Saturday 31 August 2013

Report from the Front Line

As with others we are on a fly offensive here.  I have wafted around in a sea of lavender oil to no avail, squirted citronella until the small makes me feel sick,  tried various fly treatments etc with only a temporary effect.  Finally the big guns are back out again - Crovect.  Sherbet is a major problem due to a damaged udder which the flies are doing their utmost to attack.  She is feeding Dib Dab so I can't put much on or around it .  We had some success before with Summer Fly Cream but I am wary of it now after Sherbet rubbed some in her eye.  The second problem is still the cria eyes.  Poor Trouble's baby is suffering the worst and I think I will have to put a drop of Orbenin in tomorrow.  It is not for eye attack but it does seem to clear up the sore where they have been eaten.  I shall show you a picture tomorrow which I am sure you can't wait to see!

We have also made major inroads into the next lot of fencing which is to make a few smaller paddocks. Dude is not pleased with having his paddock shrink and has been watching proceedings very closely.
Progress is being made!  Despite the post banger breaking and being held together with great quantities of bailer twine - and the tractor (the SAME) needing a little cossetting tonight, which is what Carl is currently doing.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Frustrating Camera times

It has been a busy week and it is not Friday yet.  Womble, the black ram, had an appointment with the vet prior to a new career as a teaser ram.  Getting him in the stock trailer was a lively experience involving a rope and a lot of brute force from Sam with me jumping around trying to avoid his horns!  Lots of topping happened in the evenings and I have spent much of my days lugging water around, putting halters on and off and writing out plans for care of a delightful group of alpacas we will be visiting to work with soon.  I have been trying to avoid clouds in order to get photos for Alpaca seller and have just about got Greeves on the sales page with updated photos of the youngsters.  Trying to take the photos is highly frustrating - you think you have got things right and then you find -
There is a fly on Mick's face.
You are in the photo with JJ and it is impossible to crop it sensibly.
An improvement - but you still have a hand in the photo
The alpaca is looking in the wrong direction
Greeves' head collar isn't fitted properly and the strap is dangling
And then you are just about to give up and - you attain perfection!
Thank you Dippy!

Hopefully, the Sales List link works but I will have to check it when I have published this blog!

Sales List

Saturday 24 August 2013

New arrival and Young Farmers

Cassie has had her baby - and this time I am pretty sure it is brown and not fawn - it is a boy!  We are now about 4 to 1 boys!  He is temporarily called Wonky and, born at 11 months and 1 week, shows signs of being born a trifle too early - very down on his pasterns, bent ear and that odd folded skin thing on his back legs. He has got two ears, despite how it looks in the photo! I am sure he will be okay but it would probably have been better if he had stayed inside a little longer. 

Last night we were very late back as we were invited to the Sturminster Newton Young Farmer's Harvest Supper.  I was envisaging a few sausage rolls under a bit of cling film with a little quiche thrown in - Oh No!  A full three course sit down meal followed by cheese and biscuits and handmade chocolates served very professionally by Young Farmers dressed appropriately to the Grannys and Granddads theme - with a bit of cross dressing thrown in!  What with the Pimms and vast quantities of wine it was a very jolly evening.  I limited myself severely on the wine as I had to do a speech.  The entertainment was very funny but where did they manage to acquire a coffin from?  And lovely legs on the boy in the very short plastic nurses outfit!

I thought maybe that was it on the cria front this year - but there is still a question mark over Belinda.  Meanwhile, here is Trouble's baby.

Sherbet's little suri boy, Dib Dab.
Gorgeous Gloria
And Maria
Have to try and photograph the rest tomorrow - weather is not good now and rain may be returning.

Thursday 22 August 2013

Held at Gunpoint

I ALMOST did something very silly - only Andy's words of reason have saved me from being £1200 down!  I  received an email earlier purporting to come from an esteemed SWAG member who had been held up at gun point in a far away place and who had no money or means of getting home.  I did think but could see no way it could be a scam so was all ready to wire money - despite not really knowing this lady other than by name and reputation.  At the last minute I thought - Why would she ask me for money?  Why not go  to The British Consulate?  What on earth is she doing in The Philippines?  How come her grammar is so bad?  Quick phone call and it was confirmed that I am an Idiot.  Mind you, it is very easy to get caught by these things.

Monday 19 August 2013

Tired Girl

Couldn't blog yesterday as I felt ill.  Probably all the excitement the day before and the fact that I got drenched.  Mother has come to the rescue with several new coats so I have no excuse for getting drenched again!

Trouble's baby is doing well, plenty of dashing around and then collapses in a heap and can't stay awake any longer!


I am glad I didn't say she was definitely brown as she isn't - a dark fawn I think.

All other cria are doing well but the flies are really bad.  I know last year we used a spray but I can't find it so I may have to get more but it was pretty expensive.  The only cria I could find without flies covering him was Dib Dab.  Not a very good photo as the sun glints of the suris.
A quick assessment of everyone yesterday makes us think we probably only have one more to give birth.  Bea is still a bit of a possibility but fairly remote.  So it is all down to Cassie now!
She is only a couple of days over the eleven months but we are having an early year and I am hoping to go to Glastonbury at the weekend for the wool festival.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Trouble by name . . .

