Sunday 24 July 2011

Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth...or would it?

When I saw this scene, my camera was in the house and I thought that by the time I'd ran down and back and changed lenses, the moment would be lost, but I still couldn't resist it, and he even snoozed on, giving me time to cross the paddock to get close up.

So a few days later we were surprised to see him (how can I put this in a way not to offend innocent readers), making amorous advances to Pelachuta, who, after a little playing hard-to-get, willingly dropped down - hopefully, todays trip will have satisfied Pela's urge to procreate.

As it happened, I had made arrangements for Minnie and Pelachuta to be mated today, and so we took a trip to Ashill Alpacas, which appeared to go very well - we need to sell them to give us scope for developing the herd within tight land restrictions - they've both given us two good cria, and proven to be good mums, and will be ideal for someone else starting a herd.

Meanwhile, we have the studio watertight, so at least we won't need to sweep out the  pool again, that was ever-filling with  the constant heavy showers recently.

Felt, battens and rooflights in place - tiles stacked for lying - cladding and internal fit-out next...

Sunday 17 July 2011

Alan!-Alan! - Shearer

At last, we had the girls shorn yesterday - after post-ponements to the original shearer due to rain, Ian Horner fitted us in, and even then the last one was shorn as more rain came in.
Bramley - "I feel like a new woman".

We all say it each year, but it's fascinating to see them shorn of fleece, especially the yearlings having their first shear, as you've grown to know them only as a deveolping fleeced animal, and then you get the big reveal of the, near fully-grown alpaca, without it's fleece - and so from 'cuddly' and fluffy, the only word I come up with each time is, elegant, from a neck apparently the size of a tree trunk, you are faced with a neck that your hands will fit around -  a slender and sleek animal.
Moira - during shearing, not only did she let herself down, she let the herd down, and she let her school down -but she does have a very fine fleece - she is 10 years old today!

During the shearing, Minnie complained a bit, and Autumn Gold too moaned a lot, but it was Moira, our black maiden matriarch, who stole the show - and as I write this, I discover that she is 10 years old today. Moira discharged extensively from all orifices, and shrieked so loud, that a neighbour 100 metres away thought her cat was in distress, and came to look for it! Since then, worryingly, she has taken herself away from the herd, and wasn't too interested in breakfast - we didn't have her shorn last year, as her fleece is very short with no crimp, BUT, it is very fine, and Mrs. Smallholder can't wait to start spinning it - I shall be watching her (Moira) very carefully to see that she is o.k.
Autumn Gold

Ambrosia has a lovely dense fleece, whereas Autumn Gold has an open fleece, and has appeared a little over-weight, but their fleeces were exactly the same weight, which illustrated how so many factors must be taken into account when considerng fleece characteristics. Post-shearing, they appear similar in stature.

Alpacas aside, the Studio construction has progressed steadily, and every day yields another driveway covering of sawdust! We are having a 'cut' roof construction, which (for anyone who isn't familiar with buiding construction), means it is 'cut' on site, as opposed to the modern trussed rafters which are made at a factory. This week should see the felt and battens protecting it from the rain.

Camelot - on your marks, get set, go!!!

Friday 8 July 2011

Camelot - 4-days old.

Putting on weight nicely, thanks to mum.

Camelot - camel, not!

All of this years cria are in this picture, can you see him? clue: he's pretending to be a stork, but actually moving very fast!

Camelot is making good progress - like most of the country we've had heavy showers since he was born on a warm monday morning, so at night we've been putting a coat on him, but it's going to improve now, so we'll leave it off tonight as it's quite mild. He's been gaining an average 300g per day.
 We found with Ambrosia (her second, but our first) that Minnie is a great mum - she's feisty, has a whiplash kick, but in the later stages of pregnancy, I see a maternal 'glow' come over her, as with a human mum-to-be, but she always remains aloof - not one to eat from your hand.

Monday 4 July 2011


Before I set off for Lynton in North Devon this morning, Minnie showed no signs of unusual behaviour - just as I arrived on site 2 hours later, the phone rang, with Mrs. Smallholder announcing the swift, un-assisted arrival of a boy - at the same time as the Sainsburys shopping delivery, a lady doing a random MORI poll, the postman, our Studio project manager, and a random bloke from the  next village (?) who is interested in our building!  - there was no sign of the Pied Piper...

now we had six girls in our herd, three born on-farm, so I hadn't realised that alpacas come in a male variety too ;-)

Welcome into the world, Apple Vale Camelot - keeping our theme of apple varieties, and there is a local Arthurian connection, so that all fits well. The fruit tree description states, "... late cropper, scab resistant..." ha ha, even better! I had hoped for a female, to be called Cornish Gilliflower!

He's solid white, 8.7kg, and 341 days. Sire was Ashill Grenadier, who has Rural Alianza Wiracocha of Wessex as his sire.

Sunday 3 July 2011


Waiting for shearing -

waiting for Minnie to birth -

enjoying the sunshine -

let the pictures do the talking...