Thursday, 29 November 2012

The dreaded day...

The dreaded day arrived this week...the day that makes a day of toe nail trimming seem like fun...yes, Wednesday was weaning day. This year we decided to put the weanlings out of sight of their dams (with such muddy paddocks we didn't want any injuries from cria racing up and down fence lines) which meant the manoeuvre was rather more complicated than just moving them a couple of paddocks along. No worries, I had plenty of help with Carole (who is starting her own herd), Amanda, Robyn, Ben, some water pipes, and plenty of hurdles.

The weanlings over 30kgs and ready to go were: Coco; Lula; Lexus; Bendrago; Hamish (aka Pedro) and Shackleton. We also moved Crystal, Finesse and Sophie in with them (as they will be going as a group to a new home nearer Christmas, we thought that it would be good for them to bond). We also moved Lullaby and Sox. Obviously Sox isn't over 30kgs but as she is totally bottle fed we decided to move her in with the weanlings, where she will have less competition for the feed (although she fights her corner as good as anyone and was first in to check out the shelter in the new paddock). So far not too much whining, so maybe out of sight and with aunties is a good plan.

I have borrowed Amanda's camera (to take some product photos) and I left Paul with instructions to take a few photos for the blog today...very unexciting I am afraid...

 Lullaby and Sox in the weanling paddock (honestly this was one of the better photos!)

Photos can be deceiving...we do have lots of muddy alpacas...just none in front of the camera.

Today I have been to the County Living Christmas Fair at Harrogate, with Bev...I know... I am going to be the Christmas fair expert...what did I purchase this time...three pairs of alpaca socks (talk about coals to Newcastle. I nearly bought a pashmina but decided that Paul would go mad!), two pairs of earrings, a whisk, an oil diffuser, and a Christmas pudding! Paul is making up gift boxes for our next Christmas fair at Hawkes Head at the weekend...surely I wont find anything else to buy whilst I am there!

Monday, 26 November 2012

No mention of the weather...

I seem to be so busy at the moment, so busy that I never have time to blog. Then when I do get around to blogging, I can't quite remember why I haven't had time!

Our latest scarves and wraps arrived on Thursday whilst Robyn and I were visiting the Country Living Christmas Fair at Glasgow. It was quite a journey to the fair with torrential rain all the way, but well worth it, and our friends from Nero Black Alpacas were looking very busy on their stand. The day out meant catch up on Friday, with lots of scarves and wraps to box up ready for Ulverston Christmas Fair at the weekend.

I persuaded Paul to come on the Saturday (not because he is a great salesman, but because I wasn't sure how close to the stand I could park, and may have needed someone to fetch and carry). Paul really doesn't enjoy such events and usually spends a fair percentage of the profits on coffee and burgers. His best moment on Saturday was when he was interrupted from eating his burger by a customer, the look on his face said it all.

Even the fact that we took just short of four figures on the Saturday didn't cheer Paul's mood. Hence, I replaced him with Ben on the Sunday, who found the half eaten burger in the pocket of Paul's Beck Brow fleece!

Our new wraps went down a storm and I have placed an order for some more, but as they are all hand crafted they will take some time to arrive (certainly not for this Christmas!). I also found another stockist for our yarn, and arrived home to some more orders. What was especially nice over the weekend was people coming back on the Sunday and buying scarves saying " I was with my Mum/wife yesterday and she just loved your scarves, so I have come back to buy her one as a surprise". We also had a customer who had bought two scarves on the Saturday, come back for more!

 Our latest wraps (photo taken on ipad as camera in hospital)

One of the problems about these fairs is that we are next to other craft people...who all produce beautiful things. I kept admiring the craftsmanship of the products on the Oakbeck Forge stand...I especially liked a large companion set...I kept admiring it and they kept admiring my the end a deal was done...2 scarves and a little cash...and I have it! I also bought two boxes made from reclaimed pine, and a handmade silver broatch!

