Wednesday 27 February 2013

Bye Minnie Moo!

Although the weather has been lovely here (doesn't sunshine and mud free paddocks make you feel sooo good) the photo above wasn't taken this week; but is from a couple of summers ago. This is Robyn and Minnie. Minnie...registered as Fallowfield Minerva...know at Beck Brow as Minnie our herd mascot...she features on our business cards and is in our advertisements (see Alpaca Culture)...she has also been sold! I know she is so very sweet, but our breeding plans have moved on since she came to us as a cria at foot in 2009...and when a client wanted a very friendly alpaca to add to her small herd, Minnie Moo seemed perfect. So Minnie was delivered to Jane on Monday afternoon...and from reports; both are rather happy with the arrangement. And if Minnie (who is pregnant to Waradene St Patrick of EPC) has another cria as gorgeous as Marco this will be the icing on the cake for her new owner!

The socialising has continued; I am now on day twelve of eating out (well yesterday didn't really count. I just happened to be at Amanda's at lunchtime rather than I got invited!). I have coffee dates booked for Thursday and Friday, and dinner booked for Saturday night. Lunch is now arranged for Monday, but I may have to do some cooking on Sunday it seems. Unfortunately my waist line is suffering...I have two weeks to lose enough weight to get into some black trousers ready for stewarding duty at the Futurity...otherwise its going to be a black and white kaftan!

Amongst the meals out was a five course Sunday lunch at the Sharrow Bay Hotel on Lake Ullswater. This was to celebrate Bev and Andy's wedding anniversary, and was followed by some halter training for their boys (Dougal and Hamish); who will be getting delivered to them next month. Halter training is a dream this year with Sox as the trainer...

Right to get some photos of Bev and Andy...make sure the hats on straight Andy

Come on Andy what are you and Hamish doing?...

Paul and Sox out of the way please...

At last!

The visit to Amanda's yesterday was to do some halter training with some of her cria. Florens Davinci (sire our Waradene St Patrick of EPC) is coming with us to the Futurity, but still needs a little work on his walking  (bit like my waist line... and time is running out). Amanda then returned the favour and helped with some halter training here; but as luck would have it, Beck Brow Paulo (also a St Patrick cria) who is our young entry, loves been on the halter and tries to come out with every group. It is a relief that he is so confident, as he is very quiet and is just over six months, I was wondering if he would be happy away from home. However, I think that he is going to be another Explorer, who loves being out and about and showing off...and they will have each other for company!

Short blog as I have invited Mum, Dad, Robyn and Craig for tea...just to show that I can still cook!

Friday 22 February 2013

Cambridge Stargazer

My social diary continues to be busy this week, but I have managed to fit in plenty of alpaca activity as well. However, I do think that one may be impacting on the other just a little bit; having enjoyed a night out on Wednesday night, I didn't appear to be at my sharpest on Thursday morning, when Jane ( Minnie's new owner) and Carole ( Prince Bishop Alpacas) came to help with some husbandry tasks.

First job on the list was to give the females their selenium drench, however the girls were a little reluctant to come in (I think that when they see that we have visitors they start thinking " watch out if you go in the barn she will end up selling you"! ). Anyway, as some of the girls are still a little bit wary of Inca, I went to put the dogs into the house...only to find Velvet back out at the barn again before us (if you put them in via the back door then you need to ensure the front door is closed!). Now, you would think that I would have learnt from this...but no...I got all the females into the barn and...calm as you please... they all filed out the other end through an open door (there are five entrances...or exits depending on how you look at it...easily done!)

Eventually we did get the job completed, although we spent more time assessing fleece than actually drenching. Job complete, we moved on to halter training the last four weaners (Marco, Dougal, Angel and Paulo) who hadn't even had a halter on, never mind been led, but were amazing; walking right to the lane end and back on their first outing. I think the key to this was a) Sox is a brilliant trainer b) Carole and I were too busy talking alpaca to notice any protests.

Late afternoon my friend Claire arrived to visit Tyke it would seem...well she wasn't at all pleased that he is still at Mum and Dads (since our holidays)... and then when she found out that Lullaby had gone too...not best pleased! Anyway she eventually forgave me...and yes, you guessed, we went out for supper at the Fox and Pheasant. Not wanting to spoil a week of leisure, I met friends for lunch (and just one glass of wine!) today. I think my new found freedom, due to not bottle feeding Sox every four hours, has gone to my head...but I have bottle fed (firstly Lullaby then Sox) for 10 months in total (May until February) ...I think I deserve a bit of gallivanting!

