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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Busy times

Busy, busy, busy, that’s the only excuse I have for not blogging.  It isn’t that there has been  nothing to blog about, quite the contrary  ,  the last few weeks seem to have  been full of farm visits, experience weekends,  guests in the gites and halter training,  I just don’t know where the time has gone.

Normally, by this time of year, all the cria are halter trained and walking well, but this year we have been a bit slow off the mark.  We normally participate in the French Show at Easter which means we have to train the cria, but this year, due to other commitments and holiday guests, we were unable to compete.  Sad, as we love to catch up with other breeders and people we have now come to know as friends.   The other week I managed to make a start when I had help from a couple taking a three day Alpaca Experience Break.  Kate and John first saw alpacas at the Three Counties Show and fell in love with them.  Unfortunately they are not in a position to keep them so decided they would go on holiday for a couple of days with them instead.  The sun was very obliging and they had three (which then became four) lovely days in the field, putting out hay, filling up the water buckets and of course,  - clearing up the beans !!  Well you can’t have a true Alpaca Experience without doing some nasty jobs.  I was impressed at how keen they were, every morning, before I had managed to get myself into gear, they were up, out, and had cleared the field of poo and hung out the hay nets.  They put me to shame really, I was still having my breakfast !!

The afternoons saw us giving the cria their first taste of walking on halters.  Some of them had had their halters on before in the field but never been out of the gate. Now, those of us that have done this before have seen all the tricks.  The rolling on the floor, the sitting and refusing to get up, the flying through the air and of course, playing dead !!  Here is Kushi trying to convince John that he was dead, completely lifeless and limp.   John was so worried he had killed him that he had to get down on the floor and check he was still breathing !!!
It’s always a great compliment when at the end of someone’s stay they come to you and ask if there is any chance of extending it for another day or two, but a greater compliment was when Kate said she had known John for 25 years and she had never seen him so relaxed and chilled out.  So three days turned into four and they are hoping to get back in September for another chill weekend.  Funny, picking up poo, doesn’t seem to have the same appeal to me !  
Kate and John weren’t the only visitors the alpacas have entertained over the last few weeks, they have been very busy, looking cute and interesting for three official visits from Andrew Smith from English Why Not.  Andrew and his partner Lynsey run immersion courses for French people wanting to improve their English for either work or pleasure. 
Andrew usual includes a visit to the farm for them to practice their conversational skills and listen to me talking about my favourite subject, this time in English.  Some alpacas get a little more involved than others.  Here is Emma, our fawn suri, who loves a cuddle and  manages to get in on all the photo shoots.
No alpaca births yet this year, first one due on the 1st June which is shearing day. But we do have some new arrivals. CHICKS – 9 out of the incubator, 4 from one of our broody hens and another four expected shortly.  However, a few have already found new homes along with the Nuggets,  Mr and Mrs Nugget became too tame and were having difficulty being accepted by the flock, so went off with four young chicks to some friends with three young children, they will get all the attention they need there.

We have also done a fibre presentation to the Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers here in Brittany.  Many of the members were already competent spinners but hadn’t spun alpaca before.  The morning, although cold, kept dry so we were able to look at fibre on the animals.  We were pretty grateful to Steve for lighting the log burner when we moved inside  and competition was tough for a fire side seat.
Here's Patsie giving us a demonstration of Drop spindling something she does a lot better than I do.

For those of you that have contacted me to tell me the Gite Site page is down, many thanks, but I know, fact is it has expired and rather than renew it, I have built a new site which will be going live as soon as I can pin down the Senior partner to OK it.
Another reason really for me not having a lot of time to blog, its amazing how long this site has taken me  -  watch this space – coming soon as they say.