Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Alpaca meat for sale in Cumbria?

Maybe something has happened that I don't know about...but I thought it wasn't possible to legally butcher alpacas in the UK? Well today I heard differently...and I still can't believe what I have been told.

A journalist and photographer from The Cumberland News arrived this afternoon, as previously arranged. Having anticipated the 'what do you do with them...can you eat them?" comment; I had some knitwear, throws and yarn on display. However, they were one step ahead of me. "Do you know that some breeder from Brampton (in Cumbria) is selling alpaca meat at the farmers markets" was an opening line. I suggested that it must be a spoof and explained that no one was licensed to slaughter alpacas here...but they had already checked...and reported that that a slaughter house has been granted a licence. I cannot find out anymore imformation...I still feel that it can't be correct...but I am sure we will hear more, if this is the case.

The photographer got more than he bargained for...after being assurred that they would not bite, kick or spit...he was anticipating that getting the alpacas to look to camera might be a little difficult....not ours they love it...Minnie was actually chasing him trying to get in the photos...it was rather amusing.

Since having Max, Minnie has returned to her pre-pregnancy super friendly self:

Minnie and Robyn

Looks like Max is going to take after his Mum!

Both of Synergy and Rumour are doing well. Rumour, who lost a little due to feeding difficulties, was back up to her birth weight this morning. I am just giving minimal supplementation with bottled goats milk now. She is adorable...soo difficult not to cuddle...especially when doing neck physio (there is only a subtle difference any way!)

P.S Not getting to the hairdressers probably worked well...I had fawn, brown, grey and white yarn on display. The photographer asked if Tyke, our minature Yorkie, could be in the yarn photo as well, as he toned in well...so my hair must have been just the job! The photographer must have misheard Tyke's name and kept calling him Tiger...so most of the photos have Robyn and I in fits of giggles...

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Rumour Has It...It was a Top Weekend!

Not only did I not get to the hairdressers on Saturday to cover up the grey...but I added a few grey hairs instead. Yes, of all days, Cambridge Camilla (dam of Beck Brow Explorer) decided to go into labour, just as I was leaving. I know we shouldn't have favourites...but the hair appointment was postponed... Just as well as we had a leg back...nothing too difficult to deal with...but not what Paul would have wanted to be left with.

Camilla delivered a beautifully bright white daughter, weighing in at 8 kgs at 15.30 hrs. The cria had an obvious stiff neck, which was making feeding very difficult...hence the grey hairs...but with a little help and plenty of physio, we are getting there. We have decided to name her; Rumour Has It (Rumour for short). We are not completely going solo just yet, so fingers crossed...but Magellan watch that top spot!

Camilla and Rumour

Beck Brow Rumour Has It!...with milky chops

Rumour's sire is EPC Top Account of Fowberry....hence the title. Camilla and Silverstream Galaxy were mated to Top account on the same day last year (I won't go into to the combination of genetics of these two pairings, except to say that they are pretty impressive). Galaxy delivered a handsome male cria, weighing in at 8.5 kgs at 09.30 am today. Not bad, less than 24 hours apart. A proper top weekend!

We have decided to name him Synergy (nothing to do with The Apprentice...probably a lot to do with too many dissertations in a previous life...marks for synergy!)

Beck Brow Synergy at three hours old!

I thought that I would add a photo of Max...we love Max...he has turned out to be a little star...I would like to say no flies on him...but he does seem to have a couple in the photo!

Beck Brow Max

And Finally Bonita...surely tomorrow...

Bozedown Bonita...wide load!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Love, Love Me Do...

Whilst taking the cria photos yesterday, I also took a few head shots of some of the adults. It wasn't until I downloaded some of them, that I began to suspect that Ben, our shearer, must have been having a bit of a laugh!

EP Cambridge Lady Gaga...okay so she thinks she is pretty...is that any reason to leave her with only one set of eyelashes!

And again...Chaska isn't quite as vain as Lady G...but she is also minus her left eyelashes...not sure what's going on with the ear decoration!

 Last but not least...what's going on with Nimrod?...he looks like he is auditioning for a Beatles tribute band...but is it for the part of George Harrison or Paul McCartney?

I'm thinking George Harrison myself!

