Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Cheers Campari...

One of these days I will write a blog that isn't a week late...and doesn't involve me spending hours driving up and down the M6...one day but not today...

On Tuesday I drove down to Reading in the Alpaca-mobile. It wasn't a bad journey actually, other than the van radio just decides to change channels at will...still it gets you listening to something other than radio 2.

 I was travelling down for the judge's certification the next day, so a good trip was appreciated. Now, it has to be said I could have done with a good night's sleep as well, before such an important day. However, I had not booked my own accommodation (I will not name names) and a lumpy single bed, next to a busy main road, with a bathroom shared with a house full of builders, was not a good start. Three hours sleep!

After all the preparation of apprenticing up and down the country, all the ring stewarding, and fleece sorting...my head went completely blank on the day. I am very annoyed with myself;  far too nervous. I wish I had remembered the bit about visualising your audience naked to give yourself confidence...then again maybe not! We will find out this week...I expect I will be spending more time on the M6 to Bozedown.

The nice bit of the trip down was picking up Campari (hence the van). She is now in an isolation group of six and has settled in really well. I changed her name to Campari, but now I can't bring myself to use it...I feel like I need a waiter...reminds me of Morocco...Campari and fresh orange juice please...if only!


Sunday was the first of the Made-In-Cumbria Christmas street markets. Trish and I headed south to Kendal on the day of the predicted great storm. When we left home the sun was shining...it was however a bit breezier upon our arrival at the venue... and for some reason the majority of the stall holders hadn't bothered to turn up....anyway  we coped with the torrential rain, although we did question our decision to venture out...but then all of a sudden our alpacawear started flying of the shelves...and up the street...followed by boxes and finally the gazebo. Time to pack up and head home. On a positive note; the hog roast hadn't had much trade either...so I came home with half a pig...tonight's menu...pork, wild mushroom and cream pie...think Velvet can have the rest, before I start oinking!

We had a visit from a lovely family today who are interested in starting to breed alpacas. This is the bit I love, helping new owners start on the great adventure of alpaca ownership. Paul is going to look at how their land can be divided and advise on field shelters...he is getting a bit of a dab hand at farm layout...and is nearly as passionate about shelters as I am about the alpacas...teamwork!!!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

We just couldn't resist...

Another busy week with lots of travelling up and down that M6 (National Show meeting Tuesday) but it was Paul who took on the epic trip to collect Timbertop CT Goldmine ET from Heathrow on Thursday, arriving home at 5am on Friday morning. Goldmine looked fresh as a daisy despite the long trip from New Zealand via Singapore...Paul did not, despite the relatively short outing!

Goldmine has settled in amazingly well. He has been given Snowstorm (our only Suri) as his companion in quarantine. Snowstorm sometimes forgets that he is a wether, but they have been getting along fine. Goldmine has such a lovely temperament.

Now, of course we had never actually seen Goldmine before... we had relied a lot on trust...would he live up to expectations? He has amazing fleece stats for a five year old working male  (MFD 17.4 SD 3 CV 17.4 CF 100%) so we were expecting fineness. What we also knew, was that he would not have passed screening if he had been incorrect in any way. 

What we didn't know was, if he was going to be as dense as we hoped...well I can tell you that he has surpassed our expectations. He is not a large male...compact was how he was described...he has great strength of bone and is very correct in this phenotype, but rather smaller than our other stud males...however I suspect he will have one of the heaviest cutting fleeces...even with the fineness, he has such density and fleece length...he is just a bundle of fleece!

Timbertop CT Goldmine ET of Beck Brow...arrived from New Zealand on the day of the photo!

                                          With his new chum Snowstorm the Suri


                                               Looking for the girls on day one of arriving.

We were pleased to see GM arrive in full fleece (at the end of winter in NZ) ready for the winter here (although he will be carrying rather a lot by the summer). It also allowed us to have a good look at his fleece...and of course our excitement got the better of us...Adelle has been mated!!!

Unfortunately we have no other females open (other than maidens and it is definitely too late in the year for them) so it will just be the one. I was actually hoping for some girls to sit at spit off, but nobody did (except Metisha who went back to Explorer...as I love Halle!). So we have made a decision (unless we change it!) having seen the fleece qualities of GM we are going to keep him in house for at least 2014 (if we have already agreed matings we are honouring these) so he will only be covering our liveried females and the Beck Brow females next year.

Just to give you an idea of why we are already excited about 2015...below are just a few of the Goldmine progeny born at Gilt Edge Alpacas... 

 We have a sociable weekend, with a visit from Stuart and Jean from Velvet Hall Alpacas on Saturday (if you are reading this Stuart...I have bad news...Paul thinks that you are as obsessed as I am...incurable I am afraid!) and a family night out in the evening (great food from the new chef at the Dukes Head). 

Finally for Rosemary (sorry you did ask a while ago) another photo of Paul's kittens...

