Thursday 29 June 2017

First Cria of 2017

Ninette is the first cria to be born on the farm this year.  Her Mum is Nina and this will probably be the last time we breed from her as she is coming up for ten years old.

Mother and cria seem to be doing well and luckily the weather is much kinder today than yesterday when we had torrential rain.

Saturday 17 June 2017

New Outlook for Alpacastuff

Although we are no longer breeding alpacas for sale, we still have a small herd of fourteen males and eleven females and several of them (the females!) are pregnant.  From time to time we may have alpacas available as we want to keep the herd numbers low.

We were thinking of closing down altogether but most of the jobs on the farm need doing whether or not we have animals and we could not imagine the fields with no alpacas.  Now we are running the enterprise as a hobby farm which pays for itself.   Even the hens have to pay for their own food by donating their eggs.  Only the dogs get a free ride!!

The sign at the farm gate shows OPEN or CLOSED.  We are closed all day on Sundays and Tuesdays and suggest that you phone in advance if you are coming specially on any other day.

Saturday 13 May 2017

Hens Enjoying the Sun

The alpacas have all been shorn, the bird flue scare is over and the hens can free range again, the weather is lovely so it is a real day to enjoy.  The hens love sunbathing in a dust bath and so do the alpacas.

Thursday 6 April 2017

Toe Nails

Today was nice and sunny and we took the opportunity for a much need pedicure for the boys.   We also tried out a new handling arrangement. 

Most of the time I can treat the alpacas without help.   Worming, administration of ADE paste to keep up their vitamin levels, and all vaccinations presnt no problems, but I have not been able to master cutting toe nails on my own. 

We have now adapted our handling corral so that one alpaca at a time can be contained and with Mike just holding their heads I was able to quickly and efficiently trim the offending nails.
In the past we have had a slightly bigger handling area which meant that the "holder"sometimes had to dance around if an alpaca decided he did not want to co-operate.

Since Mike's recent health problems and his long term arthritis he has found that sudden unexpected movements can be quite painful, so the new system works well for both of us.

I have painted the floor of our chalet shop and moved all the stock back in so that it looks really smart again.   We are holding a coffee drop in on the 22nd April to introduce people to our latest products and give them a pre-view for the year ahead when they are looking for birthday presents etc:

Freddie and co will will available to meet the public.

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Meet Freddie

Freddie is ten months old and a little small but perfectly formed!!  His Mum and Dad were both quite compct alpacas and he has taken after them it seems.

He is so friendly (and has been since he was really young).  He is always the first to approach if I go into their paddock and if I have food he starts to nuzzle  as soon as he sees the bowl.    He is very brave and will always be the first to investigate any new events or visitors.

Monday 20 March 2017

Hen Talk

Our hens are still confined to barracks because of Avian flu prevention rules.  Whilst I was cleaning them out today I noticed that one had an old leg ring which had become distorted and was digging into her leg.  I caught her (after a buit of a chase) and managed to remove the ring.  Unfortunately it was badly embedded and had cut into her flesh.

I cleaned the wound and sprayed with a biocide spray and she seemed fine although there was some bleeding.  Ilove my chickens but they can be horrid.   When I went back to check on her, the other hens had been pecking at her and made it bleed quite badly.

She is now in a box with some straw, water and feed and I hope by tomorrow she will be able to return to the flock.

I never use leg rings now but she must be one of the older  birds. 

Friday 17 March 2017

Grazing Rights

We have moved our small herd of twelve  male alpacas into a paddock behind the house.  They make effective lawn mowers and it saves wasting the grass.   They will be going back into their normal field in a few days when they have done their job.
We have five young males  and they are just being halter trained and we will take the opportunity to bring the adults up to date and remind them how to behave on a halter too.

The girls are down in the lower fields at the moment but when they come to term we will bring them up nearer the house to keep an eye on them in the  later stages of their pregnancy and so we can look after them as they give birth.   We are hoping for eight births but will be haoppy whatever the number as they are now mainly pets and lawmowers.

Mike is quite well now that he has got over his heart surgery and some other scary events.  He still has trouble in pacing himself but he is stopping earlier.  Currently he is working on finishing off the domestic areas of the farm such as the front and rear patios and the pathways to the exit.

He is also finding some time to indulge his hobby of classic cars and has made some new friends in a local car club.

Although having fewer alpacas helps to make the work load lighter, many of the fences around the farm have rotted and need replacing, so Mike and Nick (our once a week farm worker) are fully engaged on this project at the moment.  Where possible we are doing away with fences altogether but obviusly there are some areas that defiitely need to be fenced securely.

