Monday, 24 February 2014

The Culprits

Today is bright and sunny and so I was able to take some photographs.   The alpacas are really enjoying their freedom and the fresh grass.  My containers of plants have been completely destroyed and I think the sheep are guilty.  

I just popped out to collect the recycling boxes and put them down whilst I put the eggs outside and locked up on the way in.   In the meantime the sheep had surrounded the boxes - obviously thinking they might be a source of yet more food.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Grazing the Days Away

Whilst we are waiting for Nick's (Influenza) and Mike's (Irregular Heatbeat) health and the weather to improve the shop remains shut, so we decided it would be a good idea to let the female alpacas and the Gotland sheep graze in that paddock.

Not a simple as it sounds because the hedges are laid in the traditional way and would be alpaca proof especially as we have a long Devon Bank across the frontage to the main road, but we were not so sure about the sheep.  Nick only did the hedges at the end of last year and so they have yet to thicken, leaving a couple of places where a determined ewe could access the road.  Mike and I spent a happy hour untangling some netting and making a temporary block in both the top corners.  

Yesterday whilst I was at a dog agility competition, Mike opened the paddock gate to the female herd.   At first they just glanced but then the penny dropped and they galloped in to take advantage of the lovely fresh grazing, not to mention my containers of Geraniums.   Let's hope they are not poisonous to sheep or alpacas - too late now!!

Today I visited a lovely couple who took on two alpacas from us a few years ago.  Chris and Caesar's owner was moving and could not take them with her so left them with us to rehome.  Ever since I have been helping with some of their husbandry.   They now do it all themselves with the exception of the annual vaccinations.   Today was the mutually convenient day for this and prior to leaving I thought I would use some iodine to clean my wellies.   It was an excellent moment to discover I had sprung a leak.   I had rubber gloves on my hands, which remain pristine, but I am also sporting a right foot which looks as though it has a smoking habit.

I changed boots and used our usual disinfectant with no known side effects and arrived at my destination looking reasonably normal, I think.

Saturday, 8 February 2014


Mike had to go into Chard, one of the two nearest small towns, and on his return he noticed some roofing felt lying around near our little farm shop.  When he investigated further he found that a complete sheet of roofing felt had been lifted off by the gale force winds, leaving half the inside of the shop saturated and unusable.

The last of our lovely Aran Alpaca  Jumpers became soaked and are currently in the porch drying off.  Strangely on the same day someone came in and bought a wet jumper (at a reduced price of course).  Anyway we are closed for the time being, although Nick and Mike have done some temporary repairs so that the rest of the stock is safe. Nick comes every Tuesday so with luck we will be open for business again next week.   After the Christmas flurry, we do not really get busy again until the holiday season starts, so it is not too much of a financial loss.

Having the alpacas in the barn makes it very easy to carry out routine husbandry and Nick and I trimmed all the female alpacas' feet and the ewes', followed by a dose of ADE vitamin drench (to help compensate for the lack of outdoor light) before they were released for a bit of exercise and fresh air.

It is still almost impossible to stand still in some areas of the farm without getting stuck in the mud and I am sure I am developing a duck waddle.  If only I had four legs.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Toffee Farm

The alpacas have been mainly indoors this winter because of the terrible wet weather here in the West Country but the last couple of days it has been possible to leave them out to get some exercise and enjoy the winter grass (not the best).  It also saves them from going stir crazy and getting grumpy with each other.

They are very keyed in to their daily feed now, and this afternoon I went into the barn casually for some reason, only to be  joined suddenly by galloping sheep and alpacas all hoping to get there first.  I had  the dogs out and they were rummaging in the straw in the barn and so the herd was quite surprised to come face to face with four collie dogs in their living quarters, so they all turned tail and galloped back out.

Of course the sheep, who are very careless and pushy, managed to knock down one of the hurdles, breaking the stabilising loop at the bottom in their haste.  Mike will have to weld it eventually but I expect we can manage with good old binder twine in the meantime!!

It did not put them off and later on when it looked as though promised gales and heavy rain were coming, I just called them and they gave a repeat performance.   This time there was food and no dogs were present.
The males in the adjacent field took the hint and rushed to their shelter and were calmly waiting for me to deliver their buckets and shut them in for the rest of the day.

Needless to say this photo was taken in the morning when the sun was out!!

The area around the goat house and the chicken house is just like toffee with my wellies nearly coming off at times.   Whenever Dolly, the dog, helps to round up the chickens or just comes into the area with me she gets absolutely smothered in mud.  Mike took pity on me and filled the tractor bucket with a load of scalpings to help cover the mud and it is now much better.  He also dug a small gully to try and take some of the excess water away.  It should help keep the eggs clean when the hens are not paddling around in mud and will certainly make it a lot easier for mucking out and feeding.   Dolly might miss her freezing cold daily shower, but I am sure she will get over it.