As a result by the time we landed back at Gatwick I was a man on a mission, I was completely blinkered, nothing would stop me from my task, I was obsessed with providing more shelter in the field.
It may have had something to do with the fact that I travelled light on holiday. I left the UK wearing shorts, a polo shirt and sandals. Apart from my swimmers (or my budgie smugglers as the Inca King called them) I had very little else. I didn't need much more, we were going to the Caribbean where the temperature was unlikely to dip below 30C even at night (it didn't).
However, when we left Barbados to return home I was wearing the same clothing. OK for the flight, OK for the airport, not OK for a windy rainy 6C! Anyway I think that experience hardened my resolve to extend the shelter for the alpacas.
So a couple of days after we got home and a couple of days before gale force winds were expected we were out there putting up our marquee next to the big field shelter. I am sure the neighbours saw what we were doing, saw the much forecasted high winds and thought we were mad. At the time I thought we were a bit mad but once we had started there was no turning back.
I lashed it down with every heavy duty strap that I had, I trimmed it to perfection so that there wasn't a square inch of loose canvas that the wind could get it's teeth into. Then we waited. The gales came and although it wobbled and rattled it held fast. The alpacas went nowhere near it.
But deep down I knew that I had to get the marquee up so that if the weather did turn really nasty I could whack the sides on, put some hurdles round and triple the size of our field shelter. My girls would be inside and out of the bitterly cold winter. That was important.
Recently most of the country has been covered in snow with bitterly cold temperatures. Down here in the softy south we had been fortunate to stay relatively snow free. That all changed last night. We haven't had snow of 'Northern' proportions but we have had 4 or 5 inches overnight and living halfway up a hill it makes a big difference, especially as Sue and I both work. Some days we have to rattle around getting everything done before 8am. Ok on a sunny day, but......
So this morning I was up early and out with the dogs to see what the alpacas were up to.
I was delighted to find that the main herd, and I mean all of them, were either in the field shelter or under the marquee next to it. Not only that but a quick check of the field proved that they had been there all night!
The smell in there was fantastic, hay and alpaca, I love it! The fact that they had used the new enlarged shelter had vindicated my mad obsession. Hopefully if it does turn horrible they will be sorted. Warm and cosy out of the wind!
Dee, our oldest girl with her winter coat (she doesn't produce a huge amount of fleece anymore bless her).
As for the boys, Qjori has his own field shelter and seems to spend a lot of time in there, he loves it, Columbus has no shelter at the moment but has a very dense fleece. Today, however, we are erecting a shelter for him too. By the end of the day I will be able to relax, comfortable in the knowledge that the whole herd has somewhere to go to get out of the weather. That is a nice thought. Nice to know that we've got it covered.