Tuesday, 27 December 2011

After Christmas Weaning

Well hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas, we had a great time with the alpacas and family and friends.
This year the weather has been kind, the wind has dried the ground and clearing the dung has been much quicker because of this, shame that the sun has been hiding away. The youngsters are being weaned as their dates and weights allow, some of the boys have missed their mums and for a little while told us by calling out in their "Sweep" voices, but all is going well, and they have settled very quickly into the new way of life, grazing happily and eating hard feed. Pictures are so dull at present, hopefully the sun will put in an appearance and I can add some illustrations to my words. I mean the weather is dull not the alpacas !! They are always fun.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Routine Tests

It has been busy on the farm with routine tasks getting all the alpacas ready for winter. We have recently had alpaca samples checked for worms and coccidia this checks out that our husbandry is working and the correct doses are being administered. All came back fine, so after checking in with our vet, Keith, we know that our all the alpacas are free from any routine intervention until the spring. We will of course monitor them throughout the winter for any additional needs, and we are still giving a course of A,D & E injections where needed but especially to the 2011 cria, who are all growing up quickly now, a few have been weaned already and some are due to wean any day soon.
Aside from farm work which is a pleasure when the weather is so good, we are busy with orders for hand knitted hats, gloves and scarves using our own alpaca fleece which is so lovely in the natural colours and so soft to touch. It is a joy to knit with and a pleasure to wear.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Mushroom foraging

We have been foraging for mushrooms this morning. When we went down to feed the alpacas first thing there were some lovely fairy circles of mushrooms that had popped up overnight in a paddock that is being rested. It is a perfect autumnal day today, lots of sunshine and such colourful hedgerows and trees. Back off outside to finish toenail clipping the alpacas, the last few left now.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Cherwell Leys Tangaroa the Supreme Champion

Following on from our success at the Romsey Halter Show, we dipped our toes in the water of Fleece Showing at The Heart of England Autumn National Fleece Show. This was to be our first attempt at a Fleece Show, hoping that we got the skirting correct we chose only four fleeces, two white, one grey and one brown. It was a brilliant day out for us after finishing the paddock cleaning we raced off to Oxfordshire. Imagine our delight when we found again all our entries had been rewarded with rosettes, four first places. Then the grey colour champion and white colour champion, were awarded to Cherwell Leys Smokey Joe and Cherwell Leys Tangaroa. The best was yet to come, Cherwell Leys Spirit of Islay had taken the prestigeous Judges Choice Fleece, and at our first attempt we scooped the Supreme Champion Huacaya Fleece with Cherwell Leys Tangaroa. We are still buzzing now. Tango will take up stud duties next season with the inevitable wait to see the resultant cria. Islay is still proving herself a winner even though she is a senior now she still has it, and her offspring are following in her footsteps, little Bella taking her own reserve championship at Romsey. Alameda, Tango's dam is scanned pregnant to Woody who did well at the Romsey Show, a cria to look forward to next year.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Rosettes at Romsey Show

We have not been to halter shows for quite a while but decided to support our local show, The Southern Alpaca Group inaugural show at Romsey. After much discussion and fleece assessing we decided to take 6 alpacas, then increased it to 7 and finally booked for 8 alpacas (hoping they would all fit into our stock trailer, alpacas travel very well sitting in the kush position for the journey and Romsey is not a long distance away.) Three fawn and five white. It was a fun day out, starting out packing alpacas into the trailer in the dark was a new experience for us all, such a long day after clearing up we got home in the dark as well !! Anyway, the day itself was very successful for our alpacas, all of them came home with rosettes and our white intermediate female gained Reserve Champion White Female  our two white adult boys got a 2nd and 4th place. It is great to go to a show and be rewarded for your work in breeding select elite alpacas. Indeed our Reserve Champion female white, Cherwell Leys Isabella was show entry number 8 and was determined to sit through all our halter training lessons, you just never know how things will turn out, so lucky we persevered with her.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

All tagged up

Been so busy have not had time to update the blog. Today we got all the 2011 cria microchipped and tagged. Lovely day, sunshine and blue skies, spent the rest of the day tidying up the paddocks and keeping a check on the young ones.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Mists of Mellow Autumn ?

