Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Tuesday Helper

On Tuesdays we usually have two helpers.  Jon comes in for a couple of hours to help me with routine husbandry with the alpacas and any other chores which come under my remit.  Nick works with Mike and is here all day .

Unfortunately this morning Nick texted to say he had a migraine (he is a regular sufferer).

We have to  trim toe nails of the alpacas regularly because they are on soft grassland all the time as opposed to the rough, rocky surface typical of the parts of South America where they originate, which wears their nails down.  So we made a start by bringing the males up from their field into the barn.

Prior to this I had my first lesson on how to drive the tractor.   Mike is still nursing his fractured leg and so could only give directions.   We normally park trailers and other mobile machinery in the barn to protect them from weather when not in use, so I had to back the tractor and topper out and park it together with some other equipment to make room for the boys to come in for their manicure.

All went well and I feel more confident that I will be able to help Mike top the fields in the spring when the grass needs cutting.  I even managed to park it back in the barn afterwards.

I also clean out the hen house every morning and clear up after the alpacas in the chicken enclosure.   This creates two small trailers of excrement a week  to be ferried down to the dung heap where it biogrades into very good compost. Jon and I carried out this unenviable task between us.  A busy two hours (including the toe nails) but very useful.
This is a typical scene when I start my day.  the nesting boxes are lined with hay (we have run out of straw) and when I arrive with the wheelbarrow everyone one wants  a slice of the action!  The cat hitches a ride, Ted (dog) keeps an eye on everything, and the alpacas pinch as much hay as they can before I move on to clean their enclosure.  All of this is overseen by the hens!  Happy families!
Click on the photo to see our alpacas for sale.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Still Raining!

This autumn seems to be all rain and no sunshine.    I like to let the chickens out as early as possible in the mornings so they get maximum time outside but at the moment it is getting on for seven o'clock before it is light enough to venture across the yard in my dressing gown.  The dogs don't mind what time they go out  and the very mention of chickens gets them into a state of excited anticipation of a good chase around and in Jake's case far too much barking for the early morning.   Good job we have no really close neighbours.

Luckily the hens  seem to be laying quite well even though some of them are quite old.

As it has been exceptionally rainy lately I have been rounding up the girls who share the paddock with the hens into their enclosure, which is a small fenced area with a large and a small shelter.
It is also where some of the chickens lay their eggs in the hay racks - a bit of a nuisance but at least the hay is a nice clean place to nest.

After a few days they began to put themselves into the enclosure at dusk so all I have to to is go over and shut the gate behind them.  clever girls!

 Click on the photo to visit our Alpacas for sale website

The boys (alpacas) are in our bottom field which, unfortunately only has a shelter without a roof at the moment.  Mike and Nick stripped off the roof some time ago and Mike was intending to bring some surplus roofing sheets which are being stored at our old Salisbury home but it has not happened yet.  Luckily there are plenty of trees and bushes to give them shelter at the moment and we hope to have the new roof fixed before we get any really bad weather. 

Friday, 11 October 2019

Fighting the Weather

Trying to get the routine jobs done without getting too wet is a bit of a challenge at the moment.

The hen house is a converted field shelter and the alpacas who live in the same field as the chickens often run  in there for shelter if there is a sudden downpour.  It gets pretty crowded and the alpacas don't understand that the hay in the nesting boxes is not for them so things get a bit hectic and untidy at times.

It is difficult to decide what the alpacas consider is heavy enough rain to warrant a run to cover.   Sometimes they just continue grazing in what seems to be quite extreme weather and other times they will take shelter at the drop of a hat.

The chickens are easier to predict - they don't like rain if it is more than a light drizzle and equally they like to go into the shade if it is a really hot day but otherwise they just meander apparently aimlessly around from feeder to shelter to nesting box and sometimes lie in the summer sun with their wings outstretched to keep themselves cool.

This week the alpacas all had their first injection of ADE which we administer every couple of months in the winter as they need more vitamin D than our native species.  We also gave them a dose of medication to prevent fluke which is a parasitic worm which can occur when the weather is wet and not too cold.

Click on the picture to visit our website.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Catching Up

All my resolutions to keep the blog up to date (it would be good to look back on at the end of the year) have fallen by the wayside. Since Mike's accident there has not been much spare time.   Since my last post I had to take Mike back and forwards to Musgrove Hospital in Taunton several times and eventually he was kept in for a couple of days whilst they assessed the situation and fitted a different cast.

He is now at home and has another month and a few days before he returns to hospital to have the final X ray and cast removed (we hope).

He is doing a lot of reading and helping as much as possible - peeling vegetables for dinner, and other kitchen tasks, which is much appreciated, but of course, he is not too happy as he is used to being very active.

We have sold another male alpaca.   The numbers are slowly going down.  I know it is the right decision but it will be strange to be down to just two or three, which is the plan.

Nick is getting on with laying the hedges which is a job that has to be done in winter so the wild life, birds etc: are not disturbed during the breeding season.  Mike would normally be working with him so it will be much slower than hoped.

I will be helping next Tuesday when he comes by clearing the debris of branches and twigs as he cuts them down.   Then it gets put on a bonfire, weather permitting.

I am used to Mike covering the shop if I want or need to go out when it should be open, but of course he cannot do it whilst he is on crutches as it is quite a walk on a tiled floor to get to the shop from the kitchen.  This means that opening hours sometimes have to be shortened if I need to go out.

The shop will be closing permanently after Christmas so I am hoping that we will not lose too much trade.  I will continue to sell online for a while if there is too much stock left over.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Getting Busy

Unfortuntely Mike has fractured his fibula and is currently unable to do very much on the farm or in the house.   He had a fall whilst strimming on Tuesday.   At first we thought he had probably sprained his ankle.  His toes and ankle were an agry purple/red.

We ice packed it but by Wednesday there was no improvement so I took him to A & E at Taunton.
It took several hours but we finally left with Mike in a temporary plaster cast which will be removed and replaced with another one when the swelling has gone down.   The replacement cast will allow him to walk with the aid of crutches. Unfortunately with the temporary cast he is more or less chair bound because he is not supposed to put his weight on the injured leg but his shoulders are arthritic and he finds it too painful to take the full weight of his body on the crutches.

The shop is getting busier with the autumn approaching and we have stocked up on socks and the hand knitted items are starting to sell again.
Cick on the picture to see our range of hand knitted hats.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Shop Opening

Our Autumn/Winter season has started well.   We are fully stocked with socks, hand knitted mittens, hats, ethnic throws and fair trade rugs.

The alpacas are enjoying the late spell of really lovely weather and lazing around in the sunshine.

Even the hens seem jolly at the moment and they are laying well.
Click on the picture to see our alpacas for sale.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Moving On

I spent Saturday and Sunday at a local Dog Agility competition with my older dog, Dolly and young Ted.   They both worked well and Dolly was third in one of her classes but Ted is a bit of a wild card at shows and I need to up my game to make sure Ig ive him the right signals and information.  Dolly is an old hand and we get on well, but she only had one clear round all weekend (3rd place) due to lack of timely information from me.

The alpacas are lying in the pouring rain at the moment.   Sometimes when it rains they gallop for cover in their shelter but sometimes they just lie down.  I think this rain started as a shower and so they thought they would lie down and as it got heavier they did not feel it worth running for shelter.  Who knows!!

I am opening our farm shop this week and every week until 21st December which is the closest to Christmas given that we only open Thursday to Saturday 11.30 - 5 p.m. excepting unexpected circumstances.www.alpaca-stuff.co.uk