Wednesday 28 December 2011

Building for the future

All the blocks for building the back wall, and the barn waiting for the internal work to start.

Today we just did the routine jobs and some dog training but somehow the time went very quickly. 

The weather was very unsettled today so just as well we had not planned any big jobs.  I did a bit of herding practice with Dolly, but the goats take much less notice of her than sheep or alpacas, so I let my son's dog,Jax, who is staying with us, show her how to do it.  

It actually worked too, as Dolly copied Jax and they soon moved the goats back where we wanted them.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Normal Service Resumed

The weanlings are pleased to be back in the fresh air after a few days in the barn.
Everything back to normal today except that Nick is having a week off so did not come for  his usual Tuesday stint.

Mike made a start moving some earth from behind the barn so that Larry, our builder neighbour, can make a start on the supporting wall that will surround our "sunken garden" left when they removed earth to level out the ground for the new barn.

We bought some poor quality straw a while ago which was dark and full of sticks and other unexpected additions and Mike  replaced it with some better quality bales so he has been using  the left overs to try and cover up some of the most muddy and slippery areas in the race and the gateways.  It is a temporary solution but we hope it will keep the tracks viable until they have dried out.

Monday 26 December 2011

Back on line

Since I last blogged, I have been away for a 4 day break in Prague leaving Mike to look after all the dogs and the farm, including wading around in mud as a result of the all the digging involved with the new barn combined with the rain, which has made the whole place pretty squidgy. Not only that, but my son,  David asked him to look after his dog, Jax whilst he and Jane went away for the night to celebrate his birthday with friends.  What a star - Mike, I mean.  He just takes it all in his stride.

Pauline and I had an amazing weekend visiting the Christmas markets in the old and new towns as well as sampling the local cuisine and seeing the sights.  The locals were very friendly and helpful and the only slight downside was that literally every other shop was a souvenir shop with almost identical, although in most cases quite lovely, goods.  Their speciality is glass and jewellery which come in some really beautiful forms, but not very practical for transporting home.

When I got home and finally got round to checking my emails I found that none had been received since the 11 December and discovered that my broadband was down.   Then followed a frustrating few days when I was given conflicting information and made to repeat the same tests over and over under the instruction of call centre operators whom I could barely understand because of the strong Indian accents.  Five or six operators and hours later and after being told variously that there was an outage and then there wasn't and then I must bedoing something wrong,  I decided to get the local IT repair  man in to check that I had correctly set up the equipment and replaced all the filters etc: etc:  and another hour and £56 later he confirmed that it was definitely a fault with the broadband  line and nothing to do with my equipment.  The  last call to the Indian call centre confirmed that there was definitely an outage and they would send an engineer on Friday 23rd - 12 days after the fault started.

My neighbour let me use her PC to pick up the online orders for Alpacastuff products and I had to hand write them and bring them home to type out as her printer had run out of ink!  I phoned the customers concerned and explained the situation and they were all understanding and I hope received their orders in time.

I changed several appointments on that date to ensure I would be here between 8 a.m. and 1p.m. but on the day he phoned to say the fault was at the exchange.  He came out anyway to check the lines but they were fine except that the phone in Mike's workshop was faulty.  He recommended  changing it as it would be slowing down the broadband speed.  Anyway we were finally there and luckily most of the 183 emails that had been held up were headed straight for the Junk Mail folder so not much was lost.

After quite a busy time in the shop in the lead up to Christmas we are closing until further notice as the building works will be starting in earnest in the new year and we think it will be awkward to park and probably very dirty and lots of coming and going with materials and machinery.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Babies Growing Up

Well Alario just would not get out of the picture, but at least you can see how big the weanlings are growing.   We have been opening the farm shop on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays and keeping the cria in the barn for those days.   People love to see them and it is good for them to get used to visitors being around as well as unusual noises. 

At first they were quite nervous but they are quickly becoming bomb proof.

This morning we drenched the whole herd of alpacas and all the goats with a vitamin and mineral solution which we hope will ensure their health through the winter.   We will be giving the cria ADand E paste monthly and repeating the drench in two months time.  The grass still looks quite green but it will not be as nourishing as it is in the spring and summer so the animals are tucking in to their hay and haylage now.

I was really pleased with Dolly.  She fetched up three different groups of alpacas in a really calm way and they just trotted along in front of her, seemingly quite relaxed.  When I was feeding the goats two of the little monkeys got into the stock trailer where we store their hay and straw and would not come out so I sent Dolly in.   At first she just went in and came straight out, then she realised what I wanted and chased the kids out.  They were not too bothered as they were soon trying to climb back in as I was trying to shut the door.

Afterwards we let the weanlings into a nice fresh paddock and all the Mums have been put back into the main herd so we can rest some of the paddocks.

Touch wood, cross fingers and toes,  all the animals seem to be doing well now.  Even Seven seems to be OK, although we are still surprised she is around!!  The only disappointment is that the hens do not seem to be doing their job.   I asked Nick to have a look at them to reassure me that they had no health problems, but he thought they all looked good and several should be laying.   He reckons there must be some stashes of eggs somewhere, although we have looked really hard.  I suppose eventually we will have to shut them in for a few days and hope they get used to laying near to home again.