Monday 25 October 2010

Stepping out

Everything  has been going to plan although I must say my experience in staying with the grandchildren made me  realise life is  quite hectic for modern Mums with all the comittments that the children have.  Two days involving the school runs and delivering and collecting from after school tutor sounded like a piece of cake but negotiating the heavy traffic first thing in the morning, taking the two dogs I took with me on walks in public places, getting back to school in the afternoons whilst allowing for getting involved in yet more traffic and actually managing to park within walking distance of school were mini challenges I did not forsee.

I was a bit apprehensive about taking the dogs, Charlie and Dolly to public parks where there would be lots of other dog walkers. Not because ours are unfriendly,  but because I thought they might be over friendly and therefore unpopular with other walkers.   They are mostly used to being let out into our 15 acres and rarely meet other dogs except at dog shows.  As it turned out they behaved very well and realised that dog show rules apply - i.e. stay within your own pack and don't run off to other owners and dogs.  I was even congratulated by one of the guides at Old Sarum heritage site for the controlled way in which I unloaded the dogs as apparently most people just open the boot and let their dogs gallop off.  We had several lovely walks  at various venues around the town which was really an enjoyable change.

Since the grandchildren, Zach and Tara have been staying they have taken on goat tending duties - feeding them twice a day, shutting them in at night and letting they out in the mornings.  They have also been feeding the alpaca mothers who are still feeding their cria to keep their strength up.

In return we have been to the cinema to see an animated film (DespicableMe) which were surprised to find extremely enjoyable.   There was a trailer for next week's film about Yogi Bear which we would love to see but would probably be too embarrassed to go without the children as an excuse.    We have also been ten pin bowling and swimming is on the agenda before they go home.

We have been really lucky with the weather although it is forecast to change   tomorrow.   The alpacas have been sunbathing and really enjoying the Indian Summer.  Reality is about to set in for them.

Saturday 16 October 2010


Wednesday - We got all the farm jobs done early and took Dolly and Jake to the beach again.   We had a lovely pub lunch in the Bridport Arms Hotel which is right on the shore and then went for a walk in the right direction this time.    Although shingle it was much firmer and there were greater stretched of beach for the dogs to run around on.   They had a lovely time and more or less ignored other walkers and their dogs, which was what we wanted to happen.  Dolly has discovered the joys of wave hopping and Jake just loves to swim.   As we said at the time - should have taken the camera.

Next Wednesday I am going up to Salisbury to stay with Zach and Tara whilst David and Jane go to the Maldives for a holiday.  When they break up from school on Thursday the children will be coming down to the farm for the rest of their half term break.

The broody chicken is very bad tempered but when we get her out for her daily constitutional she disappears into the flock with the others, so we have marked her with some spray to make sure the right one goes in to sit on the eggs.  Once there she wants to stay there.

Thursday - We had quite a few visitors including some potential customers.   Our local advertising is working, but time will tell as to whether it is worthwhile in a financial sense.

Friday -  The kids are looking a wreck where they are spending more time in their shelter and eating hay which is getting tangled in their fleece.   I went to do the shopping and at the same time went to Mole Avon (country stores) and bought some haylage for them.   This is somewhere  between silage and hay and so is much more moist and so does not hang in the fleece like hay.   It has to be eaten quite quickly once the bag is opened, though, as it can breed nasties like listeria if exposed to the air for too long.

Saturday - getting all the jobs done early including grooming the dogs so that we can relax a bit this afternoon.  The alpacas are enjoying their hay and between munching they are lying around in the sun which is actually quite warm despite a brisk breeze.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Chicken Makeover

Nick and I finished toe nail trimming today.  Dolly had another go at herding, but although she is brilliant I don't think I tell her to do the right thing at the right time so it got a bit confusing at time.

With the exception of the usual pantomime with Ben, the wether, they all behaved very well.  We haltered Ben and blindfolded him and he allowed me to trim his nails but by toe number 3 we havd to call Mike for assistance - more so that we could restrain him gently rather than create a wrestling match.  He has very curly toe nails and so is difficult to deal with even when he is co-operating.  They annoying thing is that once the treatment is over - without any pain by the way- he just gets up and accepts a handful of feed as if we are best friends.

One of the kids was limping so we had a look at her.  She has strip which is where grass or hay gets into the space between the hoof and makes the skin a little sore or inflamed.   We trimmed the hoof and applied the magical blue spray (terramycine) to prevent infection.   We will be checking all goat and kid feet next week anyway, so as long as the limp stops she will not need any further treatment until then.

The four weanlings who are the oldest cria still on the farm came in for toe nail trimming and were very well behaved considering that they have not been handled very much yet.  We also haltered them and after a while took them back to their paddock on the halter.   Three were very good but the fourth was one of those who throws himself on the ground  with great force and then plays dead.  Luckily he soon got over it and whilst not quite as relaxed as the others, he is at least tolerating the halter.   We left their halters on and caught them again late in the afternoon.  They stood on a loose rein until we released them.   The next trick will be to get them to walk properly on the lead rope.

I pointed out to Mike that one of the hens seemed to be broody.   We decided that an old dog kennel we had in the garden would make an ideal breeding house for her.  The advantage being that she can live within the chicken paddock near their sheds.   The last lot grew up in the barn and kept going back there which eventually led to the disappearance of the well grown chicks. We hope that if they grow up near the main chicken sheds, they will be more likely to stay in the area.

