A bit of 'starter' snow today - but it didn't lay much. Roads are very icy though. Sam made it to the abattoir and found it very interesting. From the detail he went in to I think he could be considering a career as a butcher. He said they were very respectful of the animals and the whole thing was very slick so altogether a good trip for him.
Smudge was intrigued by the snow and spent a long time staring out the window before he eventually ventured out.
I had a lot of hay and water to carry round which went well until I got a big grinding noise from the Mule. I stopped and got out quick as I didn't want to make it worse and end up without it for ages. The rest of the day was spent plodding up and down the hill. The alpacas didn't take much notice of the snow, apart from Little Star who took up solitary residence in the field shelter - and remained there!
When Carl got back he went out to have a look at the Mule and said it was my fault (of course) as I had not emptied the poo out of the back and it had dripped in the brakes and frozen. At least I think that is what I had done - I switched off after he mentioned it was my fault. Apparently I must now not put the handbrake on but use a block of wood while it is so cold and I MUST empty it out.
After all the animals were sorted I spent ages updating the website and creating a new shearing page. Dude's stud page got started but it is not complete yet. I also have to do another pair of gloves urgently,
One thing I didn't mention on the blog (on purpose) was that 2 weeks ago I had my hair cut. I must have had about 8 inches cut off and ---- no one has noticed!! Well, Carl and Sam have of course. This is a tribute to the truly awfulness of the new hair cut - it looks just as much of a mess as the old uncut hair! I am going to another hairdresser next week to have another hair cut (apparently Shaun by the bed shop in Blandford is very good!).
It has been VERY cold today, frozen poo made field clearing a bit of a chore this morning. I let some of the alpacas into the barn this morning for a quick check and they were not at all keen to go back out again!
Barnaby Rudge and Barry Norton were in their best posing moods - which was good as the vet popped round to take some photos which he wanted for a calendar the surgery is producing.
Here is Barnaby looking cute - and Barry below. Hope the vet did better as I only succeeded in chopping their ears off!
Whilst he was here I got him to have a look at Greeves. This was no mean feat with Lina on guard. It was fine as long as I held Greeves and he stood on the other side of the fence but there was no way Lina was having him in the paddock with her baby! Heart, lungs all fine so we are doing a few tests to see if anything shows up. Greeves looks fine and charges up and down the hill, he is just very thin still.
We still have no proper snow although one small flake did dance across the Mule windscreen this afternoon. Sam has put his desire for snow on hold for a day as tomorrow he is going on a college trip to an abattoir - highlight of his week! I hope he doesn't go as pale as he did when poor Mossop breathed his last breath!
. . . and we have had our oil delivered so tonight the heating is getting a rare airing! Woodburner and radiators, wonderful!! It is so lovely and warm I am going to try to update the website with new pictures, shearing page, stud page . . . it will probably take all week!
We have been busy today with a husbandry day - all alpacas checked over, injections where due, feet trimmed and eartags and microchips complete. All accomplished despite it being bitter cold - minus 4 for most of the day. The real excitement of the day was Cool Dude's fleece. We hadn't had a proper fleece check for a couple of months as he was sheared twice this year and we wanted to let it grow sufficiently before we started fussing around. I was so pleased when we had a good look and am now really looking forward to seeing his fleece stats when we get them back - they got sent off rather late! The other excitement will be his first progeny next year. I don't want to wish my life away but . . . !
Most of the alpacas were well behaved for their checks, even Lina. Lina made up for it this evening when I went to try Greeves coat on him. He is still very thin and with this bitter weather I wanted to give him a little extra protection. The coat went on easily but then Lina caught sight of him and went crazy - screeching and rearing and dashing around in circles! In the end I took it off as I felt she was pretty near to accidentally killing him in her panic. They are now snuggled up next to each other by the fence so he'll get some body warmth from her.
We have had no more snow despite the weather forecast - this is not pleasing Sam! Looking at the sky this evening I don't think there is any to come at the moment, we'll see!
We are now back inside and trying to clear out our new huge lounge ready for Carl to sort out all the plug sockets - this probably means we will be plunged into darkness for most of tomorrow evening so if there is no blog - you will know why!
We woke this morning to a thin smattering of snow. Last night we had several texts and phone calls from the SFS desperate for a bit of snowboarding! Sadly, we have had to disappoint them and they were all ready packed up to come over - may be more on the way though!