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Change of Direction

After several years of breeding and selling alpacas we have reduced the size of our herd and now keep them as pets who contribute to their upkeep by grazing the land and producing lovely fleece at their annual shearing.

We used to have our own fleece spun into yarn but with reduced numbers we now sell the fleece to a spinning mill and buy back yarn for our hand knitting enterprise.

Our friend and neighbour, Pam White does nearly all the hand knitting and I knit scarves and other simple items on a hand operated (as opposed to electric) knitting machine.  We also sell 100% alpaca yarn in the natural colours of the alpaca and dyed wool which is 70% alpaca and 30% Merino wool and comes in many colours.

We still have our chickens and of course they are being kept in at least until the end of February when we hope the ban (due to avian flu in the wild bird population) will be over and they can be allowed to free range once again.

Monday 13 February 2017

 Welcome Back Pedro and Amaru

Well, it might not be exciting to you, but this is the first time ages that the weather on the farm (and probably the whole South West) has been good enough to hang out the washing.  I know you can get a tumble drier, but I am old school and love to see the washing blowing in the wind and getting a  blast of good country air.  Never mind the frost bitten fingers!!

Pedro and Amaru were sold just over a year ago but recently their owners had to move and could not take them with them, so they have come back to live with us.   They are in quarantine at the moment but will soon be re-introduced to the rest of the herd.

As you can see, they have settled in very well and I think they are quite enjoying having their own paddock and room service.

Monday 23 January 2017

Two out of three OK
I would like to have a photo but panic prevented me from collecting the camera.

Two events today - luckily so far the third has not materialised.  A minor offence - I put the veggies on for dinner and thought I would "just spend a few minutes catching up on my emails" and, of course got involved and forgot.   The top of the stove looked as though it had been sprayed with some sort of fire preventing foam, but it was just starch from the potatoes.  What a lovely mess to clear up.  Luckily the saucepan had not burnt dry and set the fire alarm off.  I know that can happen - not telling you how I know!!!

The second event was that the post man, who collects the mail orders going out from the business, knocked on our front door and alerted Mike to the presence of one of our alpacas on the verge outside the farm  (the main A358 road).   He (Mike) had accidentally left a gate partially open, leaving just enough room for an alpaca to get through.   Luckily just one of the older girls wandered out and none of the others had noticed before the postie alerted us to the problem.

Luckily Citrine, the escapee, wandered back in the farm gate and with the help of the talented Dolly (the dog) we managed to chase her back into the paddock where she belonged.

We are optimists, so , maybe things do not come in threes!!  Let us hope!!

Sunday 8 January 2017

One Man and his Dog

 Wherever Mike is, Jake is never far away.  He was my best friend when Mike was in hospital but immediately upon his return, I was disguarded and ignored, except for at meal times, of course.

As you can see everything is pretty much back to normal.  

As this morning was the first time the alpacas have been dry for a while, I took the opportunity to administer their vitamins which they need over the winter to compensate for the lack of sunshine.  It is administered orally and so I have to hold the alpaca in order to get the drenching gun into the mouth.  Not very pleasant for them or me if they are soaking wet.

The hens are all shut in all the time at the moment because of the Defra restrictions in the light of the Bird Flu problem.   They should have been allowed to free range again yesterday but a new outbreak means that the restrictions are now being applied until the end of February.   They don't seem to mind too much and we have put a bale of straw in their pen for them to dismantle and keep themselves amused.   They like perching on it and scrabbling around, not to mention eating the seeds that are still in it. 

Tuesday 3 January 2017

New Year at Laurel Farm

 Having recovered fully from his heart surgery Mike went to Shepton Mallet to have his hernia repaired and unfortunately had an allergic reaction to one of the pre-operation drugs, ending up in Resus at Musgrove hospital and a 5 day stay during which it was touch and go for a while.  He was home  for Christmas and is getting back to normal, but still has his hernia and no prospect of having it fixed in the forseeable future as his heart needs to get over the shock.

Today we had the hardest frost of the winter so far, and definitely the hardest in 2017.  The alpacas are looking frosted but happy.

The cria are now all about six months old and I have started halter training them.  We only had five last year and they are all males.   I have been handling them on a regular basis for some time so putting a halter on them is not too stressful.  Once they are walking nicely on a leading rein they will be tagged and microchipped (a job I really really hate doing) and then, unfortuntely they will have to join the big boys and leave their mothers.

It is good that there are five of very similar ages as they will form their own little herd with their friends and if all goes to plan will soon settle in with the big boys as the juniors for the time being until they reach adulthood and start finding their place in the herd.

All the animals are doing well.   The hens are fed up because they are not allowed to free range at the moment due to restrictions during a bird flu scare.   They are due to be let out on Friday unless the restrictions are extended.