Thursday 28 June 2012

Trev gets a spring in his step!

Very muggy weather this morning and I am glad to say the wind has now picked up a little and the girls look a lot cooler.

I have to agree Trevor is not a particularly appropriate name for an alpaca but I was in a bit of a mood when I named him!  It kind of goes with the  trend here, however, as my Champion suri is called Alf!  Trev is unbothered by his name and was full of the joys of spring (or summer) today.

Now all focus is on Prue who should be producing sometime soon.  I have kept a little quiet about her as I have someone very interested in seeing what she produces and, due to her behaviour, I had serious doubts about her being pregnant.  She is very lively and even pronks despite being 13 years old this year.  Last week, when Yosarian was still in with the girls, she happily sat for him to jump on top of her and orgle away like a crazy thing.  Not pregnant behaviour - but look at her!

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Say hello to Trevor!

I fear I am in trouble yet again. I have been very diligent with my poo collecting but not so good at emptying the thing.  On Friday I succeeded in splitting the pipe yet again and I was doing really well up until then.  I had to rush to get the sheep ready for shearing and forgot all about emptying it - actually I think it is some days since I emptied it. Yesterday, while Cal was fencing with renewed vigour I went to empty it and streams of smoke issued forth - not just steam but smoke!  The poo had almost ignited.  Some of it was charred and some was glowing red.  I really am not joking here - my poo was on fire!  .  Normally I make poo logs and burn them but have not done so for a few months as we currently have no wood burner but it just shows how readily combustible poo is.  I have tried to do a photo of the burning poo but it doesn't look as dramatic as it did in real life.

This morning we had a visitor to see the alpacas and Sam demonstrating a bit of alpaca husbandry - Trouble behaved beautifully.  More alpaca chat this afternoon as I had a long conversation with a prospective 'new' suri breeder!

Crispie's cria now has a name.  It was getting desperate as he needed to be registered.  No one went for Pitbull McCoy strangely, Springsteen was considered but, ultimately, he is now Trevor.  Trevor refused to take part properly in a photo shoot so he only has himself to blame for these photos!

Now my beret pattern actually works I am knocking out berets like there is no tomorrow (Flower Lady is also on the case) - we are off to with the knitting to a show in about a month and I am a little depleted so I have not been moaning about the rain as much as I was!  Hopefully my new batch of yarn will come back from The Border Mill fairly soon as I have no balls left and am knitting with unravelled 'mistakes'.  I do have some trial suri and silk but have hit a major problem with it.  I am still a fairly novice knitter so am not sure why this is but the suri seems to have no 'spring' to it.  It drapes beautifully and has a lustre like the animals but the rib is not ribby enough and the whole thing is just not quite right.  Maybe I need a different size needle or maybe it is no good for hats.  I will have to keep experimenting.

Sorry about any spelling mistakes - spell check has given up!

Saturday 23 June 2012

PM results

Finally, we have the results for the post mortem on the little black one - and it was not Schmallenberg.  Samples of the brain tissue went to the VLA as, apparently, that is the only way they can tell, and it all came back clear.  It was just one of those things and she was formed wrong in the back legs.  Nothing we could do about it and nothing we have done wrong - thank goodness.  Now I can start to look forward to the next cria again.  I had been dreading more coming in case there was another problem but we are now back on track!

No more coming yet though but Crispie's cria (still no name) is very big and lively.  Crispie and her daughter from last year, The Slink, stick very close to him.

Greeves is fascinated by him particularly when he charges about
I have been home alone as Carl and Sam have been shearing - in Pembrokshire!  Quite a long way and a lovely part of the world but they had great fun (and a great lunch) meeting ex members of a Mighty Herd in Wiltshire.  When I say I have been alone that is not strictly true as The Shepherd came to shear the sheep so I was assisting (getting in the way more like!).

