Saturday 28 July 2012

Monster Boy!

We have had another little one!  Carolyn gave birth this morning whilst we were in Dorchester getting Carl's eye tested (he is soon to be the unwilling wearer of a pair of glasses - not all the time as he keeps telling me).  A little boy - well, a very hefty boy actually and charging round the field when we got back at 10am - Carolyn had shown no signs when  we left at 8am.  He hasn't got a name yet but I am toying with Travelling Man (due to a bit of commotion on the hill this morning concerning a couple of buses, a newly cut field, a few urgent phone calls and a bit of gate locking!).  Sam was at work this morning so missed everything but arrived back in time to go shearing with Carl in the afternoon - a lovely pair of boys (the alpacas, not Carl and Sam).

Carolyn's cria is the one on the left!  I am about to go and weigh him!  The little one walking to the right is Lina's cria who now has a name - Lady Tulisa and she is tiny at just 5kg.  That is the smallest we have ever had.  Carolyn's baby looks pink but it is just staining!
Lina's little one is lovely but Lina has reverted to being horrible ever since we weighed Tulisa!
Tropical Storm is doing fine apart from his eyes which have been plagued by flies to such an extend that part of the eyelid is red and sore.  Lavender oil has had some effect but not brilliant.
I put a little eye cream in it yesterday and this has helped - today there were less flies anyway so hopefully it will heal.  He has also been very lively today - although no one is as lively as Carolyn's baby who was even munching on a dock leaf!

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Haymaking - The end - until the next lot!

This morning started with more greasing! 

The bale sled this time - wonderful thing this as you put it behind the baler and it drops the bales in groups of 8 (well, that is the theory but you do get 5/6/1/3 at odd times).  If  we had a Bale Grab it would be even better!  Sam then did a final woofle - if you over woofle it starts to break up and you get bitty hay (technical term that).  Then after more sniffing, smelling, touching we rowed up (gates closed on the woofler) and prepared ourselves for baling!  Sam popped to Stur in the morning to get diesel and bailer twine (not all twine is the same so you have to ask for Conventional Bailer twine for ours - and NEVER forget to tie a new reel in before you run out or rethreading is a miniature nightmare!).
So -  bailer on, bale sledge on, bale.  Collect bales.   Stack in barn - simple!


There were the occasional broken bales to extract.

We do not have a bale grab so all picking up was manual and involved me and the Mule
And Sam with the trailer
As I got the first Mule load I felt something tickling my leg to see Angelina, the sheep, behind me and 50 further sheep who had escaped and were cavorting amongst the newly rowed up hay!
My fault I had forgotten to put the string back round their gate.  Luckily they found it great fun to chase the Mule back into their field!

Then Trevor had a stick incident which at least allowed me to have a break whilst removing his stick.
Yossarian  found all this activity very interesting - and spent virtually the whole evening watching.
Now Mother has come up trumps with a bottle of Badedas bubble bath so that is where I m going!

Tuesday 24 July 2012

A little girl! Plus a bit of haymaking!

Lina gave birth to a lovely little girl this morning.  There is always a slight sense of trepidation when you approach Lina after she gives birth as she does tend to become a spitting, screeching monster.  I approached cautiously but Lina just stood there and looked at me.  No fuss as I sorted the little one - Lina even deigned to have a little neck rub! 
The baby is gorgeous but I think could have done to have remained inside a little longer.  An hour and she still was not on her feet so, given Lina's track record, the cria had a tube of plasma and an hour after that, still not up, a bottle of colostrum.  Finally it started attempting to get up and Lina, bless her, let me hold it up to her and get it feeding.  It is still very wobbly and lies lat out when I don't push it up to kush but I think it will be okay.  I am keeping a close eye though to check Lina has enough milk.
Here she is
Despite cria, hay making goes on!  Stage 3 began yesterday with woofling (turning/fluffing up . . ).  Basically chucking it around so the underneath dries using a Haybob, acrobat or whatever else is to hand.  Remembering to open the gates at the back first (if you have a haybob - maybe the same with the others - or you end up by rowing it up instead which is stage 4!).  Woofling is accompanied by many anxious skyward glances.  Today is our second woofle and all is looking good so far.  Tomorrow is final woofle in the morning followed by rowing up after lunch (woofle but with the gates at the back pushed in) and then the big one - baling!  More on that tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday 23 July 2012

Hay Making Stage 1 and 2

Probably a highly tedious blog post this one but Carl says I must share top tips with Paul (NB every bit of advise on haymaking, no matter who from, is only true 85% of the time - and sometimes not even that!)

