Thursday 31 May 2012

The Big Reveal

After all the hot weather, our shearing day arrived, along with the rain. Having believed the weather forecast (thankfully as it was correct) we had all the alpacas in from 9pm last night. Paul waved goodbye this morning as he headed off to work first thing; before Ben (our shearer) arrived at 7.30 am. Fortunately Robyn had arrived just before him. We were also helped by Mum (homemade chocolate cake), Dad, Amanda and Diana...many thanks folks!

It is incredible how different the alpacas look with their fleeces never fails to amuse me...and of course there is always some surprises....

 I wouldn't have believed it...but Beck Brow Snooty Boots looks ever cuter!

 Beck Brow Explorer has been keeping somethings hidden under his tail...if we get another heatwave he will be needing some suncream....Wowzer Explorer!

 Biba and April appear just to have noticed that they are both blue blacks...they have been taking a great interest in each other since getting naked.

 Alfie seizes an opportunity to look cute.

 Wiseman Alpacas Coco - born yesterday - can't believe her eyes

Coco...bright as a little button

I am pleased to say that everyone who should be pregnant, looks pregnant with their fleeces off...including Pepsi Lola.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Waradene St Patrick of EPC has his first cria of 2012

With a slight drop in temperature this morning; Beck Brow Sweet Willow decided today was the day. Willow is on livery here at Beck Brow, and belongs to Wiseman Alpacas. As this was to be their (and Willow's) first cria, it was all very exciting. In fact Willow should have charged for spectators, as Diana and Tracey (owners) were joined by Robyn, Amanda, my friend Claire and myself.

I have been dying to see what colours Waradene St Patrick of EPC was going to produce, and have been especially keen to try him over browns to see what depth of colour may result. Well I haven't had to wait long to find out...Willow delivered...a beautiful...brown female!! Willow is a mid fawn out of a white dam (who has produced both white and fawn) and a dark fawn sire. So it looks like St Patrick has a secondary brown gene...good boy Paddy!

She has been named Coco and weighed in at a healthy 8.5kgs. She was up on her feet within the hour and suckled at 2 hours old. Willow is such a good first time mum and absolutely adores her.

Coco at approximately one hour old...getting lots of attention from over the fence

Although it was not exciting enough to wake Chaska who has at last ventured out but still spends all her time asleep

Willow and Coco...such a lovely proud mum

Ben our shearer is coming in the morning. I can't wait to see them all without their fleece...we do already have one naked...

Yes, Robyn took Tyke to the dog groomers...I said a trim Robyn...that's a scalping!

Saturday 26 May 2012

Too hot for some!

First it was too cold, then it was too hot. Whatever the reasons we still have no cria. This morning there is a slight breeze so we will see. Poor Chaska, who has an enormous fleece, has not been out of the barn for three days. However, this morning she has just ventured out through the door... and fell asleep in the trough!

Inca Van Dieman Chaska make sure nobody drinks all the water!

I have just heard that we have a provisional shearing date for Tuesday (earlier if wet but the forecast is dry). The sooner the better in this heat. We found some rather loose poo in the paddock, although we suspected it was due to someone over heating, Paul tested it under the microscope and nothing was found. 

I have been out taking some photos of the girls in full fleece before they go naked.

Beck Brow Fine Romance (Roma) looks like a macho...although she is very girlie

EP Cambridge Lady Gaga decided to have a dip in the water trough then a roll in the dust bath...just what you need before shearing. Here she is keeping Beck Brow Crystal Maze (11 months and 66.5 kilos) out of the bath.

Beck Brow Snooty Boots and Beck Brow Rumour Has It friends!

Easter-Wood Adelle...whom I haven't caught trying to suckle from Metisha of late...may just have missed it!

We spat off Beck brow Pepsi Lola again on Friday (Pepsi had been scanned empty) and she spat. So she is either incredibly fat with a retained CL or she is pregnant...hopefully the latter.

Beck Brow Pepsi that belly looking pregnant to you too?

Paul is out at High Winder Alpacas (they purchased some females from us earlier in the year) with Michael Henderson from Cockerham Alpacas. Michael kindly offered to shear the girls...lucky girls...just the weather!

I expect Paul is intending to do some more paddock sweeping this afternoon...I found him in the shed earlier...looking for some rubber for his skirt!

I am working night shifts for the next two nights, so what's the bets we get a cria tomorrow when I need to doubt I will instruct Paul to wake me up!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Mothers and Daughters!

The decision to put the female weanlings back in with their mothers; was based on nothing other than the fact that I like to see mums and daughters together, and to watch how they interact. Bahati and Poppet (born 2010) are especially close and are like peas in a pod.

Bahati and Poppet

 Bahati and Poppet asleep in the sunshine.

Paul likes to remind me that most of my decisions are made with emotion as the decider rather than common sense. Hence he wasn't best pleased to see the situation below:

Metisha letting Adelle suckle.

