Tuesday 31 December 2013

Westhill Review of 2013

Just sitting here with a drop of sloe gin reflecting on the year and whether it has been a good one or a bad one overall.
January saw me huddled in the hay stack with the girls and snow outside.
February, the snow was long gone and the sun made an appearance.
By March thoughts had turned to halter training which was not uniformly successful.

April and the lambs came with Reg coming to grips with life in the kitchen.
May brought the start of shearing - but a lot was delayed due to rain.
June and we had grass! . . . and cria!
More halter training in July and I discovered the truth in the saying - larger ladies should not wear horizontal stripes.
August and we had Ellingham Show - not sure what every one is looking at, probably me weeping in a corner!
Calm in September!
Then August saw a hall load of fleece being sorted before being sent away.
On to November and the arrival of the Ram
And so to December which is almost over and has to be the month of Bert - but that is a tale for another day.

Sunday 29 December 2013

A move around

Today started on a sunny note so we were able to catch up with shelter cleaning and move some of the alpacas round as some paddocks are getting muddy by the gates.  The youngsters were straight to the gate when they sensed a move was in the air.  I don't think they are going to be so keen to move when weaning time comes around!  Weaning is going to be left until later in January this year so they have a bit of time to go.

Bert had her antibiotics and pain killers and then hobbled her way up hill to sit in splendour, as far away from me as she could!
By then the sun was going and now the wind is getting up - back in the barn tonight, I think.  I think we may have worked out what might be a secondary complication to Bert's leg problem and will need to speak to the vets about that tomorrow but, on the plus side, the wound is looking good and healing well.

Saturday 28 December 2013

A notebook by the fire

I seem to keep blogging without photos, sorry will take camera to field tomorrow!  Busy day today and I wasn't going to blog but I am trying out blogging by thefire on the notebook.  Going well but the noise when I type is quite loud so I will have to attempt turning volume down, in fact it is getting louder,ahh - I am hitting the volume key with the space bar whenever I make a space!

That's better!  Today it was off to the herd we look after to move their field shelter, a great deal easier then moving our shelters as this was on big steel skids and all well braced.  I.  did the towing and Carl jumped around brandishing a metal bar and shouting  leafy hand down a bit which means nothing to me.
Arrived home to find Sam and friend making yet more adjustments to Sam's truck and then raced over to Mole Valley for more feed.  I am trying micronised peas again to add to the alpaca pellets and I also got some shredded sugar beet (usually they have soaked pellets). I am trying to feed up Bert a bit and Bianca is also looking a little on the thin side.

I really don't know about Bert, today she did look a bit better again and she was moving around more,  yesterday she looked a bit sad and seemed a bit wobbly.  Yohav will be back soon for her stitches so I shall see what he says.

Good chat with The Shepherd when he came by this evening in his tractor on his way to feed hispigs - he lost  a chicken coop to the wind and the chickens refuse to go in the other houses, preferring to roost in the RU Bible of their old house.

I have predictive text here so I hope this all makes sense
- prooof reading is not my forte, I used to have brilliant secretarial staff for that!

Photos tomorrow!

Friday 27 December 2013

Carl's vibrating Razor

It has been a wild few days weather wise and the wind is still pretty strong here - in fact the garden fence is hanging on by a thread.

We had an interesting Christmas the highlights being -
  • Carl's vibrating razor (he wanted an ordinary razor for when he wants a wet shave.  I felt a packet of Bic Razors might not be what he meant so bought something in a proper packet which seemed to look more substantial.  When he opened it we found it had a battery with it and it vibrates at various degrees of strength - he is rather afraid to use it)
  • I had a most brilliant tablet (I couldn't turn it on so had to wait for Sam to return to sort it out.  It is now quite amazing as you can talk to it and it does things.  I think you can also watch programmes on it but I am not sure if that costs money so must again wait for Sam's return to get help)
  •  Amber pulled her dew claw half out and couldn't open her present
  • Sam had various things for his Truck and has spent most of his time lying under it doing something with a bit of water pipe as the things he had did not include a snorkel -
  • A phone call from Major Thomas
Bert is a bit of a concern still as her walking seems to be getting worse and all the mud is not helping.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Puddle Bashing

