Monday, 30 May 2011

Northumberland County Show....Champion Alpaca?

I will keep this short and sweet as the celebratory bottle has been opened: I stayed at home today to be on birthing watch; Paul took three of our alpacas to Northumberland County Show. I got nothing and Paul got the jackpot!

Beck Brow Explorer:

1st placed White Intermediate Male

Champion Intermediate Male

Supreme Champion!!

Reports are that he pouffed on a grand scale. As I said yesterday the icing on the cake...thats my boy!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Happy Birthday Explorer

Yes, Beck Brow Explorer (Gorgeous to his friends) is one year-old today.

A lot of excitement had been building up around his expected birth last year; his dam Cambridge Camilla (sire Accoyo Remarque) was purchased from EP Cambridge Alpaca Stud already pregnant to the multiple Supreme Champion Cambridge Navigator of ACC. There was a chance that Camilla could have the first Navigator cria to be born. But he kept us waiting...and waiting...finally arriving after 385 days gestation. Both Mum and Cria appeared to be in shock.

Beck Brow one hour

Unfortunately mum's milk didn't drop. Explorer refused to take from a bottle and time was running out. We tried passing an oral tube but he fought so much we couldn't keep it secured. Eventually a nasal tube was passed and he was given oral plasma, but 10 hours had passed. IgG testing at 36 hours gave a reading of less than 100 g/l and he received an I.V plasma transfusion along with the course of antibiotics he had already started.

7/6/10...looking wounded and under the weather, but better than a few days earlier (photo just not pleasant)

21/6/1010...nearly a month has passed...and he is nicknamed Gorgeous (as ironic). Will he grow into the ears...

7/7/10...starting as he means to go Roma!

 26/8/10...Still looking rather Gorgeous

1/11/ last he is starting to look the part

Something that we won't have dared hope for a year ago....Explorer at the BAS National Show taking first prize and Reserve Junior Male Champion.

It would have been so nice to have had a birth today on his anniversary...the weather is fine as well...but it doesn't look like it is to be. Never mind we are just very grateful to have him...he is a constant source of amusement to us all...and we love him to pieces...the fact he is a prize winner is just the icing on the cake.

Happy Birthday pouffing boy!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Exploring the girls...

Waradene St. Patrick of EPC with Beck Brow Lucie (sire EPC Top Account of Fowberry)

Poo picking took rather longer than it might have done today; thanks to the entertaining antics of the weanlings. Lucie who is not one year-old until the1st of July has taken rather a shine to St. Patrick and has been putting in some serious flirting (interestingly her dam Nancy was the same and was mated at 13-months - this is early for us). All was going well until they got interrupted by the new kid on the block: Beck Brow Explorer

Here he is orgling as pushes himself to the front.... St Patrick wondering what on earth is going on with this young nipper.

 Beck Brow Explorer decides to show the ladies his wares

 Beck Brow Fine Romance takes a peek...yes she thinks this just could be a fine romance indeed!

What do you think Nutmeg?

Okay Lucie decides to take a peek

Lucie soon realizes that she has made the wrong choice...what kind of positioning is that....but what can you do when true love is on the wrong side of the fence

Waradene St. Patrick of EPC...wondering whether to give the young kid some tips!

Okay, Explorer might have had his tail flipped in submission...he is some what in awe of St. Patrick...but he still got the girl! New paddock required for Explorer some time very soon. However, I think that we will mate Lucie to her true love this year. She is very well grown and obviously very interested...must run in the family!

     Finally as we still have no Beck Brow cria born....Florens Fendi

P.S I am the only one having problems leaving comments on some blogs (if you read this Jeff  from Easter Wood Alpaca Stud...good luck with the van search!)...I realize this is a stupid question because if you are having problems then you won't be able to comment!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

All wind and no action...

Getting up at 6 am to check on the pregnant females who are now due, is starting to get a little tedious...for the pregnant females that is...they are without fail tucked up in the barn. At first some of them used to stand up when they heard me...then they soon realised it was not going to be feed time...but they did still acknowledge me. Now...most of them don't even bother to wake up. It is very cute. The other morning I found Nina fast asleep, with Pebbles asleep with her head on Nina's back, and Fendi (Caramella's cria) tucked up behind them...with Caramella in a different bay all together!

