Sunday 29 December 2013

Manure to Manchester

In a period of respite from wind and rain, the herd graze in the crisp sunshine. We've moved them back over the hill as the home paddock is bare and muddy.

I moved the shelters, and had plenty of offers to help fix them:
These breathable shelters have lasted a year now - in contrast, Scrumpys shelter, which had corrugated plastic sheet roof and rear wall was ripped out of the ground and sent into the next field on the monday before Christmas (Scrump was in another more sheltered paddock). Here he is topping-up his tan this morning
Our son has just returned to Manchester, taking four bags of alpaca manure for their new garden!
Sorry about photo quality, due to being taken on my 'phone.

Footnote to Andy and Bev of Lane House Alpacas: your latest blog, 'Mud, Mud...' isn't displaying.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

More rain, dear?

They said my mum was mated to an exceptional stud male...
Wind battered, mud spattered - the second of two storms today has just passed over - if we'd not had the Eucalyptus tree reduced two weeks ago, it would be lying across the garden by now. The herd had their Christmas treat of vitamins ADE on sunday, and all were well behaved. They are in a filthy state, and will be heading off to a rested paddock to clean up. Joy has had a great run of felting workshops and sales evenings recently, resulting in lots of new ideas for next year.

In the last few weeks, I've taken down the ceiling over the Lounge and created a Gallery, so I've used the Christmas cards to hide the unfinished areas - I thought it was an inspired idea, but Joy has gone to bed in readiness before the big Christmas Eve(ning) gathering for friends, so I'll find out in the morning how inspired she thinks the result is...

Thanks everyone for reading and commenting on the blog, have a great, safe, Christmas with your families, friends and/or alpacas.

Sunday 8 December 2013


Apparently winter has arrived - we did have the tale end of the gale here, which finished shedding the leaves off the trees, so we've been lucky.

We had our Eucalyptus tree trimmed last week and have a big pile of branches saved for the herd, as they love the leaves - I've been bundling them up and tying them to fence posts:
Tucking-in to Eucalyptus
Elstar enjoys it too.
Scrumpy (Clumpy) hasn't tried Eucalyptus yet - he's from Wiltshire - they're not sophisticated over there;-)
In 'other news', I've taken out the floor of the bedroom above the Lounge, to form a gallery, which has taken all my 'spare' time lately, today I've been chiselling, planing and rebating an Oak beam to support the remaining gallery floor - it 'only' weighs 106kg now - big heave next weekend - so it was nice to get out with the camera among the herd for a while.
Moira at sunset.

Monday 18 November 2013

Catwalk cutie.

Some photographs of Joys products, modelled by our granddaughter Pixie, taken by our daughter Kerry, a professional photographer:

Copy and paste the following link:

We went to the SWAG Autumn Show on saturday - a good venue, well organized, and although numbers of local entries may have been a bit low, they were boosted by some outside breeders - one of the drawbacks of shows at this time of year is the lack of Junior entries which usually are the larger classes. It was good to be able to spend a day catching up with fellow breeders and some of their animals. Whether there will be another autumn show remains to be seen, but well done to the organizers for trying it out and exploring the possibilities.

A very good piece on Countryfile last night, featuring Melford Green alpacas, hopefully restoring any damage caused by Kate Humbles comments a few months ago, giving a very food image of the industry - worth a watch on i-Player if you missed it.

I have a walk-along paddock cleaner (PC50 with new hose, bin and exhaust bag) for sale if anyone is interested, having 'upgraded' to a muck truck with 'poover recently.

Saturday 9 November 2013

A brief video.

Here is a little video speeded up which may fill a spare 3 minutes in your day - last weekend my son sat his GoPro camera on a fence post and left it for a while watching the alpacas go about their day - after a while you will see me assemble a catchpen, and then Joy joins me, we round them up and give a few vaccinations and toe-nail trimmings.When let out they have a quick roll in the grass before heading back down to the shelter where the hay bags are hanging. Scrumpy our herdsire, is in the paddock in the background getting on with his day.

