Monday, 29 October 2012

Just a bit excited!!

I had my alarm set for 3am this morning, I wasn't sure that I would actually manage to fall asleep such was my anticipation for what was to come, but I somehow must have managed to, as the alarm woke me from a dream... a dream about the house omen??!

The reason for the early rise?...the Softfoot on-line Alpaca Auction which was finishing at 2pm Adelaide time. I had two females in mind; EP Cambridge Girls Aloud and Cambridge Stargazer. I had been deliberating all week about which I preferred and had even considered bidding for them both. This was before I heard that they had been awarded 2nd and 3rd places at the Australian National Show and in a hugh class. Maybe buying both was going to exceed my budget!

So I decided Cambridge Stargazer it was going to be...I watched the clock tick down and Girls Aloud was knocked down for AUD 12,500. At this point I had the top bid of AUD 13,000 on Stargazer, but it was one of those auctions when someone places a bid in the last 5 minutes the time is extended by another 5 minutes; 31 seconds left and someone placed a bid...I placed a higher one...the clock began to tick down again... 21 seconds left and they placed a bid adrenaline was high...another bid and finally that was it. I was so excited I couldn't go back to bed!

For those of you who are interested Cambridge Stargazer's details are still on the Softfoot auction site and a video of her is on You Tube. Her impressive pedigree includes: Windsong Valley Firedragon (purchased for AUD 165,000 by Matt and Cathy Lloyd of EP Cambridge Alpaca Stud); Jolimont Conquisador; Jolimont Warrior; Purrumete Highlander; Jolimont Commisario; EP Cambridge Spartacus. Her full AAA pedigree can be seen here.

I expect it will be along time before I actually see her in the flesh as after quarantine she will go to EP Cambridge Alpaca Stud in Wiltshire to be mated with one of their elite stud males. This is another female that we are hoping could produce a future herd sire for Beck Brow. She will of course be mated with Beck Brow Explorer the following year. He is one lucky boy!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Weigh Hey!

I have had a lovely day today with some like minded people...these people are not a common breed...some might even think us elite (I have other descriptions!)...although our numbers are growing and the condition is highly contagious...yes, today I have been with fellow alpaca nuts...and whats even more exciting is that they are newly obsessed alpaca nuts!

They were on duty early this morning for feed time (Camelibra and bottle feeds) followed by some hands-on experience. It was cria weigh-in and general inspection day today which is always a favourite task.. Foxy Sox was the light weight at 15.5kgs (but she is the youngest). At the other end of the scale (literally) was Coco (39.5kgs), Lexus (39kgs) and Shackleton (31kgs). I think we are going to have to think about some weaning soon...oh I do so hate it.

Also on the dislike list is deciding which boys are going on the pet boy for sale list. I have decided; now I just need to get some photos and put them on the website...maybe next week! Marco will be one of those, he is high on the cute stakes and had us all in stiches today with his posing...he seemed to be somewhere in every photo taken by our visitors today...never mind Where's Wally it was Where's Marco!

Beck Brow Pedro and Beck Brow Bendrago...For sale?

 Beck Brow Marco...Mr Cute Pants!

 Beck Brow Domingo getting kisses from Velvet.

Pea pods...Beck Brow Paulo and Beck Brow Advantage (behind)

Whilst our visitors were here, we did all keep remarking that we hadn't seen Velvet since her initial, very enthusiastic greeting, as they exited their vehicle..."she will be in the wood" I kept reassuring them....although I was thinking 5 hours was a bit extreme...well, all became apparent when our guests got in their car to leave...there was Velvet on the passenger seat!

I received the news last night that I have passed the BAS Stage 2 Judges Course and I am to start as an apprentice...I was rather I am rather scared!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Magic Charm

Well I've survived...I've survived the BAS Stage 2 Judges course that is...actually I rather enjoyed myself. I'm not pretending it's isn't a bit scary, because it is; and talking into a tennis ball on the end of a stick, and pretending that it is a microphone whilst you are being videoed, isn't for the faint hearted! But it's a bit like bungee jumping I guess...frightening and exhilarating at the same time...and you can't pretend that you are not relieved when it is all over.

The reason that it is so enjoyable is mainly because of the tutors. The main tutors are judges; Liz (Barlow) and Nick (Harrington-Smith) but we also has Jay (Holland) and Mary-Jo (Smith) who have qualified more recently and can remember the stress levels. The course really is a jam packed couple of days but they managed to keep us smiling, whilst whipping us into shape. It really is well worth doing I have learned so much.

I didn't manage to see our new girls whilst we were at Bozedown Alpacas, as the timetable was very tight. However, Mary-Jo did give me some photos for our website. As I said on the last blog we did end up purchasing two females at The Alpaca Classic. We had at the time thought that Bozedown Magic Charm had been sold to a higher bidder, whereas she hadn't actually met her reserve. Hence, we have been able to add her to the Beck Brow core herd after all.


 Bozedown Magic Charm

 Fleece of Bozedown Magic Charm (2012 fleece stats: 20.2m SD 3.8 CV 18.7 CF 98.4%...amazingly low SD on a two year-old mid fawn!)

