Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The Waiting Game

Well, we are gradually arranging for all our females to give birth in the Spring which will give the cria time to grow up and be well set up to withstand the winter. July is going to be a busy month and we have one mum-to-be who is now overdue. She is the brown one in the pictures.

We have them in a separate paddock so we can keep an eye on them. After July we have the whole of August free of births with a few stragglers in September. The plan is that next year all birthing will take place by the end of June, leaving us free to go to every dog competition from then on!! That is assuming we can find volunteers to farm sit!!

Although our log cabin is a temporary solution until we build a normal house on our farm, we are making an effort to make it as attractive and habitable as possible. Mike and I visited Chard Garden Centre in the week and bought some shrubs to make the "garden" a little more visually attractive. We were impressed with the garden centre, which is quite a small enterprise but with plenty of choice and lovely staff. I had to take Mum to the dentist yesterday and could not resist another visit - so now we have about ten small shrubs which will eventually be big ones. We are very pleased with the results. I also managed to buy some marigolds. I really like the traditional English ones but they only had Africa Marigolds. Still at least they are the right colour.

Don Chale of Laurel (known as Charlie) is the latest addition to the herd. We imported him from Chile to replace Don Julio, a very handsome male who unfortunately died about eighteen months ago from ulcers. Charlie has already mated two of our females and as he has a fleece expected to meet SRS (soft rolling skin) criteria we are hoping his offspring withhave better fleece and therefore even better wool than we already produce.

We are supposedly retired but seem to have a very full day every day, so we decided that we would divide our working day between farm (alpacas) and home (everything else). We are trying to get all our farm jobs done by 1 p.m. and the other jobs, such as mowing the lawn as we optimistically call the hilly grass area outside the lodge, making new jumps for the dog agility course, sitting around (in our dreams) training the dogs, cooking the dinner are done in the afternoon. It is working quite well really. Although we are just as busy, because all the non essential jobs are scheduled for the afternoon, we can actually stop when we like, knowing that the alpacas are fully cared for. The other jobs are wannados and not mustdos.

I had a bit of a doddle working morning this morning. Lynsey Skinner of Dreamfield Alpacas has sold one of our males on our behalf. He is a lovely black boy but more suitable as a pet than a breeding male. He did not agree and was exhibiting all sorts of testosterone fuelled behaviours. He paid the final price when Tessa, the vet, arrived on Lynsey and Ian's farm with scalpel at the ready. I went along to help hold him down whilst she removed his maleness. It is not quite a brutal as it sounds. He was doped to start with and then had a local in the dedicated area. He felt no pain and when I left he was still looking quite happy and sozzled.

Of course it was only right that I should fulful the social niceties of being an alpaca breeder so I had to stay for coffee and biscuits and had a mini tour of the herd. Unfortunately I arrived home just after Mike and Pam had finished clearing the paddocks. Oh dear - I was really gutted.

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