Thursday, 30 August 2012

Hope Fleece Show 2012

We have had a busy few days, with plenty of excitement, and a night shift at the hospital; so I am in my usual state of not knowing what day it is!

On Tuesday I received the results of our entries into the Hope Fleece Show. As I said on the last blog, the impetus for entering some fleeces was to have them judged by senior BAS Judge; Liz Barlow. Not only do I value her opinion highly, but I also wanted to test my own assessment skills against the marks given. With this in mind, I hadn't given a great deal of though as to which classes to enter, and ended up competing against ourselves in a couple of them;

We entered six white fleeces (bearing in mind that classes are not split male and female)

Junior White Huacaya fleece (3 entries);

1st Beck Brow Magellan
2nd Beck Brow Rumour Has It
4th Beck Brow Crystal Maze

Intermediate White Huacaya fleece (1 entry)

1st Beck Brow Fine Romance
Adult White Huacaya fleece (2 entries) 

1st Beck Brow Explorer
3rd Blueberry Alonso Renatta (owned by Beck Brow)

Best White Huacaya fleece

Beck Brow Explorer

Best in Show 2012

Beck Brow Explorer!!!!!!!

It really doesn't seem very long ago; that I thought white classes were of such a high standard, that we would never be able to compete!!

All of our fleeces were placed. 1st - EP Cambridge Lady Gaga (beige ), 2nd - Beck Brow Synergy (beige) and 4th - Beck Brow Boots (fawn) as anticipated her fleece had no weight to it due to a poor start.

After all that excitement; we also had a birth. Silver Stream Hoity Toity, who was well over due, had decided to pass on the sunny days over the weekend, and opted for a period of torrential rain. Typical Hoity Toity!

She did come in to the barn of her own accord and her waters broke as she was munching on hay, which seem to come as a bit of a surprise to her. She then decided to stand on the weighing scales and start to push. Then she chose an area more commonly used as a toilet facility. So, in order to tempt her into the birthing area, and thus on to a straw bed...I put out a bowl of feed...with the cria's head and legs out...Hoity leisurely munched away on her food for 20 minutes (she is a very slow eater)...seemingly oblivious to being in labour! She was obviously waiting for a bigger audience, as half an hour later and just as Amanda arrived, she decided that she would resume with trying to birth. With success. She then continued eating!

We have yet another male, but first impressions are good. Hoity is a Silverstream Czar daughter, with Jolimont Conquistador on her dam's side. The cria's sire is our Waradene St Patrick of EPC, so he has the credentials to be something special. I am pretty sure he is beige (but hey I said that about Advantage!!). The photos taken of him today, are at less than 24-hours old. Weighing in at 9.5kgs he is a chunky monkey. I have decided he shall be called just seems to suit him!

Beck Brow Testimony (beige or very dirty?)

Beck Brow Testimony

We only have one birth left to go now; that is Beck Brow Fine Romance (Roma) who is a daughter of Silverstream Galaxy, and thus a Czar granddaughter. I am hoping she might oblige tomorrow, St Patrick is off on a visit to Wales on Saturday, but unless Roma births before then, it looks like I will be staying home again!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Alpaca Auction

I don't think anyone ever believed me when I said that I wasn't going to be going to the alpaca auction at our local auction mart. However, I had already planned to go to Hope Fleece Show. I had entered a number of fleeces this year; the main reason being that I wanted to have them judged by Liz Barlow. It would also be useful for my training to see the scores and assess them against the other entries.

A good plan...but Hope is a long way away...and the auction mart is 15 minutes would be good to catch up with everyone after all. So, off I went in the van (good marketing I tell Paul, after all it has our logo all over it). I also take the cheque book (you never know when you might run out of diesel). Well, prices were low, but the female that I had my eye on, was obviously the one that everyone else had their eye on. Hence, I ended up buying the most expensive alpaca lot of the day...again!! (and by a hefty margin too).