Yes, despite being weaned since February, that is Adelle trying to suckle, and Metisha allowing it. In fact I heard Metisha clucking Adelle over and then saw her pushing her under. All the other mums are delighted to have their daughters back but won't let them anywhere near their udders. The exception is Camilla, who just can't be bothered with poor little Rumour at all. However Lady Gaga appears to have adopted her as a sister for Boots. Don't you just love Gaga.

Along with the rest of the country we are enjoying glorious sunshine. The alpacas are loving lying out. As well as paddling in the water troughs! Although, by 1pm each day...a look in the paddock and you would think that we didn't own a coloured alpaca...we have a field of all of the darker girls take shade in the barn for an hour or so. I had hoped that we would be getting the shearer this week, but I think that the warm weather isn't in our favour (as we have indoor facilities we can be shorn whatever the weather). It will be good to get the herd all naked and looking the same. We have bought six new girls this year and some are sporting shearing styles quite different to ours: need of a hair cut!

 "It's all white this sunshine!"

 Tyke and Velvet enjoying the sunshine...I don't think that a miniature Yorkie baring his teeth is going to frighten off Velvet

No definitely not!

We decided to weigh the weanlings at the is always difficult to guess their weights...but we were in for a surprise. Crystal who is 11 months old weighed in at 66.5 kilos! Putting that into perspective Explorer weighs 70 kilos (and he is no light weight) and Adelle weighed 37 kilos.I think that she will definitely be getting a date with Explorer later in the summer. Having left the scales switched on and alpacas being as nosy as they are; a few of the adult girls decided to weigh themselves as well. Lady Gaga weighed 74 kilos...and Pepsi...wait for it...106 kilos... lets hope that she is pregnant!!

A new shearing pin was acquired and Paul has been out 'playing' with his new paddock sweeper again. He came in talking about needing a slightly longer as Paul does not follow fashion...I assume that this is a modification he will be making to the sweeper! It is going to save us lots of time, but paddocks are going to have to be kept well topped (two inches max) and well rolled (luckily are paddocks are pretty flat).

Saturday 19 May 2012

The wrong kind of shearing!

Paul's new toy arrived yesterday whilst he was at work. Not getting the chance to try it out yesterday, as we were out at a wedding later in the day, he was up bright and early this morning. It would be fair to say that Paul does not enjoy poovering...the air if often blue...and Paul red...he wouldn't admit to this, but I have actually seen him kicking the poo picker.

So the new toy? A Suffolk paddock sweeper. Jim Hewitt from RT Machinery drove up from Bucks to deliver the sweeper and to set it up on the back of the tractor. It took Jim six hours of driving and two hours to set it up... and Paul one hour to break it. Yes, too fast around corners is my guess...anyway he has broken a shearing pin!

 So, I can only give you a limited review, but I expect it is going to save us hours of poovering time. The grass will need to be kept well topped and I expect we will still use the poover some of the time, but first impressions are good....not least because of the reduced noise levels. It does scarify the land as well as sweeping up the poo, which will encourage the grass to grow too. Amazing how I managed to poover for three years...when Paul takes over due to my bad back we get something that goes on the back of a tractor!

Paul paddock sweeping...don't go too fast around those corners!

To give Paul the opportunity to try out his paddock sweeper uninterrupted, I decided to move the girls on to new grass out of the way. I also put the female weanlings back in with the main about excited alpacas...

An open gate...that's all it takes to move alpacas!

Silverstream Galaxy took the prize for the most outstanding display of excitement:

Nobody likes a show off...Inca Van Dieman Chaska looks unimpressed

Lady Gaga was a close second but I only caught her once her display had finished:

EP Cambridge Lady Gaga

The female weanlings now back with the main group

Wednesday 16 May 2012

An Objective Assessment (SRS)

Now, I will forgive you if you have thought that I am a little bias where Beck Brow Explorer is concerned...I have actually thought the same thing myself at times. Yes, I know I keep saying that he has an abundance of fleece... and that his guard hair can't be seen...well... it is official...Beck brow Explorer is an outstanding male.

We have had his results back from the SRS herd assessment. The three key traits that are measured are; density, fleece growth, and the difference between primary and secondary fibres (the lower the better). He has above average density but the outstanding results for me were:
  • The difference between the mean fibre diameter (MFD) of his primary and secondary fibres. Whereas we would have expected this to be around 10 microns (as with most of the stud males featured on the SRS programme) Explorer's difference between the two was only 5.3 microns. This is excepectionally good
  • He was also exceptional in his fleece growth (told you he wasn't fat!). Again even with SRS males we would be happy with 0.31mm - 0.37mm growth per day (age dependent) Explorer's growth was an amazing 0.46mm per day!
We now need to get him interested in the girls...we have a queue forming!

The sun has been out today, even if it has remained windy, meaning the weanlings have been enjoying a bit of  mischief.