Magic Charm has Galaxy of Bozedown as her sire; genetics that I have been looking to have in our herd for a while now. She is pregnant to Bozedown Omen (a potential stud male would be good please!). We are also fortunate to have Galaxy of Bozedown genetics in our other purchase; Bozedown Celestrial. Her sire is Comet II (gs Galaxy of Bozedown) and she is pregnant to Bozedown Patriot (another a stud male please!)

 Bozedown Celestrial

Bozedown Celestrial's fleece (2012 fleece stats: 18.3m SD 3.3 CV 18.1 CF 99.8%...another very low SD and hopefully a perfect partner for Beck Brow Explorer)

Having decided to stay an extra night after the course, rather than drive back on a Friday evening, I was beginning to doubt my decision when it took me six and a half hours to get home yesterday (it took me four hours and 20 minutes to get there) but I guess it would have been worse when tired and in the dark. Consequently, I am all for having an easy day today. Despite being tired, I have missed Sox and Lullaby and was up for the 6am feed (I am sure Sox is more friendly than when I left...I think someone has been petting her!!)

Paul (yes, he has been in charge) had done some faecal egg sampling whilst I was away, and found the herd to be in  good health. Thus, we have decided not to worm just yet, but everyone has had a spray of Eprinex (4%) between the toes and on their ears as mite prevention this morning. It did take rather a long time... as I kept testing out my judging skills on all our alpacas...I am pleased to say that they got a thumbs up!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Comings and Goings...

Life seems to be none stop alpaca these days, and that's just the way I like it to be. However, I seem to have had little time to blog nor to take any photos (not that it has stopped raining for long enough). So just a quick catch up before I set off to Bozedown Alpacas (near Reading) for the next level of the BAS judging course. Hopefully I might get a glimpse of my new girls bought at the Alpaca Classic last month...yes notice the plural...more on that another time.

Saturday saw me stewarding at the Yorkshire Alpaca Group Show. An early start, but after last year 's entries (110) the 75 alpacas who attended this year, were inspected and ready to go in record time. Well done Tina and Julia on a well organised show, and a big thanks to everyone who stewarded (all very slick!). The fancy dress alpaca class is always a great draw with the crowds. Now, some of us attend these shows with our our eye on the cup...the Supreme Championship one that is...but for our friends at Cockerham Alpacas I suspect this was the one they were after....winner of the cup for best fancy dress....a runaway winner...Charles Henderson with Cockerham Mr Bojangles!

Sunday we had a very sociable day. Firstly we went to visit a family who have purchased some females from us, and wanted some advice regarding division of their land. They have a fantastic set up and I know the girls will be very happy there (always good to know in advance where they will be going ). We had a lovely time talking alpaca and were treated to a very nice lunch too. Exciting times ahead.

We dashed back just before Bev and Andy arrived from Lane House Alpcas in Yorkshire. After some cria inspections (Domingo was Noah's brother there may have been just a little bias), and bottle feeding, we headed off down to The Pheasant at Cumwhitton for some rather nice pub grub. Now that's what a call a great day!

Monday and more alpaca chatter with a visit from another new owner. I did say that I had sold one of my favourite is a is one that I thought that I would be keeping forever. However, I always say that I match alpacas to prospective buyers needs; so when someone came looking for a female who would make a pair of females (bought at auction) in to a happier group of three...Minnie seemed to fit the bill. I know, lovely, friendly, sweet Minnie...but she is going to a new owner who has a wealth of animal husbandry experience...she will be well looked after, and will only be 20 minutes away.

The photo of Minnie and Robyn used on our business cards

Now, should I replace her with some new genetics....someone perfect for Beck Brow Explorer....the perfect girl might just be available...she has the perfect pedigree for him...too tempting to resist?

Friday, 12 October 2012

The DNA kit is ear!

We have been enjoying some lovely weather up North this week...October has been good to us...until yesterday that is; we are now back to heavy rain, and just when I had arranged to get some cria fleece shots taken. I have decided to keep a photographic record of all our cria fleeces at 3-4 months of age, and monitor how they change. We have in the past sold 'pet boys' at a very young age, but this year there are one or two who really could go either boy/stud male? This is making the decision to sell or not to sell difficult. Last year we kept hold of Quintos and his second fleece has come back really well...definitely stud male potential.

I think this year I will just notify all the males with Grassroots, and fully register those who make the stud male grade at a later date. I am pleased to see that BAS are now encouraging DNA testing of stud males, and are trying to improve the accuracy of recorded  parentage. The new notification process (the owner of the stud male get an email informing them of any progeny registered to their male) is an improvement, but still leaves a lot to trust. So practising what I preach, I sent off for the DNA kit for Beck Brow Explorer (our other males have all been DNA tested). The kit only costs £25 + VAT, the problem is collecting the blood. Has anyone taken a blood sample from a vein in the ear? Is it easy to get? I know that I am a nurse but patients don't have fleece!

