Sunday 30 March 2014

Antenatal Night

Well the lovely weather didn't last long did it, well not up north anyway, we are back to soggy wet alpacas and muddy gateways and channel.  Not ideal for showing visitors round, but that's alpaca farming it's not all sunshine and fluffy alpacas!

I didn't to ask permission to name today's visitors so I won't, but it was nice to listen their fantastic plans and see their enthusiasm for alpacas and Paul's toys, I'll let you work out which way round the enthusiasm was!  

Slightly embarrassing was my initial meeting; junky hands and soggy trousers from kneeing on the floor trying to deliver our first lamb of the year, very stuck and sadly dead.  Our sheep are not actually due for another 9 or 10 days yet but this blackie was obviously in a rush.  Fingers crossed things will improve when lambing starts properly.

The Scottish Black face ewes are due to start us off a week on Tuesday, followed by the lowlands, Ebony is first, due on Thursday 10th, as you can see she is quite a size.  She is one of my original three pet sheep so is getting on a bit now and has only ever had single tup lambs in the past so it will be interesting to see if she manages anything different this yet.

The Shetland sheep start on 21st April and some of those are huge too!!

Then the goaties should begin on 23rd.  The first alpaca officially due is Imala on 2nd May, she wouldn't pose on her own, but here she is with some of her friends, note her best friend Gabby to her left, they are always together.

Another of the early girls is Highland Rose, she is due 25th May however is already bulging and spending lots of time sat down so we will see how long she keeps her legs crossed!

Saying all that we have one girl who we are keeping a very close eye on at the minute, bonkers Carol.  She was Sunbursts very first conquest, and played very hard to get, however his persistence paid off and she was mated on 11th May.  Having not been the most cooperative at the initial mating we knew spit offs were not going to be the most reliable so she as scanned at the end of June; empty!  Not wanting to believe the vet and putting doubts into his mind we agreed  to scan her again with the next batch of scans.

She was scanned again at the end of July; empty!  This time we decided to Estrumate her, despite this she has still never sat for Sunburst or any other boys, we've tried a few having experiences some choosy girls in the past!  Carol goes absolutely nuts when the boys go in the pen let alone get close. 

This was Carol on Friday night, she has also gained 7.6kg in the last few months?!?!?  Think we might need another scan.

We actually weighed the all the main group of girls yesterday and there were some very interesting gains, the biggest gain in the last 6 months was Ursula, due at the end of May gaining 14.4kg.  The second biggest gain was from Sahara at 13.2kg who didn't actually think she was pregnant on the last round of spit offs last year. A scan may be required here too!  

Wednesday 26 March 2014

More Weanies

I've managed to get out and take a few more weanling pictures to share with you all.  All the littlies seem to have settled quite well, in fact the one still complaining the most is the biggest, and oldest; Silhouette.  She is from our new brown boy Darwin and ChaCha, one of the girls we have for sale, but I'm thinking I might take her off the sales list until she's birthed this year so I can see what she produces as she's been mated to Darwin again so is carrying Silhouettes full sibling- I've not mentioned this to Paul yet!!

Silhouette would be part of the show team had she not have completely ruined her fleece!  It is so matted up with bits of hay and goodness knows what you can hardly open it. The only way we will be able to use her fleece will be to cut off the top inch after she's been sheared.  

 Next up we have Patience, now she is from Geena (Mum to our black stud Loki) and Black Sabbeth.  She has a really vocal little girl with a chip on her shoulder.  She was partially bottle fed for a few weeks as Geena only produces milk in two teats so needs help feeding cria, but Patience soon started eating hard feed and didn't want a bottle anymore!

Next up is Murray, born the day Andy Murray won Wimbledon, hence the name.  Murray has a very fine fleece (inherited from his dad Gianmarco) and masses of it (inherited from his mum) along with some fantastic Australian genetics, including Jolimont Gianmarco, Jolimont Sculptor, Jolimont Encantador and Jolimont Conquistador, so we have high hopes for Murray.

Next up it's little Pasha, now Pasha is the weanie weanling, not that he lets that bother him, he's just like his oldest brother Minimums completely horizontal!  Chiquita is really missing him which is so ironic as sh paid no real attention to him in the field until bedtime, he always had to hunt hr down for a feed. Pasha just like his brothers will never be sold, he's going nowhere, other than some of the agricultural shows.  Chiquita's cria are always keepers!!!  Much to Paul's disgust, there is no discussion on the subject.

And then we have Jumping Jack, who is super nosy and very friendly despite having a very nervous mum in Fair Lady.  I know I am going to have to put him on the sales list at some point but I'm hoping I can hide him for a little while yet.

Finally I thought you might like to see how Czara, mentioned in my last blog, managed to pinch milk from Pressure, she morphed herself to Diamanta, meet Czarmanta, the to headed alpaca!!

Sunday 23 March 2014

All weaned

The final weaning has been very delayed this year to say the least.  It's a job I always hate but with some of the littlies being very little and weight gains for some being slow we've been putting off weaning the last few, but we could no longer put it off anymore.

Our weanlings range from 42kg down to a tiny 17kg, but that's Pasha, Minimus's brother so he was bound to be small, but even Minimus was 18kg when he was weaned!

The usual handful of mum's who hate weaning have been stood at the gate and fence all day but the babies have been very brave, there was a fair bit of humming from a few tonight though who are obviously missing their bedtime milk.

I did intend taking some photo's of them enjoying their new field but having had alpaca visitors it never actually happened, so here are a few I took on Wednesday in the wind; I love to see their fleeces blowing in the wind.

First up we have Asher, a real sweetie who will be one of the boys who goes on the sales list soon.  I'll miss him as he's an affectionate little man.

