Friday 29 April 2011

The Two Day Thing

Last ewe has now lambed so there are now 20 and all are now looking good - last of the ringing done this morning - although I have a sneaky feeling one little boy escaped our attentions.  I got a bit muddled as I ended up flat on my back after a major charge through the race while I was in charge of letting them through one at a time.  They can be powerful things, sheep!

Last night we went to collect Dobbie and Caedmon from the lambing field.  Dobbie was very good, had his halter on and trotted up into the stock trailer where he settled down straight away.  Caedmon was another matter entirely.  He did not want to leave his sheep and we were chasing round after him for ages, until he suddenly realised Dobby was missing, let us capture him and walked back up the field very nicely on his halter.  This morning we got them sheared and they now look very elegant - and much cooler.

In amongst all of this I only managed to snatch a glimpse of the Royal Wedding but from the tiny bit I saw, the balcony part, she looked very lovely and he looked very handsome - will have to catch up tonight.  I couldn't watch for long as I had a paddock to prepare for a very special visitor - more news on that soon.  In fact there will, hopefully, be more than one visitor to tell you about next week!

We are now starting to get ready for our first matings of the year - Prue, Emily and Little Star - all empty as Emily and Little Star were not ready last year and Prue was on a break!  We are going to adjust slightly the way we do our matings this year following on from some tips from The Wise Woman.  Now I don't doubt that everyone else probably does this anyway but it was new to me - so - The Two Day Thing is our master plan for these first three.  Day 1 we do the first mating.  Day 2 we offer the male to the female again and remate if receptive. We'll do this  at approx the same time of day or at least within 26 hours of first mating. This appears to be as the female comes in to oestrous approx 26 hours after first mating. This means that, should the first lot of semen have lost its oomph or died, then there is a second batch winging its way to the desired spot at the right time. Hopefully! (Sorry Oh Wise One - I cut and pasted that bit as it sounded so good!!).  7 days after 1st mating - Spit off.  Then we will repeat spit-offs weekly for a while as we did last year.  Sorted!!  Actually, everyone we mated to Dude last year appears to be pregnant despite a slightly disorganised approach but this year I want to get a bit more together with it all.  May have got some of the technical stuff wrong there but  we'll see how we go!
Now Carl is painting the outside of the house - shed door first - I am supposed to be weeding a border - don't want to do it - and then I think Carl and Sam are going to pick up a chain harrow they have acquired.  It has extending arms which sounds rather exciting!

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Been a little hectic!

I am really sorry about the lack of blogging!  Life has been a little hectic with 19 lambs charging around.  Their favourite game seems to be all trying to balance on their mother's backs.

In the end just 3 of the sheep needed help - one set of enormous twins from George who are now very healthy, and two of the black sheep who had lambs in the wrong positions.  One was a bit hairy but we managed - although she is now very friendly -!  The triplets mum developed mastitis which has meant milking her twice a day to get rid of the horrid turned milk, unpleasant but tonight we started getting proper milk from one teat.  The twins are still being bottle fed and had joint ill.  One is now fully recovered and very sweet but the other is still limping.  She limps very fast though, so I think she will be okay.  Two Tone, one of last years bottle fed orphan lambs meanwhile is becoming very jealous and likes to try jumping on my back whenever I am feeding the twins - not so cute now she is so big!  Here she is trying to look cute through the pylon!

Greeves looks tiny now he has been sheared but is no longer thin.  He is very small though!  Islay is still his favourite alpaca in the whole wide world and he has now gone off me and no longer wants a cuddle, which is not a bad thing.  We sheared him as quick as possible and deliberately tried to leave it a little longer so it is not the neatest shearing in the world - but at least all the hay is out.
So - - don't be surprised if I don't blog again until the weekend!!

Saturday 23 April 2011


In the words of the Sun, 'Phew what a scorcher!'  It really is now getting too hot, particularly as the jobs to do never stop.

Greeves and Islay were tucked up in the barn this morning, eating hay together, and today all the ones who were sheared yesterday looked far more comfortable.  Here is the elegant Cassie looking graceful!
Now we are about to sit down to a leg of pork, not the right weather for it I am afraid, and then it is over to the animals with a couple of  cans of cold lager for a relax!

Friday 22 April 2011

We now own a Gremlin!