                                     British short- haired colour pointed Angel and Aster.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

YAG Alpaca Show 2013

It was a 5am start yesterday as we headed off to the YAG Show. Having missed being able to show all summer (due to me being judge's apprentice) we decided to take along a small show team. As I was ring steward (and would have to leave the ring whilst our alpaca's classes were judged) and we have recently purchased an alpaca from Bozedown Alpacas (the herd belonging to Mary-Jo Smith, who was judging) so would not be able to handle our alpacas in the ring...we limited our entries to two.

You might be thinking at this point...why even bother...I was thinking the same thing myself at 5am...but it was well worth the effort. Beck Brow Foxy Sox (sired by Waradene St Patrick of EPC) was kindly taken into the ring by Jean from Velvet Hall Alpacas. They did a fabulous job taking 1st place and Champion Fawn Female.

                           Jean with Beck Brow Foxy Sox (thanks for the photo Stuart)

Our second entry was Waradene St Patrick of EPC who was taken into the ring by Simon from Minster Alpacas (I thought SP might object to having his private parts assessed making him a bit of a handful and I was correct...well held...Simon that is...not Mary-Jo). St. Patrick  also took 1st place and Champion Fawn Male. Having taken both Fawn Championships we were of course more than pleased, but more excitement was to come when St Patrick took Supreme Champion Huacaya!!!

                                   Waradene St Patrick with Simon...so far so good!

    It takes Simon and Michael Henderson (ring stewarding) to hold him whilst Mary-Jo checks behind!

                       Our stash from two entries at YAG Show

What a fantastic show YAG Show is, they always draw a large crowd and it is so relaxed and fun. The fancy dress was a big hit again (unfortunately I didn't have chance to get any photos) and I learnt lots from Mary-Jo in preparation for my certification. With lots of friends also doing extremely well in the ring it was a great day all round.

It was back to work this morning. The females have all had their dose of Maxigro (selenium, mineral and vitamin drench) and the cria their vitamin A,D and E. Now it's back out to sweep up the mess in the barn. Admittedly things are a little slow due to the glass or two we had to celebrate last night!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Pass the Elastoplast Please...

Yet another busy week, I really must blog more often, then I wouldn't have to test my ability to recall what I have been up to! As seems to be the norm at the moment, I have been on the road rather a lot. On Wednesday I headed up north (yes it does get more north than us) to the Scottish Borders, to pay a visit to our weaver. I have brought back all of our yarn for a stock check, and then I will make some decisions on what to do next.

The latest throws are proving popular, with five sold in the first week. I have also ordered some more wraps (but these won't be ready in time for our Christmas fairs). We have also added a new talent to our knitters; Trish has come up with some great designs using the lighter weight yarns, and will also be coming along to the fairs with me. One day I might even get time to update the on line shop!

Our latest Beck Brow throws.

On Thursday I headed down South to Toft Alpacas, near Rugby. Rob and Shirley Bettinson are both BAS judges, and were booked to judge the Heart of England Fleece Show over the following two days. As I was apprentice judge to Rob, I was kindly offered a bed. It was lovely to catch up and talk alpaca of course. I really must thank Rob, for his teaching, and most of all for his patience...this was my last apprenticeship before certification and I was constantly questioning to get everything straight in my head. I had a great couple of days and saw some stunning fleeces (confirming my passion for white!!!). Thank you Rob and Shirley.

Unfortunately I couldn't stay for the actual fleece show on the Sunday...as I had arranged to collect Paul's birthday present before heading home. So it was, that I headed from Oxford, across country to the north of Bristol. Here I met Karen May of Amiryck Alpacas, Cats and Dogs...there is a clue there...not an alpaca but kittens!! Aster and Angel are absolutely adorable. Here they are sleeping on the settle with Angel giving Aster a hug.

Angel and Aster...British Shorthaired Colour Pointed kittens

Robyn and I have been micro-chipping the cria over the last couple of days. There are a number of lessons to be gained from this experience:

1. microchip when very young...much easier and saves the expense of a box of Elastoplasts...yes, Robyn managed to stab herself twice whilst doing the older cria, who are more difficult to hold still.
2. if you are going to microchip a group of cria, do them all on the same day. Despite hating the task we managed to microchip two cria twice...Robyn was checking the list!

Must do better tomorrow when we finish off the livery cria (not literally finish them off hopefully... just the microchips!).

As a group of females (who had been here for on farm matings with Explorer) left to head home up north on Saturday; this freed up a paddock that had been providing an isolation barrier. So our girls had another lush green paddock to explore. As you can see from the photo, when I opened the gate the black girls headed off in one direction (the right one) and the whites in the opposite...so are black alpacas smarter or just greedier?

New paddock alert...

Not a white in sight!

I am ring steward on Saturday at the Yorkshire Alpaca Group show at Thirsk. Mary-Jo is the judge so hopefully I will pick up some helpful points for my certification later in the month. I think that I must have been to 75% of alpaca shows this year, as either an apprentice or ring steward. You cant get too much experience...I will however, pass or fail, be glad to get a rest over winter!