Sunday 30 October 2011


Our three pregnant girls all scanned positive on friday - we were sure about Autumn Gold in any case, as she has become a lot more 'feisty' since mating. Camelot had his ear-tag and microchip fitted.
Workshop side - flooring and more tables awaited.
 Today we gave ADE injections to each, and a few toe-nails were clipped. Bramley has a bit of a crusty skin on her legs so had a 'shampoo' and  'oil' treatment, made all the more difficult as she chose to kush throughout - she is as good as gold, but it was hard work rolling her around,and lifting her to open her legs up to get into the joints.
Clothes are models own...

Otherwise, it's been all-go in the Workshop & Studio - both the external doors had two coats of stain this weekend, thanks to mild and mainly dry weather, though I rigged up some protective polythene so we could leave the doors open and keep the slight drizzle off.
Studio side - each side has a mezzanine store - in this picture, supported by the roof truss in the background.

No time for alpaca pictures this weekend, so here are some sneak previews of the studio looking a little bare.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Hoovering acorns.

Heads down for afternoon tea - no time for posing for cameras.

I put a lot of effort into the title of my blogs, trying to make them true to the content, witty  and worthy of a quality newspaper or magazine (no, really, I do!). You may be thinking, 'ooh is that the title of the latest novel by Diana Gabaldon, or the title of the latest hit 'chic flic', or perhaps the title of the latest album by Mumford and Sons'? but no, I literally decided to hoover the acorns from under our Oak tree, as we will eventually allow the girls some grazing on the lawn. Now, the 'poover was quite happy to suck the individual acorns up, but eventually would have too many in its 'trunk' to swallow, and I would have to deftly lift the trunk above my head to aid digestion into the storage tank - if I did too quickly, I had a shower of acorns flung into the air!

The impending heavy rain brought by (unusually) south-easterly winds concentrated the efforts this weekend: yesterday I put up the guttering and down-pipe on the hay shed, and today I put the primer coat on the Studio and Workshop doors as they will get a direct hit from the rain - checking the weather forecast tonight it seems we may not get much rain tomorrow, as it is forecast mainly for Devon and Cornwall - this week should see the 'completion' of the Studio and workshop, with final fitting from electrician, plumber and carpenters. Mrs. Smallholder completed the emulsion today, so it is all looking wholesome. She's also been carding, spinning and plying, to build up stocks for our opening and Christmas.

Poovering the lower latrine had been difficult yesterday due to the length of the grass (like combing Play-Doh through a toddlers hair!), so this afternoon, I mowed it twice.

Camelot is showing interest in feed supplement  now - the girls all get a bucket each, and this week he has been cleaning up their buckets when they have finished. It's comical how despite having a bucket each, the girls have to bother each other so it ends up like musical chairs but with buckets, even though there are enough for one each!

Sunday 16 October 2011

Buff and sweep.

Mrs. Smallholder asked me to feel her biceps tonight - after emulsioning the ceilings and walls in the studio/workshop for two weeks, this weekend she's been rubbing wax into the exposed roof trusses, supporting posts, beams, and braces, and then buffing them - and it is all looking great - (and yes she does have some definition in the biceps). Meanwhile I've shifted even more rubble arising from the path and flight of steps that have been laid, and swept tons (alright, half a bag but it was a large area) of sand, dust and grit off the drive, patio and paths. Now that the building work is just about complete and tidy, the leaves are starting to replace the dust! hey ho.

"Bramley, what do you think this is?"

I've also laid slabs between the 'non-grazeable dry matter storage facility' (hay shed), and the 'livestock extreme weather defence shield' (open shelter).

"I've looked on 'PacaPedia', and I think it's an elephant"
Since buying the 'poover' in the spring, I'm occasionally asked how I'm getting on with it, and I mutter, 'yeah, fine' - not very helpful. When the herd was three in number, hand-collecting was easy, as it grew to five, it was manageable, then once the five were all adults, plus a sixth, it was time for an alternative, or quit the day-job and become a full-time pooper-scooper. So I bought the 'poover'. It's been very reliable - I've learnt not to walk too fast with it, or it (literally) throws a wobbler - our field is one side of a hill, so it makes sense to start at the top, and work down so I'm not pulling the increasing weight up hill - it's very obedient and follows me down the hill, without asking, if there's a south-westerly blowing - when the field is dry, the 'beans' make a satisfying rattle as they scuttle up the hose
 - occasionally, a dumpling will resist and keep dropping out of the tube, and then I have to wave it in the air, and ask gravity to help - emptying the bin requires a knack (doesn't everything in life), as the machine will fall forwards unless you have something to lean it against - and if the bin is full it's difficult to lift and empy into a four-sided manure heap, so it's best to try not to be too optimistic - we have around 14 hens, but Mary, the light coloured, is always there in a flash, up onto the heap to start raking over the new manure, like the men at the re-cycling centre!

All the herd were given Lambivac injections yesterday, which went smoothly. The most notable aspect was Autumn Golds reaction - she has been the most amiable of the herd until Bramley came along, but clearly some pregnancy hormones have kicked-in, as she was very reluctant to be held, and spat at us for the first time ever.

Sunday 9 October 2011

"Show me emulsion, tra, la--la, la-la..."

Camelot enjoying a weed.

 We've had a weekend of concerted effort decorating the studio and workshop, though Mrs. S has spent most of the week up ladders and towers with roller and brush - here is a view out of one of the rooflights:

Bramley had some rawness between her front toes a couple of weeks ago -I gave a shampoo with Seleen, followed by a locally sprayed solution of Eprinex in pigoil - I've been monitoring visually daily, but a hands-on check today showed it has cleared-up - she is the friendliest alpaca, but when giving treatment she will kush, which makes foot and leg treatment awkward - of course we partially rolled and lifted her, but does anyone have any tips for preventing them from kushing in such circumstances?

Sunday 2 October 2011

Fibre workshop progress.

Camelot in the evening sun.
 Progress on the studio and workshop has picked up in the last fortnight - the external cladding is complete, inside is fully plastered, floors down, skirtings and architraves on, and Mrs. Smallholder has sprung into action with the paintbrush and roller.

The fibre workshop & studio.

On friday, the two carpenters working here this week asked if they could meet the alpacas before they left - now these guys come with fully-tattooed arms, and work the tough life of a building site, so I hadn't expected to find there was a 'soft centre'. So on saturday afternoon, when they had finished at 4 o'clock, having expected to finish at 1, we asked them if they wanted to see them - "cor yeah", they said, so off we marched, a few nibbles andd some tasty leaves in hand. With the full attention of the herd, one of them said, "I've waited all week for this - I told my girlfriend I was working at a zoo, I must get a picture" - they each had pictures taken, asked lots of questions, and were so besotted, that despite their late working, they were in no rush to leave.

Another large skip full of waste was collected on friday, and this weekend I've spent much of the time bagging-up more off-cuts, sweeping dust, picking up screw and nails, stacking firewood, and sorting anything that can be collected by the re-cycling  truck - it's surprising how many cans of energy drinks have fuelled the building effort!

Our fibre workshop and studio, cottage in the background.