Sunday, 22 February 2009

Shady glade

The alpacas are looking great this weekend - with dry weather, their coats have fluffed-up a treat. We planted five large trees yesterday so that they will have shade in the summer (other than the shelter) - I've fenced them off for the time being, so the alpacas aren't tempted to eat the shoots - perhaps by mid-summer their roots will be well established, and there will be plenty of grass in any case. There's a Silver Birch, 2 Paper Birch and 2 Silver Maple - they are around 9-10 feet high at the moment. We noticed that two small conifers (Cypress type) which we planted in the field as they had outgrown their pots, have been stripped bare, though another six haven't been touched - yet. They aren't listed on the list of plants poisonous to alpacas - does anyone know otherwise?

Today we put the polythene on the polytunnel, which was demanding, as there was a steady, strong wind blowing! The manufacturers advise choosing a calm, warm day - well it was relatively warm compared to the last six weeks, and if we waited for a calm warm sunday, we might miss the start of the season, so we made contingency plans to make sure we didn't finish up parachuting into the next village (!), by clamping planks to the first edge, with stone weights as well, launched it over the frame and as it flapped around, our neighbour offered to help, and his extra pair of hands made all the difference to getting it under control.

We are going to the British Alpaca Futurity show next week, so hope to learn lots about all aspects of alpaca breeding, fleece production etc.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

What a difference a week makes

Last week I was sledging , this week I was sledge-hammering. I am planting five large trees soon, to provide a shady glade for the alpacas during hot weather. I don't want to risk them eating the young shoots having spent a large sum on them (the trees) so I am fencing them off for several months - that was yesterday.

Today we took the polytunnel a stage further, and now it's ready for a long, warm, calm day to fit the polythene - we may have to dispense with the 'warm' part otherwise it won't be ready for the early seedlings. Today was a bit of a 'glass half empty' day - one of those days when you start off with lots of things to do, but don't get as much done as you'd hoped, and the nagging of the jobs you didn't do, outweighs the satisfaction of the jobs you did do.

We had to get more hay, as with the week of snow, there was no grass available, but our good neighbours behind who have sheep and horses, brought some bales over.

It's been a dry day, fairly mild, with a slight chill, mostly cloudy, but as I went in, I glanced back up the field, and the sun had come out, glancing off the three girls fleeces, black, fawn and white - a lovely sight.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Well, we got another load of snow on thursday night - twice in one winter, fantastic!

The alpacas weren't amused, they couldn't find the grass, which is very short and sparse in any case -still today it's been thawing and so they've had a good graze this afternoon -and while the alpacas weren't interested in the hill, the humans took advantage!

Collecting poo was easy, as they deposited it all outside the shelter, instead of across the field.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Snow in Somerset

We don't get a decent fall of snow in this part of Somerset very often, so I was thrilled to hear the forecasts, and then see it actually arriving on time - there's too much moaning in the news about "why is there so much snow?", " why weren't we ready?", "why are schools closed?", " how much is it costing the economy?" - enjoy it! the fun for children (and some adults), the sculptural beauty of the landscape, and the special occasion when it falls which makes our weather worth talking about so much! Sales of carrots (for snowmen), shovels, gloves,hats, boots, etc. will all have increased, so it's not all negative. I know some essential service workers have to continue in difficult conditions, meetings get postponed and travel plans are disrupted, but it's usually only for a day, and it actually brings people together for many reasons, which is good for communities.

Any way, off the soapbox! Most people see the alpacas and say, "oh, you've got llamas" or continue to refer to them as llamas, long after they've been told - I can understand how New Zealanders must feel, when they are referred to as Australians. If you double-click on the pictures, you can enlarge them - by the way, if you like the music of Elbow, particularly their latest album, The Seldom Seen Kid, go to the Red Button and watch their performance with the BBC orchestra - it's fantastic. Sorry about the layout of this blog - I got the pictures in the wrong order and the text wrapping is lousy.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Just listening to some music by the Icelandic group, Sigur Ros - I do like it, but for a moment during one track, I thought we had mice in the house, or in the speakers gnawing away!!

My three girls, (I'm referring to them as the Sugababes at the moment - no particular reason), retired to the shelter at sunset this afternoon - they must be anticipating the cold blast with snow coming, though they spent all day grazing in the cold wind. I caught the expectant ones yesterday, and their fleece is fantastically deep and dense - the outer appearance is deceptive, especially when it's a bit muddy or wet - there's great depth to it. I put Pela's halter on her, which she accepts, but isn't keen on going anywhere. I fixed some more vertical branches to the east wall of the shelter, and I need to weave some horizontals in now, to close down the drafts. They're eating a bale of hay in a fortnight at the moment and I've one bale of hay left, so must get some more - and we need logs for the fire.

I bought some more coffee for the machine at work, it takes capsules of ground coffee. I can't make any sense of the descriptions on the boxes - these were descriptions of four different flavours: "rounded velvety flavour"- "harmonious and rounded taste"- "strong well-defined temperament"- "pleasant and balanced richness of aromas"...some of them sound like they are assessments made by a psychologist (harmonious, well-defined temperament) or describe what it is like to touch (velvety), or what shape it is (rounded), but none of them tell a layman what it tastes like!