The Oakbeck Forge stand (Deborah does most of the work herself with other pieces crafted by her husband).

Next weekend we are at Hawkshead. This is another fair where the alpaca boys will not be with us. We actually doubled our takings this weekend without the alpacas, when compared to last weekend when we took them along. Less talking about Llamas and spitting and more selling!

Ben went off for an interview this morning looking very smart...I admired his suit...retro kind of smart...a bit Craig David I thought...where had he got it? Out of Paul's wardrobe it is so old it has St Michael on the inside pocket...for the youngsters amongst you; Marks and Spencer used to be branded as St Michael...a very long time ago. Paul's reluctance to throw anything away (even if there is no way he could have fastened it up) comes in useful now and again!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Where did you come from?

Another busy week and a neglected blog. I have the excuse that I have hardly been at home since my last posting. So a quick catch up...

Last Tuesday I headed off back down to Bozedown Alpacas to be a handler on the BAS judge's certification course. It is always good to get together with other breeders and of course get hands on with the alpacas. However, I did have an extra incentive; as an apprentice judge next year I wanted to see what I was letting myself in for. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but boy do they put the candidates to the test. Six halter classes, 12 fleeces to judge and a written exam, and all of these marked by four qualified judges no less.

I arrived home late on Thursday night and spent much of Friday getting ready for the CFM Christmas Fayre. I had ordered some gift boxes for our woven scarves and these had arrived whilst I was away. They look great, but making them up from a flat pack was a bit of a conundrum initially, and I though I was going to be still making them up at midnight. Technique now perfected thankfully!

We took Alfie, Magellan, Synergy and Quintos along on the Saturday and Sunday. Quintos is such a show off, he absolutely loved it and wore his antlers for most of the day. He even got taken out of his pen to get his photo taken with Santa and the elves! There was a T-shirt printing company at the fair and I was tempted to get one printed:

Front: "I am not a llama"
Back: "and I don't spit"

However, we did meet a lot of interesting people and a number of potential new owners who are planning to visit the farm. The woven scarves were also a hit, so well worth making all those boxes! We will be at Ulverston Christmas market next weekend...although no alpacas as Paul will have to stay home to bottle feed.

Beck Brow Quintos

We appear to have got a gatecrasher whilst we have been busy. Some of you may recall that we had 7 doves...that was until Velvet decided to take the numbers down to 6. Well, when I opened the cote this morning we now have 7 again...someone has obviously decided they like the free food and accommodation!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

How many hours???

This week we owe a big thank you to Debbie and Paul (Barnacre Alpacas), who kindly offered to deliver our two new females (purchased from Bozedown Alpacas) when they were collecting their own girls. However, I think that they might have slightly regretted their kind offer, when they were stuck in one traffic jam after another on the way back. Having left Reading at 2pm they arrived at ours at 10.30pm. The alpacas had spent so long in the trailer they seemed to have multiplied, as I am sure Debbie will be explaining soon. In order to give their girls and cria a rest, Debbie and Paul decided to stay the night (I would have said in order to give themselves a rest... but as we talked alpaca until nearly 3am and we all had to be up at 6am... I think that they left more tired!!).

Bozedown Celestrial and Bozedown Magic Charm have both settled really well, and are very quiet to handle. I think the fact that they have both been shown a lot, probably helps their confidence (especially when they kept winning championships!)

"you'll like it here...she's a bit of a your cards right and she hand feeds you carrots!"

 Not a great day for photos as it is pretty dull, but it is at least dry...

Magic Charm and Celestrial enjoying the Cumbrian views.

Both are big strong females with great capacity (and lovely fleeces). They do make Lady Gaga and Snooty Boots look very girlie...although Lady G and Boots do have diva tendencies...we definitely like ourselves!

 Lady Gaga

Snooty Boots
As someone (you know who you are!) is trying to persuade me to part with Foxy Sox and Lullaby, I shouldn't really put cute photos of them on the blog...but here they are;

Foxy Sox now 18.5, here is another potential diva... "look at me"

Lullaby...hard to believe it is the same alpaca who couldn't even lift her head for a week when she was born.