What a wild night!  Stourton Caundle was flooded - the pub had to open the back door to let the water out.  Strangely, Hammoon didn't appear to be last night but Henstridge was and Marnhull couldn't be reached in the night.  You couldn't get up Waterloo Lane - - and the side gate to the house almost came off.  The animals survived but the field shelters did not.  The boys field shelter, which is massive and very heavy, had tipped over and moved bringing the fence down so the boys had a grand time leaping round in the rest field next to the girls.  The girls' field shelter had walked sideways 12 foot but luckily they had all stayed in the barn for the night.  Hay racks were tipped over but no trees down.  We spent the morning putting all that right and then met up with another drain clearing lady at Woolland who told us the river at Stur had flooded the road and it was impossible to get into Stur, obviously, we decided to have a go!  Gas problem on Glue Hill so lots of vans and barriers up and abandoned cars into Stur but the Road Closed barriers had been moved aside and we got through.  This was essential as I was after a Coop Jewelled Roll (they had sold out) but Stur was virtually deserted apart from the crowds on the way in watching the floods or trying to rescue their cars, most had sensibly left their windows open.


Now all that Puddle Bashing has meant the Christmas Schedule has all gone to pot.
The trifle bowl is empty
The stuffing is not made
The table is not laid
Father Christmas has not stuffed his stockings
Mince pies are no where in site
Ice cubes, which should have been made (with sprigs of mint this year), are not done
Sausage and bacon rolls (on the list for 10am) are not done
Hoovering not done
I could go on but it would probably be better to just get on with it - I may not reach 'Paint my nails' this year!


Monday 23 December 2013

Stormy times

It's wild out there!

The cat flap is blowing inwards and confusing Cruella who keeps getting bashed on the nose.
The lights are flashing.
Sam is pulling a mate in a micra (or maybe it's a punto) out of somewhere.
Police or fire engines or something have been roaring past.
The alpacas are piled in the barn.
Black baby (the lamb) got blown down the hill.
Went to check new house is not flooding and road was blocked by a fir tree which had created a flood.
Tractor boys Mum was manfully digging out ditches in a roaring gale and lashing wind.
Post Mistress had to hang onto a tree  to save being blown up the Grave diggers steps in the manor of Mary Poppins.

I think we'll go to bed now!

Sunday 22 December 2013

Batman and Robin visit the Penguin

A busy wet and windy couple of days here but today the sun actually made an appearance for a while.

Yesterday, mother came to tea, having managed to escape from the woodshed.  She had gone in to get logs and the door slammed shut, ever resourceful she smashed her way out with a mallet.  I did a joint of beef which well (and I had a visitor to buy a scarf in the middle of it all) except one catastrophe which no one but Carl seemed to notice (and it was his fault).  Lovely pan of beef juices ready for making gravy, Carl balanced the pan of roast potatoes on it and the weight was all too much - dish shattered and gravy cascaded all over the cooker.

Bert continues to slowly recover.  She does not go very far and needs a rest every so often or she gets shaky.  I expect you can see which one she is!

Carl and I were just thinking tonight how we would shear her.  I don't think she can be stretched anymore so we will have to try doing it whilst she is standing.

This afternoon was a trip to help The Penguin with a bit of foot trimming - that went smoothly as Carl was just doing the holding and there was great efficiency from the wielder of the clippers.  I just stood around making friends with a lovely black girl.

Friday 20 December 2013

Stormy weather

Very stormy out there tonight and hopefully everyone is tucked up in their field shelters or the barn.  Bert adored her strawberries doctored with pain killer so there is no problem getting that down her.  She is still looking sorry for herself but is eating well.  There was no chance of a photo by the time I thought of it this afternoon.

And I have failed a bit this year on the Westhill Christmas card front I am afraid.  I was hanging on hoping for a combined Christmas card/Moving card but due to the on/off/delay situation I left it too late.  I did resort to ordinary cards and started well but then Bert got in the way and so only half the list has got any sort of card at all!  I will just have to ask people to kindly imagine they have had a card and try to visualise me on their mantelpiece or on top of the fridge or wherever they put their cards (obviously I don't mean imagine me on your fridge - it's the card you have to envisage)  Of course if you were in the first batch there is no need for method acting out your joy at receiving a bit of Westhill Cheer.

Wednesday 18 December 2013


Thank you very much for your best wishes for Bert - I have passed them on to her but she was more interested in food!