I have added to our Blacks with the purchase of Ardo Jet. She is a lovely little compact female, who is pregnant to Lavender Park Zarathrusta. Zarathrusta, who is dark fawn, has some very impressive genetics (he has a similar pedigree to our St Patrick) which was an added bonus, but she has been bought with Black Sabbath in mind. Black Sabbath has retained an impressively fine micron of 20.1 on his 4th fleece and I felt that we need some more girls for him to work on!

Jet is incredibly calm and has slotted into her group really easily. She is definitely not showing any signs of being stressed by the auction experience. Coming from a Scottish breeder, she is from a bTb free zone. She has been wormed, and introduced into her group of pregnant- none nursing females.

Ardo Jet

So I now have the excitement of waiting to see if any of our Beck Brow fleeces were placed at Hope Show. I am getting them posted back so at least I will see the score cards.

We had the vet out today scanning and microchipping (I am going to get braver and do the microchips one of these days!). We had 12 scanned, all were pregnant. Most of our females are yet to be mated, or are under 6 weeks gestation. We have had problems getting some of ours pregnant this year, hence why we are running late. I mentioned this to the vet and he reports the same amongst horses and cattle...he was blaming the wet weather.

Thank you for all the advice regarding the doves. I can see the pigeon problems has arrived sooner than expected. We now have a funny looking breed of male, obviously a pigove by the look of it, who is on stand-by waiting for them to be released. I can't believe that he has arrived out of nowhere. He is mainly white with patches of brown (more dove than pigeon, but definitely a cross). What to do...I can't have him mate with my pure white doves! (I know all answers involve cruelty, unless I let him have his way)

I have sold something on eBay for the first time today. I kg of superfine grey alpaca fleece....£31 + good is that!

Friday, 24 August 2012

No, you can't eat them!

Some great guesses as to what we (that is really I) might be acquiring to put into the cage. As I kept telling Paul about your suggestions...he seemed to like them much better than the reality;

Guinea Fowl? ... Yes, well that would be sensible you can eat them

Quail? ... Yes, well that would be sensible you can eat them

Turkey? ... Yes, ditto

A naughty cage for Velvet? ... best idea of all!!

Little French people on microlights? ... At least that would be amusing!

So sorry if the reality is a bit of an anticlimax (although nothing can be as bad as shelving...Paul (Barnacre)!!!)....Shirley was the closest with Parakeets...although not quite as exotic...we have little white Doves (should have been 12 but they proved to be difficult to catch!). They will be kept caged for six weeks until they have developed their homing instinct, then they will be let out to fly freely...and hopefully return to their dovecote (adapted hen hutch)

Newly arrived...the one trying to roost in the Bracken has figured it out now!

Black Sabbath has had a busy week, with a visit from the Barnacre girls on Wednesday...whom Black Sabbath greeted enthusiastically. On Thursday he had a date planned with a lovely maiden from Nero Black Alpacas, however, Black Sabbath had other ideas and had his eye on her travelling companion...we did eventually get him interested when favoured female was removed from about making a girl feel good!!!

I am hoping we might be in for a birth today; Roma (Fine Romance) is getting fidgity and has been talking away to her unborn for a couple of days now. Roma is white from a fawn dam and was mated with St Patrick...fingers crossed for a fawn...and doubly crossed for a female...we are top heavy with males this year!

I have a veterinary student coming for a week's experience on Monday. I have a list of competencies that are to be met, so I have been trying to get a plan together for the week...Tuesday I have organised for our vet to come out to do some rectal scanning and to examine Bahati who isn't ovulating despite being given Receptal...I wonder what day he fancies having lunch with the girls?...Paul says top of the list is to find out if he prefers watching 'Homes under the Hammer' or 'Bargain Hunt'...cheeky boy!...a girl has to have a lunch break!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The latest additions...

After my last blog, I was hoping that I would have news of a much happier sort...but our last two dams to birth are hanging on; Silverstream Hoity Toity (a Silverstream Czar daughter) and Beck Brow Fine Romance (A Czar grand daughter. Dam; Silverstream Galaxy ET) are both due to have Waradene St Patrick cria any day. However, maybe waiting a little while has been kinder on Lucie, and we did get to see a lovely St Patrick daughter who was born at High Winder Alpacas on Saturday.

