Tuesday, 28 December 2010

After Christmas

Christmas went really well.   We managed to get out of the farm easily and had a lovely time with David and Jane and the children.  We did not stay too long just in case but it was like being let out of jail freefor a few hours!!

The weather has changed, the snow has gone and Nick and I made up for the last few weeks by trimming the kids' hooves, drenching the herd with a mineral and vitamin mixture and condition checking.  As it has been several weeks since they have been able to even see grass, we were not surprised to find one or two a little under weight so we have decided to change from hay to haylage for a few weeks to try and give them a  boost.   Most of the half a dozen who are a little out of condition are youngsters and it might be that their teeth are changing and making eating slower - also they are a bit timid and being pushed to the back of the queue by the older more dominant females.

The weather is expected to be mild into the new year now so we should be able to catch up with a lot of jobs.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Getting through

At least now we are both feeling a bit better and hoping that by Christmas we will be full of the Christmas Spirit.  Two of our neighbours have kindly invited us to spend Christmas day with them if we cannot get off the  farm to go to David and Jane's for our Festivities.  As long as we can  get out of the drive we will be fine but as we have to take all seven dogs with us we will have to use the van which does not have 4 wheel drive.  We cannot risk leaving them at home as it is too long and if we got stuck they would be hungry and thirsty and cold on Christmas Day which would be sad even though they don't know it is Christmas.

Mike has gone up to the garage today and has taken the pressies round so that at least the children will get them even if we do get snowed in.   The forecast is quite good so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

The animals are all coping well although I expect they are fed up with living on hay.  We are lucky that we have plenty of shelters and they are certainly making use of them at the moment.   When we look out of the window in the mornings it is like the Marie Celeste - not asign of life on the place apart from the good ole cockerell who continues to crow despite it all!!

The tough outdoors cat who disappears for days at a time in the summer has become a permanent fixture  indoors and has to be thrown out occasionally when we realise she has been in for too many hours.  She favours Mike's chair but when all else fails will deign to use the cat basket. 

The goats and kids stay indoors all the time at the moment although we do let the kids out as their trailer is a bit small for 24 hour occupation.   Mike and Nick have yet to complete their shelter. Actually they havenot started it yet.

Mike just phoned to get me to order some gas cylinders - we cook and heat the log cabin by propane gas.   Apparently there is now a shortage and it was broadcast on TV at lunch time so I have reserved two cylinders for collection tomorrow so we don't run out. 

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Man flu

Mike and I have both had colds but I definitely had man flu - I lost my voice and had a really bad cough which made by bronchial tubes sore.   Unusually I just could not drag myself around the farm and poor Mike has had to do all the farm work himself for a couple of days.   

This afternoon I suddenly felt much better, although I still get fits of coughing when I go out into the cold.

We have started to drench (give orally) some minerals and vitamins to the herd but I had to give up after administering to the females and the males.  Now that I am feeling better we will be able to treat the weanlings and the Chardstock 6.  We are feeding hard feed as well as hay at the moment as some of the herd seem to be getting a little out of condition.  Probably because they had about a week with the grass being covered in snow.

Chale who was scouring seems to be OK now so the treatment has worked.  Don't know what caused it - perhaps just eating frozen grass or eating something out of the hedgerow that disagreed with him.

I had a card from my old friend Allanah this week and she said she liked the blog so I am hoping she reads this so she can confirm that she receives my Christmas card every year as the address I have got is quite old.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Lie In

We had a bit of a lie in this morning.   Mike has had quite a traumatic few days in that he went into hospital for a routine angiogram but had an allergic reaction to the contrast die that they put in to view his arteries.  Instead of a three hour visit he had to stay in overnight.  We shut the dogs in at 11 a.m. and Mike was still waiting for his procedure at 3.30p.m.  It was decided that I would go home (40 minute journey) to let them out and feed them and return to the hospital to pick him up.   Just as I was about to leave home they rang to tell me about his problem so I quickly packed his toothbrush etc: and took them with some reading material back in to the hospital.  I finally brought him home at about 11.15 yesterday morning.  He is still a bit under the weather but becoming more himself as time goes by.In fact we went over the road to our neighbours for dinner last night and he managed to last until about10.30 p.m. before finally giving in.   I think the combination of his scare plus all the toing and froing and some socialising just about finished us off and we became unconscious as soon as we hit the pillow and did not wake up until 8.10 a.m. which is really late for us.