I have made it back to the computer not much to update all the girls are at their summer grazing which is nice for them, plenty of grass and with the recent weather plenty of new green shoots growing. All is well, mating is progressing with new boys Rufus and Woody added to the mix. They both have excellent pedigrees including the greats, Highlander, Conquistador, Ruffo and Commisario, Neptune and Ceasar a great mix of top USA and Australian genetics from those two. Looking forward already to next year and the new cria to come. Photographs of this years cria to follow. The mornings are starting colder and misty now, but so far today it is warming up well, time for some halter training of the youngsters.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Premature Cria

Well summer is rushing by, been busy with new cria, I have pictures to prepare for the blog. Amazed at how much time has passed since I last had the chance to put pen to paper, it is currently raining, we have a premature cria born this morning at just 10 months old he is needing a lot of time. He can stand, but down on his pasterns and mum is a maiden not ready to feed him she is bewildered at what is going on. More updates later.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

All is quiet, no births today

All quiet in the birthing paddock, we have four girls showing signs of impending births, but it looks like not today. All the paddock cleaning has been done so now it is time for a coffee break. There was rain forecast overnight but it missed us, which is a shame as the paddocks are crying out for some refreshment. Our rented paddocks have just had a haircut for some lovely early hay, ready to fill our barn. Then after a short break we will move the alpacas over to fresh grass and rest our fields. Time for that coffee !!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Busy Weekend and Workshop

Had a busy weekend catching up, checking the records to organise the next group of alpacas ready for their birthing dates. We have one young alpaca who was put with the stud 19th July, she already has her udder bagged up and showing signs of impending readiness now, she is one to watch and will be moved up the list accordingly. Some longed for rain is the order of the day, newest mum and her baby are spending today in the barn, to keep them warm and especially to keep the cria (alpaca baby) dry. Young cria do not cope well with wet conditions. Work has almost finished on our newest addition, our workshop, studio and alpaca facility, The Sanctuary. More on this later.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Farm Routine

We have been busy on the farm recently with routine but necessary jobs, nothing too exciting, until monday when Alameda had her long awaited baby. A lovely little girl, but what horrible weather, soon tucked up in the cria care centre (barn) to keep her warm and dry. Mum and baby spent the day outside yesterday enjoying the sunshine. I noticed when it shone on the cria what exceptional brightness there was to her fleece just like silk. Today they are back inside as we have rain and cold wind again. Good news for the paddocks. A short break in birthing now until our next girls are due towards the middle of June, not too far away now, more Star and Smokey babies are up next. Back to the spinning.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Visitors and the long awaited rain

The W.I. visit went very well, the cakes were given the thumbs up. As was the interesting talk. All the ladies were very complimentary. But that was last week and since then we have had a perfect weekend of overnight rain soaked paddocks, and alpacas, but they loved it. Alameda is still crossing her legs and hanging on what for now I have no idea, she is approaching 365 days rapidly. It is lovely to see the first two cria growing up they are now great friends and always together. Whilst out feeding this morning I saw the cuckoo fly over the paddocks, he spend lots of time calling out for a female and flying around. Time to go check the girls over before a well earned hot drink.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Have been busy baking cakes for our visitors later today. A local W.I. are dropping by to see our alpacas and what you can do with their fleece. We are lucky to have plenty to show them, new babies, friendly youngsters and superbly fleeced adults. There will be a dsiplay of hand crafted artisan alpaca from hand spun yarns, hand knitted garments and hand felted products. A short talk on our lovely alpacas and a demonstration of hand spinning will be given. Looks like we have good weather for the event, and the strong wind that has been blowing for the past few days has lightened to a gentle breeze, so all should be perfect.

Only Alameda, who is still keeping hold of her baby, could provide a very interesting side show. She was looking very uncomfortable this morning at feeding, baby was moving about again, different bits sticking out of her side. I do hope if today is the day she will get on with it this morning, only time will tell.

Now what about those cakes !!!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Still Waiting

As the title says we are still awaiting Alameda's baby. Have been keeping a close watch on her, and yesterday there was plenty of baby movements kicking away at Alameda's tummy lots of bits proding about, always a positive sign. She is very slow almost waddling about now but still happily coming up to feed from the troughs and grazing. In the mean time a picture of Hannah's new baby, a lovely brown girl sired by our Australian Stud Smokey Joe.

Hannah and her new baby girl, Charlie
 In this photograph Charlie, as she is affectionately know, is only just up on her feet learning where the milk bar is situated.
On a completely different tack, we are hoping for some rain, had a little shower overnight but the paddocks would like more!!
Back off down to check on the pregnant mums, especially Alameda, but a watched pot never boils ....

