arrived in the UK, his sire was the world renowned Peruvian Spartacus and his dam was EP Cambridge Giselle (sire Jomimont Commisario).  Double royal bloodlines and in honour of this, Rob and Les sensibly called him Legend of Spartacus:
 The highlight of Legend's showing career was the 2009 Scottish National fleece show when we showed his 3rd fleece (19.2and a SD of 4.0) against a record 152 entries from Cornwall to Aberdeenshire.  1st white adult, adult champion and Supreme Champion made it a show and a fleece to remember!

Legend has really done us proud with his progeny and the highlight so far is undoubtedly his first daughter, Barnacre Casiphia who at the 2011 Border Union show was 1st intermediate white female, white champion, Best of British and Supreme Champion! Here she is in her second fleece (21.8m and a SD of 4.1):

Legend is a big strong alpaca stud who is revered by many (including one of his sons, Barnacre Niveous who lives in the stud field here at Barnacre). His stance says it all:

But wait, what's this?  Something is clearly going on:

Did you notice?  That's right, Debbie is looking clean and smart with no @!*# on her?

And what is she doing with Legend of Spartacus in the trailer? Is she giving him a kiss or whispering advice? I'm so excited to tell you what happened next...and I will very soon.

(Twitter followers @BarnacreAlpacas will already know that the journey took us past the Nation's capital city...)

Friday 27 July 2012

Where do you start...

I have so much to tell you, I'm no sure where to start!  The lack of blog last night was due to a very late return home, but what we were up to and where we were will have to wait until tomorrow as today we had two new babies!

Babies are always so popular I thought you would like to see those first. 

Mum and dad were up for farm sitting duties yesterday as we were out and still had births due.  Gabby was the most likely candidate, despite not being as far on as Chiquita.  Well Gabby held on, until this morning that was.  Unfortunately for us Gabby was happily sat with everyone when I did my first early morning check, but then decided to birth whilst we were having our breakfast.

As we approached with the girls with their breakfast I spotted a head wobbling next to Gabby's leg!  She had popped out a cute fawn son, not long before.  He was soon to his feet and hunting the milk bar, it took a while but he found it in the end.

Then just before lunch Chiquita sneaked out a lovely bright brown boy, as is always the case with Chiquita this little boy is tiny but a stunner.
Just like in previous years despite their petite size this little boy was up on his feet and running round interacting with all the other cria.  Here he is with Dec to give you an idea of his size!

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Words are not enough (Paul)

Tuesday 24 July 2012

New additions

I'm pleased to report that Princess Mallika is now a model mum and her new daughter who we have named Karishma, meaning Miracle, is doing just fine.  She still isn't allowed more than a few inches away without Mallika freaking out!
Isn't she gorgeous, she is our first cria from Sandstorm and we are really please with her.  When I weighed her this evening she has gained 230grams in day one despite her lonely night.

Sandstorm is fawn but from two white parents so we weren't sure if he would produce colour, but as you can see this little girl is a fab colour.

The other exciting new addition to our farm is Angora goats!!!!  We went to collect them late yesterday afternoon when it was safe to leave the birthing alpacas.

 They are so calm and friendly, we have 8 in total.  The eagle eyed amongst you my have noticed 9 in the above photo (keep reading).

The girls and boys (6 & 2) happily walked into the trailer ready for their drive back to Liberty Hill Farm.  They spent the night in the barn as I wanted to worm them before I let them out onto the hill and it was getting late when wee got back.

After a cosy night in the shed they went out on mass exploring...

We are really pleased with them, they are really friendly and other than an exchange of glances neither them or the alpacas seem bothered by each other.

Now to explain number nine, otherwise known as Arthur, he was the big chap on the left hand side of the photo.  He is another calm and sociable goat who is looking for a new home, hasn't he got the most quizzical face.

Arthur will eat your nettles and thistles and is free to a good home so if anyone is interested get in touch and I will put you in touch with his owner.  I did have a twinge of guilt when I took all his friends away, but he still has lots of sheep friends to keep him going until he finds a new home.

Monday 23 July 2012

A miracle

This morning when I went out to do my 5am check all the girls were still sat down but I thought that Princess Mallika wasn't looking very happy, after watching her for about half an hour I headed back in to get dressed and have a cup of tea.

I accidentally (and if you believe that you'll believe anything) woke Paul by singing, well trying to sing and I said to him that I thought maybe Mallika was thinking about birthing as she wasn't very happy.

Mallika is one of those girls who looks pregnant all the time, but when we went out on the feed rounds and Mallika got up I thought she looked like she'd lost something and was looking at all the cria.