Rather a busy time here today.  The triplets Mum has mastitis which means the twins need bottle feeding and Mum has to be milked out several times with injections to follow up.  The Shepherd then came and put some penicillin tubes in her teats and we are hopeful she will recover.  Despite the twins Joint Ill they are drinking their bottles well and are desperately trying to play - though not terrifically successfully as they tend to fall over!  They also need antibiotics so I'm getting through needles quite fast.  We had a huge stuck little boy who came out with help and a little altering of leg positions - trouble is, in the process of doing this I got covered in fluid and baby now thinks he has two Mum's!  Mum spent some time licking my hands after he was born and she now seems to feel we are sisters which is a little weird in a Welsh Mountain who normally runs away from you!  We have 17 lambs all together and just my George and one of Sam's still to lamb.  The Shepherd took Rammy back home this morning as it is time for him to be sheared - I don't think he was very keen to go!

Once sheep were sorted this morning we got on to the big and scary job of the day - shearing Greeves.  He was little before and now he is tiny - and he made little bleating noises all the way through.  His fleece is a complete mess - full of hay and seeds - and now he looks like some weird gremlin, particularly once he had rolled in the dirt bath.
We also sheared Cassie, Belinda and Flamenco as they should be my first to birth and I wanted to get them done earliest.  Cassie looks very elegant now and she was the best alpaca ever to shear - so calm.  In fact Carl really didn't need anything on her neck she just lay there and seemed to know when to turn her head!  I forgot a picture of her but will do one tomorrow.  Just one of a newly shorn Belinda for now!

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Another lamb!

Early blogging today as we are hoping to go over to visit Irene and Si at Ashdale Alpacas this evening. 

We have just had another little boy lab born and he is huge!  He got stuck with one leg out and his nose.  We left it to see if she would manage but finally had to help.  a very tight squeeze for the poor girl but he came out and is already bigger than most of the older ones.
It has been incredibly warm here and we're getting through a great deal of water.  Luckily, Sam has hooked the bowser up to his tractor and is towing it round to fill all the waters.  Flamenco and Belinda have spent most of the day sitting by one water while Bert splashes them with her feet!  She has now managed to make it splash all the way up to her tummy and give Flem and Belinda a little shower on the way!

The Southdown now has a name - Grace!  It is not totally appropriate as graceful she is not due to stiffness in her back legs which gives her the most incredible odd, rolling walk.

And, finally, Stumpy's baby!!

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Knockers and Smells

1. Single, very lively black lamb born this morning.

2. Little Wee (Mitzi) was spayed this morning and she was furious about it.  When I picked her up the vet said she was quiet and would not eat so to keep her quiet and not let her out for a few days.  Maybe try her on a spoonful of special recovery cat food later - but I knew, Little Wee was giving me A Look!  As soon as we got home she shot out the basket, ate an entire tin of Whiskas and three saucers of milk, shot out the cat flap before I could stop her and then spent the rest of the day following me around biting my ankles!  She is currently rolling around on the floor attacking my skirt and a pen simultaneously - she is okay!

3. A nasty smell in the bedroom - the hairdryer glowed a bright orange colour and started to smoke, I have just slung it into the garden for investigation when it has stopped smoking.

4. Really, Willie, Stumpy's baby is ugly - even worse today than yesterday.  She appears to be partly orange and with big ears!  Photo tomorrow!

5. The Shepherd gave Sam a large tin of dented red oxide which he spent most of the afternoon using to paint his trailer - - - and the chicken water bowl (by accident) and himself (hopefully by accident) - can't rent out Sam for any job involving paint - Judi!

6. Serious bottom wiping for one of the pairs of twins.  A bit of diarrhoea and sadly with the sun it dried solid blocking them up and one has a sore where it had pulled.

7.  Cassie has taken to guarding the foot water trough now so extra water troughs are being made.

8.  Carl and Sam have been over to Landrover Man's this evening to weld up 'The Knocker' for Valtra Man.  He came round this afternoon upset that he'd broken his knocker so he couldn't bang his post in - all sorted now.

Bed time, I think!  Well, after checking if any more lambs are likely tonight.

Monday 18 April 2011

Fun in the Sun

No!  I don't want to be an arable farmer - no where near enough excitement!  It's been a great day today!  The wheat would probably get mould or rust or whatever it is it gets anyway!!  We do have one or two of what we like to call 'Roger Related' problems but I have a feeling all may get better in the not too distant future.

