Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

Well the farm looks pretty much deserted now that all the goats and alpacas are housed inside.  Chickens rule OK.

Once again the weather has been appalling today, even though the forecast was for an improvement.   We look forward to that.   I braved the rain to visit a client who has three pet alpacas and wanted help with their toe nails.  The road from here to Chard, three miles away, was flooded in several places and there was single lane traffic because only the centre of the road was passable in quite a few places.   Maybe I have just been lucky, but today was the worst I have seen the main road since we have lived here.

The builders are coming back on the 2nd to do some more decorating and lay the floor,  and then the plumbing and electrics will be finished off.  Not much more to do, but all quite expensive jobs.  

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Roping in the family

David and Jane came to collect Jax, their dog, who has been staying with us for a few days.

Their timing was excellent as we needed to clip the toe nails of the male alpacas and carry out a routine treatment for the prevention of fluke, which is a parasite which thrives in the wet and eventually attacks the animal's liver.

We treated the male alpacas in their shelter and the females and weanlings in the barn.

David is used to handling his sheep so he  has no difficulty with the alpacas and as they were already in the barn it was fairly easy to get a good system going.   Mike was in charge of pushing them into the handling pen and Jane let them out again after David and I had caught and treated them.

It was so quick that the girls were in and out before they knew what was going on.

The weather has improved slightly today, although there have been a number of really heavy showers and the fields are still extremely soggy and muddy.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Given up

We have decided to get all the alpacas in, and give them some respite from the continuing rain and the sodden ground.  We were a little concerned that they would be over-crowded in the barn, and they are, but they seem happier than they were outside.    We can also ensure that they are getting enough to eat when they are totally under our control and not having to use so much energy to keep warm.

Only the sheep and Alario (the male who fights with the others) are left in the open paddocks at the moment.   the sheep have got a good shelter and their hay rack is next to it so they can keep dry when they want to.   Most of the time they just graze on outside.   They are company for Alario but we are not sure if he appreciates them - although he is happy enough to share their feed.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Back to Normal

After a really excellent Christmas day with the family, normal service has been resumed.

We are looking after David's dog, Jax for a few days.  She is used to visiting us and just slots back into our routine without really thinking about it.

With no let up in the rain we have decided to bring all the alpacas in to shelter.   The adult males will be transferred to a double shelter next to the barn.  There are only four of them so they will have plenty of room.   The weanlings will remain in the barn and all the females will join them, divided by hurdles, until the weather improves.   They are really not getting enough nourishment from the grass so they will be just as well off in the barn with hay and alf alfa and at least they will not be burning calories trying to keep warm.

Mike has been trying to dig a few small trenches to keep some areas better drained but it is a losing battle I think.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Watery return
It has been raining here for most of the last ten days.   We moved all the male alpacas, including this year's weanlings, into the barn and all the females have gone down to the winter paddocks which means much less work on a daily basis as there are only two groups to deal with, apart from Alario, the male who likes to fight, and he has returned to his usual individual paddock with its own shelter.

I have just returned from a holiday in sunny India, so it was alright for me!

The photos show the fishing village where we were staying and our house as well as the beach which was just 100 yards away and some of the local fishermen, grannies and children.

Whilst |I was away Mike sold all the Angora does to a farmer from Bridgewater.  Although we loved having the goats, we have not got enough grazing to support them as well as all the alpacas, including the 18 new ones born this year and it is not really cost effective for us to keep them housed all year.  I had great plans of using their fleece, but again, it is expesnive and time consuming to set up that side of things.

We still have the bucks but they are being advertised in this months Mole Valley Newsletter which has proved successful in the past.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Gone Fishing!!

Off to India until the 20th.

Mike will be here to hold the fort and look after the animals.

He says he will appreciate having the place to himself for once!!  He is fully stocked up with dinners I have been freezing for the last couple of weeks if he does not feel like cooking himself.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Christmas Market 2012

Our first Christmas Market was a resounding success.   We were so lucky with the weather,   What with the builders and the bad weather we were way behind with the preparations but son, David, came  to the rescue on Friday and really pulled out all the stops to help us with the many last minute jobs that looked small on paper but turned out to be very time consuming when we came to do them.  He came up with some excellent ideas for making everything more attractive and safer for the visitors and helped us put them into practice.  Big thank you to David, even though he could not attend the actual event.

The rest of the clan, including all our relations in Bristol and Mike's family from Salisbury came along.   Pam and her cousin, Jill ran my stall all day whilst I was busy trouble shooting and sorting out the usual little problems that arise.  Originally I asked Pam if she would relieve me from time to time, but actually apart from selling a few raffle tickets, Pam and Jill did all the work with an hour or two's help  from my lovely friend, another Pam, who lives nearby.   She would willingly have stayed longer, but had her own family commitments.

 A big thank you to her for knitting lots of Beanie Hats and mittens in time for the market.   She is creative and such a good friend.

Next time we will try to get hold of one of those click counters so we have an idea of how many visitors we actually had.

We had and "Animal Corner" with a few alpaca cria, the Gotland Sheep,some Angora goat kids and a few hens.   As a result we have quite a few people interested in buying and  we have acquired a new young cockerell to romance our hens.

We used the living room to be of our new house for the overflow and my friend's son and his band played a few sessions of music throughout the day which added a festive spirit.

Many of the stallholders asked if we would be holding more events, although a few did not do quite as well.

The catering was great with home made soup, lovely fresh rolls and delicious  spiced apple hot toddy.  It was very popular all day, but if we do any more events, I will make sure that the refreshments are available earlier as the stallholders were looking for breakfast before their long stint on the market.

We had a bit of a problem getting the goat kids to leave their mums, even though they have been weaned for a long time.   Even Dolly, the sheepdog, could not get them to come.  In the end Mike and I went up with the landrover and put three of them in the back and drove them down.   I was very pleased with the way all the animals in "Animal Corner" behaved.   None of them backed off from the visitors.  The Gotland sheep and alpacas really seemed to enjoy the company and the goats and chickens were so busy eating they did not even notice.  Definitely no stress to the animals involved in this event.

The dogs were a bit barky to start with as they were in the garden with only a hurdle fence between them and the visitors but after a while they got bored and just continued with their normal doggy pursuits in the garden.

My friend, Pauline, stayed for dinner so we were able to analyse the day's events and came to the conclusion that apart from a few exhibitors having to be towed out by Mike with the help of Chris, who runs the family garage in Wilton, it was very successful indeed.