Sunday, 28 September 2014

The postmortem and happier times.

 I promise that this blog will end more cheerily that the last, but I will start by sharing the results of the postmortem on Clould Nine. The cause of death was peritonitis secondary to a ruptured abscess in the third stomach. The presentation of her illness now makes perfect sense. The abscess was causing the pain and the colic, when it initially burst she felt rather better for a short while. However, after that the infection took hold, and she became seriously ill very quickly. Knowing the facts I am pleased that she did not suffer long. RIP beautiful little Clould x

Now to happier times; we have another little Explorer boy who we have named Beck Brow Hot Shot. I love him, he is so adorable, beige with light fawn on his ears and back of his head (Explorer had fawn on his ears and head which disappearred as an intermediate)

Beck Brow Hot Shot (sire; Beck Brow Explorer)

All these little Explorer cria do look very alike. They even have the same personalities. As someone who has a couple of Explorer offspring said to me wouldnt need to DNA test them...just squeeze them and they all quack like a duck!

One particulaly cheeky one is Adventuerer, who obviously isnt getting quite enough milk from his own dam, so steals from Bozedown Celestrial. He and Trendsetter (Celestrial's cria) are best buddies, and he sneaks in for a feed at the same time as she does. I have noticed if he goes on his own Celestrial wont allow him, yet she sniffs both bottoms when they feed, so she knows he is there.

 Beck Brow Adventurer (left)

and again

Beck Brow Explorer is proving himself to be a prepotent male, with his offspring having a similar fleece style and look about them. This very much seems to be trait from his dam Cambridge Camilla, whose cria and the resulting off spring (grand cria) all have a look of her. Below is Beck Brow High Five, who is full brother to Beck Brow Explorer (dam: Cambridge Camilla. sire: Ep Cambridge Navigator). The next photo is of Explorer at a similar age...they do grow in to swans!!!

Beck Brow High Five (full brother to Explorer) 

Beck Brow Explorer at a similar age

 Perfecting the grumpy look with dam Cambridge Camilla

 Beck Brow Trendsetter (dam;Bozedown Celestrial. sire: Beck Brow Explorer)

 Beck Brow Kitty...also looking grumpy (she quacks too)

 Beck Brow Prime Suspect (sire: Viracocha Black Sabbath). 

We are still waiting for our first and only 2014 Timbertop CT Goldmine cria. Easter-Wood Adelle is 343 days today. I was hoping this late in the year she might have got a move guess is it will be tomorrow (I say that every day!)

Easter-Wood Adelle

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Bad times...

For me one of the most important things about writing a blog, is the sharing of experiences. Yes, it is lovely to share the births of our cria, to share our successes in the show ring, our sales and purchases...but the most important thing is... it has to be honest...well today I can honestly tell you I am not sure that I am equipped to be an alpaca breeder. I am exhausted through lack of sleep and worry...where does one purchase a thicker skin?

On Saturday morning Paul volunteered to do the six am rounds. As in the norm, all of the females had come in to the barn, but he noticed right at the top of the paddock, a cria lying alone (thankfully he has better eyesight than I). Finding Cloud Nine showing all the signs of colic and in obvious distress we brought her in.

We gave her Buscopan, Flunixin, and vitamin B1. Being at two months of age, we also considered internal parasites so gave oral Cydectin and Vecoxan. We also gave her a soapy enema (feacal sample tested and negative for parasites). No anaemia, no weight loss, no diarrhoea. Both Lambivac injections already given. Although she didn't have a temperature I gave her long acting Amoxypen cover. We then got some oral electrolytes into her.

So what to do next, she was still really flat after a couple of hours, so I rang the vet to ask if they would consider intravenous fluids. However, after examination it was decided she wasn't especially dehydrated and to continue orally (this is my intensive care nurse background...give iv in cases of severe abdominal abnormalities as absorption compromised...but I agreed). We did manage to get a reasonable amount of goats milk in orally. 

By Sunday afternoon, with continued Buscapan and vitamin B1 she had improved to the point of drinking from her dam (Chaska) and appeared neurologically to be back to normal. We made the decision, as Chaska didn't like being locked in, to leave them with the rest of the herd. Cloud was rugged up and looked fine.

Monday morning 6am and we find Cloud in the paddock again, kushed but not looking great. This time I was sure that she was dehydrated, and being Monday I was able to request our 'alpaca vet'. Cloud was given intravenous fluids and definitely brightened up, but we were back to Buscopan, vitamin B1 and continued antibiotics (still apyrexial). Although she could stand she looked severely depressed. The vet was called back late afternoon, when her temp was up to 40.5 degrees and her heart rate and respiratory rate had increased. Intra venous plasma, Marbocyl, and further fluids were administered, and again she seemed brighter once hydrated. 

However, it was not to be, and we lost her in the early hours. We left Cloud with Chaska until morning. I think Chaska knew on Saturday that things were not good, she kept leaving her, and we kept thinking "Chaska look after her for goodness sake" but she is obviously upset and searching for her. She stood for a hug, I am not sure Chaska was actually crying, but the rest of us were. It doesn't get any easier, but I hope we will end up wiser. Cloud has gone for a post mortem. Unfortunately we have rarely found any reason for the loss of cria at this young age. We will see. One thing I do think is alpacas do not fair well with any significant level of not be fooled by the idea that camelids can cope without adequate fluid levels for any time. 

Sadly we lost two young cria between 4 and 8 weeks of age last year. It is so heart breaking when you get them delivered safely and away, to lose them at this stage.