Panic set in, there was no sign of a cria, her back end didn't look like she'd just birthed so I feared she'd done it yesterday whilst we were out and they were out.  Paul checked the girls field whilst I ran to where the girls had been on our return.  As I said last night the girls had 25 acres to wonder in, 25 acres of 2 or 3 foot high grass! 

Mallika was pacing at the gate so I ran back to let her out, I hoped that if she had birthed she'd remember where.  She ran off humming down past the chickens and up the other side to near Wesley's (Blackie Tup) fence line.  I was trying to keep up but running in long grass in your wellies isn't the easiest.

No sign of cria, afterbirth or anything.  Mallika was now getting very vocal and running round hunting, for what I was sure was going to be a dead cria.  Paul went to get the quad as he'd get a better view whilst I walked up and down trying not to think the worst.

After over an hour of searching Paul yelled "quick" I hoped that quick meant it was alive but I didn't hold out much hope.  Mallika was still busy carrying out her own search and wasn't listening to Paul! 

When I got there, stood, yes stood, in front of the quad was a lovely dark fawn cria!  She couldn't have been further up the particular field than she was, Paul said she was kushed when he got to her.  I scooped her up and yelled Mallika who came running, we met half way and the reception was fantastic.

This poor little girl, yes a girl, seems none the worse for over 12 hours separation from mum, but as you can imagine both me and her mum are keeping a very close eye on her, she isn't allowed more than a few inches from mum now; Mallika won't be making that mistake again. 

Born at 324 days, over a month earlier than Mallika's daughter from last year she weighs a healthy 7.68kg.  Sorry but the photo's I took on my phone still haven't reached my email so I can't share them.

I can hear you asking why didn't we notice, well last night Mallika was with the rest of the herd and happily went back with the rest of the herd for her tea in their field last night, never once did she hang back or look back.  As soon as the girls had eaten their tea having obviously spent the day stuffing their necks on the grass Paul said everyone one of them sat straight down to chew the cud. 

Sunday 22 July 2012

Seymours first day out

Today we have been out with the alpacas and knitwear to the Glendale Festival at Wooler, and thankfully the weather gods were much kinder to us this weekend.

It was Seymour's first outing, I like to try and pick a short slightly quieter even for the first time out just in case the boys don't like it.  I only take boys that I think we enjoy it but you never quite know until you get them out there how they will react to all those people, strange noises, dogs and being poked and stroked all day.

Thankfully for us, and Seymour he really enjoyed his day out and the people of Wooler enjoyed meeting him.  Just like his dad Loki Seymour is very distinctive, black a vocal chappy so he's been melting lots of hearts today.  Unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures!

When we got home the girls greeted us as the gate; not their gate, the gate to our farmyard!  Umm someone obviously hadn't shut the gate properly this morning and they'd been out exploring.  Thankfully the only had 25 acres to explore so we didn't have to round them up off the whole 220 acres of the hill!

I was glad to see the the rest of the world, like me, found Paul's shelving as boring as a boring thing.. he's been driving me mad about this shelving.  I have a something much more exciting coming so keep your eyes peeled.

Talking of my husband, he's been in bed for at least half an hour, can you believe it.  He's in bed first up last and says he's exhausted.  I wouldn't mind but each time my eye started to close on the way back tonight he kept making me jump - nasty man.

I will leave you tonight with a photo I look yesterday of Indigo learning the mating game with Ursula whilst some of the other cria watch. 

I thought the new owners of Dec and Indigo would like to see what their boys are getting up to!!

Saturday 21 July 2012

A wifeless rough hen (Paul)

Bev, you were right, it is an anagram!

And no Dave it isn't a rope although some of the other guesses like a wind turbine, a dam, a boat, a mini hotel and his and hers storage containers also proved rather wide of the mark!

So now for the grand unveiling - what was under the blue tarpaulin a few days ago and what's 38.4 metres long?

Well first things first:

a) never take me too seriously
b) be prepared to be wound up on a regular basis
c) thanks to Louise and Colin for helping me to errect it (boy it was heavy!) - all 38.4 metres long of it...a wifeless rough hen:

Yep, if you put the 16  2.4m long, 900mm wide chipboard shelves end to end they are exactly 38.4 metres long - a wifeless rough hen - warehouse shelfing - exciting or what??!!

Friday 20 July 2012

Photo Friday

As is always the case during birthing season I am up at first light to check on everyone.  I know all the books say that alpacas birth during the day and usually the morning but it's not always the case and we have had two born during the night!