Friday 22 June 2012

A bit of a scare

Well, we had a pretty scary night last night.  I had a phone call from Sam yesterday evening asking if he could speak to his Dad - never a good sign!  Carl was outside so I asked what he wanted and he said he had broken down on his moped so could Dad go and get him.  Pouring with rain so Carl shot off and when they returned with bike in the back of the pick up I got the whole story.  Going down the country lane from work the back wheel had collapsed - even Carl had not heard of that before - and I mean the spokes had all caved in.  It was a new wheel he had bought from the internet only shortly before and luckily Sam was only going about 10mph around a bend when it happened.  He went into a hedge but no harm done - thank goodness he was not on the main road or going faster.

Luckily, the truck went through the MOT and I had just got the tax for him so he went happily to work in his truck this morning - I feel his biking days are over for now!

No alpaca or field pictures tonight as every time I got the camera out the rain lashed down.  Most odd weather as some of the time it has been sunny.  I have a friend who is awaiting pictures of Prue as I can't make out if she is pregnant due to some very strange behaviours - despite her looking triangular!  Just to enliven things slightly I have a picture of some random bird who alighted on a post by the Mule.  You can see the sort of weather we have been having - but there has been sun as well.

The post mortem results on the little one are now back but the receptionist will not tell me what they are so I have to wait for  vet to ring back - still waiting!

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Busy, Busy . .

Yesterday evening there was no time to blog as we were rushing around getting ready to go out, a very rare occurrence.  Before we went Carl had to weld up part of Sam's truck which failed it's MOT - they are taking it down there at the moment and hopefully it will now pass.  I had to get my hair done in honour of the occasion as well as all the normal jobs but we made it and had a lovely meal with Reddingvale despite the presence of arm bandages!

Today Sam and I did the sheep feet which little Shovel took great advantage of, sneaking in for a drink from Grace.
Baby (still no name as no one will let me call him Pitbull - despite the rather tasteful addition of McCoy, Pitbull McCoy sounds good to me) has a fond aunt in Bert who is as proud of him as if he were hers.  The rather large one in the background is Sam's Bianca.

Baby was 10.5 kg at birth and is a very strong little chap.  The sun we are having is helping but the forecast for tonight is not good.  The chickens were enjoying the weather today.
Now it is a question of who is next and if the ones who are supposed to be pregnant really are.  Cassie certainly is.
But Emily is an increasingly doubtful one.

Monday 18 June 2012

Completely NORMAL!!

Today we had a cria!  A normal, lovely, wonderful cria!  It's a little boy and has perfectly normal legs!  I was in such a panic waiting for it and couldn't wait to check all was well - and it was!  He is from Crispie who is a suri but he doesn't look like a suri to me - I don't care what he is as long as he is healthy and he certainly looks it - big and strong - so here is a bit of a picture overload.

Now we have the big dilemma of a name.  I had this idea that this year they would be linked to music I had been listening to prior to births.  This is not a good plan as if I do that this one is to be named - Pitbull!!

Now I must rush round and tidy up before racing back to see him - well not racing as my car noise is now distinctly stranger despite Carl taking a bearing out of the old car and putting it in this one.  In fact it sounds like the Super Mario Cart causing Carl to shout "Get the bananas" at odd moments when driving it!

Ohh, a healthy cria - really exciting!

Friday 15 June 2012


Firstly, I want to say a very big thank you for your comments and emails.  Sad times happen but it helps if you know people understand and the time people have taken to comment is very much appreciated by us all.

So - yesterday evening I collected Little One from the field - the girls did not want her to go which was not helped by her wonky legs getting entangled in the stock fencing as I climbed through causing her to be catapulted back into the field hitting Sapphire on the nose.  She jumped back onto Bert and the ensuing spitting match allowed me to escape up in the field in the Mule with cria bouncing on my lap in an oddly comforting way.  The vet is sending samples to VLA who say there are no reported cases of  Schmallenberg in alpacas in this country but he was very keen to have a look.  I said to the vet that I had no problem with lambing but of course, I now realise, this means nothing due to the gestation  period of the alpaca.  Sheep gestation being much shorted the foetus in the sheep would have been at the vulnerable stage after the midges were gone.  Results should be back next week.