The snow was pretty but it did mean a lot of hay delivering and cracking ice first thing. This was done at speed as we were off to spend a lovely morning in Hampshire helping with a bit of toenail trimming and injections - great fun and delightful alpacas! The roads were a bit slippy down to Winterborne Stickland but then it was all clear.
When we got back it was back over to our alpacas - a little snow was still there and they were all waiting at the gate!
Prue and Barnaby in the other paddock seemed to have lost the rest of the herd who had retreated back up the top where it was less icy. Barnaby is sneaking a drink whenever he can!
I was pleased this evening as I managed to get Greeves to have a couple of mouthfuls of Camelibra - it's a start.
Now, with Sam's room finished, Carl is furiously knocking down the dining room while I sit amongst the dust typing this - I am fearing for my keyboard as I do not want another Jelly Baby Incident!
I spent a while on the internet last night researching Jayne's recommendation and had another email on the subject so, as there was no chance of getting to Mole Valley, I ordered some - looking forward to it arriving.
Very cold today, the ground at the bottom of the fields didn't defrost all day. Mind you, I think it was warmer outside than in - the cats certainly thought so as they spent all afternoon down by the barn annoying the alpacas. Cruella was fine just stalking things but Smudge kept creeping around by the fences. As soon as Dude came down to look at him he dashed away causing Dude to become very frustrated. I had lined up a lovely photo and then the batteries died. I think I had left the camera in the Mule too long and the cold had deadened the batteries.
There seems to have been a lot of snow everywhere else and I was just about to type - No Snow Here! - BUT, little flecks are beginning to fall as I speak and looking out of Sam's new bedroom window there is a strange whiteness in the distance. I have to admit none of that is obvious from the photo - batteries now replaced - (but I do now know where the watering can is!).
Carl and Sam are finishing off Sam's new room by putting up the blinds - the rather snazzy carpet has to stay for the time being.
A very cold day today - except for the brief moments when the sun was out when it was marginally less cold! The body warmer remained firmly on - even in the house as oil has reached critical level. Luckily, house restoration means we have lots of wood to burn - skirting boards and door frames tonight! Alpacas all are well and the cows were out in force on the hill.
Sam has a day off tomorrow and is longing for snow - how he will feel about that when I tell him he has a bit of fence maintenance to do I don't know! We let Lina's group of girls into a new bit of paddock this evening as they need everything they can get - Greeves is still very thin - and they went wild. Crispie was the worst - pronking around from one paddock into the new bit and back again. She was closely followed by Velocette and Sunbeam, very overexcited end to the day!
We are all pretty tired now - Sam's college interview turned into quite a long day! He has been offered a place but it is, of course, conditional on him getting the right GCSE results and that is not going to be too easy for him. Sadly, his dyslexia makes English a particular challenge and whether he will manage to get the grades is a bit in the balance. I think he would really enjoy the course - lots of machinery, dairy and arable work. He is just going to have to work very hard for the next few months and then we will see. It was good to see the alpacas there that Carl sheared. We only caught a glimpse as we were on a whistle stop tour of the campus. I seemed to be a bit of a magnet to the cows in the dairy parlour; I had two licking my back as I was trying to look intelligent while the tutor did his talk!
On a quick aside though, it did show how far advanced we are in our biosecurity measures, as are all the alpaca farmers I have visited. I was desperately looking around for a disinfectant point to dip my boots and I was itching to remove open feed sacks from the floor!
A highlight of the visit was meeting the blacksmith who had been on that history programme set in Shepton Mallet - he is one of the tutors and runs the blacksmith courses.
Before we went we had a long list of tasks to achieve but did not get very far as I ended up treating far more sheep eyes than anticipated. Looks like the weekend will be busy!
Getting colder! I have brought feeding time in the evening forward a bit as it takes me ages and if the chickens don't get theirs early enough they can't find their way back to their house. It's all the ones who prefer hand feeding and then the picking up of all the troughs and water containers that is taking so long. All good fun though and I am pleased to say that both Velocette and Sunbeam are beginning to show a little more interest in the hard feed. Today, everyone was out feeding on the hill at the same time and it got quite noisy with all the cows, tractors, Land Rovers and sheep!
