Tuesday 29 December 2009

Nosey, cosy,Rosey, 'mosy', posey,

"Happy New Year" to anyone who hasn't already received it from me in response to their blogs. As with all breeders it's been (and still is) a period of keeping up the feedstuff - no snow here but the ground is constantly frozen, and the grass is about a centimetre long, but the pacas still manage to nibble it. To that end, Mrs. Smallholder offered me the use of the 'orchard' at the end of the alotment, so I dismantled the fence rails which were protecting the trees planted last year for the glade in the main paddock, and fenced off the alotment from the orchard (six apple trees!) - the girls loved that, so much so, that they crawled under the lower rail to munch the grass around the alotment and a wander amongst the sprouting broccoli, savoy cabbages and spinach! Next day I added a third rail - I could read disgust on their faces when they next had a look.

I've wanted to view the field from a vantage point across the vale for a long time, so one afternoon I wandered up there with the camera and took the 'aerial' view shown here - our plot runs left-to-right in the picture, with the 'pacas at the far right on the ridge at out boundary, and our neighbours sheep beyond - the polytunnel and animal shelter are central with our garden to the left - only the roof of the house is visible.

We've had two of our fleece products arrive, the tea-cosy made with odd cuts, and a hat, modelled here by Rosey from Greenock, our knitter.
Our daughter made the lovely mosaic sign for the house.

I gave the girls ADE paste today - I do wonder though, when putting my fingers in their mouth to find a way in for the applicator, am I risking a bite injury? Should I only push them in from the side which is more awkward and seems more brutal?

Reflecting on our first 18months of breeding, it is often said that breeding and caring for alpacas is easy, which I would disagree with - but it is a pleasure, and when was anything worth doing easy?

I was also given the enormous Hoffman Alpaca book, a training dvd, and on a lighter note, the very tasteful Lady Farmers calender! Now to find the time to read and watch that lot.

This year, instead of a family board game, we held a DIY quiz - we each had to set 20 questions on a subject - mine was music, and we also had, cooking, science, sport, general knowledge, and picture rounds, to reflect everyones specialities. We saw in the New Year at friends' in the village which was fun - but I drew short the straw being nominated to sing Dolly Partons 'Nine 'til five' - I was more suited to Tears For Fears' 'Everybody wants to rule the world' and performed it better.

We are exploring alternative and renewable energy sources, and so I got an instrument for recording wind speed and sunshine and gave it to Mrs Smallholder wrapped as a Christmas present! Don't worry, I did give her stuff she could be pleased with. I must get on and erect it so we can start recording. Once you've got the data, you can download it to a p.c, then upload to a web-site it to assess the most suitable turbine etc.

Random thought for the day: Aren't coat-hangers annoying?......

Best wishes to you all for 2010, and particularly better times for those who had difficulties last year - hope to meet up at meetings or shows - I'll be the one looking slightly shy and self-conscious - come over and give me a poke, unless I get to you first!

Tuesday 22 December 2009

No room at the inn...

Since we moved to this village, we have been holding a pre-Christmas drink round at ours on Christmas Eve - it's a chance for neighbours and friends to occupy the children for a while, effectively shortening the evening, and for parents to unwind before the big day, and perhaps escape their relatives for a while (!) Entry by invite, or membership of BAS (!)

Yesterday we had Minnie scanned, and as expected it was negative.

We've escaped the heavy snow, but on sunday we had a very heavy hail shower, like polystyrene balls, late in the afternoon, which froze and has left a layer of ice, persisting in all shady areas. It's fascinating to see the different weather conditions and their effects around the country - but it's frustrating for a country that's renouned for talking endlessly about the weather, that there is so much ignorance about why our weather is so variable, what causes the variations, how geography determines the consequences, and why it's impossible practically and economically to beat the weather - and the greater the possibilities for all modes of travel in good conditions, the bigger the disappointment when it is thwarted, and the greater the consequences at the bottlenecks.

Well, rant over,

Christmas Greetings to you all!

Sunday 13 December 2009

Scoop: string and sing...

