Tuesday, 29 January 2013

More Skulduggery

Back in October we had several incidents with the farm signs being vandalised or stolen.  The police were investigating but we have not heard anything for ages, so presume they have forgotten us.   We had more or less forgotten about it ourselves, but lately we have had a surplus of eggs and have been putting our sign out to sell them.

Mike made the sign and I carefully wrote the notice using stencils and liquid chalk, which was very painstaking, but quite neat when done.   The sign is not out every day because we keep the eggs for ourselves and regular customers first.  I was in one of the paddocks when I saw a car draw up and a man got out and crossed to the egg box.   He then returned to his car and I assumed he had been checking to see if any eggs left and then gone back to get his cash. After which he returned to the egg box and then back to his car.

I thought no more of it until I went up to the end of the drive to collect the post only to find that yet another notice had been stolen by this strange person who either has a thing about removable signs or us!!  Of course now I am kicking myself that I did not walk up the drive when I saw him so that at least I would recognise him again.

On Saturday I went to Exeter, meeting up with Pauline, my friend from Andover, on the train.   She is updating the decorations in her house and I was on the look out for curtains.  We were both lucky and ended up with six rolls of very posh wallpaper for her and curtains for most of the house for me, followed by a leisurely and delicious  lunch in a very lively hostelry which we have visited before.  No surprise there!!


Friday, 25 January 2013

No Strimming


Even when the doors are open, the Angora bucks prefer to stay in their nice warm goat house. To be fair, the little ones are only ten months old, so you cannot blame them for wanting to keep cosy.

I notice that in yesterday's blog I mentioned our intention to strim the alpacas' toe nails.   Of course, I should have said "trim"!

The builders have left for the day having installed our lovely oak staircase.  I was going to take a photo but they have now covered it so they can walk on it without damaging it, so I was too late.  The internal doors are also oak and are a very close match to the stairs, which is really great.

Apparently apart from the stone floor in the living room, all the major works are completed and everything else is "just cosmetic", although it includes fitting the central heating, kitchen (which has not arrived yet) and bathroom sanitary ware.

Thursday, 24 January 2013



After the usual routine of feeding and mucking out we decided to strim the alpacas' toe nails which are a bit overdue for attention.   We set up the pens as we do for husbandry which turned out to be a waste of time because they really did not need doing.   We can only assume that being in the barn they actually wear their toe nails down a bit on the concrete, even though in most places it is quite deeply covered with straw and hay.

The snow is now melting fast and being replaced by really sticky and horrible mud.   The dogs now have to be hosed down every day before they can come indoors.  All of them except Romie are very good and quite prepared for a freezing soaking if there is a tit bit at the end.    They soon warm up when they get indoors after a brisk rub with the towel.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Another day, another change.


This was the view from our kitchen window yesterday morning.  What a difference today - sleet, slush, winds - yuk.

Nick came this morning after being off for a while with a bad back and I asked  him to check the sheep as I was a bit concerned about their weight.  He agreed that they needed a boost so we have upped the amount of ewe nuts we are giving them   Nick said that really you would not normally expect to feed young sheep much but because of the poor pasture this year, leading to less nutritious hay as well, all farmers are having to feed a lot more than usual.

He did not stay for long as the weather came in and most of the outstanding jobs require at least the ability to stand up.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Neat and Tidy


I do love it when everything is neat and tidy and matches.   That is what snow is for.   The dogs loved it, although it was not quite as much fun for me as I delivered hay and feed to the bucks, sheep and male alpacas in their various shelters.   We moved the hayrack into a shelter for the sheep to encourage them to get indoors and it seems to have worked because they and Alario, the lone alpaca, are nowhere to be seen now.

The hens stayed in their shed until the very last minute this morning.  Usually they are queuing up at the gate to their enclosure in the mornings but they did not come out until they heard the feeding trough rattle.  They seem to be spending most of the day in the barn with the alpacas and laying eggs in the hay racks.

The forecast seems uncertain but we are well stocked up with most things, although the teabag situation is getting a little concerning!!  Jon, the builder, and one of his lads are here and busy with tiling the bathroom and decorating the walls everywhere ready for the plumber to fit the radiators.

Fingers crossed that all the colours I have chosen work.  Mike likes me to choose, but to be fair he rarely complains about my choices even if they are a little off sometimes.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

New Clippers


How exciting is my life?   We decided that it was time the bucks had their toe nails checked and clipped today and combined it with giving them their annual vaccination.  I can do the young bucks on my own by sitting them on their back ends but the two older bucks are huge and Mike has to hold them  whilst I trim.
I have been using the same clippers for a few years with Mike expertly sharpening them, but I bought some new ones this week and was amazed at the difference they made.  The job was much quicker and easier. The old ones have been consigned to the bin.

We also vaccinated the sheep.  When we bought them their owner told us that they would need their first vaccinations in the spring but we decided to do it now so that all the animals on the farm have them at around the same time.  (The alpacas are due for theirs later this month).   They will need a secondary dose in four weeks time- rather like when you have your puppy vaccinated for the first time.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Cool Cat


The cat really does not mind where she is or who her companions are as long as she can keep warm and dry. The alpacas seem to accept her and the chickens as cohabitants in their barn and apart from the occasional check, really don't take any notice of them.  The weanlings  could not care about anything except getting their heads into the feed buckets, and Mike, well it was a long cold morning is all I can say.  (He cheered up after his morning cuppa).  As usual  Saint Jake is in the picture with his beloved.

