Sunday 30 May 2010

A Navigator Cria...but not plain sailing

After all the deliberation over her pregnancy state we are happy to say that Camilla produced a handsome white boy yesterday afternoon (385 day gestation). Unfortunately things have been rather touch and go for him, although he has rallied through the night and things are looking more positive today. However we do still have some way to go.

I did hesitate about writing a blog but it seemed wrong not to give the little fella a positive introduction. Here he is at one hour old looking perky and rather fawn. However with Accoyo Remarque as his grand sire (dam) and EPC Navigator (GS Spartacus) as his sire, the odds were for a white cria.

At 9kg he was a very large cria for his mum , who is a petite maiden, to deliver. Camilla had a pretty tough time. We had a head and no feet initially but we did eventually get some legs to the side of the head. We did manage to get the cria into a better position but in the end had to give her a gentle help as she was becoming so tired. A check up from the vet confirmed that she had no tears thankfully, but that she was a bit bruised. Poor Camilla.

Despite all of this it was instant love on Camilla's part. She just absolutely adored him on sight. As she had chosen a cold wet day to deliver we brought them both in (along with company) and got the little fella under a heat lamp. He was strong and we weren't especially concerned at this point, but heat is always good.

The problem has been that Camilla failed to drop her milk for the first 12-15 hours (probably due to the stress of delivery) and the little man absolutely refused to be bottle fed. In the end we had to tube feed him plasma and colostrum despite him being strong, as we were running out of time for him to acquire some IgG's.

Camilla's milk has now dropped and he does latch on to the nipple but it is difficult to be certain how much he is receiving. We still keep offering a bottle but without success (lamb's teats; baby teats; no thanks!). He has lost 0.5kg this morning, although his tummy feels full and he is passing plentiful amounts of urine. We will just keep hoping. IgG testing planned for Tuesday am (unless things deteriorate) and a plasma transfusion if results are low.

A warm welcome for the little fella. Although it was pouring with rain and rather chilly hence the coat.

Friday 28 May 2010

Lady Gaga going naked in Wiltshire!

Some of you may have noticed the distinct lack of mention of E P Cambridge Lady Gaga on the blog since we were fortunate enough to purchase her at The Futurity Elite Auction in February. The reason being; she is still in Wiltshire! EPC kindly offered to deliver her but have been extremely busy as well as short staffed, hence the delay. She will however be with us very shortly.

In the meantime she is to be shorn tomorrow at EPC rather than risk missing our shearing date. Cathy has her clearly marked out as a show fleece to ensure that extra care is taken during shearing. To say that I am rather looking forward to a peek in that fleece bag is a slight understatement!

We have just been sent her second fleece stats and are pleased to see that she has held her fineness as well as a nice low SD (she is medium fawn): MFD 18.3 um; SD 3.9 um; CV 21.10; 1.1% > 30 um. Oh la la…Lady Gaga!

I have decided that Camilla (another EPC girl) is enjoying all the attention around the ‘is she / isn’t she’ debate. I have noticed that when checking the birthing paddock from the house window, however quickly I locate her, she is already looking up at me. She is obviously just being a tease now. As she resolutely refuses to roll in our presence, Paul had a quick feel of her udder this morning whilst I distracted her (kind of). Paul’s opinion; bagging up!

However Camilla is going to have to share the attention from now on; Morden Hall Honaria, another of our elite girls is 338 days and is clearly bagging up (getting her milk in non farming terms). Honaria is the girl that we purchased at The 2009 Futurity Auction (cheque book at home next year!). She was bought with a mating of our choice and we eventually decided on Cambridge Courage (a NWA Ltd Ruffo son). Unfortunately Honaria had other ideas. Like Pebbles she obviously had preferences for a certain male. After two months we had to admit defeat and Honaria was mated with Morden Hall Bergerac (a Bozedown Galaxy son) and she conceived first time.

Honario: Never too keen on posing for the camera.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Pebbles has a headache!

Another blog and no cria news. Warm weather, cold weather, somewhere in between weather, it doesn't seem to matter. Still no babies!

With the excitement of this year's cria gone somewhat off the boil, we have been concentrating our minds on next year's productions. However, we are not having much success in this department either.

Pebbles (pictured with her sister Pepsi and Mum, Bahati, behind) who is 19 months old is absolutely refusing to participate in any activities involving boys.

We had let her watch a couple of matings prior to putting her with Legacy of Purston at the weekend. Legacy is a gentleman and at 13 years of age he has had plenty of practice. No matter, Pebbles was having none of it. I had thought that Legacy with his fineness and history of producing coloured progeny would have been the ideal male for Pebbles. But no.

