Thursday 31 January 2013

Wild and wind swept

The wind has been blowing an absolute gale today and with driving rain on an off all day the alpacas and goats (who hate the wet) have been inside all day.  It's great for them, not so great for me trying to keep them clean.

The alpacas and goats are much cleaner than the sheep mind and there's not as many sheep in the shed. 

In between my outside jobs I have managed to get a few shop updates done today, our knitwear was really popular again last year with increased sales again which is great.  Many repeat customers coming back time and time again is a great sign of satisfaction.

Here are a few of the latest items we've added to the collection.

Tomorrow we have the vet coming to do an insurance check for one girl and I want a spot of advice on the goaties, I've never kidded before and I like to make sure I'm doing everything right.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Light relief

Short and sweet tonight folks as I'm half asleep.

Thankfully our snow is rapidly thawing now, in fact I'm hopeful that tomorrow it will be gone!

I've had a lovely day today with Jan from Castleside Alpacas, we've been talking alpacas all day.  We had a good rummage through a few fleeces, Jan also did a spot of AD&E paste administering and some toe nail trimming.  Not to mention we managed to fit in a spot of lunch, very nice it was too.

On the way back I treated Jan to the delights of our local country store, Robson & Cowans.  It's a brilliant place that sell everything and if they don't they will happily get it for you. 

Sunday 27 January 2013

The big thaw begins

At last the snow is melting, mind you that's not before another 33cm (12in) of snow fell over Friday night and Saturday morning according the the Met Office weather station at Redesdale (the valley we look over) - the most recorded this year!

Never again will I wish for snow rather than mud, we are still unable to get to all of our sheep and lambs so the devastating reality won't we confirmed for a few days, but I know it's not going to be good, its heartbreaking.

Thankfully all the alpacas, goats and what we considered the most vulnerable sheep were and still are in the shed eating hay morning day and night. 

Unfortunately the hay delivery has been unable to get either so I'm literally on my last big bale then it will be down to the few small square ones we keep for easy transportation.  By my calculations we will have about 3 spare small bales by Saturday when the hay is now due to arrive!

Yesterday we managed to get the thick of the snow off the top bit of our drive so the drifts of 3 and 4 feet were down to more like three inches and Ian our neighbour dug out the bottom of the drive so we were able to get the car and my ton of Camelibra up to the barn.

Hettie the tractor having a well deserved sunbathe after pushing tons of snow - note to self, buy a buck for the front before next winter!
Thankfully more thawed over night and we dug more away this morning as we needed to get out with the trailer this afternoon, I forgot to ask permission to say why so I'd better not.  On the way out it was a little slippy, on the way back we got stuck three times and I had to dig the car and trailer out!

Thursday 24 January 2013

Boys will be boys

Thank you for all of your concern and good wishes, it is grately appreciated.  The snow is still causing chaos here and to say I'm well and truly sick of it would be an understatement.  Even the easiest task is such hard work and exhausting.

We have another weather warning for tomorrow, but hopefully after that we will see an end to the white stuff, then we'll be complaining about mud again - there's no pleasing some folk!

This afternoon I decided to put the boys out for a bit in the yard, its not safe to let them out into the fields as it's so deep in places.  Hughie thought the snow was great fun and spent five minutes jumping, kicking and running round in the snow.

Hughie is the only gelding we have here and he's a bit of a mummy's boy; he loves me!  He can be a bit of a pest at times though.

Golden Guinea on the other hand refused to leave the comfort of his bed so I had to work round him.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Yet more snow

I couldn't believe my eyes when I got up this morning and saw how much more snow we'd had overnight, I was dreading going out for fear of what I might find.

The snow drifts are now over the top of the fence in places
All the alpacas and goats are tucked up in the shed but our 200 sheep are out on various parts of the hill.  So after I'd sorted everyone out in the shed I had to trek up the hill to the lambs with food, they already have a big bale of hay.