A little fright the other morning - while the other girls were feeding, Autumn Gold was nosing around in the shelter and curiosity got the better of her, when she got a piece of baler twine caught around her ear tag, the other end being hooked around the hook it was hanging on in the shelter - fortunately, I was there and she sat down without struggling, so I was able to lift her and un-tangle it with no damage done. I've heard that the Queen saves used pieces of string to use again, so I thought I was in good company saving twine, you know to keep my trousers up etc., and it was hanging tidily behind a grain bin, but the lesson is obvious - alpacas are curious and need protecting against themselves.

Readers of my second post in January will be familiar with the two varieties of alpaca poo that were known to mankind at the time, coffee beans and dumplings - well today I can reveal discovery of another - soft-scoop, not through ill health, but through persistant rain.

While writing this, Mrs. Smallholder has plied (pled?) Moiras fleece into two-ply - bless her, (Moira that is) she's our matronly companion in the herd, and has the finest fleece, albeit very short.

Yesterday I was singing in performance with Jazz m'Tazz the vocal harmony group in Glastonbury High Street at the Frost Fair, and on sunday 20th we'll be singing at the Festival of the Voice at Stourhead National Trust House - maybe see some of you there. It will be the shortest day then, and spring will be on the way...

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Web-cam antics.

Yes we're all moaning about the relentless rain, but...there's dry weather on the horizon! And haven't we all forgotten the dry September? Perhaps we'll all get our cameras out this weekend when our 'girls' and 'boys' are tidied up.

At the weekend, I gave the monthly ADE paste, tried on a couple of halters for familiarity, and then planted a 10foot sapling to give shade in the summer - awful conditions for planting, but has to be done when they're dormant, and this one was a replacement for one that didn't take very well this year - it's nice to be making preparations for next year though.

I've had a wireless web-cam for some time which I was given for watching wildlife in the garden after one of those BBC Springwatch/Autumnwatch series - I'd only used it for watching our barn cats, since we never see them, and wanted to be sure that it was them eating their food, not someone elses cat!

Anyway, I set it up in the alpaca shelter, since I only see them in the morning for 10 minutes at feeding time on these short days, and knowing that with more rain due, they would be keeping dry tonight. This evening I settled down infront of the screen to watch a bit of the " 'paca Channel", and would you believe it, there they were sat around with all the straw bales spread out, playing cards in hand, little dishes of Camelibra and Fibregest finger food, 'shots' of ADE paste, a bucket of water and individual portions of finest meadow hay...they all looked relaxed, and appeared to be chatting about babies, pregnancy and looking forward to the spring...

Sunday 29 November 2009

Weather drives Ambrosia nuts...

The whole family (8 of us) had a weekend away in Manchester, visiting our son in our annual pre-Christmas shopping get-together - I love the city, it has stunning architecture, and the canal basins are fascinating, cut into the red sandstone, with huge mills alongside, now converted into offices and apartments - but I had enough of the incessant noise of people and the city for a while, despite growing up in Bristol.

With such foul weather, and being away, there's not much alpaca news to relate - nationwide, we are all suffering from mud or standing water - and no matter the size of your herd and acreage, we deal with the issues in a proportionate, way - large herd, many acres, move them to better-drained or rested paddocks, or into barns -major exercise. Small herd, just an acre as in our case, and we have to have every part constantly serviceable - though it is divided into paddocks, there's one shelter, one entrance, so I spread a bit of gravel and sand to give the ground a bit more body where the foot traffic is heaviest - higher up the field, where I put the drain in, the grass is holding up well.

Ambrosia has started on the hard feed supplement recently, which is good, as I need her to self-wean, and if Minnie is pregnant she'll need to be keeping her energy for the new cria.

When I got back today, I was lucky to spot the nut off the gate hinge lying on the ground - I had spotted Ambrosia nibbling at it a few weeks ago and I tightened it up, but she had obviously got bored with the rain, and decided to fiddle with it again - now I like a girl that can use a spanner, but I'd rather it was in a constructive way!

Sunday 22 November 2009

Twitcher, poo-picker spots 'pecker...

Here is the next item in our 'autumn collection' - a scarf - o.k it's only big enough for Oscars 'chicken', but it's a scarf. More fleece has been carded and spun here this week, and I've heard that there's a tea cosy on the way, from our expert out-knitter in Scotland! Also, our expert out-spinner in Norfolk has been spinning for us today.