Maybe she just doesn't fancy the older man I wondered. Female alpacas must have opinions and preferences the same as all of us ladies. With this in mind I tried her with Hollywood's Attitude today, a young macho male. Maybe he would be more to her taste? Unfortunately not. Despite keeping Nina in next to her she became so distressed I had to take poor Hollywood out. Talk about knocking a young man's ego!

Oh well we will leave her for a couple of months and try again. In the meantime she will just have to watch how it's done.

Friday 21 May 2010

Cool Alpacas!

More hot weather and more disputes over water supplies. Camilla was actually the one hogging the main water trough today. I did take out some additional tubs of water, but it was inevitable that these would become paddling pools. Beattie is always first in for a dip (photo).

The heavily fleeced girls (Katkin, Hoity and Galaxy) have been spending much of their time in the shade of the barn. Fortunately the barn is always cool and usually has a healthy breeze blowing through.

All efforts to stop Hollywood from dunking himself in the water trough have failed. Paul heightened the sides with wood but this hasn't really helped (see below). Almost Illegal (Almo) and Hollywood have been entered in the Northumberland Show (31/05/10) but any chance of them turning up in pristine condition has long gone. Unfortunately their love of staying in the barn overnight just increases the chances of a fleece full of hay seeds! I know that showing is about presenting them in paddock condition but Hollywood might be a bit extreme.

Hollywood: Not looking his best after a dunking in the water trough!

Camilla is 377-days gestation today. I know that some of you might be thinking that I am just living in hope. I wouldn't blame you it keeps entering my head too. However I have taken a photo of the girl in question from behind. Surely??

I did hear from Jenny at Fowberry Alpacas yesterday. They have just had a male cria born after a 386-day gestation period! Jenny keeps extremely acurate records so there is no doubt about the dates. Going by that yardstick we will have to wait until a week on Sunday.

Last photo. I just wondered if anyone had any ideas what our two chicks are turning out to be. They are not like your average hen and run around like 'Roadrunner'. Strange!

Thursday 20 May 2010

All Play and No Work!

We have had a lovely couple of days here with warm weather and great company. Amanda and Kathryn (both lovers of all things black) came to visit yesterday. Kathryn, who has a lovely black herd ( did note that thing were still looking rather pale around here. Fair comment but our black boy; Black Sabbath will be doing his magic sometime soon. It was down the village for a pub lunch and a glass of wine before having a look at a fleece or two. Everyone was very well behaved with the exception of Camilla, but then she doesn't even want to be looked at never mind her tummy felt. I am glad to say that Kathryn also thinks that there is a cria in there!

As my efforts to supply treats in the form of a water sprinkler were rejected earlier in the week I thought that I would try again. This time it was miniature carrots nicely prepared and straight out of the fridge (I know; It's no wonder Paul keeps tutting). This was met with much more appreciation. Pebbles downed hers whole:

Whereas Nancy took a more refined approach:

Which unfortunately didn't appear to be very successful:

As if ice cool carrots were not enough, Katkin has taken to hogging the water trough since the weather has improved. Things really began to hot up today when Holly decided that she wanted to use the same trough, despite other options being available. In the end a compromise was reached; Holly managed to access the water in the next field, but via 'Katkin's trough' !! I have to say I think Holly was looking a bit intimidated but who wouldn't be:

Katkin: Minder of the water trough!

Tuesday 18 May 2010

A Hose Pipe Ban!

As it was such a beautiful sunny day today I thought that I would give the girls a little treat. I spent ages trailing the hose pipe and sprinkler out in to the field, much to Paul's disgust (not sure if it was because he thinks that I am mad or he was thinking about the water meter!). Or maybe it was that I had had him come with the camera to get a shot for the blog. Anyway after all my efforts nobody was the least bit interested and this just made him tutt even more. In fact he did suggest that there was some hours going at the hospital... "obviously not enough to do".  I should have known better, our alpacas don't even appear to like the morning dew. I have been checking out of the bedroom window around 6.30 am most mornings recently and there is never an alpaca to be seen...all tucked up in the barns and shelters.

I was pleased to hear that BAS now have the 400 alpacas required to carry out the bTB blood testing project. A big thank you to all those who put animals forward as we will all benefit from this. Brain Raine (Town End) kindly gave us feedback from the welfare group's second meeting; There is hope that bTB will be back on the political agenda as both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems had the erradication of bTB within their manifestos. A group has been created to lobby the case for a reliable alpaca test. A glimmer of hope?

A couple of the girls who are getting closer to their due dates had their Lambivac injections today. The rest will wait until after shearing. I have been in contact with Ben Wheeler (our shearer) and all being well he will be with us the first week in June. I believe that there is to be a new code of conduct regarding biosecurity for shearers. Probably a bit late for this year! I am so looking forward to seeing them all naked with only their ankle socks left on.

