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Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Sad Farewell

Finally the rain has stopped and the alpacas are happy soaking up the suns rays. Fresh hay and sunshine equals happy alpacas.  Now all we need is the grass to come back and we are ready for this years cria.  First one due in 8 weeks, first time mum Snowdrift, sired by Popham Flame, one of the senior partners better buys, pregnant to who else but Columbus so I am really hopeful with this one.
This last weekend saw us lose one of our favourites, Popham Daniel, who has been resident with us for the last 5 years went down to Gers as the main stud for new breeder Céline Seban and her huband.
 He was bought as a present for Céline by her father, who's name is also Daniel.  Everyone fell in love with him instantly as usual and he was a big hit with both father and children.

His nine hour journey was broken up with a stop off at Europa Alpacas to pick up their other new stud and companion Edmond Socks.  Good luck to them with them both.


It was sad to see him go but he has left us with some lovely cria, a nice young bay black male, with the same temperament and an extremely fine fleece and little Knuckles another very fine boy, brown, both with super heads.

 

The cria are now all weaned and doing well.  I hate when they are just separated, they look so sad.  Mothers didn't seem to bother this year but one little cria did miss his mum. Little Knuckles just ran up and down the fence.  Finally let him up the raceway to see the big boys and he seemed comforted by that and was fine after.


 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rain, Rain go away, come again another day

Its been over a month since I blogged the last time and really I can't see a lot of difference with the weather now than then.  Really its been more of the same, no, it's been even worse.  Day after day, Steve and I just seem to spend our time putting out hay in the rain then coming in and drying off our clothes in the tumble dryer.  We look out the window thinking, 'oh it will be alright in a while' then we have to give in and go out in it.  Got soaked this morning, came in and it took me the rest of the day to dry out and get warm.  The only consolation is that we are not down in the town.  the flood barriers are out all down the River Blavet desperately trying to stop the water flooding the local cottages.


But far worse than this, this week was the shocking news that the Chateau wall has collapsed. 



Since this picture was taken even more damage has occurred with the room and roof you see also having collapsed.  An enormous job and huge expense.
The big question in the town is whether the insurance company will pay out, whether this can be considered a natural disaster.  Just to think of all the years the chateau has stood there,  surviving the French Revolution.  Steve says, its French builders, they can't build anything that doesn't survive more than 2000 years.  But we mustn't complain, after seeing 'The One Show' Flood special tonight, compared to some people we have it good.
I can't say that we haven't had the odd day when the sun has come out, and it has been a welcome sight for both us and the animals.  However, 'The Nuggets' were taking no chances the other day and decided to come inside anyway.  Any opportunity they get to come in they will.  They love making themselves comfortable on the rug away from the riff raff.

 
They had a near miss last weekend, when we had a dog attack here on the farm.  A young hunters dog, who had paid us a visit once before, killed 5 chickens, the rest scattered everywhere and we lost the Nuggets for an hour.  We feared the worse, but they where hiding in the wood shed thank
goodness.
Had to say goodbye to one of my favourite young males this week.  Jupiter our lovely little black boy was bought by another breeder.  Sometimes I think I am not cut out for all this.  He had the cutest little face and when we put him in the car I felt awful.  He has a good home though and I know he will be well looked after.  But I do miss him !
 
 
 Its now 25 years since our son Josh was born, a quarter of a century, being in Mexico presents are difficult, so this morning thought I would surprise him by putting a few photos of the last twenty five years of his life on his Facebook Timeline.  Don't really know whether it will be a surprise or just an embarrassment, probably the latter.  However, dropped a bit of a clanger when Jake pointed out that one of them was, in fact, him  !!  just waiting now to see if Josh notices.  The problem is when looking through photos of your son's last twenty five years, you are also looking at the last twenty five years of your own life.  And that's not funny !!
Happy birthday anyway Son - here's to the next quarter of a century !


Monday, January 6, 2014

Wet, Wet, Wet 2014


Oh what a wonderful time we are all having, slipping and waddling through the mud and battling with the wind.  After having one of the driest summers ever since arriving here in France, when we were praying for  a few showers to refresh the fields , we are now experiencing what must be the wettest and muddiest winter ever.  Not that we are alone, I see from English television that there are many suffering  worse as the wet weather sweeps across Europe.
 
 
Quimperlé flooded twice in the last three weeks.