Essential Equipment
  • Gloves - bailer twine is very hard on the hands after your fiftieth bale
  • Ear defenders - unless you can afford a modern tractor
  • A cab on your tractor - no matter how old
  • A tractor - the bigger the better
  • Barometer plus radio tuned to frequent weather channel
  • Light trousers - shorts are a big mistake as hay scratches
  • Radox, paracetamol
  • Good book and a place to hide
  • DIESEL - very embarrassing if you run out half way through and the weather is on the turn
  • Water - to extinguish occasional field fires (not so necessary if you have a tractor that does not occasionally leak combustible stuff)
  • Water - to drink
  • Friend with better tractor/stronger arms/bale grab/bigger trailer/spare bailer twine uneaten by something
  • Quantity of small bottled cheap imported lager
  • Stock of spare tines for Haybob/woofler (Do not go to Agricultural merchants to get replacements without knowing whether you need left or right ones)
  • Many easy nutritious snacks and more substantial fayre which can be eaten whilst pacing/woofling/baling . . .

Stage 1
Notify all friends, relatives and distant acquaintances that you are planning to make hay thus avoiding confrontational remarks such as Postman, "We could do with a drop of rain . . ."

Walk purposefully two strides into hay field.  Glare ferociously at sky.  Stoop and pick long piece of prospective hay.  Chew this whilst staring skyward.  Sniff grass, air and anything else within sniffing distance.  Rub grass between fingers and pronounce either, "We'll leave it a bit" or "That'll do" (a shepherding phrase).

Stage 2
Grease and diesel tractor - grease everything.

Retrieve ear defenders (not necessary if a newer tractor) and don sunglasses.
Drag mower from nettles (NB tempt dog out from under mower before starting)
Take deep breath and cut (This stage has been preceded by much discussion of which way to cut - mowing across the slop or up and down - headland first or second).

Refuse to allow The Boy to use mower or bailer as, being used to much larger machinery, he goes too fast and blocks up mower/bailer.
Explain to boy that Mower has just got blocked up due to a failure of a technical nature and not due to Dad going too fast.
Stand with hand on hips in various parts of hay field and kick turned hay whist alternately smiling and frowning at sky.

Stage 3 Woofling will have to wait for tomorrow as the blog is getting out of hand!

But finally, on the alpaca front - Lily's little one now has a name - Tropical Storm.

And so does Flem's baby - Arctic Lad!

Sunday 22 July 2012

Tense Times

A fit of madness came over us at lunchtime today and we decided to cut the side of second field for hay.  The real haymaking is third field but, the weather being so good, we decided an experimental run was in order to check everything was operational.  The mower had a bit of a fit going up the hill on the first pass and clogged up but a bit of swearing and a spanner seemed to fix that - so now we start weather watching obsessively!  Tonight Sam has gone up to set up the woofler while we get the barn sorted to receive!

I got distracted from the hay making by Prue who was lying on her side panting and gaping at the back with her tail out.  I had almost crossed her of the pregnancy watch list as she is now 367 days but I shall give it a bit longer now!  All cria are doing well and I am off to find some lavender oil to try on Lily's baby following Debbie's recommendation.  I did experiment with a wee dab of Yardley Lavender this morning which did actually seem to work but I don't want to put Lily off him (not that it is likely as she barely moves a step away from him at the moment).  Bert's cracked skin is looking a bit sore at the moment.  Where there are dry, flaky bits the flies attack it, she scratches and it gets sore.  I have returned to using Battle Summer Fly Cream which works but makes her look radioactive.  I don't mind that so much but one year both she and Sherbert got some in their eyes and that was not good.  Bert has been so hot today I even managed to do a bit of her tummy whilst she was asleep - usually I can only get to her legs.  I now need to find something for her eyelids which are dry and flaky.  I think I might go back to Sudacream.

Saturday 21 July 2012

Supplying Champions

We seem to have been rather busy over the last few days and I have just managed to snatch a few minutes now to write a blog while Carl and Sam are off shearing and before I go back to check the girls.

Carl has been sorting the hay we have left as thoughts are turning to haymaking - finally.  We are now suppliers to a rather dashing supreme champion - I believe the horse is also rather a good champion.

Dude has performed over two of our girls and been out visiting a very charming young lady who, despite being a maiden, sat immediately.  He is also getting far better on his lead and managed to cross a manicured lawn, pass a horse and negotiate several people without dragging Carl around on his behind which is what we had envisaged!

No more cria yet so a few photos of the ones we have!  Only three!  First up is Flem's baby who is tentatively named Arctic Lad (Al for short).  Trouble is it sounds like a name for a racehorse to me.  He is very lovely and beautifully white but is being pestered by flies at the moment.

