Monday, 31 October 2011

Where did it go?

Yes people, where did the last three weeks go? Where? My last blogging effort was on the 12th of October! What? Tomorrow it will be November! Where have I been? Well I have been here and there of course but obviously I just haven't had the time to sit in front of the computer and post a blog. Inexcusable, but since we moved house we just don't seem to have any spare time. It is manic. Either that or I am now suffering unknowingly from Catatonic fits that last for hours at a time.

So a quick recap. Firstly we managed to get the large field shelter across and finally I rounded up a posse of splendid chaps who helped to rebuild it.
How many times was I asked why I hadn't marked all the pieces as I took the shed down? Well I just don't know but it seemed rather a lot and it was just starting to lose its humour value when the final roofing sheet went up.
The two chaps from Devon who built the shed two years ago managed to put it up in about three hours. I reckon, give or take a few hours, it took us three days. Largely, I know, as it was pointed out a few times, due to the fact that I didn't mark the pieces as it was taken apart, stupid boy. Lesson learned there.
Actually when we started to take it apart I thought 'Ooh should I mark the bits as they come off so we know where they go when it's time to rebuild?' Unfortunately I must have been distracted by a falling leaf or a bumblebee or something and that was that, the damage was done.

Anyway as a result if you look closely you can see that it isn't quite as....., well it isn't quite how it was meant to be..........if you see what I mean, and there are holes in the roof where the old screw holes didn't quite line up with the roof purlins............, but hey ho it's up and from a distance it looks marvellous!

So to today, Sue and I have the morning together, sadly the day job beckons me after lunch for an evening of Halloween japes, but we were able to do the morning rounds together. This way please Doctor Patou.

First it was across the road to the field split into three paddocks where we have 1) Columbus, 2) Qjori and his sidekicks Rafiki and Roger and 3) A group of females with cria who get to use the newly constructed shed.
Here are Bannock, Minstrel and Lily running up to the shed having been flaunting themselves cheekily in front of Columbus. Lily's turn of acceleration was so startlingly quick that her right ear simply blew off her head. Amazing. I now have it in a jar in the fridge.

The black girls on the run

And here they are with the others at the newly constructed shed, and no I did not take this photograph with a fisheye lens, the roof is slightly, how shall I say it,............ artistically set.

A slightly non-rectangular shed.

It was then a quick scuttle down the hill to Columbus for me as Sue went up the hill to see the Qjori gang. I had poop inspection duties to carry out. Herr Clumpmeister has been a bit off colour for a couple of days and yesterday he was voiding himself in a rather watery fashion. We gave him a shot of Noromectin yesterday and I was checking to see what effect it had taken. Clump is very much a creature of habit so I went to where the previous days liquidity had been (ok folks you may have guessed I just can't spell diarrhoea) and where it had been (Sue had cleared it up, or smeared it up one of the two) to my delight was a nice brown hand grenade and a bag of chocolate raisins. Splendid, that seems to have done the trick.

What is slighty concerning is that the herd was wormed about six weeks ago. I guess due to the ridiculously warm weather we may have to worm again. We will be collecting some samples this week for testing and so we should know where we are and what we need to administer.

We then went to Clumps pen in the corner of his field and looked across the lane to the other field. Obviously having seen, heard or smelled that it was feeding time the other girls had rounded themselves up and were waiting patiently. Clump's pen is in this corner of his field as he was spending most of his day there gazing lovingly at 'his girls', (he refuses to accept that most of them are now Qjori's girls), so we put up a pen in the corner, no rounding up required as he loves it there.

The view from Clump corner.

Safe in the knowledge that Clumpy is on the mend we headed across the lane to the other bunch. These are the fatties, the hardies, the 'we don't need a shed yet' brigade. A feisty bunch they are make no mistake.
This is nicely illustrated in the below picture as Sue is mugged as she goes through the gate.
There was a right old ding dong going on and Dilly (white, head in bucket) somehow ended up moments later standing looking sorry for herself with a droopy lip. She must have upset one of the 'Hair trigger spit monster family' who are all in this group. It does get a bit messy in there sometimes.
Actually the HTSM family, Priscilla, Bobby, Poppy and Penny are the equivalent of some sort of Mafia hit squad. They don't take any nonsense from anyone and Penny in particular is the expert exponent in the art of the pre-emptive strike. She will walk up to another alpaca and let loose with no noticeable provocation, she follows this up with a slighty maniacal stare that would melt marble and the 'hit' moves away wondering what the hell they did wrong.

A mugging caught on camera.

Finally, as Sue has just taken a plate of scones out of the oven which will obviously need tasting, is a picture of the scruffiest little alpaca in the herd. Patou Scout, son of Fifi and Columbus, is always wet, always muddy and always covered in detritus. Cute as a button, friendly as can be (he is from the 'Space Cadet family') he is a real favourite here.

Scout, a grubby little herbert.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Great Escape!

