Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A day of ups and downs...

We had some very sad news last night from Cathy at EPC. Lady Gaga delivered a very premature (319 days) male cria, who sadly did not survive. I don't know if it is better or worse that she was not here; We are thankful that we did not have to witness the upsetting event, however it is difficult not knowing exactly what happened. At least Lady Gaga is reported to be fine.

As we were feeling somewhat despondent this morning, Phoebe decided to cheer us up by presenting us with a lovely little girl. White, as expected, with a fawn splodge on the back of her neck. She really is as fit as a fiddle, racing around with the other cria at two hours old! Phoebe is another one who came in to feed and left her cria in the paddock. Only this time it was the cria who noticed; Phoebe is far too greedy to let her new born get in the way of her tea.

So it has been a day of highs and lows. I guess any animal breeder has such days. Fortunately alpacas have a way of somehow cheering us up whatever; having just witnessed the cria playing and racing around in the paddock, it would challenge anyone to stay down for long.

Finian... leading the fun and games!

Monday, 28 June 2010

The latest arrivals...some photos at last!

What a busy weekend! I have now got most of my wool back from the Halifax Spinning Company and I also  managed to get 40kg of white fleece skirted and away to be processed. The wool that I have got back is the end result of mixing natural organic dyed alpaca fleece (20%) with the finest white fleece and it looks and feels fantastic. Paul, the mill owner, took a sample to the Woolfest and was amazed at the amount of people wanting to buy my wool. Someone actually offered to buy all my stock!

On Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a visit from Bev and Andy from Yorkshire, who were in the area seeing family. They are very interested in owning some pet boys to keep on some land that they already have, and are keen to learn as much as they can in advance of their purchase. It was lovely to meet them and to witness their enthusiasm to understand the health and welfare needs of their alpacas.

I did eventually get round to taking some photographs of the the two new arrivals:

Galaxy and Roma

Galaxy absolutely adores her daughter Roma, although she did keep forgetting that she had had her on the first day. She actually came in to feed without her, then got in the most amazing panic when she remembered that she had forgotten something; then couldn't remember where she had left her and was smelling anything and everything white. In the end I had to bring Roma to her! Galaxy is a Silverstream Czar daughter. We were hoping that the brown spot on her nose might increase the chances of her having a fawn cria but Roma is a solid bright white and a little beauty.

Noah, pictured below, is a cheeky little chappy. Bonita is being very protective at the moment but I can't imagine that she will keep him under control for long.

Noah ...looking cute with his brown spot!

If fact Bonita is being so zealous with her mothering, that she won't come in the barn to eat. Last night I took her tea out to her in a tub. I did notice that she had left most of the garlic powder in the bottom, but no matter Explorer soon licked it up. He will be on to a Vindaloo some time soon at this rate!

He did allow me to sit next to him after he had cleaned out the tub but was definitely keeping his back to me. Maybe saving me from the garlic breath?

Explorer...that's close enough!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

All white at the end of the day...

I had such a busy day yesterday; by the time that I had finished I didn't have the energy to write a blog. I did manage to pour myself a glass of wine to have with my pan-fried tuna steak, then it was an early night. Paul has been away for a couple of weeks in the USA, so the plan was to have a nice meal and to be scintillating company. No chance!

We had had an early start yesterday. Paul was off on his way to Fowberry Alpacas by 8.45 am. I felt that one or two of the girls: Galaxy (mid fawn); Nancy (white); Phoebe (white) and Bonita (light brown) all looked possibles to birth, so I had decided that I should stay home.

As soon as Paul had driven off I realised that I had forgotten to give him the self declaration form, so I quickly went inside to send the info by email. On arrival back at the birthing paddock I saw that there was already something white wriggling around on the ground! White? Must be Nancy or Phoebe? There were so many alpacas around the little thing that it was difficult to tell instantly. No it was Galaxy, our lovely mid fawn girl with the fabulous fleece. It wasn't fawn but it was a girl, and what a little trooper. She was on her feet and running around in no time. Poor galaxy was struggling to keep her under control. We are going to register as her as Fine Romance but she will be known as Roma.