Today I collected a barrow and a half of 'paca poo, that's about one weeks worth from all paddocks - very satisfying to have clean fields, until you look up and see them repleneshing the latrines with more! I must look into testing for worms as my next new husbandry technique. Ambrosia and Pelachuta had their halters on for familiarity while I clipped a couple of odd-looking toe-nails.

Pela' was scanned on monday, and the result was positive, so we look forward to the patter of tiny feet next year. Minnie is 3 weeks behind, if she took at all, so we'll be scanning again soon.

Yesterday, a Pheasant chose to wander around the garden, giving the garden an air of 'grand country house' for a while, then today, I saw a Woodpecker in the young Oak tree. It made me ponder: why did they have to be called a 'Wood' pecker? were there other 'peckers, like stonepeckers or mudpeckers that became extinct? I'd used the binoculars for a closer look, and using binoculars always makes me laugh, as I expect to have two rings of soot around my eyes when I take the binoculars away, as a result of that old cartoon prank - hilarious!

Readers of last weeks blog may be pleased to know that the flagstones were primed and waxed this weekend.

Pixie the Shi-Tzu has joined in with a photographic entry to the 'Readers Dogs' section of blog-world - she shows no modesty as she relaxes on the settee dreaming of alpaca poo and the pheasant that got away - but then, she does have a fleece to be proud of.

And a final thought: is the reading of others' blogs, a form of 'virtual curtain twitching'? or is writing a blog a form of cyber showing -off? You decide.

Sunday 15 November 2009

Autumn collection preview...

Due to over-whelming demand I have had to release this preview of our autumn collection! It is the first item made from fleece produced at Apple Vale Alpacas, and so could be highly sought after in years to come. A simple felted brooch made from the odd cuts, it is modelled here by the donator of the fleece, Minnie - she is a bit grubby having had a roll to celebrate the passing of yesterdays storm. Minnies facial fleece is returning nicely.

Not only that, but Mrs. Smallholder spent a day with Amanda Poyner of Barton Alpacas near Glastonbury, learning to spin, and came back full of enthusiasm and has already put into practice her new-found skill.

I got the girls together this afternoon for a bit of bonding and check over - Minnies daughter, Ambrosia, has a beautiful fleece - she was shorn at seven weeks, and it seems to be paying off.

Today I installed a second water butt beside the shelter, so we will be better able to meet the water demand from poultry, alpacas and the vegetables next year. It was a pleasing way to rescue a day that started badly - I'd intended oiling the flagstone floor in the Dining Room, and had moved the furniture, scraped and swept the flags in preparation the night before - on reading the instructions this morning, I discovered that I had to prime the floor first, but since the oil comes from a specialist in old building materials, on a sunday I was stuck - it was then that I put on my stroppy pants... I don't like wasting time and effort, and the day was dry and bright which I need for ventilation and drying. Hey ho - I got over it by luchtime!

I've just heard we are scanning tomorrow, so that will be exciting.

Sunday 8 November 2009

A laurel, laurel laffs.

A pleasant rain-free day today - last nights rain draining away slowly. Spent some time clearing nettles and levelling some uneven soil - the girls found the work intriguing, and as soon as I'd gone for lunch, they were taking advantage of the more-accessible hedge, with the nettles out of the way - this meant the Laurel was reachable, so with it being poisonous to alpacas, I had to be ruthless and sawed it off. Alpacas are very observant of changes in their surroundings - and of course, they always notice if a gate has been left open, even when they are a hundred yards away. It's interesting that they seem to avoid nettles, when they're used to spikey plants in their native habitat.

Gave the girls their ADE paste. Minnies face is growing fleece nicely.
An interesting piece on Countryfile about an alpaca herd in Suffolk tonight. A good advert for the industry, I thought.

I've heard of alpacas killing foxes, but has anyone heard of an alpaca killing a badger? I realise they're not as carniverous as foxes, but with the apparent upsurge in bTB, there'd be some kind of serendipity, if badgers do in fact spread it of course. I gave the girls a bit of halter familiarity this afternoon, but bTB precautions may restrict showing possibilities next year.