                                                             Cloud Nine the day she was born

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The latest additions to the Beck Brow herd

 A lot has happened since my last blog, not least that my addiction to alpacas seems to have been supassed by my addiction to scallops...

On Friday afternoon I headed off on the five hour trip to Reading for the Alpaca Classic, taking a little detour via Furze Park Alpacas in Buckinghamshire. The original plan had been to take a look at Furze Park Telstar's progeny, with a view to purchasing some stud services. But of course it was always going to happen, I ended up purchasing two fabulous Telstar yearlings.

I was so impressed not only by the quality of the alpacas on the farm, but also by the amount of information provided by owner Bob Hyde. Furze Park Sputnik is a stunning young male, but it is always a slight risk buying a potential stud at this young age. However, this is substantially reduced when the sire, grand sire, dam, grand dam, and other related alpacas are all in pens, and available for inspection. We also bought Furze Park Elvira who is out of Sputnik's grand dam.

 Furze Park Sputnik

Sputnik's fleece

 Sputnik centre and Elvira back (Lulu front astutely bought by Ashwood Alpacas)

I had a great time at the Alpaca Classic, great lectures, lots of food and drink, and good company. It was a first for me...I didnt actually do any bidding...but plenty others did, with the lots bringing good prices.

 On Sunday night everyone headed off home and I was left in the hotel by myself. Deciding just to enjoy relaxing, I dined out on the hotel terrace over looking the Thames. The treat of the evening being;  my perfectly cooked scallop starter with a glass of chilled white wine. On Monday I headed back up to Furze Park to do some further rummaging on behalf of some friends...then headed back to the have scallops again.

Tuesday and Wednesday was the judge's calibration clinic with Cheryl Gehly. I was very fortunate to be able to attend as an apprentice judge, and learned so much. Having changed hotels I managed to avoid the scallops and had king prawn broth for starters instead.

I arrived home on Wednesday night at 8pm, after a good run home with no stops. Next job was to get the show team in ready for Westmorland Show the next day. I have to admit the alarm bleeping at 4.45am the next day was not a welcome sound. It took a couple of hours before I was worth speaking to. However the show went well, with glorious sunshine all day. Rob Bettinson was our judge and Shirley Bettinson kindly helped out with the commentary, keeping the crowds entertained.

Our six yearlings taken to the show came away with 5 firsts and a second, and three colour championships. It was just as the judging was finishing, that I received a call from dad, who was looking after the farm to say that Pebbles was in labour. Thus, Robyn, Hettie and myself headed home, leaving Paul and Craig to pack up. Now, it should have taken us under an hour to get home, but we managed to get stuck in traffic going the wrong direction, and during this time dad called to say "head no legs". Fortunately our neighbour was able to come to the rescue again...phew.

So it was, we arrived home to a sweet little Beck Brow Explorer daughter. And very exciting it was too...a mid fawn Explorer daughter. Up until this point Explorer had only ever been mated to white females, but late last year we decided to try him over Pebbles. Pebbles is brown with a black sire, she is not one of our top elite girls, so we decided to experiment with her. Unfortunately Kitty Kat has arrived so late in the year, that I have only mated Explorer over whites again!

Beck Brow Kitty (she reminds me of a cat) with Pebbles


Kitty Kat again

After the show Rob and Shirley stayed with us, and we went down the local for some food. No scallops on the menu so another mollusc free day. However, on Friday Paul and I dined out at the Four and Twenty (great food) where I had scallop and mussel broth for starters (yum). Then last night we had a family night out to celebrate Paul's brother's 40th birthday. It was off to Bijou for the tasting menu...yes you guessed...course number four...scallops! Today we have been out for Sunday lunch where I had confit of duck leg with orange and walnut salad for a starter, just for a change. After working so hard over the summer we have enjoyed having a little leisure time.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Photo Call for Jimmy Choos

So, you decide to write a blog (please note I have started this sentence with 'So'...I have just found out that this annoys Mark from Patou, so please expect this to be a regular feature! Writing in the third annoying!)

Anyway I decided to take some photos especially for blog content, this never works, blogs need to evolve, need to be based around the activities on the farm, to feature photos taken without intent...well, as you can see from the results, it wasnt a good idea.

I was going to show you the fleece belonging to Beck Brow Jimmy Choos. The best I can offer are the two shots below...the first is blurred...the second obscured

Beck Brow Jimmy Choos (sire: Viracocha Black Sabbath)

Beck Brow Jimmy Choos

I then decided to get a shot of his dam Beck Brow Snooty Boots (sire: Waradene St Patrick), but having the wrong lens on, I missed....

 So, (got it in again!) I though I would get a shot of Jimmy himself. Finding him in the sand pit, I though he looked rather cute...but he has been blurred out by those whites (what else would you expect from the Explorer-looki-likies)

Far right in the photo is Beck Brow Trendsetter. My favourite white female so far (dam: Bozedown Celestrial, sire; Beck Brow Explorer). You are going to have to believe me that she is white, I keep checking, as she certainly looks beige...obviously all the time she spends in the pit.

Beck Brow Trendsetter

Beck Brow Adventurer (just because I love him)

So, more effort required with the photography, although I expect it might be a while before the next blog. On friday I am travelling down to the Alpaca Classic, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday. On the Monday I am visiting a farm to look at a stud male and progeny. On Tuesday and Wednesday I am attending a judge's clinic (as apprentice)at Bozedown Alpacas. Then I travel back for Westmorland Show on Thursday. On Friday I collapse in a heap!