Talking about hair do's...I've had to make an emergency appointment for myself. I received a phone call yesterday from our local paper...could they do a feature about Beck Brow Alpacas?...no problem....could they also bring out a photographer...oops problem; grey roots. Now, hopefully I will be able to avoid the camera, and as Paul noted, if it is in black and white it will be money wasted...anyhow, hair appointment tomorrow...what's the bets everyone decides to give birth whilst I'm away!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Photos...our 2011 cria so far!

No more births today, despite a few hours of rain free weather. However, it is torrential again now, so I expect that they knew what was coming. I keep telling them that we have cria coats and a nursery bay in the barn; but no go!

So some photos of our cria so far:

Crystal maze...very obviously light fawn (or is that now beige!)

Magellan...top of the pops so far this year!

Katie...we all love the ginger eyebrows!

Finesse...aptly named

And with Mum; Holly.

Last but not least; Max...looking rather sturdy, no wonder he took some getting out! (I've just realised that he looks like Mad Max...they are alive behind him...honest!)

My friend Claire came to visit today. Not only did she bring lunch, as I hadn't been shopping, but she helped with some spit off's too. She did find it all rather amusing; "you do know that normal people have coffee after lunch" she mused! Willow, a maiden, has been particularly difficult to read, especially as she originally spat off before she had ever been mated, but she did seem pretty convincing today when St. Patrick tried on the charm...no thank you siree. So we finished off our strawberries and cream!

We have heard that our black male that we share, Black Sabbath, hasn't quite got the hang of things yet. Although we could wait until later in the year, we have decided to leave it until next year. After all this gives us more females for Waradene St. Patrick. It will be good to put him over some browns as well as fawns and whites. Blacks will have to wait. We are hopeful of Explorer working later next year...but that maybe wishful thinking...if so St. Patrick might have to give up some white girls then!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Cria racing with hurdles!

He's cracked it...Minnie's cria was caught nursing at 21.00 hrs on Sunday night...he's a bit slow finding the teat, but he gets there in the end. He had lost a little bit of weight this morning, which was to be expected as he was refusing all our feeding efforts on Sunday. We have decided to rename him Max...Minnie and Max sounds rather cute...and nobody actually called him Zachery for fear of getting too attached too early.

Max looking a little fancy!

Team training has started early this year. Magellan and Crystal are looking very competitive. Normally training on the flat; the team have introduced some hurdle training this year:

Crystal takes an early lead...

Magellan coming up on the inside...

and it's Magellan who takes the first hurdle closely followed by Crystal

I kid you not...that is Pebbles fast asleep in the sunshine...with the cria jumping over her on a circular course...it must be one of the funniest cria antics that I have ever witnessed...Magellan is certainly a character, and Pebbles a sound sleeper! I wish that I had taken more shots but I was having far too much fun watching!

Sunday, 19 June 2011


I have been on observation duty for most of the day...my duties have been two fold; firstly watching Zachary for suckling, and secondly to spot the owner of the diarrhoea.

I had spotted some very loose stool in the paddock this morning, and bottom observation was not revealing the culprit. I had more or less ruled out the whites...it would have been easily spotted...so a brown was high on the suspect list...and I was correct...Holly delivered the evidence. Paul was out with his sample pot, slides were out and the usual floating and sinking conversations were had. Anyway, nothing...not an egg to be found and her latest offering is virtually back to normal...just slightly squishy coffee beans.

The second challenge has been much more difficult. We are not sure quite where we are going with Zachery. We managed to bottle feed him 700 mls of goats milk yesterday..not a vast amount but enough to keep him going. However, he completely refused his 3 am feed this morning, despite my best sleep deprived efforts and at 6 am we could only get 50 mls into him, and that was using a syringe. Now, my excitement grew when I went to milk Minnie, her back right quarter appeared to be down...had he been drinking.? Also he was still 9kgs...might his weight not have dipped a little with only 700mls taken? We gave him his antibiotics and some Boost 'n' Go and let them out.

So I sat and I watched...and watched...didn't go anywhere...rang Paul to bring out the paper and a cup of coffee. Now, I know that you will be thinking this was hardly work, but it was cold and it kept drizzling, so my paper was getting damp...well, over 2 hours later and I still hadn't see him even attempt to drink despite Minnie's nudges. However we still can't get him to drink more than the smallest amounts. He has had honey and some goats yogurt (liked that!) and is strong enough...we are praying if we can just sustain him through today, then his cerebral function may improve tomorrow.