We have been having a relaxing time over the past few days, with family visitors, and a visit from a family looking to start breeding alpacas. I also managed to fit in a night shift (and some sleep the next day which makes a change).

Today seems to have been taken up with admin but I did get out to take some photos. Firstly I decided to get some macho looking photos of Beck Brow Explorer, who is looking great now that he is a working male...unfortunately he was feeling especially friendly...and sweet...not the most macho photo then!

Beck Brow Explorer (sire; Cambridge Navigator of ACC)

Beck Brow Synergy (sire; EPC Top Account of Fowberry)

Getting a photo of Beck Brow Paulo without Renatta is difficult. She is very protective, but he is getting increasingly defiant, I don't think that she will keep him under her wings for much longer. Early days, but he has a lovely little beige fleece and great conformation.

Beck Brow Paulo (sire; Waradene St Patrick of EPC)

Beck Brow Lexus (sire: St Patrick)

Lexus's dam; Morden Hall Honaria is pregnant to Beck Brow Explorer. This will be Explorer's first cria born, and is due late May/ early June...both Explorer and Honaria grow exceptionally long fleeces and have been assessed to have a low primary/secondary MFD excited are we going to be next year!

Beck Brow Shackleton (Dam; Inca Van Dieman Chaska. Sire: Waradene St Patrick of EPC) is an early favourite for our show team next year. Here he is pictured with Beck Brow Kitten (Sire; St Patrick). How dinky is she?

Beck Brow Shackleton and Beck Brow Kitten (black)

Despite a gloomy forecast the weather has been fine today, causing a queue for the sand pit at the cria creche...

Now, I normally like things to be look like they have designed by an engineer...after all what's the point of being married to one otherwise. Well, as you will see from the photo below the latest project is looking far from professional. It is clobbered together from an old hen hutch and some wire frames off the strawberries. It is however a temporary structure...ready for our latest acquisitions...somethings that I have wanted for some time...I am getting 10 of them. Not as exotic as Tut (Judi's peacock) nor as cute as Debbie's ducks, but I don't think any other alpaca bloggers I know have any? They will be getting a much smarter abode once trained not to fly away...and we train Velvet not to catch them!

A temporary home.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Alpaca Pregnany Induction

This is going to be a blog sandwich...I have started with a pretty photo of Adelle so that other bloggers don't have the next gruesome photo on their reading list...I am going to finish with a cria photo...but the bit in the middle is not pleasant I suggest that you skip this blog if not an alpaca breeder.

Adelle looking as pretty as ever.

Yesterday was not a good day. Some of you may recall that the lovely Lucie had a small prolapse at 366-days gestation. We managed to attach a spoon device (using lot of string) to hold this in, and with the aid of anti-inflammatories and antibiotics things seemed to have resolved by the time the spoon fell out.

However, a couple of days ago the problem recurred. At this point she was 376-days gestation. The spoon did work, but we had problems keeping it in place (normally sheep are in full fleece and there is somewhere to tie it to) It was suggested that she was stitched, and at the first signs of labour this was to be undone. However, I wasn't sure about this. Firstly she has looked like she is going in to labour for days, and secondly Paul was away so I was going to be on my own.

 But something needed to be done. As you can see in the photo; Lucie's tail was rubbing on the prolapse, it was getting dirty and attracting flies. She was having continued antibiotics but I felt that we were putting Lucie at risk.

Lucie's prolapse.

So after spending all night deliberating, we decided to have her induced. This was my call and I knew that their were risks involved so it was a difficult decision.


The cria is under developed - I thought this unlikely at 377 days

The placenta is retained - this is a known risk and we had Oxytocin pessaries and injections ready.

