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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Matings and mugshots

With all the cria now out of the danger zone and developing their own little personalities it's time to turn our attention to re-mating a few mums for next years crop. All the first timers were done a few months ago and all seem to have taken.
We are fortunate to have two great Popham stud males to chose from as well as our own, but there is one youngster we are really keen to get working. It's his time, He's old enough, but frustratingly he's never really been interested in girls.
His name is Popham Ambersun Solomon. Born at the Ambersun stud in Adelaide Australia, now owned by Popham Alpacas and on loan to us. He's a cracking looking solid fawn and winner of the fawn championship at the international alpaca show at Bourges earlier this year.

We've been letting him watch the experienced boys at work the last couple of times and there was a little spark of interest just beginning to show.
So with two matings to do this week, one with Atlas and the other with Colombus and with Bella ready to mate as well this was our best chance to get him going. Bella is, well, how can I put it?, An easy lay,shall we say. She sits ready at the mere sight of a male. Just what a shy boy needs.
A special triple mating area was erected. Atlas one end . Colombus the other, and Solomon was put in the middle of the orgle sandwich with Bella sat waiting. It had to work.

Everything went to plan to start with and Solomon looked all set to lose his virginity as he proudly took his girl.
Unfortunately despite my best efforts to help in with his directions it was all over too quickly.
( Oh, c'mon we've all been there!) 
Confused and embarrassed in front of his mentors either side he decided a little role reversal was in order and sat for Bella instead.
Bella, unable to hide her dissapointment, gave her best 'stupid boy' look and explored the possibilities of changing pens.

But it's a start! at least.We are slowly running out of time and options but fingers crossed we'll try again next week.. We will have Solomon babies!

Had some time to look over the cria this evening. The fleeces do seem to change alot,so not picking any winners just yet.  Here's a few mug shots.

Jonah, son of Equador. Wouldn't say boo to a goose. Soft as tripe. Bit of a wet weekend.

 Jazz, daughter of Atlas, Approachable but crafty. Accomplished milk thief and getting fat on it.

Janine, daughter of Columbus, Perhaps the best fleece of the bunch. Beginning to moan about everything  just like her mother.

Jamaica, daughter of Horizon, Absolutely adorable bundle of fun. Fast becoming my favourite,and I don't care for greys!

Jupiter, son of Fellipé Grand name for a little squirt. May have to get some sticky tape for the ear kinks

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Quickie

The holiday season is drawing to a close and the last of our guests leave tomorrow.
The alpacas have had plenty of walks through the woods. The chickens now, have all been named, and puppy can get back to knowing which house he is supposed to live in.
 We have lots of memories of people we have met and a few more friends made along the way. It would be to much to include everyone but here are a few of my favourite photos of the past few weeks.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

and finally.... 5

It had been peeing it down with rain all day long on Friday.
 Having given up on the numerous outside jobs that need doing by mid morning I had spent the rest of the day 'window shopping' the internet for a new car. It was quite by chance then that I had to give my square eyes a rest and went to glance out the window.
The view from the window by the computer looks out over the field at the back of the house, but because of the trees and the ruin of the old stone bread oven only about one third of it can be seen. So if the alpacas are anywhere other than the bottom left hand corner,  you can't see them.
It was fortunate then that right in this closest corner to the house Kalhua (the three legged one) had chosen to go into labour.
"Oh no.., not now... please. It's bloody half six in the evening and it's bloody raining!"
There's nothing like an unwanted traipse into a soggy field to get a man cursing. So it was on with the dirty jeans,cagoule and wellies and don't forget the camera.
Within a matter of minutes it was all done and dusted. The cria was out. The rain miraculously stopped and all was well with the world.
It was obvious straight away the cria was black. My master plan was all coming good. The jewel in the crown and all that. This was the black girl we had been hoping for.......?

Bugger, it's a boy.
How close was that?,from a grey father not a bad effort.
 He's only a little squirt weighing in at five and a half kilos..It was another late night in the field shelter making sure everything was hunky dory.
I had to include the third photo in this montage because the others do nothing to scupper the rumour that Kalhua only has three legs.
And before anybody points it out; it's clearly a strange photographic genetic trait thats been passed on to the cria !