As it is rather damp today the photos are from yesterday. I must get a one of  Zachery for Jayne, not only does he have a 'Z' name but he is a little fancy too!

Finesse is always hiding behind Holly

She's behind you Magellan!

 Getting braver

 And away!

Parisien and Pepsi enjoying the race

Pepsi is ready to be mated and is showing interest around St Patrick. The plan is/was to mate her with Anzac Viracocha Black Sabbath (our shared black male)...however we were expecting him to arrive last week, but unfortunately that didn't happen.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Another problem birth...and a hypoxic cria.

 It was with a horrible feeling of deja-vu yesterday, that I realized that Minnie was in trouble. Presenting in a very similar way to Pebbles, the vet was rang without delay. Fortunately it was the same vet who had attended earlier in the week, so knew what to expect.

It is now obviously that it is no coincidence that Minnie and Pebbles, who were both maidens, were pregnant to the same male. Hollywood is a big strong boy, and both cria have had heads too large to pass easily through the smaller birthing canals of the two maidens. It was a real struggle, and it was on the last attempt, before opting for a C-section, that the cria was actually pulled out. Thankfully we have no more maidens pregnant to Hollywood, although Nina delivered hers without any problems at all

Poor Minnie had been through the mill. Whilst the vet was checking her over to ensure no internal damage, I quickly got the cria dried. Straight away I noticed the the umbilical was haemorrhaging. Poor Amanda and Robyn were getting instructions shouted out left, right and centre "clamp from the birthing box", "hair drier" "get some towels in the tumble drier drier"...Everyone was flat out.

Minnie got some Finadyne and long acting Amoxipen (she has also been started on a course of Excenel today). Shaking and cold we put on an adult coat and gave her supplies of warm water to drink. The male cria weighed in at 9kg, but was weak with a very rapid respiratory rate. Suspecting an acidosis, secondary to hypoxaemia, due to the prolonged birth, the vet was doing everything to prevent a recurrence of the outcome earlier in the week. We did have the advantage of a body temp of 36, rather than the 32 degrees we had with Pebbles' daughter. A shot of intravenous bicarbonate was given (to reduce blood PH levels) along with Doxapram (to increase respiratory effort and hopefully blow off some of the carbon dioxide...if my ITU knowledge is correct).

Amazingly he seemed to be improving. We managed to get 5% of his body weight of cows colostrum into him within 6 hours and 10% within 24 hours. He is presenting as a 'dummy cria' and has absolutely no idea how to nurse from Minnie and doesn't even try (we really should have milked the colostrum from Minnie, as she has a great milk supply, but she was so uncomfortable). We will now keep milking her and hope that he gets the hang of things in 2-3 days time, when the damage caused to his brain settles down.

He looks amazing all things considered. He just won't nurse. The colours keep on surprising us. Minnie is white (sire Bozedown Razzle Dazzle - light fawn) and Hollywood is light fawn. Here is little Zachery looking very fawn. Thankfully, Minnie absolutely adores him despite the trauma he caused her.


The new arrival causes plenty of interest from the other side of the fence

 Everyone else appears to be doing well. We noticed that Magellan was straining over the poo pile with out result yesterday (he had previously been okay) so we gave him a warm soapy water enema, without any effect. With no improvement this morning, he had a Fleet enema and passed a rather hard looking stool. Good result

Magellan watching Finesse with envy yesterday!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Go on Minnie...just do it!

We are getting into a nice little routine going here at Beck Brow...every morning Paul goes off to work...and every morning I wave him goodbye adding; "I think Minnie will have her baby today!". This has been going on all week. Yesterday the retort was; "I suppose if you say it often enough you are bound to be right eventually!". This morning I said nothing, so we will see...366-days gestation today. She could hardly stay awake yesterday and she is huge. Not great for a little maiden...just have it Minnie...you know you want one!

Minnie...366-days gestation.

With the excitement of getting two females in one day on Tuesday; I rather jumped to some conclusions. Yes, they are both female, all orifices are checked at birth! But Crystal is not white. The 'white' from two white parents is actually light fawn. This was highlighted by the brilliant white Magellan, who is out of two fawns!! Good job there are no plans to breed a particular colour.