Next up we have Ashling, now she's one of the small ones who has been weaned today, the pest has stayed the same weight three weeks running so has had a vitamin injection today to see if that helps.  I'm glad I decided not to enter her into the NWAG show!

She has a lovely fleece though so may make it to the shows later in the year; she also has the more adorable face.

Next up we have Bounty, she was weaned three months ago now!

Now this is Czara, she was orphaned back in November so was sort of weaned then, however Pressure took pity on hr trying to pinch milk and eventually happily fed her along with her own cria!

Next up is Kamenwati, he is a little thug, but a lovable one, he spends all his time looking for mischief, in fact he had from the minute he was born, hence his name which means dark rebel!  He is one big ball of fleece, just look at the size of his neck, he is going to make someone a very entertaining and fantastic fiber producing pet boy.

Any finally for tonight we have Mellan, meaning small and pleasant, he was a tiny 5kg born and is still on the small size, but I,m sure he'll catch the others up eventually.  He's be another one of the boys to go on the sales list in due course.

Monday 17 March 2014

The National rundown

Paul and I headed off on Friday for a a lovely weekend down at Telford at the National Alpaca Show.  I'e got to be honest we wouldn't' normally take alpacas this far, it as a six hour trailer journey for the girls but Barbara is very persuasive!!  Thank you Barbara (and your team) for putting on such a well organised and fantastic show.

We had six entries into the show in three of the four different categories, in view of our involvement of the Border Mill who were organizing the yarn competition I thought we'd better not enter that one.  We were very pleased to return home with six rosettes, you can't complain at that really can you.

We only took two alpacas, I didn't think it was a good idea to take down Sunburst, to a working boy a small pen means its mating time so two days in a small pen in close proximity to girls is asking for trouble!  I hadn't entered any juniors either as I wasn't sure I'd be able to have them halter trained in time because of my hand and operation so it was down to intermediate girls, Strawberry and Ankhesenamun to fly the Barnacre flag in the halter show.

Strawberry was up in the second class of the show, she behaved very well. 

She came a very respectable 3rd, in fact the girl that pipped her to 2nd, Katchoo Calypso, is actually from one of our girls Highland Rose, so we are no even more excited to seeing what she produces to our fantastic grey stud Sunburst.

Ankha also behaved very well, she did try and eat the artificial grass a few times but walked well and stood superbly.  She was placed 4th and I've got to be honest we were disappointed with her result, it was probably more to do with the oral reasoning given by the judge Nick Harrington-Smith, than the placing, he said her fineness was her downfall, she has a 17 micron fleece with 100% comfort factor!  Had he of said staple length maybe I wouldn't of been so miffed.  I did get a couple of well experienced and trained people (who will remain nameless) to have a look and they said she was very fine???  This was the National Show so I know I should be happy with a rosette and I am.

We had also entered her fleece into the fleece show, that's more like it, 1st!  We went over to have a look at the fleece entries on the Friday night but as I didn't have my catalogue I wasn't 100% sure it as Ankha's fleece that had won but I thought it was her. 

Her full sister Meketaten came 2nd in the Adult brown class.  I was very pleased with this because I entered the fleece show at the last minute without checking the fleece and I'd completely forgot I'd pulled some of the fleece out to spin for my hat entry!!

Our third entry to the fleece show was Strawberry's junior grey fleece which also came 2nd.

My final contribution to the show was in the hat competition, it took m absolutely ages because I wanted to knit the bobbles in different members of our herd, I can identify every single bobble.  I was very pleased to win 3rd.  This one won't be up for sale it's mine!! 

It was only possible for us to go to the national because my fantastic mum and dad were farm sitting.  Not only did mum do a fantastic job of keeping a very weak goat kid alive who requires round the clock feeds, looking after all the animals she also managed to do my mountain of ironing, scrub the floors and clean the bathrooms.

Thursday 6 March 2014

Alive and squelshing in mud!

Eek, It’s been 4 months since my last blog for various reasons, but I’m back; alive and well and with lots for you to catch up on!

Firstly I will apologise for my blog silence and thank those of you who have been in touch to make sure I am still alive.  I  am alive and I will try and make the time to resume my normal blogging service.  I thought I’d better do it because Paul’s threatening to blog about one of his new toys and you know what his blogs can be like sometimes!

I’m actually recovering from surgery on my elbow so am supposed to be taking things easy hence I've found the time to blog, my typing isn't quite up to its usual speed though so I’ll ease myself in gently with short one!

Since my November post unsurprisingly shed number two is complete and fully functional. I've just noticed there is not door on this photo, but it does now have one, or rather two!

It took all of about two days for the girls to christen the floor!!  

Thankfully the bad snow that was forecast never arrived, but we have had our fair share of wind and rain and have the resultant mud and muddy alpacas to prove it.

Two toned boys.......
 And as for the girls......

And thankfully little Mellan isn't part of the show team, not only is he filthy he's tiny but with masses of fleece!

We haven’t bought anything, well not animal wise anyway since I last blogged which on past performance is quite good!  Goatie numbers have increased slightly though as we had two bonus kids born a few weeks ago.

Meet Bobby.

And Bramble, this wasn't quite as straight forward as Bobby's birth hence the blood, she's doing fine now though.

On the alpaca front there always seems to be something going on, I suppose that not surprising now we have just over 100.  We’ve delivered a group of girls to form a new herd, sold a couple of lots of boys and had lots of visits from people wanting to talk alpaca, buy knitwear or enjoy one of our farm walk and talks; even the mud doesn’t seem to put them off thankfully!  Not so sure about me and the alpacas though!!