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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

European alpaca show Vierzon 2010

It soon came around. Last years show was held at the back end of the year because of complications with the availability of the blue tongue vaccine, so barely six months between the two, and once again we have pre show car problems. We still haven't got a replacement yet so Gary and Felicia from Popham alpacas drove us and our animals down, along with their alpacas that live here. We also loaded a suri female and cria we had sold to customers in the Limousin,to be collected from the show. Add to that, a spinning wheel, fleeces, boxes of products and clothing, overnight bags and picnics,signs and banners and anything else you can think of.
Ready to go ,the big Toyota hauled itself down the road without effort. Crammed in the car amongst all the stuff we joked where on earth would we put all the cups and trophies on the way back!
After a somewhat fractious AGM on the Friday evening the show was underway first thing Saturday.
The lovely Quelvehin Fanny-Ann was first up,with the intermediate girls. Not looking her best I have to admit. Still a little damp after Thursday and Fridays rain. A matted top knot and a good deal of this years hay quota still stuck in her fleece.
It didn't matter though. First place. A good start.
Pophams Columbus was up next. A terrific stud male who has spent his life in France after coming over as a weanling. He had been working in the Dordogne for the last year and was at the show to come back to Quelvehin to stand at stud for 2010.
Sporting a silly haircut and in need of a teeth trim Gary was hesitant about showing him.
He needn't have worried. First placed in the seniors.
Daniel was next. A Popham male already at stud here. A beautiful mahogany brown boy and so well behaved he couldn't fail to wow the judge. First place.
This was all going very nicely thank you.
Could Atlas spoil the party? Up next,I doubted his chances. I had spied a very nice black in the Belgians pen next door. The judge took her time and then pointed us forward. Yyesss Attaboy!
As the afternoon went on Popham French lass and Quelvehin Ghost took a first and second in the Suri classes. Daniel and Atlas both went on to win championships in their colour classes.
And Columbus,? only went on to win Supreme champion didn't he. Supreme!
Thats like the bestest alpaca in the world! Well, it felt like it just for a while.
I think he's going to be a busy boy this summer at Quelvehin.
So all in all, a good day at the office as they say.
The evening was topped off nicely with a meal at a local restaurant for all the exhibitors.
Sunday morning the fleece entries were judged and Atlas copped for another cup.
Just the tidying up then Oh , and that problem of extra space in the truck!

Monday, March 22, 2010


Spring has sprung this week with a notable change in the temperature and signs of the green shoots of new grass starting to show. Thank goodness. We seem to have got through an unbelievable amount of hay this winter and had to collect another roll this weekend.
It's the international alpaca show at Vierzon again this weekend so we have spent a little time brushing up the halter training and trying to keep the show animals clean. A thankless task, as it's always those that find the dirt to roll in. I'm sure they do it on purpose.
The picture is of Atlas and Di Vinci going walkabout with a couple we met at the Pontivy show. They turned up this week complete with picnic to look over the boys.
Marie- Eloise was besotted with Atlas and has insisted on having first refusal on any of his male cria born this year.
The first is due in about six weeks to a very nice solid white female. Should be an interesting result.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Festival de l'Animal de Pontivy

Here are some pictures from the Pontivy animal festival.An annual event held in our town which this year was extended to include Saturday as well as the Sunday. It was a busy show again this year and very tiring talking rubbish French for two days solid! Although I must admit I tend to leave most of it to Jayne and loiter in the background. Sold another two females though and got a lot of very positive feedback for the future.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Onward and upwards

Well it's all done. A new 20 metre pipe,3 new drains and whilst I was at it, re-furbished the borders and even laid a new stone paved area to stand a bench on. It was hard work but at least we have peace of mind now knowing exactly what's going on underground.
It's been a funny old week,lovely bright sunshine but a bitterly cold biting wind. Although we never had a frost the alpacas water butts often had a couple of inches of ice on top just from the wind chill.
It's certainly cleaned the alpacas up nicely after all the rain and mud of a couple of weeks back.They look positively cuddlely again! We had them all in yesterday for their A D & E injections and wormer,with only Cochiti giving us her usual run around. We even managed to get around to putting little Ghosts microchip in. One of those jobs I don't relish and always seem to put off to another day. Such a big nasty needle,but as it happens he was as good as gold and one of the easiest yet.
As you may know lifes been a bit of a struggle these last few weeks but it's all coming together again now. Another alpaca sale underway and gite enquiries starting to come in, and then this evening we received a email which I feel I have to post up.
It reads;
Hello Jayne and Steve,
I hope this email finds you both happy and staying warm! Wow what a crazy winter this has been. We couldn't help think of you guys and the alpacas whenever the news spoke about high winds, blizzards and freezing rain in your region. How are all your animals doing?

I am writing to share a cute little story with you. Ella's birthday was last month and she recieved a "friend" book. The first couple of pages have questions for Ella to fill in all about herself and then the rest of the book is for her to give to her friends and they fill in the questions about themselves. It makes for a nice keepsake when we return to Michigan. Anyway, last week I was looking through the book and reading what Ella had written about herself. For the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" She wrote "A farmer." for the question "What is one of your happiest experiences?" She wrote "Staying at an Alpaca Farm in France for one week.!" I thought you would love to know that. Especially considering all the amazing places and experiences Ella has had in her 8 years of life!

We found out about one month ago that Eric's contract will be ending at the end of May. We head back to Michigan on June 1st. We are mostly ready to head back as it will be really nice to be around family again on a more regular basis. I am really hoping to get Ella back to your farm before we leave, even for a long weekend if possible but I am not positive we will be able to work it out. Are you still renting your cottages? Did you get a perment tenant to help with the rent?

I hope all is well for you and your family. Of all the experiences we have had living in Germany, staying at your cottage was one of the best moments for all of us. We will never forget you both and your lovely hospitality and farm. Thanks again.
All the best,
Jennifer, Eric, Jack and Ella Smitterberg

Kind of makes you realise what you are striving for is all worth while.

Monday, March 1, 2010

It never rains but it pours.

Following the tail-end of the hurricane storm that devastated the Vendee and Atlantic coast of France this weekend we found ourselves once again mopping up. The rain soaked land could absorb no more and the only way was up. Through our kitchen floor again.
Fortunately the emergency drain I put in the house after last years episode worked, up to a point, in that it took the water straight out of the house again. But there was a problem in the old land drains outside. A bit of digging was required to release the build up and it was soon flowing like a stream.

It's still flowing now after 24 hours. Into the house,out of the house and down the field!
So its a 20 metre trench to dig tomorrow and a new land drain pipe to make a proper job of it.
I'm really looking foward to it, as you can imagine.
And if anybody else reminds me I'm living the dream in France especially after these last couple of weeks they could be on the receiving end of those drain rods !

Another alpaca left us today. Quelvehin Flynn, our first 'Quelvehin born n bred'' to be sold, so something of a small milestone for us. He's gone to live in Bayeux where it's probably a lot drier and I don't blame him!