Chaska is keeping us very entertained. She is so chilled and sweet natured, but she does rather forget that she has a cria to look after. She just wanders off and leaves him asleep, then he has to find her when he wants fed. A couple of evenings ago we looked out of the window during a torrential down pour. Everyone was in the barn bar poor Magellan. We ran out to get him...this did prompt Chaska to remember about him and she called for him...yes, she called for him from the barn door...don't you get yourself wet Chaska! Magellan is now putting on weight at a steady pace. Amanda has found a replacement for JumpStart (we find the new formula too thick) called Boost and Go, which he much prefers to Kick Start, which smells of Marmite.

Our fleece stats came back from the European Wool Testing Authority yesterday. I am now about to send the same samples to SGS in New Zealand. We have decided to change to SGS for testing but as we have used EWTA in the past I needed some control results to compare.

Robyn has been waiting to see Anzac Almost Illegal's (Almo) results before deciding who to use over Nina. He is one of our young fawn males who is now ready to work. His third fleece stats: MFD: 18.7, SD 3.90, CV 21.10, >30 1.13%. She has decided that he will now get his first mating this evening with Nina. They have also put in a request for Paella for tea. Free stud services and fed as well!

I won't go into lots of numbers and fleece stats because they can be a bit tedious for the non-obsessed, but I think it is worth sharing the result of our experiment from 2009. At the time we didn't have a suitable stud male for Nancy, a female who had came at foot with one of our original females, and although sound, she does not have a fine fleece. The gamble was; she would not produce a stud male, so did we spend more than the £500 (the pet male sale price) on a stud service. We decided that we would and the gamble has most definitely paid off. Not only did we get a daughter (Lucie) but Lucie's fleece stats are amongst the best of our 2010 cria, along with density and great crimp style (and a good length of fleece from her dam) ...she is lovely. Well done EPC Top Account of Fowberry...we are even more excited to see what you produce for us next.

Lucie behind Explorer...inseparable!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Reasons to be cheerful...at least three!

 The first really sunny day that we have had for ages, and the girls were obviously getting ready to take advantage. The first to the finishing post was Morden Hall Honoria, a female that we purchased at the Futurity Elite Alpaca Auction in 2009 (when you actually had to put your hand up rather than bid on line...much more fun). Pregnant to Ambersun Baltimore (sire Jolimont Warrior) we were expecting a white and had our fingers crossed for a female...and Honoria kindly obliged with a lovely 9.4 kg girl delivered at 11.30 am.

She was quick to her feet but finding the teat was a little more troublesome.With a little assistance she did get there within the 3 hours...after this we would be making plans about how to ensure adequate colostrum needs can be met within the first 6 hours.
Trying hard but just can't quite get the hang of it!

Holly gave us a couple of hours reprieve before she too delivered a female...a lovely dark fawn or is it light brown?. Born at 13.20 hours and weighing in at 9.9 kgs, she was trying to feed before she was actually up on her feet
No messing...straight to the teat

Holly's daughter is full sister to Finian (aka as Fin and now residing at Lane End Alpacas). We repeated this mating in the hope of breeding a female version of the lovely Fin...hence we have called her Finesse (sire Legacy of Purston). With a lovely crimpy fleece...if she also has her brothers personality...she will be a little star.

I have decided...as I write...that I will call Honoria's daughter Crystal (registered as Crystal Maze).
Beck Brow Crystal Maze

Beck Brow Finesse (sorry seem to have no face shots!)

The third piece of good news is that Magellan has put on a little weight today, and was not keen to take his top up feed when offered. Hopefully Chaska has it cracked. He has been playing more today, another good sign, and generally enjoying the sunshine. 

Magellan today...coat off at last!

Today's sunbathing provided an idea opportunity for a little thief...you know how it is you doze off in the sunshine...taking care of your belongings can be difficult...well Katkin was caught out... when flat out... Parisien (her 2010 daughter) helped herself to a drink of milk! Not once but twice. Katkin is now on the case so I don't think we will see a repeat...interesting though...No, she didn't steal the colostrum as we were observing her, but it proves it could happen.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Another addition...

