Thursday, 30 May 2013

Shocks, Shows and Shearing.

Lots happening at the moment, so I thought I better write a blog before it becomes an epic. As did most of the country, we had great weather over the weekend. Ideal for birthing...but Saturday passed without event...our bets were on Chaska who was off sat on her own and hardly moved from the spot...but no. 

By 11 am I had decided that Sunday was going to be a 'no show' day too. So being a day of relaxation and a bank holiday weekend at that, I decided to sit in the orchard (overlooking the birthing paddock) and read a book. However, having low levels of concentration during the birthing season, I decided at 12 pm to take the camera out into the paddock...and there in the dust bath...all on its own...was a newly dropped cria...what a shock, it took a moment or two to recognise what I was seeing. I think poor Bozedown Celestrial was a bit shocked too. She obviously had had a quick labour and had birthed in amongst a group. After getting over the surprise she has turned in to the most loving mother with loads of milk. We have decided to name him Beck Brow Bespoke...designed by Bozedown...commisioned by Beck Brow!! (sire Bozedown Patriot).

On Monday it was off to Northumberland County Show where I was apprentice judge to Nick Harrington Smith. The weather had changed and it was rather nippy but everyone had a great time and thankfully the rain held off. Congratulations to Chestnut Farm Alpacas who took Supreme Huacaya with their adult white male; and to Newland Alpacas who took Suri Supreme with their senior white male.

We weren't so lucky with the weather back home and Paul was left with the task of getting all our alpacas undercover for the night ready for shearing on Tuesday. With a rather later start than anticipated; Ben (our shearer) didnt leave ours until 11.15 pm. My poor old body was aching on Wednesday after all the standing and bending for two days...but was I going to get a rest chance.

With the barn looking like a fleece bomb had exploded in it, and bags of fleece all over the place; I had plenty to do...but Willow decided to add to the chores by giving birth before I had even got started on the tasks of the day. Actually she just did it all herself. She is a fabulous mum...she obviously decided that the damp weather was no place for a cria and brought her into the barn herself. Willow is owned by Wiseman Alpacas who were very pleased to add another female to their liveried herd. They have named her Wiseman Sweet Dew Hazelnut (Hazel for short). Another fabulous coloured cria from Waradene St Patrick of EPC.

Wiseman Hazel with mum Willlow (Paul dressed her hence the messy wouldnt expect Paul to be able to dress a female now would you!)

Beck Brow Bespoke

Although the actual shearing day is not the highlight of my alpaca year; I do love to see the fleeces off the herd. I always think that it puts all the alpacas on a level playing field. Quite the opposite of humans...the older that the alpaca gets...the better they look naked when compared to competing with their fleeces on. Take Holly for example who is nearly 10 years old, as is the norm her fleece growth has slowed right down...but shorn she could pass for a youngster. Talking of cute are Sox and Coco?

Beck Brow Foxy Sox (sire Waradene St Patrick)

Wiseman Sweet Coco (Sire Waradene St Patrick)

Some of the females enjoying some green grass at last..

Holly looking good for an older female

Finally, I thought this photo of two very contented females (Willow and Hazel) was just so sweet...

Beck Brow Willow with Wiseman Hazelnut

P.S It looks like our first Lillyfield Jack of Spades cria may be from Sophia rather than bets are on for tomorrow...Chaska must have just needed her massive fleece off as she has now returned to normal behaviour!

Friday, 24 May 2013

The Latest Collection...

I am becoming a lazy blogger...but I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone...I suspect a lot of fellow bloggers are taking the same approach "I'll just wait until tomorrow I am bound to have a new cria to share by then"...but they are all keeping us waiting this year. Our next three due are Bozedown Celestrial (Bozedown Comet II), Inca Van Dieman Chaska (Lillyfield Jack of Spades) and Bozedown Magic Charm (Bozedown Omen). Very exciting prospects...although the most exciting wait will be for Morden Hall Honaria (Beck Brow Explorer) due date the 23rd of June...did you see that I just slipped that in in brackets...Beck Brow Explorer!!!!

Probably just as well that the cria have held off. It has been difficult enough keeping the three that we have got warm and dry. On Saturday the rain was torrential...really torrential...northern torrential! Paul was digging channels to try to divert water from flooding the shelters. Friends Sue and Lesley were over from the North East and all plans of a country walk were abandoned when it was all hands on deck (okay we did manage a pub lunch!).

