Sunday 31 January 2016

Musical paddocks.

Well yesterday we gave the herd their due vitamin AD & E injections - we had to plan where to corral each group very carefully, so that we could catch each individual without skidding onto our a*ses in the muddy conditions. The permanent, dry shelter is being used by the weaning group, and so it would have been logistically awkward to try and manouevre each of the other groups over to that shelter - anyway, it all went to plan.

However, with the constantly damp-to-wet conditions, the condition of all paddocks is poor, and while we are resting one paddock at all times, we have to move a new group onto it before it recovers properly, as the other paddocks deteriorate, just to allow each group to occasionally have somewhere dry to sit at night. So it was, that today we had another move around, moving a group of females into the 'rested' paddock, moving Scrumpy into the paddock where the females had been, and creating a 'weight-watchers' group of females needing to slim, who moved into Scrumpys prevoius paddock. We gave Scrumpy a couple of hours in the orchard/alotment - he thought he had died and gone to heaven, before moving him off to his new paddock! The 'weight-watchers' were seriously un-impressed with their new 'squelchy' paddock.

Our weanling has the use of the dry shelter with her companions, and we hope her fleece will clean up before the National show, but it all depends how dry the paddock becomes during the daylight hours, whether her fleece actually improves or not - and one of the males, also in the show team, is in a damp paddock with some straw bedding in an open (but damp) shelter.

We can only hope that, either we get a long frosty spell before the show (not going to be this week), or, the judge seriously looks beyond the external (paddock condition) appearance, and takes notice that these animals have clearly had more fesh air and natural daylight, than the clean alpacas that have been kept in large dry barns - we've done our best, we can only hope.

Meanwhile, halter training has continued, with the lure of the squelchy but almost un-grazed lawn being the treat.

Sunday 10 January 2016


I'm not such an ugly duckling!

With apologies for the title, using the current fad for conjoining the month with a 'movement', such as 'mo-vember' 'beard-ember'. Yes, it is time to start weaning, and with a more settled weather forecast for the next week, I decided to do it yesterday...except that after a dry day on friday, heavy rain showers began over-night, and continued all day.

We had a plan to corral the herd, disperse those not needed, halter the three 'chaperones', and lead them with the weaner, in a controlled manner up the 'avenue' along the 'track' and into the designated weaning paddock, close to the house. That was the plan...

It quickly became obvious that as the field is on a hillside, and the gateway where the corral was located, quickly became a skid-pan, we were very likely to repeat either our version of the elephant-keeper on Blue Peter, or a scene from the Keystone Cops, so we went for Plan 'B', and ushered them into the avenue un-haltered, and we walked in a steady group back to the weaning paddock.

Gala, our ony weanling this year, wandered bewildered around the paddock, humming for her mum - the other three got on with grazing the rested grass, and Gala quickly joined them, occasionally coming over to the barn, still humming for mum - the day alternated heavy rain with hail showers, and every step includes a wellie-sucking squelch.

I still have fingers crossed (as I am sure all breeders have),  that from monday onwards, as forecast, the weather will settle down to be more dry than wet, and colder, and we can begin to see the alpacas cleaning up ready for the National Show, just eight weeks away, and we can get some serious halter-training underway.

In other news, Joy at Appleknit Alpaca Craft, has been seriously weaving with some of our fibre, and produced this lovely pram blanket//knee wrap.
With colours inspired by heather, gorse and snow in the mountains.