Cut and paste into your browser bar:

Set 'quality' to 720p HD for best clarity.

Sunday 20 October 2013

An explorer steps ashore.

Friday saw the arrival of the good ship Patou, skippered by Admiral Mark Steele, carrying EPC Columbus who, we are delighted to say, has joined us as herdsire.
"Hello Ladies"
He's a handsome boy, and has already covered some of our herd.

Yesterday, I moved the girls into a new paddock, and moved the shelters with them - they are still beside Columbus, but higher up the hill. We gave them all ADE jabs, and got soaked from one of these heavy showers in the process. Columbus had been nick-named 'Clump(y)', at Patou previously, so Joy decided (rightly) that he would from now on be known as 'Scrumpy' in line with our apple theme! (though, between you and me, I still call him Clump to his face)

Today, I got up close and personal with Clump, and led him around the property, and introduced him to the fibre studio:
"and this is where we take your fleece to be processesed'
I fitted in a bit more work on the new shelter this afternoon:
Yes, the trailer is on the patio (actually, the end of the driveway)!

Enjoying a change of view.

Monday 14 October 2013

In search of the New World.

As sunday brought rainfall of near-biblical proportions, I considered buiding an ark, but instead I commenced building another mobile field shelter - the weather drove the hens in for shelter, and despite the sawing and drilling, they huddled in the corner of the alpaca shelter which isn't being used at the moment.

The reason for another field shelter? oh.....we are due to be joined by a Mighty explorer who is setting sail and heading west...

Sunday 6 October 2013

Final fling

Empress - sire: CCNF Talon of CME
 Following the scanning results last week, we had one final fling and took a trip to Wiltshire meet the boys at Patou Alpacas... and again Bramley quite clearly spat-off her suitor we'll have to wait and see whether the scan wasn't clear or whether Bramley just wasn't interested.
Empress - sire: CCNF Talon of CME

Meanwhile, yesterday we had a visit from our client Sally and her son Miles who now own  three of our males, and we took the opportunity to introduce them to this years cria, so we asked Sally to help us get some fleece shots - you can get an idea of the quality in these females, though the ones of Elstar don't convey the full brilliance of her fleece.
Elstar - sire Qjori of Patou
Elstar - sire: Qjori of Patou
It's been a fabulous day here in Somerset - hope you've all had a good day too!

Sunday 29 September 2013

You pays your money, and you takes your choice.

Lazing in the autumn sunshine.

Refreshment time.

Hmm, a bit of fencing going on.
We had some teeth trimming, micro-chipping and scanning for pregnancy done this week - unfortunately only two out of five that were spittng-off were confirmed as pregnant. So we've had to think hard about whether to have one more try at this late stage of the season, or re-set the 'birthing clock' to next spring for the females concerned. This is one of the disadvantages to not having your own stud males, not being able to carry out spit-offs at will - another being the number of journeys you have to make to get a full set of pregnant females. On the other hand, you have the choice of many stud males, and you don't have to find 'work' for a stud if you own one. You 'pays' your money and you 'takes' your choice.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Tap Dance beats Can Can.

The Inquisitors
Today, I installed the water standpipe bringing water supply to the new paddocks. As usual, the alpacas were very inquisitive as to what was going on, and a crowd gathered to watch.
The first water flows into the can
It will eliminate having to carry endless cans of water over the hill during warm weather.
We had a look into the fleece of Elstar and Empress yesterday, and both are very nice - Empress's has developed amazingly in 8 weeks, developing great character in crimp and staples, while keeping its original brightness, lustre and softness.

We've discovered a group of ladybirds camped in a knot in one of the gates for a couple of weeks. Most of the time, with the gate shut, the latch keeps them sheltered, they are only exposed when I open the gate:
Now you see us...

Now you don't!

