Wednesday, 29 August 2012

We're off!!

 After quite a few hold ups directly and indirectly caused by the weather mainly, the barn conversion is now making some rapid progress.  The SIPS (structural insulated panel system) and steel joists arrived this morning and tomorrow work will commence.  When they have finished in just a few days the entire interior of the building will be completed to first fix readiness - i.e. plumbing and electrics can go in.   Our builder, Jon, will be adding the wooden cladding as soon as possible and the windows will go in.   The outside will be complete.  Not sure how long it will take to get the inside done, but at least it will look like a proper home from the outside!

We brought the female alpacas and babies up to the home paddocks so that I could take photographs for the sale page on our website.  I had gaily been removing from sale the  Mums who had female cria and had not realised that it left hardly any stock for sale.  We are going to keep them up here for a few more days in the hope that Jessica (the last pregnant female ) will give birth and then they can go back to the winter paddocks for the rest of the year.

Sadly on Monday morning when I checked the stock I found the little body of number 9 a young male goat  who had been having problems.  We had given him anti-biotics, wormed him, and treated him for cocci and  also some glucose and pro-rumen to try and stimulate his digestive processes.  We thought he was improving but unfortunately he did not make it.

We were supposed to be taking some alpacas and of course our alpaca wool and garments to a local village fete on Monday but due to the weather they cancelled the outdoors aspect and moved all the stalls in to the village hall so we did not take the boys as it would have been a bit pointless leaving them outside in the pouring rain whilst everyone else was indoors.

We had a very small table so could not display our wares very well and we were right by the gap between the small marquee and the village hall so we got the full benefit of the wind and rain that was blowing in.  Luckily it was only a couple of hours and we beat a hasty retreat as soon as the crowds died down, returning to a nice warm evening in front of the TV with a glass or two of excellent port.

On Saturday we are due to make our usual contribution to village life by having a stall and taking some alpacas to Chardstock Street Fayre.   We are really hoping for some good weather (as I am sure everyone else is) and the opportunity to sell some goods.

We have decided to hold a Christmas Market on the 1st December to sell our own products and to add some more interest by having a variety of stalls with different gift and novelty ideas.   I only sent out an email today and so far we have interest from a lady who sells vintage knitting patterns and hand made baby clothes (mainly from alpaca), a talented designer and maker of Christmas wreaths and other decorations from all natural sources,  a jam maker, hand made cards, cakes, someone who makes cakes stands (I cannot wait to see what they are like) and mulled wine.  Visitors will also have the opportunity to meet the alpacas, goats and chickens.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Lady in waiting

Jessica is the very last female to birth this year.   Her optimum due date is today but there is no sign of any new addition so far.  The photo shows her eating for two we hope.

Anchor (pictured looking sadly over the gate) is in quarantine having returned from a stay on one of our client's farm where he has been acting as a temporary herd sire. We hope his girls will be producing some fine offspring as a result of his attentions.

We have now weaned this year's goat kids.   The Mums have been kept out of site in the barn but have now been re-introduced to the rest of the herd and the kids are staying with the bucks and sharing it with three male alpacas for the time being.   We have given up on using the top paddock because the new 4 ft stock fencing is square and not oblong gaps so that when the goats put their heads through (as they often do)  they cannot withdraw them because their horns get caught.   When the gaps are oblong they just turn sideways and slide back out.

We are going to several fayres and fetes soon so I am trying to handle and halter train three yearlings so they behave well when they go on show.   So far they are improving rapidly and getting used to walking round strange obstacles like the pile of wood at the back of the barn.  They are no longer spooked when they accidentally tread on a piece of tarpaulin and generally seem to look forward to getting in to their show pen - probably because they get a food treat once they are there.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Time Flies

Time has flown since the last update, but I am not sure where it has gone.

Really loved the Olympics, so  any indoor time was spent catching up on the latest.

I took Dolly to a dog training course run by my friend, Pauline, with John Rogerson, a well known dog trainer and behaviourist, being the speaker/instructor.   It was called CSI and although it would not qualify your dog to become a sniffer dog, it was very interesting and surprisingly most of the dogs quickly learnt how to identify scent and Dolly was ace at finding an article dropped on a track.   This was called "seek back".  Very useful if you are out walking and drop something.   You just get the dog to retrace your footsteps and find what you have lost.  We also learned how to teach the dog to identify the scent of a decomposing body (eau de rotting pork was used).  It was added to a cotton bud and hidden in one of several marked places and the dog had to identify the spot.  Following a human track was the subject of another session.

She obviously took it all on board because at a  Dog Show last weekend, I threw the green ball on a rope which Charlie, Dolly and Romie all run after and Dolly always wins and brings back to me.   On this occasion another dog came up to Dolly and she dropped it and ran off with her new friend.   The ball disappeared in the long grass and after a few minutes search I decided to write it off.    The next time we went out, however, we must have retraced our footsteps in the 20 acre (approx) field and Dolly ran over a spot and then ran back and picked up their ball.

I only stayed for two of the four days and returned to the farm on Saturday morning to help Mike catch up before we left for another four day dog show. Mike only came for two days (Sunday and Wednesday)  because he had to stay home whilst the Gas installers continued their search for the gas pipe to connect us!!
They finally sorted it out on Wednesday but they had to dig up some of the road so we still have the yellow fencing out front.  Then on Thursday we were off to the KC International Dog Show at Rockingham Castle in Leicestershire.

It was a fantastic venue and the weather was kind.  Dolly is still chasing the elusive Grade 3 win she needs to move up the grades.   She has won a steeplechase, and a jumping and had several places in agility and jumping but we seem to be jinxed with the odd pole down (5 faults) or handler error (me)!

Normal service was resumed on Monday and on Tuesday Nick and I caught up with cria vaccinations and gave all the cria and Mums a dose of ADE to ensure that their Vitamin D levels were maintained given the lack of much sunshine this summer.  

We trimmed the toe nails of all the goats, and, sadly, separated this year's kids from their Mums.   We are keeping the Does in the barn for a few days whilst their milk dries up.    We were expecting a lot of noise as goats are quite vocal, but in fact there was very little.  In fact I think the Mums are quite pleased to have a break from parenthood and just chill with each other and the youngsters still have their siblings from last year and the year before so they have plenty of company.

Now the rain has returned with a vengeance, so I took the opportunity to bath the dogs as they were wet anyway!!