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Thursday, June 26, 2014

It's Black and it's a girl !!

Oh am I  a happy girl tonight ?……..,  I love it when a plan comes together !!!

When our herd sire Atlas first started working, we decided to test the strength of his coloured genetics and put him over 5 solid white females with the aim of turning quality white  Accoyo Peruvian/Australian genetics into quality black genetics.  We were pleased with the results, all solids, 3 dark browns and 2 dark fawns, and four out of the five females.  Not bad.  One of which was our Hannah, dark fawn.  We have been lucky enough to have Popham Daniel, another Champion Black  pensioned with us for the last five years, so, of course, it was obvious where we were going next.  Last year, Hannah produced a lovely Bay Black male, Kane, an exact replica of his father, Popham Daniel, in everyway, but this year we hit the jackpot with a beautiful blue black female born this morning  -  Meet Miss Liqourice, weighing in at 7.7 kgs.


Liqourice is our fourth cria this year and our fourth female, so really it was against the odds she would also be female, but hey, someone must be looking out for us this year.

In her pedigree we have, to name a few,  Cedar House Licifer,Purrumbete Highlander, Fine Choice Peruvian Ultimo,  Auzengate and   Accoyo Osobali.  It’s a shame we are going to have to wait another three years to find out how strong her black genetics are,  but, like all breeders, I’m already thinking about where to go next.  Getting pictures today wasn’t easy as the weather wasn’t good and every time I got the camera out it started to rain.  Luckily Hannah is a wonderful mother and immediately takes her into the shelter.  Its females like that, that make a herd what it is.
As I said, Liquorice is our fourth cria so far this year, so time for a role call.  First born, was this lovely fawn girl, from Blossom, as yet unnamed as her mother was sold recently so the cria doesn’t
belong to us.
Then within 24 hours, our second, a lovely white female, from Snowdrift, sired by Popham Columbus, lovely curly fleece even at three weeks old. 

Then a real surprise.  A surprise for two reasons, one because we had it in our minds it wasn’t due until August (don’t ask, misread a 6 for an 8 !!)  and secondly because it was a true solid white out of Bali, our dark brown female, who has always given us coloureds even when put with white sires.  Sire Popham Columbus.
Lovely little girl, full of energy,  also unnamed as her mother is going in the same package with Blossom.

So there we have it, another three to go, could we be lucky enough to see another girl ?  who knows
Except for today, the weather here has been hot and I mean hot,  working in the fields has been uncomfortable and even ironing looked more inviting.  The weather coincided with a visit from my brother and sister in law and their twins, now three.

We had some lovely days, on the beach, BBQing and visiting the local play centres and, of course, they loved helping Uncle Steve drive the tractor !  

Enjoying Aunty Jayne's Home Made Ice lollies !!

Digory leans a hand !

Smile Diggy !!
Hang on - let me just adjust my face !!

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. 



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
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 !