Wednesday 6 November 2013

Progressing nicely

The shed is coming along nicely, this was taken last night and tonight the roof is finished!  It does now feel a bit bigger, we were getting worried because it wasn't feeling very big, not that you can ever have enough shed space.
With the days getting shorter and the outdoor jobs seeming to take longer I feel like I've been chasing my tail.  With two new quarantine groups the feed round takes longer, but biosecurity is something we take very seriously so needs must, we always quarantine no matter what.
I was going to get our with the camera and take some more shots of the newbies (goats and alpacas) to share with you but again left it until the light was fading.  I did take this one of Highland Rose, she is a modern rose grey; or in the official BAS rules a contaminated brown. 

Anyone that knows me well knows I am a stickler for pointing out colour contamination, but this 'colour contaminated' girl who has Highlander in her pedigree, has a fabulous fleece (20 micron, 97% comfort factor at 5yrs) has already produced a traditional grey cria, so we hope to our fantastic rose grey Sunburst we will get something very impressive. 

Wednesday 30 October 2013

How big?!


Late last night we had a rather large arrival, check this out; how small does it make our trailer look?!
How Bruce from Appletree's manages to turn this beast round never ceases to amaze me, I get scared just watching.
On board was some very exciting cargo......
This was one of them, Cambridge Fair Lady, she is from Commandante and we have mated her to Lavender Park Tulley, one very nice fawn male!  This was her this morning looking into my bedroom window.

The shed had progressed well again today, at this rate it will be well and truly up before the predicted snow arrives next month (fingers crossed!).

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Onlookers supervise!

Oops, over a week since my last blog, I feel like I am off to confessions to apologise!  There just aren't enough hours in the day or days in the week at the minute to do the required number of jobs.
Following the arrival of the steel yesterday today the new barn erecting has begun, this morning when I went in for my cup of tea the first steel went up.  This as taken from one of the kitchen windows.
By feed time this afternoon this is the view from the girls viewing gallery!!

Following on from our various newspaper articles lately we had another photographer round today taking photo's for a magazine.  He was a great guy and took some fabulous shots, I can't wait to see the finished article.  I'm  hoping they are mainly animal photo's and don't include me!
We have also had another very exciting delivery today, but it was too dark to take photo's so you will just have to wait and see what that was.........
Oh I do love my job :-)

Thursday 17 October 2013

Is she, isn't she?!

 It's actually more a question of when?!

Lucia, one of the grey girls who joined us back in the summer was supposed to be emptied, so after being sheared she was mated to Sunburst.  She was in fact mated twice as she didn't ovulate, which didn't really come as a surprise as she's not has a cria for a few years now.

We scanned a batch of girls including Lucia last month and great news she scanned positive.  We did a big batch at various stages but there were no comments made about any way out dates although the vet was using fancy new kit and we were getting some great pictures.

Now this is were things start to get interesting.  Lately her shape has been changing and she is spending more time sitting down and just look at the shape of her!

Today she is exactly 80 days pregnant?!  There is an awful lot of movement going on in there for 80 days.............

As well as keeping a close eye on LL (Lucia has a nickname!) there are lots of other exciting things going on here at the minute and this bit of concrete is one of them.  You wouldn't believe how excited we are about this and a few other bits of concrete!!!

Sunday 13 October 2013

Yorkshire Alpaca Group show

What a fantastic weekend we've had, Saturday morning was an early start as we were heading off to the YAG (Yorkshire Alpaca Group) Show at Thirk.   

It was actually the first show I've actually managed to get to this year, thanks to Jan & Phil at Castleside Alpacas who were on bottle feeding duties for me, and to all our family and friends who helped us on the day.

We were taking a show team of 6, 3 boys and 3 girls in four difference classes.  I'm always much more relaxed after the inspection, despite checking everyone microchips (and bits) the day before and taking our own chip reader which found said chips, I'm always paranoid there might be a problem.  It's probably down to the first ever show we went to, an alpaca we had bought had been registered with the wrong chip number so we couldn't show her.

Anyway first in for us was the grey girls, we had two in the Intermediate Female class, Lily and Strawberry Hill.  My mum had the pleasure of taking Lily in and I had strawberry.  Both girls were impeccably behaved, and first place went to strawberry and second to Lily.  They both received fantastic comments from judge Mary-Jo Smith who then awarded Strawberry Grey Female Champion and Lily Reserve Champion. 
Strawberry Hill 
Next in was the 'Man' himself Sunburst, he was up against two boys I'd not seen before so I had no idea what the competition was like, but I know how much I rate him and four different judges have rated him before so no pressure Sunburst!
Mary-Jo obviously liked him too, he's not been judged by her before and all judges are different but he was 1st Adult Grey Male and then in after a tense build up, Grey Male Champion.  That's five championships he has now.

