Sunday 28 March 2010

2-headed mower

Weaning continues - the girls have all been quite settled and quiet about it so far- there have been some longing looks, as they can all see each other, and wonder why they've been seperated and restricted to single paddocks. The cria have been taken onto the lawn for halter training and long grass, so I've let the mums into the large paddock, where the grass is recovering well, though it means they are next to their babes. We've watched closeley for any distress or through-fence suckling attempts but none so far - Pela and Autumn did have a kiss through the fence which was sweet.

With thoughts turning to the up-coming show, I'm being realistic about expectations - I can see the qualities in our girls, but it's early days for us, and quality is a relative thing, and it will be a big class, and ring etiquette is something we'll be new at - sooo.... I have a plan - I've started practicing, and I'm hoping I can get at least a placing for... the owner who most looks like his alpaca...I didn't see that class in the entry list, but I'm sure it was an oversight.

Sunday 21 March 2010

LLamas have last laugh

Straight after work this week, we've been leading the babes onto the lawn for some lush grass to make up for losing their mums milk, while giving them time on the halters as well - and they've given us a bit of early lawnmowing in as bonus! - Moira has followed too, which hopefully has made up for being babysitter - she was looking longingly at the top of the hill today. In the picture, I'm explaining to Ambrosia that she is too big to go on Oscars slide.

Most exciting happening this week was buying a trailer yesterday - I've explained to the girls that their tour-bus is just a beginning - just as U2 and Coldplay started out with a transit van before the fully fitted tourbus, so we have to work our way up the transport ladder - having said that, it's a good beginning - I bought it from a lovely lady called Caroline, "the Llama Lady" ( - as I have said before, many of our friends and relatives used to ask, "how are the llamas?" as they struggled to comprehend alpacas as a new concept in the U.K, so it is ironic to have a trailer with llama decals and 'caution llamas' on the back!

I spent this morning scrubbing the lichen off and it's looking great. With a couple of hours poo-picking this afternoon, my elbows are aching. In a few days I'll have a bath to soak in (we've only had a shower since we moved in two years ago and had the downstairs bath taken out), as we've been having an en-suite created - if anyone in Somerset needs a bathroom, they need Mark Cobley - he's brilliant.

Driving with a trailer is still quite new to me, so I drove home with the windows open listening to all the rattles, and then with the windows closed scared myself that it had disappeared! come on, you've all done it.

Sunday 14 March 2010

Mother alpacas Day

Thanks for all your comments on weaning - having firstly decided that I would wean them, rather than have them self-wean, I decided that I would start today. There are many factors to take into account when deciding whether to wean, and then when to wean, and how you will wean on your land, and every breeder will have a different set of circumstances in some way or other. As with many aspects of husbandry, you have to do what you consider is right for you and your herd.

Ambrosia has always had a close bond with her mum, Minnie. Autumn Gold however, at the age of one month had the leg sequester, and so spent some time apart from her mum Pelachuta, with three trips to the Vet, and apart while mum grazed - so Pela has often appeared indifferent towards her, and only let her suckle when and where she wanted to.

Unfortunately, we are unable to set ours out of sight from each other.

So it wasn't surprising to see Ambrosia immediately pacing up and down the fence, while Autumn Gold wandered around aimlessly, and then start grazing first - Moira was just annoyed that she has to be the babysitter, and has lost the freedom to roam to the top of the hill when she wants to, and has lost the use of the rolling pit! They will be able to use the shelter if they need to.

Meanwhile the mums have been fairly restrained, though they don't have much shelter - at least the weather is reasonable, a few more dry days are forecast before rain at the end of the week - one of the pieces of information I took account of when deciding to start.

Just checked, and it's quiet out there now...fingers crossed.

Friday 12 March 2010

To wean or not to wean?

Folks, can I ask some advice? I want to wean my girls - Ambrosia is 9 months old, has been eating supplement for 3 months, her mum is not pregnant. However, Autumn Gold is 7 months old and has not started on supplement - she eats plenty of hay, but her mum is pregnant, due 24th August. I'll need to wean them together, with Moira as companion. I'd like to show them soon - does a cria need to be on supplement at weaning time?

Monday 8 March 2010

New blog on the block...

I took a lot of photos yesterday morning in the crisp sunshine, but was disappointed to find there was always one alpaca with its head in the hay manger, or underneath, or looking away - when you only have five, you try to get them all in the shot, but I'll need to take another approach.

I had a good afternoon of halter training, and managed to lead Pela', Autumn Gold and Ambrosia up the field across the top and back, one at a time of course - o.k, when I say lead, I mean that Ambrosia and I side stepped, or was it the Foxtrot or maybe a waltz?

This afternoon, I nipped out of the office and had a look at some horse boxes - has anybody got any particular tips- I notice some of you have what I would call a livestock trailer - I presume a horsebox carries a bit of a cost premium.

I need to plan the vaccinations coming up, but get distracted with all your blogs - the serious, the humerous, the wise, the bonkers, the helpful, the encouraging - keep them coming

I wa surprised to find I had a new 'follower' of my blog yesterday - upon inspection, it turned out to be a 'Mrs. Smallholder' - unbeknownst to me, Mrs. S had been working away at it assisted by all the other Smallholders: if you're interested.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Alpaca breeder wins rosette, then released without charge...

Yahoo, I've finished Jury Service!

What's that to do with alpacas? well it meant that I missed day 1 at the Futurity - I was on a quite dramatic, sensitive case, and we finished late on friday.

But saturday at the Futurity made up for that - such a well-run event, and with so many aspects of the industry represented, a good time is unavoidable. With the industry going through a difficult period, it was important to show resolve, and I think that came through from small breeeders to large breeders - if you can pull together in difficult times, then how much better will the good times be? I came away with a rosette for the photograph of Pela eating the snowmans carrot - trivial of course, and it cost money to enter, and I won nothing but the pleasure, as did many entrants, but that's the point - to use the cliche, it's the taking part that matters - my girls (and myself) weren't ready for showing at such an event (Jury Service made it impossible to consider), so we contributed in the best way we could - then we enjoyed the dinner etc. The only downside being the need to book a taxi back to Leamington Spa in advance, and not getting around to meeting more bloggers - we could have stayed and enjoyed the company of fellow bloggers, collecting the obligatory hangover on the way, or we could have brought the campervan and stayed onsite, but I couldn't let Mrs. Smallholder struggle into her gladrags under such circumstances (it's a small van), could I?

And so Mrs. Smallholder made an appearance that day, no-one saw her enter the 'phonebox, like Superman, and disappear into the night in her wellingtons and Marigolds...

Anyway, after monday morning and wednesday 'til 3.30 waiting to be called into Court, the Defendant hadn't turned up so we've finished - I sneeked home from work early on tuesday to be with my girls and got the halters on - work has been messed up anyway, so an early day didn't matter.

Now it's time to plan all the vaccinating, training, shows, matings etc.etc. -