Now I know it's not on a par with breeders who also produce knitted garments from their herd, (and we are working on the spinning, knitting process), but we do have our first home-produced item - a felted brooch! hooray, I must get a picture posted.

Saturday 31 October 2009

'Punky' paca'.

To be honest, I've never 'got' Halloween -it's the Englishman in me. However, today I carved my first pumpkin, one that Mrs. Smallholder grew, and I had to put the Apple Vale stamp on it.

It was while scooping out the flesh, it dawned on me - so that's what ectoplasm is!

Talking of excavation - I laid the land drain yesterday - when I say, "the land drain", it was just a short cut-off drain to reduce the run-off reaching the gateway and shelter in wet spells - and when I say, "I laid the land drain", I mean I also had the help of a couple of mini-diggers as well (Mrs. Smallholder and our daughter offered to dig, for the exercise - our sub-soil is stiff clay) - it was an offer I couldn't refuse, and saved the hassle of collecting and returning a real mini-digger. So I missed the opportunity of using a 'boys toy', but I'd rather have a light footprint on the planet and my field anyway. So, job done, turf replaced, scattered a bit of grass seed in the gaps, and even the chickens helped to drill the seed in - at least, I think that's what they were doing...

Pleased to report that Minnie is growing fleece back on her face -she still has a bit of a crusty nostril, and I was surprised how tolerant she was of having salve put on it - it's as if she understands that I'm trying to help her.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Pronking, picking, pins and pipes.

The girls were allowed into the top, largest paddock at the weekend, and they loved that as it goes to the brow of the hill, giving them views across the Somerset Levels where they can watch the neighbouring sheep, swans, horses and farming activities. Autumn and Ambrosia had a good old race around and pronk at dusk which was a delight to see, coupled with anxiety for her weakened leg. She is still getting the comfrey infusion in the morning, which she takes quite well provided she has my finger to suck and bite on - catching her is like a game of 'tag', while the others eat their feed from their buckets.

Minnies face seems to be improving - needing to try a product that would cling to her body long enough to be effective, and was modest in cost, so I could be generous with the application to penetrate the thick crust, I decided to try cattle teat salve (I'd also read that another breeder had used it). I'd given her a week of daily facial scrubs (Ruggle-It) plus salve in a concerted effort to get on top of the problem - I think I need to allow some recovery of fleece, and careful picking the crusts, which are only attached to the fleece, not her skin, and is a very slow process - she's very tolerant of the scrub, but will back away after a couple of tugs on the crusts, so you don't get much off over the course of an hour of repeated circling the catch pen, then tugging, then circling and so on...

I fitted new hinge pins to the shelter gate so it is more convenient to operate (I'll spare you the detail) - I was pleased that it actually worked and finished level, as the corner post of the shelter is a tree trunk, so none of the faces are plumb or smooth - one time-consuming job, but a useful step forward in animal handling that you make with experience - the purchase of hurdles made the previous arrangement unnecessary - I expect I'm losing you, even I'm getting bored describing it!

I'm going to lay an interceptor land drain pipe part way up the hill, so that in prolonged wet weather we don't get all the water running over the surface to the bottom, collecting around the entrance to the shelter pen and garden -I can borrow a digger, but I'm trying to weigh-up whether to dig it by hand, as I think I could do it in the same time with much less fuss than it takes to collect the machine, transfer it to the field dig the trench and then return it - the big difference being that I'll be knackered and wrecked for days afterwards if I do it...

Sunday 18 October 2009

A nice cup of tea...

Autumn has been taking the comfrey in yoghurt quite well, but it's messy, she coughs and splutters, and some of it remains stuck inside the 'teat', so I've been making an infusion and giving it as a drench - that's not so easy when she has a tiny mouth, but it is quite succesful.

We gave vaccination all round today, and trimmed toe-nails.

Minnie has been having daily facial scrubs and salve application.

The girls have been brought into the larger paddock for a bit more space, but not the largest paddock, so that Autumn doesn't get over-exuberant on her healing leg. Each step that I see her take comes with relief when I see that it is solid and not a limp -anxious times.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Leg warmer required.

