Sunday 26 February 2012

Satchmo and Magnum...a double act!

Thankfully, we have had a rather uneventful week this week so plenty of rountine tasks have been completed. We are having a spell of dry weather, which the alpacas appear to appreciate as much as we do, and makes everything much more pleasant (when I say spell; I mean more than two days in a row, that is a spell around here).

This also ensured that we had dry fleeces for the routine herd worming. Everyone has had Cydectin 2% with the exception on Katkin and Nimrod (mother and son) who had an allergic reaction to the drug last year, so have been given Dectomax again. We also got one or two toe nails done, but we have plenty more on the to do list (my least favourite job...I don't like human feet either...although I think the two issues maybe unrelated).

Magnum and Satchmo have been getting some more halter practise in before they go to their new home next Saturday. We are teaching them to walk together, which is going well for most of the time although they are getting a bit bored with the lane, so we had a trip down the yard this morning which was met with a bit more enthusiasm.

Satchmo (left) and Magnum...Satchmo is a bit smaller than Magnum but on this occasion he is standing downhill.

Magnum and Satchmo on a more even playing field in the yard (and someone not wearing their Sunday best!)

I have been updating our Alpaca Ease herd management system to ensure that their records are up to date ready for their transfer. We just have their vitamin injections to give and then they shouldn't need any interventions at their new home for some time.

I have an interview in a couple of weeks for the part-time Staff Nurse position that I applied for (if I never mention it again I was unsuccessful). It is nearly three years to the day since I left a permanent nursing position (I have worked some shifts covering sickness and holidays...I am still fully skilled!) and I have surprised myself that I want to return after all this time (although as a Staff Nurse rather than Sister...less stress!). I am also fortunate that Robyn lives just around the corner otherwise it would not be possible.

I have also stopped dithering...I have put in another entry for the British Alpaca that is four...we are now discussing whether we will need to take the trailer as well as the van...I think the answer will be yes...he ain't gonna get slim in three weeks! Actually I think that we might manage, but as usual this would mean no room for a suitcase...we always come botttom of the list of priorities!

Tuesday 21 February 2012

What to do?

I normally pride myself on being decisive; for making decisions and standing by them. They may not always be right, and I may reflect from time to time, but I seldom look back with regret. I like to think that I am fairly philosophical (having a calm and stoical disposition… reference Collins English Dictionary!).

Well, all that should now be in the past tense. I have become a ditherer. I change my mind more often than the weather changes (mind you that isn’t too difficult around these parts…rains here on a pretty regular basis).

First of all it was the World Alpaca Conference;

December…not going at all can’t spare the time away.

January…we are going. I book a very nice hotel in Oxford and we are going to combine 2 days of the conference with some alpaca free days.

February…I have cancelled the hotel and we are doing the whole Keble College package. Paul will have alpaca overload by the end of it, but as this is by far the cheaper option, he is willing to make the sacrifice!

Next it is who to take to the British Alpaca Futurity. Again I seem to have been dithering for months…I blame the organisors…for extending the closing date…not good for ditherers. The problem is last night I had a dream…I was at the Futurity and I was upset that I hadn’t taken Explorer...he was upset that I had left him at home…was this an omen…possibly? However, as part of the same dream… I also fell into some sewage (yes dreams are strange things)…and I can tell you that I did not come up smelling of roses…so maybe not a good omen? Anyway I am back to being indecisive and trying to decide how fat is too fat.

The last bit of past tense…is the not looking back bit…I have applied for a job…just very part-time…but it would appear that the nurse in me is missing work!

I mentioned on the last blog that we had three cria yet to be weaned. Here they are below, from the left; Boots, Adelle and Quintos

No ifs and buts here...just butts

Quintos and his dam Silverstream Hoity Toity

We are watching with interest to see how Quintos's fleece develops. He is extremely dense, extremely bright, and has excellent conformation...he just didn't have the fleece character that we expected when he was born (more curl than crimp)...however, this is beginning to change...he is getting some crimp...quite broad in style at present...but it is definitely changing.

Quinto's fleece...I will get some proper fleece shots at some point (when Rosemary tells me how to!)

Sunday 19 February 2012

Some Photos!

Thank you all so much for your kind comments on does help to share and know others understand. Galaxy appears to be coping well - apart from a heart wrenching moment late on Friday...when she obviously thought that Boots was hers. This was quickly resolved when Blanche called the herd into the barn (it is amazing how alpacas care for each other)- she is having a course of Excenel as a precaution but seems fine. The answer to the weight question is 2.2 kgs.

It hasn't been the best light for photography today...but I really needed to move on from the last here we have some happier photos taken this morning:

EP Cambridge Lady Gaga and Beck Brow Snooty Boots (our only Waradene St Patrick cria so far) much does she love her Mummy?

...enough to follow her to the poo pile and take advantage of the situation for some elevenses!

