Friday 29 January 2010

Welcome Home

Well, the time has now come for me to say good-bye and hand you all back to Barbara at Beck Brow. It has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of such a great place and to be involved with the alpacas on an individual basis. I really feel that I have got to know the herds natural rhythm. I can recognise their moods, emotions and behaviours which I have used to interpret their needs. I think by spending time with them I have started to absorb their peaceful disposition, a good thing according to my husband!

I have enjoyed simply observing these gentle creatures who depend on our kindness and good will towards them and I am certain they really do appreciate our efforts. I will cherish the looks of gratitude from young Jenson who has the most relaxed personality combined with dashing good looks.

Meanwhile, whilst I have been daydreaming amongst the herd, the fencers have been hard at it. They are dividing the paddocks in to smaller areas ready for summer.

Good wishes to you all , Amanda.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Missing Mum!

Come home soon Mum!

Beck Brow continues to tick over at a steady pace. It is such a relaxing environment to be in, surrounded by beautiful rolling scenery with the pennines still snow capped looking down from afar.

I think the alpacas are missing their leader Barbara. Whilst they are always curious to see visitors and offer a lovely welcome to anyone who shows interest in them, I have the feeling that they are looking just past me to see if their Mum and Leader is on her way. I have watched Barbara work amongst her herd many times and its hard not to notice how comfortable all the alpacas are in her presence. She has an incredibly natural affinity with each and every one. The more assertive alpacas like Holly and Beattie show respect and clearly follow their human leader whilst the shyer more reserved members like Hoity Toity and Julius become nearly giddy when she arrives to provide for their every need.

I believe its an indication of how well the alpacas can read people. They don't know what we have or how good we are at dealing with paperwork, but they do feel our energy and read or body language before we've even reached the paddocks.

They are such sensitive animals and I defy anyone to look into Nimrods dark kind eyes and not wonder what he's really thinking.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Spring Cleaning!

This is Ma, joint leader of the Soay Six Gang!
0-60mph in approx. 8 seconds.

Today Beck Brow is bathed in sunshine and its still lovely and dry, although there is a cool breeze making the air feel fresh and cleansing. The herd are all well and seem to be enjoying the dry weather too. They appear cleaner and the paddocks are recovering well after the snow.

Its a day to be outside and to be around the alpacas and soay sheep that we keep, getting on with all those jobs that I have been avoiding for months! I definitely feel spring is in the air as I have even had the energy and enthusiasm to tackle scrubbing the feeding troughs.

We have six pet soays who are a wild breed. They are small, only weighing about 30kg with lovely fine wool. They are very skittish, which makes handling really difficult(any tips welcome!)

After months of exercising some soay psychology (pretending you can't see them) we have Ma and Whiteknee eating from our hands! This is a minor miracle considering we didn't see them for weeks after they arrived. They would carry out covert operations around the fields to avoid us!

I am now off to try and tempt Linda(the lamb) with some sheep nuts, she's Ma's baby so there's some hope that one day she'll join the inner circle.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Spring has sprung!

Running for sheer pleasure and delight....and because they can!

Welcome Fellow Followers of Beck Brow Alpacas! This is my first blog, so please be gentle.

Life at Beck Brow is a haven of peace and tranquility, the birds are singing and the beck is flowing and there are a few brave little shoots peeping out. It has been sunny and still in the Eden Valley. The scenery is just as spectacular as it was in the snow, but now holds the promise of Spring.

The alpacas, who we all know are intuitive animals have already moved in to Spring mode. Led by the charming Minnie who has perfected alpaca/human relations, the gang rolled and skipped like new born lambs. I don't know who enjoyed this more...the rollers or the appreciative spectators. This flurry of activity prompted some serious grazing and the heartbeat of Beck Brow returned to a calm and steady rhythm.

Saturday 16 January 2010

Relief Team Training

Last blog before the holidays. It has been a packed couple of days training the relief team: Robyn on feeding regimes, Craig on Poo picking and Amanda on the blog.

The girls have moved this morning so their five acre paddock can be divided into smaller areas. Hopefully this will be completed for our return.

I have been checking with Paul at the Halifax Spinning Company to see how our fleece processing is progressing. The mill has been frozen solid but is now back in action, so hopefully some wool will be arriving soon. I have also sent some fleeces to be dyed using natural products at Artisan Creations in Scotland. See below...

No just an opportunity to share a photo from our visit to Peru. Its a shame I hadn't even thought about owning alpacas and fleece processing at this point. Seeing as I am in the holiday mood here's another one!

Off to a wine and food tasting event with friends this evening, the holidays nearly started. Next blog from guest blogger Amanda.