This is the channel me and the alpacas would usually walk up
The sheep and lambs regularly snuggle up near the hens and down the banks of the culvert, rather worrying the culvert is nowhere to be seen as the snow has completely filled in the dip. I'm hoping all the lambs moved before hand.

With the lambs fed I needed to head down to the Shetland ewes, now this was a challenge, I needed to take them food and hay and there was no way the quad would get out so off I trudged.  Wading waist deep for much of the way I got stuck a few times and ended up on my bum at least twice.

This wasn't even half way there but I needed an excuse for a rest
Then about half way
Thankfully the Shetlands were all ok and grateful of there little pallet shelter.  They were pleased to see me with some supplies!

On the way back I spotted what looked like a sheep foot sticking up out of the snow.  When I managed to get to it there were four of them, and unfortunately I dug out a dead ewe.  Next to her was a lamb with just it's head showing which I dug out along with it's mate. 

Then I spotted a third one completely buried which took some freeing but when I did I saw a tiny bit of fleece next to it, there was another one down there and I'd been stood on it.  I'm talking four foot of snow drifts here and I needed the spade as my hands were now freezing and useless. 

I managed to free her and she was still alive, they are now in the shed and one is looking much better I'm not so sure the other one will pull through but I'm trying my best.

Never in a million years when we took on hill sheep did I think they would cause me the heartache that they do, sometimes even I wonder where I find the strength to do what I do.

Hopefully now it has finally stopped snowing we can have a bit of a thaw, she says hopefully!

Monday 21 January 2013

Snow's a waist of time

What a day, it has been snowing here all day and we now have more snow than I have ever seen.

We woke this morning to an extra 3 inches or so and it just hasn't stopped, we are now completely snowed in here, in places the snow is waist deep, and it has to be said I am rather worried about the poor sheep, I physically couldn't get to the top half of the hill this afternoon.

This was the drive earlier this afternoon - do you like the 4 bar fence?!

By this evening when I waded down to try and put the ducks to bed you could now only see the top of the fence and the duck house had vanished under the snow, I couldn't even find it!!  The ducks were rather confused and walked back up the drive much quicker than I could to go back into the shed, I'm just hoping they have the sense to stay in there all night.

Thankfully all of the alpacas and the goats are tucked up in the shed, the weanlings continue to cry but are slightly better tonight, they all came running to the end of their pen to meet me when I went in at tea time

Hopefully this snow will stop soon and everyone will be able to get out to stretch their legs and get a bit of fresh air and I'll be able to muck out without numerous noses supervising!!

Sunday 20 January 2013

Snow flake, quick run

Anyone following us on Twitter will know that we have been under a blanket of the white stuff for a week now and I'm sick of it; if I could pack it over to Barbara I would do!  I've been carrying water round for everyone since Tuesday and it doesn't look that that's going to change any time soon.

The alpacas are not keen to venture out, although with a bit of persuasion this morning Liberty and Azrael went out to survey the grounds, after they had had there special round of warm speedibeat.

As soon as Liberty felt a flake of snow she was off back into the shed like a shot, I just managed to catch her mid leap!

Personally I think the cats have the best idea!! 
We have done our first bit of weaning today, I hate it, crying babies just tugs at my heart strings.  I'll take the camera out again tomorrow to share a few photos, by the sounds of the forecast they will be indoor shots though. 

Thursday 17 January 2013

Picture of our new stud

patience people, patience!

Wednesday 16 January 2013

But it's minus 10

It was an extremely cold night last night, far too cold for anymore snow so this morning all the water troughs were well and truly frozen as were all the outside and barn taps.  That meant I had to fill all the water troughs down in the barn from the house and boy can all these animals drink some water!

As the sun was shining I thought everyone would be glad to go out and play, wrong!  I had to physically push most of the main herd out of the shed and rather than running straight out the gate and up the channel they chose to run round the yard and back into the barn through the main door.

After rather a lot of running backwards and forwards and chuntering on my part the main herd were eventually in their field.  To give you some idea of the severe frost we had this was one of the cobwebs on the fence.

