Tuesday 30 October 2012

Can you believe it..

This morning started off lovely and sunny but the rain was forecast for later so I wanted to get my outdoor chores done before it arrived as I'd decided that with heavy rain and wind forecast I would bring all the mums and cria into the shed.  Well whats the point of having this nice cosy facility if I don't use it.

The shed dwellers had a wonder round the yard in the morning sun whilst I mucked them out, although Bridie preferred to keep her eye on me so stayed in the shed supervising.

By lunchtime the clouds were gathering so after the shed dwellers had had their bottles and sugarbeet I set off up the hill to bring the girls down.

As the channel still isn't finished I thought that it would take a while as the girls can get into what will be the paddock closest to the shed (and it's quite a big strange shaped one).  The livery girls always go that way but head straight to the gate so I don't usually have to chase them out.

Anyway the girls seemed to know what I had in mind and ran straight down the channel, by the time I'd picked up three feed troughs (I couldn't manage more than that in one go) they were at the gate, they never even ventured off the channel.

I'd not opened that gate because they've never run down to that one before so Imala stood at the front of the queue patiently waiting for me to open it.  They all followed me straight into the barn (aka shed) where they have been scoffing copious amounts of hay ever since.

I'm glad they are in because it has rained most of the afternoon and the wind has really go up now.  Looking at the weather forecast they will be staying there for a couple of days.

Azrael, our skinny cria is still enjoying his bottles, I've stopped weighing him daily as one day he's up and the next he's down then back up again, I'll do it every two or three days.  He seems much brighter in himself now although he's still pretty weak.  He's had some more sugarbeet today so hopefully all this will help him gain some weight and strength.

I'm busy knitting a special order at the minute which isn't growing quick enough so I'm going to go and do a few more rows now.  Mum is also knitting a pair of ladies socks that have been ordered and hopefully Carol has finished some ordered legwarmers. 

People certainly seem to have started their Christmas shopping now, our knitwear is going down a treat; I've actually sold out of full gloves at the minute, just fingerless ones left for now.  I think I need to learn to knit in my sleep.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Exciting times

Another weekend draws to a close, in fact another month almost draws to a close, I do wonder sometimes where the time goes.

We have had a lovely afternoon talking alpacas with another couple of alpaca breeders who came to look at our boys.  I forgot to ask permission to name them so it will have to remain confidential, but we had a good rummage through the boys and their various offspring.  You can't help but gasp at the brightness of some of the white progeny fleeces even if I do say so myself.

Longevity of elite quality fine fleece is something that I am very keen to pursue for our knitwear range.  With our own stud Gianmarco's Masterpiece having a micron count of 22 for his 6th fleece (only 7.2% over 30) we are very pleased with his progeny to date.

To help diversify the genetics within our herd and help advance the Barnacre offering last month Paul and I decided to add to our core herd. I'd received the Alpaca Classic Brochure some time ago and had my eye on a couple of the Bozedown girls.

Never for a minute did I a) think Paul would agree to bid on two or b) that we would actually win them - he did the bidding not me (and for the record did one for more than we agreed!)

Bozedown Cara II is four years old and has a  fabulous fleece 20.3m, SD 4.4 & CF 96.7%.  She is sired by Supreme Champion Olympus of Bozedown and is pregnant to Supreme Champion Bozedown Patriot so as you can imagine we are very excited about this!  Not only that, look in the corner, she has a male cria at foot from Bozedown Wisdom (son of Bozedown Ulysses).

Our other purchase was Bozedown Divinity who is also four years old and has even more stunning fleece stats at 19.8m. SD 3.8 & CF 98.8%. She is sired by Tudor of Bozedown (son of the mighty Galaxy) who throws super fine progeny and Bozedown Cosmic, a multiple female Champion.  At foot she has a male cria from multiple Champion Jolimont Rodrigo of Bozedown who at the age of 15 has a fleece of 21 microns!

Divinity is pregnant to Supreme Champion Jolimont Reagan of Bozedown, his 11th fleece is an amazing 21 micron!

Exciting times!

Saturday 27 October 2012

Family photo

We woke to a slight covering of snow this morning, it obviously carried on snowing after we'd gone to be.  One good thing about the frozen ground meant we were able to take the tractor up the hill without causing any damage to the channel.

I needed two bales of hay moving up, but but the time we'd moved things round and jumped the tractor to get it going things were starting to melt!  By the time the two bales were actually in situe there was no frozen ground left and the ruts were being dug.

We'd just finished moving them when Pat and Eric came to see their boys, Leonidas, Olly and Seymour.  With the sun shining I managed to catch this lovely family photo....