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Alameda keeps us on our toes

Our alpaca Alameda is within her birthing window, and plenty wide enough for two. She is keeping us guessing, one moment she is visitng the dung-pile and just standing there tail in the air, then she is off grazing as if not a care in the world. This morning she raced up to get her supplementary feed and now she is grazing happily. We are going to keep a very close watch on her from now on, could be baby news maybe later or maybe not !! Busy weekend on our caravan site with the long weekend. We have some helpers visiting for the weekend, and we have planned some halter training, toenail trimming, and a BBQ if the weather holds out, bank holiday weekend who knows ? Back off to check on Alameda.

Friday, 22 April 2011

First Cuckoo

Today, well this morning, we heard the first cuckoo of the year. Another superb sunny day, when will we get some rain ? I know when the rain starts it will not remember how to stop. Newest alpaca baby has made friends with our first alpaca baby, both are growing well. Full up on the CL caravan site for Easter and May bank holiday, the best Easter weather for a while, am I tempting fate ?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Another Addition

Another early alpaca baby, born yesterday. There were no signs when Hannah came up to feed this morning only when I was hoovering up the paddock I saw Hannah laying on her side, which was not unusual with the warm sunny weather all the girls have been taking turns at reclining taking the rays, and I could just make out a nose peeping out, 10.22am, then by 10.30am baby was on the ground taking her first breath. What a lovely first day she had, text book birth although baby came early there were no signs of prematurity. I know there were no mix ups with the dates as Hannah only needed to sit for the male, Smokey Joe, once. Just going back down to the paddocks for afternoon feeding for the two new mums and the expectant mums.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Day Out

It was last week now that I visited the Shepton Mallet Showground and a craft fair. This time instead of taking a stand I went as a visitor. It was a great day out picking up ideas for the crafty side of alpaca fleece. Had hoped to visit the Spring Show but that plan went out of the window. Would have loved to see the Supreme Champion at the Spring Show, we have three Samson progeny and a Spartacus pedigree lineage here, it would have been very interesting to compare. Our Samson boys, Samurai & The Shaman are hopefully starting their stud career this summer. The Shaman was so far advanced last summer he has already served two girls, later this summer will be very exciting. Spartacus daughter Alameda, had a lovely cria with Neptune, Tangaroa, he too should be ready for stud duties later this year. For this year Alameda has been paired with Regency our Commisario pedigree stud, another exciting combination. Looking forward to a lovely weekend and visitors on sunday, hope that the weather stays good.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Busy Weekend and Workshop

Time is racing by the paddocks were fertilised before the rain came, that was good. The weekend was busy more routine husbandry toenails and wormers on Saturday then Sunday at a "Birthing and Young Cria" workshop given by respected camelid vet Karin Mueller. This was mainly a refreshing of knowledge and ensuring that we are up-to-date with any new ideas and practices. It was hosted by Karen, we all had a very good day. Tuesday had a late start to cleaning the paddocks as it was raining, but caught up later in the day, and saw our first swallows fly by. Today is glorious sunshine and enjoyed lunch sat out in the paddocks watching four buzzards spiralling effortlessly upwards on the thermals and sunbathing alpacas, even the newest baby was stretched out soaking up the sun.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Introducing Star's Anise

Another week has shot by, earlier this week we were busy fertilizing the paddocks before the rain came. With the changeable weather we had to keep a close eye on the new born cria. She has a waterproof coat to wear to keep her dry and warm, if the weather gets too bad we can take her into the barn if we need to, however it is mainly warm so she is outside for now, running about in the paddock hoping to get a playmate soon. Going back to the title of this post, we are not about to introduce some culinary recipe, just the name for our first cria of the year with Nutmeg and Star as her parents we felt this was an appropriate name for such a lovely little girl. (Are we biased?)
Star's Anise still early days   

Friday, 25 March 2011

First Cria of the Year

Not long born and still to fluff up
Well did not expect Nutmeg to give birth just yet, but it was very exciting to find a little bundle this morning. A lovely baby girl, Star has started out as he finished last year, more girls. Date wise she is premature but up on her feet and feeding well, mum is taking great care of her and keeping her by her side all the time. It is going to be colder tonight so she has got her cria coat on now, mum is happy with this she is still feeding her with her coat on. What a lovely first day she has had. She is all dried out and fluffed up this evening. Now the fun of naming her....