Thursday 14 January 2010

The Evidence

Despite a flurry of snow this morning things are definitely beginning to thaw around here. I present the evidence:

Yes that is green grass you see in Pebbles' mouth. Little Fidel was so excited that he has spent all morning with the same piece of greenery displayed midside:

He could have made it as a stud male .....shame about the ears! The emergence of the green stuff has at last relieved Jenson of his duties. Jenson, a little black cria, likes to sleep under the hay racks. Consequently, he is always covered in the stuff and has been working as a mobile feeding station during the bad weather. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get a pic. of him in action. Here he is this morning, not carrying quite as much hay as often seen. He wasn't looking too impressed, maybe the redundancy package was less than generous!

Short blog today. We are planning to get away for a few days so I am running around trying to get all the chores done. We booked a winter break, thinking summer was out of the question (birthing season) but we have not chosen well! Family and friend are coming to stay to look after the house and all the animals. We have on the rota: a couple of nurses, a civil engineer, a retired farmer, and a security officer to name but a few. So we should be well covered for most eventualities

If we do manage to leave the country (I touch wood) we are going to visit a baby elephant orphanage. I don't know if anyone knows the stocking rates for elephants and how they are with snow?

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Royal behaviour

I owe a big thank you to NFU and Town and Country Kitchens today. We now have water, what luxury. I think the alpacas played their part in the speed of things. Having no water, other than the beck and having animals to care for, prompted the insurers to get thing sorted very quickly. We actually had 4 bursts, all behind the fitted kitchen units so we were very lucky that we were home at the time, otherwise things could have been much worse. What joy to get a shower at home!

Hoity Toity has been amusing me over the past couple of days. Having received plenty of attention over the weekend she has decided she rather likes being special. She is certainly a Czar daughter with a royal attitude....very aptly named I think! I have been feeding her from her own bowl to ensure that she is getting her share of the rations (she is a slow feeder). Yesterday she decided that she would only eat if I actually held the bowl for her. Today she took it one step further by deciding that she wanted to be fed separately from the others, in the feed store, again with me holding the bowl. What have I started! She is very sweet I have to say.

Minnie is getting a little jealous as she is normally the centre of attention . I noticed that she was giving HT a little shove out of the way initially but now appears to have decided that she is her new best friend. If you can't beat em join em I guess! Minnie, who is now pregnant, remains one of the most friendly (and well behaved) alpacas I have ever met.

Pic of Minnie and Ben taken a couple of days ago. The snow is melting now and green grass can be seen again. The roads are virtually clear. I actually had a delivery today.....a Wii Fit that I ordered before xmas.....I would like to say that I no longer needed it after all buckets of water that I have carried.....but sadly this is not the case. However whether I use it will be another thing. Another loss of £s rather than lbs most likely!

Sunday 10 January 2010

A Hollywood photo shoot

We have running water! It was great to test ones endurance skills, but thank goodness for normal service, and 2 degrees of heat.....nearly tropical!
A great day for some pics without the frost bite.

Hollywood's Attitude is always up for a photo call and a hug. it is very hard to resist a snuggle up (as you can just make out in the photo the girls in the background are also checking him out). Whilst condition scoring yesterday, I took the opportunity to assess a fleece or 2. I completed the BAS Stage 1 Judging course down in Devon a couple of months ago, and have been looking for an opportunity to have a better look at some of the team ever since. It seem that whenever I have had the time, and some assistance, the fleeces have always been wet or frozen! Hollywood's 2nd fleece has come back well, with really good definition and handle, and great density. He is a very uniform colour, registerd as mid fawn but he is the lighter end of the spectrum.

When our friends arrived for some hay supplies this afternoon, I quickly grabbed the camera and recruited them as assistants for some fleece shots (hadn't even made them a cup of coffee!). My intention was to get some shots of Hollywood's Attitude and Almost Illegal for the web site. Well, the boys were very well behaved but how difficult is it to capture fleece quality on camera. I think I will have to wait until it is off the boys and on a table! Almo's didn't come out at all. I have attached a shot of Hollywood's fleece......not exactly web site photographic standards. Try again! Last years fleece shot will have to stay.

I will not be putting Almo on the site until next year so plenty of time. Anzac Almost Illegal (Almo) is a mid fawn boy that we have purchased as a potential stud male. We put a deposit down on him at 6 months of age, then waited for him to be weaned before taking delivery. It is a slight gamble buying such a youngster, but it is really exciting being involved right from the beginning and watching them progress. He has great genetics ( Conquistador) and has a stunning fleece, so we are really hoping that he will be worth the wait. Photo below of Almo in the summer (10 mths) ....nice to get away from snow pics I think!