Today I was dreading going to the fields as the weather had been foul in the night and I only made it to bed at 3am as I was listening to the wind and an inane television programme involving girls shouting at each other in far too few clothes to be good for them.  All, however, was fine - no cria thankfully as I was not ready for that today.  Next due is Crispie, the suri, followed by Prue.  Oh, and Emily, but I am not too sure about her.

I have sorted out the camera lens with a good rub with a bit of pledge so I should be able to blog with photo tomorrow - and hopefully a happy one!

Thursday 14 June 2012

All the joy has gone

I wasn't going to write this blog and I would advise all non alpaca breeders not to bother with it as it is a horrid blog.  In fact all avoid this blog but I have to write it to get it out of my system.

Zara looked restless this morning and I sat and watched, really excited - first cria of the year.  I did a lovely series of photos of a perfect, text book birth - until it slithered out and I sensed something was wrong.  It just lay there at first without a twitch so I rushed over cleared it's mouth, swung it around (knew at this point not breathing was not the only problem) but breathing started, sprayed, such a gorgeous, solid black little girl.  Very alert, attempting to be very active - but she couldn't move.  Her back legs were twisted with the tendons on top and somehow turned upside down.  A quick consultation with Viv and I called the vet.  You may be able to see that the leg looks wrong.

Whilst he was on the way baby had some colostrum but Zara wondered off and seemed to give up on her.  Sapphire lay down with it and would not let anyone else near.

The vet came and to cut a long and tearful story short she had to be put to sleep and I was so angry but sad.  I  showed you a photo - but before she died just because it seems wrong not to recognise her brief little life.  These are just after she was born and before Sapphire took over - that is far too sad a picture to show.

Baby is still in the field so they can get used to her not being with us anymore and Bert is now sitting beside her and moaning.  I think Bert associates it with little Matchless and will not move away even when Sapphire spits at her and I sit down beside her.

Okay, I know what you are all thinking - Schmallenberg.  We  need a brain autopsy thing on that so we will have to see.

I am really sad now - sad for the alpacas.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Sleepy ladies and boy (almost) in tears

Still not a cria in sight and not really much sign of anything appearing in the immediate future!  However, today the liveliness has been punctuated by less lively moments - so there is hope (apart from the fact that they are large and blossoming at the rear)

The quality of the pictures leaves a little to be desired as I spilt apple juice on the camera and I feel it may need a bit of a service!  The car also needs something as what was a distant wop, wop, wop Vietnam noise has now developed into a drumming which cannot be cured by turning the radio up.  Carl has donned his blue gloves and taken it down the road for an investigation at this very moment.

But the great news today is that Sam took his driving test this morning - and passed!  He was so pleased we were both nearly crying (well, I was and he was trying not to).  Sadly, his new vehicle can't get in for an MOT until next Friday so the moped will still have to come out tomorrow!

Saturday 9 June 2012


Thank you for your concern regarding my back passage, Mark.  It took a bit of a beating but now the wind has subsided all is well, if a little battered!

Mother's waterworks are also now sorted which is a great relief and all is now calm!

BUT I still have no cria!
No one even looks like they would like to produce a cria!
They are big - there is a big udder showing on Crispie - but they are far too lively!
Never have I known pregnant alpacas dash around so much.  I have just left Crispie dashing around with her cria from last year, Prue pronking along the fence line and Zara perky and erect!
I can only put it down to the fact that they were sheared and they are feeling cool - most odd!

Carl and Sam have been shearing all day and have just returned having had a brilliant day - Sam is now sending furious emails full of sad faces as his strimmer has not yet arrived.  The shaft arrived several days ago but is of little use without the motor bit.  Carl is  lying on the settee watching motorbikes and I am determined to go and finish a rather tasteful glove.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Water - a lot of water

Today has mostly been water based.  There has been a lot of water and not all oft that water has been in the right place.  I had a consultation with The Cup Cake Fairy and The Red Indian over my watery day and luckily part of my problems are drying up.