As I didn't manage to get a water action shot that actually included an alpaca and water in the photo, I have had to make do with a photo of Hoity Toity and Pepsi Lola looking rather perky in the sunshine (see below)

On other subjects; All I will say is 374 days....

Saturday 15 May 2010

Not the weather for it....again!

A sunny day was forecast for the North of England today. However, it has turned out to be a bit of an anticlimax, as a cold westerly wind has been about for much of the afternoon. In the short episodes when the wind did decide to drop the pregnant girls got in a little impromptu sunbathing. Honario, who is due at the end of May, is seen in the foreground of the picture. She was definitely demonstrating what a kicking cria looks like earlier on.

As you can see in the background of the photo, Paul is on duty in the birthing paddock, sitting on the field bench watching for any signs of Camilla providing some action. We do have a rota and Sam (the alpaca cat) kindly does his shift too.

We had been a little concerned about having a shearing date for early June as our two imported girls; Galaxy and Hoity Toity already have at least 14 months of fleece. However it is still far too cold here for taking any clothes off never mind going naked (we have had frost at night just this week!) This is just mad for May; Last year we were worrying about the effects of the heat. Lets just hope for better weather on the east coast Debbie (shearing today)

Galaxy (above) and Hoity Toity (below) both have fleece that really should be off their backs and at the mill. Unfortunately we still don't have the weather to be going naked in Cumbria.

Thursday 13 May 2010

Still waiting...

Since Hollywood's encounter with his first lady friend at the weekend, he has turned into rather a Casanova. Here he is seen smooching up to Willow. Although, at only nine months of age, he is going to have a long wait. Interestingly Willow spends much of her time flirting, as did her sister (Nancy) at the same age. We bred Nancy at 13 months old as she was so mature and eager to be mated. She is now pregnant to Top Account of Fowberry and is due in July (or August/September the way we are going so far this year!).

Hollywood does appears to have changed his whole demeanour now that he is working. He is less interested in playing with the other boys more interested in  looking for action with the girls. Not long until the weekend Hollywood!

 Hollywood turning his back on Almo..."sorry mate I have to look macho now"

Camilla has spent a lot of today sat by the fence and away from the main herd. Lets hope that this is a positive sign that she is thinking about dispatching that Navigator cria sometime soon.

Camilla...watching me watching you!

Monday 10 May 2010

A Hollywood Romance

At 366 days gestation we are seriously beginning to doubt our own eyesight. Camilla looks and acts pregnant and we would not be questioning her if it hadn't been for a negative scan and a seriously long pregnancy. I did think that she was going to the poo pile rather more often today but as Jayne said wishful thinking can make you imagine things. However we did hear from Cathy at E P Cambridge today who reports maiden pregnancies of up to twelve and a half months this year. So there is hope yet.

I am glad to say that Hollywood seems to have got the hang of things and has become quite full of himself since his first mating; 40 minutes! I will remember to take a book next time. He was such a gentleman and quite romantic (given the facilities available).We will have to wait to see what happens at the spit offs. I had him pencilled in for a number of matings, so here's hoping all is in working order.

The little chicks that we had born are growing well and are getting quite confident. It is amazing how high they can now get. I keep finding them up in the trees! Is it the pheasant in the genes I wonder?

Saturday 8 May 2010

Sneaky behaviour!

I have to admit to being a little sneaky this morning. We have been treating the herd for an outbreak of mites. This has entailed the usual course of injections, Frontline and a spray of maggot oil mixed with Eprinex (you can imagine how we smell). However the pregnant females are obviously getting a little fed up with the regime; Last night Blanche led a mutiny which resulted in them all managing to escape before I got the barn gate closed. Up at 6.30am this morning I checked out of the window and saw that everyone was in the barn with Beattie on door duty. Luckily Beattie is very chilled and doesn't usually try to escape. Wellies on with the pyjamas I managed to creep out round the back and get the gate bolted before Blanche had got into position. Job done and back in for breakfast before 8am!

I won't go on about mites as we all know what a pain they are but I have to say that we have learned an expensive and time consuming lesson. Treat all visiting or newly purchased alpacas as having mites. Despite quarantining all animals, faecal sampling etc, we obviously missed mites on a heavily fleeced alpaca and now we have had to treat the whole herd.

The young females appear to be enjoying being a separate group and get along well. Hoity Toity is now eating with the others albeit from her own tub. I put down a red tub for her this morning and she refused to eat until I swapped it to her usual green one. Boy does she live up to her name. The two girls that we weren't sure about their pregnancies both sat yesterday. Unfortunately, although Hollywood was very interested and making all the right noises he didn't quite manage the task on this occasion. We will try again today.