Our alpacas do like routine. They obviously go out sometimes during the night; I have looked out occassionally at 4 am, if I have woken, and have seen them in the paddock. However, they are without fail in the barn early every morning (the girls and weanlings this is) and don't go again out until after they are fed. This is why we try to do routine injections etc when they are in to be fed, otherwise they know we are up to something. Bozedown Blanche (an early import who is now 9 years old) is too old and wise to be fooled too often.

St. Patrick, Nimrod and Julius have settled well in their new group. St Pat is loving being next to the weanlings. Explorer rushes up to him with his tail flipped over and Nutmeg is in love!

The dreadful weather continues, although the wind is not quite as gale force as yesterday. Fortunately we are in a valley so a little protected, even so the alpacas were getting a little unsettled at times during the worst of it. Poor little Fendi nearly got blown off her feet a couple of times. I was a bit concerned that her cria coat was going to act as wings and we were going to have take off. Not the weather for birthing. The only good thing I can say about it is; with all the rain and strong winds; Explorer looks like he has had a wash and blow dry:

Beck Brow this the cleanest that he has ever been?

He is off to Northumberland Show on Monday...his fleece is now well past it's best and he will be one day into the intermediate class...but it one of only 2 local shows for us. The other is Westmorland Show in September.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Pied Piper and the weeds...(that's his pet name for the weanlings)

We are still not enjoying the sunny weather reported in the South of the country meaning that being on birthing watch is not as pleasant as it could be. Thankfully the due females have now all come to rest outside the window next to the study, so I can keep warm, keep an eye on things, and write a blog!

A few of the girls are bagged up and looking ready but I really don't know who will be next. Chaska looks like she is ready to pop. She really can't be bothered with anything. She eats her breakfast lying down then she goes outside and lies down and eats the grass surrounding her. Then she only gets up to visit the poo pile or when she runs out of grass around her! Surely she won't be much longer; but she is only just due (using our average gestation period).

Paul looked like the Pied Piper when I spotted him out with the back pack sprayer earlier. Or was it a game of hunt the thistle:

The Pied Piper crossing the weanlings paddock.

You can see Explorer (the only male) at the back looking for an opportunity to catch Tabitha unawares. He has just started having an interest in the females (for reasons other than play) and has a pretty loud orgle perfected. He is of course all thought and no action at the moment, but we will have to think about where to move him at some point.

The boys have already had a move around. Since mating has started the stud males have been getting rather more boisterous with each other. There has been rather a lot of screeching and chasing so we decided to split up the group last night. Anzac Almost Illegal had been identified, by Paul, as the instigator of any trouble within the group. I actually felt that this was a little harsh; was this stereotyping because of his name? After all there had been no trouble before Waradene St. Patrick of EPC arrived. St. Patrick of course looks like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. Anyway, we couldn't risk any wounds, accidental or otherwise, so we moved St. Patrick and Nimrod and Julius (the 2 wethers) into a seperate paddock. St. Patrick then chased Julius; who then kicked out; and St. Patrick ended up with a bloody lip. Told you it wasn't sweet little Almo (Almost Illegal)!

We also did some halter training with Poppet and Nutmeg yesterday. Fortunately, we decided to use Roma as the trainer. I say fortunately for as Paul put on her halter he noticed a small lump on her jaw. Yes, a jaw abscess. It bust easily and we cleaned out the puss. She is now on a course of Florphenicol antibiotics. It just goes to show how easily they can get missed with a heavily fleeced face. We do routine checks so it is obviously fairly recent.

Roma and her jaw abscess...yes I did have to lie on my back in damp field for the benefit of sharing!

It has been the usual Saturday morning duties including poo picking the paddocks. Caramella has always been fascinated by the quad bike and poover and couldn't wait to introduce Mini Me (Fendi):

Caramella and Mini Me

Fendi has been amazing at using the poo pile since she was a couple of days old. Firstly shown by Mum, she then just started wandering off on her own to find the nearest pile. She was especially obliging this morning doing her duties just before I had got to the pile:

Fendi...adding to the poo pile before I got there!