It also has been a very odd alpaca day with everyone behaving very strangely.  There has been a lot of vying for position in field shelters but also a lot of playing periscopes.

Followed by much manic charging and leaping which included even Cassie, Prue, Sapphire, Emily and Zara (in theory all heavily pregnant!)

I remained in the truck where I felt I was safe from water, in it's various forms!

Now I have a strong wind down my back passage and the satellite dish is removing itself from the wall.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Feeling passionate

We are not getting Angora goats, yet!

No shearing today as the weather has been horrid.  Many of the herds we do are small groups of pets whose owners do not have the facilities to put them in so we need to be very flexible on dates and today was not the day to be shearing outside!

I have no cria yet and, to be honest, nobody looks remotely like they want to produce anything - patience is a virtue!

My love affair with the AAFT continues and becomes more passionate the more I study my stats (which is becoming slightly creepy as I was perusing them in the bath last night) and I have just noticed there is to be an Australian Alpaca Fibre Testing (AAFT) Fibre Testing and Seminar on Tuesday 19th June  at Meon Valley Alpacas, presented by Paul Vallely, no less, the owner of AAFT.
I really want to go to this but a) may have left it too late to get a place and b) have three girls due then - dilemma!!

Monday 4 June 2012

The Men Who Stare At Goats

Everyone else seems to have cria popping out all over the place - but not me and I am getting a trifle impatient with Zara.

Today Carl had a new shearing experience - amongst the alpacas he had two Angora goats to shear.  Here we have before . . .

And after . . .
I think he was quite taken with them - incidentally, they are not the same goat in the pictures as one has horns and one didn't!  They were very well behaved but shearing involves a great deal of care round their wrinkly, flappy bits - particularly on the neck and they were not stretched like alpacas - similar, but not the same, as sheep shearing with great care also taken round their toggles (not sure if that is the correct terminology for those hanging bits under their chins).

Saturday 2 June 2012


Still no cria so not a great deal to report today.   Carl and I shearing this morning then a rush back to check Zara was okay - she was!

For a more interesting read check back on yesterday's blog for AAFT Paul's comment on SD which I found illuminating.

I will try and have a baby tomorrow to pep up the blog!

Friday 1 June 2012

Rosettes and Fibre

Great excitement this morning when the post came as Yossarian's rosette arrived from the North Somerset Show - they had run out when they got to him and they said they would post it on but, to be honest, we thought they might forget as they were so busy and the weather was so foul - we didn't mind as we knew we had won, but it arrived!  Carl and Sam are off shearing and I have no one to wave it around in front of so I spent ages trying to make him stand still and pose whilst manipulating the camera with the other hand - it did not go well!

An attempt with the halter on - arms not long enough to manipulate camera

An attempt with halter off - ran away and rosette blew away
An attempt whilst ignoring him - he started a fight

Finally it blew away and landed on Bert who posed almost perfectly!  Note - it is NOT her rosette!

Now I have to think of what to do with it.  We are amassing a select collection, including a sash from the GWR but it is hardly enough for a full trophy room according to Carl.  At the moment they are stuck in a drawer.  I did try festooning the kitchen with them but Carl said they constituted a fire hazard and I should tie them up in the barn.  What does everyone else do with their rosettes (and sashes)?  Any other blogger who fancies posting a picture I would be very interested!

And on a serious note - if you are reading this AAFT Paul (and if not, I will email you the question!), I know I should know the answer to this one but I don't and I am never worried about showing my ignorance!  I know the SD of a fibre sample is as important as the actual micron and I know the SD should be as low as possible being a measure of fibre diameter variation within the sample and that it is highly heritable BUT what I want is an SD to aim for!  So what counts as a good SD?!