The Mothers milk does not drop - Lucie was bagged up and we have colostrum and plasma at hand

Dystocia - this a problem we had with 2 maidens who went over 365 days last year - we lost both cria so a risk anyway.

Lucie was induced at 12.15 on Tuesday. We were told to expect to wait 24-36 hours for her to go into labour. She went into labour at 18.00 hours yesterday. Amanda was here to help thankfully, as we realised things weren't progressing. I felt inside and couldn't locate the second leg and the cria felt huge. The vet was called (unfortunately the do not live close by). It was a struggle as the leg was well back and the shoulders were so large (Lucie was found to have a fairly narrow birthing canal). Unfortunately the cria was still born, dead less than an hour.

Now we have gone over and over this. Was the dystocia due to the induction? Or would this have happened anyway (as happened last year with overdue maidens). The vet said if the cria had been left to grow any bigger she wouldn't have been able to birth it at all. As it is she has a tear. I think the big lesson learned is that I have to hone my midwifery skills. If I could have corrected the leg, we would probably have a live cria. The after birth was passed without problem and she is on long acting antibiotics. Would I induce again? I don't think that I would dare to take the risk.

Poor Lucie. The vet thinks that she maybe at risk of prolapsing again if pregnant. It is a difficult one as alpacas do seem to get over their loss much better when remated. Our farmer friend has suggested leaving a little thigh fleece on for next year, so there is somewhere to tie the spoon if it does happen. This maybe the best solution for her. We will see how she does.

Lastly on a happier note...what a difference...Lexus at 2 months-old and Paulo at 2 weeks!

Beck Brow Paulo and Lexus

Friday, 10 August 2012

The British Alpaca Championships 2013

A date for the diary:

New for 2013; The British Alpaca Championships 2013 is to be held at the Kendal Auction Mart (just off junction 36 of the M6) on Saturday 6th April 2013. This Colour Championship Show, open to Huacaya and Suris, is to be ran under BAS rules, and includes progeny classes.

Judge: Tim Hey

Show organisers; Barbara Hetherington (, Michael Henderson (, Mary Tollit (

We had a visit from Mike and Mary from Greenside Alpacas yesterday. Amongst other things, we shared out some tasks on the long list of things to do regarding the show. We have the venue, and Tim Hey kindly accepted our invitation to be our first ever judge of the show, but that was the easy bit. I will just say health and safety...thanks for taking that one Mike!

Today was more alpaca chatter, combined with lunch out when Kathryn from Nero Black Alpacas came for a visit. More than half of the yarn that I had processed is away at the weavers, but she was still rather shocked when she saw the amount of boxes I have left. I think I have enough to see us through a winter or two!!

We have had sunshine...whole days of is bliss...the alpacas are loving in and the dust bath is in high demand:

Pebbles with the boys in the bath...don't they all look similar in profile!

Beck Brow Paulo...another little St Patrick wedgy head!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A busy time to think of an interesting title!

It's been a busy week so far...Paul is having a week off from the day job...but not much rest! We have had another birth. This one belongs to Robyn and Craig, a lovely white female named Young Punk Angel (I did say when they were choosing a herd name; think of something I only have myself to blame!) This will be our last cria from Anzac Hollywood's Attitude (now owned by Swinden Rise Alpacas in Lancashire) and what a lovely strong girls she is (9.4 kgs) with a remarkably long fleece.

 Young Punk Angel with her mum Nancy

On Monday Beck Brow Explorer had two mobile matings in North Yorkshire...he is just a youngster so it is always a worry that he might not perform away from home. But no problem...he is so very polite about his matings and does a little courting first...but does eventually get on with the task in hand. He was so well behaved I was proud of a mum should be!

We have been doing some spit-offs at home, and were disappointed to find Bahati sitting. Our plans were that; as one of our best coloured females, she would have an outside mating in the hope of getting an unrelated stud male. A long shot, but even more so when she isn't getting pregnant. It was especially disappointing as she had been mated to the impressive, championship winning black male Popham Thunder.