The NFU Countryside magazine arrived this morning; how strange to see a photo of yourself on the contents page!... We were contacted by them out of the blue last month, to ask if they could do a profile piece on Beck Brow. I have to say that a telephone interview is much more difficult than I expected, however I think the article gives a fair portrail of the joys of owning alpacas...well I do hope so.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Alpaca Throws

It has taken some time from fleece sorting to end product, but we have got there at last. Beck Brow Alpaca throws...British alpaca fleece; mainly from Houghton Hall Alpacas in Cambridge (and our own herd); hand sorted in Cumbria; spun in Yorkshire; and woven in Scotland!

Weighing in at 1.2 kgs they really are luxurious. However, we are going to have to have to do some large runs to make the price viable...lets hope they sell otherwise lots of christmas presents already purchased! The first run of 60 scarves are also completed. Knitwear to follow!

100% British...Some of the throws from Beck Brow Alpacas

Playing with the camera...didn't quite work!

It is still pouring down here in Cumbria, so I am not holding up much hope of any births today (of course Caramella might have been sharing her text book so I am keeping an eye out). The 9 females in the 'May Birthing Group' appear to be sharing Fendi (the only cria). Caramella is not in the least possessive, in fact I think that she rather likes Holly (the herd matriarch) sharing the responsibility. Looking out of the window now I can see Caramella up the field in the rain... and Fendi (in her little coat)... sitting under a tree keeping dry with Holly...ahhh

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Inside out cria more!

Many thanks for all your comments regarding Fendi; both those on cuteness and on ear advice. I did tape her ears after writing the blog (a good nurse always has a roll of surgical tape in her pocket!). After posting a photo of her looking a little freaky I thought it only fair to show her looking her best:

Sunday morning with inside out cria ears!

Fendi (aka as Caramella's mini me) with taped ears...yes Mummy still loves ya!

Wednesday morning...lovely little ears (and liking the curls too!)

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Caramella does unsociable hours...

Thanks to Cambridge Caramella reading the wrong text book; we are a little bleary eyed today. Obviously missing out the chapter about morning births on dry days, Caramella decided to birth at 22.15 hours on a cold and wet Saturday night. I mention Saturday because of course whenever you need a vet it is always out of hours!

We had been out and about around the birthing paddock all day yesterday: harrowing the hay field; topping; and poo picking; but no tell tale sings of any one ready for birthing. Caramella who was 341-days gestation ran in to the barn for her tea as usual. However, when we went to do the evening round at 21.00 hrs we noticed that Caramella was losing blood. We got her in and realised that it was actually a fair amount. However, she was showing no signs of the second stage of labour. Caramella belongs to Amanda and I knew that she would not hesitate to get the vet involved, so made the call.

An internal examination showed the cria to be in the correct position but a very narrow birth canal was making delivery very difficult. Fearing that a ruptured placenta may be a cause of the blood loss the vet was keen to get the cria out. Which he did successfully. A lovely little fawn female (6.5kg) who was up on her feet within the hour. Caramella did need a little stitching and has had antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory shot for pain relief; but is a fantastic mum despite the difficult birth. Amazingly the cria (still to be named) had already put on weight this morning. Kept in overnight she has been dying to get running around, so she is now out in the paddock in her two coats!

Cambridge Caramella (sire; Strezleckie of Cambridge) with cria (sire; Witness)

The new cria is a beautiful solid mid-fawn (despite all the black in her pedigree) and has been chasing around checking out all the other girls who are all due this month. We have been debating about her 'inside out ears'. As this is not something that I have come across before (they are not the usual floppy prem ears) I have been having to do some Google searching. From the results it would appear that they usually correct themselves. However, some breeders advise using tape (as with floppy prem ears) to correct the shape. As they provide no protection for the ear canal (from debris or rain) at present, I think we will probably tape them when we get her in this evening.

Inside out cria ears!

Congratulations Amanda...we need a name soon!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Back down to earth!