Next job on the list was poo picking. This meant I could keep an eye on things and get on with the jobs at the same time. Once I was happy all was well I went to do some fleece skirting. I am meeting Paul from the Halifax Spinning Mill on his way back from the Woolfest today. He has some wool ready for me and I was hoping to have some sacks of white fleece ready for him to take to be spun.

I think that I may have got a little carried away and not checked the paddock for a hour or more. Anyway when I went back there was another white head and legs waiting for the final push. Bonita! That serves me right for my comments on my previous blog about Legacy always producing coloured cria from coloured dams! I have double checked and out of more that 60 progeny he has never had a white from a brown before! This one was a little boy. Seen as they were coming in twos we have decided to name him Noah.

That is six cria to date. Four boys and two girls. Four white and two coloured. With five to go and three of them white dams, I think we might be having a white year. Never verbalise plans! Unless you are the Mighty Patou of course and have a fairy godmother!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Gold star for Holly...

Well I predicted a busy week for births this week. What I didn't predict, was that it would be Katkin and Holly who would do the delivering.

Holly had a lovely little boy at 323-days gestation yesterday morning. He weighed in at 7.5kg and was a little slow to stand and slightly down on his pasterns, but was up and away after a couple of hours. Holly is a fantastic Mum and great milk producer. This morning Finian tipped the scales at a healthy 8kg.

Finian is a fabulous golden colour. Both Parisien and Finian are Legacy of Purston progeny. Legacy, although white, consistently produces coloured cria from coloured dams. A rather good trait  for us. We will be using Legacy again over Holly in the hope that she produces a golden female for us next year. This is three boys in row for Holly!

Galaxy is still walking around with her tail horizontal and has been bagged up for weeks, but still no action. This year expected due dates seem to mean nothing. It keeps us on our toes I guess.

Holly and Finian...still getting the hang of balancing!

Camilla and Explorer are having a trip to Yorkshire tomorrow. Camilla has a date with Top Account of Fowberry. We are keen to have some of Top Account's genetics in our herd and have had him in mind for Camilla for some time. After this year's efforts we think that she certainly deserves the best.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Make that an expresso to go!

I wasn't quite sure who I should be keeping an eye on this morning, but it became clear by 10 am that Katkin was the one showing all the signs of getting ready for birthing. She was down then up. Up then down. So I decided to give the trainee midwife a call. Always on cria alert, Amanda was quick off the mark and had arrived by 10.50.

As Katkin appeared to be having a pause in proceedings, I decided that a cup of coffee was required for our time on the paddock bench. With a biscuit stuffed in our pockets we arrived back in the field by 11 am; to see a lovely dark fawn girl already on the ground. Sorry Amanda! After all her rushing we had missed seeing the birth by minutes.

After that I thought that the least I could do was to let Amanda name the cria. She has decided on Parisien; after the brand of coffee we were drinking!

Parisien weighed in at a healthy 9.4 kg and was up and drinking within 2 hours. Born at 334-days gestation, that's 51 days less than Explorer's time in the womb!

Katkin with Parisien

Monday, 21 June 2010

That's my boy....

With four girls likely to give birth very soon we are hoping for an exciting week ahead. Galaxy is still holding on, and is looking like she may get overtaken by Bonita who has been humming away all day today. Also in the running are Phoebe and Katkin, both were under 11 months last year, but have already passed that milestone, thankfully.

I really could do with some colour for my cria photos now. However, as Ben rightly points out; the white ones go nicely with the buttercups!

 I keep trying to get a photo of Explorer that doesn't have him looking like he has been through a war zone. Although, his wounds: pieces of fleece missing from his neck; matted fleece on his face from a watery eye; and gunk stuck to the end of his ears, are all evidence of what the little fella has been through.

This morning I managed to catch him in profile (below right with Kenzie left) and was pleased to see that he has inherited some of Camilla's elegance.

Well maybe not so much the case front on; Not quite the elegance seen in profile! There is certainly no mistaking what sex he is!

Explorer...definitely all male!

Kenzie however, does look very sweet from all angles, but he does hold his own in the neck wrestling challenges despite the opposition looking like a rugby prop!

Kenzie...looking refined!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

If you can't beat 'em... join 'em...