Next in the ring was Ankha, Brown Intermediate female, and as usual Ankha got slightly bored whilst waiting for Mary-Jo to judge the rest of the class and kept wanting to sit down.  Whoop whoop, first place and another glowing summing up and again she went on to win Brown Female Champion.  That was her 3rd Championship so she has now matched the show record of her full sister Meketaten!  The commentator Shaun Daniels wasn't very hot on his Egyptian (Ankhesenamun was the third daughter of Queen Nefertiti - and Nefertiti is Anka's mum) and so made me pronounce her name over the microphone - I didn't like doing that! 

We didn't take any Fawns or 'Lights' so we had a little break before the whites.  We had taken two Intermediate boys, Thor and Inglefield Linus who was born here on livery, and has always been treated as one of our own (we actually co-own him with Hilary Cross).

Whites are always a tough one and in a class of 12 we didn't really know what to expect, Hilary took in Linus and I had Thor (Paul was supposed to be taking him in but had vanished!).  When Mary-Jo did her initial inspection I thought she had discounted Thor and Linus was behind me so I didn't really see what happened there.

After a lengthy and thorough assessment both Linus and Thor were pulled forwards into the front six, now I was getting hopeful, Linus was first and Thor second, but would they stay that way?!  Yes they did, how impressive was that. I was so proud.

Not only was Linus 1st but he then went on to win white Male Champion - wow!!  In her summing up of the Champions Mary-Jo also said that it was a close call with Thor almost getting the Reserve but she would have liked to have seem him grown out a little more.


We were so pleased with our days rosette haul we were buzzing all the way home, what a fantastic way to end the show season!

Thursday 10 October 2013

Out with the camera

It has been a real mixed bag of weather today, one minute lovely sunshine the next torrential rain and gale force winds.  I decided to leave the show team out, but listening to the rain on the window I'm now regretting that discussion!
I have also been thinking long and hard about some of the young boys, we held some back who were potential stud grade and I think I have now made the decision to put two of them up for sale, Delgardo and Luca.
Delgardo has some fantastic Bozedown genetics including Rodrigo as his sire and Tudor and Galaxy on his dams side.  His 1st fleece was classified as ultrafine at 17.6 micron, SD4 and 100% comfort factor.
Luca, who refused to pose alone for the camera (photo to follow!) is from Cambridge Navigator and also has some very impressive names in his pedigree including Peruvian Spartacus and Accoyo Remarque.  His first fleece stats were also ultrafine at 16.7m SD of 4.1 and 100% comfort factor.
I now need to get their sales pages up on AlpacaSeller before I change my mind!
Whilst I was out trying to get some boy shots I thought I'd get a few girlie ones that I know one excited couple will love to see.



Tuesday 8 October 2013

National Arthritis Week

This week is National Arthritis Week so we have decided to donate 10% of all sales to support Arthritis Research UK, so if you haven't already please spread the word and visit our online shop or come to our lovely shepherds hut and whilst you are here you can meet the alpacas!

Arthritis is something I have a lot of experience of as my dad is crippled with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  My dad is a real inspiration to me, he ever complains about the constant pain he is in but just by the look on his face you can see every movement is agony.
Dad would be far too embarrassed if I wrote a whole blog about him so I won't, but believe me I could.  You can never be too thankful for your health.....
So instead I will leave you to think about what in your life you are thankful for, my alpacas are one of many things I'm very thankful for.

Monday 7 October 2013

Ooh look who arrived today.

As usual we seem to have had a none stop weekend, Saturday was lamb delivery day which seemed to take so much longer than it should have done, but it needed to be done, fresh lamb must be fresh!
Sunday we began by putting up a temporary fence so we can take down some of the fencing we have been erecting over the past 18 months; well it is in preparation for of nice new barn which should be up and functional before winter arrives.
Then today it was over to see Barbara at Beckbrow to remate Sahara who is being a complete pain, she was mated some time ago and took and held for a number of weeks only to drop the pregnancy, then following her mating a couple of weeks ago she ovulated but did get pregnant, so third time lucky!  So a month later than I had planned we did our last mating of the year - I'm not changing my mind this time!!
We were also picking up one of our purchases from Anzac, Dreamweaver, who is from Shalimar and has Highlander and Commisario in her pedigree (and her cria from Czar).  She had at Barbara's to be mated to Explorer.
After a quick pedicure and weighing the girls were heading off to join one of the quarantine groups.  Dreamweaver spotted the main herd on the way up!
I was wondering if Pressure would be pleased to see her old mate, as you can see the two new girls proved popular when they arrived. 