On Saturday we had visitors morning and afternoon. In the morning the new owner of six of our females came for some hands-on training. She (sorry I didn't ask if they wanted to be named) was an absolute natural, getting stuck in trimming toe nails, giving injections and weighing all the cria. Not only did they do all the work for us, they took us out for lunch too...cheers folks!

We got back just in time to do some sweeping up before our afternoon visitors, who had come to see Bendrago and Marco (aka Cute Pants). I am really pleased to say that the boys will be going to a lovely new home in the Scottish Borders, where they will be joining four other boys. 

People always ask how I can bear to part with the little ones born on the farm; it is hard, but when new owners are so keen to learn about welfare and ask all the right questions, it does help. Then, you can enjoy the pleasure that you know alpaca ownership is going to bring for them. You also get to meet lots of lovely people.

Thank you to everyone who has asked after Finesse; she is slowly improving.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The alpacas formally known as....

It seems to have been the theme of the year...and it is getting a tad boring, but it just goes on and on..rain and mud that is. Unfortunately, last week the mud caused us to have a casualty, when Finesse, who is always so very feminine and refined, went a cropper. Her dignity was obviously hurt but she was also holding up her back leg.

So she given some Finadyne and brought into the barn to rest. Initially I kept in her dam ( Holly ), Lady Gaga and Snooty Boots for company. However, Holly and Gaga did not prove themselves to be very sympathetic, and I could see that Gaga was assessing her chances of achieving a limbo under the rails. Hence a change of companions; Sophie, as her best friend was an obvious choice, and Poppet as the most chilled youngster ever, seemed the other perfect choice.

They have been inside for nearly a week now and are surprisingly happy. Luckily the barn is very open and they can see out in all directions. A thick straw bed, plenty of carrots and persistent rain outside seems to be making the option a pleasant one. However, Finesse's lameness hasn't improved. When I say lameness, I mean that she won't put her foot down at all. She had been seen by the vet who could find nothing on examination so it was decided an x-ray was required. Thankfully no fractures were found. It would appear that she has bruised her stifle area. She is definitely her mother's daughter....Holly thinks herself pretty precious too!

Beck Brow Finesse

The photo of Finesse is an archive one, because the one taken earlier today  indoors is blurred. I am having a bad week on the photography front; on Saturday I tried to take some cria fleece shots, but not one turned out as hoped...if fact all were blurred. The situation wasn't helped by slightly damp fleece, indoor light and lack of man power. Still what I see just doesn't transfer to camera (I know Rosemary this year I was going to crack it but no!). So take my word these are better than the photos suggest!

Beck Brow Advantage:  Dam; Cambridge Camilla (shared with Explorer) Sire; Waradene St Patrick of EPC.   A very fine and dense fleece, bright with high frequency crimp.

Beck Brow Foxy Sox; Dam; Beck Brow Fine Romance. Sire; Waradene St Patrick of EPC. Another fine and dense fleece with 'blinging' brightness not apparent on the photo.

Paul has had an accident and he is not enjoying the consequences. You may have noticed the poovering no longer features on this blog. There are no longer any complaints about poo collecting. I no longer have a constant stiff neck or a bad tempered husband (I never knew which was the lesser of the two evils where poovering was concerned). No, all this stopped when we purchased a paddock sweeper. This involves tractor driving, so Paul is happy and the paddocks are clean. Until this weekend that is...Paul has broken his is under warranty and we are waiting for a the meantime it is back to manual labour for his negligence!

Paul back poovering.

On Friday I registered the 2012 born cria...all except two that is. Domingo and Pedro have been sold and as I hadn't yet registered them I suggested that their new owners might wish to choose their names. The boys are waiting...what are they to be called?....will they the meantime they are 'the alpacas formally known as Pedro and Domingo' it was good enough for Prince!