Thursday 13 May 2010

The plan seems to be working

Monday was shearing day and Colin arrived soon after 9 a.m.   He was supposed to start at 8.30 but the ongoing roadworks between here and Axminster delayed him.   My job is to collect the fleece as it is shorn and I sort it into Grade 1 Grade 2 and other and also by colour.   Colin shears continuously and the only break is when he lets one alpaca go and another one is laid out on the shearing mat.   After 48 alpacas I was really tired when Colin left at about 6 p.m. and was still going on to shear some pet sheep in a nearby village.

Mike helped bring alpacas in from various paddocks, tied up the sacks of fleece that I had sorted, and kept us supplied with tea and made us all a lovely lunch with warm bread rolls, pizza, cheeses and tomatoes.   We stopped for about half an hour before returning to the grind stone.

I was really pleased with the results.   There were no second cuts (that is when the shearer does not get it right first time and has to go over the same area twice. which can mean that the staple length of the fleece is then compromised and is too short to spin and for people that show their fleeces the fleece is ruined).  I was also pleased that our breeding programme seems to be working.   There were very few fleeces that I was not proud of and which did not show improvement on the previous generation.

We have moved on quite a few of our older girls this year and so next year's cria should show even more improvement in quality.

Because of the unseasonable cold weather we have made sure that all the shorn animals have shelter and the main herd are being brought into the barn at night until it either gets much warmer or their fleece grows back a bit.

I went to a Tunbridge Wells dog show at the weekend and only managed one clear round with Romie but she got a fourth place in her grade and was less than a second behind the winning time despite having two very wide time wasting turns in the course.   I think there is little doubt that she is very capable of winning if we both get it right on the same day!!

Charlie is a new dog since I have been giving him extra training and since he has been neutered.  He is much more focused and looks like he will make a good agility dog after all.  At one time I thought he would never concentrate enough to get the hang of it all.   He is much more responsive in all areas and the issues he and Jake had seem to be pretty much sorted.  Seems like we made the right decision and pack harmony is restored.

Dolly is still adorable and has yet to  blot her copy book!!   She is very brave and even Sandy (the grumpy terrier) does not phase her.  She loves to play with me although food is a stronger reward than play at the moment.   Just like her Mum there!!

I never thought I would say this but we really need some rain.   The grass is getting greener but it is not nearly as good or as plentiful this year as it normally is.  Rain at night and sunshine during the day would be good.

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