Monday, 19 April 2010

Long time no see

Well I cannot believe it was the 20th March when I last blogged on.

All the puppies have gone to their new homes and they seem to be making a good impression.   Dolly is already a fully fledged farm dog and comes round to feed the goats (and steal food from their trough) as well as the chickens.   She is not afraid of either but has been more reticent about the alpacas.   This morning, however, she was brave enough to stay with us whilst we cleaned the paddocks.   She tried to jump into the galvanised drinking trough but could not quite make it.   She has learned the delights of eating alpaca poo as a dietry supplement.

The hens have all settled in very well.   We now have the original 6 Black Rock,  7 Silver Link, 1 Rhode Island Red and 9 rescued hens and of course the cockrell.  We are picking up between 15 and 20 eggs a day and Mike is going to make a roadside sign so that we can get more people buying them.

We have sold quite a few alpacas lately and I am going to have to revamp our sales list to make some more money whilst retaining enough stock to keep the herd viable.  I took some weanlings and Pedro to the SWAG Spring show at the weekend and Pedro won his class with his daughter Lucetta coming second in hers.    Little Javier, a very attractive little fawn boy was thrown out because the judge could only find one testicle (on the alpaca) even though I had asked another experienced breeder to check for me before we went into the ring.  He confirmed that the testicles were present although they had not dropped.   Still you cannot argue with the judge, and to be fair he did have a second rummage when I mentioned that someone else had managed to locate the little devils.

We have scanned the goats and four of the five does are pregnant with some looking as though they might have twins.  We will be vaccinating them tomorrow to ensure that they have some immunity to pass on to their kids.  Mike and Nick will have to partition the goat house and the paddock to keep the buck away from the females and kids as apparently they can harm them.  Not sure if it is deliberate or just because the kids are small and the buck is big.

At last spring has arrived and the grass is starting to grow.   We have been struggling to get enough hay to go round for the last few weeks.   We are planning to buy in a much larger quantity this year and store it outside
under tarpaulin.     My friend's husband works in Chard Dairy and they have a lot of surplus pallets which we can have to make a base to stack in on.

We are going to move the herd around tomorrow to pull out some of the females who will be giving birth in the next week or two.   They will stay in a paddock near the barn so we can keep an eye on them.

Charlie, our latest dog has started to fight with Jake.  I think he is just getting too big for his boots as he has matured.   He will be paying the price with his manhood next Tuesday and in the meantime we are trying to spend some time keeping everything calm in the pack.   The last thing I want is for a dog to be hurt or for Dolly to learn bad behaviour.

Mike is suffering from a really bad back at the moment.  I have given him a couple of massages but I think he needs to go to the chiropractor and maybe get a professional massage too.  

All the hedges round the farm have now been layed and this year Mike and Nick will be concentrating on other jobs such as drainage and limiting the weed population in the winter paddocks as well as adding fertiliser.

Following a talk by Jo Scamell, a specialist in forage and soil nutrition and management arranged by our Vet practice we are going to have our soil tested and try to rectify any imbalances.    We will probably use green waste and natural minerals. This might seem strange when we have loads of alpaca manure daily but before being used on the paddocks it would have to be composted for two years to ensure that it is free of parasites etc:    This is not so important when it is just being used in small quantities to fertilise a garden but vital if being used to fertilise the whole farm.   

On the 10th April we held a coffee morning in support of Devon Air Ambulance.   Our friend and neighbour Pam suggested it as she had done several before.  She thought it might work to have it on the farm.

We are still waiting for the final tally on money because they have not collected the tins yet, but we made  over £200 on the gate, the raffle and the cake stall.  We also had a dog agility demonstration by Honiton Club and Friends and Members of Axe Vale club as well as Pam's nephew, Lawrence.  Pam made nearly all the cakes and the raffle prizes were donated by us and many well wishers.

Complete Meats our local butcher donated a lovely hamper and Moores Biscuits donated the biccies for the coffee.   We also had a jam and chutney tasting of locally made  varieties which we sell in the shop.

It was a beautiful hot day and most people seemed to stay for the duration.  Although it was not our intention particularly, we felt that it was a very good PR exercise.  We sold out of eggs and have been offered some extra grazing in the village which could be very useful.

I am away for four days from Wednesday as I am going to stay with Pauline in Andover and attend a John Rogerson course called the Ultimate Recall.  It will be interesting to find out if he has any brilliant new ideas to teach.

I will report when I get back.  I am leaving Mike with four females who could give birth any time over the next couple of weeks.  His favourite - NOT!

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