Sam offered to go and check her at midnight and she did get up but she was very shaky.  This morning she was trembling all over but recovered after a bit of food and lots more hay.  Yohav and assistant came at 9 to remove the little shunt thing from her neck (you need a special pair of scissors to do that).  She now has a rather natty bit of vet wrap round her neck to hold an antiseptic pad in place and looks quite dashing.  She can stand up and limp about a bit, not much but there is no clicking and she can put weight on her leg now.  Tomorrow she starts on more antibiotics and some pain killers in powder form which, apparently, taste  bitter so I am going to make little doctored strawberry parcels out of it.  I shall also have to have some undoctored strawberries and remember which is which or Caroline, Cassie and Lina are also going to end up on pain killers!

The weather here is atrocious and I have made a run from the field into the barn where Bert is so everyone can join  her if they want.  Every single one of the Mums and cria have and I now have 27 alpacas squashed into a space about 12 foot by 18 foot.  Everyone is eating hay and showing no interest in venturing back out.  I have to get Carl to go and move a few dodgy posts, ladders and things out of the way later as Flem was half way up the ladder eating hay of the stack, Islay was balancing on some fence posts and Trouble has hidden herself behind a large box - I had been mumbling away to myself down there putting out hay for everyone when I suddenly said,  "Now listen everyone . . " and they all, everyone of them, lifted their heads and looked at me, words do not show how funny that looked!

Tuesday 17 December 2013

The Operation

It is now 8.15pm and finally we are back - Bert as well!

The photos in this post may not be what you want to see but I thought it was interesting.

Getting Bert in the trailer proved fairly easy the first time - she limped after me but then I bought String in as well to be a friend and much spitting ensued with String trying to leap out.  As I had got ready an hour too early, thinking there would be problems as Bert has not been in a trailer since she came here.   I then let them back out into a little pen at the back of the trailer and when I went to get them in a second time Bert was not so keen.  Anyway we managed and were towed down to Friars Moor vets just in time.  String was so good the whole time and was very interested in everything going on - Bert screeched even while she was being weighed at the start.  Once she was asleep she went up on the table - note String watching from behind.
The vet then manipulated her leg and at one point we were also questioning some sort of fracture.  The clicking was quite apparent and after a bit of that they decided to 'go in'.
String was very interested in the machinery.

Once an incision had been made the vet felt all round inside with the leg being manipulated - and there was no dislocation, in fact nothing out of place or fractured or anything.
So what had happened?  Well, it could have been that it went back in when it was manipulated, apparently, I think, where they are so relaxed that can happen.  The ligaments surrounding seem fine and the socket thing (which does have a proper name) is good.  She could get arthritis at some point and it will take a while to recover but looking good - - - and then she would not wake up.

After a long time we were just locating something which I think was some sort of anti opiate, an antidote if you accidentally shoot yourself with an elephant tranquilizer, when Bert coughed and burped and held her head up.

We brought her and String straight back, she still has the shunt thing in her neck just in case and I am typing quickly as I have to go and check her again.  She is shaking but is with us.  More news tomorrow.

Monday 16 December 2013

Preparing ourselves for a traumatic afternoon

Getting very tense here now.  Yohav came to examine Bert again and we have decided she has to go in tomorrow.  She is more uncomfortable now and managing things with pain relief is not working.  This afternoon she even let Lina steal her food and didn't make any fuss about it - for Bert that is unheard of.  So, tomorrow afternoon, we go to the vets in Stur and take it from there.  We have managed to sort transport, now I just have to decide who is going with her.  Carl has gone to check over the livestock trailer and get it ready, I will just have to somehow get her in it tomorrow afternoon ready for the off.  Two vets will be standing ready and I am hoping I can be with her throughout, Yohav thinks that will be okay.  I am glad we are doing it close to home so she only has a 10 minute journey and she does know Yohav (I am not saying she is fond of him after he manipulated her!).  It is a bit of a risk and there is no guarantee it will  be successful but I don't really see we have much option now.  I don't know what it is about Bert, she is just such a sweet little alpaca.  Today she was looking into my eyes and murmuring to herself, probably saying, "For goodness sake sort this out, you're supposed to be in charge!"

Wish us luck!