It is amazing how she has started to shoot up after such a slow start...looking increasingly like Mum I think?

Boots has been flirting with Explorer for most of the morning...and he appears to like what he is seeing...

Yes, Beck Brow Explorer liking what he is seeing...that will be your own shadow then! Now do you understand why you can't have any peas and beans!

We only have three cria who have not yet been weaned; Quintos, Boots and Adelle. Easter-Wood Adelle is such a pretty alpacas...this is her head shot...with such a fine fleece (hence the haystack!)

I caught Paul having a chat with the he is talking to Beck Brow Synergy (Galaxy's 2011 far she has had such beautifully conformed progeny) who should make the show team (along with Boots and Adelle) later in the year...maybe he will make the British Alpaca Futurity team...we have two weeks left to see how his fleece develops.

We have two definite junior entries;

Beck Brow Magellan (sire: Neptune of Houghton. dam: Inca Van Dieman Chaska

Beck Brow Rumour Has It (she does have legs and ears... I just can never get a decent photo!) (sire: Top Account of Fowberry. dam: Cambridge Camilla - Explorer's dam)

Right back to work...we are drenching with a selenium and mineral drench (Maxigro) this afternoon...the alpacas seem to like the taste of this one.. so it should be slick!

Friday 17 February 2012

A stillborn cria at seven months gestation.

If you are reading this and you do not breed alpacas, then I would suggest that you should avoid the photos at the bottom of this blog.

After a very pleasant start to my birthday it has gone downhill rapidly; Silverstream Galaxy ET is one of our elite girls. She is extra special not only because she has fantastic genetics, but because she is just the sweetest female, who has the most adorable cria. Add to that... that she is just the loveliest mum and her cria adore her...then you will understand how upset we all are that she has delived a still born at seven months gestation (due 16/06/2012 taking average gestations for her).

I saw something wasn't quite right as soon as I went out after lunch. She was sitting on her own by the fence. Then as she stood I saw her tail was straight out and I feared the worst. At this stage all that could be seen was a little of the fluid filled sac, but within 20 minutes she had delivered; A male cria who was perfectly formed but with no fleece yet (confirmation that the fleece growth is during the last trimester).

Galaxy obviously knew that the cria could not be viable, as she didn't even get up to check on him for sometime. She just sat and wimpered as I stroked her neck. She did eventually give the cria a sniff, but then quietly walked away up the field. Her grief so apparent.

If someone has any magic way to make this feel better for Mum, and for us, please bottle it and send it over. I try to harden myself up for these eventualities but nothing works...and of course we have to think if only...if only she hadn't galloped at top speed from the furthest away field to be fed this morning...but really we have to accept that loses happen. That is two St Patrick male cria from two of our best females that we have lost so far this year...lets hope for better luck from now on.

I have shared some photos which are not pleasant so please avoid unless you think that you may find them helpful for reference. I did hesitate about whether to share, but I am sure that many of you, like myself, will not have seen a cria born at this stage of development.

Galaxy...the nose is out at this point

Seven months gestation male cria...Blackberry for reference of size

The two horns clearly seen

Monday 13 February 2012

Brett Kaysen teaches us 'Form and Function'

Friday night at 5 pm I decided to set off on the four hour trip to Toft Alpacas near Rugby. Well my destination was to a Travel Lodge to be precise, ready for the short trip to Toft on the Saturday. It was a last minute decision to travel the night before, and I had forgotten why Travel Lodges are so competitively priced...GRIM would be my feedback.

The reason for the trip was to attend a study day on form and function, presented by Professor Brett Kaysen. The emphasis of the presentation was on conformation (after all this constitues 40% of the marks in the show ring) and it was great to really think about the alpacas without it being all about the fleece. Brett told the group about the findings of a study conducted at Colorado University into the heritibility of fleece characteristics in alpacas...the results were; that the inheritability traits were high, even higher than those of Merino sheep...however breeding out confirmation issues is not so much easier to put a good fleece on a well conformed animal when striving for that ideal alpaca.

Sunday I was out in the paddock checking that everyone deserved their place in the Futurity show team...using newly learnt terms like capacity, durability and fluidity...thankfully there are no issues...well not confirmation ones...fat that is another matter. Paul and I have been debating (that means Paul will not agree with me) whether Beck Brow Explorer should go to The British Alpaca Futurity or not...he is a multiple Supreme Champion so we could just let him retire...but that is not the reason for the indecision...Explorer is FAT...I have had to conceed...he is too fat to be shown at his best. We will slim him down for the summer!

Beck Brow Explorer...he does have an awful lot of fleece...but he is rather tubby too.

Explorer has always been praised for his consistency when shown, and I think that this is even more apparent in his second fleece, hence the reason that I wanted him to go. It is just about possible to see from the photo below that he has crimp from tip to toe, even across his chest, and with no guard hair visable...yes I am bias...yes I adore him and it is mutual of course... He obviously missed me over the weekend as he actually snuggled in for a cuddle on Sunday....ahhh!

