Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A very fair exchange....

Well there is no point trying to be mysterious about our purchases at the auction...I see that it is already on the Harrison and Hetherington web site http://www.livestock-sales.co.uk/2011/alpacas/0829/index.html

(don't know why I bothered doing my hair...looks like I forgot to brush it...I did say just use the one where the alpaca is standing correctly...oh well!). I did go with the intention of purchasing lot 24; Blueberry Alonso Renata 11 (Champion Intermediate Female and Best of British Champion at Northumberland Show 2011), unfortunately so had someone else. The bidding was fast and she went for the absolute maximum that I was prepared to pay (and much more that I had hoped I would have to spend!).

Our black female Blueberry Sinbad Blackbird was the third most expensive alpaca sold...I just don't get bargains! I wanted to get a little herd of 3 young females so that they could be quarantined together and the third female was chosen based on her fleece stats but also because she is due soon...I like the gamble...will she have a female...if so she may well be a bargain! She is Blueberry Max Nicola and carries Rural Alianza Don Pepe of Wessex and NWA Ltd Ruffo genetics.

Jim chooses his alpaca names as a combination of the dam and sire. Sometimes this is a bit confusing (I noticed that one gelding who had Matador as his sire and Magnolia as his dam, had ended up as Matt Magnolia...paint may be better in matt not sure about an alpaca....gloss?!) Therefore as her mum is already called Blackbird I think I will be calling Blackbird, Biba.

Nicola (L) and Renata


This morning I took along some poo samples, including those from the new girls, to the VLA for testing. We do have the kit to do our own, but had been asked to provide some alpaca poo to the laboratory 'as a favour'. It seems that they are to be tested on their sampling techniques and reporting of alpaca fecal egg counts. So I supply some poo and I get the results for free...even better I was given a nice bottle of Rioja for my trouble...turning poo into wine...can't be bad.

Just picking up a comment that Judi made on an earlier blog regarding sensitive skin (Phoebe an alpaca belonging to Robyn and Craig is hypersensitive since having mites last year) unfortunately the vet didn't really have anything additional to add. We have tried everything (including recently treating her as if she had mites just in case we had got it wrong, but it didn't make the slightest difference). It does seem to be related to flies so we think that it may be a reaction to insect bites. She really is much better on wet and windy days and doesn't seem to itch at all (luckily for her there are plenty of those round these parts). One product that has helped (but leaves the fleece a dreadful mess) is Stop Itch which includes a fly repellent as well as soother, but it is a cream so not the easiest to apply. I had asked the vet about an anti-histamine but this isn't something he could recommend.

And finally...someone has been eating too many pies...Velvet has always amazed us with her ability to squeeze through the stock fencing between alpaca paddocks...quite useful as she often needs to make a swift exit after messing with someone's cria...however she does appear to have gotten a little large for the hole!

Velvet....no way!

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Blueberry Alpaca Herd Sale....

Today was the day...the auction sale of the prize winning Blueberry Alpaca herd. Jim (Dent) a well respected local breeder had been talking about having a sale for a couple of years, so us locals had had plenty of notice. However the turn out was far from being Cumbrian, looking around I spotted breeders from virtually every county in the UK!

I had already been to look at the herd prior to the sale so had made my choices. No need to go early. Plenty of time to do my hair...do my hair?...Paul is wondering why I need to do my hair to go to an auction..."just in case I get my photo taken"..."get your photo taken?"...."yes when you buy the most expensive alpaca you get your photo taken!"....I got my photo taken!!

Someone new to alpacas actually bought 31 lots; we only bought three. I call them the expensive one; the very pregnant one; and the black one. All young girls with lots of promise. I will tell more tomorrow as I need a glass of red to celebrate, but we got what we went for, okay at a higher price than anticipated, but purchasing the alpacas that are in demand must be a good move...I hope!

The black one; The expensive one (centre...she is just fab!); and the very pregnant one (didn't I breath a sigh of relief about the birthing season being over too soon!)