I'm pleased to report that Azrael now likes his bottle and today for the first time took it without me having to put the teat in his mouth.  I also managed to get him to try sugarbeet which he decided he loved and happily took it from Pat's hand.  Hopefully all this will get him back on track, he's certainly looking happier in himself today.

I have also had a go at shearing one of the goats.  They should have been done last month but what with the weather and the guy I was going to use damaging his arm they've not been done.  To cut a long story short Nutmeg is now sheared but her fleece isn't usable - I need to find someone who can do the other 5!

Friday 26 October 2012

Snow time to lose your spot...

We have had a few flurries of snow today, in fact it started whilst I was on the morning feed rounds, so yet again I got wet.  At least I'd put my hat on this morning.

By lunchtime the sun was out for a change and it was glorious, so out I went with the camera.  Here's the girls enjoying their sugarbeet.
However despite enjoying the nice warm speedibeet no one wanted to lose the best spot round the hay hecks so all of a sudden there was a mad dash. 
Oonagh was too quick for me to catch but hot on her heels was her daughter Freyja.

Followed by loopy Layla.

Kate cantering behind.

Nefertiti putting in a charge.

Palace in full sprint mode.

Even mum Willow managed a trot - not something she does very often.  Willow has one speed, dead slow!

Unfortunately the sun was short lived, tonight the snow is back and is settling; not good, it's only October.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Squeeze and share

Gee whiz I didn't realise it was as late as it is, I've been trying to get a special order hat done, do some forms and forecasts and all the day to day jobs and needless to say we have reached the end of another day and the hat still isn't half done.

I did have to nip out this morning to take Carol some wool for another special order, this time leg warmers to be knitted in our liquid gold yarn from Chiquita and her son Minimus,  It's a lovely colour and so soft, you can tell this yarn is special just by looking at it you don't even need to touch it!

On the alpaca front Emery had developed a pussy lump on her face which this morning I decided to lance.  There was lots of yucky puss that came out and she looks a lot more comfortable for me releasing the pressure.  With a course of antibiotics I'm sure she'll be as good as new again in no time. 

I obviously didn't upset her too much by grabbing her in the field this morning because she happily ate from my hand at tea time and would have followed me out of the field on her own this evening had I let her!

I have been a little worried about one of the cria since the weekend, Azrael has always been a bit of a loner but he's been sitting about a bit more than I'd like and he's rather skinny so he and his mum Lucia have come in to shed out of the damp drizzle to see if a few days of nice dry living helps.

I have also been offering him a bottle as Lucia has never had vast amounts of milk.  Until today he hasn't been in the slightest bit interested, in fact it's been a bit of a fight.  He'd bite the teat so I couldn't even squeeze milk into him, but this evening he decided he'd have some which was great; not sure Liberty was so pleased about having to share what she thought should all be her milk!

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Spinning a yarn

I've had a lovely day today, after the morning feed rounds in the fog I rammed the car full of fleece ready for a ride up the The Border Mill to collect some of my yarn and drop off more fleeces.

I was taking Jan along with me, who recently bought six alpacas from us so she could see how the fabulous fleece from her new alpacas can be turned into great yarn by John and Juliet.  We are very keen to help everyone who buys alpacas from us every step of the way and that includes how to make the most from their fleece. 

Fleece is a real passion of mine, hence we are keen to keep other fibre producing animals like our angora goats and Shetland sheep.  I also managed to get a glimpse of some other wool I fancy, I've been trying to get my hands on the producer of for a little while now, hopefully I might manage it now I know of a friendly keeper.

After we'd been to the mill and and we'd drooled over my latest yarn we headed off for a spot of lunch at a nearby castle - great recommendation Juliet thanks.  We had a lovely lunch and a chat all things alpaca and more before heading home to feed all the animals before it got dark.

Whilst I've been away we have received a number of very interesting emails today, looks like there are a lot of like minded people about!

Sunday 21 October 2012

A weekend at Wallington Hall

We have had a busy weekend at Wallington Food and Craft fair.  It has become one of our regular events and people come with their shopping lists expecting us to be there.  As usual the alpacas drew a big crowd and on more than one occasion we were accused of hogging all the punters!

Minimus, Niveous and Seymour have been out on patrol, they are all very relaxed when they are out and about.   Minimus loves it because he knows he gets lots of carrot, Seymour just enjoys being noisy and Niveous just goes with the flow.

Not only did the alpacas receive lots of attention and praise so did our knitwear and other Barnacre products.  Lots of stock was purchased with people doing a spot of early Christmas shopping and treating themselves.  Our paca poo fire bricks went very well, so well in fact I ran out - note to self make sure you take more than one crate next time.