Camilla is 364 days!

           The young girls: Minnie, Nina and Hoity Toity

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Snap Happy!

Another lovely warm day here. The alpacas have been lazing about with the occasional trip to the dust bath and water troughs. Katkin, who has a lot of fleece, doesn't do hot well and tends to head to the shelter when the temperature rises. She was rather hogging the dust bath today:

as well as the water trough, which was doing nothing for her goatee:

On the subject of water troughs; Hollywood has not completely mended his ways. I spot a rather damp looking leg there:

Fortunately Almost Illegal does seem to be staying dry if not clean. I managed to get a shot of him looking the part to send to The Netherlands:

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Copying...that's Almost Illegal!

360 days and still waiting patiently...It was a lovely sunny day today just perfect for bringing a little cria into the world...Come on Camilla. From what I am hearing gestation periods of 365 days plus are quite the norm for this year. Maybe the long cold winter has taken it's toll.

It looks like I will be cancelling the hotel booking for the weekend. We had planned to go down to The BAS National Show as spectators but we won't be leaving an overdue alpaca or indeed a very new born cria. Unfortunately that will mean more gardening.

Phoebe has been started on a course on antibiotics (Excenel). She had a tooth abscess last October which resolved fairly quickly with antibiotics. However I saw at the weekend that there was a small amount of puss draining from the site again. We have decided that we will have the tooth x-rayed once her cria is born and have the tooth extracted if indicated. It is a more expensive option but clears up the problem for good and having had a recurring tooth abscess myself I can sympathise with Phoebe on this one.

I received an interesting email from the Netherlands yesterday regarding Anzac Almost Illegal (Almo). It appears that Almo's dam is now owned by a Dutch Veterinarian specialising in breeding and treating alpacas. Merungle Tempi of Anzac is to be their main donor in their ET-program (embryo transfer) and consequently they were interested in Almo's fleece stats etc (MFD: 16.2  %>30: 1.2%). It was good to hear that Almo's dam is considered to be of such high quality. I wonder if there will be lots of little Almo look-a-likes; Now that would be nice to see.

Sunday 2 May 2010

Pass me the trowel!

I like to think that most of my decisions that I make are well thought through, extensively researched, usually evidence based even. Bad decisions can take up so much time and effort, as well as unnecessary expense. I normally try to avoid such circumstances; After all I am middle aged (at best) and have the life experience to know better.

So why have I agreed to open my garden to the public? To be judged, inspected, critiqued? No, I have no idea either, but I have agreed to be part of the Armathwaite Open Gardens weekend in July. Last year it did raise £1500 for the church so it is a worthy event. However our garden is not of show quality. We haven't put enough thought into our planting decisions. It is unimproved. It has always lacked fineness, but this year it also lacks density; So much of it's quality has been lost to the frost.

Too late to back out now. Lots of hard work has been the theme of the weekend and a very expensive trip to the garden centre. £55 for a bay tree! I had to walk past it three times before I could bare to put it in the trolley. My old tree had been around for years but minus 15 was obviously just too much for it. I tentatively plucked off a leaf this evening to put in with the boiled ham. There goes 50p I thought.

I have to say Paul has been working hard at the digging and planting but was caught having an alpaca moment this afternoon. The herd have been having a playful time today with plenty of pronking and chasing around. Paul joined them at break time (below):

               Paul and Tyke caught escaping the gardening duties.

I did sneak off myself with camera in hand. I caught Sam, the alpaca cat, giving the young girls a pep talk. I think it might have been about the birds and the bees as all the girls are due to be mated soon. Sam is a stray cat who we found near to death. We fed him milk through a syringe until he was strong enough to eat. His appreciation is obvious and I believe that he really does think that he is looking after the alpacas for me as he knows how important they are. He spends most of his day watching over them. The alpacas are now used to him being around. He does however give them a smack on the nose if they overstep the boundaries!

        Now are you listening carefully? Sam and the young girls

Saturday 1 May 2010

Battle lost!

I've had to admit defeat. Hollywood has managed to win the challenge despite my best efforts.

 Since moving the boys into their new paddock on Monday I had noticed that their water trough was getting very dirty very quickly. I had also noticed that Hollywood was getting very dirty very quickly. Possibly a connection? I think that is an affirmative (below):

Yesterday Hollywood gave Amanda and I a lovely demonstration of how to get most of your neck into an average sized water trough. In an attempt to stop this anti-social behaviour (after all others have to share) we blocked off most of the opening.

Attempt failed ... He has obviously still managed to get one leg in at a time and half of his neck. The trough has been emptied and a small bucket is in it's place. Thanks Hollywood back to trudging water around daily. Lets hope he looks slightly more presentable for the Northumberland show at the end of the month!