Sunday, 27 May 2012

Four shorn for sure

With the heatwave looming on wednesday, and three pregnant females due from the end of June onwards, I put my newly-learnt skills into practice this week, and sheared four of the herd.

Due to the heat at the time of shearing, and their 'expectant' state, we had to be swift, and couldn't spend an excessive time trying to reach perfection, and so, harking back to the seventies, the feather-cut has made an unexpected return to fashion! (of course I'm not old enough to remember it, my Grandparents told me about it! ;-) Not only that, but we now have a bearded lady - sorry Minnie, but it was boiling hot when we sheared her, and she needed to be released - there wasn't even time to ask where she was going for her holidays this year...
Autumn Gold

We did the shearing in two seperate sessions, mild-mannered ones first on wednesday, though Autumn Gold squealed throughout, followed a couple of days later by Minnie & Ambrosia.
Ambrosia - where did I leave my top knot?

Bramley and Camelot have to wait until after the Royal Bath & West Show on thursday for their visit to the salon. Meanwhile, the water trough and tray have at last been called into service, to provide the cooling dip that alpacas love.

Disregarding the slight lack of finishing touches, it was a great relief to have relieved them of their over-coats in hot weather, and to remove the anxiety of reliance on the weather being kind to the professional shearers and their inevitable tight programmes - and yes, my back did ache straight after, but was soon long forgotten.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Devon County Show

Camelot, Bramley, and three ducks in the evening sun.

We withdrew from the North Somerset Show after Bramley reacted badly to her halter a few days before - this was because she had scabs on her jaw which I hadn't realised were there - I had treated her for mites  five weeks earlier with injected treatment and facial scrub and healing cream, but hadn't realised the extent of scabbing beneath her fleece, which I presumed had created tenderness to the halter. So I increased the healing treatment cream, changing to udder salve with daily assessment and application, and lunchtime yesterday gave her a shampoo to reduce the greasey-ness, giving time in the afternoon to dry. Last night I tried the halter, and she happily walked around the garden, before getting a little fractious.
you put your left leg in...

So, with a little trepidation, and a lot of optimism, we set off at 6 this morning for the Devon County Show - she didn''t disappoint, behaved well, and came away with a fourth place rosette, with favourable comments from judge Val Fullerlove, in particular that it was a good group, all with ideal conformation, and good fleeces, and highlighting Bramley's brightness.

As I stood in the line-up, I noticed Mrs. Smallholder being 'whisked off' by Herr Patou, and wondered what was up back in the pens (or was he just seizing a chance to treat her to a hot chocolate and  eccles cake?) - but no, apparently Camelot, who had travelled as chaperone for Bramley, was missing her so much he had leapt out of the pen  in the marquee - Mark (Herr Patou), had noticed this athletic behaviour, walked up to Camelot (who had frozen on the spot), and with his years of experience arrested Camelot and escorted him back to his pen. As he raced off to inform Mrs. S, he didn't realise that Camelot would make another leap for freedom to be with Bramley during her time in the show ring, but another breeder stepped in to prevent his escape - Bramley, meanwhile, was collecting her fourth place rosette. The weather was drizzly with a cold wind - not as good as forecast, but not as bad as it could have been, so a good day overall.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Dry eggs, bare legs.

Moira, maiden matriarch enjoys the evening sunshine, and while not the most glamorous alpaca, we've all got one, and I'm happy to give her 15 minutes of fame.

Very disappointed not to go to the North Somerset Show, which was for a variety of reasons, but primarily, one of the show team wasn't able to wear a halter due to soreness, so that left one, and the weather forecast and ground conditions were awful, and I was sure my (4x4) car wouldn't have had the weight or power to get the trailer out - but it sounds like those that went found a unifying situation in the conditions, and were full of praise for the organisers and volunteers, for making an event out of dreadful conditions. I used the unexpected opportunity to spend the day in the shed, and made a produce stand for Mrs. Smallholders eggs and veg.

The local bus stops outside while the driver buys eggs and asks passengers if they want any!

Yesterday I helped out with haltering and handling at the dispersal sale of Ashill Alpacas. It was very well set up and their alpacas are well-behaved, so all went smoothly. It was held in their village hall, and the fine weather made the day very pleasant. The selling prices were undoubtedly low, but that nearly always is the case with most commodities, except for the exceptionally good quality 'items' where two or more bidders recognise the quality and go after it - prices will tend to be lower than the open market because of the quantity on offer at one time, the relatively short time that a bidder has to decide on their purchase, and the fact that there is little, or no after-sales service or back-up - it's an understandable means to sell a herd unless you can plan your down-size over a number of years, but then the herd will become 'over-aged' and taken over by other breeding developments.

Great to have some warm sunshine this weekend, enough to bare the legs for the first time this year, while I shifted a ton of manure from 'A' to 'B' - should have put it at 'B' in the first place!

Devon County Show this week, and not sure whether we'll be showing but we'll be there, and looking forward to it, and we are working on the doubtful one.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A bad hair day!

'customers' before and after, relaxing after a short-back-and-sides - the 'salon' has a fake palm tree!

Spent the day at Classical Mile End alpacas today learning to shear. Knees are raw, joints creaking, and despite having had several washes followed by a shower, still smelling of spit!!! ...but feeling very accomplished, having shorn two alpacas, ground some teeth, and removed a fighting tooth. It  was a  day spent in the company of six other breeders who got on so well, split into two groups of three.

A good classroom introduction with notes, by Chas, followed by one of Rachels legendary lunches, we then had a demonstration, and off we went, with guidance from Chas and his stockman Ondre, taking turns as shearer or 'headman'.

Despite having Superglue on stand-by, no-one made any accidental cuts causing bleeds! I did cut the teeth of one female a bit low, and caused a little bleed  of her gum, I must confess - it was a very good day, and new friends made.

North Somerset Show on monday, so trying to finish off halter training Camelot, and to get him and Bramley into some kind of show condition - fortunately that does mean paddock condition - we don't pretend  to have the best animals. but they do have good qualities, and we leave it to the judge to see what their best attributes are, and hopefully that will see some recognition.

In three months, he won't know he had a bad haircut!