Today has been one of my most exciting alpaca days - and I am still smiling!  I know, Barbara, mine are all very early this year and today there was another one - bang on 11 months!  But - this one was a bit special!

We were doing the sheep feet when I looked over and saw Trouble looking uncomfortable.

It had just started to rain and the rain was getting harder so not the best of times.  Trouble is one of my favourites and this was her first so we rushed through the sheep and I went to check her.
Things were obviously well on the way so Carl disappeared to get fuel for the truck while I waited - and waited - and began to worry.  I could not bear it if Trouble had a problem and on checking it looked like she might.
No feet but a grumbling, coughing and spluttering  alpaca nose.  At this point I had to put the camera down so you are saved from any more back end shots!  What I have found before is that if this happens if you push the head back carefully the feet shoot out torpedo style and it worked again this time.  Please note I am no vet and no one should ever follow what I say!  Trouble was very worried by now so I continued to help her a bit in time with her contractions and out it came!   She is the one lying down at the back.  First I was worried as she was taking no notice of the cria but as soon as the afterbirth was out she came over and she stood really still while it attempted to feed.
Whatever it was I would have been ecstatic but this is even better - a girl and a lovely solid colour.  I am not going to commit myself to the colour as I thought Gloria was brown but she turned fawn.  It was starting to really pour by then so I will wait until it dries out before thinking about colour. This is another of my experimental white with a black matings.  Very exciting!

Mind you my blacks are now all sporting white noses at the moment due to my bald nose takling regime.  We are now back to using Filta bak on some and Sudacrem on others to see if either have long term benefits.  Feeding a supplement will start soon.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Cria, tractors and fleece

Busy day today after a late night last night.  Sam and Carl went to Wales early yesterday morning to collect a tractor which they said would be ideal for me to use and is just what we need.  It was an over four hour drive to get there and I knew it would be even longer coming back so I planned for tea at 7pm - by 8 it was feeling a little sorry for itself, by 9 it was past it's best and by 10pm it was in the bin.  They finally appeared just before midnight having encountered a rather large traffic jam and taken the opportunity to try the tractor out by grading a riding school before leaving!  I didn't see this 'ideal tractor' which is 'just the thing for me to drive' until this morning.
Enough said!

I had to clamber around in the barn first thing and unstack a pile of hay in order to retrieve the Shepherd's fencing stuff we borrowed as he came to collect it and he arrived just in time to see his first alpaca birth!  Sapphire, Sam's alpaca, produced a lovely white boy with no problems whatsoever.  Rather early though as she would not have been 11 months until 20th August.  We have had a lot of early ones this year.
He is a big boy and very strong so all is well.  I think the next one will be Trouble who I am really looking forward to but am also quite nervous about as Trouble is so lovely and such a friendly girl (she was bottle fed, one of Bert's babies).  Trouble is humming constantly and likes me to sit with her and rub her neck - just like Bert!  I thought that, being pregnant, she would probably change - but no!

And the rest of the day, I have been sorting out all my fleece that has not gone for processing as I am going to sell it this year.  Quite a mammoth task but I am getting there.

Saturday 10 August 2013


Ellingham Show today so I am tired, crumpled and my feet hurt!  Organising was a huge learning curve and I have huge respect for all show organisers!  We did have a lot of advise beforehand but you soon realise how much you don't know!

Anyway it all went in a bit of a blur but the most remembered bits were -

Checking in animals to discover the operator of the microchip reader was not wearing his glasses (quickly remedied)

The delight on the face of a first time exhibitor in the ring with his first place rosette.

Lots of interest from the public with a good number watching the showing.

The willingness of all exhibitors to make things work and the efficiency with which people got them selves into the right place at the right time despite my efforts.

Sam telling Mark Steele far more than he would ever want to know about cattle.

The whole of the area we had being filled with alpacas and several people exclaiming they had never seen so many alpacas at one time!

Karen Oglesby's muffins.

The swelling breast on a colour champion winner.

Plus, for the first time ever, I had to go in the show ring with an alpaca (it wasn't one of mine and it  was so well behaved I think it could have done it without me).

So, congratulations and thank you to , Viv and Andy, to Carl and Sam.  To Liz Barlow our judge (with her apprentice Joy Whitehead), the superb Garry Naish and all the brave competitors who supported the show!

Friday 9 August 2013


Drama this morning when Bianca started to produce two lovely little legs - no head.   Bianca lay there and let me have a good old ferret around with no problems.  She had a lovely big white boy who is the liveliest one to date!  He was born just before 11am and was chasing Zara's cria around the field by 11.30am. 
The only ones who took notice of him were Ohno and Dib Dab who keep themselves to themselves and only play with each other!
I was very glad she gave birth this morni9gn as it would have been a worry to leave her and it could have gone very wrong if we were not there.  He is another quite early one - 11 months last Monday.

Show is now pretty much organised although I am bound to remember something else in the middle of the night.  Hopefully everything will remain safely in the tent ready to be put out in the morning - - but the wind is getting up a bit . . .

Thursday 8 August 2013

And . . . Relax!