We have had alpaca visitors most days this week, which has been lovely. However, I really need to do some revision before the next stage of the judge's course which is next week. It will have to wait until Monday now. I am Chief Steward at the YAG show tomorrow, which means I will have to get there bright and early (that means I will be setting the alarm for 4.45am!). On Sunday we are paying a visit to a lovely couple who are just about to start on their alpaca adventure. We are going to look at farm set up...well Paul is, he is the practical one; the engineer. I just like nice fencing!

Some photos of the boys...fleece shots to follow!

Beck Brow Marco...look at those cute ears!

 Beck Brow Foxy Sox (yes she is a girl) same ears but more eye liner!

Beck Brow Advantage (same dam as Beck Brow Explorer)

Beck Brow Paulo (nice fleece!)

Beck Brow Bendrago

 Beck Brow Pedro

Beck Brow Testimony...shares his dam with Quintos and is equally sweet (nice fleece too!)

Missing from the male line up are Domingo and Shackleton...sorry boys missed taking your photo.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Last Chance Salon!

It's been a big weekend here...well a big birthday to be precise.... as Paul celebrated his 50th birthday on Saturday. We spent the evening with family at Sharrow Bay Hotel on Lake Ullswater. The 10 course tasting menu, with wine to accompany each course, ensured that we had a jolly time!

This didn't stop us fitting in some work around the celebrations; on Saturday morning Explorer had a mobile mating booked in. I expect this will be his last mating of the year as time is passing on (although he does already have a number of bookings for next year). We made the decision to not go past the end of September with our own matings, hence it was with fingers crossed that we spat off Metisha on Sunday. Metisha was left empty last winter and had become a little chunky...well not a little...she really is a Fatso! Consequently getting her pregnant has been troublesome...we have been trying since April...she ovulates....then sits again...we have tried with Explorer....we have tried with St Patrick...but no. So this pregnancy spit off to Explorer really was the last chance saloon. last...phew!

Fat Lass Metisha behind her daughter did she get so lardy on restricted pasture?

Maybe she should try sharing the same blade of grass as Sophie and Blanche are doing.

With unusually good weather for October...actually for any month this year in Cumbria...we decided to get some promotional photos of Beck Brow Explorer, post his latest Supreme Championship win at Westmorland. We know from experience that Explorer does not do 'wearing a sash'. So the best we could hope for was one sash on his back and the rest displayed. Ninety eight photos were taken...this is the best one...yes, I know...stupid boy!

                                        Some of Beck Brow Explorer's stash...but no Explorer!

In the last blog I mentioned that I needed to consider making some Beck Brow females available for sale...always a tough decision. Having recently witnessed the auction at the Alpaca Classic at Bozedown Alpacas, where prices averaged 8000gs, it was obvious that the demand for top quality alpacas is strong. I believe that what  made that auction special, was that the breeders were prepared to release some of their seed stock (top) alpacas for sale.

So, I made the decision; so long as I still owned the dam/ daughter or sister, then we would be willing to release any of the girls ( there were two exceptions - Cambridge Camilla and daughter Beck Brow Rumour Has It and EP Cambridge Lady Gaga and her daughter Beck Brow Snooty Boots, as I wish to expand these two lines, but will be releasing their progeny). This has meant that we have sold some of our top females who are pregnant to both Beck Brow Explorer and Waradene St Patrick. I am sure we will be meeting these alpacas in the show ring...and I will be as excited as their new owners. With seven females sold in the last couple of weeks I am afraid we are now unable to release any more females until next year...and we now have a depleted show team for 2013!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Alpaca scarves and doves!

It's been another alpaca filled weekend, with visitors both Saturday and Sunday. I have sold an alpaca which I said would never be for alpaca that we all love. No not Explorer, he most definitely is is a female, but I best say no more for now.

The online shop has also been busy. I think winter must be looming! Our latest range of scarves arrived on Friday. Woven for us in Scottish Borders, on antique wooden looms, they are unique to us. It is always exciting (if a little nerve-racking) opening the boxes. These scarves (or wraps -  they are very generous) have a much less brushed finish, when compared to the last range we had made. I have already chosen one for myself (I know wearing the potential profit!)

Just one of the new Beck Brow Alpacas scarf designs

I know that I need to make some females available for sale, we have had a lot of interest lately. I don't normally advertise particular females, as I like to try to match alpacas to potential buyers individual needs if I can. I will stick with this approach at present, but there a few that will not be on the list. One of those is Rumour Has It (if for no other reason that Amanda would be VERY mad indeed) she has made it into the core herd.

Beck Brow Rumour Has It...Guess who I share my Mum with?

Yes, Beck Brow Explorer

Burton Constable April (black) much more confident and now very much part of the Beck Brow herd.

Beck Brow Finesse...pretty!

I have let the doves go free. I took down the cage and waited...waited for them fly gracefully around the farm...waited for them to enjoy their new freedom...and I waited. Three hours later they ventured from the hutch to the roof of the shed, a few meters away. Sometimes they walk (yes walk, not fly) up to the top of the roof. Not quite as entertaining as I had expected, but at least they haven't flown away.

The doves