Autumn had her dressing removed yesterday - healing nicely, we have to hope that the bone is healing, as she had her last anti-biotics tonight. Tomorrow, she is allowed out with the others into the small paddock to try and restrict her running around, and they will all be pleased to be grazing and wandering about looking at the view from the top of the hill.

The stud males visited today, Pela spat, but Minnie sat, so despite the late time of the year we decided to let her have one more go.

Sunday 11 October 2009

Finger food...

I went to work this morning to do my quarterly accounts, and even though I could see it was raining heavily, I concluded I'd rather be poo-picking in the rain! So as soon as I'd made good progress, I headed home, got my water-proofs on and over the next hour filled the wheel barrow, completely clearing the top paddock - very satisfying - if only the healthcare was as straightforward.

Though Autumn suckled on thursday and friday by bringing mum in frequently, on saturday I was concerned as mum was restless and only allowed suckling twice, so after advice I penned all the girls together - my initial reasoning was, firstly, I had thought mum would need the grazing to produce milk, and secondly, I didn't want Autumns leg to be vulnerable to bumping from the others, but perhaps the to-ing and fro-ing, and not being with baby was stressing her -they have haylage which is new to them and which they love, plus hay, and they seem to be more settled today, though Minnie wasn't happy having her facial scrub today - probably due to the permanent penning. I've lost ground with Minnies face - due to our short holiday, and then taken up with Autumns issues, with one scrub between, the facial crusts have increased, so it's going to be daily scrubs this week.

I gave autumn her first comfrey in honey, but we felt that may be too sugery to repeat, so she has been given it mixed with pro-biotic yoghurt, fed through the cut-off finger of a rubber glove.

Tomorrow, the vet will be changing her bandage.

Thursday 8 October 2009

Patience please, patient.

It's been a bit trying, with having to keep Autumn penned-in to restrict her leg movement. We brought Pela in every couple of hours to suckle, but Pela won't stay in after the feed, and tries to leap out to join the others. Autumn then feels left out and paces around, not resting her leg.

I moved the pen out of the shelter so she could get some of the lovely sunshine we had today, and see her mates better.

The vet gave us dried crushed Comfrey leaves to assist healing, a dessert spoonful daily to add to her feed - but at 9 weeks she's only chewing the odd stalk of hay - tonight I mixed it with some ADE paste, and pushed it in her mouth with my fingers - but I can't use that again, so I may try honey tomorrow, and get yoghurt for the next day - any other suggestions out there? and ways to give it?

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Autumns op'.

Autumn went to the vets for her operation to remove the sequestered bone from her leg today.
On opening up they couldnt find it... scraped and drilled, still nothing, so bandaged up, and hoping that she has healed - clearly a young animal is producing cells for growth all the time, so we have to cross our fingers now, that her growth has provided the healing...
So I returned home with strict instructions to keep the bandage clean and dry - so penned her in the shelter with mum, who was distraught having been seperated for 4 hours, but pleased to see her baby - but mum quickly wanted to be out grazing in the, finally-arrived rain that Rob and Mark have also mentioned, so she leapt over the hurdles - and Autumn decided to try... I let mum graze for half an hour while I kept Autumn company, and as dusk fell, we brought the others in, hoping they would all be happy together. It's funny how they are happy to shelter on their own terms but If I bring them in and close the gate, they all get droopy lipped and humming! You can tell humans what's good for them, but not animals.

Friday 2 October 2009

Sat, Spat - Spat, sat.

Hi folks,

I make no apologies for teasing you with some pictures of St. Michaels Mount near Penzance, and a parascender over St. Ives, from our holiday in Cornwall. We were lucky to have another week without rain, if mainly cloudy - that's 3 weeks without rain down here.

We took the opportunity to visit Julie Taylor-Browne at her farm in Cornwall, to buy some halters for the cria, and she kindly showed us around and introduced us to her herd and her pygmy goats.

Our breeding is stuttering at the moment - the boys visited again - and who sat last week, spat - and who spat, sat...

Minnies face appears to have improved - due to the treatment I've been giving her, not the fact that I've left her alone for a few days!