Beck Brow Snooty Boots is a little full of her sell since her visit to Fowberry Nobility, and was trying to elbow her way into the mating pen. Fingers crossed that that mating has taken as we have high expectations for that combination!

Viracocha Black Sabbath has continued his 100% first mating success rate. We have now mated Bahati with him as time is passing along and we left her open the year before last to get her on to a spring cycle...we are now August!! We will carry her outside mating over until next year (or possibly use it on her daughter Pepsi we will see).

We have growing competition on the cute stakes here at Beck Brow this year. Some later additions include:

Biba with Beck Brow Kitten (she is black)

Minnie's Beck Brow Marco

We have named Renatta's little boy Paulo as suggested by Shirley (thanks Shirley Paul was nearly happy!). Thanks also to Andrew for the Wikapaedia link to names ending with O!

I am preparing myself for a game of tennis tonight (preparing myself mentally...not physically, it is too late for that). I have not played for at least 3 years. Paul must be desperate for a partner, as I am on the reserve list of his reserve list! If I stand near the net at least I will block out some light. The last time I played I ruptured my achilies tendon...hence why it was the last time I if I don't write another blog for a while it is because I am on crutches!

Right must go some visitors have arrived to see the alpacas and more due tomorrow and Friday...great fun...and the sun is shining!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Births and Fireworks!

Lucie is still tolerating being trussed up like a Christmas turkey... bless her. I should have said yesterday that she had anti inflammatory injection, and also again this morning. She is also on a course of antibiotics. The plan is to keep the device in place until we see that she is very near birthing, then remove it. This way she is less likely to prolapse during the birth. I am told that it is likely that an infection (that causes inflammation) is the reason that this has happened.

Robyn is on farm watch tomorrow, so I was hoping that Lucie would birth today, however with a thunder storm going at the moment, maybe not! Tomorrow is a big day for Beck Brow Snooty Boots ( sire: Waradene St Patrick of EPC). She will be going to Yorkshire to visit the multiple fawn championship winning male; Fowberry Nobility.

We did have a birth yesterday. Blueberry Renatta (Best of British Champion at Nothumberland Show 2011) had a trouble free birth. Although mated to St Patrick, I was anticipating a white from Renatta, due to her pedigree. However, St Pat has done it again and we have a lovely light fawn (possibly beige) male.

Renatta and son (something ending in o!)

The old muscles are aching a bit today...a bit too much dancing and a late night are to blame. When you live in the middle of nowhere, as we's a bit of a treat to be invited to a big bash in the field next door. The marquees (yes plural) have been going up all week, the dance floor was laid, the bar installed and the band warmed up. And what a do it was...great fun. There was even a photographer from Cumbria Life taking photos!

If you imagine that we are in the heart of farming country in Cumbria, and our neighbours organise shooting parties, then you will guess that they were not many vegetarians present. In fact the set menu was sirloin steak. Therefore, I did have to smile when it was announced over the mic "would the person who ordered salmon please make themselves known" how to feel like a  leper!

We (myself, Paul, Robyn and Craig) popped home to feed Lullaby at 10.30 pm to see the funniest thing...10 cria pronking around the paddock to Lady Gaga's Fine Romance!! With a massive firework display at midnigh, I am sure the alpacas had a fab party too (they just stand watching the's amazing how somethings don't faze them at all, and a stray cat has them having a dizzy fit )

Saturday, 4 August 2012

A cria out and a prolapse in!

Fallowfield Minerva (Minnie) was one of early alpaca purchases and is amongst everyone's favourites. She has secured her place in our herd for the rest of her days, due to her being the friendliest and sweetest little female ever. Consequently there was a little trepidation when she went into labour yesterday, after all she had a terrible time birthing last year and we eventually lost her cria. However, she managed no problem at all and is as proud as proud can be. However, he did have a bleeding umbilical cord (as did her cria last year). You can see the clamp in the photo.