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Introducing Kev...

With no more alpacas due this year...we had the luxury of getting up at 08.30 hours this morning...no popping out in the PJs at 6 am to do the morning checks...not that I didn't still wake up at the crack of dawn...but it was nice to be able to just roll over!

Hoity's little boy is doing well. As expected, once he was warmed up and had some food in his tummy, he soon got up the strenghth to drink from his mum, when left to it. We have however been having a bit of a problem thinking of a name for him (I was sure Hoity Toity was having a female). Initially we thought we should have a Hollywood theme to Hollywood Attitude's cria, but it hasn't proven to be very inspiring. So far we have:

Alfie (fair enough...after the film)
Annabelle (could that be Annabelle's Party...was that a film?)
Magnum (Magnum Force)
Sophie (Sophie's Choice...I know we are stretching things)

So what to call Hoity's boy? Amanda was trying her best to provide prompts...what is your favourite film?..."The Hand that Rocks The Cradle?...Fatal Attraction?"...No doesn't help?

What about your favourite actor?..."don't really have one...hang on...what about that guy in Robin Hood...emmm...Kevin Costner...that's it!" ... "You want to call him Kev?" (no offense to Kevins but I had to agree it isn't the best alpaca name...bit like Alan isn't either...or Malcolm...you know what I mean). Well we entertained ourselves but didn't come up with anything like a suitable name.

We then went on to trying to fine names with the initials HT after his mum...but in the end I have called him Quintos...nothing to do with either parent...it was going to be Iquintos after somewhere we visited when in Peru, but I decided to drop the I. Quintos...it seems to suit him...

Beck Brow Quintos

I had organised for the vet to come on Friday afternoon for a few herd health jobs: These included checking that Roma's jaw abscess had healed (before Westmorland Show...she missed Northumberland because of it); checking on Katkin's abscess site; Phoebe's sensitive skin (she has had hypersensitive skin since having mites last year and gets dermatitis); checking Hoity's ingrowing eyelash (much easier when not pregnant); and microchipping the cria. Unfortunately the initial appointment time of 2 pm got changed to 3 pm then eventually 5.30 pm...typical madness before a bank holiday weekend...hence the last 2 tasks have been left for another day!

It is the Blueberry Alpacas herd sale tomorrow. Breeders seem to be coming to Cumbria from far and wide. We will be going along to catch up with everyone and keep an eye on proceedings...feedback tomorrow!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The last birth of the year...

Well Amanda has now completed her apprenticeship at Beck Brow, with the last cria of year being born this morning. Not that she witnessed the birth...no Hoity Toity wasn't playing ball...Paul looked out of the window first thing to spot something very small and very white lying in the paddock. Yes...Hoity had obviously decided...after three days of lovely weather...to birth in the early hours... in the cold.

Amanda has covered most things in the text book...today it was hypothermia. The little fella's temperature was so low it wasn't registering on the thermometer. However he wasn't dry so we expect hadn't been exposed too long. Heat lamp on, draft excluders in place, hairdryer in hand and towels in the microwave. It took some time (3 hours) before we actually got his temperature high enough to feed him. Luckily we always have a good supply of cows colostrum in the freezer (kindly supplied from the farmer who rents some of our land and has 400 births each year!) and we also had plasma. We gave the plasma tubed (I can never get them to drink it) and bottle fed some colostrum.

Unfortunately we have not managed to get him to drink from mum, despite her best efforts. We have held him under, squirted milk in to his mouth, but he just doesn't make the effort to suckle. Now that we feel we have got adequate into him to cover passive transfer, I have left them to it for a few hours to see what he does.

The situation was not helped by poor Hoity having a retained placenta. Looking at her rear end she looked like she had had a tough birth already without struggling with the placenta. I gave her some Finadyne for pain relief but she was still uncomfortable. Eventually we gave some Oxytocin with result (a little gentle help required) and antibiotic cover in the form of Excenel.