Yesterday I received some photos from down of our gorgeous female Cambridge Stargazer...she is looking great I am so pleased with her. I really think that her and Beck Brow Explorer will complement each other well.

Cambridge Stargazer...look at the density!

I am starting to get excited about our births due this year. We are having an earlier start with EP Cambridge Lady Gaga due mid April. We do unfortunately go all the way through until September...see I have to pack all my social activities into the small window of opportunity!

EP Cambridge Lady Gaga (pregnant to Waradene St Patrick of EPC)

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Bright and Colourful!

Beck Brow Pedro who is now Hamish

Not a lot happening here at Beck Brow at the moment...thankfully...after all the recent upset we are enjoying the fine weather and fluffy alpacas. On Saturday we had a husbandry morning; vitamins, condition scoring and top knot trimming. Katie (owner of Synergy and Alfie) seemed to do most of the work whilst we supervised! Beck Brow Pedro (renamed as Hamish by his new owners) was on the list for a hair cut, but maybe we didn't go far enough looking at him now. Beck Brow Explorer also had a top knot trim ready for the Futurity.

Beck Brow Explorer.

Sunday was my birthday and I decided to enjoy being spoilt. Craig made the most delicious Sunday lunch at ours, and some accompanying red wine, went down very well. I carried on the birthday into Monday, when Robyn and I had a nice lunch out. Robyn and Craig have bought a larger house (still in the village) and I had the idea that we should go to the sale room and pick up a sofa or two at a bargain price...I think I must have been watching too much Flog It when I had was just a load of lunch it was.

Yesterday Amanda and I went to visit Carole at Prince Bishop Alpacas...and guess what...we went out for lunch again! Carole had her first alpacas delivered in December and she is doing the most fantastic job of caring for them. All were perfect when condition scored...not so easy to do when you have pregnant and non-pregnant females in together. It was great to see the alpacas and see how they had changed. Beck Brow Lexus (sire: Waradene St Patrick of EPC) is looking especially stunning. She has a date planned with Beck Brow Explorer in July...amazing potential for a stunning cria me thinks!!

Apologies for the poor light...Beck Brow Lexus...owned by Prince Bishop Alpacas.

Beck Brow Foxy Sox is now five and a half months, and knocks back the hard food like a trooper, so we are starting to reduce her bottle feeds...aaahh!

Beck Brow Foxy Sox (front right) with Pedro/Hamish behind and Bendrago in front. Both boys have been sold as things have advanced, it wouldn't have been very long ago at all that they would have made the stud male grade!

Cambridge Scarborough has settled in very fact I think that she is the most quietly confident alpaca to ever join the stressing, no aggression what so ever...but she is front of the queue every time...that includes getting her photo taken...

Cambridge Scarborough

Yes...I have the shot...I want to take someone else now

Beck Brow Snooty Boots (sire: Waradene St Patrick of EPC) pregnant to Fowberry Nobility...are her and Sox not the spit of one another?...well the double of St. Pat actually!

Easter Wood Adelle (sire ACC The Chairman) she is adorable and pregnant to Beck Brow Explorer

The herd at Beck Brow is definitely multi-coloured now (although we dont have any greys nor any actual multis). Biba is facing...she was bought at the Blueberry sale (although her hair loss between her front legs is slightly better it has never fully grown back).

And finally...on the subject of black...Inca (our adopted Lab) and Velvet (Jack Russell x Cocker) ...seem to be getting along very well. I think Inca might just be having a positive influence on Velvet who seems less mischievous. Although, Inca has been in trouble...I am not used to a big dog...I left my lunch on the worktop to cool and went out to feed Sox...I returned to a dish, unmoved, but completely empty...with a large paw mark by the side!

Inca and Velvet.

Right must go, going out tonight with my friends...dinner rather than lunch this time...and off to see Blood Brothers (girly birthday celebration!). I might do some work next week!

Saturday 16 February 2013

Happier Times

I really can't thank everyone enough for all the kind comments, emails and phone calls that we have received about the loss of our two precious really does help to know that others understand.

