Wednesday, 4 May 2016

New life on the hill

Spring finally seems to have arrived and with if new life on the farm is beginning to arrive.

I decided not to tup our sheep last year as we never send our sheep to the mart and I didn't really want anymore, plus I didn't want lambing to clash with the Scottish Alpaca Show that we'd were going to attend (more on that another night).  

I did make an exception for my three Wensleydale ewes though, Drizzle, Parnie and Mist.  I din't think any of them were actually pregnant and in typical sheep style we sadly lost Mist a couple of months ago for no apparent reason!  Anyway it turned out that Drizzle was indeed pregnant and surprised me with a very cute, in an ugly sort of way, tup lamb who Paul named Gromit after is dad Wallace!

Despite only having one lamb this year he is causing plenty of work (not that I'm complaining, I love him!).  Initially his mum had no milk and wasn't very interested in him.  Having not been expecting any lambs I didn't have any colostrum (and it was Sunday) so he started off on alpaca colostrum until I managed to get some from a friend, Sam at West Barn Pygmy Goats who also has a few pet sheep.

I thought Gromit was just a bit of a dopey weak lamb but then realised that he couldn't see, the poor little man has very little if any sight.  As he has grown his front legs have become very bent too, this poor little man is in special care, on a course of antibiotics and vitamin injections in the hope that we can salvage at least some sight and splinted legs to try and stop them from getting worse and hopefully straightening them.

Next to arrive 24 hours later was a very sweet little angora goat who we have named Calico.  Again, just like all my angora births assistance was required when April presented a head and no feet!  Thankfully there was plenty of room and the gorgeous little kid was safely delivered.

I have also been hatching some of our goose eggs, I'd put 8 in the incubator but only 6 were fertile.  I had been told by a number of people that geese were particularly difficult to hatch so I wasn't too hopeful for much success.  The first one pipped and made very little progress and eventually needed help as did the second.  Sadly the other 4 didn't manage to hatch, but these two are doing just great and are now 4 and 5 days old and growing so fast.

On the alpaca front Marne is now on 353 days, but having gone 410 with Oscar we could still have a bit of a wait.  She doesn't really have much signs of milk yet either but she had none last time so that isn't much help!

Andromeda is as wide as a house so hopefully she wont have too much longer to go, she's on 352 days so is well over our herd average and not knowing how long she went with Nelson two years ago who knows what sort of gestation she likes.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

As promised, a blog!

I’ve not found the time and if I’m totally honest the motivation to write a blog in in long time, my life is so busy and grabbing two minutes to do a quick tweet or snapping something to post on Instagram seems to fit so much easier into my day.  So if you want to follow us on Twitter were @BarnacareAlpacas and on Instagram we’re Barnacre_Alpacas 

However I appreciate that not everyone likes or uses twitter and Instagram and also some of you enjoy the detail that I can include within a blog, so I thought I’d better find the time to write one.  So here goes for all you complaining at me for not blogging!

To be honest I’m not sure where to start, it’s been almost a year since my last blog and this is starting to sound like I’m sat in the confession box.

We had a great year of birthing last year, with just over 40 babies born, not only our own but also from our various livery clients and this year is set to be busier again.  We’re only three weeks away from the first due date of this year, don’t tell mum as she’s farm sitting whilst we attend the inaugural Scottish Alpaca Championship in Lanark the weekend before and she’ll only panic!  The early ones tend to hang on so I’m sure Andromeda (Nelson's mum) will wait until after her due date.

Things haven’t all been great since last year, sadly we lost my dad last summer.  My dad was a huge inspiration in my life, and without realising it he was one of the main reasons I was determined to live my alpaca dream.
My dad (and mum for that matter) worked hard all his life and planned to travel in their caravan when dad retired, but ill health caused him to retire from work early and sell their beloved caravan and in the end dad never really got to enjoy his retirement.  I’d always been taught that if you work hard enough you can achieve anything (and I’m certainly not afraid of hard work) and I was adamant I didn’t want to spend my life working my socks off like my dad for a retirement I might never get to enjoy, so I managed to convince Paul the well paid office job could be sacrificed for a chance to try and make the alpaca dream a reality.  And that was over nine years ago now and the rest is history so they say!