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Primavera's Birthday Party

Hi, some spring sunshine and thoughts turn to the start of the mating season, for the alpacas that is !!
Camillia's little girl, Primavera turned one year old on the first day of spring, March 21st. With Commisario on her mothers pedigree, Primavera, grand daughter of Commisario, is set to be line mated with our son of Commisario, Regency. I like it when a plan comes together, then we just have to wait for the outcome next year. You learn to be very patient when breeding alpacas. We gave Prima a birthday party with jelly and ice cream, and her friends played party games, musical chairs when the legs fell off under a heap of alpacas was the highlight, however the camera operator missed the snap, but we do have a picture of the "Rolling the pea with your nose game" Can't remember who won that one as I fell asleep waiting, I think they ate the peas before they finished.

Still following the rules with all peas intact and all going the same way!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Red Nose Antics

Are they getting organised for a conga ?

A quick photograph of the girls enjoying their Red Nose Party in between the rain showers, has someone got a silly hat on or have they come incognito ? I wondered why they commandeered the feed bucket this morning, at least no one is wearing it yet, maybe later.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Reviewing Health Records & Ordering Vaccinations

Just been reviewing the health records and our adult alpacas vaccinations are due soon, have ordered them from our local farm vets, Endells in Salisbury. We are so lucky to have such a good vets so close to our farm, they have excellent facilities including their own labs and hospital site. Our 2010 cria were all vaccinated last year so they are not due any boosters yet, which means we can spread the load a little. In 2010 we had 27 cria, 19 were girls ! How lucky were we, our stud male Antipodean Star had 80% female births from his first years progeny, fingers crossed for this season. Of our 8 boys we have already sold 3, 2 have potential stud prospects which only leaves us with 3 more pet boys available. Our website will be updated shortly with more details.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Organising the Paddocks

We have been busy with the girls keeping a check on the pregnant ones, our first alpacas are due next month, but as alpacas are not machines their birthing covers a flexible window, anything from 10 and a half months to 12 and a half months is more than possible. Each alpaca birth is individual from year to year there are changes in length of gestation. We have separated those girls closest to birthing moving them closer to the house so we can keep a close eye on them and give them extra rations for their growing babies. The weather is just warming up nicely and the grass is starting to grow in readiness.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The North Winds Are A Blowing

There are cold winds blowing from the north east here, the pacas are fine they have such big fluffy fleeces now that they shrug off the cold, they are always pleased to see you with the feed buckets though. Trip off the farm yesterday to help with some mobile alpaca husbandry requirements mainly toe nail clipping, chance to catch up with some old friends and deliver some alpaca feed, Camelibra and Fibregest. We always give our alpacas these feeds to top up their vitamins and minerals. In addition the cria all get their A,D & E doses given throughout the winter months, we give this by injection, quick and simple, you know that they have all received their doses that way. We had planned some halter training this week, it is already thursday, maybe this afternoon. Right now it is time for a hot drink, for me not the pacas.

Monday, 28 February 2011

There Goes The Week-End

There it was gone !! Monday already. Our alpaca husbandry tuition went well on Saturday, nice pedicures all round, the girls were very pleased. After the lesson we moved on to our local for a bite to eat, and very good it was too. It was a little bizare as there was a Star Wars event going on and Darth Vader arrived closely followed by Princess Leia, Chewbacca in full fleece (!) various characters with light sabres and the red and black faced Darth Maul. That's enough characters from Star Wars for one evening's I-Spy Spotting Book.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Those Elusive Snowdrops

Well I got so carried away with the alpaca competition I forgot all about my snowdrops, they are lovely at present, it really feels like Spring is on the way. Lovely day yesterday, visitors to the ranch to view the alpacas, perfect weather, lots of alpaca talk and fleece rummaging. Whilst looking through the cria we noticed that our cria from 2010 with Australian pedigrees are exceptional, this is when it gets fun deciding who will be paired up in this seasons matings, we have so many different bloodlines to work with from inspirational USA pedigrees to top Australian & New Zealand genetics.
We have visitors on saturday to help and learn about some alpaca husbandry.

Those elusive snowdrops !

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Snowdrops & Spinning

Busy day catching up with the alpacas. Then settled down to spin some of Joseph's fleece for an heirloom baby shawl, to commission. The alpacas are having a competition to find the cria that can get the most hay and general debris gathered up in their fleece, joint winners today Mr Messy (Macey) and Miss Bad Hair Day (Clemy).

Mr Messy just how has he got all this on his fleece ? 
A close second Miss Bad Hair Day