Tomorrow we have to finish off the micro chipping and eartags which didn't get done on Sunday - plus Little Star's Vitamin D as, when I wrote up the medical book, I realised I had forgotten her! Also, one of Sam's sheep has Cloudy Eye (technical term that for us Shepherds!) - which apparently can spread like wild fire so she needs a drop of ointment.
All of that has to be achieved quickly as then we are off to Kingston Maurward for Sam's College course interview - a big day!
Oh, it is getting cold! Beginning to get a bit of frosty poo in the fields which is fun to collect (I am joking!). I think the ram may be having a bit of success but the raddle is only leaving faint traces of colour. I am beginning to suspect the raddle is not working too well. I tried to catch the ram to check but he was having none of that and when he started glaring at me I backed away pretty quick - Sam will have to deal with that!
We have been gradually introducing some micronised peas into the girls' diet - some love them, some hate them. Bert, Sherbert, Prudence, Crispie and Little Star hoover them up like there is no tomorrow. Emily dislikes them so much she no longer bothers with tea, Lina eats everything else but spits the peas out and the rest enjoy them tentatively! Flemenco will only eat from my hand anyway and the youngsters are still not really interested in anything but hay.
The Shepherd was on the hill removing his electric fence as now the sheep have gone down in the valley for the winter - I miss seeing them. I used to go and talk to them over the gate! The girls are always highly alert and interested whenever they hear his dogs.
A very busy day today. First thing, Sam and I were out cleaning field shelters and hay racks followed by a check of the boys and the sheep. The ram still does not appear to have wooed any of his girls but he is not one to give up easily! I like to body score all the alpacas once a month and the boys were all holding their scores nicely. They will remain on just the hay and no supplement. While we did this Carl was filling in Sam's new bedroom and once he had finished he and Sam went to help the Shepherd move his sheep down the hill. After that was done, and a little gossip was had whilst mooching around in the gateway, it was back to do vitamin D injections for the youngsters and body score the girls. We then came a little unstuck as the toe nail clippers had disappeared. That job has now had to be put off until Wednesday, by which time I hope to have located the clippers! Everyone seems to be wearing strategically placed leaf decorations in their mouths today - Velocette has a catchy little number - as does Crispie, below!
After a quick lunch Sam was left building a new hay rack whilst Carl and I shot over to Ashdale Alpacas. I knitted frantically all the way there and succeeded in casting off just as we pulled in! I wanted to deliver my new selection of gloves for Irene to work her magic on and we both wanted to see barn progress - all looking very good but no cria yet from Rosie. We had a quick gossip and bandied about some ideas but it was soon time to shoot back home to make sure Sam was sorted for college.
A bit of a mystery this morning as an emergency vehicle went roaring past as I was distributing hay. No one is quite sure whether it was an ambulance or fire engine - or where it went. Sam caught a glimpse on his way down the halter path to catch the school bus and says it stopped at the Cross but then moved on. I popped down to return a tin to Alf in the hope of resolving the mystery, but he was out so maybe he is on the mend - hope so.
Too murky for photos today, although it was quite bright in the village. I shall try tomorrow whilst Sam and Carl are out beating. I have a long list to achieve in preparation for Sunday morning vitamin D injections and toe nails (along with a bit of micro chipping and ear tagging).
There has been a great deal of rolling today from the alpacas, not us! In the summer they paw out little pits to roll in and then, in the winter, they turn into mud baths. What with that and the leaves it looks like they will never be clean again!
Mind you, the alpacas are not the only ones that are dirty at the moment. Carl has developed a serious DIY problem and is remodelling the house which is creating mountains of dust and rubble. He is doing a very good job and it will all look good in the end. I will also be very supple as I now have to climb through a wall to get in Sam's old bedroom and climb over furniture to get into Sam's new bedroom. The window man was supposed to be coming this afternoon to measure up for the new window but he didn't make it. As I had to wait in for him I am now behind on poo collection so I am hoping for good weather tomorrow!
Today has been wet - very wet! I had to go to Stalbridge this morning and by the time I came back the water was laying on the road in pretty big puddles - no where as bad as they are having in Cornwall, of course. It was a miserable time feeding and cleaning up field shelters today but at least I was not followed by a line of chickens as usually happens. Greeves little problem has cleared up and he looks much more perky - I didn't give him a bottle in the end as I thought that might upset him again.
