Sunday 28 October 2012

Moonlight shadow.

Night-cap for Golden Delicious.

With a 'spare' hour last night to say goodbye to British Summertime, I took tripod and camera up the hill for some experimentation. these pictures were taken between 11.30pm and 12.15a.m - it's amazing how much 'light' the camera absorbs (the sky did look black), and how many stars, more than I could see!

Orion grazes the horizon, with Jupiter above.
Principally, good breeding relies on selection of suitable genetics, deliberate breeding choices, considered and programmed  husbandry, and well-managed grazing and housing - but there are in-between times when you just have to be out with your herd, and if you can share a hobby with them, day or night everyone's happy! It was freezing cold of course, and it took about two hours to warm up afterwards!
With Orion off to the right, Castor and Pollux, the heavenly twins float 'above'
Autumn Gold with Golden Delicious in her shadow.
Yesterday was clear and sunny all day, with a fierce northerly wind, which helped dry the ground, so I got the paddocks cleaned, and drove (manually) fifteen fenceposts into the tennis court paddock - the alpacas enjoyed the dryer conditions and had a mass gathering in the rolling pit -  this morning, rain is lashing down, and I have to go the office and do the VAT return...back with more news soon hopefully.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Someone takes offence.

Feeding time.
 We spent a bit of time preparing 'the tennis court' today, a little paddock we are renting, which is a bit of secure space we can use for weaning and other purposes - we'd flattened a lot of ant hills and re-seeded them, and the grass has sprouted, and we've cut back a lot of bramble - however, I had stacked 30 fence posts behind a hedge three weeks ago until we are ready to do the fencing, and today I noticed that eight were missing... in a sleepy village with no pub, street lights, or until now, I thought, crime... so I told Mrs. Smallholder, and over lunch we discussed the possibilities - I headed back to carry out a thorough search and ask the neighbours if they'd, 'seen anything'... as I approached, I noticed an apple-pickers step ladder leaning against a Chestnut tree in a  thicket by the paddock, hidden by brambles, and saw a fence post leaning against the ladder...I went in, and saw three posts lying on the ground near the tree... I looked up, and fifteen feet up in the bows of the tree I saw the remaining posts lashed together as the commencement of a tree-house! My daughter says someone needs to tell Kevin McCloud that he is taking this 'off the grid' thing to an extreme! I say they'd been 're-purposed' before I'd even given them a bloomin' purpose! 

"hmm...which is the smallest hole my head will fit through?"

While I was digging out some weeds from Mrs. Smallholders veg. garden, Discovery lived up to his name and got his head stuck trhough the fence again - I had to pull his body back while Mrs. S threaded his head through.

Golden Delicious
Later, we went out with a 30m tape and did some measuring... and it wasn't fleece we were measuring...
Darcy Spice - a mummys boy

Sunday 14 October 2012

Chip & pin

Mud management has been a phrase on my mind and I'm sure every farmer and smallholder in the country. I opened up the hay barn to allow the herd more room to spread out beyond the shelter in the wet nights, and they made the most of  it as you can see in the picture, where 9 of them have squeezed for a sit down or some new hay. Our village is approached via. Ford Lane, and as the name implies, there has been a ford - however, in 10 years living here, it has only risen over the road three times, until this autumn, when it has been flooded at least 6 times.

We had a visit from Colin Ottery to insert some micro-chips and ear-tags, and do some teeth trimming, which he did with his usual no-nonsense and very efficient approach - we had Bramley and Ambrosia scanned, and unfortunately Ambrosia is not pregnant - we had our doubts, as Bramley has turned very feisty, yet Ambrosia, hadn't changed behaviour noticeably - should have checked sooner, but there you go, coulda', shoulda', woulda'... 

It has been dry and sunny this weekend, as you can see from the misty cob-webby morning photo', we even had a thin sliver of ice on the water buckets, and with a couple more dry days forecast, a chance for the land to recover a bit.

We do have a very exciting development, which is so exciting that I daren't let on what is so exciting, but suffice to say, we are excited about it, and if it happens, I won't be able to contain my excitement and I may tell you about it...

If you've got an itch, scratch it!
Golden Delicious continues to gain weight steadily though the rate slowing down, probably converting her intake to energy for warmth rather than growth - we know we're giving her enough, as she has started leaving a little occasionally - this perhaps concurs with research that I read recently by Bozedown Alpacas I believe, who noted that cria born later in the year gained weight more slowly.

By the way, on Kevin McCloud's, Manmade Home tonight (C4 8.00, he makes a bathrobe from alpaca fleece - courtesy of Tai Wind Alpacas I believe.

In the absence of fluffy alpacas at the moment, I'll leave you with a picture of autumnal leaves on the house - Virginia Creeper last week, before the wind and the pruners got to it today.

Time to give baby her bottle.