Sunday, 13 January 2013



Last Sunday we had some unexpected visitors who had seen the advert for our log cabin in the Mole Valley Newsletter, which is distributed to farmers who enrol as members to obtain a discount at the Country store where you can buy almost anything related to farming, including feed, feeding troughs, fencing, gates, wheel barrows, boots, clothes, chicken equipment, electric fencing, to name but a few.  They were lovely and rose even more in our estimation when they wrote a cheque and agreed to buy the cabin.  This will help us enormously towards the completion of our barn conversion.

The cat has decided to grace us with her presence indoors which is a sure sign that the weather is getting  colder.  We are not keen on her sitting on the coffee table for obvious hygiene reasons, so Mike will have to get her bed sorted.  She has one which attaches to the radiator so she does not sit on our chairs and especially not on our tables.

You might think that Romie and her daughter, Dolly, are just showing an interest in the outside world, but no, they know that Mike is busy getting their dinner ready and they are just preparing for the race which ensues when I open the doors.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Artificial Sunshine


As all the alpacas are being housed at the moment, it is even more important than usual in the winter to give them some additional vitamin D to make up for the lack of sunshine.   We used to use an injection but it is no longer licensed in the UK so we have been using a paste which contains glucose and vitamins A D and E instead.

It is mainly young alpacas who need the vitamin D to maintain strong and healthy bones but we routinely give it to the whole herd.  They don't mind taking it and although they get a bit worried when they are driven into the pen where we administer their dose, I think it probably does them good to do something other than just eat and sleep.  It is over very quickly and they soon settle back into their routine.

They are all due for their annual vaccinations later this month and their toe nails are looking rather long too!!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Normal Service is Resumed


The builders have now returned to work but unfortunately they were not here on Monday so when the stone tiles arrived for the floor of  the house, Mike and I have to unload them.   The lorry driver handed them down to us and we piled them up.  They were very heavy so we reckon it counted as a good work out without the gym.

Jon, the builder in chief, phoned the Building Inspector to make sure he was happy with everything and to check when he wanted to visit.   He is happy  and will be coming to inspect the drains when they are done.  He also gave us some disappointing news.  We were planning to leave the steel joists as part of the construction and visible but fire regulations insist that they are clad with two layers of plasterboard and plastered.    Mike says it is because the steels would get extremely hot if there was a fire.   Actually I am quite pleased now, as the cladding gives the room a bit of character.   The plumber is coming tomorrow and the paint is on order.

All the rooms have been plastered and painted with two layers of emulsion prior to the final colour. The floor will be laid shortly and the stairs are nearly ready.

Sunday, 6 January 2013


Despite having a selection of cat beds the farm cat (Polly) prefers to find her own places, including the roof, the hayloft, various hay racks and often in unused field shelters or the hedgerows.  Indoors her preferred venue is Mike's lap.   I am too fidgety, although she does sometimes honour me with a quick visit, mostly to demand milk or dinner, I am guessing.

As you can see she gets on very well with all the dogs.  I suspect that most, if not all, have been the victim of her claws if they upset her.  Jake and Romie are her best friends but she tolerates the others too.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Contented Goats

As the weather has been dry for a day or two now we were able to turn the bucks out for a few hours to enable us to give their house an extra spruce up.   They all seem quite happy with their lot, although one of the adult bucks is having some foot problems.   Mike treated him several times when I was away and I have trimmed a lot of excess fleece from between his toes but he still limps from time to time.  He is on the list for special care for a while.

Keeping everyone housed is very costly in hay and feed and Mike had to go off to collect more hay today.  We went to Yeovil on Wednesday to buy some presents for the four family birthdays in January and took the opportunity to go to Mole Valley Stores as they supply their own brand of Alpaca Nuts.  We now have enough in stock to keep us gong for a few weeks.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Time in the workshop

With most of the animals under cover we are managing to get all the farm jobs done earlier in the day and Mike is making the most of it to catch up with his projects.   Unfortunately his workshop has been used as a bit of a dumping ground whilst we are getting organised, but now he is working through the jobs so that his workshop can be tidied up and put to good use again.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Counting Sheep

The sheep seem to be quite happy outside and most of the time do not even bother to go into their shelter.   We are feeding them and they always have plenty of hay to supplement the grass which is very sparse and poor at the moment.  they are sharing the paddock with Alario but he tends to keep himself to himself  except when there is food on offer.   Then he joins the sheep and makes sure that he gets his share.

Last year we bought some good quality grass seed and we planned to put some goodness back into the soil at the same time but at first it was too dry and then, as we all know, the rest of the spring was goo wet.   We still have the seed and have a large dung heap which has been composting for nearly two years so it should be sterile and will be used as a natural fertiliser.   With most of the animals being housed for the near future which will rest the grazing, we are hoping to have much improved pasture in the spring.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Welcome to the sun and 2013


Those chicken think they own the farm.  Even though it is sunny and dry outside they think it is better to get easy pickings from the alpaca's leftovers.   Fingers crossed they do not start laying their eggs in the barn.   Once that starts they can be anywhere, including the hayloft, hayracks, behind buckets and in feeding troughs.

The builders are back tomorrow so we have been having a rush round to clear the decks as I have been using the living room, which they will be painting,  as a drying room for the washing, and Mike has been having a clear out of some stuff that has been stored but so far it has only got as far as the door and has yet to be allocated a new home.

We went to a New Year's eve party with the next door neighbours last night and are off to visit the neighbours across the road this evening, and then I think that is all the socialising over for a while.