Wednesday 4 May 2016

New life on the hill

Spring finally seems to have arrived and with if new life on the farm is beginning to arrive.

I decided not to tup our sheep last year as we never send our sheep to the mart and I didn't really want anymore, plus I didn't want lambing to clash with the Scottish Alpaca Show that we'd were going to attend (more on that another night).  

I did make an exception for my three Wensleydale ewes though, Drizzle, Parnie and Mist.  I din't think any of them were actually pregnant and in typical sheep style we sadly lost Mist a couple of months ago for no apparent reason!  Anyway it turned out that Drizzle was indeed pregnant and surprised me with a very cute, in an ugly sort of way, tup lamb who Paul named Gromit after is dad Wallace!

Despite only having one lamb this year he is causing plenty of work (not that I'm complaining, I love him!).  Initially his mum had no milk and wasn't very interested in him.  Having not been expecting any lambs I didn't have any colostrum (and it was Sunday) so he started off on alpaca colostrum until I managed to get some from a friend, Sam at West Barn Pygmy Goats who also has a few pet sheep.

I thought Gromit was just a bit of a dopey weak lamb but then realised that he couldn't see, the poor little man has very little if any sight.  As he has grown his front legs have become very bent too, this poor little man is in special care, on a course of antibiotics and vitamin injections in the hope that we can salvage at least some sight and splinted legs to try and stop them from getting worse and hopefully straightening them.

Next to arrive 24 hours later was a very sweet little angora goat who we have named Calico.  Again, just like all my angora births assistance was required when April presented a head and no feet!  Thankfully there was plenty of room and the gorgeous little kid was safely delivered.

I have also been hatching some of our goose eggs, I'd put 8 in the incubator but only 6 were fertile.  I had been told by a number of people that geese were particularly difficult to hatch so I wasn't too hopeful for much success.  The first one pipped and made very little progress and eventually needed help as did the second.  Sadly the other 4 didn't manage to hatch, but these two are doing just great and are now 4 and 5 days old and growing so fast.

On the alpaca front Marne is now on 353 days, but having gone 410 with Oscar we could still have a bit of a wait.  She doesn't really have much signs of milk yet either but she had none last time so that isn't much help!

Andromeda is as wide as a house so hopefully she wont have too much longer to go, she's on 352 days so is well over our herd average and not knowing how long she went with Nelson two years ago who knows what sort of gestation she likes.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

As promised, a blog!

I’ve not found the time and if I’m totally honest the motivation to write a blog in in long time, my life is so busy and grabbing two minutes to do a quick tweet or snapping something to post on Instagram seems to fit so much easier into my day.  So if you want to follow us on Twitter were @BarnacareAlpacas and on Instagram we’re Barnacre_Alpacas 

However I appreciate that not everyone likes or uses twitter and Instagram and also some of you enjoy the detail that I can include within a blog, so I thought I’d better find the time to write one.  So here goes for all you complaining at me for not blogging!

To be honest I’m not sure where to start, it’s been almost a year since my last blog and this is starting to sound like I’m sat in the confession box.

We had a great year of birthing last year, with just over 40 babies born, not only our own but also from our various livery clients and this year is set to be busier again.  We’re only three weeks away from the first due date of this year, don’t tell mum as she’s farm sitting whilst we attend the inaugural Scottish Alpaca Championship in Lanark the weekend before and she’ll only panic!  The early ones tend to hang on so I’m sure Andromeda (Nelson's mum) will wait until after her due date.

Things haven’t all been great since last year, sadly we lost my dad last summer.  My dad was a huge inspiration in my life, and without realising it he was one of the main reasons I was determined to live my alpaca dream.
My dad (and mum for that matter) worked hard all his life and planned to travel in their caravan when dad retired, but ill health caused him to retire from work early and sell their beloved caravan and in the end dad never really got to enjoy his retirement.  I’d always been taught that if you work hard enough you can achieve anything (and I’m certainly not afraid of hard work) and I was adamant I didn’t want to spend my life working my socks off like my dad for a retirement I might never get to enjoy, so I managed to convince Paul the well paid office job could be sacrificed for a chance to try and make the alpaca dream a reality.  And that was over nine years ago now and the rest is history so they say!

Despite being crippled with arthritis, cancer and numerous other issues dad still got to enjoy the alpacas, I even managed to get him on the quad one or two times.

It was heart breaking at times when you know he would have loved to get more involved, telling Paul how not to built the field shelter or how he would do it; he was always right too!  He did manged to make me a couple of skirting tables along the way; we soon outgrew the first one as our fleeces improved!

I then managed to persuade him to make me a button for a bag I’d knitted because I couldn’t find a natural button I liked, of course he couldn’t stop with one button he did it so well, I soon had him making tiny buttons and scarf pins which meant he’d had to invent various tools for holding them as his hands were so deformed by this point he couldn’t hold them!

I’m so proud of my dad and hope that he will be watching over me as proud of me as I am of him, I love you dad!