Never liking to do things by halves, Sunday had me on the net purchasing an additional twelve...yes that's right cum cria coats. We had kept all of the females in the barn for most of the day on Saturday, and interestingly the three cria all had the smallest weight gain that they had had since birth. So I decided much better they be out but protected. This does require coat changes during the wet weather (although they do choose to come in themselves often). So in addition to our all ready full box of cria coats (including a foal coat for an adult) we have another1 x 14 inch, 5 x 16 inch and 6 x 18 inch, and a can of spray on Gortex for those that have been through the washing machine too many times. Normally we hardly use the 18 inch size as we tend to only use coats on the very young (unless ill) but the weather has been below freezing on a couple of nights...crazy!

Here we have some (wet) modelling of our old and new collection of dog/cria coats....

Firstly we have Esmee Mae modelling a Homestead Farm Supplies Cria coat now on its third season...and newly Gortexed. You will note the Beck Brow theme of a piece of hay casually hanging from the mouth.

Beck Brow Esmee Mae wearing Homestead Farm Supplies

Next up we have Cat's Pyjamas modelling a Danish designed dog coat (16 inches) in a rather fetching check, available via Amazon (cheap but lets not discuss the tax issue). Note extended hay accessory.

Beck Brow Cat's Pyjamas

Last but not least we have The Crafter (oops dropped the hay accessory...typical male!) sporting the same Danish design dog coat in the grey.

Beck Brow The Crafter...getting modelling advise from Beck Brow Cat's Pyjamas.

Having heard from Matt at EP Cambridge that the gorgeous Cambridge Stargazer is spitting off to EP Cambridge Peruvian Spartacus in Australia, we decided that we had better get some matings under way here so that she is not birthing on her own. Actually we only have two open females who are ready for mating, so Blackmore Vale Butterscotch had a date on Wednesday. Butterscotch is a beautifully fine female (17 microns at 5 years) who is owned by Amanda of Florens Alpacas, but she will be staying on livery here at Beck Brow. A multiple broad ribbon female, and very pretty, Waradene St Patrick didn't have to be asked twice!

Blackmore Vale Butterscotch with Waradene St Patrick of EPC

The same cannot be said for Beck Brow Explorer...who decided to spend exactly five minutes on his date then decided to lookout for the next one...I don't think so son...he generally likes around ten minutes...we will see, but I will be surprised if he has successfully done the deed. I think the problem was that he is so fully fleeced and EP Cambridge Aria also has a very dense fleece (it was also rather know double figures 14 degrees!)...whatever he couldn't really be bothered. Hopefully he is saving himself as he is proving to be very popular, with a number of ladies already booked in for outside matings.

The weather forecast is good for Saturday and maybe I wont be so lazy next week and will have cria to report sometime soon!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Cute, Cute and more Cute....

Holly at 10 years of age is the matriarch of our herd, and befitting someone of such status she chose to have her cria on a rare dry day and then headed straight off to the spa...

Holly and daughter Esmee Mae

Beck Brow Esmee Mae only one hour old and has to watch on whilst mum has a spa treatment!

Holly is fairly predictable and once I saw her head off up the paddock after feed time, I was quickly on the phone to Carole from Prince Bishop Alpacas. Carole has prepared herself well having attended the courses and read the books, but there is nothing like experiencing the real thing. Arriving at 11am Carole was able to witness all three stages of labour. All pretty text book with a delivery at 12.45pm and placenta passed within half an hour. Esmee Mae has gained 500gs this morning so doing well.

My prediction is that Van Dieman Chaska will be next....

Chaska...cream crackered!!!

Whilst Holly is keen to keep Esmee to herself...Crafter and Cats Pyjamas have other ideas...

Beck Brow Rumour Has It is obsessed with Cats Pyjamas...but then she is also obsessed with Cats dam; EP Cambridge Lady Gaga too...she is seldom far from her.

Beck Brow Rumour Has It giving Beck Brow Cats Pyjamas a snuggle...cute!!

Must go Amanda has just arrived...

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Cria: Cats and Crafter...

