Sunday 25 March 2012

Are those diamonds on the soles of his shoes?

As you can see from the display, Joy had put alot of effort into the items, deciding after last years show that other stallholders would be selling similar garments, so she decided on knitted and felted bears, all made from our own alpaca fleece, plus a few other 'non-bears' such as the felted white alpaca in the centre of the display, and the spring garlands - these were mainly a 'front' to draw interest in the spinning and felting residential courses that she is offering - which is just as well, as sales were minimal. Given that we were at the NEC, with additional potential, though 'footfall' was greater than last year, we don't think it reached the potential - I saw hundreds leaving the Education Show, and very few headed to the Futurity - some peered in, but there were no big impact photographs showing what was inside, and so from the outside it appeared like a trade show - which, to a large extent it is - but it's also meant to be showing the best and the future of alpaca breeding, and the products, to the wider audience that we all need. Having said that there has been a lot of follow-up interest in the courses, so, fingers-crossed - and I did get a rosette for my photo' of two alpacas looking in the mirror. As has been stated elswhere the animal showing and judging was excellently run, and also judged as always with her good humour, passion and tolerance by Val Fullerlove.

Those who met us will recall that Joy was suffering a major 'head cold' at the time which greatly curtailed her participation in the socialising - I felt for her at the time - I've been self-employed for 17 years, and only had one day off sick every few years, but since tuesday I've been off for 3 days with fever, head cold and loss of energy - they say you know it's flu' if there was a £20 note on the floor and you wouldn't get out of bed to pick it up - likewise, if you can't get out to feed your 'paca! I rest my case, but I can feel the howls of derision starting; "pah man-flu!" I only felt I was in charge of my own legs yesterday :-)
Our sling might have been useful for this competitor, whose identity I'll protect, but I'm sure he'll see the funny side!

We had to inspect one of our girls' legs closely this week, to check on the improvement after mites last year, particularly around her joints - but, she always kushes, and alpacas are very good at tucking their feet in, and it's very hard even for two to roll her and straighten the leg, and then properly inspect it. So, we devised a partial 'hoist', which would not lift her off the ground, but would prevent her kushing, by keeping her up - with some good canvas, upholstery eyelets and thin rope, we set up the 'trap' - laid on the ground under a bed of straw so she wouldn't be spooked - she was led across it, while one of us raised the sling under her chest, but in the process of drawing it steadily together and maintaining tension (or not) she moved forward, so that it finished up under her abdomen, which was clearly not good, and we had to let her kush, which then became impossible to lift her - it's still a method which we'll try and improve on, but has anyone else come across a similar problem and solution? We obviously wouldn't use it on a pregnant female.
can we come home yet?

In the current rented paddock, the alpacas can reach a bamboo plant which they've shown a fondness for, both for eating, and 'grooming' against - they also like to groom against some small conifers. I wondered if anyone else has noticed particular shrubs that are popular for grooming?

Lots of gnats or midges around this week - where are swifts, swallows, dragonflies and bats when you want them?

I took the opportunity to 'Dubbin' my boots in the sun this afternoon, before wet weather returns...and I also had to clean my 'dinner' shoes from the Futurity last week - nothing scuffed or dulled in the polished leather by spilt wine or salmon you understand, but there was alpaca dung on the soles - I had the honour of being selected as assistant ring handler for The Mighty Patou, but had left my boots in the car, in the Exhibitors car park some distance away, so I wore the dinner shoes. Clearly, my conformation is good, I've got good handle, not much crimp in my hair, but the lustre on my shoes was bright, and so I think I didn't detract from the magnificent animals I was entrusted with - however, unknowingly, I departed the hall with some 'gifts' on the sole of my shoes - the fashion show and dinner had a fragrance to match the occasion - but did anyone notice? you can take a farmer out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the farmer!

Wednesday 14 March 2012


How exciting! the show season kicks off tomorrow, with the British Alpaca Futurity AND Channel 4 are running the Honda adverts again with the alpaca breeder tonight- coincidence, or good planning by Chas?

Joy has a stand (Appleknit) in the Fibre Village, and she has been working tirelessly, preparing the fantastic knitted and felted teddys, plus accompanying decorations, packaging etc. At least we don't have to prepare trailers, alpacas and so on - there'll be many breeders primping 'pacas (paddock conditon of course) tinkering with trailers, fettling fleece, untangling halters and leads...

I've had an idea to help the water shortage: hopefully visitors from the north will be bringing a bottle of water to pass on to visitors from the south-east to help with the water shortage, and this could be repeated at football matches between northern clubs and the London clubs - perhaps I should keep quiet about this until I've patented it...

Moira gave me a little worry earlier this week, when she didn't have her Camelibra in the morning, or her Fibregest in the afternoon and was sitting too much - I then spotted a very soft 'motion', and as I was leaving, she was squatting so I rushed back and saw another soft one - we did a check for poisonous plants, as there is a small glade of woodland, and did a faecal test to check parasite levels - none found - a lot of research later and I concluded it was probably due to lush grass, as she has been in the new neighbouring paddock - . The following morning she was eating again, and stools fine.
This morning we found several small Cuckoopint plants shooting out, so whipped them out - they are poisonous.

Good luck at the Futurity whoever is going, and do say hello, if you are there.