Gosh, I hadn’t realised it is month since my last full post, where did all the time go??? Anyway, I hope you had a good Christmas and we wish you a very Happy New Year.
So, what has been happening? Well, we have had snow then it has all but gone, then it’s snowed again, melted then snowed again. But at least we haven’t had the bitterly cold temperatures we saw at the beginning of December, which makes it a bit easier on the alpacas. The big news is that this week I have started halter training Lolly, she has been eating the pellet food for weeks now and even has her own tray at putting away time. She has only had a few days with the halter training but she seems comfortable with it on and is not getting stressed with it. Karla still doesn’t know what the pellet food is, so I will wait till she does before starting to halter train her. I like to use the pellet food as a positive reinforcement during training. It might not be too long as I have noticed that Amanda, her mum, is feeding her less and that is usually when they discover the pellet food. I am actually beginning to reduce Lollys feeds; I have dropped the afternoon feed and she is getting less milk in the bottles.
A very big thank you to Jelena who follows these posts and has visited on a few occasions, she came with a friend to help repair the plastic that split on the greenhouse roof. It took nearly all day but it was a job well done. I was so relieved as we have had quite a lot of snow since and it is much warmer in the greenhouse now the gaping hole has gone. She also helped us hold Brencis while I cut his toenails and give him his vitamin D injection. He was surprisingly good and just stood there more or less, which is very good for Brencis.
Someone else who seems to be getting better, behaviour wise is Chanel and I think it down to how I handle her. She has always been very spitty and will buck and sit down when handled, but because she was like this, I used to grab her and hold onto her. But I changed how I do it, now I just gently hold her head with my arms outstretched, one hand behind her head and the other cupping her jaw, since doing this she is so much more relaxed, she still does sit down though so need to work on that one. Her skin problem is not getting any better so she is in the middle of a course of ivermectin injections (no not for Covid) to kill off any mites that are on her skin.
I have been itching, maybe it's the mites :P to take the alpacas for walks but the snow keeps getting in the way, just when it has about all gone, we get more. I think they like to get out for a change in scenery and it gives them a bit of exercise in the winter months.
The reparied greenhouse roof, I was so thankful.
No the hay stack isn't on fire, it's the sun rising behind it.
Speaking of the sun........Looks like a UFO.
The gorgeous Chanel, her behaviour has changed such a lot since I changed how I handle her.
Valeria introducing herself to the new coloured female we have.
Little Lolly is getting quite adept at the alpaca yoga.
Not one of my best photos of Ilvija, but it does show her new front teeth that caused me some issues at the beginning of December.
The snow was beginning to pile up at the edge of the greenhouse, better here than on the roof.
This is the view from inside, it doesn't usually push against the plastic because where it touches the plastic it melts.
This is a frost covered tree on top of the ski hill in the "evening" sun.....taken at 2:56pm.
Lolly has good hearing, she can hear me coming and runs out to meet me, but why?.....
For her bottle of course.
Feeding her should have been your job Aggie.
Lolly first time in the harness. The harness matches her fleece.
This was from today, looks like more snow on its way.
Freddie has been at the snow.
You probably don't get the significance of this picture but this is Turbjørn eating the pellet food from my hand. He is one of our original alpacas who we have had for 10 years this year. He would never eat out of my hand until last year when he suddenly started.
Mr.P and Freddie though are usually first in the queue to eat out of my hand.
Karla looks like she is in a very contemplative mood.
Love this picture of Amanda who is Karla's mum.
This is Antonia who is actually Amanda's older sister.
Jakobs feeling hungry and decides to eat the alpaca house.
Josefs has also enjoyed eating the snow.
As does George, can't get any fresher snow than that.
The girls alpaca houses.
Aggie's girls house, Lolly was tapping her foot waiting for her milk.
The old oak tree
The birch tree on the left actually died last winter.
Vanessa's girls house.
The old oak tree.
The ghostly birch.
Aggie's house and the trees behind on the oak tree hill.
Well winter has arrived and boy has it come with a bang. First it was wet, then it snowed, snowed and then snowed some more and last night it was around -26oC. There was one point I kept the alpacas inside for almost two days running because of the snow. I would normally let them outside if it’s snowing but I didn’t want Karla and Lolly to get too cold or wet. All the alpacas didn’t seem that bothered by being kept in, normally I get a lot of ear ache from them moaning but this time they seemed quite happy about it. The snow was the horrible wet stuff which is heavy and there was so much one night it bust the plastic on the greenhouse roof. The next day was spent very carefully removing the snow off the roof using a special long scraper I made many years ago. Still not worked out exactly how to fix it yet but I am so grateful someone who follows these posts and has visited us a few times has offered to come and help.