As promised some up to date photos of the two new cria. Unfortunately not of the best quality as I have lost the filter lens for the camera, hence the over exposed faces. Thank you for the suggestions for a name for Galaxy's the end I have gone off on a complete tangent and named him Beck Brow The just seems to suit him...and yes I am expecting he will make the stud male grade!!!
Beck Brow The Crafter at five days old

Beck Brow Cat's Pyjamas at 9 days old

Cats needs bigger pyjamas!

Beck Brow Cat's Pyjamas looking very feline!

Nice view eh Cats?

Beck Brow The Crafter already a chunky monkey!
I have also popped in a photo of Beck Brow Foxy Sox who is finding it tough in with the big girls, and keeps coming over for fact I am finding it as hard as she the other two weanlings have reunited with their mums but of course Roma has nothing to do will

Beck Brow Foxy Sox in with the big girls
and finally a photo taken yesterday which you may have seen if you follow us on Facebook...but for those who haven't

Velvet has an OMG moment when Wiseman Coco approaches unexpectedly!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Diary of a would be alpaca judge

So much has happened since I last blogged, that I am sure to have forgotten lots of it, but here goes...


Forever grateful to the inventor of the satnav; I had a good trip down to Ardingly, ready for the South of England Alpaca Show on Sunday. Rob (Bettinson) had agreed to have me as his apprentice judge for the show, and he and Shirley kindly invited me to join them, and their friends from Lightfoot Alpacas, for dinner. Lots of alpaca chatter of course, however, it was a reasonably early night ready for a busy day ahead.

Sunday and Monday

The sun was shining, the crowds were out, and what a fantastic show. Shirley stepped in as commentator and kept the spectators informed and entertained during the judging, and of course Rob is a master at drawing in the crowds and keeping the public amused. I had such a good time and learnt so much as apprentice judge. Thank you to the organisers and exhibitors for allowing me the time to be taught. Congratulations to Houghton Perry who took Supreme Huacaya (it has been a long week and I haven't wrote down the Suri Champion...sorry).

It was a fantastic weekend all round when Paul emailed a photograph of  Lady Gaga's newly arrived daughter, sunbathing in the Cumbrian sun. Introducing Beck Brow Cats Pyjamas...


I checked out of one hotel and drove to Leighton Buzzard to check into another. The afternoon was spent reading the fleece judging rules and checking out fleece samples for micron recognition... and feeling very jealous of the fact Paul was home with my first cria of the year...thus he was instructed to send more photos...


It was off to C-S Alpacas for the National Fleece Show where I was again apprentice judge. Although it had been planned to be a two day show; Julia was so well organised that Nick (Harrington-Smith) managed to get all the entries judged by that evening. Again I learned loads, including the fact if I am going to be judging fleeces then I need to take anti histamines...I wasn't feeling at my best by the end of the day!


An unexpected free day...but what do you do in Leighton Buzzard...not a I get my nails done whilst Paul helps Galaxy deliver a fabulous Fawn boy...I am getting home sick now


I get a photo of my two new babes...I want to go home...but instead I travel to Bury Equestrian Centre where they are busy setting up for the National Halter Show. After helping setting up some pens, I pop back to the hotel to change, ready for alpaca inspections starting at 3 pm. Michael (Henderson) and I are now getting pretty slick at inspections, having done so many at the NWAG show.

Friday evening saw a good turn out for the BAS AGM.  It was good to see that the majority of those voting were behind our present Chairman and thus we will have some continuity. I was appointed and look forward to joining the team. Thank you for your support if you voted for me. Sorry if you didn't!


Its the first day of the BAS National Halter Show and I am ring steward for Judge Liz Barlow. We are in the female ring so plenty of hormones but no testicular assessment! As always Liz is a pleasure to be with and I managed to absorb plenty whilst getting the odd kick and bruise. There was lots going on, with alpaca agility and numerous fleece and fibre demonstrations and competitions, as well as the halter classes. Unfortunately the dusty floor had set off my coughing and wheezing again, so I managed to find a replacement ring steward for the Sunday whilst I recovered.

This meant that poor Amanda, who had travelled down by train, was greeted by me not at my best. However, plenty of medication, a bath and two cups of tea and we went out again to see the evening activities (if a little late). It was a spectacular event (the pony scurry racing was amazing) and seemed to be enjoyed by all.