Beck Brow Explorer...producing a very consistent fleece

On my last blog I mentioned that Paul had been twittering about me bidding at the Futurity stud services auction...well it's good news and bad this week...I actually was the highest bidder on one of the lots last night...he is an excellent male at a very good price...the bad news is I need to tell Paul...and pray that the female I decide to take falls pregnant first time...I will work it out nearer the time!

Monday 6 February 2012


The plans were in place; it was Saturday morning...and despite Amanda's best efforts at praying for the predicted snow...the roads were it was a ten minute trip down the road to pick up little Satchmo. Satchmo is back with us for a month, before him and Magnum head off to their new home in Scotland.

He arrived back looking every bit like he had never been away...although someone is going to have to break it to the way he rushed over to greet the females...he really hasn't grasped the meaning of the word wether

Satchmo arriving with his companion travelling animal

Rushing over to greet the girls (although the tail is flipped; he knows who's boss!)

Snooty Boots takes a peek

By lunchtime the snow had arrived, but we have had nothing like the amount seen in the South, or indeed what we had here last year. However, we did have one collision...too much speed and not enough control in the snow...and as is usually the case, the little guy suffered the consequences....

Oscar loses his grip and smashes into Tyke (he actually ended up rolling twice and ending up on his roof...was he mad or what!)

I made the silly mistake last week of mentioning that we had hardly seen the vet all winter...well we definitely saw plenty of him Saturday night and Sunday morning...when Rosie one of miniature ponies went down with was touch and go when we though she may have twisted her gut...but she is perfectly okay again now...phew...remind me to keep my mouth shut in future! On the health front Bahati appears much improved...although she is less than impressed that the barn heater has now been switched off.

Paul has been doing quite a bit of twittering over the weekend...he did the same last weekend ...note the small 't' this is not does consist of word limited announcements...but they are verbal...and I am the only recipient.  It goes something like this:

"There must be something wrong with your head" (now, I know this doesn't sound very nice, but the advantage of verbal communication is that I think I detect a small smile...could be a smirk...not sure)

"Learn to just a book or something" (I think he has guessed... it is getting near 8pm on Sunday night and I keep popping in to the study...he is on to me)

"Look you are better not be doing what I think you are"

"Right" (not so smiley)

"How many stud males do you have?" (answer 6)

"How many breeding age females do you have? (answer 20)

He is right of course I must stop bidding at the British Alpaca Futurity stud services auction , but have you seen the amazing deals. Difficult for me to justify with the choice of top quality males that we have at home, but I have been placing a few bids...after all you can't have too many top class genetics! We will be using at least one outside stud service this year...that will be for Cambridge Camilla (dam of Explorer and Rumour)...but we have already ear marked our male of choice (as Camilla is proving to be a star we have decided to mate her with an elite white this year, and we only have her son as a white stud at present)

Friday 3 February 2012

Case solved!

How welcome is this continued frost?...what a relief to be breaking ice on water troughs...honestly anything is better than all that mud. One slight disadvantage is the aroma in the air...eau de manure...all of the local farmers seem to be taking advantage of the hard ground to have a muck spreading bonanza! However, the alpacas seem to be much happier and are now back sleeping at least there is less mucking out in the mornings.

We have been doing some more halter training with the second group of weanlings. Amanda came to give us a hand yesterday and they all did very well...Rumour managed to make it all the way to the lane end and back...only sitting down twice...I had already volunteered that I would take her into the show ring at the British Alpaca Futurity... before I discovered this talent of hers for just sitting down, in the most elegant of fashions, but for no apparent reason.

I have been teaching Magnum to be led as a pair, as requested by his new owner. Actually there was no training involved, he just does it, he is such an obliging wee fellow.

Alfie (left) and Magnum

I had a little moment earlier in the week...I had just completed the test for spotting the early signs of dementia

'Do you forget where you have left things? '

'Do you forget that you have done things and then accuse others of being wrong when they correct you?'

When I had reason to doubt myself. I had misplaced a rather nice Joules sweatshirt...annoying in itself...but it has a matching doubly annoying. I had searched no avail. Anyway Robyn (daughter) turns up...I am looking at her sweatshirt...she has a few layers on but I can see it and it looks like my lost property...I question the suspect:

No you bought me this (I don't think so that one was grey not pale blue)

Anyway I have had it for ages (does this give her squatters rights? I think not!)

It would be too big if it were yours (Is there any need! Okay she is a size 8 so she may have a point)

I then nearly wrestle her to the ground... in order to look at the label in the is difficult with so many layers...I even insist that she takes off her coat...and there it is SIZE I accept that neither of us is actually a size 14...but I am the closest, and it was bought knowing the benefits of is now in the washing machine.

I can't remember now...was over reacting to minor misdemeanours an early sign of dementia!!