We have enjoyed a week of lovely weather and lots of visitors this week. Minnie is always in her element when there is any attention going, and gives everyone a warm welcome. Today it was the turn of Amanda and Karen. Karen has never visited us before, but that is no problem to Minnie. She did however get a little bored with them sitting watching Galaxy (342 days) so decided to join them. In between them to be precise! 

Minnie and Tyke competing for attention from Karen & Amanda.

Minnie posing to camera with Karen!

On a very recent blog, I was praising myself somewhat on making an alpaca decision using my head rather than my heart. Well, I have done the opposite today. Hoity Toity, who lost her cria at five month gestation, was due to go back to receive a re-mating to Sanjo Shalimar, a very nice male indeed. However we have not got anything organised and she has been desperate to be re-mated, especially since the two boys have been born. She sits watching the other girls being mated and won't move from the spot. Today she looked so depressed that I mated her with Legacy of Purston. Oh well at least she looks happy now!

Good news, Pebbles who had been refusing to go near any boys, sat happily for Hollywood today. 

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Enjoying the weather...

With Ben home from university I have been putting him to good use over the past couple of days. Not always the keenest to get his hands dirty but he did get stuck in to the poo picking. In fact he was so enthralled with his duties, that he was totally oblivious to the Egyptian sand-dancers behind him:

Ben...too young to remember sand-dancers!

We also got round to some spit offs and matings. Nina spat at her ovulation spit off so fingers crossed that she spits again next week; Maybe Hollywood has done his work. We also mated Minnie with Hollywood. I really couldn't watch. Minnie is  the sweetest alpaca ever, I am sure she was saying "why are you letting this boy do this to me Mummy"

We have had a beautifully sunny couple of days, and today looks like keeping up the trend. I felt sure that we would have a birth yesterday, but they all held on. There are four girls now bagged up and walking around with their tails in the air. Poor little Bonita looks enormous. It's hard to believe that she can possibly get whats in there out! I think it was just too warm yesterday. Everyone decided to have a lazy day!

Explorer...enjoying the sun

Tyke doing a spot of sunbathing (he missed shearing day!)

Bonita...how is that going to get out?

With no birthing activities to distract me, I had to get down to some gardening duties. Only two weekends to go before the open garden event. Nimrod and Julius are looking good....the garden? Now that is another matter! The boys are going to have to be a serious distraction from the horticulture I can tell you.

As always I am easily led astray from unpleasant tasks; So when Robyn and Craig came round and suggested a BBQ I really couldn't think of a reason why not.

Look at the state of that patio...must get the weedkiller out!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Exploring new frontiers....

I took the camera out with me this morning whilst on poo picking duties. As you can see I am very easily distracted:

Exploring new front ears!...watch out behind...

Kenzie with two intact ears!

Explorer smelling the buttercups and looking a picture of innocence!...you can just see the green spit on the back of his head...bit of a give away that Honaria was not best pleased!

Being kept under control and copying Mum !...You can just see the grass in Explorer's mouth.

Silverstream Galaxy is 336 days today. Quite early days for a maiden, but she has been bagged up for a couple of weeks now so I don't expect that we will be repeating the 385-day gestation that we had with Camilla. I have put in a request for a white male. I wouldn't want to tempt fate by asking for a fawn girl now would I?

Galaxy looking sleek without all that fleece.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Lady Gaga Fails to Show!

The photo on the left is of  EPC Lady Gaga. Fully fleeced and in a garden that is somewhat unfamiliar to Beck Brow. Yes, I did say that she would be coming to Cumbria this week, but despite months of anticipation we can now confirm; It is to be a no show.

Things started to go wrong when Lady Gaga failed to go naked in Wiltshire as planned. Jamie Dixon was due to shear at E.P Cambridge (EPC) a couple of weeks ago but had to rush back to Australia due to a family member's illness. In the meantime we had had all our herd shorn. What to do?

Well I have let my head rule my heart on this occasion; Very unusual for me where alpacas are concerned! We have decided to leave Lady Gaga with EPC. Partly so we can be sure that she gets shorn but mainly because she is due mid July. We felt that time was running out for us to feel comfortable about transporting her on such a long journey. The plan is that she will be mated at EPC with Waradene St Patrick, a fantastic fawn male due to be imported in early August. St Patrick has Purrumbete Highlander and Purrumbete Inti in his pedigree and has a fabulous fleece. I sure this will be a fantastic match if all goes to plan. It's just that I will miss seeing her birth. Boo!