Having handed over ring stewarding duties to Gary, Amanda and I had a somewhat leisurely start, arriving at the show around 10am. It was good to get to talk to friends and fellow breeders and get a look at some fleeces that I hadn't seen in the ring. I have been so busy at all the shows this year that I have missed out on this aspect of the shows (i.e my favourite bit...talking and fleece rummaging!)

Paul arrived at the show just as it he hadn't mistimed things...he had our new female Aria in the van, and she was to be joined by Garland and Butterscotch (Butterscotch is not mine but will be on livery... I will tell more another day). Poor Paul he had left home at 6am and we arrived back at Beck Brow at 9.15pm (yes amazingly together despite travelling in separate vehicles). I have never been so tired, so glad to be home, or so full of my life!


I am slowly recovering. I have enjoyed seeing all my alpacas again, and our two new cria especially (who must be amongst the best cria we have had born here at Beck Brow...well done Waradene St Patrick!!!!). Cat's Pyjamas is so full of herself it is hilarious...she has the whole herd running about looking out for her. Galaxy's wee boy (I need a name) was a little constipated so had a soapy enema which did the trick nicely. He is also very friendly and confident. Love 'em!

Today we moved the three weanling females in with the large female group and I so enjoyed watching all the interactions. The three newly arrived girls are in a quarantine group on the other side of the farm...despite being out of sight for St Patrick he knows that empty girls have arrived...and is pacing about and taking his frustration out on poor Snowstorm (his wether friend)

In amongst all my goings on in the UK, we have alpaca news from both New Zealand and Australia; our new fawn male is to be screened next Saturday, then all being well we can start the plans to have him transported over here (to arrive early September). In Australia our fabulous Cambridge Stargazer has just had a date with the awesome EP Cambridge Peruvian Spartacus (sire of Cambridge Navigator amongst many others). The aim is to have her here for Spring 2014...keeping the excitement going....

I will try for some up to date cria photos tomorrow...sunshine is forecast!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Excited...just a bit!

Lots happening here, plenty of excitement, a bit of nail biting...but no births! 

Firstly the day to day stuff...poo picking...we got a bit behind over the weekend. A dirty house is one thing, but a unclean paddock is quite another...I start getting angst. The problem was that Paul had paddock sweeping on the agenda for Saturday afternoon, after he had done a couple of mobile matings with St Patrick. Well actually the problem wasn't that Paul had it on the agenda, it was that St Patrick decided after being coaxed to do the first mating, that he really couldn't be bothered with the second. Hence Paul was rather late home (St Patrick is going in the paddock next to the females tomorrow ready for next weekend's matings. The thing is we have no open females to tease him with, but we will see if it helps).

So on Monday I got out the poover. I had forgotten how therapeutic poo picking can be. it is great watching the interactions of the alpacas, whilst they forget to notice that you are there.

However, the sweeper does such a good job of the large areas, and essentially harrows the paddocks at the same time, thus Paul did get the larger areas done before heading off to work on Tuesday.

Paul sweeping the pregnant female paddock...taking a call on his mobile...the girls are intrigued.

I had taken my iPad out to try to get a photo of Snooty Boots, who I think if looking lovely in full fleece.  However, when shouting out 'look Snooty' to get her would appear that Lucie and Sophia thought it was a command...

looking snooty Lucie and Sophia

Beck Brow Snooty Boots

Now for the exciting bit about the weekend...well I am being a bit of a tease as I can not reveal all...except to say that I have been filling in arrange for screening of an alpaca in order for it to enter the UK. We are very excited (yes that is really a we...Paul too!). The photo below was taken recently and is of a male cria who is one month old...there is a connection...

On the subject of connections, I was so pleased to hear that Valley Alpacas The Diplomat took first place in the sires' progeny class at the Heart of England. I did remark how his cria were like peas in a pod when I saw them at the Futurity...the judge's training may be working! Congratulations Sue...well deserved!

I have my first halter class apprenticeship at the weekend followed by a fleece show apprenticeship during the week. I am going to be away from Saturday until the following Sunday so Paul will be on birthing duty for the week (they were supposed to have all birthed by now).

Amanda has been testing me on my assessment of micron in preparation. Interestingly although I have lots of fleece samples (not just from my own herd) I admired Anzac Almost Illegal's fleece sample (blindly) on three different occasions (2010, 2011 and 2012 samples)...decision made he needs to have some Beck Brow matings before he goes out on lease for the summer.