Then we have  Lily's baby who is gorgeous - still a bit sleepy but probably just because he is premature I think.  Flies are even worse on him, particularly around his eyes.  I couldn't get a very good photo of him as when he is asleep he looks like a rag bag and when he does get up he runs around too quickly for the camera to cope.  Here he is eating the fence.  Carl wants to call him Boy Wonder which I think is completely daft.
And then there is Trevor! 

Wednesday 18 July 2012

The Name Game

Lily's baby has been feeling the cold a bit today and has kept his coat on.  I am a little concerned about him as he is not that lively and just sits there when you go up to him.
Hopefully, it is just the dire weather we are having.  Trevor does not help by trying to jump on him whenever he moves but, then again, Trevor tries to jump on anything that moves!

Flem's baby is doing well.  H did have his coat back on this afternoon but was having quite a lot of fun charging around before that.
Now the only one left in the birthing window this week is Prue who is still a real is she isn't she despite everyone who sees her saying "Yes, she is!"
. . . now I have to do some serious name thinking as the two little ones do not have names yet!  Current favourites (of mine - Sam and Carl are not impressed) are The Mechanic, Fresh Kid, Flo Rida and Malcolm.

Monday 16 July 2012


Waiting for ages and then all of a sudden - two births today!  Dreadful weather for it but we coped.  First thing Flemenco looked a bit restless so I parked the Mule up near her and settled to watch.  At 9am out slithered a lovely little boy.  He was a touch  early at 326 days but weighed a decent 9kg and after he was rubbed a bit, sprayed and oral antibioticed he was up and attempting to feed - not very well though as Flem's cria from last year, String, charged over and started suckling herself.  Normally I would not have interfered so quickly but I didn't want her stealing all the colostrum and Flem is always quite happy with me fiddling around under her with a cria so I got him latched on before banishing String and her friends to the next paddock.  At this point the rain was getting bad so I got Flem and some of the others into the barn but as I was doing this I noticed Lily having a bit of an ominous roll.  Once the Flem baby and others were in the barn I rushed over to see Lily who had taken herself off into the field shelter where she was obviously going to produce.  I nipped back to the barn to check Flem's cria, only to found he had disappeared.  Somehow he had got out through a barrier and was investigating Sam's tool box.  I returned him to mum and then went back to check Lily - finding she had already produced a beautiful little suri boy.  Back out came the birth bag to deal with him!  He has the most amazing deep hum and sounds like a little old man!  Lily's baby is 8kg and 323 days so early as well.  He is showing it a bit as he can only kush on the flat
So, here they are - Firstly, Flem's baby who I only seem to have head shots of and not very good ones as the weather was horrid.
And then Lily's baby who looks tiny compared to anyone else!  He is modelling a rather sporty dog coat!
So - what about Prue?!  She is the one who should have produced!

Sunday 15 July 2012

Tea Time Drama

I cannot report on any cria here - as I still have not had any more and Trevor remains on his own creating havoc!

We have finally had enough of a break in the weather to start matings and both Alf and Dude got to work this morning.  Rain then came in again but luckily cleared in time for a bit of shearing - three very well behaved girls.  We then managed to take a quick trip to see a little Dude baby who did look a very lovely girl indeed - we will look forward to see how she develops.

Now, amongst tea cooking, a drama is developing in the field opposite.  Not quite sure what is happening there but the Air Ambulance is a fantastic service and we are off to do our bit to support them in a couple of weeks time.

Thursday 12 July 2012

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Okay - I know I said I would not blog until I had happy news (no sad news today either!) but I have to say thank you for the emails and comments - much appreciated.  And I need to apologise for being pathetic over it and forgetting that we all have troubles at times.  Great sympathy to any of you who are having any sort of problems.

It seems that the white eyes are a sign the cria had died in the womb, as is the falling out fleece and it suggests he was dead for two or three days.  Also, I have been told, when the cria does die they usually need a hand out.  Now I am sure my alpaca readers are all familiar with getting up to their elbow in alpaca but this is the first time I have gone in so deep and it is very odd.  I have only had three slightly difficult births and they have only involved tinkering around on the periphery with the odd leg.  Alpacas are very, very different from sheep in my opinion - it felt a bit like the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  You just go down and down and down - the neck never seems to end and all the while I am inching past what felt like silk curtains (or in this case fur coats as I came out looking as if I was in need of a serious shave).  It might be just Cassie but there was enough room, once you were in, to have a small tea party!