Owning alpacas is life changing and is undoubtedly one of the best things that we have done. For us, two of the most important rewards we have had from having alpacas in our lives are:

  1. The relationship that we have with each and every one of our herd. The bond that develops through trust and care, and the pleasure this brings each and everyday. However, this will at times bring with it some heartache.
  2. The lovely people we have met and the friends we have made through shared alpaca ownership. And it is these people who see us through the occasional tough times...cheers!
 Before I move on to happier times; preliminary post mortem results for Bahati revealed again a clean bill of health apart from heart failure (and ultimately pulmonary oedema - fluid on her lungs - due to a failing pumping heart). We are still waiting for microbiology and histology results to confirm if this was a primary cause or if it were secondary to an infection or other morphology. I was convinced by her signs and symptoms that she had at least a degree of polioencephalomalacia (thiamine deficiency) but as this was treated with high doses of vitamin B1 we will never know from the blood results. But ending on a positive note we have had Bahati's two other daughters; Pebbles and Pepsi Lola vet checked, and they have no cardiac problems...thank you Bahati, your lovely daughters will carry on your legacy.

Now to much happier news...our new black female. A few blogs ago I mentioned that we had made another purchase: but wanted to wait until she was signed, sealed and delivered before saying too much. Well, I can now reveal that Cambridge Scarborough has joined the Beck Brow herd. Scarborough is an outstanding female who has produced nothing but prize winning progeny to date, including; Nero Black Galaxy (female) and Nero Black Ice (male) who have both won colour championships. She has also produce Nero Black Rose (another prize winning female) and Nero Black Diamond, who will both be shown at the British Alpaca Futurity 2013.

When our good friends Kathryn and Paul Shrimpton from Nero Black Alpacas initially contacted us to tell of us of their decision to release Scarborough for sale, we first of all wanted to ensure that this was a well considered decision on their part (which it was - they have a growing elite prize winning black herd and have limited land available, and as Scarborough is now related to a large percentage of their herd, it was a reluctant but necessary decision) this ascertained we wasted no time in saying YES PLEASE! I have been such a fan of Scarborough and her family, and we are honoured that she has chosen us to be her new owners...thank you Kathryn and Paul.

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Nero Black Ice and Nero Black Galaxy (I will get a photo of Scarborough soon)

Yesterday we weaned another group of cria. All six months old but only one over 30kgs (Marco). As with most breeders, we are finding out weaning weights to be much lower this year. In this group were; Dougal (you may remember him as Domingo), Marco, Paulo and Angel (belonging to Robyn and Craig). They do seem to be settling well, but I always find those weaned in to an established weaned group do find it easier.

Apologies for the poor quality photos (the light was wrong!) and for the untrimmed top knots and hence poor visibility (Katie; Synergy and Alfie's new owner, is coming for a husbandry training day today and this is on the agenda).

 Marco (left) and Paulo

Bendrago...which way to the hairdressers?

Domingo...sorry new grass can't look up for photos

And finally, a very poor quality photo...but nothing better to lift the spirits than a paddock full of cria enjoying the rare February sunshine (and a man doing the work whilst you mess about with a camera!)

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Died of a broken heart?

I had hoped after my last blog (about the loss of Legacy) I could return from our holidays with a much happy blog for you...maybe even a bit of humour...I will try my best, but be warned things go very rapidly down hill.

So the cheery bit...the holiday in Mauritius; Having spent lots of time researching the island before booking our holiday, I had high expectations for what we were going to find. After all we have visited a number of places around about...including the Maldives, the Seychelles, Zanzibar, Madagascar and Reunion... In reality, the research amounted to 15 minutes on Trip Advisor and we had no expectations other than to get some sun and a rest...the aforementioned holidays were pre-alpaca-obsession...when holidays were the highlight of our year, and took a good chunk of our hard earned cash everything is evaluated in terms of alpacas..."how much?"..."I could get a top notch female for that"..."two legs of a stud male" get my drift.

Well, as luck would have it; I had booked well...Direct flights with British Airways (that was a bonus don't think I even checked that bit!) and a fabulous hotel (thanks to Trip Advisor) in Belle Mare on the east coast (the most beautiful coast on the island...pure I thought we were on the west!). Anyway in order to make it as restful as possible; Paul banned me from taking my Blackberry and my iPad...he said that this was so I would rest, but I think he was trying to break my addiction to SongPop (a bit like Name That Tune on the iPad)...he may have had a on the third night I did shout out "Bob Dylan" as I heard the first two beats of a tune...Paul gave me a glare so I shouted " Van Morrison". I was right the first time...I think it was the shouting that was the problem rather than the answer!