Ashling (grey cria) was in full show off mode on the return journey!

Was Pressure pleased to see her old mate; obviously not that bothered as feeding Diamante was much more important.

And Asher was far too hungry to be interested in new arrivals!!

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Azrael update

Following Azrael's trip to the vets this morning I thought I'd give you a quick update.  This morning, just  like the last few mornings Azrael's jaw was back to normal, but as it has been swollen by evening the last few nights he was going to the vets anyway.
He obviously knew he was off somewhere not very nice because he refused to walk down the hill, even though I was taking Thor along for company.  He plonked himself down and point blank refused to walk; marvellous!  I didn't want to pull him in case the head collar hurt his jaw so eventually I decided I'd carry him - it's a good job I'm strong!
Next issue Thor clearly thought if Azrael was being carried then he wanted to be and proceeded to sit!  Thankfully he soon remember he had legs and walked down to the yard.
Once at the vets, Sam Prescott agreed with me he didn't look anaemic, no sign of jaundice, his chest and lungs sounded fine, and as I said his jaw was perfectly normal as it was the morning.  Bloods have been taken and we will have to see what they show up.
Can you believe it, tonight is jaw remains fine!!  I'm not complaining because it's good new but why has it been swelling.  Just to show you what it's like tonight, compare this to last nights photo!  Which I had taken to the vets so he didn't think I was insane!!
Whilst I was out on the evening feed rounds I saw one of our local deer families, this is the mum to last years twins who spend a lot of time in our wood I think; in fact they were in there whilst she was in the neighbouring paddock.  She is looking rather thin.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Bottle Jaw in alpacas?

Look who came to poke his head through the fence this afternoon to see if it was bottle time?!  Little Asher does think he's entitled to food whenever he sees somebody.  He's on four feeds a day at the minute and is growing nicely.  Thankfully he will take his feed from anyone too which is a real treat for visitors.
I actually went out with the camera to get some photo's of poor Azrael who seems to be showing signs of bottle jaw, a swelling to the lower jaw.  I've never seen this in alpacas before and I'm not entirely sure that is what this is, but the symptoms fit, it seems to flare up as the day goes on and is back to normal in the morning. 

Azrael has been recently wormed so shouldn't have a worm burden and isn't looking anaemic but by the end of the day he is salivating more than normal.  He is off to the vets tomorrow to get some bloods taken and see what he says.  Poor little Azrael, thankfully he is fine in himself and isn't letting the swelling interfere with grazing or his tea!
Loki, Azrael's dad was doing a bit of lady watching with Golden Guinea, these two are the best of friends and as usual this ended up in a bit of a skirmish as Loki went to pose on the ever so slightly higher mound!

Sunday 29 September 2013

Departures and Arrivals

This weekend has seen arrivals and departures, saying bye to alpacas is always a real mix of emotions; great to see how excited new owners get but sad to say bye too.  Saturday was the turn of Snow and her cria Middleton.  This was Snow on Friday before she left, she has been here on livery for over a year and is a lovely girl.
And this was a very excited Jan from Castleside taking delivery on Saturday afternoon.  Snow was so chilled out I'm not sure she even noticed she'd moved house!

We actually ended up bring Palm-Olive (a Remarque daughter) back, she decided to sit when we spat her off and typically Gianmarco hadn't gone along for the ride.  So Palm-Olive and Isaac have come back for a few weeks to get her mated.  She clearly hadn't forgotten her old mates, Isaac on the other hand clearly found so many white mums a tad confusing!
Today Fran and Simon came to visit, they have a couple of girls on livery here.  First job from Fran was to feed Asher, I'm not sure who enjoyed it most Fran or Asher.

Then we did a spot of halter training with the young boys, Plato and Luca were on the list today and both boys behaved well, I was particularly impressed at how well Plato did, he was a good boy.
Whilst we were doing the halter work Paul had gone to collect some more Shetland sheep.  I do like my little shetties, so we now have another 11 for Galaxy to enjoy in a few weeks time.  As you can see they were happy to explore their new field - Mia (pet lamb from many years ago) is the supervising sheep checking out the new arrivals!!

Another arrival today was not a welcome one; one of the girls has aborted a tiny male cria, it's just over 6.5cm and fully formed.  No one was wanting to own up to it this evening so I'm not sure who it belongs to.  Going on the size of it I have my suspicions, it must be one of the early girls.  So sad.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Sheep racing at Whalton Show

Saturday saw the return of our annual sheep racing at Whalton Show.  Those of you who have been reading my blog for years may recall we were roped into entering a team into the first ever Whalton sheep race four years ago.