With adrenaline levels depleted after such an exciting weekend, we were feeling a bit jaded on Monday. When I say we, I really mean Explorer and myself. The wee fellow was especially grumpy on Monday morning; grumbling away at feed time; grumble, grumble. All the attention; fleece inspection; and even fleece photo calls; had obviously left him pooped: I spotted him flat out in the sunshine mid morning, oblivious to the world.

Bev did ask if there had been any Explorer 'pouffing' at The National Show. Now, I did have my back to the ring for most of the time, but I do believe that he got his first placed rosette without a 'pouffe'. Unfortunately not so in the junior championship line up; it was a bulls-eye for the ring steward as predicted. Could be what got him the Reserve instead of Champion!

I have been having a little word with Cambridge Camilla today; letting her know how well her first born had done in the show ring. I did put in a little request for a similar (less grumpy) cria for this year please. She is pregnant to EPC Top Account of Fowberry, so we have high expectations of a lovely cria from them.

Cambridge Camilla...lets hope she doesn't keep us waiting so long this year!

I am now trying to decide what to do with Explorer who turns one year old at the end of the month. He is our only male from 2010. He is in with the other weanlings at present but it won't be long before he starts having thoughts of 'hokey cokey' and will no doubt become a pest to the girls. I may try him in with St. Pat and a couple of wethers later in the year. St. Pat is extremely non-confrontational and does occasionally get irritated by Hollywood and Almo messing about.

Almo, Hollywood and St. Patrick

The last photo is of Parisien, whom Robyn has renamed Bungle due to her resemblance to the teddy from Rainbow. She is so well grown we are considering mating her this year...I know I keep changing my mind on that one...maybe I should keep it zipped until I have decided!

Parisien with Lucie.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The British Alpaca Society National Show

We are just home from The BAS National Show. And what a show it was. So well organised and such fantastic alpacas; the quality was just amazing.

We had four entries including our shared black male (we didn't take Poppet due to space in the van) and we have been smiling rather a lot!

The rematch:

Saturday morning saw Beck Brow Explorer in the ring. Not only were there 23 entries in his class, but the Bozedown male that beat him at The Futurity was there again. Well, when you get beaten it's always good to get the opportunity for a rematch; and this was it. I couldn't watch...I had my back to the ring...then someone said well done... he had been pulled forward... we were definitely in the ribbons...I had a quick glance...I still couldn't watch...look I can't drag this out any longer...he got 1st place and Reserve Champion Junior Male!!!!

Beck Brow Explorer

Roma just missed out again. She was also in a class with 23 entries. It looked like she was going to be pulled forward then some double checking between her and another female meant she was pipped. It will be good to see how she does at Northumberland Show.

What goes around comes around.

Sunday and it was Waradene St Patrick of EPC's turn in the ring. We had an idea that Bozedown Omen would be there; and he was. This guy already has a couple of fawn championships from large shows under his belt. It was close...the judge (Tim Hey) said that there really was nothing between the first 3 placed alpacas...he commended St Patrick on his brightness and his handle...but we got 2nd place. To come a whisker behind Omen is no mean feat...but we're up for a rematch! As Mary-Jo said 'what goes around comes around' after all we had beaten her junior white male!

Our shared black male. Anzac Viracocha Black Sabbath got placed 1st in his adult black male class. We hadn't seen him since we bought him, so we were eager to get our hands on him. He really is a true blue black with a very bright fleece. Our estimation of his third fleece is that it is still between 19 and 20 microns.

So we had a great show; 4 alpacas; 2 firsts; 1 second; and a reserve junior male champion.

And the winner was...

As I said the standard of entries was high. Tim (Huacaya judge) and Val Fullerlove (Suri judge) in their summing up both said that they had been stunned by the quality across all colours. However the huacaya winner was...a stunning male that we saw when he first arrived in the UK, and we were blown away by his fleece then...he is a truly stunning male...Eringa Park Lawbreaker!

I also need to mention another stunning male. I was dying to get a look at his fleece but as he kept winning everything, I had to wait until 5pm before I got to see...but he was worth the wait...he really is another stunner; Valley Alpacas The Diplomat. Congratulations to Sue who also took the medium sized breeders award.

