Tuesday 31 May 2011

Carrots, concrete, cr*p circles.

We've been preparing for the return of the herd this weekend, and looking forward to it greatly. Each time I visit, one of them will have a bit of dead bramble clinging to their fleece, which grips tenaciously, and requires gloves to pull off. Although we've not had large amounts of rain, since they left, we have had several spells which were enough to get most of the grass growing after the spring slow-down. We've noticed that our latrines get larger and larger in diameter, which 'sterilise' large areas of otherwise grazeable pasture, and wondered whether it's because of our constant clearing - I've heard that males tend to keep their dung piles more compact, whereas our herd are all females. So, a little experiment: I've mowed around one latrine leaving a small area of longer grass, and mowed a patch inside another latrine, to see whether the shorter grass encourages or dissuades them. cr*p circles anyone?

Before that though, Ambrosia is entered at the Bath & West Show, and I'm looking forward to that particular class on friday. When feeding carrots, I like to tease her to maximise her prehensile lips, and tried to photograph them at full stretch - hence these odd photographs - well there's more to owning alpacas than just standing around, isn't there? She's a bit grubby after a wet day:

Work has continued apace on the Fibre Workshop and Studio, though it's all been groundworks, and two full skips of muck have been barrowed away, culminating today in a bit of concreting to extend the original floor slab into a complete rectangle, so not much to show in a photograph, but you're going to get one anyway - a couple of weeks until the timber frame goes up.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Devon County Show

Thursday was the first day of the show, and we took Bramley, plus Autumn Gold as company. Though registered as Dark Fawn, Bramley was entered in the Brown class, and was confirmed as that colour on the day, so with a class of 13, we knew she would be making up the numbers, but someone has to provide the reference points for the judge, and it's more experience for handler and animal, and more for the public to enjoy - it was a warm dry day, and the organizers had a good set-up with a pair of penning marquees, and an outdoor show arena, which was small enough for the spectators to see close-up. Val Fullerlove judged, and made us all feel an important part of the show. Bramley faced any way except the way the judge wanted us, and found the grass in the ring to be much more enjoyable than that in her pen. As always, meeting other breeders and the public were a pleasure.

Langaton Jacinta and Patou Reya stand attentively, while in the background, Appple Vale Bramley wanders around in circles.
 The most startling part of the show was when we visited the poultry show - amidst a cacophony of crowing, clucking and quacking, there was also an egg competition - on a line of tables 30-40 feet long, were dishes of three to four eggs, by hens and ducks competing in around twenty classes - and the same person took every prize in every class - thank goodness they weren't showing alpacas! (Note to self: must enter some eggs next year).

Meanwhile, on the same day, work commenced on construction of our fleece workshop and studio, with excavation of the additional foundations.

With most of the cattery building removed, work can commence on the Workshop & Studio.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Schoolboy error!

The girls have settled into their holiday paddock now. The larger part has a pond with hedge around part of it, and has only recently been filled in, soiled and seeded. It had wire on pig-tail posts around it to keep a previous horse off it...you're probably ahead of me now...

Beside the infilled pond.

Having kept them in the smaller part for a couple of days to settle down, on tuesday we let them into the larger part, and they got very excited, and galloped several laps around the 'pond' - it was then just before we left for the day job, that Bramley became curious about the pond area - she ducked under the wire, and at some point, went back, got tangled, spooked, charged off ripping out a line of pins which trailed after her - we sprang into action, fortunately the others didn't get tangled too, and I managed to grab her, so that Joy could un-tangle the line which was around her neck - phew, that was close!


With all the pins and wire now removed, they can't believe their luck at such a large ready-made rolling pit - I have had to 'comb' the area carefully, and remove a large number of pieces of dead bramble which were attaching to their fleeces, and very difficult to remove.

Only a, few weeks ago, I mentioned in a comment to Bev and Andy's blog (Lane House Alpacas)about the risks of tape fencing, and then fell into a similar trap myself - I think it just illustrates the issues you have to consider when renting land, and how easy it is to over-look a risk when you have so many things to think about before actually agreeing to graze somewhere else.

"...8, 9, 10, coming ready or not!"

Sunday 8 May 2011

Off on their hol's.

At last the girls have moved to a temporary 'holiday' paddock, so we can rest ours, fertilise, weed and repair. We've looked all round the hedges, and couldn't find anything harmful - but it's a bit of a worry, knowing there's a big change in their grazing and browsing, so hope they don't find anything unsettling to their systems.

It forms part of the plot of a local manor house, and as you can see is quite different from  ours, being flat, and sheltered by trees and hedges - ironically, it is over-looked by our last house. Our son was home from Manchester for the weekend, with his partner, and they helped rounding them into the trailer, which we did in two trips. The city boys learned some country practices!

The paddock is divided into one third/two thirds and we have put a temporary chestnut pale fence across, so we can let them have it gradually. As soon as they were unloaded, Bramley charged through a bramble bush, so I had to catch her and pull all the pieces of bramble out, one by one! We have had two nights of good rainfall, so hopefully our paddock will make good growth, and in the next few days, we'll be putting some serious work into assisting and improving that.

It's odd looking out of our window at an empty field...I won't be able to get up the road quick enough tomorrow!

Now to finish, here is the picture I didn't have available for last weeks blog:

Tuesday 3 May 2011

'Missing' Blogger shows up at Show

Monday was the North Somerset Show, with alpacas under BAS rules for the second year, and entries more than doubled to around 130 I believe.

Apple Vale show team
 Sunday afternoon I had got all the equipment prepared and loaded,  when at 3o'clock my brother-in-law suggested that one of the trailer tyres was flat, and he was correct - doh!! I had no ring or socket spanners of the wheel-nut size, and it was too late on a sunday to head off to Halfords - I checked my RAC membership which was for rescue but I had to be more than quarter of a mile from home, so was considering setting off to spend some time in the nearest lay-by, but I also have 'Horse Trailer Assist' cover, and upon enquiry was told that the trailer was covered at home- 45minutes later all was sorted!

The parade of champions
Despite forecasts of showers, only a few drops fell over-night, and a bright morning dawned - the day was continuously sunny, with a stiff cool breeze, so I returned with a wind/sun-burnt face, and white 'tiger-stripes' in my smiling wrinkles - yes it was that enjoyable a day.

Bramley went in the fawn class first, but didn't get placed, however Ambrosia clinched a second place, (as most girls of her age will be 'starting a family' and unable to travel), which gave us a role to play in the Championship line-up and was a treat to be in such company.

Cathy Lloyd judjing for Supreme Champion, and chose Valley Alpacas, The Diplomat (far end)
Most pleasant surprise of the day was finding a couple of ladies talking to Mrs. Smallholder at our pen.....it was only Jayne from Zanzibah with Les from Wellground - 'Cinderella' had left her overalls in Scotland for a few days 'r and r' with Les, Rob and their alpacas in the West Country - perhaps there's scope for an alpaca exchange holiday network.We hope you have a great break Jayne, and it was lovely to meet you.

Finally, you may be encouraged to vote for AV on thursday, but do not confuse Apple Vale with the Alternative Vote!

The ducklings are growing rapidly