This morning there was a lovely mist in the valley so I nipped back in to get my camera.  There is something mesmerising about the mist in the valley.

All was well with the girls, Chiquita (343 days) has gone back to sleeping with her mum Willow and her two sisters Layla and Palace, a sure sign she is getting closer to birthing.  Willow and her daughters (she's had 5 on the trot) are very close.

The others still to birth are Geena (336), Gabby (336), Princess Mallika (323) , Palm-Olive (307) and Kealani (307).

The ducklings are growing nicely, they are so messy but super cute.  This is the four still under the heat lamp, two runners Orville and Ju, Yoko the Aylsebury and a cross breed sat in the water pot who still needs a name.
This is the older batch, the two big aylesbury's are Jamima and Beatrix (although I'm thinking Bea at the back may be a drake), then four runners who I've not named yet.

Our other young shed resident are baby swallows, they have just started flying so hopefully once they've fledged we'll be able to shut the shed door again! 

Thursday 19 July 2012

The tally to date

We have had helping hands on the farm today, Colin and Louise came up for a hard days graft in return for home made pizza; sounds like a great exchange to me!

I can't say what the boys were up to as no doubt Paul will want to tell you all about that another night, but us girls were talking crafts whilst clearing up hay spilt and thrown out of the hay hecks.

I also I had special order of Barnacre Knitwear to deliver for one very luck lady who had order a scarf and flip top mittens in Loki's super black yarn.

Despite looking rather uncomfortable Chiquita hasn't given birth today, she doesn't look like she'll be long and she is now overdue.  Hopefully Gill will get to see one of them (Geena & Gabby are also in the birthing window) birth at the weekend.

Whilst on the subject of births, Dave and Apple Vale was asking how we were split this year on sexes.  Well we are pretty level, overall on farm we have had 17 births so far, with 10 boys and 7 girls.  They aren't all ours some are livery girls so the Barnacre tally is 7 5 to the boys.

There also seems to be some odd things going on with the matings.  We have had a few of the girls mating then spitting off for two or three weeks then sitting again.  I've spoken to a couple of other people who are experiencing the same thing so I'm beginning to wonder it its something to do with this delightful weather we're having?

Wednesday 18 July 2012

A little ray of sunshine... (Paul)

...in fact hardly any rays of sunshine!

Debbie and I built our farm last year to be as eco-friendly as we could afford.  We installed ground source heating, take water from our own spring and generate electricity from solar panels on our alpaca shed roof.  We didn't do this because we're green crusaders or anything, and we use petrol and diesel like most other people (my lovely quad and tractor have seats made to measure my bum precisely!).

Today's blog is about the sunshine we have (or have not) been having and how our solar panels have been performing (much better than the windmill that crashed near us a few weeks ago anyway!). Now every week I take my readings and as is customary with men and numbers, I put them on a spreadsheet and create a little graph, and here it is:

The bars along the bottom are the week ending dates, starting back in December when the panels were commissioned.  The numbers up the side are the number of Kilowatts (KW) of electricity that the panels generate each week.  To put this in context, Offgem, the energy regulator estimates the average household uses 63 KW of electricity each week or 96 KW if the household uses Economy 7 (cheap overnight electricity).

The good news is that in the 30 weeks the solar panels have been working, they have produced on average 154 KW per week, enough to power 2.5 typical households!

How about the week ended 27 May when the panels generated 442 KW, that was enough to power 7 typical households!!!

The readings also give a good guide as to how sunny it has or hasn't been this year, and who would have thought that you should book your summer holidays in the last week of March??!!


Tuesday 17 July 2012

A new little man

As I predicted yesterday Iolani, one of our livery girls gave birth this morning to a lovely little white boy.  She fired him out in no time and as for the placenta, I've never seen one shoot out so fast!

This little boy was soon up on his feet.....
and within no time he'd found the milk bar.  Iolani is a fantastic mum and very protective of her son, the other cria aren't allowed anywhere near when its feed time.

Isn't he gorgeous.

Our boys are spending most of their time standing guard at the fence at the minute.  Legend has control of about 90% of the channel fence whilst everyone else has to share the rest.  If anyone dares to stray into Legend's territory when he nips for a call of nature our something they are soon given what for in no uncertain terms.  
Poor Niveous, one of Legends' sons seems to get chased by his dad for just looking in the general direction of the ladies.  Legend obviously thinks his son is going to take after him and only has one thing on his mind!

Monday 16 July 2012

Mine’s 38.4 metres long and now here! (Paul)

Evening all!