Magellan is keeping us on our toes. A little weight loss this morning meant that we were back to supplementing Chaska's milk with some goats milk. It is the balancing act of not bottle feeding so much that he is too full, and then doesn't drink from mum, but ensuring that he gets enough. Chaska has milk and he is definitely suckling, but he is obviously a little hungry judging by the amount of times he goes to suckle, if not topped up. We are happy that he received adequate colostrum as we topped him up during the first 24 hours with cows colostrum, as we suspected that the milk supply was not abundant. Another 150 ml top up at 21.00 hrs and we will leave him overnight. No weight loss this evening so hopefully things are improving in the milk department.

Beck Brow Magellan obviously suckling

 Magellan looking perky enough.

We had another birth yesterday. Katkin is an old pro and had a trouble free birth. Umbilical cord spray with Betadine, unplug the teats, and they were away. A fawn female weighing in at 9.6 kgs, we have named her Katie. It has been very sweet to watch how Parisien, Katkin's daughter from last year, has taken to her little sister. She won't let her out of her sight.

Beck Brow Katie

 The little gang; Fendi, Annabelle, and Satchmo are all very chilled. I caught them all dozing off by the paddock bench this morning. Amanda's flask from the previous day still parked there.

And finally; a little tip. Blogs are about sharing so I will share this one; DO NOT WARM YOUR CRIA COAT IN THE MICROWAVE...20 seconds too long...and you have no cria coat and a very messy microwave to clean. Yes...stick to the tumble drier! I have to say that it did work well the first time (with Paul in charge)...I pressed the start button and forget to check...oops.

It's mid-June...it's cold and it's raining...37 alpacas and not one to be seen in the paddock this evening...all tucked up in various shelters and barns...come on summer...and come on Minnie (362-days today).

Friday, 10 June 2011

Happier news...

Thank you for all your kind comments and sympathy; for Pebbles and for ourselves. It does help so. Pebbles has coped remarkably well considering the awful time that she had. She came back into the barn yesterday morning when I was washing down the nursery bay, she looked, then walked out again. She has not been back since. I have been wondering if being a maiden has made acceptance slightly easier? Our only previous experience was with Katkin when she lost her second born cria. She mourned terribly and didn't really come out of her depression until she was mated again.

Despite Pebbles appearing to be accepting of the loss, I was hoping that the other girls might have hung-on yesterday. I thought a birth so soon after losing her cria, might just have set Pebbles back again. Chaska, who was 356-days gestation, is such a sweet natured alpaca, she was obviously trying very hard to oblige with the request:

Inca Van Dieman Chaska...crossing her legs!

However, despite her best efforts, she gave birth at 15.30 hours to a 8.75kg white boy. Yes...white! Chaska, one of our best fawn females, was pregnant to Neptune of Houghton, who is himself fawn and has a strong record of producing colour. Luckily my original plan of producing fawns as our focus has gone by the wayside, now that we have produced some fabulous whites. Obviously any colour will do, so long as it is healthy, and mum is okay.

Of course a birth did help us to move forward after the previous day's events. We quickly moved Mum and cria out of the paddock where Pebbles was, and into the nursery paddock. Pebbles did shout after the cria as we left, but quickly went back to grazing. 

Chaska's cria has the brightest white fleece, reminding us of another certain little white male when he was born. Thus we have decided to name him Magellan after the Portugese Explorer, and in the hope that he will do as well for us as our own Beck Brow Explorer...bit early to say!!

Inca Van Dieman Chaska with Beck Brow Magellan

Thursday, 9 June 2011

A Sad Blog.

I normally like my blogs to be up beat with plenty of photos, but unfortunately this cannot always be the case. This morning I had to do what must be one of the most heart renching things ever; to remove a cold and lifeless cria from the side of it's dam.

Yesterday Pebbles started showing signs of the first stages of labour around 10.00 am; she was slightly off on her own; standing and sitting more often than usual. Subtle but there. I think I may have mentioned before that we have problems keeping the weight off Pebbles, she is not especially greedy but despite attempts at reducing her condition score, she is heading towards 4.5/5. For this reason she was on my high alert risk register. She was also 360-days gestation. An over weight, over due maiden was someone to keep a close eye on and we certainly did. My arranged meeting was postponed.

Unfortunately for Pebbles she had chosen a day when the weather was very changeable. Every time the rain came down the herd headed for the barn and poor Pebbles followed. She appeared to stop progressing each time she came in. She looked uncomfortable, but not incredibly so. However by 13.30 hours they were in the barn and still nothing was happening. I just felt things weren't right. I decided to call the vet. Our nearest vet is 40 minutes away so a decision has to be made sooner rather than later.