That all seemed simple to me, but no, Mike found that the kennel was rotting and it needed an extra opening so we could get in to clean it out even if there was a cage for the hen and chicks to run around in - i.e. a door at the back and the front.  Hence he embarked on a total rebuild.  New roof, new entrance, new supports here and there - voila a new house for our potential mum. Eventually we decided to call it a day and put the hen and today's eggs in the house for her to nurture.  Tomorrow we will take the mini hen house into the chicken paddock on the hay trailer.

Saturday 9 October 2010

That Was The Week That Was

Monday - Paddock cleaning as usual - our favourite job!! All the alpacas are now eating lots of hay again so presumably they are either bored with grass or they know it has lost some of its goodness.    The goats and kids always seem to prefer hay to grass, so no change there. 

Tuesday - Nick and Mike moved the old stock trailer which was in the goats' paddock down to the kids' paddock.   We felt that that the old pig arc was not sufficient and over the weekend Mike and I decided that it would be more beneficial to make a shelter for Alario (the lone male) and use the stock trailer as a shelter for the kids.   They love it, especially as it is a climb up for the them.    We intend to shut them in now when the weather is wet as the straw gets very damp if they traipse in and out with wet fleece and feet.  We also renewed the Adult Goat bedding and are planning to shut them in except when weather is really dry and fine.

Nick and I continued with trimming toe nails and now it is only the 8 males waiting for a pedicure.   We are back to doing the husbandry in the barn which means that we are not rained off unless the alpacas are already soaked by the beginning of the day.  We also gave the Mums with cria at foot a dose of ADE vitamins and dosed the cria topo.

Wednesday - I had a day in the office doing the tax return, the VAT, and other exciting tasks.     I must say, I do feel a little more relaxed now that it is not hanging over my head.  If only I could get the ironing done too!!

Thursday - Paddock Cleaning again - the females with cria seem to be producing more fertilizer even than the Chardstock 6.  I think this is because we have moved them to a fresh but fairly small paddock and we are giving them some concentrate feed as some of them are starting to look a bit thin - the weight is being milked off their backs as we old farmers say.

Instead of selling eggs, Pam is now swapping her vegetables for them.    They are laying a  little better now and we do actually have a surplus to sell.  According to Nick they are laying about the right number for this time of year so there is hope that we might be back to normal next year.  Whilst I don't think they are costing us any money,  they are definitely a fun project rather than a money making enterprise.

Friday -   We fed all the animals, had an early lunch and took Dolly (pup) and Jake (Mike's dog) to West Bay for a visit to the seaside.    Dolly is very nervous of strangers visiting the farm and my trusty behaviourist, Pauline, has advised that she is suffering from Big Garden syndrome - i.e. because she only runs about in our Big Garden she is not getting enough life experience.  She is especially nervous of children, but we are hoping she will get over this next week because the grandchildren will be staying for half term.

It was really hot and even with the sea breeze we did not need our coats.   Dolly loved splashing in the sea and virtually ignored anyone we walked past on the promenade.     I am not sure if this was because she was on the lead and felt more confident with me to back her up or if she is only worried when people come on to the farm.    She is already much better on the farm so we are hoping that this combined with a few more outings she will get more confident and we have an excuse to explore the locality.

I had a cream tea (low calorie of course) and Mike had his favourite, fruit cake and a cuppa.

Part of the reason we love this area is because it is so close to the seaside and yet we have only been to the coast a few times.  Yesterday reminded us how lucky we are to be living here and that we must get out more!!

Saturday - We got on with feeding the animals first thing and then I took Charlie and Romie to Agility Training at Stewly which is on the way to Taunton.   Sam, the instructor, is really good and they both did very well.  

Whilst I was out Mike made a start on Alario's new shelter.  He (Alario) is very funny sometimes.    When we filled his hay rack this morning he was facing out the wethers in the paddock opposite (divided by a wide race) but he loves his hay, so he went over to the hay, grabbed a mouthful and rushed back to the fence and went back to facing them out whilst chewing in a gangsterish style.

Saturday 2 October 2010

Health Report

Nina seems to be fine now, although we will be scanning her next week to make sure she is still pregnant.

Her daughter, Luciana, also belonging to Pauline has been scouring (diarrhoea) so we checked the rest of the herd but only she seems to be having a problem so we think it is probably where the recent rain has made the grass grow more lush which has upset her tummy.  As a precaution we wormed her, gave her some Vecoxan which is and anti-coccideal drench (another parasite), and also some pro-rumen which helps to re-balance the gut flora.

Today she appears to be much better but we are going to get the whole herd in later to separate the mums and babies and put them in a separate paddock to feed them  up a bit until the cria are weaned.  We will check Luciana then and decide whether to continue with the Pro Rumen or whether she is entirely over it.

Our website is now being run by Chris Moor at Alpacaseller using his server and low and behold, immediately we are back on page 1 of Alpacas For Sale.   Seems too sudden to be a coincidence!!  My son thinks there must have been something about the server we were on before that Google did not like.  Fingers crossed he is right because we are about to put quite a few animals up for sale so that people have plenty of time to consider them before the spring when most people think of buying.

The Chardstock 6 are going to stay for another six months, which is good news.