I didn't take the camera with me, but Paul snapped this rather poor quality shot very early on, in fact I think it might even have been before the event officially opened as that was about the only time it was quiet.

When it came to packing away we had three very willing volunteers to hold the alpacas whilst we were loading the car and putting the hurdles in the trailer!

We came away with a few knitting orders too, so mum, Carol and I all have our next knitting project sorted and we desperately need to knit more gloves as they just fly off the shelf.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Visitors and variations

Today we have had visitors, a couple who Paul was talking to at the Thirsk show at the weekend who have fallen in love with alpacas.  I forgot to ask permission to name them so I'd better not.

As usual we had plenty of alpacas happy to come running over to introduce themselves, in the girls field it was a bit of a 'darky' mobbing.  Geena, Meketaten and Ursula were first over, shortly followed by Gabby, Imala and Kate.  Within a couple of minutes we had the whole herd within a few feet, even little Ankhesenamun (meketaten's full sister) came sniffing our visitors.

Not wanting to miss out once the goaties noticed we had visitors they were climbing up the gate to say hello.  It's so funny how everyone loves them and find them just as adorable as the alpacas.

I have managed to get a bit of skirting done too, the pile to take up to the Border Mill next week is growing, I'm blending a couple of different fleeces this year so we have a few different varieties, so it will be nice to see how they turn out; you never quite know.

I've just finished spinning some of Kate, I've hardly found time to do any spinning this year and Carol is complaining so I thought I'd better get some done in case I see her at Wallington Food & Craft Fair as we are there this weekend with the knitwear and some of the boys.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Ayear on..

I'm not quite sure where today has gone, no sooner did it seem to get light this morning and it's nearly bedtime tonight.

Today is the anniversary of becoming homeless; remember the caravan rolling, well that was a year ago today.  We still have the remains of said caravan, maybe we should put them on eBay!

We have had rain on and off all day today just for a change, so the goats exploring was short lived.  They sat at the gate staring at me making me feel guilty so they were back in shortly after 10am!

The ducks came out of their house had their breakfast them promptly went and sheltered in the barn for most of the day - so much for ducks liking water.

At lunchtime I went out with the intention of taking a photo of the water rushing across one of the resting fields but got distracted by a convoy of army vehicles obviously heading up to Otterburn camp for some exercise or other.  There were 7 of these.

I also managed to take a photo of Bridie eating her sugarbeet from my hand.  She is so sweet and such a determined little girl, I can't begin to tell you how special she is. 

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Rain stops play

Get this, blogs two nights running!!!  Still with the loft hatch open and a cable dangling mind you.

It has been rather wet today, so it meant poor Bridie her mum Kealani and her friends have had to spend another day in the barn, not that they seem to mind with fresh hay on tap, food and sugarbeet provided they are all happy enough.  Bridie now comes to eat her food from my hand which is so sweet, she is such a little cutie.

The goats refused to go out so they have spent the day in too, not that I blame them, we had torrential rain over night and it has pretty much rained all day.  The goats are happy in their pen enjoying munching hay from their new hay racks.

The livery girls were also wanting in early tonight, and even the ducks had a relatively early night, maybe I should try and have one too.

I've been busy skirting some more fleece today, I'm off up to the Border Mill next week to pick up some of my yarn and deliver more of my fleeces, I thought I'd actually skirted more than I have - oops!

Last week I blogged about my difficulty  in locating an angora billy goat, well last night I got all excited and though I'd found one.  He's being advertised on the internet but so far the owner hasn't returned my call or text.  He's only in County Durham so if he's any good it would be ideal - wish me luck.

Monday 15 October 2012

I'm back!

I have been fighting with the Internet over the last few days, not only is blogger giving me hell so is our BT broadband.  Paul spoke to them today and it has to be said he got madder than I've known him get in a very long time.  To cut a very long story short to get the Internet to work we currently have to have an extension cable into the loft (leaving the loft hatch down), take the BT master socket to bits and put a phone and the router into the test socket and hay presto it works!

BT are supposed to be coming to deliver a new socket within the next 48 hours but I get the impression they are expecting me to fit it; umm this could be interesting.

We've had a busy few days, Friday mum and dad were stapling some stock fencing for me whilst I was skirting some fleece.  We were also getting ready for the show at Thirsk on Saturday.

Mum and dad came along; here's mum showing Seymour.

