Friday, 22 June 2012

New Arrivals

We were doing some agility training this morning when the girls put themselves in the top paddock behind the house.  We took the opportunity to shut them in and after training I went to open the gate and noticed that Nina, a pretty fawn female who belongs to my friend, Pauline, had a pair of legs sticking out of her bottom.   This is a classic clue that a birth is imminent.   Sure enough by the time I nipped down to the barn to collect the purple spray (anti bacterial spray which prevents infection through the navel after birth) and walked back up, she had produced a fawn male cria.   I sprayed him and gave him a vigorous rub with a towel to get him going and left them to it as the weather was fairly warm and there was no rain for a change.

I glanced at the others and noticed that good old Bourree, one of our original herd, had casually given birth to a very pretty VERY black female cria.   She was standing next to another black female, but I soon found out that Bourree was the Mum as when I picked up her cria, she spat at me and tried to run me off.   I quickly ducked in and did the necessary and left them all to commune with nature.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Farm Jobs

Yesterday Nick and I spent the latter part of the morning doing the hated tagging and microchipping of the cria.   Some had already been tagged but had to wait as we ran out of microchips so they had two goes.  It is only a very brief operation and they don't like being away from their Mums but I still find it very traumatic. 

Oh Joy!! Then we checked the buck's feet as they looked a bit uncomforatble.  We found that they needed their toe nails trimmed (which we did straight away) and that two of them had some foot rot.   Nick trimmed their nails back hard and sprayed them with blue spray (Terramycin) .As luck would have it I had just thrown out the dregs of the anti biotic I had in stock as it was getting towards it expiry date so we took an early lunch and I phoned the Vet and went in to pick up a replacement long acting one.

In the afternoon we injected the Bucks and set to work on the does and this year's kids.    We got them into a temporary pen in the barn quite easily by rattling a bucket of food and marching off.    Just like the Pied Piper!!   They are so naughty.   They are quite easy to handle but they climb up on the table when you don't want them to and then won't even go up the ramp when you do want them too.   They stick their heads through the rails of the hurdles and some of them tried to eat the paper sacks and the fleece which was waiting to be sorted.

Anyway it all got done in the end and the bucks look much more comfortable.   We moved them to fresh a paddock as apparently foot rot dies in about two weeks so when they go back to their normal paddock it should be clean and they should be OK again.   Prolonged dry weather would be a help too!!

We were at a dog show on Saturday when Charmain (one of our black alpacas) gave birth to a very sweet little black male cria.    Nick was looking after the farm and said he was up and suckling in no time.  That's eleven so far with about another 10 to go.

At same dog show Dolly won Grade 3 Jumping.  Romie continued her run of 5 faulters and Eliminations, and Charlie seems to have forgotten everything!  Definitely back to the drawing board for him.  Jake did some really nice stuff and waiting at the start most of the time, although Mike brought him out a couple of times because he just would not sit.  Not much point in running if he starts off like that as he gets over excited and does not listen.

The new hens are getting braver.  Mike is going to make them a pen so that when the automatic pophole opens at dawn they are shut in and protected until we are around to let them out.  We are worried that they are very vulnerable if the fox remembers where he got his last feast.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Life Goes On

Despite all the bad weather, foxes and what have you, life goes on.   Saphire gave birth to a pretty fawn female cria on Sunday whilst the stormy weather gave its all outside the barn.   She has actually already been sold, so her new owner will get two for the price of one.

The single hen thinks she is an alpaca now and they do not take any notice of her.   She is probably safe in there, but once the alpacas are out to pasture permanently again, she will  not have their protection.   Fingers crossed.  Let's hope she makes friends with the new hens before then and goes back to roosting in the chicken house.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Celebrating 100

Well one day we were celebrating our number 100 cria  and the next it was blowing a gale and raining cats and dogs.   Number 101 was born late yesterday and before he was even dry from his birth he was soaking in the rain again, so once again all the females and their cria are back in the barn for a few days.  At first they resisted because in wet and windy weather they lie down if they cannot get to a shelter before the rain gets heavy, but once they realised they were heading for the nice warm barn they set off at a gallop.  Poor little 101 was born in one of the furthest away paddocks and so at just a couple of hours old he followed the herd to a paddock nearer to the house and then only an hour or so later had to troop across to the barn.   He took it all in his stride and spent a happy few minutes having a good explore until his Mum started getting distressed and put out an all points bulletin to find him again.

Some of the older cria (all of three weeks old) wanted to chase each other around like they do outside but they soon found too many obstacles in the form of grumpy adults who just wanted a quiet rest and lie down.

All our cria are tagged and allocated a herd number.   Cria number 100 is actually about number 83 because we imported 17 alpacas from Chile when we first started up, and they were allocated herd numbers as if they were cria.   We have also bought from UK breeders including 5 pregnant females, 3 with cria at foot, i.e. three of the females had male offspring with them when we bought them, and four other alpacas joined the herd at various times.  These all kept their original number and so are not included in our 101.  Including all this year's cria we have 43 in the herd currently - most of the rest have been sold  apart from poor Julio and Bono. Julio died from ulcers and Bono was euthenased after extensive and unsuccessful treatment of some sort of digestive problem. 

The new hens are settling in well although they have not been allowed out yet.  The one hen remaining after the fox attack is leading a very independant life and we are hoping that she does not put herself in danger.   Tonight she has settled down on a large straw bale in the barn with the alpacas, so I would think it unlikely that the fox would venture in, especially as the alpacas will be protective of their cria.

The concrete will be poured into the footings of our new house tomorrow.   That will be a good step forward.    The insulation panels are being manufactured and we are hoping to visit the factory in the next few days to see how the operation works and to make sure they actually exist before we part with another large installment.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Murder most fowl

This is the last hen on the farm.   I think she is hoping Jake will become her new companion.  

It was really hot on Thursday morning and I was about to clean up the henhouse but when I opened the door it was like a sauna so I propped the door back intending to go back later.  It was one of those days when we just ran out of time.  Nothing in particular but lots of little things kept cropping up.   We were due to take Jake and Romie training and decided to do leave home a bit earlier and do the weekly shop in Chard.

On Friday morning I went to feed the chickens and collect eggs to find a shed with lots and lots of feathers, mostly from our beautiful cockrell and, of course no hens, just  piles of black feathers and a carcase with its throat torn out.  I had forgotten to go back and close the door and the fox must have slaughtered them all - most of them in their house, but we did find another pile of the cockrells feathers further up the drive so he must have made a brave attempt to get away with hardly any feathers on him.  As you can imagine, I was absolutely gutted, the more so, because it could so easily have been avoided.

The alpacas were feeling the heat and kept trying to paddle in an old galvansied trough in one of the fields.   We know they love to get to water to cool down and they often try to climb into their drinking troughs or just dip their dirty feet in so that we have to keep replenishing it.    Mike moved the big trough over to the barn and put it under a drain pipe from the roof.   He filled it with tapwater but hope that there with be plenty of water coming off the roof to keep it clean and full.