Phew...that's it. 6 girls and four boys this year. We haven't decided on a name for our latest arrival. His Dam Silverstream Hoity Toity is a Silverstream Czar daughter (ggs Peruvian Hemingway) and has Jolimont Conquistador on her dam's side. His sire is Anzac Hollywood's Attitude (Sire Jolimont Attitude gs Jolimont Sculptor) and he also has Jolimont Conquistador on his dams side. So the boy comes with some credentials!

Hoity Toity with her cria (looking more perky this evening)

The apprentice at work!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Just get over it...

I have needed a prescription for cria therapy over the weekend...the need to keep things in perspective...to enjoy the uncomplicated life of sitting in the paddock with the alpacas. Sometimes you just know that you have been had...but there comes a point when fighting for justice just isn't worth the stress. 

An engine management light came on in van last month, this was within the 3 month warranty supplied by a local garage...garage tells us just faulty sensor...sensor changed...next time van is driven warning light returns...van now out of warranty...yes you can guess the rest. In short the van needed a new turbo (an intermittent fault so difficult to detect we admit) but was obviously the cause on the original problem. On the bright side the Volkswagon garage were extremely helpful...even offering to cover the costs if we had a full service history...unfortunately the 'full service history' that was supposed to be with the van...appears not to be so full after all...I am now £1200 lighter...arghhh.

That's it...forgotten. We kept ourselves busy over the weekend. Paul has been putting a new roof on the portacabin (that dad kindly painted earlier in the week). This is going to be our education centre (okay its a box...but best think big!). I will post a photo when complete (could be a while).

Paul has also been doing a bit of topping. We are really struggling to keep on top of the grass this year. The alpacas are most definitely on the generously covered side. We even had 3 acres made in to large bale silage and taken away over the weekend.

I had to catch up on some domestic duties (boring but essential) but kept giving myself some time out to enjoy the cria:

Rumour Has It...such a sweet girl (sire EPC Top Account of Fowberry) and sister to Explorer

Boots (sire Waradene St. Patrick of EPC) continues to be our biggest poser

Can you spot her...everyone else is watching Velvet...but there is boots; centre looking at the camera.

I think that Boots must be the most entertaining cria that we have had born here...she is so friendly but at the same time quite full of herself and is always at the centre of everything. The next 3 photos are not of very good quality but I think sum up her spirit.

Getting stuck in with Rumour

Slight disadvantage being short

but ideal height for the jugular...

And finally another favourite playmate of Boots'...Magnum...he is so sweet despite Boots giving him what for!



Thursday, 18 August 2011

Fleece fairy required...

I was going to wait until I had some interesting news before blogging this week...I was waiting for something exciting to report...something like our last cria of the year being born...or a miracle occurring such as the fleece fairy paying us a visit, waving her magic wand and woosh; 600 fleeces sorted...but no and no!

In amongst fleece sorting, I have been nipping between checking on Hoity Toity (over due) and keeping an eye on Westmorland Show entries. With limited room available in the tent (allowing for 3 mtrs between pens and room for an indoor ring in case of rain, it is going to be tight). I limited the numbers, but it was always going to be difficult to imagine every variable e.g male/female/adult male all needing separate pens. Any way entries are closed and we are packed (I feel a headache ahead)...Paul!!...We have entries from 22 different breeders which is great but sets a challenge for penning...just the task for an engineer I feel!

The cria have been in a boisterous mood today. Firstly Satchmo decided to mess with Magellan:

Satchmo (brown) and Magellan

However he was always going to come worst off...Magellan is one strong male:

Satchmo is counted out...

Next it was the turn of Synergy who got an ear full (or is that an eye full) from Sophie. 

Sophie and Synergy

Not very lady like? Depends if one would like to keep one's dignity intact...the reason for the fall out shown below:

Synergy starting early

Although I was only out with the camera for 15 minutes Magellan managed to get into more trouble annoying Finesse:

Magellan and Finesse

Explorer still spends all his time at the fence next to the girls. He still hasn't given up hope of being reunited with his true love (Lucie). Here he is trying to remove the staples with his teeth...it is going to take a while to get the fence all down Explorer!

