Alpaca & Muscovy

Helen Kendall Smith

Alpaca Blog update

Wow – that is a long gap between blogs

We have been sooo busy with the weather throwing everything at us.

It is hammering it down as we speak and lucky we have Field Shelters in every field with hedges growing as quickly as they can!

when shorn some of the Alpaca look so different – this one almost looks like the rare vicuna…

Mucking out the field shelters and barns, topping fields, looking after machinery, sanding down and repainting on this topper!

Cria weighing, worming, you name it!

The little late cria has now been named… We usually have a “theme” each year for names, last year being the “Eighties” which included “Lickety Split, Hot Gossip, Talk of the Town, Tonka Toy ­ you name it!

This year again we have a theme The luxury highly calorific cream pudding if you have not heard of it. Perfect and growing like mad, reaching 11kg within a week.

Meantime, what else have we done?

Oh, I managed a day off with hubby and sons in control and zoomed to see some friends in Cornwall; several weeks ago now.

Being that far down, it was a delight to shoot in to see Gary and Felicia at Popham.

Just in time to see one of their Appaloosa Alpacas being shorn. So cute.

Oh and the ducklings all hatched – least said soonest mended.


Bath & West show this week

wow – the rain is taking its toll on the ground and several of the field shelter polytunnel type are flooded inside.

We use solid wooden ones with rubber matting in too but nevertheless there are several groups being barned each night at the moment to give the Alpacas feet a chance to dry out and prevent the “top down cold up” from the elements.

Bath and West show starts this week, usually a good Alpaca turn out and fund day to be had in half term.

funny to think that after GCSE’s the boys have finished until September!

South Cerney Duck Race today!!!

so much to catch up on, with the wet weather its been barning at night for a long time now with temperatures dropping below 10 degrees at night – no good for newly shorn Alpaca herds at all!

one of my friends had a serious heart issue and time stood still for a while but she is much better now thank goodness.

meantime, in a mixed day today – the boys have ventured out to support the Village Duck Race.

We have purchased tickets and some very very pink Fudge!

is it me or can one not get onto the BAS site today?

MUSCOVY MANSION

and an appropriate day for our ducklings to hatch is it not?

Many of you have read the article I have written in Smallholder this month and know that Muscovy are amazing broodies.

Nevertheless they are also very protective. go near if you dare…

If you know the duck, she may let you have a peek by raising a wing – trusty cameraman ready

… how new can this photo be!!

just hatched and already booked- bless!!!!

Alpaca shorn

wow – I cannot believe its been so long and so much has happened in such a short space of time.

We have newly shorn mascots now!

who are out walking the town hence the signs…

and we have been busy mating which since shearing has brought out the um, more creative positions!

and the good news is that 3 out of 5 mated earlier are spitting off still.

Alpaca simply gorgeous

well I promised you a photo of the simply gorgeous cria and here it is…

with the majority of the herd “soaking up the rays” –

it is the lull before the storm of the next birthings….

 

Alpaca overdue birth 2014!!!

just a quick blog as reallly tired after shearing Monday.

early hours of Monday – the lilting Titanic gave birth to a lovely fawn cria. the first of 2014 and only 4 plus weeks late – mother forgiven – its a girl!

obviously iphone photos so apologies for that but it was in the early hours and obviously barning all Alpaca with the cold nights as just shorn.

naturally Mum jumped the shearing queue and out she went whilst it was dry!

back soonest – hot weather coming!


Alpaca muck magnets

wow – what happened to the weather?

one minute torrential – the next T shirt basking.

The alpaca have been in and out and up and down the lanes …

more than a lift in the Eiffel Tower (no Joan Collins jokes here please its before the watershed)

sooo – with shearing looming next week, 90% of the Alpaca are now in the barns until THE day.

Few realise how THE day becomes the focus… the shearers are um, shall we say busy to say the least.

Well the ones I have met so far. Everything has to be ready,

Alpacas in, Alpacas dry, shearing pens ready,

holding pens ready, moving pens ready, fleece bags ready, labels ready,

help ready, tea and coffee ready, lunch ready… are you getting the gist?

this year we are doing things very differently and hopefully it will be “alright on the night”

few realise that shearing does not “just happen” but is a military operation!!

as for getting the Alpacas in for keeping them dry – well the haystacks I just monitored on the CCTV at 9pm –

um well least said soonest mended!

at least when the fleece is not wet you can pick out the straw and hay…

so to a Man Thing. do men listen? is it me?

i asked for two hooped hurdles,

he brought one.

I asked for the trogs to go down to the manure heap,

he took one and left the other.

I asked him to pop out for a HAM because i did not have time to defrost a gammon, soak it then cook it this week end.

In the full knowledge I have 5 in the freezer, what did he buy?

you guessed it … a gammon.

Is it me?

with GCSE’s started and the testosterone running riot – i do wonder!!

still, at least he tries and i am always grateful for any help at this time of year!

onwards and upwards…

and no, the Titanic is still lilting folks!!!!!

Alpaca herd software, shearing

well it appears I am not the only one who is unhappy with the Herd software! but it also appears that no one has created one that satisfies all – lets get designing please.

All preparations for shearing thwarted due to rain.

Few folk realise that Alpaca cannot be shorn wet.

it is not just the electrical danger, it is the fact that the shears will not go through wet fleece and there is nowhere to dry them.

with the average fleece laid out being 7ft x 4ft approximately, thats ok for a few but not many have the facilitiy to dry more than a few out.

So barning is essential for dry fleeces which means:

Around 40 Alpaca to shear soon with torrential rain forecast. Has to be done inside obviously.

They have to be bone dry or the shearers – who book the date a year in advance per herd – cannot shear them.

So during the course of advance preparations all Alpaca will disappear from the fields into the barns – as I get them in – to be kept dry until shearing– as the weather is going to be dire.

They have to be monitored, fed, hayed, watered and mucked out from now until the weather improves enough for them to return to the fields newly shorn.

High risk of hypothermia if permitted to get cold and wet at anytime but especially when just shorn.

Peru – its hotter of course when they shear and they do not have our weather to contend with!

With one female already 3 weeks and 5 days overdue on giving birth to the first Alpaca to be conceived here – it’s bound to happen on shearing!

She is lilting like the Titanic on a daily basis …

I’ll keep you posted on that one.

meantime before it started raining:

topping

halter training

barn clearing

pen set up