Time has passed and once again I find myself with enough time to sit at the laptop and rattle out a blog posting. I am now on days off after a seven day stretch at the day job which haven't been the easiest seven days I can tell you. You probably don't want to know and I do not require any sympathy but the 'bug' that I caught in the germpool that is 'The North' developed into something a lot more sinister and I am now a week into the most vile bout of gastro-enteritis that I have ever had. My days have to be very carefully planned out so that I am able to sit down frequently. On the bright side, I have lost nearly two stone in the last ten days and am a mere sliver of what I was last week (alright I am still a pretty darn large sliver) but I am going in the right direction and hopefully I will be able to use this as a springboard to silfdom. No doubt that this time next year I will barely visible to the naked eye.

Anyway, onwards to all things alpaca. The herd was very naughty yesterday, so naughty that I haven't quite decided what form the inevitable punishment will take.

Sue and I manage everything here between us, but most things are done 'solo'. Having the mighty herd, the dogs, the cats, the chickens and an eight and a half year old Jedi Knight to look after invariably means that when I am working Sue is not and vice versa. As a result certain things are handled by one or the other of us and we reunite in glorious harmony for the big jobs.
Well, yesterday was a day when I was flying solo at home. Not a lot to do, feeding went without a hitch, school drop off done, dogs walked, chickens released into the wild, breakfast thought about and then dismissed as a bad idea, you get the picture.
I then had to move a hay feeder from the boys field to the girls new field. I loaded it into the trailer and drove it round to the far side of the field where there is a gate with easy access. I then drove it into the middle of the field where there is a large Sycamore tree where the herd tends to gather, (see above picture). It was unloaded together with an extra half bale of hay which I put at the base of the tree. The massed ranks were already there and there was plenty of rolling and head rubbing and general happy behaviour that manifests itself when fresh hay is delivered. As you can see from the below picture Prisclla, Rosa and Reeya are tucking in.

Then I made a decision that perhaps with the benfit of hindsight was not the wisest decision I have ever made. Rather then exit via the gate I had entered by I decided to exit via the other gate at the bottom of the field which opens directly onto the lane that runs past our house. Next to this gate is a pen where we feed the herd and carry out any husbandry tasks. I drove down to the gate leaving the herd munching on their new hay. I opened the field gate which makes quite a loud screeching noise. I looked back at the herd who by now, although still fifty yards away, were now all staring at me with interest. This is when I should have shut the gate and left the field the way I came in, but no. I returned their stare and as they didn't move I got back into the Land Rover and drove through the narrow gate turning right into the lane. By the time I had sped back to shut the gate it was too late, the herd was moving through like some sort of fluffy liquid. I still can't quite believe how quickly they reached the gate. I couldn't cover both sides of the trailer and I couldn't shut the gate as I was trying to shoo some back in as a result within a minute the whole herd, all twenty five of them were in the lane. That wouldn't be so bad but what made it a million times worse was that half ran up the hill one way and half ran up the hill the other way!

At this point I stood there for a few seconds barely believing what I had done and frantically trying to reason with myself to find a solution to my problem. A few seconds later and all alpacas had disappeared from view. It was as if they had never been there in the first place, it was surreal!
I searched for someone, if for no other reason other than that I would have someone to look inredulously at but there was nobody around.

What happened next as I look back on it with a great hilarity (it wasn't funny at the time you understand) seems to have been reminiscent of some Benny Hill sketch. I ran to get a bucket and some food and headed off in one direction hoping that there were no cars about. I managed to get one bunch back past the field to join the others and then wedged the Land Rover and trailer across the road. There was then a long run up the hill to get beyond the by now very excited herd who were browsing the hedges and generally having a whale of a time. All the time the four boys were charging up and down the hedgeline on the other side of the road winding everybody up. It was almost as if they were encouraging the appalling behaviour, I must have a stern word with them later
To cut a long story short I finally managed to get them all back in, no casualties and no-one any the wiser.

The herd has received a severe talking to and do you know what? I don't think they paid the slightest bit of attention! Might as well have been talking to myself. But then maybe it's me that needs the talking too afterall?

Spirit, Scout and Sultana... I mean Sultan.

Sabrina and Lily.

Today I will be collecting Collabear Joy and Collabear Victoria, two females that we bought at auction six months ago. Again I am flying solo, I may just stay in the field until Sue gets home. 

Monday, 3 October 2011

Blah, blah blah

Ok, have been absent again. Je suis desole.

Quick update.

Girls moved onto fresh lush pasture.

Lily, eating the fresh lush pasture.

Two girls go down with something, obviously in pain. One has pneumonia (Baytril and multi-vits administered) One has bloat (some other drug administered, I don't remember what as I was at work).
The mighty herd, amongst the fresh lush pasture.

Both girls now doing much better.

Sahara (cria with breathing difficulties) now seems to be almost breathing normally, almost. Photograph taken from odd angle for some reason.

Fecal samples show herd is parasite free, we must be getting something right then!

Qjori is still rocking some females worlds as he tops 20 outside matings for the year.

I've been away for a 'boys weekend' in The Lake District, was hungover yesterday,  now feeling afflicted with some bug or other. Lemsip Max has been administered and shivers have been replaced with the sweats. Sausages and Ratatouille should sort that out.

Field shelter is now in the new field, in bits, posse required for reconstruction but day job is interfering.

All in all, everything appears well with the world.