So no contact with the outside world other than Paul's well guarded phone...which most of the time was left in the safe in the room. I kept sneaking a look for messages...going back to the room on some pretence or another. Well, by Saturday I decided that actually we were going to have a holiday with no bad news from home...mistake! This was the first mistake even thinking it...the second was suggesting that Paul took his phone with us for lunch, so that we could take some photos (yes, we didn't even take a camera)...I saw Paul glance at his phone...then he looked up and with no softening at all..he blurted out "Poppet is dead"...I thought that it was only in black and white movies that; one took to ones bed upon hearing bad news...but that is what I did.

So, poor Robyn and poor poor Poppet...I cant believe another unavoidable death whilst we were away. After the initial shock of finding Poppet (real name Beck Brow Page Turner) dead in the field at 07.30 am, Robyn managed things very well, immediately getting the vet to do a post mortem whilst blood samples and tissues could still be tested. Apart from the very obvious distress of losing a beautiful maiden (2.5 years old and 9 months pregnant) we were worried for the rest of the herd. Fortunately the post mortem concluded that Poppet was a picture of fluke, no parasites, no disease...but had suffered a fatal myocardial infarction (heart attack). Possibly a severe shock, but most likely either a weakness that had been there from birth and the pregnancy had exacebated it, or a pregnancy related clot.

A tribute to Beck Brow Paige Turner (Poppet) before the next bit of sad news...

Beck Brow Paige Turner (Poppet) three hours old (23/09/10) Nutmeg, Tabitha and Explorer checking her out.

Not only was she the sweetest, calmest alpaca you could ever wish to own...she also had a beautiful she is below first placed junior fawn female and Champion Fawn Female at the YAG Show

Chilling out as always...the beautiful Poppet in the line up for female fawn champion, which she took.

I did say that she was she is asleep on Beck Brow Explorer...he still managed to get Supreme Champion despite the sweaty fleece (I was not there!). That is Waradene St Patrick in the next pen...I was so excited at the prospects of their cria together (due April).

Now this it where the blog gets even sadder... if this were possible. Poppet and her dam; Blueberry Samauri Bahati, have always been incredibly close. Bahati (a top class female who was first placed brown female at the National Show at Junior, intermediate and adult ages) has had three other females (Pebbles, Pepsi Lola and Lullaby) but has had always been particulary attached to Poppet..

Poppet with Bahati lying

Poppet and alike that they merge as one.

Admittedly Bahati hasn't been quite right for some time...we have had the vet check her over a couple of times but nothing was found...however, she was more difficult to get pregnant this year and we have been feeding her extra rations to keep her weight on. Regular readers may recall that she had a lull in energy at the same time last year and sat around a lot, then picked up come spring. So, we weren't overly concerned and Robyn actually had her checked over when the vet was out with Poppet on Saturday.

Sadly, Bahati appeared to be devestated by Poppet's death and lost her will for life. Monday lunchtime (just as we arrived back from Mauritius) she deteriated rapidly. We had called the females in so we could do a quick check, but she didnt come. As she stood she fell backwards. On closer inspection she was unable to see. We did manage to get her in and called out the vet. She was given; antibiotics (temp slightly up), magnesium (low), calcium, Vit B1 and Vit B 12 and plenty of fluid. But unfortunately she continued to deteriate and she passed away at 3pm yesterday. My crying was over by then, I knew we had lost her that morning. Bahati was so very special...the first female we bought to be part of our elite herd...but much more importantly she was the most caring and wonderful mother to her daughters.

The older members of the herd have been in mourning...Bonita especially who was humming over the body in distress. Even Velvet the dog has been upset...she sat with Bahati for hours before she passed away...licking her face and trying to get her to get up, then realising this wasn't going to happen she just cuddled in next to her...a tear jerker if ever.

I should get the results of the post mortem today...I am sure it wont say 'died of a broken heart' but that is how it feels.

Right back to a distant is a photo (a poor quality one on Paul's was actually bright sunshine not misty) taken from our bedroom...three steps away from the beautiful beach. As I think that this will have to be our last long haul holiday (too stressful for poor Robyn and Craig...and be so far from home) I thought that I should keep a momento. Its snowing here this morning...too late now!