Tuesday 24 August 2010

What a birthday present!

Pelachuta's eleven month date was today, my, and my daughters birthday, and seeing a good weather forecast for today ahead of heavy rain tomorrow, I went to work wondering whether she would know that, and take action - she was humming frequently and at ten to twelve a shower had sent them all into the shelter, so Mrs. Smallholder decided nothing would happen for a while, and went off to see to do some work - wrong, ten minutes later, there was a cria sitting up on the ground!
I work five minutes away, so I was home in time to see the first staggering steps of another female for us, Bramley, who we later weighed-in at 7.2kg - she seems to be a beautiful colour of dark fawn or light brown, though I'll reserve final judgement for more experienced eyes later. Her sire was CME Centurion, a dark fawn.

She suckled after a couple of hours, while I held my breath each time she went under, until she came out licking her lips, with the unmistakeable drips of milk on them. Having said that it was a fine day, it was blowing a good'un, but the sun was warming - we've put a coat on now, as rain is due to arrive early in the morning.

When she first stood, she was like a tall, leggy fighting machine from the War of the Worlds, and now she totters around like a drag queen in over-ambitious stilletto's!

It's time for a birthday drink with a mate of mine, Jack Daniels - we're going to share a glass of Coke...

Sunday 22 August 2010

Puriton Party in the Park

Yesterday we took our yearling females to a local show that we had been invited to, at a village we left seven years ago. The weather was over-cast but dry and very warm, so, ideal.

Mrs. Smallholder put together a fine collection of alpaca fleece products, and made some good sales. There was non-stop attention from visitors which kept both of us constantly busy, with prospects of on-going interest in various forms from several customers, and we met many friends we hadn't seen for several years.

Comments from some of the visitors reminded me of those characteristics in alpacas that first attracted me, which sometimes you take for granted in dealing with the nitty gritty day-to-day management.

We kept our timing there prompt, so that the alpacas didn't get too uncomfortable -after all, they spent the afternoon being touched, having straw poked at them by tiny hands belonging to toddlers holding inflatable hammers, and watching kiddies launched into the sky on a bungee off a trampoline, while listening to the North Devon Pipe Band! We provided a bacteriacidel handwash for anyone who handled the alpacas, and it proved popular.

Today the sun broke out and I treated them to a clean trough of water, but first gave them a hosing down - you wouldn't have thought five alpacas could get so close to each other without a major tiff and much spitting, but they put all territorial matters aside to share a shower!

Wednesday 18 August 2010


We've been invited to a near-by village show, which is coming up this weekend, so making preparations for that - display materials, gazebo, products, halter leading refresher etc. , and Mrs. Smallholder has been busy with her team, finishing off knitted and felted products. I took a quick piccy of a few of them this evening, but hopefully, she will update the product blog soon...unless it all gets sold before! www.mrssmallholder.blogspot.com

Pelachuta is coming up to eleven months, so I've been getting the 'nursery' ready, and Minnie has had a successful spit-off.

With last thursday and friday both providing rain, and plenty of showers since, we can declare the long dry spell here actually over, and the grass is greening-up and gaining a bit of 'length'.

Tonight an unfortunate alpaca made our local news after getting stuck in a water-filled drainage ditch - known locally as a rhyne - it should be at the end of this i-player link:

I hope it has recovered, it appears traumatised and/or cold.

Sunday 8 August 2010


Minnie sits in the 'shadow' of Moira's shower,

Minnie takes her first bath or shower in two years -
"go away Moira, I've waited a long time for this".

A slightly dramatic title, but it's appropriate - Minnie never puts her feet in the trough or water tray, though she will sit beside if one of the other girls is paddling, hoping to get some over-splash - so in two years she has never had a bath or paddle - clearly she enjoys a shower eau natural i.e when it rains.

But today I was cleaning out the water trough and had laid the hose on the grass while I scrubbed the trough - all the girls gathered, Moira took the first shower, and Minnie sat down beside her true to form, then when Moira was finished she looked a bit closer, sat down and had a good soak.

Meanwhile a weekend of routine husbandry tasks, sandwiched by scraping, sanding and puttying windows - at least from a ladder I had a better view of the alpacas.

Tomorrow, Minnie has a spit-off booked, and as other breeders are notching up cria births weekly, we are looking forward to our only birth this year as Pelachuta is due in 16 days.

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Toad in the sole

You're ahead of me already - the other morning I picked up my walking boot, put my foot in and met resistance - I thought the insole had got screwed up at the end so stuck my hand in, and sure enough felt this damp 'screwed up' thing, so pulled it out, only to find it was a large toad! I took comfort from the fact that it found the environment at the end of my boot acceptable and not too whiffy.

We had a visit from Keith and Heather of Ashill Alpacas who brought Ashill Grenadier for a date with Minnie - he has Rural Allianza Wirracocha of Wessex as sire, and they canoodled for 25 minutes so we look forward to the spit-off.

I popped into the North Devon Show as I'd conveniently arranged a work trip to Appledore, so it was a chance to say hello to some fellow breeders and look at the fleeces and animals on show.

We have bought some equipment for worm testing as Mrs. Smallholder is a qualified medical research technician with lots of experience, but we're looking for guidance on action thresholds for the various parasites - can anyone point us in the direction of some info?