Saturday 1 December 2018

Autumn musings

After the long hot summer, Autumn has brought occasional wet days, but until this week, no regular rainfall. The paddocks are struggling to re-establish - we have over-seeded and fertilized the worst-affected, and new grass has sprouted - however, latrines that were particularly scorched by urine, were killed off by the drought, and remain pretty-much dead, and well-worn areas where groups sit at night, or where groups gather to see the other groups, are very bare. I had a look on the satellite image of the farm recently, and there were no alpacas visible! It was taken just after our hay was made, during the heatwave, so the 'pacas are all in shade - and our gazebo is visible where we had to extend the shade adjacent to one of the shelters. - from the shadows, I can tell it was taken around 10 in the morning.

In October, our local group, SWAG (South West Alpaca Group), held the second Craft and Fleece show - demonstrations of fibre crafts, stands with products for sale, a competition of crafted products, and some pens with alpacas and llamas for comparison, were all on show to educate and inspire breeders and members of the public, along with a well-supported fleece show. We were pleased that Apple Vale Jupiter came 3rd in a class of 9 with entries from across the country, with a great points score.

Joy, at our village craft sale.
Early in November, I went to Buckinghamshire to attend the Intermediate Alpaca Assessment course, run by The British Alpaca Society. It was an opportunity to improve and refresh my experience of fleece and conformation assessment - with a small herd, you have fewer opportunities of hands-on experience- under expert guidance from BAS judges Liz Barlow and Nick Harrington-Smith, we spent a day discussing comformation and assessing fleece in the classroom, followed by a day at Alpaca Evolution farm, inspecting and assessing groups of alpacas - it was a weekend well worth the cost and time away from home and my own herd. 

We had our pregnant females scanned recently, and those confirmed pregnant are all due to birth around the weekend of our son's wedding!

With the eldest cria reaching nearly six months old and well over 25kg, we have begun weaning, by taking them as far away from their mums, and for the first few days, out of sight of them, they are chaperoned by a couple of mums with their own cria, too young to be weaned.

Last week our local group held it's AGM, followed by a fascinating and amusing talk by ecologist and Africa safari tour guide Jenny Bowen - some interesting developments were revealed regarding next year's shows, which will be finalised in due course.

Finally, for some amusement, a selection of poo samples showing the variety you come across!!!:

Coffee beans

Dumplings, or grenades.

Mother and baby.
Elephant? !