Saw a lovely black stud on Barbara at Beckbrow's blog which inspired me, the twins (the ones that once were triplets) are completely cute - they charge over for a bottle top up, have a cuddle and then race back to Mum who stands and watches.  Her afterbirth finally dropped after another injection and she is looking perkier so hopefully the milk will flow more easily.  And then - Stumpy had her lamb!  A big lamb - born normally and the ugliest thing imaginable!! And then the boys made me have a near trouser changing incident as they tried to race the lambs down the fence.  The lambs can't get too near the fence due to electric fencing but they were clearly teasing the boys - racing up and then backing off.

 And then I had a phone call from a delightful lady interested in alpacas.  And then Sam put up an entire fence - all on his own and very professionally done! 

It didn't all happen in that order - but I am too tired now to get it all right!

AND as if that was not enough - there's the Southdown!  She hasn't got a name yet - but she will have!

Sunday 17 April 2011

Arable farming?

Very hectic today.  This morning the triplets were alive - but only just.  They were very cold and not sucking at all.  First thing it was a couple of squirts of Jumpstart and we had a bit of recovery but for one of the little girls it was short lived.  We struggled on through the afternoon but sadly she has just died.  The other two are shut in with the ewe now and we will see how they are tomorrow.  They have been stomach tubed and have had a top up bottle so all that can be done has.  Their Mum still has not got rid of all the afterbirth but is looking a bit better so that is a start.

We did some ringing on the rest of the lambs - not the triplets - a very unpleasant job and one where all the lambs ended up muddled up so there was much bleating and charging about but everyone is now settled - right mums with right lambs.

Anyway, an unsuccesful shepherding day and one where you feel very helpless and wonder whether it might be better to become an arable farmer.  Let's hope tomorrow is better.

Saturday 16 April 2011

Bit of a rocky day with a very funny end!

Not all plain sailing on the lambing front today.  Twins and a single from Sam's Welsh Mountains and then Angelina Jolie started - and stuck!  One leg and a head appeared and then no progress.  Could I find the other leg?  Well, in the end I did but it was sort of over and tucked round and it was a bit of a struggle to sort things out.  Eventually it came out - a little white boy - but then it just could not find Angelina's udder.  She is very long fleeced.  We had to tip her up and Carl clipped her - with little one latched on at the same time!  He is now fine.
Meanwhile, at the tip of the hill another pair of twins appeared!

As I went over to check them I passed Mum with triplets and gave triplet one a stroke - thinking, that's not right - she should be up and away.  Same happened with two and three - and Mum didn't move when I stroked her.  Normal for my sheeep - not for Sam's.  Further investigation showed she had a retained placenta and the triplets were not feeding properly.  Mum was put back in the field shelter with the triplets. We held them up to her every half hour and they got a little fatter tummied but it still did not look too good.  The Shepherd had a look at them, gave her some antibiotics and recommended ivy - so it was off to chop down a branch and keep trying to top up the triplets with bottles.  We hope they all survive the night.

The Shepherd had actually come to bring me a present, must have forgiven me for not getting one of the triplets onto the single mum!  This is my present - and it is the funniest thing I have ever seen!

In the photo you cannot see quite how funny she is in real life - I'll try for a better photo tomorrow.  She is a Southdown - full grown but little.  She has a bad leg and is sheared rather like a lion which adds to her completely comical look!  She is brilliant - the alpacas think so too!  They are a whole paddock away but as soon as she appeared they were up at the fence - not shrieking but staring!

Friday 15 April 2011

Little Black Bundles Everywhere!

Triplets, twins and a single to start the day - you don't know which end of the paddock to monitor!  The triplets are very sweet and wait in line to get a feed.  The Shepherd came over this morning when he brought Sam back and was a bit disappointed in me as I hadn't latched it onto the single mum but it just all goes out of your head when you have got little black bundles appearing all over the place!  The triplets are going in the field shelter tonight with their mum.  So far there are 9 lambs - 7 girls and 2 boys, and here is Sam with one of the triplets!
He really needs his hair cut!