Despite being crippled with arthritis, cancer and numerous other issues dad still got to enjoy the alpacas, I even managed to get him on the quad one or two times.

It was heart breaking at times when you know he would have loved to get more involved, telling Paul how not to built the field shelter or how he would do it; he was always right too!  He did manged to make me a couple of skirting tables along the way; we soon outgrew the first one as our fleeces improved!

I then managed to persuade him to make me a button for a bag I’d knitted because I couldn’t find a natural button I liked, of course he couldn’t stop with one button he did it so well, I soon had him making tiny buttons and scarf pins which meant he’d had to invent various tools for holding them as his hands were so deformed by this point he couldn’t hold them!

I’m so proud of my dad and hope that he will be watching over me as proud of me as I am of him, I love you dad!  

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Twins and a prolapse

I had been hoping that I would have been able to blog with cria photos by now, however the first three are now overdue, Elysian is on 365 days, Gabby 354 and Chiquita is on 345.  In fact we have 15 girls over 330 days gestation!

Sadly Venus gave birth in the early hours of Saturday morning in the pouring rain to twin girls, she had managed to carry them almost ten months.  I found her stood over them in the field at 5am (my usual early morning check), she was a first time mum and clearly very confused by things.

The girls were solid brown weighing 4kg and a tiny rose grey weighing 2kg, I spent the first few hours beating myself up about the bigger girl who may have stood a very slim chance had she been born during the day.

Disturbing pictures follow.......

Of all the alpaca lines we have Venus is from a line of girls who produce big babies so if anyone stood a chance of managing twins it would be this one, Venus's mum star was our biggest cria ever at 13kg.

Sadly the loss of the twins was only the start of it, Venus seemed to be taking a while to pas the placenta, and I was beginning to think that some oxytocin may be required but then she started to stain and out began to come the placenta.

It took slightly longer than usual, breeders out there will know that gravity usually plays a big part once the afterbirth starts to come away.  However this didn't happen and it soon became apparent that things weren't going to plan and she was prolapsing.

Poor Venus ended up with a double horned prolapse!  My phone went flat after this photo so you will be pleased to know you don't get to see the worst of things.

Venus isn't the most cooperative of girls and hates the halter and not getting her own way so catching her to resolve this problem wasn't going to be easy.  In fact it took us the whole time it took the vet to arrive to actually get her out of the field!  Thankfully I'd just managed to wrap things in clingfilm before she threw herself onto the ground squealing.

Sam Prescott, our vet,  is fantastic and after giving Venus an epidural soon got the left horn hack into position but the right was much tighter and took some doing but he managed.  Paul did ask if he was attaching it to her tongue at one point as he was having to go in so far!

Venus is now sore and not happy about being in but things are looking much better than they did.

The jury is out on whether to mate her again or not.  Has anyone else out there got any experience on prolapses, particularly double horned ones following twins?

I'm not looking forward to a straight forward, text book baby please girls.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Big boys and little boys

I'm under strict instructions to take things easy so I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to tell you a bit of whats been happening.

The sun has made a welcome appearance, although it seems to have been replaced today by frequent hail and snow showers and a howling gale!

We decided to put the two groups of boys together last week, usually the adolescent boys don't join the stud boys until after shearing when everyone looks and smells different and they go into a new field for another distraction.

However as we were moving the studs into a new field and seeing as they are all very well behaved we gave it a go  We have a few boys who will start their working life this year, including Supreme Champion Thor, double fawn Champion Zoom and another of our white champions Linus, all unrelated and with very exciting genetics and fleeces (introductory discounts will be available on these boys so please get in touch if you are interested).

All went very well, it was head down munching....

With the odd bit of posing...

Until Loki remembered the burried wall, it makes a fantastic posing platform!

Loki is very proud of his tackle and likes to flash it to anyone and everyone, particularly Golden Guinea who is the boss.

