Sunday 18 January 2009

Coffee beans and dumplings.

Well we escaped last nights stormy weather fairly unscathed - the field was soggy, but nothing blew away - the tool shed slid a foot across its slabs, taking all the contents with it (including the branch shredder!). The alpacas toughed it out, sitting half way up the hill, with their backs to the wind. I think the shelter gives them the spooks when it's windy, with rattling roof sheets, flapping tarpaulin on the hay etc.

I began by forking over the ground to help drain the pressure points in the gateways, then spent an hour or so, poo-picking, and collected three heaped bucketfulls from the top paddock. It's quite 'therapootic' as it requires no thought, and so I've noticed that most of their poos are like piles of coffee beans, though occasionally, you find large balls like dumplings. Alpacas do their business in discrete latrines approximately 2 metres wide, not randomly, so they
keep the rest of their grass clean, though they will make several latrines in the paddock - I don't know if they have individual ones or communal. Though the grass is very short and bare now, they spent all day grazing as usual, without coming to the shelter for hay, except at breakfast time when they got their feed supplement. Bulbs are shooting out of the ground, so it's comforting to know that spring is on the way, and grass growth will begin.

In comparison to an industrial process, the alpaca machine seems to work like this: put grass in at one end for twelve months, with occasional granular and hay supplements - 'machine' extracts nutrients for growth of fleece, and deposits by-product of coffee-beans from other end. After twelve months, remove fleece, and convert into hats, scarves, etc. Start process again.

They've just finished a bale of hay in two weeks, while the previous one took three weeks. I've noticed they occasionally take a nibble at the small conifers which we've planted (they were ornamental and had outgrown the containers, so we've planted them out for future fuel for the fire.

Just tried to pay the final instalment of my Glastonbury Festival ticket, and input the card number wrong - so now it won't let me 'proceed'...

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