 And we met Jan there.  Jan recently bought her first alpacas and wanted to experience a show, so she took Nadia, full sister to Lady Godiva who is now owned by Jan & Phil, into the ring.  She came second to the girl who went on to win Supreme Champion, so no shame in that.
I don't seem to have taken any photo's of Paul and I in the ring with Emery, Sandstorm, Neelie and Niveous, all of whom came how with rosettes. 

Sunday was another busy one, we had arranged to deliver Palm-Olive and her superb cria Clive to Jan & Phil now Palm-Olive is a bit further into her pregnancy.  We had just got them down into the yard and had wormed her when a big group of walkers from Boldon Outdoor Activities Club came through.

They were all smitten by the alpacas, Liberty was straight over to say hello and Bridie got lots of attention too.  Mary made sure she came over to see if anyone had anything to eat!

Finally, this one is for you Jan.  It's the White Clive shot I was telling you about, he's a great advert for Persil, or should that be Palmolive soap!!

Thursday 11 October 2012

Bridie boosts more fans

I've had a couple of busy days with Bridie, she was at the vets yesterday as her legs were causing me concern again.  She has become a bit of a star at the vets, everyone always wants to take her home and there must be numerous photo's of her round the Morpeth area as everyone always wants to take photos.

To cut a very long story short she had lots of xrays and has a long bone deformity in her front leg.  Now for the tricky bit, what to do in an animal that still has so much growing to do?  Do nothing and see what happens, take out some bone now maybe too much, maybe not enough and need another operation or try to minimise the condition getting worse whilst she grows a little more and buy ourselves some more time.

We bought Bridie home yesterday whilst Sam (our vet) discussed the matter with other specialists and sought more advice.

After lots of discussion we were back to the vets again today and she has had her casts put back on, this time under sedation to allow a little more pressure to be put on without distressing her (not that much seems to bother her it has to be said) and the bone will monitored for a little longer.  It has been decided that in an animal that still has so much growing to do (she's only  6 weeks old) the risk of doing more damage was too great and she is coping well as things stand now.

Bridie is such a little fighter I intend to give her every chance I possibly can to lead a happy and healthy life.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Go on whistle

It's been another glorious day, one that the girls have spent sunbathing on a number of occasions!  It started off with a keen frost which meant the goaties weren't too keen on going out, well their leader Nutmeg wasn't so that meant that the rest of them had to hang round to make sure they weren't going to miss something.
Once they got going they happily trotted over to their field and went off to explore.  They are fab, I love them, I just wish we could find them a boyfriend so we can have babies next year,  If anyone knows of any Angora Billy Goats north of Devon do please let me know!

Ant and Dec had a visit from their new mummy again today, Jan is really nice, the boys are going to get spoilt rotten.  We had a lovely afternoon having a good chat over a cup of tea which took forever to make, I hadn't realised at the time but the aga isn't working again.

It's less than a year old and we've already had them out to it once because the circuit board blew which I suspect has now happened a second time - not happy.  May kettle has been on to boil since 7.45 and I'm still waiting for a whistle!!

Monday 8 October 2012


At least I am on the Internet, and blogger - best get on with this quick before I either lose the connection of blogger dies!

We had a busy weekend again, Saturday Ross, Gill and Taylor came, we needed to get enough of the channel finished to stop the lambs coming onto the alpaca side of the hill.  The bottom bit was always going to be the worst bit because it bends over the culvert on the right and there is a dip on the left and we need enough of a channel to be able to drive the tractor and any trailer it may have on the back up there.

Whilst Gill and I did the fetch it carry it jobs the boys were knocking in posts and we managed to get enough posts and rails on to enable us to tie on the stock netting on Sunday morning before the mass sheep migration took place.

Dave (now a toonie, or townie to non locals like myself!) had offered to help gather the sheep.  Which were on the fifty odd acre field.  Off the three of us set and until we got to the gate at the bottom of the drive it was going quite well; it then took about an hour to get them up the drive!

Anyway all lambs are now weaned, yes I know it's late but many had already self weaned and we are far from short of grass so none of the ewes are looking thin.  With all the ewes dosed those that will be going to see the tup are now on the top of the hill happily munching copious amounts of grass before their boyfriends arrive on the scene next month.

The lambs are now on fresh grass and surprisingly quiet with only a few complaining that they want some milk.  There was a real mix of lambs, some are looking very nice indeed even if I do say so myself, but there were also a few not so good but we are in no rush to move them so it's not a problem.

The 21 ewe lambs be bought the other week are happily settled, no escaping like last years did, well not yet anyway.

On the alpaca front they are happy keeping their eye on goings on, and they have certainly been enjoying the sunshine, there have been lots of girls enjoying a spot of autumnal sunbathing.