Friday, July 13, 2012

The great pretender and a few visitors

Ok, Time to come clean. I feel a bit of a plonker. Fannys not pregnant. She's been pretending all along. Probably our best female, and one cria we were really looking forward to, now isn't going to happen I'm sure. She spat off half a dozen times after mating last year and I can't explain what the bulging was some six weeks ago but I've given up hope now and she's back in the teenagers field in disgrace.
No more 'mum to be' extra rations for her.
Jonah is putting on weight too slowly. He's only gained 200grms on his initial birth weight in a week. Although he seems fine it's not enough gain so he's now getting a supplementary bottle and Mums had a few jabs of Oxytocine over the last three days to see if we can bring more milk on.
It's been a full on week one way or another. With an outbreak of mites to deal with and a sick suri needing round the clock monitoring we also had close on 40 visitors from the AIKB organisation visit us on Tuesday and then on Wednesday 11 students with a few teachers from a Loudeac College studying textiles spending the day here.

AIKB visitors arriving

overflow carparking
coffee break

Loudeac Students

Discovering spinning


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Jonah and the worry

He are a few more pictures of our first cria of the year. Now named Jonah.
He should be called Toast as he's mostly dark brown but a bit burnt round the edges.

His fleece has changed alot in three days. From the long straight mop in the new born picture,it has shrunk into nice tight short bundles.

Fanny is still a cause for concern. Today is exactly one year from her last mating date and now I'm starting to think she may have lost it along the way. One month ago she had the tell tale sign of bulging ladybits as often happens a couple of weeks before a birth. But now she isn't acting pregnant at all.
We had a little heart to heart in the field this evening and had plenty of opportunity for a good feel around but could feel nothing. The fact she was so  relaxed suggests to me she is either open or sick.
It's a bit of a mystery. More investigation tomorrow.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present.....

The first arrival of the year greeted us this morning at 8.30 in the middle of a downpour.
 It was Tia's. Sitting and still coated in the birth membrane,so not many minutes old.
By the time we had got a towel, iodine and cria coat to the scene and checked mums milk was turned on the rain had stopped and we were able to dry it off and put a coat on before the next shower.
Not quite the cracking black girl we were hoping for but a dark brown boy will do nicely.
He's 8 kilos and full of beans but as yet unamed.

Will post some better pictures when he's dried off properly.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Where's our babies?

Everybody seems to be having cria at the moment, except us. I can't bear the waiting any longer.
Tia is currently at 354 days and Fanny is 361 days ! and not looking at all pregnant.
For weeks I have been keeping an hourly lookout in the field only to find things all hunky dory.
Quite a few mornings I could have happily laid in for a extra hour or so. But no.You have to get up and check.
Traipsing out in your dressing gown whilst the kettle boils only to find you should have stayed in bed.
It's all getting a bit annoying now. Some of the older girls due in August are definately pregnant carrying quite visable packages around with them and Bali's belly is amazing to watch with the cria turning cartwheels and trying to punch it's way out all the time.
 But Fanny keeps us guessing. Perhaps she is waiting for a change in the weather. It's actually been raining for days now so maybe it's just as well.
We did have a timely break in the weather on Saturday where we attended the local village agricultural comice at Malguenac. As well as a display of some pretty awesome machinery, including a tree eating monster that reduced whole trees,three or four at a time into tons of chippings in a matter of minutes, there was the usual cattle and Breton horse competitions.

 The alpacas drew a crowd as always and we sold a bit of our yarn. As it was only five minutes away from home we were able to nip back to keep up the cria birth checks. At the end of the day we had time to take the animals home and get back for the repas which included some fantastic hams that had been slowly cooking behind our stall all afternoon.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Writers block re righted

Regular readers of this dribble will have noticed a total lack of effort on my part over the last month.
So much so that in addition to the in-house jibes and prompting, people are ringing up to check that everything's ok.! and, upon establishing that everything is ok, registering their complaint and even threatening to remove this blog from their 'favourites' list if I didn't get my finger out!.
Well, flattered as I am that anyone gives a toss about what I have to say, I'm not sure I should succumb to emotional blackmail. The responsibility of spoon feeding the readership daily or even weekly words of wisdom is too much to bare. I mean, where will it all end?
I don't want to be held to account for depriving the annonymous of their 'fix' of 'alpaca news'. It's worrying.
Did Rafael Nadal drop the third set during the French open final because he was concerned? Or could this explain the Queens long face as she cruised the jubilee flotilla?
Ok,so I'm aiming a little high there. But you know what I mean.
The truth of the matter is I haven't done it. Not because I've been too busy. Not because I've been ill,or even because of a computer malfunction,which is usually a good excuse.
I just couldn't be arsed.
Well, honesty is always the best policy. Consider normal service now 'resumed'.