First up tonight are the two pirate pet lambs who seem to have decided they do not live with wild Scottish Black faced sheep and are up to more tricks again!...
No, I haven’t put them in the stocks (yet), they are using the gate as a neck scratcher – pirates!
Some of you remember my little teaser blog on Friday 22 June when the clever folk of Blog land (thanks Dave, Rosemary, Miriam, Bev, Judi and Andrew) made their guesses against my clues:
  • You could take it to sea (Barbara!)
  • Although there are no oars or motors with it
  • My bit will be the top half and Debbie’s the bottom half!
  • A wifeless rough hen
  • It’s still 38.4 metres long
  • And 2.5 metres high – oh yes this is big!
  • Are there any wheels? No!
  • I might be storing eggs and fleece in it
  • The YHA might be interested in it?!
Well, it arrived today (as Twitter followers know – thanks for the mention John @Baddogz4) and as I know you are all as excited as me about the arrival, I want you all to be the first to see it!
What do you mean you want to see what's under the blue tarpaulin (and yes that is Debbie trying to ignore me in the background)??!! OK seeing as I’m among friends here’s a little sneaky peak just for you…

Night all! Paul
Oops - I can sense levels of frustration, intrigue and possibly now anger growing!

Sunday 15 July 2012

Fund raising fun

I wasn't going to blog tonight as I really want an early night, but I know there are lots of people who we've been talking to at the Otterburn Village Festival this weekend that are new to the blog so I didn't want to disappoint!

The sun was shining brightly first thing so after the early morning feed round we headed off up the road with Minimus and Niveous in the trailer to set up for day two of the show. 

Unfortunately due to the amount of rain yesterday afternoon and the cars going in and out we got stuck on the way into the field.  So after being towed onto the field we were soon set up and talking alpacas.  We had a lovely day, our alpacas always prove popular and it's great to help raise money for the air ambulance and help for hero's.  All this before we were towed off the field tonight!!

Mum and dad have been on alpaca watch and duckling duties whilst we were out, luckily everyone behaved.  I even had a visit from the ironing fairy, thank you mum.

Today is Wynfor and Jam-Packed's birthday, they are both sons of Imala.  Despite having sold both boys, we keep in touch with them and I don't forget their birthdays!

Saturday 14 July 2012


Today we have been at Otterburn Village Festival with the alpacas and our knitwear range.  As always the alpacas drew a crowd despite the appalling weather.

We had a dry start however due to the amount of rain we've had in the week there were some people being towed onto the field, we for once managed to get on under our own steam; getting off was a slightly different matter though!

Unfortuntately this afternoon the heavens opened and we had torrential rain which is a real shame, there is so much effort goes into organising an event like this, and it's all to raise money for the air ambulance and help the hero's.

Whilst we were at the show the ducklings were in the capable hands of dad, he was in charge of humidity and the heat lamp.  Amazingly the two ducklings that weren't looking too clever last night are looking a lot better. 

One now has it's leg and foot in a splint as it's very wonky, hopefully it will survive.  It will certainly be given every chance to thrive here.

I was so worried that Yoko wouldn't have any friends to play with this morning that Gill and Ross came to the rescue and picked me up another duckling so now there are four under the heat lamp; oh yes and four slightly older runner ducks as well.

Friday 13 July 2012

Learning from the master

Despite all my best efforts it's another late blog I'm afraid!  I've been getting things ready for Otterburn Village Festival this weekend and time has once again slipped away.

We have done a couple of matings today, Legend was the lucky boy.  He was actually supposed to see Veruschka yesterday but she jumped out of the pen on the first occasion before we'd even fetched Legend and then the lifted me off my feet to make a second exit!  Anyway today she was pleased to see her man and dropped like a stone at his feet.

Whilst this was going on Kirkley thought that he would take the opportunity to practise his mating technique on Lualeni who was mated yesterday.
It does make me laugh when the cria start orgling, and Kirkley was doing a really good job of it!

On a not so funny note Friday the 13th struck here, our freezer has bust.  Thankfully it had only just been put on ready for a meat collection tomorrow so at least nothing was spoilt.  I wouldn't mind but we almost didn't store it when we moved and got rid of it.  We can't really complain I suppose, we've had it since we first got married.

Sad news on the duckling front too, I have no idea why but Roadie died during the night, we also have two more ducklings that have just hatched with a little help as they were both struggling, neither look very healthy, in fact both look like they have issues but I'll see how they are in the morning.

On a brighter note it looks like another is about to hatch so hopefully Yoko will have another friend soon.