Show preparations going like a dream.  Picked the rosettes up from a layby in Dorchester at 5pm this evening - who needs them any earlier than that.  Picked our new alpaca hurdles and took them to Ellingham to try out - they are a little taller than your normal alpaca hurdles - we were asked if we intended showing giraffes - it doesn't hurt to be different.  Six alpacas were not on the results sheets and one needed to move class - a great learning experience getting to grips with formatting cells in Excel at THREE O'CLOCK in the morning.  Put the finishing touches on halter training the two young boys - they do say the dress rehearsal is always worse than the actual event.

To be truthful today has been a bit stressful!  And the source of the problem is Bianca, Sam's alpaca.  This morning I was convinced she was about to produce.
I took some hay to put in the shelter but made the mistake of leaving it by the fence while I went in the shelter and cleaned it out.  By the time I came out of the shelter the hay was everywhere and Bianca was lying in the middle of it.  She bulged a lot, rolled around, lay with her legs in the air - and then went back to eating for a while.  We then had fence chewing and spitting at anyone who got too close.  Bianca is not one for moving much at the best of times but she did a bit of rolling.

I couldn't leave her to go and do the neck label things for the show, or put the catalogues in envelopes - which is why it is now nearly morning and I am writing a blog.  By the time I could put off going for the rosettes no longer she was more normal so I am assuming she was just uncomfortable but I am going up as soon as it gets light to check on her.  No point going to bed now.

Monday 5 August 2013

Bald noses

Thank you, Jayne and Barbara.  I shall try some of the supplement and review the quantities of Camelibra they are getting.  My alpacas are not very well behaved at feeding time and some get more than others.  When we had fewer alpacas we separated them out at feeding time into smaller pens and they all got fairer shares but now it tends to be a bit of a spit fest over the feed.  I think we are going to have to organise things better so I make sure Zara and Harry get proper rations.  Interestingly, and perhaps this has nothing to do with it, but the coloured ones do get pushed out by the whites.  Not sure what I can do about Zara's black cria and feeding.  I have never had a lot of luck feeding supplement to them when they are youngsters - they just don't seem in the least bit interested!

I have spent the last few days worrying over Ellingham show - it is very stressful!  I shall be a red faced jibbering idiot on the day and I am supposed to be organising the collecting ring.  We now have a show ring set up, PA system sorted, the catalogue is done and I should be collecting the rosettes and neck tag things tomorrow.  Next on the agendas is a shopping list for the judge and stewards lunch.  I wanted to offer everyone a Pimms at lunch time but Viv says that is alcoholic and the afternoon could go down hill - plus they all have to drive home afterwards!

I have no photos today but then it is pouring with rain and all alpacas are filthy - plus Greeves has a very red neck but that is a story for another day!

Sunday 4 August 2013

(no) Camera skills

We really haven't stopped over the last few days.  Shearing is now over (I think), all shearing kit now removed from the Truck and put away - which means the Truck bounces around more not having a generator etc in it.  No more cria to report but Sam's Bianca is 11 months tomorrow and does not look as if she will be too long.  I am afraid I am having a little problem with my blacks and it would be interesting to know if anyone else suffers the same problem - bald noses!  It has happened before and I put Camrosa on it for a few days and the hair grows back.  It is not mites - there is no problem anywhere else and it is only the blacks.  Zara has it and so does Harry and now Zara's baby has a bald nose.  I remember someone writing on their blog about zinc supplements and I am wondering if that might help.  Apart from that everyone is okay.  We were halter training this afternoon and Sam was asked to get photos for the blog but I have just looked at the camera and there are 37 of Prue the Blue Eyed White who is not the one I wanted to feature!

So, courtesy of Sam, here is Dib Dab with half a head.

And Forgie - looking in the wrong direction.
Now if I had asked Sam to take a photo of his new vehicle it would have been a very different matter!
Sam Aylett

Thursday 1 August 2013

Cabbage Patch Kid

Hot again and I am wilting!

We have had a good bit of rain and that has filled up all the water tanks so I am no longer struggling for water.  No more attack incidents and all animals are fine.  Today the babies were very lively despite the heat.  Little black boy, tentatively named Forgie (Blackfolds Forgie) discovered he can crawl though the hole on one side of the field shelter but no one else can.  This makes a great game as the other cria seem to think  he has disappeared

and then jump around in surprise when he charges round the back and in again at the front!  Rupert, Emily's baby, scared himself when he got a large leaf stuck on his head in the manner of a cabbage patch doll.

Sherbet's cria also has a name - Dib Dab!

We also collected six of last years lambs who we had sold to Hope Nature Centre - we swap them each year so they have young lambs for the visitors.  One of them is Shovel who regular readers may remember is Grace's baby from last year.  Grace is a tiny Southdown sheep and I really struggled with getting Shovel out.  In the end, with Sam's help and a couple of bit s of bailer twine, we got him out but thought he was dead.  He wasn't but Grace rejected him for over a week before she decided  she liked him after all.  He is back now and he really does remember me which I find really exciting.  He is the most gorgeous cuddly sheep.  Here he is now.

And here he is when he was a lamb - smaller but still the same!