Explorer...pliers would be quicker!

Boots was a week old on Tuesday. She still looks tiny but is full of mischief and frightened of nothing. Poor Lady Gaga is forever running around behind her.

Snooty Boots.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Banksy at work...

I gave myself the day off on Saturday...arguably a bit of a bus man's holiday, as I went off with a bag of alpaca fleece in tow. Yet another course (I am known to like courses) this time it was nuno felting. Julie from Hesta Scene http://www.hestascene.com/  a textile artist with a special interest in working with alpaca, was our tutor for the day. She did an excellent job as I have to admit to being rather pleased to have produced a very nice scarf. Having just purchased 600 fleeces I think I will have to come up with something less time consuming though! I have realised the fatal flaw in my alpaca wear business...there is only one of me...might have to have a re-think...me thinks!

Paul was left at home in charge of things. Hoity Toity is now 346-days so he was instructed to keep a good eye on her. As Paul thinks that all white alpacas look the same I thought that I would help him out in the identification challenge:

Hoity has a small sore...about the size of ten pence piece...possibly smaller...unfortunately Hoity kicked out and I moved but forgot to take my finger off the aerosol button!

Paul and St. Patrick were away mobile mating on Sunday. It would appear that St. Patrick got all three of the females pregnant that were mated on the same day a couple of weeks ago. As he only had two matings on Sunday, we didn't give him the day off today as we would normally do! This evening he had a date with Parisien, who sat nicely for a maiden, watched by her new owners who had come to see what it was all about.

Snooty Boots is coming along well. She looks so diddy next to the other cria. Here she is with Fendi, who belongs to Amanda and was the first cria born this year. Boots is very careful not to get any drips on herself whilst visiting the poo pile:

Boots visits the ladies with Fendi...girls always go in twos!

Magnum and Alfie...like peas in a pod and best friends too

Friday, 12 August 2011

Beck Brow Snooty Boots

All credit to Lady Gaga she did pick a fine day to give birth to Snooty Boots. However, ever since then the weather has been doing a very good impersonation of November. Not only has it rained relentlessly, but the wind has been blowing a gale. Not the weather for a premature cria to be braving the storm. Hence, Lady G and Boots have been tucked up in the barn for most of the time. With plenty of hay bales for draught proofing and a heat lamp, they have been snug as a bug.

Lady G has rather liked having the executive suite to herself. She was happy to have the others in view, but definitely wasn't looking to share, especially when new mother rations were on offer. Hoity Toity did hang around, showing great interest in the new cria, but Gaga was giving her the cold shoulder, with shoulder pads to boot...more hoity toity than Hoity Toity herself I would say!

Boots is doing well. She was very tired for the first couple of days. She wandered from under the heat to be fed then got her self positioned back in the warmth. Velvet is totally in awe. Amasingly Gaga is just letting her go and sit beside Boots but keeps a good eye on her.

Despite the drizzle Lady Gaga and Boots have ventured up the field this morning. Boots has gained a little weight (300 gs) and is now up for a bit of romping around. Here she is, a bit damp and wearing 2 coats to keep warm:

Beck Brow Snooty Boots (sire Waradene St. Patrick of EPC)

EP Cambridge Lady Gaga with Snooty Boots (need to put the tape back on those ears!)

Doing an impersonation of Eric and Ernie (Morcambe and Wise...okay you might be too young to remember!)

Did someone say something about the 'Cat's Pyjamas!"

No I'll stick with Snooty Boots!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

EP Cambridge Lady Gaga and Waradene St Patrick of EPC ...are pleased to announce:

It was obvious by 09.30 hrs this morning that EP Cambridge Lady Gaga had things on her mind. Pregnant to our own Waradene St. Patrick of EPC, and potentially his first cria, this should have been very exciting...and it was. But...and here's the but...she was only 321-days gestation...approximately the same gestation as last year when she had a cria that did not survive (prior to us taking delivery of her).

