Sunday 28 August 2011


Phase 8 and the hay shed has got the roof carcass on, and the first strip of felt.

Following on from 'scarfed' joints, I had a go at 'bird-mouth' joints (so that the rafters sit flat on the 'wall-plate'. Mrs. Smallholder suggested the collective noun for a group off bird-mouth joints might be, a 'tweet' or 'twitter'.

A 'tweet' of birdmouth joints.
The hens are always after a vantage point.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Hay shed - Phase 7B

Since I'd started the walls under Phase 7, I thought this should be Phase 7B, the completion of the walls. This phase also included adding posts and lintels to support the roof, which will be higher than the original. The photograph shows the view from the paddock side, just inside the shelter pen - once complete, I'll cut through the fence, and the hay shed doors will open into the pen - I hope...

I'm very pleased as I cut some very neat scarf joints,  a skill that's eluded me previously. No progress yesterday, as I woke up and discovered I was a year older than when I'd gone to bed, so a celebratory barbeque was held (yes we did need the water-proof gazebo). Bramley too was one year old yesterday, and settled for a celebratory neck rub, while the others enjoyed pieces of carrot.

{musical aside: currently listening to REM's New Adventures in Hi-Fi, one of their best - I fancy The Strokes new album, never been that keen on them, but their recent singles have been brilliant};

Work on the studio progresses slowly - Mrs. Smallholder stained the facias and barge boards today, and last weekend the floor was screeded. I'm currently taking car-loads of insulation off-cuts to the tip to save on skip costs.

Last weekend, I dragged Mrs. Smallholder screaming and kicking to Fibrefest 2011 which was held near Exeter, and she actually said she was glad I'd persuaded her - it was very good if you like that sort of thing- lots of stallholders of fibre/livestock/yarn/accessories to interest felters/knitters/weavers/spinners and breeders. The site was Bicton College, a lovely setting, with some good food stalls to round it off, just over an hour away from us, so we were back early afternoon for more grafting...

Thursday 18 August 2011

3-years on...

A quick mid-week blog as it's three years today that our first alpacas arrived! Cheers! Looking at the first entry in my journal/diary, I was, "beside myself with anticipation...". We're developing the herd gradually, working within our land constraints (trying to find more), not to mention day-job and finance - we're also embracing the fleece to fibre to garment production, and through attendance at shows, seminars, courses and the 'blogosphere' we've met many people all willing to give support and advice and made many friends in the industry. But above all of that, it's love and caring for the alpacas that drives me to get out in all weathers, spending hours improving and maintaining the facilities, and tolerating some of their less pleasant habits, knowing that there are many fantastic moments to enjoy.

This evening I was out dating with Minnie, who sat again for Ashill Grenadier, looks like her maternal priorities are in charge.

Meanwhile here is another phase (7) in the hay shed construction, which has slowed for the day job - I have erected some walls:

Friday 12 August 2011

Hay shed ( did someone sneeze?)

Refreshed by a one-day holiday in Cornwall with the sunniest two-days this week, it's great to be back - we stayed at a camp-site near Sennen Cove, Lands End and had a great barbequed meal at the beach restaurant Sennen Cove - highly recommended. Last night a load of hay was delivered here at 9 o'clock! - so the urgency for the hay shed was increased.

By popular request (thank you Jayne), here is a summary (in phases) of the hay shed so far:
Phase 1 - remove the hedge - no pictures;
Phase 2 - build foundation pad boxes - this is to raise the floor up to the same level as the alpaca shelter and pen:
Phase 3 - fill foundation boxes with rubble (left over from the studio construction), add a cement slurry to bind it together, and top off with some decent concrete. Add handprints for posterity - in the picture you can see mine with 4-year old Oscar's:

not wanting to miss a trick, one of the chickens joined in while I was a way for lunch - it makes a change from paw prints:
Phase 4 -  fix floor joists and trimmer support frame:
Phase 5 - lay floor panels (previously the walls of the former cattery building):
Phase 6 - fix perimeter beams for the wall panels (same photo); rain stopped play, off to buy a new guitar for up-coming birthday.

To be continued... meanwhile here are the alpacas:

"Mum, I want my supper!"

Sunday 7 August 2011

Hay girls, hay boy.

This week we've managed to cut and bale our hay, just squeezing in between showers - we baled last night, and while another day in the sun would have been useful, the weather forecast for today wasn't good, and was accurate, with showers from lunchtime and a thunderstorm mid-afternoon bringing well over an inch of rain in an hour.
Excitement spreads, as newly cut paddocks are available!

Bindweed climbing the fence proved the main attraction.
I missed the storm, having taken a trip west, for spit-offs - Pelachuta showed complete disinterest as soon as she saw the male  - her tail went up, stayed up, and she made half an attempt at jumping the gate. Minnie however, saw the opportunity for another lunch with a suitor, started grazing, and sat for him for a good twenty minutes or so.

Camelot now has a fleece two inches long at five weeks old, nicely organized into locks.

While the studio work progresses steadily, I'm building a hay shed (barn would be too grand a word, especially after seeing Jaynes wonderful creation), re-using the walls from the cattery building which are in good condition. I've got this week off the day job so hope to get that task by the scruff of the neck, as we have other hay on order.  We have a quick one-night stay in Cornwall while I visit a project for a site inspection, and that's our summer holiday.

When I was out with the females for mating the other week (insert witty comment here), I was passing through a village and passed a pub with tables outside filled with people enjoying a summer sunday lunch. Lots of heads looked my way (yes the trailer does rattle a lot) and we have our herd name and logo on the front and sides, and I couldn't have felt better even if I'd been riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle, such is the pride you get from owning, breeding and caring for alpacas.

Later the same week, I was pulling the paddock cleaner around the field, and I realised that in the past, in a simlar way, I've dragged a golf trolley around a golf course, only to find I was rubbish at the game
- I know what I'd rather be doing.