Approximately 10 mins after the call was made, her water broke and a little brown nose appeared...but nothing else...we let her try a short while but without success. On examination I could feel that the right leg was bent right back but despite my best efforts I couldn't free it. And when I saw the effort that the vet had to put in I wasn't surprised. I know the vet was also surprised when the lovely brown female cria was actually breathing. Born at 14.30 hours, weighing 8.5 kgs, our hopes were initially raised but, she was hypothermic and rather weak. We dried her with a hairdryer, put her in a coat and under a heat lamp and she seemed to be stable, but the birth had been too much, she stop breathing at an hour old and despite our attempts at cardio-pulmonary resuscitation we lost her.

Poor Pebbles...we had to get the vet back as we had no oxytocin and she had not passed the placenta. I was actually pleased that we did have to call her back as we were able to go through what had happened. It is impossible not to blame yourself when these things happen and retrospection often makes that more so. Calling the vet sooner probably would have helped but there was no real indication to do so. The vet felt that she probably had been acidotic, secondary to hypoxia and this is not something that we could have ever dealt with at home.

We decided to leave the cria with Pebbles overnight. And when I went out to the barn first thing Pebbles; her mum (Baheti); and her sisters (Pepsi and Poppet) were all lying together with the cria. Yes, tears. I removed the cria with them watching. Pebbles is grieving. I could see that she knew. Knew but didn't want to believe. However she made no complains when I carried her cria away. We are all feeling low this morning. The herd obviously know and are subdued. I took Pebbles some food in a bowl...normally this would have caused a squabble...but they just let her eat.

I hope for Pebbles' sake we have no babies born today.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A Chocolate Button...

Amanda got the call at around 11 am yesterday "I think Stanstead might be on". Amanda lives about 15 minutes away but made it in 10!...by 13.30 hrs I was debating if I could rush off to Marks and Spencer (leaving Amanda) as food supplies were running low...but no she wasn't quite right. At last she went into the second stage of labour and we got a nose and two front feet. We waited...and waited...but no further progression. So we caught her and inspected, a little re positioning of the left leg (the knee was obviously locked) and on the next push the head neck and front legs were out. Well Stanstead got such a shock at the 'alien' hanging out of her that she went mad...spinning round and spitting at it. I had witnessed this before but it was quite an experience for Amanda.

15.40 hrs and she finally had a cria...a lovely dark brown boy, who was up on his feet within 15 minutes and drinking in less than hour. Stanstead passed the placenta within 30 mins of his birth and was a fantastic mum straight away. He weighed in at a respectable 7.0 kg and was 7.2kg this morning. Amanda hasn't made a final choice yet but we call him chocolate button for now.

Cambridge Stanstead with her chocolate button (newborn)

Beck Brow Explorer was first on the scene...checking out if this was going to be the competition

Herd appreciation!

Explorer is still in with the girls. He is enjoying learning about the birds and the bees...best that he learns through nature...rather than me having to teach him...It's not my favourite job pointing them in the right direction (I do know someone who is a dab hand thou!)  He isn't really being a pest other than to Lucie, who doesn't seem to mind him at all. They are always together. He does seem to prefer the monogamous approach, hopefully he will grow out of that by next year. He was orgling on top of Lucie earlier...and I thought that he was going to nuzzle her ear...but he pouffed instead...not quite the dreamboat. Just wait a little Lucie and you will be meeting Waradene St. Patrick... who is the perfect gent.

I was sure that I would get a cria today but still no. I have to attend a meeting tomorrow (as someone convinced me that taking over as co-ordinator of the alpaca show at Westmorland was a good idea!) so one is bound to arrive when I am out. It could be any one of 10 looking at their behaviour today.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Off to the Coast...

I woke up this morning...well that is not quite true as the alarm woke me up...but anyway I woke up and I realised I felt quite different. I hadn't really been aware of it, but a little anxiety had just been hanging around in the background during the latter part of last week. On Sunday the reason became apparent...I had been pretending that it wasn't really happening...if I didn't think about it...didn't write about it...it wasn't true...What was it?