There are four teams of four sheep and the winner from each goes into the gold cup final.  Well we won the finals in the first two years races, in fact year one we had all four runners in the final!  Last year the young farmer of Ponteland were invited along and stole my crown, we came second and third in the final.

This year I was determined to regain the crown.  First our for me was the only boy in the team, spotty lugs.  What a disaster, he promptly turned 180 degrees from the starting pen and ran back to his mates in the holding pen - not a good start.

Next out, the inaugural champion Mocha, Mocha is now over 9 years old and had no teeth, but she's fast!  Things were back on track, first by a mile; I think I got a little excited - thankfully nobody has shown me any photos!

Third out was Mia, the 2011 champion; friendliest, greediest and wonkiest legged sheep ever.  Nothing stood in her way, with me screaming at the finish line we had another winner.  By this point Dick Thompson, vet and owner of the Corridge Crusaders team was starting to get a little disgruntled after three second places.

I didn't think my fourth and final girl stood much chance despite being Mia's daughter she is not as responsive to my voice, however like her mum she is greedy and the other sheep were all being encouraged by a bucket.......

Wahoooo she won!!!

Three in the final and you guessed it, a Barnacre one, two, three!!!  I'm happy again to regain the crown.

As well as the sheep we had alpacas at the show which always prove popular, as was our knitwear.  At this rate we will have very limited stock left for Christmas.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Final few matings; maybe

Time seems to be a very rare commodity at the minute, and one I could do with more of!
We have been doing what will hopefully be the final few mating of the year (or will it?!), I always aim to finish birthing in August whilst we still have grass growing.
Pressure decided she was ready for a date with Gianmarco at the weekend; naughty Eva is looking over the fence; she obviously hadn't taken then, and was remated to Sunburst.
Diamante took full advantage of her mum being mated to have a good chew on her ear tag - we don't have many alpacas with tags as I don't like them and don't need them to tell who is who.
Diamante is looking fab, her fleece is showing lots of early promise.

Just look at those curls.

Today was the turn of Sahara to be mated, she was mated to St. Patrick but after 6 weeks of spitting decided to sit again, so after a course of antibiotics (she did the same sit spit sit routine last year!) she had been remated so fingers crossed.
Also in the trailer heading to Beck Brow was Sunburst, he had a date with a rather nice black girl Lola, who thankfully seemed much friendlier than early reports of her behaviour on Barbara's blog.  Hopefully for Barbara's sake pregnancy wont result in her old personality returning!
I had a lovely rummage through some cria fleeces whilst I was there, it's always nice to see other peoples fleeces and I would have happily snuck a couple out if I thought I could get away with it :-)

Sunday 15 September 2013

Alpaca walk and talk and sheepies

I can't believe another weekend is over, I really don't know where the time goes.  It's been another busy one; yesterday as well as the usual farm chores we had a lovely walk and talk visitor by the name of Jane.  She had seen us at the Berwick Food Festival last weekend and wanted to come and meet the alpacas.

She clearly had a great couple of hours as we received a lovely email from her today saying...

"Thank you both so much for a great afternoon with your lovely alpacas. They were even more lovely than I thought they would be. You are both a mine of information too! I will be back to do the same again soon."

We started walking Liberty, ultra friendly and very chatty...

And finished with Minimus, ultra chilled and positively horizontal!
I think the last bit of her visit will be a highlight, feeding Asher.  Thankfully he has really taken to his bottle and is happy to take it from anyone which is always good.

Today has been a sheep day; weaning, shedding, vaccinating, moving and being hit in the face by one of the blackie tups - not ideal when they have rather large horns!  At least everyone is now where they need to be without any major issues.
I've got to say having worked with them all today I do love my shetlands; even the naughty ewe who didn't want to come in with everyone else.  My pet texel and texel Jacob cross ones are also very funny; that just leaves the blackies and the less said about them the better!!

Friday 13 September 2013

The highs and lows of farming

I can't believe it's been 10 days since I last blogged, so much has happened.

Firstly a week ago we got our planning permission agreed for our second barn, despite our neighbours quite frankly ridiculous objections!  Thankfully the planning committee took them with the credit the deserved (none!) and the plans were approved.  Hopefully we will soon be able to commence the build before the winter sets in.

Our euphoria was short lived unfortunately as the following day we had a poorly alpaca.  Faith hadn't been herself for a couple of days, but with a normal temperature and colour and eating we weren't unduly worried.  The vet was booked to come Friday as we were scanning a batch of girls we planned to get him to look at her then.