So the high alert button was pressed:

1. Call Amanda....tick
2. Birthing bag contents all present and correct...tick
4. Colostrum store checked...tick
3. Plasma located...tick
4. Mobile phone with vet on fast dial...tick
5. Hairdrier and heat lamp in situ...tick
6. Kettle...you always need hot water!...tick
7. Towels ready for the microwave...tick

Right Gaga we are ready and waiting...and waiting...and waiting. It was a case of watching you; watching me (ah ah) but she eventually had a text book birth at 12.30 pm. I was so excited by the colour (Gaga is beige and we really wanted to see what colour St Patrick would add) that I nearly forgot to check the sex immediately...but we have a beautiful mid fawn female. Down on her pasterns, and with slightly floppy ears she is obviously somewhat prem (although teeth are erupted) she weighed in at 7.0 kgs. She was slightly slower to stand at 2 hours, but was latched on soon after...Lady Gaga is the most amazing Mum.

We (that is I) have decided to name her Snooty Boots...Gaga always looks down her nose at people's footwear (especially Amanda's) hence the name. She will be known as Boots. To say that I am a little excited is an understatement...watch out Explorer...she might just have one of the brightest fleeces that I have seen...serious competition boy!!

EP Cambridge Lady Gaga with Beck Brow Snooty Boots (sire Waradene St. Patrick of EPC)

A close up at less than 3 hours old...

Finally...a short blog as rather exhausted after all the excitement...a photo of Parisien with Katkin and Katie (in the dust bath)...I am sure that Katkin knows that I have sold her!

Parisien (left) with Katkin and Katie.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Ups and Downs

It has taken me a couple of days to feel able to report on the dreadful day that we had on Friday. Poor Max had obviously had more going on than I anticipated. We managed to sort out his constipation on Thursday evening, however he was refusing electrolytes via a bottle but was drinking from Mum, we were concerned but didn't think he was in anyway critical. However, on Friday morning, he was kushed but lethargic, and fearing dehydration I called the vet to administer some intravenous fluids. The vet started an infusion of Hartmans solution. However, as the flow rate was slow she decided to top him up with some intraperitoneal Hartmans, and planned that she would return in an hours' time with a correct size cannula, and to perform a full examination (she had received an emergency call out). Unfortunately the vet had only been left no more than 5 minutes, when Max suffered a seizure, his breathing became extremely laboured and he went into respiratory arrest.

Little Max had to fight for his life when he was born. We all fought so hard to keep him alive and he really did love life. A dreadful shame and we are mighty sad. Thankfully Minnie is absolutely fine. It has to be said she appears relieved...did she know more than us...I suspect so. RIP Marvelous Little Max.

On a happier note we are pleased to have introduced some lovely new owners to the addiction that is alpaca breeding. For although there will always be some lows (and I don't think anyone ever hardens themselves to the loss of a cria, or indeed any beloved animal) there are many more highs to owning and caring for such beautiful, inquisitive creatures, that are alpacas.

Richard and Lesley have purchased a ready made alpaca family in the form of Katkin and her 2 daughters; Parisien and Katie. Katkin is already pregnant to Waradene St. Patrick of EPC and Parisien will be mated to him very shortly. The girls are to stay at Beck Brow on livery until Richard and Lesley have made some alterations to their land and a shelter has been built. They will also be coming for plenty of hands-on training prior to taking the girls home.

Katkin, Parisien and Katie

Parisien...inquisitive as always

Velvet trying to stay as still as she can...Satchmo falling for the trick!

People often ask about "how can you bear to sell your alpacas?"...well it is hard... but there is also pleasure in sharing. Sharing knowledge and sharing the pleasure of alpaca ownership...and of course making lovely new friends. Last night we had a visit from Bev and Andy (owners of Fin, Kenzie and Noah) and had a meal down at the local...Yes...the downs are tough, but the highs are many.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Cria constipation...