Minnie and Marco at 3 hours old

We have called him Marco. Hopefully we won't have too many more males as I will be running out of names ending with o. I know... most people have a theme with names starting with a certain letter of the alphabet not ending with one...I like to be different. Talking about different...our cria certainly aren't...St Patrick is certainly stamping his head style on them!

Beck Brow Marco the double of Domingo!

We had to get the vet out this morning as Beck Brow Lucie had a prolapse that just wouldn't stay back in. She is 366-days gestation today, and has looked like she has been going to birth for over a week now. The solution was to use the same device used for sheep...the problem was where to tie it on a shorn alpaca (it is usually tied to the sheep's fleece)...of course the answer is simple...when in doubt use baler twine!

Beck Brow Lucie (sire EPC Top account of Fowberry and pregnant to Waradene St Patrick of EPC...should be worth the waiting!)

side view

and rear!

Yesterday we had a visit from Bev and Andy (Lane House Alpacas) who arrived when Marco was just over an hour old. It was lovely to see them both and catch up. We had the usual Friday conversation; what we would all do if we won the Euro-millions (most things involved alpacas!) but it's dream on I'm afraid!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

A Little Kitten and a Happy Bunny!

This morning the two latest arrivals were moved into the mum and baby paddock. We now have to wait at least 24 hours before moving newborns, as we have a milk thief in Bendrago, who would quite happily steal the colostrum from the mouths of the babes.

We keep the alpacas in set groups, in order to tailor feeding specifically to their needs. At the moment I am trialing a new product from GWF Nutrition: Camelibra Hembra and Cria feed. This is specially designed to meet the needs of new mums and their cria. It is certainly going down well and most of our cria are now eating it. Priced at £22 for a 20 kilo bag it is much better value than the 5kg tubs of cria feed priced at £30.

We have named Biba's cria Beck Brow Kitten...she is so sweet and so tiny...she can actually stand up underneath her Mum. All the alpacas are fascinated by her, especially Lullaby who can't take her eyes off her. Pepsi's cria, who looks pink (sorry forgot to take photo today) we have named Beck Brow Topaz.

 Beck Brow Kitten...who likes to sit between Mum's legs.

 Beck Brow Domingo...sire Waradene St Patrick of EPC (very cute and very friendly too)

 Beck Brow Lula ( a typically pretty EPC Top Account of Fowberry female)

Beck Brow Lexus (St Patrick)
Beck Brow Pedro (sire Anzac Almost Illegal)

The next photo made me smile...there is obviously something interesting going on in the next paddock (most likely to be Velvet related) but little Beck Brow Advantage (far right) is much more interested in getting his photo taken. He is more confident and playful than either of his siblings; Explorer and Rumour, and Camilla is much more protective of him too. Cambridge Camilla is to be the recipient of our successful Futurity stud service bid for EP Cambridge Fortitude (we are trying EP Cambridge Peruvian Spartacus genetics again...a female Explorer would be very nice please!). All other white females will be having a date with Beck Brow Explorer (not Rumour his sister of course she will be mated next year)

Beck Brow Advantage far right

We have a happy bunny at Beck Brow...much better than the bear with a sore head that I have had to live with all week. Now, you may think the photo below is not worthy of a blog space...but it is the cause of much joy in our house...

Yes, we have got 270 bales of hay. The grass was cut a week gone Sunday, when the forecast predicted three days of sunshine. Sunshine that never arrived in Cumbria, so the grass was rowed up and left untouched. It has rained, often torrential showers, every day since. But Monday we had some sun and a lot of wind, and it held until 6 pm yesterday. We managed to get 50% of the bales inside before the rain started (it was delayed because the contractors baler broke down, luckily a neighbour who owed him a favour was called in to finish the job...phew!) The rest is propped up inside to dry. Because we can't stack it until it is totally dry we have bales of hay propped up everywhere including the garage. The thought of paying out a £1000 for hay wasn't helping Paul's bad mood, but I think the real problem was that he thought he had got it wrong...and Paul does not like accepting he could be wrong! Well, it just goes to show never give up...12 days after the grass being cut we have hay in the barn.