Sunday 15 December 2013

Tossing the tree

Oh it is foul out there - rain, rain, rain - plus strong gusts.  How is Bert coping?  She was is the shelter and that is where I hope she is right now.  I don't know and it is very frustrating but I can't stay in the shelter with her all night.  Just have to wait for daylight (couldn't see her anyway at the moment).

Busy day today as after the animals we headed off to make an alpaca husbandry visit and then got stuck into present deliveries on the way back.  Sam looked after the animals in the afternoon and also managed to put up a tree for me -

Sam, could you erect the fake tree somewhere and decorate it?

Looks like he threw it at the wall and then tossed the angels after it!

Saturday 14 December 2013


Windy drizzly weather here and Bert's walking has deteriorated a bit.  She still looks happy and makes it to the food but she now looks a bit lopsided.  Oddly, the click seems to have gone and I am not sure if that is a good thing or not.  We are now just hanging on until Monday.  A huge thank you to the Mighty Patou warrior for the help offer, if Bert has to go anywhere on Monday we will be okay as Carl is around - we must just wait and see.

And talking of Carl, he went to get the Christmas Tree last night.  I anticipate around £20, he spent £35 but that was okay.  I should have had suspicions raised though when he said he would leave it outside to 'rest' until this afternoon.  It is now in and it is tiny - and still lopsided despite a very long 'rest'.

The sheep eyes are all better with the exception of Angelina who had a bit more ointment this morning.  Hopefully, that will clear by tomorrow.

Sam is now putting up a bit more stock fencing before he goes back to work this evening.  That will mean I can move the sheep next week - which they are in need of.

And, things to do when immobilised:
  • Learn to love Lego
  • Untangle the ball of wool the cat attacked
  • Search ebay for bargains - do not actually purchase said bargains
  • Dream up money making ideas
  • Search family tree in hope of finding famous ancestor
  • Make plans for next years mating plans
  • Surprise wife with well thought out online food order for Christmas (maybe not)
  • Have a shave

Thursday 12 December 2013

Surgery cancelled/postponed

Bert was going to have surgery tomorrow and I was struggling to find a way to get her there.  I have never towed anything and struggle enough backing up the poo picker - it has a tendency to go in a different direction to the one I planned and usually ends up jack knifed.  The best I could come up with was either Sam or Carl taking us at 5 in the morning before they go to work and me and Bert sitting outside the vets until the appointment at 11 am.  I figured that as long as I took plenty of fruit with me we should be okay.  However, after further consultation we have all decided the surgery would not be the best option and so it is not happening - at least not on Friday.  It is complicated and involves two vets so I wasn't much looking forward to it.  Bert does not run about now when food makes an appearance like she used to but she is hobbling around and, strangely, she can still put some weight on the leg and she can lift it to scratch herself.  She still seems happy and perky, eating well, - just slower and you can hear her coming rather like Captain Hook.  We have another consultation and then we can make some more decisions.

Carl had to go to bed early last night with a headache due to the fact that he was asked to write ONE Christmas card.  I am completely behind and have written none, have no tree up and have not bought the presents.  Well, I bought one for Sam which was delivered next door, Sam went round to pick it up and now knows what he is getting as it wasn't wrapped!

And if a certain suave, and faintly piratical, gentleman is reading this from his hospital bed - get well soon!

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Oh, Bert

I am afraid my guess about Bert was correct.  When Yohav, the vet, came to see her I had decided to leave her in the small paddock I had put her in with Islay and Prue for company.  She had spent the morning sitting waiting for me to bring food - carrots, small grapes, Alpaca mix, hay, sugar beet, apple . . . her appetite is not affected!  She was moving around very little but could get up and down, scratch herself and walk, albeit with the clicking noise.  I had spent some time sitting with her and she seemed fine in herself, very calm - lovely little alpaca.

 Of course, as soon as Yohav arrived she turned into a green spitting, screeching demon and actually ran away when I went to catch her.  At first I thought she had made another miraculous recovery as it actually took the rope to catch her.  But, sadly, no - she had a dislocated hip and that is very bad.  Phone calls are currently being made to try to work out the best course of action, she has had Metacam and after screeching her way through the whole time she was being examined and drooling out foul green spit she immediately had a carrot and calmed down once Yohav had stepped away (despite spit still dripping - she is the only alpaca I have who can eat and spit at the same time).

