Sunday 25 July 2010

On reflection...

Haven't we met before?
Bath time!
We got our fibre analysis results back this week - Pela and Minnie have held exactly the same as last year, Ambrosia and Autumn Gold were similarly good as yearlings - whilst experienced breeders can instantly judge fibre fineness, it's useful for less experienced breeders to have a quantative assessment - while I had the girls in the pen for a checkover yesterday, I had a delve into Moiras black fleece which is now developing some length - we decided not to shear her this year, as her fleece was short, and she shivered during the snow - as we found last year when analysed, it's fantastically fine so with a bit of length will be superb for products - a shame she doesn't conceive...

Alpacas bathing antics are comical - they differ so much - Moira uses her front legs to splash her chest, then sits with her chest in the bath - Pela only scoops with her front legs - Ambrosia goes for a full sit down in the bath - but Minnie sits as close as she can (as in this photo), hoping to get splashed, but doesn't, and won't get in the water at all.

Saturday 17 July 2010

Hi, tease!

As I had a site visit to make near Penzance with the day job (investigating mine shafts near a clients house!), I've brought Mrs. Smallholder with me for some R & R on a long weekend. I make no apologies to you all toiling away with poo-picking and carrying buckets of water etc., and hope the attached pictures will cheer you up with the thought that maybe your holidays aren't far away, and if not, well here is some nice scenery...

Sunday 11 July 2010

Spit and polish.

Pelachuta's fleece laid out for skirting.

Ambrosia's fleece.

Queuing for the bath...

Yesterday we started skirting the fleeces. For those unfamiliar with this, it is where you take the shorn fleece, lay it out, and remove any bits of vegetation, guard hairs, short bits of 'second cuts' which can't be spun, leaving you with the best of the fleece for carding and spinning.

Next followed a bit of husbandry, as the young ones nails needed a clip - I found that one of them has filling in the front space where you usually dig out soil, of both of the nails on one foot, a sort of semi-solid calcified callous - I couldn't remove it - anyone else come across this?

Then came my baptism - I'd noticed a slight pinkness in Minnies face suggesting slight loss of fleece as she did last year, so I got ready to apply some udder cream, when, in an instant, she fired a broad-side of regurgitated alfalfa into the side of my face - I'd arrived - previously I'd got away with a fine spray blown back by a windy day, but she'd decided I needed a full facial!

We had a delivery of hay today, which came with some relief, as we've only had brief showers over-night and the field is parched - it's going to be in great demand, and short supply.

That still left time to paint the side of the house in the sweltering shade as the sun had moved around.

Friday 2 July 2010

Glastonbury Festival - a tenuous link.

What is she wearing?
Can you eat it?
I'll give it a try...

With shearing out of the way, we've been able to strim, mow and rake all the Nettles, Thistles and Docks, so the paddocks are looking better, and the alpacas can get to every diminishing blade of grass, as the 'drought' continues.

I've started giving Alfalfa to augment their grazing, which they took a few days to get accustomed to, but are all liking it now - and doesn't it smell great?

Autumn Gold has at last, started taking supplement at 11 months old, while her half sister started at 7 months - she has been enjoying carrots for a while though.

I had last weekend at Glastonbury Festival, and whilst many of you may be wondering what that's got to do with alpacas apart from spending three days living in fields like an alpaca, well the craft area had workshops for felting, spinning etc.! so I was able to pretend to be doing a bit of research in between enjoying the great music and other entertainment on offer!

Lettuce pray: I was making a sandwich for lunch last week, and dropped a leaf, only for it to land in the dogs water bowl...I washed it off and put it in the sandwich as intended -well it was homegrown - I'm fine, and I don't think the dog has suffered...

We've been considering our breeding programme, which is made particularly difficult due to land constraints - while it seems many breeders are happy to breed from 12months of age, provided they are well-grown and mature, I've seen comments that some breeders have had less success with females of around that age, and I feel we should perhaps let our yearlings wait until the spring, otherwise we'll be re-setting the mating clock within a year or two in any case - that way we can work on selling their mums and/or getting more land to ease pressure - ultimately, the health and comfort of the herd is paramount.