Next out was the new girls, now these girls have been brilliant at their routine from day two of being here; not today.  They also decided that they didn't want to go up into their field and Carol (Sponsored by Carol for the year) decided to take them down to the main gate instead.

Just to prove it wasn't just the girls pushing their luck today here was Luca sharing Lily's milk bar again.  I'm wondering if Cassiopeia will let him feed once I have weaned Lily at the weekend, she looks at him when he's feeding so she knows he does it.

Monday 14 January 2013

Eye spy

All the animals have spent the day inside today hiding from the snow, even the cats decided the warmth of the aga was better than heading off out onto the hill to find some fresh meat!

We've have lots of dirty fluff ball alpacas at the minute, a few of whom have required a bit of a trim so they can actually see.  Pablo, Minimus and Piccolina's little brother was first on the list.  He is from Chiquita and Golden Guinea and just like the rest of the family with a superfine fleece and lots of it.

He looks much better now he can see.

His Auntie Angelica was also on the list for a trim, she's Chiquita's sister, from Willow and Legend of Spartacus so also carries a huge amount of fine dense fleece.

Sunday 13 January 2013

Gate ready - go (Paul)

Rain, rain, rain.  Let's hope that was the story of 2012 and not 2013.

We have been told on more than one occasion that alpacas don't like being inside - really??!!  Since we moved to (and built) Liberty Hill Farm, we have built our nice big alpaca shed and for the last few weeks in this horrible weather we have been bringing everyone in at night.  Do we have to push and drag them down the hill? Ha ha!  This is the sight that usually greets us at night, the main herd of females and cria at foot waiting behind their gate to come in for buckets of warm speedibeet, hay and water!

Can we come in yet?

 The gate is open and off we go - Oonagh is usually at the front.  She doesn't share food trough space or hay nets with anyone so being first into the shed meeds un-contaminated food!

And who is last, same as ever, Chiquita (fawn), Minimus's mum! Just in front of her is Liberty (black) the first female alpaca born here at Liberty Hill Farm.  The girls are all dashing down the channel.  The layout we have here enable one person to move any number of alpacas anywhere on our farm!  It also allows us to have a number of self contained 'mini herds', the main herd, the livery girls, our new elite purchases, the stud boys, the Angora goats and the sheep!
Just to prove it's not the Barnacre core herd that like their indoor comforts, here are the livery girls also under starting orders. Barbilla now has a new owner as does Iolani (front right) and Lady (hiding at the back).  Allie (front left) and Snow (far right stetching her neck out) are for sale on behalf of a friend and client, with no VAT!  Both have fabulous fleeces and genetics...

Saturday 12 January 2013

Shetland, about not from (Paul)

Well Blogger has been causing us real problems this week with photos proving really difficult to upload - but we think we might have cracked it.

It's been a busy few days (for a change!) and we have been visiting, well more invited, when we joined Gill (@giddiupchicken for Twitter fans), Ross and Taylor for pizza at their place.  Check out the amazing pizza oven that Ross has built in their garden (sorry about the poor quality shot from my Blackberry):

The Shetland sheep all seem to be doing well.  Shetland sheep are the UK's finest fleeced primitive breed sheep you know!  Here they are waiting to see who is coming into their field.
Visitors with food are always welcome!  Check out the range of beautiful colours.
 A bucket of supalyx is going down nearly as well as the ewe nuts (top right)...
 But what to do if you can't decide which is best??!!

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Alive and well

I thought it was about time I let people know I am still alive and well and Paul didn't bump me off over the Christmas and New Year period!

I have quite enjoyed him blogging for me, not so sure I like some of his photos but I never did like having my photo taken - that's one advantage to not being able to upload photo's I suppose.  Which incidentally I still can't work out how to do so I think I need to talk to the technical department (Paul) about Google Chrome.

Things have been all go since the last blog, thankfully we have had a couple of dry days so most of the animals have been out.  Today all the alpacas and even the goaties went out, with the exception of the two youngest girls as I still have Galileo with the girls and they are too young for mating.