. Here in Brittany rivers have burst their banks with Quimperlé and Morlaix worst affected.  Down in Pontivy the main road through the town has been closed for the last three days as the River Blavet could cope no more ,   -   and still the water just seems to keep coming.  Christmas Eve saw water streaming through the kitchen  on its way down to the bottom of the valley.  Luckily by 2.00 am Christmas morning it had stopped and we got up to a dry kitchen and the smell of turkey cooking in the oven.  That was something anyway.
Christmas dinner thankfully without wellingtons !

Steve’s health has much improved although he is still not up to full speed and has to be very careful , he is no longer suspected of having a tumour and will be starting steroid injections shortly.  So it was just me waddling in the mud on my 54th birthday.  Yes 54 this week,  and boy do I feel it at the moment (this is where you say ‘well you don’t look it Jayne !!’) - where did my life go !
 
 The alpacas look quite frankly abysmal,  they never look good this time of year, the  cria always do their best to get as much hay as possible in their fleeces in preparation for the forth coming show season,  but this year its not just the cria, the whole herd are practically unrecognisable. 
 
Quelvehin Kane - what a mess !
 
 
 The suri’s seem to look the worse, their silky locks replaced by dripping rats tails !   The white studs now looking like grey one’s.
 
.

All but one of the cria are now eating feed and tucking into the sugar beet, that they love,  Knuckles still doesn’t seem to realise the food is for him as well.  He is doing better than any of the others despite the lack of fresh grass and feed, I wish he would give it a go and give his Mum, Bodega a bit of a break.

They know now to hang around in the field until the others have gone into the pen, then they get their special rations.
 
Our six Chicken Nuggets are now down to two, it was very strange, the other four just wasted away and died,  they just seemed not to want to eat unless the big mummy bird (Steve) told them too, it was hard work, telling chicks to eat all the time.  The two that are left have become a little too domesticated and follow Steve around.  ‘Puppie’ seems to have excepted that we have two chicks running around outside the back door, either that or he is waiting until we have fattening them up enough so they are worth eating.  Why have Nuggets when you can have Chickens.
After the bad luck we have had over the last three months I was looking forward to getting 2013 out of the way,  what with lightning strikes, health problems, losing the diamond out of my precious diamond ring two days before the end of the year, surely it must stop there I thought, but no.  On the way back home, New Years day, after spending a lovely evening with Andrew and Lynsey at English Why Not,  driving again in heavy rain, someone smashed into my lovely Mercedes, couldn’t believe it, 2014 started off as 2013 had left.  Thankfully not my fault to the relief of our insurance agent !
 
I hope this blog finds you all home and dry and wish you all a very happy 2014.
 
 

 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Series of Unfortunate Events

Its been a month to the day since I blogged, sorry folks, but I have a good excuse really.
Where do I begin, the last month has been like something from Lemony Snickets 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'. It all started the day my Brother in Law and family left.  After a very long, hot dry summer,  where we have been screaming out for water, finally, on the day I took our family back to the airport, the rain arrived, and when I say arrived , it didn't arrive without making its presence well and truly felt.  Thunder and lightening like it was the day of reckoning.  As usual Steve rushed around the house pulling out all the plugs, television, computer, phone, dvd, etc etc;  Just as he had finished the most almighty lightening strike struck the house, a direct hit.  So strong that it almost threw Steve to the ground, he thought he was a goner.  This resulted in the computer being frazzled even though it was not plugged in, must have been the static.  24 hours later we realised it had also taken out the boiler, printer and satellite box.  It took 9 visits from the boiler technician, 3 visits from the computer technician and several visits to the insurance company before we felt we were on the winning side.  Funny how when your trying to claim on your insurance, all of a sudden, lightening strikes are neither a Climatic event nor a Natural Disaster, 'well what are they then ?  and why did you sell me a policy that didn't cover them  ?  Just when we thought we had rode that storm and were sailing into calming waters.  Steve slipped two discs in his back  last Sunday, so off to  Emergency we went and  that's were he has been ever since.   Thankfully, now folks he is greatly improved but these things take time and you know you men, you don't like being out of action, it reminds you of your age.
Steve couldn't have picked a worse time to be away from the farm.  This time of year Quelvehin becomes a blanket of leaves and shell casing of one kind or another.  I just keep closing my eyes and pretending they are not there.  Oh well one good thing, at least Jake is now back from his Holiday of a lifetime with his brother in Mexico.
 
Knuckles, camouflaged against the leaves,

 
Kizzy collecting them , why do my cria always look like haystacks ?

This time of year is also mushroom season, and all manner of stuff is coming up.

 
above Parasol mushrooms, good eaters

 
I like to walk around the field everyday pulling up any mushrooms no matter what, and I am glad I walked the cria field today.
 