In between all this lambing I managed to get the fields and field shelters cleaned - and visit the shops.  Greeves, I am pleased to say, is not quite so cuddly and marches off when I go over to him so I think he is doing well!  Here he is with Cassie - Islay is never far away, you can just see her leg behind Cassie.
Now I must get back to the field as I feel another set of  twins is on the way!

Thursday 14 April 2011

Twins - starting to lead Sammy Davis astray!

No more lambs yet - but a couple look imminent this evening.  Sammy Davis is getting a little more lively but his mum is very protective and does not like him playing with the twins!
He does occasionally escape from her and has a tentative look at what the twins are doing.

The twins are very lively and jump on everything - including their Mum and the Ram.  This evening they discovered the trough.

And just to show we do still have alpacas - despite them not having featured much for the last few days - here is Lily!

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Sammy Davis Junior

Another little lamb today - a little boy this time, born an hour ago.  I have named him Sammy Davis Junior, not sure if Sam agrees!   Sam is like a proud Dad over in the field, strutting around with his shiny new shepherd's crook!
Not a very clear photo of Junior, I am afraid.  His Mum is very protective and does a lot of foot stamping if we get close.  In the photo he is with Two Tone and Pugsly.  They are behaving very badly at the moment and have been head butting the poor ram every time he has settled for a little snooze.  From my very limited experience of sheep it appears to me that one sign they are going to lamb is that they suddenly get interested in the new lambs.  Junior's Mum suddenly noticed the twins just before she started and kept sniffing round them and calling to them - odd.
Yesterdays twins are doing well and getting lively.  They have just started to venture up the hill, with Mum trotting behind them in a panic!  They seem to have grown even in one day.

Monday 11 April 2011

Two little black ones!

We have the first lambs!  This morning, at the nice civilised hour of 8am, black twins arrived - with a quick easy birth and no need for any intervention.  Very different from alpacas.  If it had been a cria arriving all the alpacas would be up round having a look - not with these sheep.  She went off to the bottom and into the field shelter to give birth and only Two Tone took any notice of the lambs - and that was after about an hour.  They are very little and get hidden by the long grass so none of the alpacas noticed them at all until lunch time when there was suddenly a great deal of screeching from Zara who had finally noticed them two paddocks away!  Sam was at work so I rang him and he and the shepherd popped up to take a look.  Sam then went back to work where he helped a ewe deliver twins which were wrongly presented - he is getting the practise in!

So - here they are, the first lambs, two little solid black girls!  (Not sure that in the world of sheep - solid black means so much as it might if they were alpacas!)

Sunday 10 April 2011

No Lambs but Holy Meat!

No lambs!  No Smarty (I don't think that is how you spell it but I can't think how else to spell it and I haven't got time to go up stairs and perch on a chair to  check on top of the wardrobe where they are hidden!) egg for me - unless someone produces in the next two and a half hours!

When Sam returned from work he spent the entire day steam cleaning the SAME - he is not allowed to drive it round until it is spotless  and he is desperate to drive it!  This evening it is sparkling - he has even discovered the SAME imprinted into the metal bits holding the wheels together (axles I think they are called).  Tomorrow he is working with the Shepherd  for most of the day but when he returns he is allowed to drive it!

Carl was out most of the day - returning the excellent spinner - all fields done in less than the time it took to do one little paddock by hand - Thank you Andy!  He then had to return a trailer - or at least that is what he told me he was doing but he arrived back with a mighty big bale of hay for which he must have required a trailer so he has either returned with the same one or acquired another one - not quite sure what is going on there.

We also have a very special dinner soon as we were presented with a lump of lovely "Holy Meat" this morning - excellent!!

Saturday 9 April 2011

False Alarm

Not only were there no lambs last night - there are also no lambs today!  Apparently star gazing and rolling around are only signs things are imminent.  What does imminent mean?  Who knows!  So today we have had more intermittent back hunching, rolling, upward gazing, up and downing - but no lambs.  We now have a bet going - I say one tomorrow, Sam says Monday and Carl says Tuesday.  The prize is a Smarties Easter Egg.  Sam's sheep look very large, hot and uncomfortable.

And here is enormous George (Called Georgina by the Shepherd's Lady as she was born on St George's Day).