Fingers crossed that that water does not freeze again over night.

Saturday 9 January 2010

Olympic efforts and alpaca scoring

Still no water and still minus 10 degrees during the day (minus 14.5 at night) so it will be a long time before we thaw. At least Paul, a boy scout in his youth, is back home to help carry water and share his survival skills training. You can just see the beck at the bottom of the hill in the photo. Quite a trek!

We decided to give the January dose of ADE paste and do some condition scoring on all the alpacas today (activity generates some heat!). It is difficult to judge just how much to feed in such extreme conditions, everyone scored fine, but we will be keeping the extra rations of oats going whilst the weather is so grim. For more information on alpaca scoring click on the link:

Feed time remains popular. The girls obviously think it is tea time every time they see me, unless they just know it's time for a photo!

Bahiti leads the photo call.

As all the alpacas were surviving the cold we though we would test out our body boarding skills!Well, we went down the hill on a tin sheet, narrowly missing ending up in the water supply (beck) not quite olympic standards!

Sorry, back to the alpacas. A photo for Sue: Pepsi Lola is fascinated by my suede gloves and follows me around trying to get a chew. There is always at least one mischief! Although, I expect Fidel (rear in foreground) may prove to win that crown. Lets see what halter training him brings!

HT continues to be fine. I have Stopped myself doing any more 'what if I had done this or that' Reflection is always good, but beating ones self up is not. However, show me an animal lover who doesn't do it in such circumstances.

Friday 8 January 2010

Will that be still or sparkling madam?

I did say it was cold last night. Well we are frozen solid, not a drop of water inside nor out. Paul has been away in Manchester all week leaving me to cope alone. So unsure what to do, girly inspiration struck......we have bottled water! Down to the cellar to check supplies, yes, well stocked, plenty of Evian and San Pellegrino (no Smart Price in sight!). So sugar beet with Evian it was! Quick wash with a wet wipe, then hair drier on suspect water pipe. An hour later and no luck, it was time to head in search of barrels and a daughter's water supply.

Paul has now arrived home and reminded me that we have a beck running behind the house (although half frozen), hence the name Beck Brow! Oh well. We are still frozen solid but at least we can access some water for the animals. We are off to the local for our tea now. Warm food and a flushing loo.

I am pleased to say that Hoity Toity appears to be fine, remaining apyrexial and tucking into her morning feed with gusto.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Sad day for Hoity Toity

Never tempt fate! Having just finished a conversation about how well the 2 new girls had settled in here, I went out to catch Silverstream Hoity Toity (a Czar daughter) miscarry (a male). HT the white girl in the photo and Galaxy (fawn), both imported in the summer, arrived 4 weeks ago after being confirmed pregnant to Sanjo Shalimar. Both had all the usual tests including E Mac, all negative, and were introduced to the main herd just a few days ago. They were started on Fast Track on arrival (added to their usual feed) and they did appear to be settled. I guess sometimes these things happen whatever care we take. We have started her on a course of antibiotics, as a prophylactic (she is apyrexial), and she was tucking in to her tea earlier. So a long trip back to Anzac in the spring. Debbie, does this remind you of the fun you had with LMI ?....Sandstorm looks like he was worth the wait though.

I know the weather news is getting old news but it is minus 12 that is frost bite cold!
Rations of rolled oats and sugar beet for all. Sharing out the beet is like running the gauntlet here. Camilla, a particularly sweet looking alpaca, is the worst offender, she suddenly starts squealing like a very large pig as soon as she see the bucket in hand!

Hopefully a more cheerful post next time.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Pronking and games in the sunshine

Well we have had more snow but the sun was shining this afternoon. It ended up being a warm day for us northerners.......only minus 4 degrees! The sunshine prompted some serious pronking. Pebbles took the lead followed by her sister Pepsi Lola (only 4 months.....very cute) and then Minnie (never to be left out) it then turned into a bit of a conga. I tried to capture it all on camera but didn't quite get the full excitment but you can get the mood.

The boys have also started to play in the snow. Almost Illegal won the hide and seek competition!

I won't over load you with any more photos today. I did manage to get some of the new imported girls and will post them next time.

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Very Pretty....but enough is enough

Okay so Holly loves the snow and it is looking lovely here in the Eden Valley (especially for those who haven't managed to get in to work today ...Craig!) but after 2 weeks some normality would be nice.We are getting through bales of hay at a rate of knots and buckets of warm water seem to be in constant demand. However, the alpacas appear to be coping well, although the shelters and barns are very popular at the moment.As for us? We are getting through the oil supply at a rapid rate, and the downstairs facilities are frozen (if you get my drift), but we love it really. All adds to the adventure and keeps the camera busy