Guinea tends to ignore the other boys for so long and every now and again reminds them he's the boss!

Frequent followers to our blog and twitter (@barnacrealpacas) will be aware that we also have a few sheep here too.  Lambing isn't supposed to begin until 17th April, well after the NWAG show however someone seems to have forgot to mention it to this little cutie who arrived on Sunday from Bella one of our Texel girls.

There is also a pair of blackie twins on the top of the hill who have managed to avoid the camera so far.  I love birthing season; alpacas start next month too :-)

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Work Experience and job week

I'm pleased to hear my last blog went down well, so I thought I'd better make sure I didn't leave it long before I did the next one before I am in trouble again!

We are so busy what with one thing and another it's difficult to find the time to fit in sitting at the computer, but here I am whilst I have a cup of tea and sneak one of Paul custard creams whilst he's not here.

I've had a lovely young girl called Lucy here for some work experience for a few days which was great, she's wanting to become a vet and off to uni later in the year.

It's the second time Lucy has been and she is great, first job on our list was to get the littlies weaned.  I have to say they have been a great bunch so far and with a couple of exceptions, Khaleesi and Xanthe.....

.......... they have all been good.  They did crack it in then end though!

We like to get them used to walking on all surfaces and coming across different things so someone always accompanies me and on this occasion Lucy) to the post box.  Selkis and Aryana are so friendly and happy to explore they love a stroll down the drive.

I also like to halter train them to walk onto the scales which always makes life easier in the future as some of the older girls and purchased girls do find the scales a bit of a scary experience!

Whilst Lucy was here all the girls got weighed and wormed and had a pedicure where required.  Other than the usual drama queens it went quite well and for the first time ever we managed to weigh Venus (nickname crazy horse!) who was a hefty 80.4kg.

Porker award went to Vitoria who came in at 99.4kg although with a bit of luck she's pregnant.  

Lucy also got to do the oral AD&E paste which all the littlies are happy to take.

It wasn't all hard work she did get to play on Paul's toy, although I don't think he realises us girls don't find it as much fun as he does!

Bottle feeding is a much more fun job if you ask me!

Weaning continues, I've added another four to the line of bums, they do have more troughs these two are just the favourites!

Arty, Pixie, Pandora and Stella have all settled in nicely although Stella has made it quite clear that she doesn't think she should have been stopped from having her bottle and had a few stroppy tantrums initially!  

That just leaves the youngest two cria Oscar and Peaches to wean along with tiny Nelson, Slug and Eclipse who are on a go slow.  They will be all weaned by the end of the month though with a bit of luck. 

Friday, 27 February 2015

Alive and kicking

Sorry for the lack of blog post and thank you to those of you who have been in touch to check that we’re ok. Yes we are ok, I've just very busy, but have continued to tweet (you can follow us @BarnacreAlpacas) as I can do that whilst walking round the place!

I really can’t believe it was October when I last blogged, I’m ashamed.  Many nights I've sat down to write a blog but either fell asleep over the computer or started doing website updates. There is so much to tell you I’m not sure where to start.

Yesterday we celebrated our 8th birthday, the alpacas got lots of bonus veggies and I got treated to a bottle of Prosecco; thanks Lizzie and we even saved Paul a small sip!!

Last year we had our best ever year for knitwear sales and for the first time ever I went into the new year with a long order list of special commissions, so the knitting needles are still smoking!!

Like most other people we have mud, mud and more mud, I've never known it so bad, the alpaca are so dirty I’m not sure they will ever recover!  The boys are absolutely filthy and the girls have mud dreadlocks!  

Ankha here not only likes to paddle backwards and forwards through the mud she likes to roll in it too!

At least the snow gave us a bit of a change from brown to white…….

And the girls are soon in the minute it starts to snow (or rain!); they’re not daft!

Oscar and Nelson who were featured in some of my last blogs are doing well, I’ll tell you more about them specifically later, sadly the same can’t be said for little Black Betty who I mentioned in my last blog, she continued to lose weight and despite being bottle fed and put on a drip towards the end she lost her battle with life. 