The options for Bert are now being considered.  If she were a young dog, as I understand it, it would be manipulated back under anaesthetic and then strapped up to her body.  Bert is at least 11 years but I am not sure if this is totally accurate as she was a Peruvian import.  If it was strapped up she would effectively have only 3 legs for some time and I am not sure how she would cope with kushing with a missing back leg.  It is apparently not as simple a job of popping things back together as I had hoped as there is also the likelihood that the socket will have 'stuff' in it which is a further complication.  Another option is some sort of operation - but this involved breaking something and doing something else which I think is probably more than Bert could stand.  Bert is fine as long as she is where she knows and with people and alpacas she knows - anything else and she gets very stressed.

A further option is just managing it with pain killers.  We are at the consulting and debating stage.

And, although the problem is what I expected, I have spent the last few days pondering how on earth it happened - surely in order for a dislocation to occur a very strong force is required, like a high fall or car accident.  Unless Bert has a secret life I know nothing about I really can't imaging how it happened.  Maybe alpaca bones get weaker as they get older - maybe Bert has had a sort of postmenopausal osteoporosis (I know they don't have a menopause to look forward to but I have been thinking about this for days and am coming up with all sorts of unlikely ideas).

Saturday 7 December 2013

Rabbiting on and on and on . . .

I have not ben idle here in case you imagined I was sitting around with my feet up toasting chestnuts, having a manicure, wallowing in a good book or drowning myself in sherry.  I can't remember where I got to in the last blog and my blogger is being a bit temperamental at the moment so I dare not go off this page to go back and check.  Apparently, I have 'an unsupported browser' I don't know about that means but I certainly have an unsupported chest as I somehow, and it is beyond me how this happened, got my bra caught up climbing through some barbed wire and that was the end of that.

I hope I am not repeating myself but I will go back to where I think I got up to.  We took the knitting to the SWAG show and had a very slow start - not that we were expecting to sell anything - we just went to catch up with friends.  By lunchtime we had sold nothing but had met some new friends and had a lovely chat with Mr and Mrs Apple Vale (good tips on how to dye alpaca - thank you!).  Then we had a most amazing rush and succeeded in making a small profit by the end of the day - I even had to unpack again once we had packed up.  We then went to another Christmas Fayre last weekend and did very well so I am recharged on the knitting front.  I am now onto an experimental piece which Sam and Carl think is hysterical.  Sam actually laughed so much he had to take a photo of it and send it to his friends.  He seems to be under the impression I am knitting knickers for plus size ladies which is wrong on so many levels (it will be a lovely lace shawl).  It is very complicated so I have to intersperse with a black scarf or I go slightly crazy.

The sheep have had a slight problem with what I call New Forest Eye but which I believe is really called Contagious something or other.  Their eyes gradually go cloudy and it can lead to blindness so they have to have eye drops.  If you catch them quick enough it clears miraculously quickly - catching them to treat them without a pen up in third field is more complicated.  What I have to do is call them to the bucket and grab a leg before they know what is happening and then lie on them while I get the ointment out of my pocket and in their eyes.  Rolling only works with the tamer ones.  The Ram has now gone down to The Lord of the Manor and Womble (as in ringing mistake - not as in the litter collectors) went back in to check all were done.  I think Womble might actually be active still and he is sadly turning a little bit naughty.  When I was lying on Reddybrek this afternoon he got a little jealous and was lining up, head down, to have a go at me.  Luckily, Stumpy got in the way and I made it back over the electric fence - Womble has horns!
Stumpy the hero

Womble the black one

Apart from one, the alpacas are doing well.  Zara's little one - Tyke is very keen on my new feed bucket.
Gloria having problems with a thistle
The one who is not good is Bert.  I think I blogged about her breathing problem and how unsteady she was on her legs.  Well she seemed okay after but possibly lying down a bit more than usual.  Well on Friday she had another turn but not as bad and after about 20 minutes she was okay but this time limping badly after.  I couldn't see anything wrong with her foot and her leg seemed okay but it was a bit hard to tell as she kushes as soon as you try to lift her leg and I was on my own so I couldn't hold her up and feel her leg.  Today I got them in the barn ready for Sam to come up after work to help me and I noticed a clicking as she walked.  I have a dreadful feeling she has either fractured or dislocated her hip.  I wonder now whether the initial problem was not something stuck but shock when she initially hurt herself.  I don't know - more news on that later.

Better stop now this blog has gone on far too long!