Saturday 26 September 2009

Autumn high - Autumn low

The high pressure over the country has taken us into autumn, and we are off to Cornwall for a week to relax, with the probability of more settled weather for a few days. However, we had Autumn Golds leg x-rayed on friday, and while the anti-biotics got her back to leaping and pronking fitness, the bone is sequestered, and so she will have to have an operation as soon as we get back, to remove the sequestered bone, otherwise the body will react again against the sequestered bone - hence Autumn low. Hopefully, that will deal with the problem and she will be fine. Does anyone have any experience of this?

Minnies face seems to be improving, though her throat is still quite crusty, and difficult to remove, while attached to the fleece - the facial scrubs help, but it is a slow process. I managed to clip a few of their toe-nails this morning, without assistance, which I was pleased about.

Mating continues to be a puzzling process - Minnie spat, but Pela sat again last week.

We went to see 'We Will Rock You' (the Queen 'tribute' musical)at Bristol Hippodrome last night. It was absolutely fantastic - great lead vocalists, male and female, and typically good Ben Elton story. A real credit to the songs of the band, and Freddie Mercury.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Cher wig discovered...

Autumn has a trace of milk on her lips - I couldn't resist a photo before I gave Minnie another facial scrub. This week we get another X-ray on Autumns leg - she's greatly improved in mobility - fingers crossed that the bone hasn't suffered permanent damage.

I finished extending the shelter, so now there will be room for all five of the girls - very satisfying. Had another mating session with Minnie and Pela this week...

Yesterday was a meeting of SWAG - Veterinary and social day, hosted by Nick Weber at Westway Alpacas near Yeovil. As usual, not enough time to deal with all of our questions, but much interesting debate on preparing for and dealing with arrival of a cria, followed by a fine buffet lunch in the sunshine, then demonstration of fleece assessment and skirting, by Tim Hay of Inca Alpacas.

Today, more warm sunshine, so I got our fleeces out and skirted them with my new-found knowledge. Dear Moiras fleece was nearly all 'skirt', though it is exceptionally fine - it resembled one of Chers' wigs. What can you do with so little, fine, short, fleece?

We've had no rain here for over two weeks now - the weather always balances out in the end - vitamin D aplenty - albeit shorter hours now.

Sunday 13 September 2009

Waxing lyrical...

Something is missing from this picture - alpacas. While established alpaca breeders were able to swan around at a cheese fair (only joking!), at the beginners end of the industry there was a shelter extension to continue building - and in this weather, it's great to be outdoors.

What was amusing at feeding time this morning, was Minnie and Moira ducking as if birds were dive-bombing when they caught sight of the rafters above - so much so, that I had to take their buckets outside - Pela, who will eat anything anywhere wasn't at all bothered.

Taking note of my alpaca care training, I tried to top up my vitamin D intake, and went topless - it was due to the lack of a tee-shirt that my under-arm came into contact with sticky timber sap resin, and I discovered a cheap way of removing body hair!

Minnie had another facial scrub followed by Ruggle-It salve.

Autumn had another anti-biotic jab - yet again, she leapt before I'd finished so I had to stick the needle in again, we had another bleed, and it clearly caused her some irritation for a while after. Are there any tips for injecting cria?

Saturday 12 September 2009

'Paca pampering

After a visit to Boots the Chemist, I set out to practice as as a beauty consultant - armed with a shower body buffing 'thing', and exfoliating glove (I see where Michael Jackson got the idea for a single white glove as a fashion statement from), I gave Minnie a facial scrub with Ruggle-It shampoo (formerly Stop-It-All). Pleasingly, she is quite tolerant to this, though it is difficult to do the upper jaw without spooking her, once she can see what you are doing.

We are advised that there must be a fungal problem since we have tried several products against mites, so now a concerted effort to get this cleared up.

We made the most of a beautiful evening to take our dinner up the top of the hill as the sun set, with a glass of wine, which Ambrosia appears to be interested in - see photograph.

