Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Strange |Blogging

I am not sure what is happening (probably something I did!) but some very old posts seem to be reappearing as events in 2018.  So if you are confused - so am I!!

We have just taken delivery of 23 young Ewes belonging to a local farmer friend.   They are going to graze our land for a few weeks to improve the quality of the grass and get rid of unwanted weeds.
They are in a field with our male alpacas and to start with they all kept themselves to themselves but now they are starting to mingle and are often to be seen sun bathing together (when the sun actually comes out).

I have just started to halter train last year's cria.   Back in the winter snow we brought them into the barn to keep them warm and they experienced all the comings and goings of tractors, people, dogs etc. so they should be more or less bomb proof in future.   They are now in the back paddock (behind our house)  and are experiencing life near the road and cars which run up and down our drive.   Today Dave, who strims our verge and bank and drive edges came, so that is another notch for the boys.
The photo is of our remaining female alpacas.   We were going to give up and reduced the herd considerably,but now Mike is fitter  I am going to breed again, but not for sale, just for fleece.

Friday, 6 April 2018


Today we delivered Alvaro, Amato and Esteban to their new home near Radstock. They are the three young males who have been waiting for their new paddock to be constructed.

The house is in a lovely position with beautiful views but the driveway is very narrow and Mike had a reall problem getting the trailer out again as the only turning space involved balancing it over the bank at the top of a steep incline.


We bought Horizon Anchor, one of the Chardstock Six when their owner felt ready to have the remaining two back on her own land.    We really liked him because he has very good substance of bone, lovely fleece and a nice nature, and we needed another coloured male as Alario and Pedro are related to most of our brown and fawn girls.   His Sire is Classical Priam, who was apparently a champion in his day, although I am not familiar with him and Anchor is fawn whilst his sire was white.

We have just had our fibre testing results back which show that he is holding 23 microns at the age of five which is not bad, although Alario's fleece is still only 20 microns at eight years old.

We thought we might have made a big mistake because although he is very much an adult he had not been used as a stud male and last year he did not have a clue - he fell off sideways, tried the head on approach and finally got so frustrated that he started to bite the female.

Things have improved since then to the point where after a lot of messing around he finally managed to cover one of our older females successfully but failed miserably when courting a young maiden female.  His size as well as his inexperience is against him.   Last week we introduced him to Citrine an older female who has recently given birth to a 2011 cria and again he failed to live up to expectations but today - hoorah - he got it right first time and both he and Citrine seemed very happy with each other.


Sunday was a really lovely day with most of our family spending the day here to celebrate my birthday.  We had Sunday Lunch at the Tytherleigh Arms over the road and back to ours for tea and birthday cake, a stroll round the farm with some of our dogs and the visiting dogs. 

This morning Nick and I trimmed the Goats and kids' toe nails and I chased them around trying to get poo samples to send away for testing.   Last time they were tested some worm eggs were present.   We have treated them and this is a follow up test.

Mike went to Ottery St. Mary with the van to collect 50 bales of haylage which is mainly as a back up if hay remains expensive and/or in short supply over the winter and also for the goats.   Hay gets stuck in the fleece of the Angora goats and so we prefer to feed them haylage which is also higher in protein and therefore will help to keep them in condition over the winter whilst they are pregnant.

The Buck is making himself attractive by rubbing his head against the does' backsides which must be some sort of courting ritual.  At the moment they are not showing any interest but it seems he senses that the time is near.  He also stands with his head back as if about to bay at the moon.   I imitated him and he gave me a menacing look, so obviously it is something that only Bucks should do!!  I backed off very quickly in case we had any misunderstandings!!

Hard Obedience Lessons

Charlie gets excited very easily and he often mistakes  a warning for an invitation to play - or at least go crazy and jump around a lot.  He followed one of our new Mums into the barn and she made it clear that he was not welcome near her lambs, but he apparently thought she was inviting him in.
She ran at him and it was only his twisting an turning and wriggling that got him out of difficulties.  I was really afraid that she was going to smash him into the wall.   See photo of calm Charlie - a rare sight.
For the same reason we tend to feed Charlie and Jake in separate areas.   The following is a picture of Jake in the kitchen waiting for me to appear with his breakfast.

Starring Dolly

If you know how difficult it is to separate two members of a herd from the others, you will appreciate this story.

Dolly, the daughter of my older dog, Romie, is an amazing working dog (I might have mentioned that a few times before! )

Today we had most of the girls (alpacas) in the paddock by the shop.  Two were left in the paddock next door because they are quite old and need some special treatment.  I took Dolly out to help me move them out of the big paddock (about 2 acres) into a shelter which is surrounded by penning to enable me to apply some cream .

Of course they did not want to leave the rest of the herd and after a few failed attempts to get them in with me and Dolly walking behind, I decided to send Dolly out on her own.  Her out run was lovely and when she got to them she just stared at them (strong collie eye) for what seemed hours but was certainly five minutes or more.

They stared back but finally they gave in and started to move, but still refused to go to the shelter, breaking away before they turned into the pen.  Dolly repeated the performance and finally they started to move in the right direction with Dolly behind.   I was not really expecting to get all the way across the paddock without another breakaway, but amazingly they just trotted over and I was able to shut the gate behind them.   Alpacas 0 Dolly 1.

Then we went on to put the hens in their pen for the night with Dolly rounding up the strays.

She knew she had done something really special and was very bouncy on the way back to the
house, where she had a good drink and then relaxed on the tiled floor to cool off.

Latest Cria PHotos 2017

Now Ninette has been joined by Zacharia and Coco.   Coco has very unusual markings and a character to match.  Zacharia had a shaky start.

He seemed fine when first born but then had difficulty in standing up and I had to help him to stand long enough to suckle and make sure he had his all important colostrum from his Mum.

He became stronger but kept collapsing and then reviving and standing up like a normal cria.  I was concerned that he might have epilepsy or some sort of brain damage especially after I noticed he was lying down as if asleep.  When I checked him he was floppy and his eyes were not really shut.. I called the Vet.

When Tom (the Vet) arrived Zach showed no sign of his strange behaviour. .   I explained that he would seem normal and then collapse whilst waving his head around.  It was a strange sight given the long necks that alpacas have.  Tom was about to go when, as if on cue, Zach literally fell down in a heap.

After a dose of Metacam to alleviate possible inflammation of the brain, the only thing to do was to keep a close eye on him.  Luckily the medication worked and he is now frolicking around with the other cria.

Catching up

I am in the process of changing our labelling to include a photo of the alpacas.  We will still keep our alpaca logo if only for sentimental reasons.   This time of year onwards we have quite a few holiday makers who like to call in and I am hoping they will like products which include a photos to remind them of their stay in Devon and their visit to Laurel Farm Alpacas.

These are the two potential photos so far:

I have been trying to get a good photo of our four weanlings who are lovely young alpacas but cannot get them to look the same way and keep their ears pricked.   When their ears are back they don't look really  happy.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Back to Blogging

Still raining in Devon but we are plodding on.   We have moved the chicken run to a fresh paddock and last week we bought another 10 pullets to replace some of our older hens who are not laying.  We do not cull our hens as they are really just part of the farm and not for profit.  It is lovely to see them in the fields.

I was hoping to get some photos of them but will have to wait for a break in the weather.