There was a bit of a panic this morning as the car died on the way out to the land and a friend had to tow me. I suspected it was a blocked fuel filter due to wax in the diesel from the very cold weather. I thought I had changed it last year but when I looked in the barn there was a new one sat on the shelf so maybe I hadn’t. But I was so glad to see it there. Doing car repairs outside at -20oC is not my idea of fun but it had to be done and it seems to have fixed it as I got back home OK, find out tomorrow as it is supposed to be very cold again tonight.
The car hasn’t been the only thing to make me panic just lately, one night when I was feeding Lolly, I was watching Ilvija and thought she looked like she had a big gap in her front teeth. There is no way of getting close to her when her mum, Chanel, is around, so next morning when I went to let them out it just so happened, they were in separate parts of the alpaca house so I closed the gate. Then managed to have a good look, there was a big gap and the teeth had bits missing from the side where they up against the other teeth. I knew she was in the process of losing her baby teeth but in all the years of having alpacas I had never seen anything like this. I began to wonder if she had been kicked in the teeth and they had been broken and moved. But she had never shown any sign of swelling, pain, discomfort or anything like that and she has been eating normally. I sent the pictures off to a lady in Australia who specialises in alpaca dentistry for her opinion and glad to say she thinks everything is ok and the teeth will settle in to position. While we had Ilvija separated from her mum we took the opportunity to cut her toenails as well, as they didn’t get done when we did all the other girls.
All the alpacas (except Brencis) had their Vitamin D injections, next ones in two months. Turbjørn seems to be coping very well with the cold even though he is still thin, we haven’t coated him yet. I did leave a lot of fleece on him when I sheared him in June and I think he can feel the benefit now.
It was Lolly and Karla’s first experience of the snow and they weren’t sure about it at first but when they did eventually go outside, they did what every alpaca does in the snow and have a good roll in it. Lolly reached a big milestone last week, she started eating the pellet food from a tray, well actually it was Mari’s tray then Chanel’s tray, I don’t think they quite knew what to make of it. Now she has graduated to having her own tray, my little baby is growing up.
This is the shadow of Lolly stood behind me as I crouch down to take some photos.
That sun is a bit bright says Vanessa.
Karla also enjoying the morning sun.
Mari appearing from over the hill.
Chanel can be a pain in the butt and her own worst enemy, but I love her.
Tellus, one of our first alpacas and Lolly's dad.
Then the snow started, a few flakes at first.
Then too much.....my poor greenhouse.
I like to see the sky, but not like this.
Frozen grapes anyone?
Got to admit it is very pretty though.
Looking back from the girls house to the greenhouse.
The old oak tree.
Ilvija is such a gorgeous colour.
She does like a good sing song. If you look closely you can see the gap in her front teeth.
Mari has been eating the snow.
And so has Karla.
Nosey Lolly coming out to see what's going on.
It's too cold to to go out....
That’s right, “Not Again!!!!!”, yes, the boys did it again, they escaped and got in with the girls. I was getting them some hay and noticed Josefs had come from the field into the paddock looking quite agitated but sometimes he does get excited when I bring fresh hay. Then I noticed he was looking towards the girls and when I looked some of the boys were stood at the edge of the girl’s fence. There was a lot of unprintable expletives and a quick dash over to the fence. I was running up and down the fence arms outstretched trying to stop them getting in. Eventually I had to stop and phone for Joanna to come, which then gave Mr P and Freddie an opportunity to get in quickly followed by the rest of them and yet more expletives. Eventually we did manage to get them separated, I got the bag of leads and harness’s and managed to get Mr. P and Brencis harnessed up and lead them back to the paddock. They seemed really disappointed when they didn’t get their usual handful of food treat as I took off the harness. Next it was Jakobs and George. Joanna had been wrestling with Jakobs to keep him off Silla who had sat down in the doorway to the paddock, right in the middle of the muddiest patch. She was covered in mud. With Jakobs and George now safely in the paddock that just left Freddie who we managed to gently herd back towards the rest of the boys and he went straight in through the gate.
So, the boys are now confined to the paddock until next year when we will get the girls area permanently fenced off to stop the boys from getting in. It’s a great way to keep fit, but I think we are both getting too old to be running around man handling randy male alpacas and females who are too compliant and just sit down.
It has been very wet just lately with consistent rain and drizzle, at one point all the alpacas were kept inside for a day and a half. Not because they would get wet, but to try and save the ground as it was just so muddy and saturated. Alpacas are actually very gentle on the ground as they have soft pads on their feet which means they don't chew up the ground when it get wet. But this was just too wet. There wasn’t as much moaning from the alpacas as I expected, but they did seem relieved to get out again.
I am still bottle-feeding Lolly but trying slowly to reduce the amount she gets so she starts eating more grass and hay. We will soon be moving back to the apartment so her evening feeds will stop. I have been watching how Amanda is dealing with Karla and she is letting Karla feed less and less. I must admit I do love it when Lolly sees me coming and runs across the field towards me, then she circles around me, always in a clockwise direction. Takes a sip from the bottle, goes round again does this about 3-4 times before eventually settling down to feed.