As I type this enjoying a hot cross bun for supper, I wonder, 'did I miss Christmas? Mrs. Smallholder says she held off buying them through the summer. It must be autumn - it's the Last Night of The Proms

I made a meaningful start on extending the shelter this afternoon, which was very satisfying - after the beauty therapy, it brought out the cave-man in me. This will give a larger covered area infront of the shelter, and hopefully reduce the slipperyness there in wet weather.

We have opened up the little paddock at the top of the 'alotment', which has not been grazed before, to allow the other paddocks to rest, while there is still some warmth for growth.

Sunday 6 September 2009

Wedding belle

With our daughters wedding last saturday, it's been a full-on fortnight. In between the ceremony at Glastonbury, and the reception in our village hall, we had a champagne reception in the garden. We couldn't afford the Three Tenors, so instead we had the Four Gazebos - ones we erected, not the name of a performing troupe. We did have a fine duet in the form of Nils and Dave on piano and trumpet. Remarkably, in this last month (or 2) of changeable weather, we had a lovely afternoon. Being very much a Do-It -Yourself wedding, we had to get the garden ready, and the hall for the reception, so everyone was running around like headless chickens in ever-decreasing circles.

It was during this, on friday afternoon, the day before the wedding, that Autumns drama unfolded. She had been limping five days earlier, so I had been treating for mites between the toes, having found crustiness. This didn't improve, she kept all weight off the leg (front right), and when I saw her sat apart from the grazing herd, just before a wedding and Bank Holiday, I decided we needed the vets advice. The vet found her thigh to be swollen, and advised an x-ray, so amidst all the wedding preparations, I placed her in the back of the estate car, and took her to the surgery. X-ray revealed no break (phew!), but a bone infection, Osteo-myelitis, and the concern is that it may leave sequestered (dead) bone tissue. So she is on injected anti-biotics (Rosflor) for a month.

The good news is that she has responded well, using the leg again, has chased a chicken, and the swelling has reduced, but remains, and she still keeps a bit light on it. We assume that the leg received trauma such as a kick, though there were no external signs, other than a tiny red spot. Have considered a snake bite (there would be two marks? and presumably that wouldn't affect the bone in any case). One night when injecting sub-cu, I penetrated muscle tissue, which she didn't like, went all wobbly and rolled on it due to soreness - it scared the living daylights out of me, wondering what I'd hit.

Meanwhile, I am still battling with Minnies mites - while her face has improved in some areas, there has been another wave of hairloss and crustiness.

The next job is to extend the shelter.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

"Hay hay, my my" *

On monday we celebrated** as it was one year since Moira and Minnie arrived -that was an exciting day -one year on, and we have five beautiful girls in the field - what started as a more sustainable and interesting way of keeping the grass cut - I find I am spending more time cutting docks and nettles than I would have if we had no alpacas - there's irony - not only that, it turns out to be a totally absorbing and fulfilling occupation/hobby/responsibility.

I've ordered some hay which I hope will see us through the winter.

Coincidentally, on monday two gentlemen alpacas arrived for a date with Minnie and Pela, and spent twenty minutes orgling, while cria looked on awkwardly...Spinster of this parish, Moira, can be seen in the distance, pondering on what might have been had nature had other plans for her...

Posting this blog now, as our daughters wedding is on the 29th, and we have a champagne reception twixt wedding and main reception, here in the garden, so slowly going into meltdown... I was preparing my speech, but got side-tracked by alpaca blogs...

Currently enjoying listening to U2 - having to miss their gig at Cardiff on saturday due to wedding preparations. However, tomorrow I'm going to try and get tickets for Muse who are playing two nights in Teignmouth soon, their home town - rock 'n roll that big (and good) doesn't visit the West Country very often (Glastonbury Festival excepted), so it's worth a try.

** we didn't actually celebrate - far too busy for that...
*Hey hey, my my - Neil Young

Sunday 16 August 2009

Charge of the white brigade.

Most evenings, Ambrosia and Autumn Gold have a funny five minutes of charging around the field - anyone who has a dog will know they have their moments of running hell-for-leather around their garden (or house if it's wet!), working off the growing pains.
Tomorrow, their mums have got a couple of fellas coming on a date - how exciting, Apple Vale Alpacas first attempt at breeding from the very first act... watch this space.