Wednesday 29 July 2009

Teat a' teat.

You've got to laugh - further to previous blog, it's been pointed out that male alpacas have four teats as well! So just to reassure readers, we have looked elewhere to confirm that Autumn is indeed a lady.

Here is a picture of Pela's first breakfast as a Mum, with Autumn beside her - as with Minnie on the first morning as a new Mum, she wouldn't come to feed at the shelter with the others, so I took it out in the open. Once they have the responsibility of a cria, they are wary at first. It's fascinating to watch the behavioural development - Pela would normally have been first to the feed shelter.

This morning however, she came to the shelter, but Autumn kept wandering off with youthful exhuberance, so Pela kept turning and calling her, which meant that she couldn't eat, so I took the bucket outside, so that she could watch Autumn while she ate!

It's rained all day here (much as everywhere I am sure), so this evening they were glad to see the clouds roll back, and left the shelter to do some evening grazing. Ambrosia is delighted to have a playmate, and the two of them charge about together. Ambrosia is in the foreground above - from being the baby, she's suddenly changed to being the 'teenage' sister, and is twice the size of Autumn.

Monday 27 July 2009

Autumn in Summer!

Yes, yesterdays weather was like that, but Pela delivered her cria, Autumn Gold this afternoon, with a little assistance from ourselves.

After two and a half days of what seemed like intermittent labour, the final push for freedom came between 10 and 2 today. I think she spotted a pleasant gap in the weather.

After humming and restlessness for four hours, a nose and mouthed pushed out, but held this stage for 15minutes as we got more anxious, so just as I had entered the vets phone number to call for help, the front legs pushed through - head and legs dangled for what seemed too long, given the previous time of nose-protrusion, so we decided to assist - we caught her, and while I restrained her with the assistance of a fence post, Mrs. Smallholder had donned gloves and lubed-up, and pulled the legs, and out she slipped. "It's a boy", I was told, but after allowing ten minutes for scent familiarising, I went to sterilise the navel, and found four teats!

It's amazing how fast they develop in the first 8 hours or so - turn away and you miss something, and I feel that while I write this, I'm missing something. Having kept them in the lower paddock for the birth and to establish suckling, I've just opened the gate to the top paddock, and after the rest went through Autumn Gold and Pela went through - Autumn charged up to the brow of the hill, where we have views across the Levels "wow, so that's what you've all been talking about!" I'm sure she said (my Johnny Morris impersonation kicking in!).

So the naming theme is apples, and hence Autumn Gold.

Having been 'lucky' enough to witness our first two births, with the attendant anxiety and clock-watching, I can see the appeal of returning from a trip to the shops or break for lunch, to find a cria sitting in your field ready to go!

Saturday 25 July 2009


Yesterday at 4.00pm, Mrs. Smallholder phoned me at work to say something was happening. In 5 minutes I was home. She had seen from a distance 'something' pointed had appeared out of Pelas rear, briefly, before going back in - we presumed it was a nose, or perhaps feet, still within the membrane. She wasn't interested in being caught for examination, but we got them into the shelter, and four fingers carefully probed 'inside' found nothing. We watched for over two anxious hours, consulted the vet, and our breeder and decided it was a false alarm, expecting things to happen this morning.

Watched regularly all morning, some humming, her tail regularly half raised, regular grazing, a few rests sitting but nothing much else to report.

Has anyone else seen an apparent 'squeeze' and peep outside, before back to normal?

Sunday 12 July 2009

Hey diddle diddle...

Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, Moira jumped over the rest - I believe that this picture demonstrates the principal of the nursery rhyme, while we wait for Pela to give birth. Now that the girls have been shorn, I've been mowing the rest of the paddocks: docks, nettles and poo piles particularly.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Shear luck.

An early start for us, a 6.15 collection, for shearing with 15 of Little England Alpacas with Gordon and Sally, plus around 10 of Gills from Greylake Alpacas, all to be done by James and his colleague, Marlon. To remove mine, we had to negotiate a narrow track, and two fields with gates with minds of their own - a route I'd not used before, but pleased to say all went well - Gills herd had a collective mob rule attitude, that resisted attempts to load into the horse lorry, but eventually our 'mob' won.

The weather had been kind following mondays and tuesdays rain, with a drying wind over-night, though I was horrified to find Moira and Pela taking a bath in the trough as we went to bed! I had faith in the weather forecast, and left the girls out, rather than cause the distress of shutting them in the shelter.

James and Marlon worked steadily through the group, and impressively without a break, so we were all finished by lunchtime. My girls were well behaved, though I was amused to note Moira, the bossy matriarch, squealed the loudest during shearing - I saw parallels with supposedly tough, macho, people who you discover are afraid of the dentist or of flying!

Now it's back to cria-watch...

Sunday 5 July 2009

Flag-owner found.

As you can see from one of the 'comments', the owner of the flag has been in touch, and I've been able to let her have a copy of her flag with Bruce Springsteen in full throat, in the same shot - purely coincidence that we had that shot already in the 'can', and then spotted the alpaca flag at another show the next day.

Minnie has a little scabby patch on her face - I've been applying Stop-it-All, and it seems to be keeping it at bay - the same cheek is quite black looking, but I assume that she has been scratching it with her foot, so it may only be dirt on the fleece.

This may be the last photos of this years fleece, as we hope to have them shorn on wednesday - the weather forecast looks reasonable so keeping fingers crossed - not sure about the bits of grass and stuff -I've had to cut the docks before they go to seed, but I limit it to a small area at any one time, and do rake up the cuttings - similarly with nettles. Anyway, it's all a learning experience.

Baby Ambrosia has been grazing her first grass - she's nibbled bits of string on the gates, bark on the posts of the shelter and strands of hay previously.

Hello to anyone who was at Gold Hill Fair in Shaftesbury today - I was singing with my vocal harmony group, Jazz m'Tazz. Gold Hill is famous for being used in the Hovis bread advert, with the man pushing a bicycle up a cobbled hill - you don't realize from the ad' that opposite the quaint cottages is an enormous rampart wall of the castle with butresses - and, no there was no flag-waving at our performance... but we got a good reception.