As is always the case at these events, it was great to catch up with everyone, including Mark from Patou who came up today, and there was plenty of socialising, as well as the serious stuff of trying to win prizes!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The alpaca-mobile reveal!

As is the norm at the moment, we are again up against the clock. The alpaca transporter (alpaca-mobile/white van/pacca passion it what you will) came back from the sign writers at 19.30 hrs this evening, meaning that Paul only has a couple of hours tomorrow morning to get the fans installed before we are off to the BAS National Show. So I apologise for the poor photography (it was raining and 8pm) but here it is (I know I usually go for less is more but hey!)

Driver's side featuring Anzac Almost Illegal's head shot (I did not park it by the way)

Rear and passenger side featuring Waradene St. Patrick of EPC, Anzac Almost Illegal, and some daffodils.

The front  with our logo (as I said rushed photography, but as you can see it was raining, and I'd just had my hair done!)

We have so much to do in the morning before we leave but I have managed to already get in some hand over stuff for Robyn and Amanda today. What if anybody looks like birthing? If in doubt ring me... and if in real doubt ring the vet!

One of the Young punks also got in a bit of tractor driver training. I suspect that the other Young Punk will not be best pleased that she got in there first!

 Robyn on the Massey.

Oh, and we also let Waradene St. Patrick of EPC have his first Beck Brow mating. Mark asked why we had been waiting; what with April considered the perfect time for births? The answer? Simple we have a family wedding in early April and it was about avoiding any births at that time...nothing more scientific I'm afraid.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Waradene St. Patrick of EPC plays away...

This is the usual picture here at the moment; boys looking longingly over the fence at the girls. Nimrod (left) seems to have forgotten that he is a wether and Hollywood (rear facing) appears to have forgotten that he is a stud male ( even though he has 9 progeny due this year). He is so gentle for a working male, and a massive one too.

Don't we look tempting?

However, Saturday saw Waradene St. Patrick get a change of scenery. It was the first trip out for the alpaca-mobile (aka a white van) and for St. Patrick, as we headed off to see Jenny and Graham at Fowberry Alpacas in Yorkshire. How were they going to perform?

I decided to do the driving and found it much easier than towing the trailer. The strange thing is being able to hear everything in the back. I kept shouting "are you okay in there Pat" and "just a bit of slow traffic here won't be long 'til we're there"... and Paul just kept shaking his head (but he isn't one for too much conversation). We were concerned as to whether the 2 roof vents and the window were going to keep the van cool enough. The conclusion?...fine for mobile mating...but his fleece was a little damp, so probably not cool enough for the show team to some fans are now on order (Paul has a plan to blow cool air through from the cab...that is all I know)

We also had no idea how St. Pat would perform, as we are still keeping our girls waiting (tempting as it is to do otherwise) Jenny and Graham have some fabulous females so he was certainly having a very nice start to the season. We were pleased to see that he was quite the gentleman and was his usual chilled self. Fingers crossed that the 2 females will now be pregnant (even though I am going to be so envious next year when I am still waiting!)

Although St. Pat had a good day out; Mrs Patrick (aka EP Cambridge Lady Gaga) was not impressed when he returned. Are our royal couple about to have a fall out so soon in their marriage?

EP Cambridge Lady Gaga is unimpressed by her husband's straying ways!

We have all been enjoying the great weather and the generous amount of bank holidays. Paul has been off from work for 11 days now, a rare treat as we normally use all his annual leave up going away from home (3 days annual leave = 11 days off!). It has meant that we have caught up on lots of jobs and had a little bit of leisure time too!

Everyone relaxed and enjoying the weather

Tyke doing a little sunbathing...haircut booked in for next week !

Paul took the next photo of Craig, Robyn and myself assessing Parisien's fleece, after a bit of halter training for Nutmeg and Poppet. I think the purpose of the photo is to show off the cementing that the boys have been doing. Yes, a perfect finish this time; not too smooth, so it keeps them toe nails down and isn't too slippy

The latest batch of cementing completed...with a few Tyke paw prints for decoration!