Easter-Wood Adelle may look a picture of innocence:

but something had caught her eye:

Velvet however hasn't noticed:

Oops now she has....Go Velvet go;

Oh no that's pretty nifty cornering;

Reinforcements are on their way in the form of Beck Brow Snooty Boots and Beck Brow Rumour Has It:

Beck Brow Crystal Maze also joins in:

It all becomes a bit too much for Velvet and she decided to surrender to Rumour:

 Even flipping her tail in alpaca communication...I give up you win:

Whilst we have been debating the pregnancy status on one or two of our females, I don't think that there is any doubt about Biba:

Biba (right) with April (left) and Sophia

Saturday 12 May 2012

Our Alpaca Shop...Shooting, Spitting and Sitting

I like to think that I am a glass half full person...think positive and positive things will happen...always look on the bright side of life...well, that's my philosophy. With that in mind...all I can say is... at least we won't have to water the hanging baskets for some time! Yes, it has been has been torrential...we have even had hail stones...and frost this morning! Paul who does not live life guided be my approach...has been getting rather repetitive..."It's ridiculous, it's May"...the more annoyed he gets the more syllables it seems to get... "RID...IC...U...LOUS"... if you can imagine the Victor Meldrew / grumpy old man tone. 

Anyway today it stopped raining, so Robyn was called upon for a photo shoot. I know that sounds rather just amounted to Robyn washing her hair before she came round (I notice she hadn't bothered to iron her t-shirt) and me with the camera. Should be simple...157 photos would seem not.

Gloves were okay: 

Hats from the back...okay

Location work proved to be tricky in the wind..."'s May"

Then the photographer has used the wrong lens

I think this is as good as it is going to get

I will be loading the stock on to the website tomorrow...a few more photos required!

Maddi (our niece)

At least we now have some hand knit stock for our alpaca shop 

Back to the subject of positive thinking; We have decided to start our matings earlier this year...according to Paul the reason for this is...I was bored this is not wholly true (maybe just a little bit)...the reasons are:

  • Galaxy (who lost her pregnancy at 7 months gestation) was desperate to be re mated and was behaving like a witch (which is very unlike her)

  • I want to get Explorer working so I wanted him to watch St Patrick.

Galaxy was very pleased to be mated....Explorer was not interested in watching!

Now the positive thinking bit...we did some spit-offs...Pepsi who was scanned as empty, but looks pregnant to us, spat off (very good news if she is)....Lady Gaga, who wasn't scanned as she was mated late in the season...sat (very bad news)...trying to be positive;

  • She at least had a female last year (she lost her first cria)
  • She was going to have to drop a season at some point to get away from autumn births.
  • She is the most gorgeous alpaca.

So Galaxy, Holly and Lady Gaga have all been mated to St. Patrick, and we will mate Poppet (Paige Turner) to him tonight. Metisha is still open (waiting to see if Explorer works) and April (our new black female) is waiting to be mated with our black male Viracocha Black Sabbath (who will be joining us soon). Viracocha Black Sabbath was 1st placed Adult Black Male and Res. Champion Black Male at the South of England Show last weekend...he is at Newark and Notts today just waiting to hear how he has done.

Thank you to those who have been asking after Tyke...he is fine now thanks.

Saturday 5 May 2012

Exploring a new approach!

Getting a shot of Beck Brow Explorer in full fleece, and with all his red ribbons on display, is proving to be a bit of a challenge. Firstly living in Cumbria the opportunities are few and far between (it does rain rather often and if it isn't raining it is blowing a gale)...then we need 2 people at home...and Explorer does not like dressing up.

So today we siezed the rain...not much wind...and I had the idea that Explorer could be spared the dressing up if we placed his ribbons on a fence behind him...not a bad effort...except Velvet has managed to get in the shot!!!...maybe Photoshop will be able to sort that out?!

There hasn't been much crack to report of late (it was pointed out to me last week that crack is not universally understood to mean gossip...I looked it up in the is there; "northern dialect for gossip"...obviously not in the Australian dictionary!). I have been to Scotland to deliver 100 kilos of yarn to our weaver. As well as new scarf designs, we will be adding wraps and cushions to our collection. I have also collected some knitwear designed by the very talented Valarie Joyce...These will be on the website as soon as they have been photographed.

We did have another dog drama last week. We noticed that Tyke, our minature Yorkie, was behaving in a very similair way to how Velvet had behaved when poisoned. Recognising the signs, we got him to the vet sooner, but he also lost his sight and hearing, although he was not at the stage of fitting. He was given charcoal (to absorb the poison) and given intravenous fluids for 24 hours. Like Velvet he is now perfectly well again. However, the worry was that it obviously wasn't fungi that had poisoned Velvet and we didn't know what it was. The National Posions Agency was contacted. The conclusion that they have come to is that it is our wormer. The dogs eat the alpaca poo and digest the medication. We started using Cydectin 2% a couple of years ago when we had an outbreak of mites. It is long acting and covers the life cycle of the mite. However we will not be using this product in the future. It makes sense as we had wormed the 2 new females the day before Tyke took ill and we have checked our records and that would also fit with Velvet.

On the subject of order to spare my bad back, Paul has been doing most of the poo picking now seems that we need a new piece of it is 'ridiculous going around with a poover with so many alpacas'...I saw he was eyeing something up in the barn when we were at Bozedown Alpacas....something that goes on the back of a tractor...I hope that he isn't going to pretend he isn't going to enjoy poo picking in the future!