Sunday 31 May 2009

Minnie delivered us a lovely girl this morning, assisted by the mid-wife (Mrs. Smallholder) as her legs were over the top of her head and appeared to be making it diificult to exit - I was phoning the vet, and by the time I had found the number (it was on the sheet of 'things to do when the cria arrives' which was in the 'delivery' bag out in the field of course) and since the phone didn't go to divert for the on-call vet, baby arrived before I got through) - excellent. She arrived exactly on 11months, and after hearing of so many long gestations we were expecting a long wait, then, bingo! She has such long legs, and reminded me of the fighting machines in The War of The Worlds. Anyway enough chat for tonight, you probably want to see some pictures. You'll notice I'm still trying to get the hang of organizing these photos.

Sunday 24 May 2009

More ice please!

It's been sweltering here today - feeling that glow you get in the evening after too long in the sun: tanned legs, arms, feet and neck- but I was putting some fence posts in - followed by a barbeque - even the dog lay on her back, legs apart - I filled the pool for the alpacas, and they emptied it twice. I've not seen Minnie, (the white) in the pool, though I have seen the other two. It seems that Minnie will sit close by to catch the splashes from the other two. You can see in the picture, Moira has stood on the edge of the pool to flip it up and scoop the last drops out! I'm looking for something that will make a longer pool, like a drinking trough or water tank.

Feeding has been easier this week - not sure exactly why, but I went back to the original arrangement - I took the dividing sheep hurdle out, and put Minnies bucket at the back so she was more sheltered, and she has seemed calmer.

Tango the hen has been showing her brood around the place - she's been showing them how to scratch the ground to find food, and if the other hens or cocks appear to be a threat, she puffs up her feathers and spreads her wings - it's as if they are attached to her by elastic, and never get too far away, without all zooming back to her to start creeping away again.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Roll-on, roll-off

I've realised that the roll-on, roll-off ferry was designed after the alpacas habit of lifting its tail to use the latrine...
This week, I went to Ashill Alpacas to 'help' and witness my first alpaca shearing - it was useful to see what's involved so I can be properly prepared for when mine are done, and to deal with the fleeces carefully. Thanks to Heather and Keith Rushforth for accommodating me.
Continuing to try and encourage my shy feeder, Minnie - she's the one due to birth in a fortnight - I've tried having extra bowls to occupy the other dominant pair which occasionally works, but she's become more shy with encroaching birth - this afternoon, I herded them into the compound, closed the gate but only the over-weight one was interested - so I lined up the three bowls in front of the gates and opened them, so they would have to walk past to get out - bingo!, they coudn't walk past without sampling the feed and Minnie did have a good nibble -but does anyone have any tried and tested methods?

Trove - there's a word you never hear associated with anything other than treasure - seems a bit of a waste of a word...

Just received the new album by The Manic Street Preachers - a signed copy - it's great that they are recording and performing again, they're previous album was good too.

Tango, one of our hens, has been sitting on a clutch of eggs for a while, and yesterday four of them hatched - competition for our incubator.

Sunday 10 May 2009

"How much longer are you going to be in that bath?"

Its been very warm here today, and I'd been told that alpacas like a paddle, and seen pictures in magazines, so I borrowed one half of the ducks 'clamshell' paddling pool and filled it up. We slapped some mite cream onto Moiras legs, and let them out of the shelter - they went straight to the bath, and true to the herd order, Moira had first go - timidly she got her front feet in, - I think the pool is too small to get all her feet in, so she had to be inventive and flicked water back towards her belly and back legs, as you can see in the picture. Then she sat down, with just her front legs in! She spent a good quarter of an hour before letting Pela have a go - she's a bit smaller, and managed to get in, but found her feet slipping on the curved sides, so she leapt out in the same movement.

I was singing at Stourhead House (National Trust) yesterday, with a vocal harmony group which I belong to, called Jazz m'Tazz, at the Festival of the Voice, which is held annually, with over 30 groups singing at different locations around the grounds. You can find clips on You-Tube.

With our due birth-date only three weeks away, I need to do a checklist of things to do once the cria arrives - I've got books and done anti-natal classes, and bought most of the 'equipment', but I get the heeby-jeebies when I realise it could arrive any day, so I need to do a short-list of important things - its a bit like your first baby: endless equipment and supplies to buy, and you can't imagine actually using it, but at the same time worry that you've forgotten something - not sure whether to buy pink and blue balloons in advance, to tie on the gate, or do you just buy the colour you need after it arrives? - and I need a shortlist of names - I've thought of a theme, but I'll reveal that nearer the time.

Monday 4 May 2009

Bank Holiday Special - 15% extra

What's special about this blog? Well it's a day late, and I've got an extra day to write about, hence the 15% extra - struck by a head cold, I was pooped last night at 'blog o'clock'.
I've included a few pics which I took while walking the dog this morning around our area, to set the scene for anyone who doesn't know our whereabouts - in the picture above, you can just see our three alpacas on the brow of the hill - our field slopes down away from the brow - I think they like a hill-top as a self-preserving instinct, so they can get a good view of predators: Lynx, Condor, snakes etc. - you know, typical South American wildlife - I wonder how long it will take for British-bred alpaca to change their nature in that respect?

Just listening to America: 'Horse with no Name' - what a brilliant, yet simple song.

May Bank holiday is known for odd country pusuits like Cheese-rolling and Dorset knob-throwing, but when you have a house and small-holding to run, there are plenty of energy-sapping jobs to do without making them up - it was a weekend of Somerset door-chiselling, gate-latch fitting, hedge-trimming, tree-pruning, alpaca-bonding, alpaca mite-treating, shed-tidying...

We've got two ducklings, a few days old as in the picture, and ten more which are imminent - they have 'pipped' (that's when they chip the eggshell to get oxygen in, so they can make the big push for hatching, an amazing struggle).

We had a go at applying some 'lotion' to treat the mites on Moiras' (the black maiden alpaca) legs - she's a big girl, not much fleece, and doesn't like her legs being touched - she'll struggle, throwing me against the shelter, and kick with the back legs, aiming for Mrs. Small-holder, so we both end up black and blue.

Earlier in the week, we went to Langaton Alpacas for a day of Advanced Husbandry training presented by Gina Bromage - a very full and useful day - she didn't waste a second, talking at great speed, and giving us loads of information, plus an opportunity to practice assisting a birth if a cria or mother are struggling, on their alpaca simulator - yes I did say that, but I'll spare you the detail, unless you want more...