This evening is definitely inside jobs - Sam has been sent to tidy what is left of his room (he now has no curtains, no secondary glazing, no furniture and a mighty big hole in the wall - Carl is moaning about the mess under Sam's bed and blocking up a door whilst I am about to return to my knitting while watching The Edwardian Farm which I am really enjoying.
Foggy start but lovely and sunny at times today - mostly cold. I had a little sit with Bert, she likes her chin tickled at the moment, but had to get up as the damp was seeping through my jeans.
Sam is in a bit of a depression at the moment as he has finally realised that, although he may be able to afford a scrap 4x4 to do up over the next year in preparation for his driving test, he will never manage the £5000 it would cost to insure it - something we have been telling him for weeks. He keeps giving the Jalopy nasty looks as he walks past it - he may find he is grateful for anything in the end! Not that the Jalopy will last that long.
Sunbeam is looking increasingly like a compost heap from her leaf rolling, she is at the front of the photo with Velocette and Lina behind - Emily and Crispie are by the fence. Greeves has stopped leaking from the rear end and is becoming fed up with me lifting his tail to take a look. Fingers crossed he may be recovering. I had stopped his bottles a few weeks ago as they were just a trial for both of us and he had started to gain weight but tonight he was sniffing round me again so I think I will try one tomorrow and see if he seems interested.
I'm back! Sorry the blog disappeared for a while - just a few things to get to grips with. Anyway, I am back from the ether and all is fine.
I cannot say that the past weeks have not had their fair share of dramas. Firstly, I killed a bunny. Driving sedately in my Mule I noticed a baby bunny careering crablike into the side of the chicken house and almost braining himself. I jumped out and picked it up to discover it had just escaped the clutches of Cruella (the cat) who was prowling the barn. I didn't like to leave it there so tucked it up in a box of hay and put it in the back of the Mule so I could take it back to the bin shed to recover (we are overrun with rabbits so probably not my best plan). I zoomed back up the top with bunny in the back but when I went to get him out - no bunny! I zoomed back down the field and found he had bounced out and landed face down in a large puddle. Once he was retrieved I took him back up, bunny in the cab this time, and fetched a syringe of water for a drink. Unfortunately, the plunger was rather stiff and I shot it down his throat so fast he gave one gulp and expired.
That evening we were sitting cosily around the log burner when a dreadful smell started. Sam got the blame until Carl went over to stoke the fire and noticed the chimney was exceedingly hot - we had a fire in the chimney! Carl sat and squirted a washing up liquid bottle of water up the flue until a large cremated bird dropped down followed by many sticks and bits of shell. We had to stay up very late squirting frantically and retrieving lumps of foul smelling debris. The next day Carl was up on the roof in a gale poking brushes down and then in the lounge poking them up - I have never seen so many bird bones!
Crisis averted, Carl built a rather smart walk in cupboard - somewhere for him to go if life gets too much for him. It all started when he tried to install a gun cabinet (but that is another story). He is currently demolishing a wall in the dining room and as Sam's bedroom door is in the process of being bricked up he now has to emerge through a hole in the wall in the dining room!
The alpacas are all soaked and follow me around the fields moaning. Greeves looks even smaller now where he is so wet and the others are growing so well. This picture does not show the vast tracts of mud behind me!
I am afraid Greeves is not too good at the moment. He developed diarrhoea yesterday so I have wormed him just in case and given him some rehydration fluid. May be a vet visit tomorrow. The toenails are all growing at an alarming rate but it is difficult to trim them at the moment with all the mud. Lina's favourite place now is behind the field shelter. Everyone seems to want to get behind the shed but Lina guards it fiercely!
Wind has also been very strong and a whole line of washing blew away. Most of it has been retrieved but my only comfy bar has disappeared, as has one of Carl's best socks. I just hope that the bra does not turn up entangled round one of the Gentleman Farmer's cows (I would rather never find it!).
The cut has been a very exciting place with a tree down (which I managed to drive under) and a car crashed into the hedge at the bottom. Saturday the beating wagon got a flat tyre half way down and there were an awful lot of brawny young men there mending it.
The other bit of excitement is that the Ram has arrived and is now in residence! The Shepherd brought him on Sunday and my girls are not impressed. Stumpy keeps head butting him and George just charges off in the other direction. He is having a little more luck with Sam's sheep, just hope mine don't traumatise him!