So, firstly I need to clear up a small matter regarding a previous posting which included a photo of an alpaca,and which due to the angle of the shot only appears to have three legs.
 Certain people have expressed their concern about the welfare of this animal and others questioned my sanity for  buying her. I kid you not.
I would like to clarify for the benefit of the gullible she is not at all tripodal but is equiped with the regular number of legs.One adequately placed in each corner. So no worries.

Shearing day was kind to us and the sun shone all day. Seems like ages ago now. Probably because it was.
The alpacas are all looking resplendent and sylph like and the fleeces have been skirted and bagged..

Indiana, (above) our rose grey boy was sold the moment his fleece came off and is being delivered tomorrow along with two others. In fact it's been a good week for selling boys. Imran has also gone this week to the lovely Monique and Didier all the way to Toulouse, and French Lad and Angove find new homes on Saturday.

Imran safely installed with his new black girlfriend

 Sometimes when you are feeling a bit bogged down with all the chores that come with this chosen lifestyle something happens to make you think "well, actually we've got it easy"
Meet Nicholas and Frederic . Two guys that we got to know a couple of weeks ago when we were asked to go and look over their newly acquired herd of alpacas.They wanted our opinion on various matters from health to breeding choices.They had a herd of around fifteen. Quite a lot you might think as a starter herd.But these boys were no strangers to large numbers. Their farm was something else.If it had four legs they were breeding it. Horses and poneys were their passion and there were fields full! A few rare breed cows too  thrown in for good measure. They also had sheep.They had goats. There were pigs roaming free around the courtyard.One of which had been serviced by a wild boar that had got to her and had just had a litter of twenty four piglets. A building had been converted to house Frederics collection of tortoises which were not just the common ones but giant ones that need regulated heating and a special licence.

A whole building was crammed full of every sort of feed with wall to wall chest freezers and sacks of all sorts of stuff.
But Iv'e saved the best till last.
The dogs. I've never seen so many dogs in one place. They just kept coming. wave after wave.
Gobsmacked,I asked how many they had. They truely didn't know the answer. "About seventy" Frederic said.

This picture shows only a few!
And the yard and fields were spotless.!
I shall never,EVER moan about picking up poo again!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Home and dry

The 'Stage' happened on Thursday and was a great success despite the weather trying it's hardest to spoil things.
It started going pear shaped on the Wednesday,when upon arriving at Rennes airport to collect Jay there was a two hour delay posted on the arrivals screen. This later changed to 'flight diverted' and the gale force winds had forced a change of route to Nantes.The passengers were then going to be brought over by coach. I was in for a long wait.
Anybody who has visited Rennes airport will know there is not a lot there to detract from the boredom, so after a light lunch and coffee I still had three hours to kill so it was off to the nearby Ikea store for something to do.
Carried away in the moment I duly managed to buy a hanging metal rack which is too wide to fit the alcove for which it was intended. A new rug to replace the flea bitten one we currently have but it's far too small and looks naff. Loads of new 'tupperware' type containers which apparently we don't need, and anyway there's no room in the cupboard. A bath mat that's too white and already looks dirty and a couple of collapsable linen baskets which are now destined for alpaca fleece storage!
But I did get a free pencil which I'm sure will be very useful.
It was early evening by the time I had collected the judge and got back home, so the plan to look over the herd with a view to selecting which animals to talk about and shear, was aborted.
The following morning was not looking promising with miserable drizzle and damp alpacas. But by about ten o'clock the sun made an appearance and things started to look better.We re-arranged the programme a little to give the alpacas a bit more drying time and by lunchtime we were shearing and even lunch was taken 'Al Fresco'.

The afternoon was spent skirting and discussing the the fleeces both on and off the animals and the merits and shortfalls of each one. We also covered dentition and husbandry issues.

Thanks to Jay Holland for a very interesting presentation and for managing to answer a constant barrage of questions. And to Gaby and Christelle for translating everything all day. Without them it just wouldn't have worked..
Today is Saturday and we were supposed to be shearing the rest of the herd but the weather hasn't improved so it's been put on hold for a while.One of the benifits of having a new French shearer!
Anyway there is still some clearing up to do. Catering for that many people some of whom stayed over a second night makes a lot of mess and the fridge is full of left overs.
All in little tupperware containers!