The decision makes sense on a number of levels.  Amanda's two girls, one of whom is waiting to be mated, are also from EPC. This means that the three girls can all be delivered and quarantined together. A sensible plan I know. At least I am confident that she could not be in better hands!

After days of wet and miserable weather here in the North, the sun decided to shine between the clouds today. No need for cria coats today. Unfortunately Kenzie didn't quite get this. Boy he is fast! I am now waiting for Amanda to come and help with coat removal.

Kenzie...fast as lightening and looking cheeky too!

Explorer on the other hand makes little effort not to be caught and Camilla isn't particularly concerned. At least one cria is now getting some rays!

Explorer before coat removal...looking up for the challenge but an easy submission!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Boys at play.

Today has been one of those days when alpaca watching becomes so absorbing that hours go by with very little being achieved. This morning I was fortunate enough to witness a lovely scene; Explorer, who has been trying to tempt Kenzie into playing since the minute the little guy was born, actually succeeded today. The two boys were chasing around the field, but what was particulary exciting was to see the two mums pronking along with them. Pronking is generally an activity for the youngsters in our herd, so this was lovely to see. I normally have a camera nearby, but this moment was to good for me to chance missing by running to find it. Sorry not to share this time!

It is Explorer who has been keeping me entertained for most of the day. One of his most amusing antics is him trying to get Camilla to stand when he wants to be fed. Every time he witnesses Kenzie getting his milk supply he also expects that he should get the same. This is irrespective of whether Camilla agrees or otherwise. If Mum is kushed he starts by nuzzling her face in a very sweet manner. If this doesn't work he then moves on to nudging her. No luck? Next move pokes her in the side with his foot. Still no joy? So he jumps on her back... That worked! I get the feeling that Camilla will be requesting a girl next year.

Hollywood has been back on mating duties today. Although he appeared to have the hang of things, both of his first girls have sat again. He is definitely willing. Now we need to see if he is able!

Hollywood and Nina

Monday, 7 June 2010

It's a fawn!

I did say that we had pretty much left Honario to it yesterday. A quick dry, coat on, navel spray and weighed. I think that we were so pleased that everything had gone well that we obviously didn't look very closely at his colour; he is most definitely light fawn! A nicer colour for a pet boy possibly.

I took his coat off this morning when I weighed him in order for him to get the benefit of some vitamin D from the sun on his back. Unfortunately I didn't check the weather forecast first. An hour later the heavens opened up and I had to enlist Amanda to help me catch him. He is certainly fit and healthy! We have decided to call him Kenzie.

Honario being a protective mum and Kenzie with his coat off before the rain.

Apologies for the tease yesterday Mark, I just needed permission to tell. The two girls in question are a medium and a dark fawn (sorry no browns this time!) both have been mated to top quality black males. The bad news is; I am not the new owner. Still it is two lovely new girls without spending a penny! Amanda has made the purchase and the girls are to be at livery here. The plan is to mate them both with Viracocha Black Sabbath next year. This is a Cedar House Amar male that Amanda and I both have a share in.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Another Boy!

It's another little white boy! Morden Hall Honario, a maiden, had a text book birth, delivering a male cria weighting just under 8kg at 1.45pm today. He was up on his feet within the hour and had had a good feed before two hours had passed. He is pictured at just over two hours old, with the older boys watching on. Thankfully we can just sit back and watch this time.

Explorer has again gained weight and is looking fit and strong. It is amazing to see how big he is when compared to the new little fellow. He is amazingly dirty as he rolls in soil at every opportunity. Still can't tell if those ears are just dirty Debbie!

Explorer checking out his new playmate!

What a difference a week makes!

We really need some girls to be born now, preferably fawn ones. Silverstream Galaxy ET, a fawn Silverstream Czar girl, who has NWA Ltd Ruffo on her dam's side is next due. She is clearly bagging up but is not quite 11 months yet. Hopefully she will produce something off the wish list!

