Sunday, 27 February 2011

Moving on

The Chardstock Six are up for sale and three of them have been booked already.  We are thinking of keeping one of the males, Horizon Anchor, whose sire was Classical Priam  to see if he has any potential as a  herdsire.   He is a really lovely alpaca with very dense fleece, good crimp and pleasant temperament.  He is a little larger than most of our alpacas but that is probably a good thing as we do not want  our herd to be any smaller in individual size.

Having had a few days of warmer weather the grass is looking green again and the alpacas seem to have decided that it is preferable to hay, which is a bit worrying as it is probably not that nutritious yet.  They still tuck into their alf alfa though, so with only a few weeks left until spring (famous last words) we are hoping that they will retain their condition long enought to benefit when grazing becomes more plentiful.

Surprisingly we seem to be having quite a few enquiries which is unusual for us- we don't often start until April and after.  Three potential buyers have visited over the last 7 days, so time will tell  whether this is a good omen for the rest of the year or just a fluke week!!  Even if none of them buy in the end it is encouraging to have interest this early.

We have decided to open the shop as often as possible to see if it improves sales, because again, we have had a number of people phoning to find out when we are open.  Part of that is probably to do with half  term holidays, but we shall see.   

The does are looking VERY pregnant and I will be very disappointed if several do not have twins as they are looking fit to bust and both sides look very big.   If nothing materialises, we shall have to assume that we have been vastly overfeeding them!!

The buck and the young castrated male have settled in well in their new shelter, although worryingly the buck got his horns stuck in the stock fencing this morning.   Mike thinks the top wires need re-tensioning so he has promised to do it asap.  As the weather was fine and the goats have regrown their fleeces to keep them warm we let them out to graze.   They were,  of course, delighted, but still very good about going inside again at the end of the day -probably still feeling a bit chilly when the sun goes down.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Hens are getting ready for Easter

We are up to 5 eggs a day now with a further 10 Black Rock hens on order for the spring so all being well we will be back in full production in time for Easter.

At last we are feeling that the spring is not too far away, although we are still going through hay like there is no tomorrow.  In general the alpacas are in good condition but one or two could do with a little more weight.  Once the grass starts to grow they will all balloon both with their unborn and through better grazing.

I woke up in the early hours because one of the dogs was barking, and I went out to the kennel to see that everything was alright.  Whilst I was out there I heard a really strange noise - I could not work out what it was and then it increased and became more of a scream, so I thought maybe something had got in with the alpacas.   So - imagine me in my nightie, dressing gown and wellies - I got a torch, shouted to Mike and went off to the most likely suspects, our stud males.   When I got there they were happily chewing the cud and none of them had any tell tale signs of stress, the weanlings were fine as were the Chardstock 6.  I did bother to go down to the winter paddocks because the noise was much closer to home.   In the end, after getting really cold, we decided that I had probably heard a pheasant being caught by a fox.  Perhaps the echo from the woods next door gave the noise a different sound.

Lucky it was not alpaca rustlers as I would not have made a very good opponent armed only with a torch!!
Might have frightened them away perhaps!!

Nothing much else to report.  Life goes on as usual.   Goats and alpacas and dogs all doing well.   The cat is still being an indoor cat at the moment so we know the winter is still on!!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Breaking News

At last the hens seem to be perking up - 3 eggs a day now after weeks if not months of none or only 1.  New hens arriving in the spring too.

It is very spooky but the sheepdog training lady who turned me away when I told her we had alpacas and my dog was an agility dog phoned me last night to say she is running some "herding" courses for beginners and would I like to come.    Well you could have knocked me down with a feather, but I have signed up for the 19th March.   It will be fun if nothing else.  Will have to do lots of socialisation with Dolly.  I was thinking she might be afraid of the sheep but she is happy with the goats and most people think they are horned sheep, so she will probably be OK.  I baad at her yesterday evening and she looked very puzzled and lay down which is her default behaviour if asked to do something she does not understand.

The Chardstock 6 are up for sale which is a shame but understandable as it is not quite the same visiting your alpacas as having them on your own land.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Job Done

Colin sheared the goats on Saturday and although it was not as cold as when they were done last year they were still really shivery.   We kept them in the barn overnight with blankets and tarpaulins round the pen to try and keep the cold draft out. We cleaned out the goat house but wanted to leave it for a day or so to let the disinfectant dry out before putting the new straw in.   Today they went back home and are getting extra feed to help them keep warm.

They have also had to be treated for lice which is quite common in goats.  Next job will be to sort the fleeces and decide what to do with them.  

Mike and Nick finished off the new house for the bucks today and they will be moving in tomorrow.

Tanya is still doing well although not quite up to scratch yet.  She certainly seems very settled with her new companions.  I am using the weanlings for Dolly to practice her herding skills.  Nick is very impressed with her and thinks she is a natural.  I think he finds it hard to understand why I would want to teach her agility!!  She understand Cum Bye (if that is how you spell it) as she naturally goes in right hand circles but as she hardly ever goes the other way I have not been able to give that a cue  She drops at a distance but still tends to turn towards me rather than maintain contact with the herd.

Nick said that she did a very hard thing this afternoon  because apparently I was standing in the wrong place i.e. in the eyeline of the alpacas so she had to bring them up  when my presence was causing an obstruction.  She stands no chance really when it is the blind leading the blind!!

A while ago I phoned a woman who advertised sheepdog/handling training but when I mentioned that the dog did agility she was very rude and said that it would be hopeless and she also said that working alpacas was totally different to working sheep and that I should forget it, basically!!   David's dog, Jax, works his sheep and seems perfectly able to do the same with the alpacas without upsetting them at all.  It does not really matter because we do not really need a working dog as the alpacas are very easy to handle anyway.  It sometimes comes in handy when they decide they do not want to go through a particular gateway or into the barn.

When the kids were in their separate paddock Dolly used to pop in and herd them into their house whenever we went past.   She would then return to me and the kids would be really cute peeking out to see if they were allowed out again. It obviously does not upset them as all the dogs run around when we are feeding them and they don't bat an eyelid.

We made Mike's annual supply of marmalade at the weekend so he is set for a few months. Apparently it is far superior to the mass produced version according to the expert (Mike).