This afternoon we had visitors looking at the alpacas and then, with Andy's spinner, Sam got all paddocks that needed it done in a very quick time, I topped a few nettles and docks while Carl was stuck with the job of finishing off the patio doors and window.  He made up for it this evening by steam cleaning the SAME with Sam - which they both found very exciting!

Friday 8 April 2011

Arching backs and star gazing

Ohh!  I think the lambs - or one sheep anyway - are on the way!  This will be a quick blog as I have to get back to have another look.  Sam is over with them now on the John Deere (garden tractor).  He has discovered that the cutting deck will go under the electric fence and right up to the stock fence which is a lot quicker than strimming although you so have to pull out and put back the electric fence posts as you go.

So just a couple of pictures from a lovely sunny day!  Little Barnaby Rudge who is gaining a bit more confidence but may need to be moved away from Spike and Alf soon as they tend to pick on him a bit.
And  an unlikely pairing - Prue and Zara.  Prue is not a great fan of other alpacas and generally keeps herself to herself, always settling for the night at quite a distance from everyone else.  However, she appears to have taken to Zara and they are quite often together.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Spinning sorted (fertiliser that is!)

Very lovely sunny day today which was great but brought back the water problems.  It is not that we haven't got water, it is just that the alpacas keep wasting it!  Lina's group, the boys and Dude are fine - they just drink it.  Bert's lot are very different, they squabble over it, stand in it and kick it over.  By lunch time I had refilled three times and reverted to the summer system of lots of troughs as they cannot share!
Bert absolutely has to have her own water which she stamps in first and then sits down next to and slurps and dribbles.
Cassie spent a lot of the morning asleep and oblivious to everything.

Greeves just ate!

And Dude attempted a bit of posing - no one took any notice of him!

Then, once Carl got back, we had a bit of a rush round and then headed off to Reddingvale as Andy very kindly had offered to lend us his spinner (fertiliser spinner not some crazy spinning lady he has in his shed).  Despite the warmth of the weather I had to keep my body warmer firmly in position as I had mislaid an essential, at my age, item of clothing - doesn't matte over the field but once you get into polite company it is not on!  Andy also showed us a little something he has and I am really jealous - I want one!

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Gazing at the views

Lovely day today - into Tshirt weather!  I have had to spend some time inside cleaning the house but apart from that it has been sheep watching and poo collecting - and I took the camera with me to get some photos.  Looks like we have only one alpaca here - just Dude!
Here come the boys - bit of a frolicking day for them.
And now nearly everyone!

Another view, looking up towards the sheep in second field.
And finally, a view over to the Shepherd's lambing field.  Trouble with this view is that it shows how bare some of our paddocks are!  Time for a move around at the weekend.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

A boring blog!

I am sorry but there isn't much of any excitement to say today.  The weather has been misty and rainy with a few good gusts of wind.  The alpacas are all fine and making quite a lot of use of their field shelters.  Little Greeves is getting a nice rounded back and is jumping around quite a bit which is nice to see.  Islay, his Aunty, is becoming slightly overprotective of him and rather grumpy - when Carl went to feel his back this evening she marched over in a very aggressive manner and spat straight at him!  This is not in the least like Islay and I am hoping it could be a sign that she really is pregnant.  It would be nice.

The sheep are all big and their day for the first ones to lamb is Sunday.  The Shepherd has got quite a few on the hill already, including a lovely little black and white one which looks like a miniature holstein cow - I've got my eye on that one!

Now I have a glove to finish - on our mammoth spinning drive I managed a pair and a half gloves which I thought was very good - a child to help with his English homework and a cat to rescue from a bin where it appears to be stuck!

Monday 4 April 2011

We drove all night

We are back from spinning!  I am not going to tell you that we can now spin but at least we know where we were going wrong and Carl is doing quite well despite a tendency to stick his tongue out and dribble whilst concentrating.  My leading hand has a habit of gripping the fleece too tightly and we have to make use of Sam to work the foot bit or it doesn't run smoothly  - we are persevering! 
The drive back was another Aylett marathon.  We left at 6.30pm and planned to stop around 9pmbut Carl said he felt okay so we drove on a bit - at midnight it didn't really seem worth stopping - so we drove all night Despite plenty of coffee stops it id mean that Sunday was a bit of a bleary day!  The Chippendales did well holding the fort - though they did have a minor panic when they thought one of the sheep was about to lamb - only to realise that it was the ram!