Thursday 19 September 2013

Kate Humble - The One Show

When asked on tonight's, The One Show, what she had learned from her travels, in her series about shepherds around the world, Kate Humble stated, "never to farm alpacas" - thanks Kate, for the disservice to British alpaca breeders - I had enjoyed your series, but I think you should visit a British alpaca breeder and find out how good-natured the vast majority of our herd are, and that only a few of them spit, and then only if provoked. Not amused.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Helter shelter.

I realised the other day, that by spacing the mobile shelters apart, I could extend the coverage and weather protection by a significant amount, with a few pieces oof fabric fixed in between, and so with the autumn storms moving in this afternoon, I quickly fixed the fabric, and so three detached shelters have become a 'terrace' of five.
The residants may complain about lowering the' tone' of the area, and reduction in value of their properties, but I'll remind them that they are in fact, tenants...

Sunday 8 September 2013

Summery summary.

Best pals.

It was a blog-free August, and I'm sorry to have deprived you of updates, thanks for your enquiries, and there will be a full refund of last months subscription(!)

Needless to say, it's been hectic, after the cria births, we've had six weeks of matings and spit-offs and have now finished that exercise hopefully with five pregnant.
Empress and Elstar

We're so pleased with this years cria that we've repeated those matings - Empress' fleece is 'unbelievably soft', and Elstar has lovely crimp, brightness, and density.
Into new grazing, puts a spring in their step!

Our daughter had a significant birthday, and held a party for 60 friends and family in our garden, with the theme of GlastonKerry Festival - with most aspects of the great festival replicated in some way - I and my mate Hugh were headline act playing eleven songs on our guitars, as 'Hugh D'ave thought it?'

In August we marked five years of alpaca ownership and breeding - what an amazing period - I've been trying to put it into words, but to do it justice, I'd want to give some serious thought and time to the process.

Last week we went to the Eden Project, and Joy went on the zip-wire which was opened in July, and is the longest in England at 660m, taking the brave 95m above the site, over the top of the biomes (domes) - I kept my feet on the ground and took the photographs.

With all the travelling for matings and spit-offs over, today I moved the herd into a new paddock for the Autumn.
Settling in.

Yesterday, we went to a fete for the Friends of West Mendip Hospital, in the grounds of the hospital in Glastonbury, taking a couple of the girls and a table full of fibre products from our herd.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Picture Post

I'll let the pictures do the talking - taken earlier in the week, before the rain came:

Sunday 21 July 2013

Arrival of the Empress.

Saturday morning at ten to ten, I was perched on the roof of the barn, trying to do a repair befoer it got to hot, when I spotted Apples lying awkwardly with 'something' going on at her rear end - 5 days over her due date, I knew what was going on, and raced as quickly as you can across a roof, and slid down the ladder cartoon style.
The welcoming committe gather to inspect the 'launch pad'.

With the head out, in the searing heat flies are instantly attracted - there's nothing you can do at this stage.
After ten minutes or so, Apples heads for the shade of the glade for the birth.
We kept our distance so as not to cause unneccesary stress, and in a jiffy the cria was on the ground.
  Welcome Empress at 8.0kg.
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The umbelical cord had severed close to the navel, and there was quite a lot of blood, which, through rolling around, ended up on her neck and spread across the stomach - I collected some bulldog clips(!) and a clothes peg (!!), but after brief pressure from a cloth, it stopped, however we then had concern about the amount of flies gathering around. We didn't want to immediately clean her and spoil the mother-cria bonding and scent areas, so we waited anxiously while she took her first steps and suckeld over the next hour or so - then we got some warm water, and rinsed her off.
We've divided the herd late this afternoon - with new mums needing a little personal space for feeding, and the need for shade for all, we've split them so that some can use the permanent shelter, and the mums can use the mobile shades, with new grazing to help their milk supply.
Apples with Empress.
Apples has Dovecote Jacquinto of Alpaca Stud as sire, and Accoyo Remarque and Quetchan Frottle on her dams side - the sire of Empress is CCNF Talon of Clasical Mile End. Joy says it is the softest cria fleece she has seen, and it is very bright.
Not forgetting, Bramley with Elstar.