Monday, 28 October 2013

Confused animals

The forecast storm came but on this occasion our mini climate which usually gives us worse weather than our neighbours seemed to work in our favour.   It was very windy and it rained, but we slept through it and in the morning the effects were not noticeable.   As far as I can see none of our lovely trees suffered and all the animals seemed quite normal this morning.

The chicken guarding alpacas are obviously feeling on top of the world and told Romie, the dog, to leave their exalted position.   The chickens think that Mike's yard is just another perching opportunity and the dogs are accepted as four legged chickens, I think.  Only the cat remains aloof and literally on top.   She has taken over the barn as her abode and sleeps on the highest bale in the hay loft.

 I took down all the agility equipment so that it would not get blown around last night.  As the alpacas are using the shelter next door, there is nowhere handy to store the equipment under cover at the moment so it just stayed on the ground.

Friday, 25 October 2013

B & B for Alpacas

Having survived the terrible winter and summer last year when for the first time we had to keep our alpacas in the barn for several weeks, we have had a change of plan this year.  We have sold off about half the herd this year and are left with just 24 now.   The female alpacas are in the "winter" paddocks which boasts a large shelter in one corner, and the young males are in the home paddocks with the three older stud males free ranging around the farm yard area.

Rather than having to occupy the barn for long periods, thus making it unavailable for any other purpose, we have decided to house the alpacas over night in the shelters.   Whilst it is not yet cold we have had torrential rain sometimes (usually when I am out without a coat) and when it happens during the night as well as the daytime the animals do not dry out.  If this were to be combined with cold weather, they could well get very cold indeed.

At the end of the afternoon, Dolly and I wander down to the winter paddocks and get the girls into an enclosure around the big shelter where they have hay and water under cover.  We then do the same with the males - except that they are shut into their shelters as there are not so many of them.

As they are creatures of habit I am expecting that they will soon be mooching towards the shelters themselves at the end of the day and all I will have to do is shut the gates.

In the morning when I let them out they often do not bother for a while and finally stroll out in their own time, so they obviously enjoy their indoor accommodation with ad lib food.

The sheep just follow the alpacas and the goats, bless them, run for cover at the slightest hint of rain.

The chickens are wallowing around in mud in their pens at the moment and the shorter days are taking their toll on the egg production.  Although they free range during the day, we have to shut them in for safety at night and they come out as soon as it is daylight and so have time to scratch around in the mud.   I have ordered some more grit to spread in the pen in an effort to keep it cleaner.   This will make my job of feeding etc: more pleasant and also help to avoid dirty eggs.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Detective Dolly Dog

Dolly  usually herds the alpacas when we need them moved around but one of her other duties is helping to put the chickens away at night.

In the summer we do this at tea time before we go indoors for the evening and Dolly is very useful as the hens do not believe it is bed time.   She herds them into their pen and they can still wander around and feed until dusk when they go indoors and the automatic pop hole shuts them in safely for the night.

As the days get shorter the hens go to roost without Dolly's help and just need a quick check to make sure they are all in.   Yesterday I left it a bit late and it was very nearly dark when I went to do my rounds.  All the hens appeared to be roosting but a count revealed that one was missing.  I scouted round but it was getting darker by the minute so I went back to the house and brought Dolly out.   She ran up and down and under parked trailers, along the hedge row without any results and just as I was about to give up and just cross my fingers that the missing hen was in a safe place and would avoid becoming the fox's dinner,  Dolly ran to an old freezer which has been abandoned temporarily against the hen house wall.  She sniffed both ends and then lay down pointing towards it.

I peered over the top but could see nothing.  I shone the torch along the very slim gap behind the freezer and could just about see some feathers.   By this time Mike was already coming down to see if he could help and he held the freezer out whilst I reached in and grabbed the hen.   She was carried, protesting loudly, into the hen house and I deposited her on the perch with the others.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Worm Battle

The Vet recommended a suitable wormer to fight the parasites identified from dung samples and we have now dosed the bucks, sheep, male and female alpacas, so they should be fine now, although I will probably take a percentage sample for testing in a couple of weeks just to make sure the treatment was successful.
The three alpacas who act as chicken guards and lawnmowers in the house area did not appear to have any worms according the test results but we have decided that it would be a good idea to give them a prophylactic dose anyway.

They were all very good apart from Perdita.  You might remember she was the female who managed to clear fences over three paddocks to get back to her Mum when they were separated.   She decided she did not want to be wormed and reared up and ended up on her back.  Luckily we managed to hold on to her and she did not learn that way to escape.  It came as a complete surprise because we have often cut her toe nails and carried out other husbandry without such a reaction.  The picture below was taken earlier in the year.  

I will make sure that she gets more attention for a few weeks until she is calmer and, I hope, happier with being handled.

Since having our "Shop Alert" system set up I have been able to open the shop much more because I can get on with other jobs and only go up to the shop when the alert sound tells me that a car or pedestrian has entered the premises.   It also often tells me that a tractor is driving by and Mike thinks sometimes it reacts when someone is driving past using a mobile phone, but the odd false alarm is well worth the benefit of being available to customers.

On recommendation of my grand daughter I have added  hand knitted headbands to our range of knitware.  They are lovely and soft and today, the first day they have been on sale, a young woman purchased one, which looks like a good omen.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Fighting the good fight.

We only have three Goat Bucks left and we may have a buyer for them.  Of course today when I was cleaning their paddock, which we do every few days in an attempt to keep down the likelihood of parasite infestation  such as worms, I noticed that one was limping and another scouring.  Just what you need at this time!!

I enlisted Mike's help to hold them and trimmed all 12 feet and gave them a dose of Vecoxan which is a medication to control the internal parasite coccidea, which can be one cause of  diarrhoea.  I am waiting for some advice from the vet about the best worming product to treat some other internal parasites  which have shown up on a routine examination of the alpacas' faeces  and given that the goats live on the same farm, it is a good bet that if they have any worms they will be the same type.

The new hens have started to lay and we are getting about six really cute small eggs a day from them.   They are all getting very bold and really free-ranging.  Luckily they all now return to the right hen house and are usually already on their perches when Dolly and I turn up to shut them in for the night.  I gave both hen houses a good clean out this afternoon.  They find this really exciting as they love rummaging around in the fresh wood shavings or straw.