Amanita Muscaria deadly poisonous, not something you want growing in your alpaca field !!
 
The cria are all coming along well know and I have started giving them their own feed in the adjoining field.  Its amazing how quickly they get the hang of waiting in the field for all the adults to go rushing in the feeding pen so you can shut the gate for them to eat in peace.  Now four out of the eight have got a taste for the hard stuff.
 
 
We have just hatched our third batch of chicks , six of them, here they are looking cute.  Jake has called them 'the Nuggets' get it ?!! chicken !
 
 
Well its Sunday night and after a visit to the hospital and preparing dinner, and fulfilling my blogging duties,  think its about time to open a bottle,

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hey Ho Lets Go !

One of the disadvantages about living the dream is not being able to spend enough time with family, so this week it has been a real pleasure spending time with our two young nephews,  Digory and Atticus.  Being city toddlers animals don't feature much in their day to day lifes,  not even a dog in their house.  As we pulled up into the yard, after picking them up from the airport, my sister in law suddenly announced, ' oh forgot to say, they scream when they see any animals ! and right enough, the sight of chickens wandering around the yard and 'Puppies' rather verbal welcome, brought tears and screams - what was this hell on earth that Mum and Dad have brought us to.  It took two days until they realised the chickens meant them no harm, four days for the alpacas , but 'puppie' was never really that well received. 
Their speech is at that amusing stage when they just pick up a phase and use it at every available opportunity whether relevant or not, and brings a smile to your face.  They were a delight and a welcome distraction from the day to day routine.
Here are a few pictures of their day on the beach.
 
Yummy ...  crunchy sand sandwiches !
                                            Hey Ho Lets Go for an ice cream
The house now seems very quiet without them and our youngest son Jake, who yesterday left to visit his brother for a month in Mexico with his girlfriend.  He has told his brother, ' this is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me' - I  do hope he is not disappointed !
 
 
 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The future and what of it


Is it me or is the Internet a revolutionary invention ?  next to the wheel and the discovery of penicillin, it must be one of mans most life changing inventions.  Never before has humanity had the world at their fingertips.  I could, if I wanted, reserve a hotel the other side of the world, order flowers to be sent to Mum, find a flight to anywhere, research medical problems, find out any global exchange rate, translate any language and today locate two car seats for my young nephews visiting us next week, and all from the comfort of my own  armchair.   It took  approximately  3 hours after posting a Wanted ad on Anglo Info to locate two beautiful car seats from a lady who lives just 2 kms the other side of our village - like I said the world at our fingertips.

Cute hey !

 
I have  recently discovered Facebook, wow, how powerful is that ?, anyone who isn't yet connected, don't be Like I was, with your head in the sand.  It's fantastic.  I am now  totally addicted .  Only yesterday I was thrilled to see the alpaca twins born at Cedar House in Australia , both looking well along with their mother, apparently they weren't  aware the female was expecting twins , just found them when they got home, how wonderful is that.
I remember in 1966, world cup year, my grandfather having one of those new colour televisions, where the colour wasn't quite tuned in, and half the street coming around to watch England win the World Cup.  Strange to think how far we have come since then and what my grandparents , and their parents would think to this new internet thingy.  Even more, it's scary what man will invent before I leave the planet and long  after.  I hope it's something, to End all wars, feed the starving, cure cancer, stop crime, keep children safe and bring peace on earth, - now that would be an intention ! or a miracle
 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Home from Home in Francoperu

Yesterday saw the birth of our last cria this year, another Brown boy from Bodego, as yet unnamed.
The biggest of the year weighing in at 8.2 kgs.
As promised Sunday also brought the long awaited rain, in bucket fulls.  At one point there was even some sleet.  Typical just 10 minutes after his birth, not even dry, he got soaked.
 
Thankfully it didn't last long,  he soon dried off, just in time to put his cria coat on before the next down pour.
Although it has been alot cooler the last two weeks this has been the first good down pour we have seen for a long time  and frankly we  could do with a lot more.  All the paddocks are now brown and the animals are surviving on the winter hay ration.  In three weeks they have finished off a full roll of hay, that's half a tonne.  Thankfully , a local blog follower/alpaca owner has offered us two rolls that arrive tomorrow.  Despite my worrying all the cria are doing well and seem to have plenty of energy.  I suppose we should remember where these animals originally come from and that they are an animal that is used to making alot out of a little.  No doubt they feel quite at home here !