Unfortunately she took a sudden turn for the worst and ended up being taken into the hospital (with her cria Asher) and put on a drip, the vet suspected a perforated stomach ulcer initially.  After two days intensive care treatment (and a brief temporary improvement) by Sunday night it became apparent that we were fighting a losing battle and more Faith was in a lot of pain which the vet was struggling to control.

We had to make the heart breaking decision to put her to sleep and bring home poor little Asher alone.  The post-mortem revealed that Faith had cancer of the bone marrow, the vet was amazed that she had stayed in such good condition and managed such a fabulous job giving Asher a great start in life.

Rest in peace Faith.
On a much brighter note we, well I say we, I stayed at home on bottle feeding duties (thank you for my goodie bag Jan and the Macaroons Bev), Paul took our show team to Westmorland County Show yesterday.  He had lots of willing helpers so he managed the 7 well.
We had a fantastic day, 7 animals, 7 rosettes and 2 championship sashes!!  Our two grey girls in the same class came second and third, then our grey stud Sunburst came 1st and went on to be grey male champion.  That's his fourth championship sash, undefeated; how impressive is that!!

Next up was our intermediate brown girls, Ankha and Gypsy.  One, two...... way to go girls!  Ankha went on to win Brown Female Champion and judge Tim Hey couldn't have been more complimentary about her if he tried.  In fact he said in the Supreme line up that had he had a Reserve Supreme to award it would have gone to the brown girl!!

Next in was the white boys, Thor and Linus, Linus isn't actually owned by us, he lives here on livery (so he is treated as one of our own!).  Now these two boys can be temperamental when it comes to walking, Linus does a good line in comedy falls and Thor just sits down but both boys walked well thankfully, which is more than can be said for some of the others white classes from what I heard.
Another one two! Linus first and described as 'the full package' by Tim, and Thor second.
As you can imagine we were very pleased with the results, it goes to show we are doing something right!

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Who's been eating my tea?

Yesterday we had a number of Swedish visitors who were keen to see how we farmed alpacas on a hill farm and see what they could learn from us to take back to Sweden.  They were a lovely bunch of people and we soon managed to talk the whole afternoon away!

Anyone who own alpacas will know just how easy it is to talk away a few hours without even realising it.  Hopefully we gave them a lot to think about and we will be able to help and inspire them in the future.

Today was a day of routine jobs, nothing fancy just to usually day to day jobs, feeding, cleaning paddocks, antibiotics and I even managed to fit in finishing off the mans hat I was knitting ready to wash tomorrow so it will be labelled ready to go with us to Berwick at the weekend.

I did take the camera out with me, I got a new one for my birthday so these should be the last one from the old camera, hopefully the new one will be better. 

This little man is a real little character, he is from Layla & Sandstorm and is full of life and mischief.  I have called him Kamenwati, meaning Dark Rebel, note I say I - Paul hasn't either agreed or disagreed so it's now in black and white so he's officially named!

Talking of characters, here's another one, one of the pesky goat kids who think they are entitled to roam where they want and pinch alpaca food if they so desire!  Asher and Isla (who looks like she need bigger pj's tomorrow night) are not too sure that he should be there.

Sunday 1 September 2013

A birthday treat

We've had a busy weekend again, one day we will have time to relax I'm sure, just not sure when it will be!
Friday even Gill, Ross and Taylor came over, it seems like ages since we saw them.  Once again the Pearson's seem to have fallen for a black girl, this time Patience was the one to steal their hearts.  Patience is a bit hit and mill with her top up bottle so I wasn't sure if she would take it off the ever enthusiast Taylor, but she started off well.

Reinforcements were soon called for in the form of Ross, Gill was actually feeding the girls at this point and anyone who follows us on twitter (@BarnacareAlpacas) will have seen how popular she was.
Saturday was my birthday, but no lie in or day off, we were at Bellingham Show, so I was up just after 5am whilst Paul snored for another hour or so!!  With everyone fed and the car loaded off we went; and yes Taylor I did wear my badge!!
It was a fabulous day, the girls proved very popular as did our knitwear, in fact it was then second best day out we've had so far this year.  I've already been giving mum and Carol the hurry up on their knitting because at this rate we'll have nothing left for Christmas.

Today we have been over to look at some land so see it's suitability for alpacas and also make sure we are happy with the perspective new owners.  It is something we are always vary careful with, assessing all new owners and their ability to care for them in the way we do.  I'm not very good at parting with them I know.  I'm not afraid to say no!

Todays couple had nothing to worry about, their clearly have some fab facilities and care for the existing animals fantastically.  All I have to do now is work out who is right for them and if I can part with them - tissues at the ready.