The good news is that they did not find anything of great concern. He has had a faulty mitral valve for years (maybe since birth) and has now developed a faulty aortic valve but neither is serious at the  moment and just requires regular checks.   They still cannot find a cause for his occasional breathlessness but at least it is not his heart apparently.

It was really lovely to wake up to green fields this morning.   The frosty ground is now very muddy of course, but at least the animals can graze again and although there is not much nourishment in the grass at the moment it will bulk them up and save some hay which is all they have been eating whilst there was snow on the ground.

Chale, one of our working males, is scouring (has the runs) so we wormed him and started to dose him with Pro Rumen which is a complimentary feeding stuff used to assist in the establishment of bacteria in the rumen.
I thought it would be a good idea to give him some anti-biotic also so I phoned the vet to find out which of the two I had in stock would be the best to use.  Of course neither was ideal so they put up three syringes of another type which he has now had.   He was very good - even though Mike could not help me for the last two days of treatment I was able to inject him and drench him with the Pro Rumen on my own.

All the weanlings are well established now so this week they will be going on the website for sale.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Hoary day

The snow has gone thanks to  brief spell of rain and some slightly warmer weather.  At least now we do not have to take water round to each paddock, we just have to break the ice so that the water underneath becomes accessable.

We are still feeding the weanlings as we feel that they are most vulnerable.

The fields were white with hoar frost this morning and  it have been misty and cold and damp all day.  Some of the alpacas with particularly hairy ears have bee decorated in white by the frost.

The chick and its mum are going out all day with the other chickens, although at the moment we still put them in a separate hutch at night. The chick is growing quickly but still has its baby yellow feathers.

Thursday, 2 December 2010


We thought we  had got off lightly but when we woke up this morning it had snowed  over night and everywhere was covered. We moved the hay racks nearer to the shelters which has had the desired effect of making the alpacas use the shelters more. Although we don't routinely feed them, we gave everyone some alpacas winter nuts this morning and will continue to do so whilst the snow is with us.  

The dogs seem to enjoy playing in the snow but it gets in between their toes after a while.

It seems that Christmas sales in the shop are fated once again.   In 2008 we had bumper sales in the lead up to Christmas but last year we had to close for long periods due to snow and ice and the same thing is happening this year.  The good news is that online sales seem to be perking up a bit.  Mostly socks!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Well it does not seem to be rising above freezing and the wind is really bitter but we have been quite lucky in that we only had a small amount of snow.

I am taking the opportunity to try and improve the Alpacastuff website.  You would have laughed to see me with a polystyrene model head outside in a high wind trying to take photos of snoods in the hope that they will sell better when people can see how they look.  If they are not on a model they just look like a scarf.

We have just received the first of the Aran Sweaters knitted in  our new Champagne colour which is a mixtureof fleece - mostly white but with a dash of fawn.  They really look stunning and I am hoping that they will sell well.

Mike has drawn the short straw in  that he is feeding the goats and kids and breaking up the ice in the water troughs so that I can get up to the office.  It's a tough job but someone has to do it.  To be fair I gave been doing more than my fair share of paddock cleaning to make up for the present treat of workin g indoors.

The hay is going down rapidly and they are eating a lot more than usual at this time of year.  We would have liked to have let the new chick out into the wide world by now but we are worried that it will die of the cold if it gets lost or gets separated from his Mum, so its release is bei g delayed.

The dogs are still sleeping out in  their kennel but Mike has insulated it with rubber mats on the floor and carpet round the walls and Charlie who is quite thin and with the thinnest coat wears a coat in bed just in case he gets too cold.  The cat manages to sneak indoors most nights.