We've now weaned most of last years cria and I've already sold some of them, and as you can imagine already regretting agreeing to sell some of them!  They are currently being halter trained and adjusting to life without mum which I have to say is going very well, in fact I think with one exception they have hardly noticed they have left!

I don’t think the same will be said for the next few to wean because some of them have been having a bottle.  Pixie and Stella have been getting a milk top us as their mums don’t have much milk and Arty (work of Art) has been fully bottle fed since the death of his mum Cara just before Christmas, which was very sad, she suffered a Colonic torsion. 

Arty is such a sweetie, he likes his speedibeet too…. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Eye eye Oscar, anyone for mushrooms?

Thanks for your comments on Nelson, he seems just fine after his transfusion, today is weigh day so I'll update you on that next time.

He had Thiamine Judy and was clear of cocci, it didn't make any difference unfortunately, and his Albumin levels were normal too.  The only slightly high result was his bile acid but this was only at the top end of normal and not something my vet or Claire Whitehead had any real concerns over.

Moving on to Oscar, the ophthalmologist was very pleased with him and his eye and the speed at which it was healing.  He is still on a cocktail of eye drops but the injections are coming to an end and the drops have reduced, and there is definitely sight there.  We're back again in three weeks.

We are are heading towards thoughts of winter and winter grazing so the main group of girls have had another move round, fresh grass always goes down well!  Before they move I always check the fields carefully and there were some very impressive mushrooms in this field, not sure what they were but I don't think I'd fancy them in an omelet!

I've decided that I think I seriously need to look into a milking goat, as I have now started feeding another of the cria.  Black Betty has always been a slow grower but last week she lost weight, I'd tried feeding her before but she wasn't having any of it, however she must now be hungry as she took just short of 300ml twice.  Hopefully that will help her weigh gain, poor little thing doesn't have a very dense fleece either so she might end up with a second coat on before long too!!

Yesterday when checking the sheep we noticed that someone had hit the crash barrier on the far east side of our farm and had pushed it into part of our fence.  Thankfully the sheep hadn't noticed that they could actually get out!  I was not impressed that they hadn't bothered to tell me, it must have been a big lorry as they have pulled two huge lumps of concrete out the ground, the police knew nothing about it either so looks like it's another fence repair that we've got to fund.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Nelson news

I mentioned little Nelson on the blog last week and the latest blood that had been taken by the vet to try and establish what was going on.  We have tested for everything, you name it we've tested for it, including the nasties like BVD (not that we thought he has/had it) and everything comes back ok and it did again!

He has clear fecal counts, his heart, lungs and chest sound fine, but then you look at him and he's tiny, his growth chart is far from normal and without something we fear he wont make it through winter.

As you can see on his chart initially his weight gain was normal and at the first peak at just over 6kg he got heat stroke and nothing has been the same since.  After lots of hard work and various medicines we did manage a month of very steady weight gain but nothing significant and we have now slowed to between 50 and 100 grams a week if we are lucky.  At three months and one week he weighs 7.71kg!!

We had decided that the next step was a plasma infusion, not that there was really any evidence that this was going to help we are just running out of ideas!  So on Wednesday we headed off to Robson & Prescott this time with Nelson and a bag of Barnacre plasma and a rather paranoid me!

He's the gorgeous little man waiting patiently for his appointment with Sam Prescott.

I've never know Sam struggle to get a vein but he did with poor Nelson and when he did manage to find one they either collapsed or there was a valve, but Nelson being the calm and laid back little man that he is just sat there and got more and more shaved and stabbed.

I was so relieved when the plasma was in and the cannular removed and all appeared well.  I am the first one to admit I am paranoid when it comes to Nelson, I just can't help it!

Nelson was pleased to get back home and went straight to get a drink off his mum Andromeda and didn't seem to be in the slighted bit upset by his little outing, a bit of milk solves everything :-)  Fingers crossed this will kick start some growth.  Sam is off now for a week and on his return wants a phone call saying Nelson has hit double figures!!