All credit to him...it was Paul who noticed the problem...it has been said (in all fairness, it was said by me) that Paul has a similar look when he is annoyed...but sure enough Paul spotted that... Max was indeed...constipated. Poor little man was straining over the poo pile without result. I had a little trouble finding the correct choice of washing up liquid...wasn't sure about antibacterial and surely lemon scented was unnecessary...but I eventually found a bottle of plain old traditional green Fairy and administered a warm soapy enema to him (Max not Paul ) on Monday evening. And along with a few fairy bubbles, we had a good result.

However yesterday he was back at the poo pile straining. This time I tried a Fleet enema...it has never failed before...when used in hospitals one always ensures that the facilities are very close by...yes works that quickly. But no; he is passing a small amount of tiny very hard dottles but we haven't got to the bottom of it yet (pardon the pun). He has had some pro-biotic yogurt and some warm water with electrolytes (yesterday was very warm and he really wasn't drinking as much from Mum as he normally does). Hopefully things will start to move otherwise we will have to rethink. Possibly an oral laxative or a Microlax maybe other options. Suggestions welcome.

Both Rumour and Max have been a bit 'off' post their Lambivac injections (a live vaccine against clostidial disease)...it may be just a coincidence...however both had rather difficult births...I wonder?

Whilst watching Max in the paddock I took along both Velvet and the camera:

Beck Brow Magellan and Synergy...always looking for trouble

Checking out Velvet who is at my feet (very unusual!)

They decide to send in the new boy Magnum to check things out...

Oops...Velvet sees an opportunity (Max in the background trying to make a deposit for the poo picker)

Beck Brow Finesse...trying to look mighty in case she is to be posted (comments previous blog)

Young Punk Annabelle

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Mobile matings and Monday meetings!

I really must do better...blogging has become a bit retrospective...and the photography a bit spasmodic (unfortunately spending hours in the paddock with a camera is seemingly not in my job specification...well not when Paul is at home to witness!).

Sunday was mobile mating day again. St Patrick is rather liking his outings. He now does a little jig as enters the van...and behaves himself very well on arrival. We are trying something we haven't tried before; normally we would only use a stud male for a maximum of two matings in one day. However, we decided to see how St. Patrick would manage three matings, with plenty of rest time in between. We had given him three days off prior to Sunday, and he had 1.5 and 2.5 hour rest between matings. The females were all receptive (although maidens and girls who have been left open) so we will wait with interest for results of spit-offs. This system also allows us time for a splendid lunch (many thanks if you read this).

Yesterday we had two visits again (Mondays are popular!). Alison, who is also a nurse, had contacted us a couple of weeks ago about calling in on their way from Scotland to the Lakes. Alison and her husband are in the early stages of making plans to keep alpacas in the future, and hopefully went away with some useful ideas.

In the afternoon we had a visit from Richard and Lesley, who having thought about it for a while, are further down the line in their plans to breed alpacas. I put together a package of females that I thought would best meet their needs and they have gone away to ponder my proposal (I have to admit to waking up in the night thinking...do I really want to sell her!!).

Don't think we will be getting any more visitors today (Finesse and Magnum)

Rumour seemed a little off colour yesterday, which did cause us some concern. She always looks so vunerable at the best of times, but she was especially sleepy. With no raised temperature, no diarrohea, and she was obviously feeding, I can only put it down to her having her first Lambivac injection at the weekend. She does seem a bit perkier this morning. 

And finally I believe that there has been a complaint...about the lack of dog photos on the blog...not the best, but here is Velvet trying to look nonchalant about getting checked out. She is especially amusing around the cria. She goes in amongst them and sits as still as she possibly can, then as they all come round she moves and scatters them all (unfortunately she also is inclined to join in the chase hence the lack of photos as she is usually being reprimanded)

Velvet, Caramella and Lucie.