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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!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stage de Tonte

It's been a long time coming but finally we have our very own worsted yarn to offer for sale.
18 kilos of home grown 70% huacaya 30%suri mix in four ply and double knit formats.
We are very pleased with the end product and the addition of a small amount of suri gives it a wonderful silky sheen.
It was spun for us in Cornwall by The Natural Fibre Company and watching the process was mind boggling.Machines for sorting,scouring, blending, carding even dying if you wished., all co-ordinated to run like clockwork.

What goes around comes around and we're only a week away from shearing again. Weather permiting we shall be doing the majority of the herd next weekend. But before then, Thursday 26th April we are holding our 'Stage de Tonte'. A day course to highlight the importance of correct shearing with demonstrations by Pascal Meheust along with shearer and B.A.S. Qualified judge Jay Holland who will be presiding over the days events,giving talks on fleece traits and stud selection amongst other things and hopefully benefitting everyone with his wealth of knowledge!
We decided to hold the course in association with Alpaga Developpement.It seems mainly for the benefit of new French breeders.There will be a translator on hand as so far 15 of the 18 places reserved are French..
I'm going to have another one of my headaches!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Jenson Buttons career cut short

The youngest fruit of my loins recently passed his driving test and last week got his first 'set of wheels'.
In truth he got everything but the wheels. A friend gave him a car but wanted to keep the alloys for a racing car project he was working on. So Jake became the proud owner of a 1992 Ford Fiesta with no wheels.
A good little car to start off with ,and, despite it being nearly twenty years old quite tidy and only 36000 miles!
Originally a Jersey registered car so I guess it's hard to put mileage on car restricted to 118 sq kilometres.

The new wheels and tyres were sourced from the local scrapyard in Pontivy along with a replacement door handle, petrol cap,wiper blades and seat belt to get it through the C.T. (MOT) New wheel trims and a battery were bought and a few hundred euros later it passed the test.

Here he is last week cleaning his first 'motor'. Aah bless.

However this tale has an unhappy ending I'm afraid. One week into car ownership we had the telephone call all parents dread this afternoon.
"Mum, I've crashed the car"
He,and his two friends in the car were all completely unhurt,thank god, but the car had hit the armco at the slip road to the dual carriageway and was in a bit of a state.
As well as all the panel damage the offside front wheel was flat on the floor and the drive shaft and suspension broken.
There was no way I could retrieve it.
 Ironically the accident happened about half a kilometer from the aforementioned scrapyard and it was them that had to clear the vehicle from the road. It has been declared a write-off and now the scrap yard owner has all his bits back and more.And we have to pay him to take them!
Life dishes out some hard lessons from time to time. My son is gutted to have lost everything so soon,and "at least you weren't hurt" is no consolation to him at the moment.
One other thought. To all you paraskavedekatraphobics out there. Today is Friday the 13th.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Showtime again

The Halle au blé, at Bourges was the venue over the weekend for the Concours International Alpagas. The main event in the alpaca show calender. A 1000km round trip. Nine animals enlisted. A pickup with a dodgy fuel pump and a two horse trailer. It wasn't an ideal scenario!
It was decided we should hire a van.
 After being let down on an animal transporter we settled on a brand new Renault Master, and because of the Easter holidays we were allowed to have it a day earlier which gave us time to install a makeshift division inside and pack all the paraphernalia into it's numerous cubby-holes and pockets.
It was just as well we had the extra day because that's about how long it took to sort it out, and even then we still couldn't comfortably get them all in.So, Blossom and Hannah would have to stay behind. That left a team of roughly half Quelvehin half Popham animals.
Normaly on this trip I would fill up four or five times there and back. So to arrive and still have a quarter tank of fuel was a bonus. These new vans are so quiet and easy to drive I am re thinking our transport requirements.
The show was short of about 40 entries on the day because of Blue Tongue restrictions forbidding any of the Belgium breeders re entry back into Belgium. But still a sizeable show although the Suri turnout was poor.
By the end of the halter classes our collective seven had bagged six first places and one fourth. Our new aquisition Cherokee Snowdrift delighted us by beating a class of eight which included the supreme champion at the Quimper show. What a little darling! But it was only Popham Ambersun Soloman who went on to win a Championship.

the show ring with Canadian judge Kristin Buhrmann

Columbus doing his 'If you touch me I'll sit down and squeal' routine

but winning his class anyway

Atlas loosing out in the black championship to a Lilyfield Jack of spades boy

Soloman wins the fawn championship
The show supreme was won by Frederick Henry with an intermediate white Huacaya male. Artemis du Fontenelle and the reserve went to Nigel and Ginny Cobb's adult white Huacaya male Arunda Lorca.

So that's it for another year as far as the show circuit goes for us. We now need to start preperations for the shearing and fleece evaluation course we holding in two weeks time. B.A.S. judge Jay Holland is doing a presentation and there is much to do.There are still a few places left if anyone is interested please get in touch. More details will be posted soon.