Basil and his, in need of attention, lamb entourage have remained inside, although most could probably venture back outside now, although with snow forecast for the weekend I think I will keep them in a little longer to be on the safe side. 

There are two lambs that aren't up to going out, one was a casualty I picked up on the rounds this morning.  He was stuck on his side and looking very sorry for himself but does seem to have perked up and is now up and moving.  The other is a ewe lamb who has been in since the weekend, still isn't very keen to move much although she is eating hay but like so many of the blackies wont touch feed.  Sheep; who'd have em eh!!

With the sun out I headed out with the camera, but with all the mud the photos aren't pretty but as soon as I can I will share a few alpaca photo's with you.  The cria are all (well mainly, mentioning no names Pablo) growing nicely and all being well there will be a spot of weaning going on shortly - I hate it and keep finding an excuse to delay it, but it can't carry on.  More hurdles have arrived for shed divisions so this weekend it is then....

Monday 7 January 2013

Blogger photo upload problems...(Paul)

Hi everyone,

Just a quick one tonight as it is late and yes we are still here and haven't washed away in the rain yet!

We had some great photos to share with you but I'm afraid Blogger seems to be playing up and for the last 2 days will not let us upload any photos - most annoying!

There has been some good interest in our two new alpaca livery girls that are for sale and this has led to a couple of enquiries about two of the girls in our main herd!  Well if you don't ask...

Good news on Azrael (black male, daugther of Lucia and Loki).  Now he is munching on hard food the goats milk is off the menu! No doubt the local supermarket will wonder why they suddenly have a drop off in demand for the stuff!

Thursday 3 January 2013

Galileo, Galileo figaro...(Paul)

...sorry to disappoint any fans of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody but this Blog isn't a tribute to Freddie Mercury, musical genius that he was.

The Galileo in question is an Angora Goat, Corrymoor Galileo our pedigree buck.  He has settled in very nicely at Barnacre and as you can see below he is happy with his lot surrounded by his ladies and hay.

In case you're wondering Galileo is the one centre front introducing himself to anyone who comes anywhere near: Debbie, myself or any of our farm walk 'n' talk visitors!

Any guesses for how many Angora kids we will have in the Spring??!!

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Barnacre fireworks put London in the shade (Paul)

Happy New Year everyone.

In case you are wondering, yes Debbie does still have fingers and can type, her fingers have been worked to the bone over Christmas so I'm helping out with a few blogs.

First up, the great Barnacre fireworks, lighting up the Northern Skies like you've never seen before.  Well, when I say fireworks maybe I'm taking a little artistic licence with my description (surely not).

Chris (Twitter: @CSimpson019) will enjoy that photo I'm sure!

Debbie has been bending my ear again about New Year's resolutions, which I don't make.  However, anything for a quiet life and so I dutifully resolved to regularly watch the girls hard at work, here's a photo as proof:

Debbie (far left) and her mum, Janet (far right) are busy filling up hay nets supervised by Liberty (middle, black and 4 legs) as the relentless rain has led us to keep the herd inside our alpaca shed for what seems like an age now.  The hay consumption has shot up to two big round bales a week and what seemed like a full hay larder in the summer now looks like the leftovers from a rabbit hutch (well maybe a little more).  Our hay nerve finally broke and we made a quick trip over to see Mr T - our friendly Northumbrian sheep farmer to collect 2 big square bales which the alpacas sniffed out in seconds!

The pesky Blackfaced hill sheep continue to suffer in the wet weather too.  The 'dry them out and fix em up' corner of the shed has a few residents now, most of which are on the mend, much to the delight of Basil the goat (top right) who is looking forward to seeing the back of his 'mates'.
Finally, today we dosed the pedigree Shetland sheep that are living in the hay field.  We should have taken the camera with us because we inspected their fleeces and you wouldn't believe the fine coloured crimp that adorns them.  We just hope that Galaxy (our 3 year old Shetland tup that we bought earlier this year) is doing the business with his lady friends!