Liberty is still taking her bottle well and is gaining weight which is good, she is back to her old self again now which is fabulous.  She even tried a bit of sugarbeet at lunchtime so hopefully it won't be long before she tries camelibre.

Friday 5 October 2012

New tastes and freedom

It has been a lovely autumnal day today, many of the girls have been enjoying a spot of sunbathing, unfortunately my camera phone isn't very good from a distance so the photo's were no good!

Have been been taking lots of photo's of our knitwear and the stock is mounting up in the shop, although as soon as I'm adding it I'm having to mark it as sold - not that I'm complaining, but if you have your eye on something you'd better buy it whilst you can.  Our next outing with the knitwear is at Wallington in a couple of weeks so hopefully like in the past our goodies will prove popular.

We seem to have had a sudden leap forward on the number of cria eating hard feed, the last couple of days have seen Prodigiosus and Palace start eating.  I'm glad Geena's little man is now eating hard feed, I always feel that bottle fed cria miss out on vitamins and minerals that they would get from mum. 

Liberty now loves her bottle but still isn't interested in hard feed, she is thinking about sugarbeet though so hopefully that will be the start of new taste buds.

I decided today to let the new hens out, I was hoping that they would just follow the original ones straight down to the shed.  The good news is they didn't, well not for the first few hours anyway; they were down by tea time thought!

My last batch of cream crested leg bar eggs are due to hatch today, there are only 7 of them but so far 4 have peep holes and a 5th is moving so hopefully by morning we will have some more hens, yes hens, no cockerels please!

Thursday 4 October 2012

A proud moment

Today I am feeling rather proud of myself, I have completed my first ever pair of gloves, full ones with fingers!  When you think I couldn't even knit until I got my alpacas I am very proud of what I can now achieve.

On a creative note I have learnt to spin, weave, felt and knit and all thanks to alpacas, even if I do say so myself I (along with mum and Carol) now create a fabulous range of Barnacre goods which are proving to be more and more sought after month by month.  I just love the fact that all our goods come form our own herd and each item is traced to a particular alpaca.

I have been admiring our latest knitted garments today whilst photographing them ready to put the into our on line shop.  I'd done a lot of the preparation work but I don't do the publishing bit, knowing my luck I would do something wrong and mess up the website so I leave that bit to Paul!

The alpacas have been enjoying a spot of sunbathing today, autumnal sunshine always proves popular particularly with the big girls and lets face it we've not had much sunbathing weather this year so you can't blame them for the mass wipe out.

My pesky cat Izzie is making the most of the dry evening and has gone AWOL so I'd better go and find her.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Visitors and a wise owl

Firstly Judy B, cream carpet says 'no' to most things, but most of the cottage is tiled so alpacas, cats, lambs, hens and dirty boots are all accepted - I do try to keep the chickens out though!

We had a visit from a lovely lady this morning looking to get her first alpacas, I love sharing all that we learnt good and bad with people looking to keep these wonderful alpacas. 

We had a walk through some of the fields, spent some time with the livery girls and chatted over tea and knitwear for quite some time.  I'm pretty sure she left with more knowledge than she came with and enjoyed her time with us.  Nothing can ever prepare you for the immense pleasure (and sometimes pain) alpacas can bring, but I like to do as much as I can to help people make informed choices and decisions as I can.  I remember what it was like when Paul and I were doing our alpaca research getting told all sorts of different opinions.

I'm pleased to report for the first time Liberty actually came to me for milk today, she's looking much happier now she's taking the bottle so hopefully she will be back to the old Liberty running to meet all our visitors very soon. 

As I was unable to blog on Monday evening (blogger wasn't playing ball again), I forgot to share with you this fantastic wood carving we came across whilst going to pick up 21 ewe lambs.  Before you ask they are Blackies (!!), thankfully so far they are better behaved ones than the last lot.

As we passed a forested being cut down we saw this:-


Tuesday 2 October 2012

Mary wants in the lounge

It has been another day of sunshine and showers, well when I say showers I mean more like torrential downpours.  At one point I went in to get dried off and the sun came out so there was a lovely rainbow starting in the hay field.

I took this from the living room window.
As the weather is so poor I've been making use of what will be our back lawn for the three mum's and babies who are in very close proximity to the shed so they can be ushered in each time it rains.  As you can see when I went in for lunch little Pablo (Mum Chiquita dad Golden Guinea) was trying to get in.

Not to be outdone when I opened the door shortly afterwards Mary was straight over and had I not stopped her she would have been through the door and sat on my nice cream living room carpet!

The girls are tucked back up in the shed tonight which is a good thing because it's absolutely throwing it down again; will it ever stop I wonder?!