Anyway, today the rain has lashed down so I was glad of no further births.  Actually, I was very glad as I collapsed on the barn floor writhing in agony.  Very strange!  I had been checking the sheep when I came over all peculiar - lying in the Mule did not help so I went and lay on the floor of the barn which I had, luckily, just cleared up.  The chickens took full advantage and tried pecking me which gave me a worrying vision of me dying there and Carl coming down to find my eyes pecked out which made me push my glasses very firmly down my nose.  Suddenly, I was better but it did come on again later in the afternoon - by then I was home which was more appropriate.   If I had expired in the barn I don't know how they would have got me back up in track which is very muddy.  I suppose they would have had to get me in the tractor bucket but the hydraulics on that do gradually lower of their own accord so I would have probably been unceremoniously dumped somewhere.   Okay now, despite a slight twinge and Carl and Sam have gone to check the animals so I am going to bed.  If I have not replied to any emails I will tomorrow!

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Why me?

We have had very many happy times here and with our alpacas and other animals but just now they are getting increasingly hard to remember.  More sadness today which is making me wonder what on earth I am doing here.  I seem to be having bad alpaca times at the moment and have got into a bit of a pit where it feels like only me and everyone else is doing really well which makes me wonder if I am cut out for this.

Cassie tried to give birth in thunder, rain, hail and a brisk wind today.  Within an hour the head was out but no feet and the head did not look right - not deformed in any way but white, blind eyes and patches of fleece missing.  Half an hour later the neck was coming but no feet.  I called her and she followed me down to the barn and Sam and I took turns to get up to our elbows inside trying to locate legs -  great chunks of fleece kept rubbing off and coming out on our arms.  Finally, we discovered it was in a kush position with one back leg forward and somehow it's bottom end curled forward.  I managed to push the head almost back in and Sam managed to get the front legs forward.  Finally it emerged but very dead - no amount of swinging, blowing, tickling, rubbing made any difference.  I think it had been dead some time and it was fairly bald.  A good size brown boy, perfectly formed but eyes looked not developed and fleece coming off.  Afterbirth was huge and complete but odd - looked like it was dead if such a thing is possible.

Cassie didn't take much notice of the cria but was quite attached to the afterbirth - I had to remove that though but have left her with her baby for now.

I think I had best retire from the blog until I have more positive events - the way things are going it could be a while!

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets

Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then precipitated (according to Wikipedia).

What a glorious summer we are having!  I now have a wide vocabulary to describe rain - much of it rude.
No alpacas in sight as they are all squashed in or around field shelters - except Trevor who delights in racing round and then charging back to disturb everyone.  He suddenly flops down and goes to sleep and then off he goes again!  Even Dude has started to retreat into his shelter at times.
Still no more cria and I have Prue (355 days) and Cassie (343 days) both due with Lily as one to watch despite not being due until 23rd July as last year she produced Yossarian at 10 months and 1 week.

I had a bit of a drive round yesterday with The Comet in a very posh cream leather upholstery Land Rover which might make the coming winter a trifle easier, although, at the moment, it feels as if winter is already upon us.  We have still got a couple of shearings to fit in but the rain appears relentless.

The sheep are all doing well, six lambs are off at the weekend to a new home on a nature reserve.  I think Shovel may be one of them but I am not quite decided.  Tomorrow the ones to go have to be ear tagged so have to decide tonight!

Wednesday 4 July 2012

No wellie eating yet!

It is pointless me telling you how wet it is because I am sure you all know that for yourselves!  Only now has the sun peeped out and it is a lovely evening.  Sam is busily fencing, Carl is on alpaca watch and I am stuck hoovering!  I have got a new hoover so I am not that worried - tasty little number that actually works on cat hair and has the sort of name you need to be wearing aviators to use - I am growing to love my Mach 8!

The girls have not enjoyed the last few days and I have been relieved not to have any babies.

So here are some soggy girls!
Not a lot damps young Trev's spirits!
Still waiting for Prue - I think I saw something move yesterday but Cassie looks more likely as the next.  Cassie has started looking very uncomfortable and humming a lot.  Having said that it is probably weeks away!

Monday 2 July 2012


Can it really be July?!

I was talking to another breeder yesterday about sending their fibre samples to AAFT and I opened up the AAFT website to send her the link.  As I did so I explored the site and found some really interesting stuff on skirting the fleece, curvature (amongst others) under the library tab - worth a look if you have spare minutes.

I have finally got all the alpacas sheared - but today has been horrible and it is not nice to see them shivering.  Trevor is fine and has been jumping around annoying everyone but Bianca, one of Sam's, has plonked herself firmly at the bak of the field shelter and is not coming out for anyone!  Last fleece sampls are sent off, no babies have arrived - but I am sure I saw something move in Prue so all is not lost.  No photos due to weather!

Sunday saw some visitors who watched some of the shearing, said hello to Trouble and went away with a bag of seconds to make a handbag.  I shall be very interested to see how that turns out as I have not really found a use for my seconds - - yet!

Tonight's challenge is to try to find something to create from a roll of white alpaca felt which has been lurking in the cupboard for two years!