We are going to be getting a couple of coloured girls delivered to Beck Brow sometime soon. However these will be coming by trailer! More on that when all is confirmed.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Shearing day

Friday was shearing day here at Beck Brow. Ben, our shearer arrived at 8 am prompt and was finished and away by 11.30 am (we even had time for a chocolate cake break...thanks Mum). It was all very slick and pretty stress free for all. Thanks team for all the help.

Galaxy is pictured on the shearing table with Ben watching as his assistant trims the toe nails.

It was an obvious relief for all the alpacas to get rid of their heavy fleeces, on what turned out to be a scorcher of a day. We choose to be fairly severe with our hair cuts. No leg fleece left other than ankle socks and tail fleece off as well. Much easier to see what is going on skin wise. It also gives us a much better view of what is happening at the birthing end!

It always very amusing to see how they don't recognise each other initially. Even we have to double take sometimes as they look so different shorn:

Willow...looking very pretty.

Almo...more like Ugg boots than ankle socks!

Hollywood (left)....hardly recognisable

Explorer continues to do well thankfully. He has continued to gain weight and is much more active then he has been on previous days. Pictured below with Camilla, he really is in need of a good shampoo (no we won't be going there!) with his dirty face and ears. He was very sticky when born and the only clean bits (bright white) are where his coat has been, but hey we are just glad he is doing well.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Explorer update

Thank you for all your good wishes, support and advice regarding little Explorer. It really is encouraging. Special thanks to Graham and Jenny from Fowberry Alpacas who have kindly shared the benefit of their vast experience. Thankfully we do have a vet who will listen.

He has actually gained some weight over the past two days and is back up to 9kg this morning. He isn't as active as you might expect a five day old cria to be but he has had a more difficult start. It is a shame that he has no other cria pals to get him going it would be so encouraging to see him play. However he remains apyrexial and is suckling as would be expected.

Explorer is a tall cria, as you can see in the photo he struggles to fit under petite Camilla. Not the most interesting of photos but a very welcome sight to see that head down and tail up!

Camilla has been amazing. She looks after him really well yet doesn't overly mind that we keep catching him. Morning routine: weigh him, take temperature, give Jumpstart paste, administer Chlorenphenical eye drops, give antibiotic injection and deliver a hug! Camilla just keeps a pretty eye on proceedings.

There seems to be little to recommend a 385-day gestation period from this experience, but I will tentatively suggest that we are making some progress. I have just been out to see him in the paddock catching those rays and the vitamin D that he needs. We will just have to watch and wait now to see how he progresses.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

A plasma transfusion

We have decided to name Camilla's little man Explorer. Unfortunately he is far from out of the woods, but he needs to be recognised as the little star that he is. Mum is very proud and rightly so.

This morning he appeared bright enough again and was suckling approximately hourly. He had however failed to gain any weight from the 8.5kgs that he dropped to on Sunday morning. One failed attempt at taking blood and I called the vet out to take a sample. The vet, after examining Explorer, really wasn't keen to do any tests, after all he does look well. However I insisted and his IgG levels came back at less than 100 mg/dl (repeated with same results).

It is safe to say that oral plasma has not worked on this occasion (given at 10 hours old). I probably should clarify that the colostrum we added was powdered just to give energy rather than anything else. We do have cows colostrum in the freezer but he refused to be bottle fed so we chose the plasma to give via the nasogastric tube.

He has now had a intravenous plasma infusion and has been started on prophylactic antibiotics. He still refuses to take anything from the bottle as top up feed but appears strong and is apyrexial. It really is a case of fingers crossed now that he does not acquire an infection, but his chances have certainly been improved by the transfusion.

We went to Northumberland show yesterday, leaving Mum and Dad at home, and were fortunate enough to get out hands on EPC Navigator (Explorer's sire)...wow! I have to say that first impressions of our little guy are also very good.

Houghton Hall alpacas, retained Navigator's undefeated Supreme Champion record and literally took home a bucket full of rosettes. We had to be satisfied with a second (Hollywood) and a third (Almo). However I did think the pair of them looked very handsome and it is always a good day for catching up with friends and fellow breeders.