On Monday we had had a visit from a lovely couple who were interested in adding a pregnant female (with or without cria at foot) to their small herd. I had a couple of girls in mind but we started by discussing what exactly they were looking for, and their plans for the future of their herd. It became apparent that they were after alpacas that were friendly, easy to handle, and in a mixture of colours. In a nutshell  they wanted to enjoy seeing their alpacas in the paddock and enjoy being around them.

Now, I like to think that I am a good judge of character and Kathryn is a nurse (caring and practical skills), they live on a farm, and have all kinds of animals as well as alpacas...and that is why...I agreed to sell two of my favourite girls...two of my friendliest girls...at least one of which I had decided I was definitely keeping...yes...two of my weanlings.
After talking with Kathryn and Paul, we decided that taking two young girls, who would not be ready to be mated until next year, would mean that they could enjoy and develop a bond with them without the pregnancy hormones. They could then bring them back for on farm matings in 2012. It is tough letting the babies go, especially as they are the sweetest and friendliest...but Nutmeg and Tabitha have gone to a fantastic home. We set off early Sunday afternoon across to the North East coast...and as I expected...they have fallen on their feet. Kathryn and Paul obviously adore their animals and I have no doubt that they will be treated like princesses.

Legacy of Purston (one of our stud males) has also gone on a summer holiday to the seaside (on lease) with a beautiful coastal view in one direction and girls in the other; we left him in his element. It was lovely to see how quickly they settled. I have had an email from Kathryn this morning confirming all is well (Nutmeg and Tabitha are already allowing Kathryn to touch them...allowing is not the right word as they actively seek affection) and with CCTV in their paddock they will be well watched over.

Beck Brow Nutmeg

Beck Brow Tabitha

Paul has had to go back to work today after having last week on leave. We thought we had planned his week off well, not only to fit in shearing, but also so he would see some births. It has been quite an eventful week...but not many births...surely today!! Paul did manage to get another field shelter completed. We are dividing up of the paddocks further. This allows us to have more isolation paddocks if required and also more options to accommodate small groups. We are constantly saying well that's it...only maintenance now...and then start another project...alpaca addiction at it's best!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Panic first...

It was the usual routine this morning; the alarm goes off at 6am, and I get up to check on the pregnant females. Having no near neighbours, I thought that I would get them to check out my new Joules pyjamas this morning...nobody was interested...everybody in the barn as usual. By feed time they had wandered out (unusual) but came rushing back when they heard us.

All in for feed, and Paul spots something lying in a heap, on it's own, at the top of the paddock. Get the box he yells (the birthing/emergency box he means). My heart sinks surely it must be dead if the dam has left it...even then that would be unusual...we run...we arrive...completely out of breath...Paul gets there first (no surprises there)...and bursts out laughing... Not sure how you resuscitate a Laura Ashley cushion (to be fair I have had it since the 80's so it isn't at it's best).  I had accidentally left a couple of cushions out on the bench in the field last night, and one had obviously blown across the paddock.

Having made me run unnecessarily I did try to pay him back later by claiming I could see a black cria in the paddock...but he wasn't the least bit fooled. If Velvet is lost you can guarantee that she will be in the Alpaca paddock. Her and Nutmeg are great friends. I never seem to have the camera with me at the right moment, but Velvet waits until Nutmeg approaches her then kisses her nose...sweet.

Velvet...pretending to be our only black alpaca

We are now getting used to our naked herd. Judi mentioned different shearing styles in a comment on our last blog. Ours do get quite a severe hair cut, although I did ask for a little more leg fleece to be left on this year than we had last. We did deliberate about the tails. I admit they do look more stylish with the tail fleece left, but I can't tell you how much easier both mating and monitoring births is without it. Maybe we should have left the boys with theirs though.

Young Punk Annabelle is doing well and gaining weigh steadily. She is now 8.2 kg and is a sturdy little female


Nina, her dam is very proud and quite protective, but Anabelle is now getting confident enough to check us out.

Annabelle with Robyn.

Still no more births despite 8 females now being past their due date. I use 340 days as a due date for maidens, and an average of previous gestation periods as a due date for the older girls, but they are not playing ball. Stanstead is 362 days, and Minnie and Pebbles are just a few days behind her. We have arranged to be away tomorrow afternoon, leaving Craig and Amanda on birthing duty, just you watch, they will get half a dozen!