Glad to say that Chanel’s eye infection has cleared up after a course of antibiotic cream. Mari has had a course of two different antibiotics but still has a bit of a cough. The boys, except Brencis, all had their toenails cut at the weekend. Vitamin D injections for all are next on the list.
A very rare full total "apacalypse" of the sun. Ilvija stood in front of the rising sun.
The view from the other side.
Silla before she was rolling in the mud with the boys, now she must be at least three shades darker.
Lolly eating the last of the grass.
Mari has had two rounds of antibiotics because of her cough.
Karla feeding from her mum, Amanda, I think she is beginning to reduce the feeds.
Chanel, Vanessa and Antonia.
At least Chanel's eye infection has cleared up.
Karla's fleece is becoming a magnet for hay and grass, I am dreading cleaning her fleece when she is sheared.
Lolly with her mum, Agnese, in the background.
Bee Balm covered in frost.
The Water Lilly encased in a thin layer of ice on the pond.
Hello Mr. Rocket. Rocket Ron does like to get up close and personal.
One of the cabbage's covered in frost.
Rocket Ron teasing the boys.
It's OK George he's safe.
Mr.P taking great interest in Rocket Ron.
Winter is definitely on it's way.
Lolly looks more like her dad Tellus than her mum Aggie.. Hope she also has inherited his relaxed personality as well.
Karla and her mum Amanda, sorry Amanda but Karla is just the spitting image of her dad Brencis.
Lolly's fleece is growing fast.
Karla, isn't she so sweet. The mark on the fleece on her neck is where she was shaved so the vet could put a line into a vein when she had her umbilical hernia repair.
If you have been following these posts you will have seen we narrowly averted a disaster when all the boys escaped and went to see the girls. In the end we did manage to separate them after much running around, man handling alpacas and a lot of quick thinking. Just to cap it all once the girls were locked away, we let the boys calm down a bit before we tried to get them back into their paddock. So they thought it was fun to go and walk through and roll on some current bushes nearby, snapping some of them…….thanks boys.
That afternoon I moved the girls fence to up on the oak tree hill behind their house and the following day moved the boys fence to field in completely the opposite direction to the girls. They were now around 300m apart with a small hill in the way. All good, well that’s what I thought…..On Thursday I had to take the car for some new tyres and while I was away Joanna rang to say that Josefs and Jakobs had escaped, got in with the girls and Josefs had possibly mated with Mari, but now they were back in their own paddock. I had thought of mating Josefs with Mari, it would be a very interesting combination but not just yet, don’t really want babies in October next year. I am surprised Mari let him as she really doesn’t like him. It was probably my fault as I had forgotten to switch on the charger unit for the electric fence that morning, when I checked I did find a snapped fence post which they may have snapped or it may have been a wild animal passing through during the night. So now every morning I religiously check both the girls and boys fence chargers are working and the fences are intact. Two pallets of fence posts are in the process of being ordered so in the spring the boys and girls will have a more permanent fence separating them.
Yesterday was toenail cutting for the girls except Chanel and Ilvija who will get done another day. Lolly did extremely well for her first time and even Vanessa just stood there with Joanna holding her. The boys will get done this coming weekend.
With the longer nights I have been able to get the spinning wheel back out and start spinning again, it is very relaxing. I love to think that you can watch the fleece growing on the alpaca, then shear if off, clean it, card it and then spin into hanks of wool which can then be made into a hat, gloves or something else. In the photos you can see some that I did earlier this year from George and Josefs for someone who wants to knit a sweater, can’t wait to see the finished product.
There is always one who has to mess about in the group photo.
Hello Lolly, yes it's milk time....
Amanda has really changed since having Karla, she will now come up and eat from my hand and will even let me stroke her.
And I didn't even know she was pregnant.......would love to know who the father is.
Chanel appearing out of the early morning mist..
Vanessa has that same "we are not amused" look that her mum Veronica had.
The girls making there way back to the paddocks as the sun goes down.
This was from a few weeks ago, a very Autumnal look. It has changed a bit since then, the strong winds have removed all the leaves.
I would suspect that Silla is not pregnant with her "sitting down" performance when the boys escaped and got in with the girls.
The boys have been fighting a lot just lately, here are Josefs and Freddie.
It was getting a bit serious.
Brencis, Mr.P. and Jakobs chasing each other.
The boys were chasing each other and came towards me at full speed. Good job I trust them.
Jakobs the vampire, it's a good job we cut his fighting teeth.
Now Freddie is after George with Josefs joining in.
At least all is peaceful in the girls paddock. Aggie and Lolly watching the sunrise.
Never had a second batch of grapes before. The main crop have all gone and I wasn't expecting this second batch to ripen.
Poor Josefs is getting it from all sides, Brencis, Turbjørn and Mr.P are all spitting at him.
Our oldest female Vanessa (13yrs) and our youngest female Lolly (3months) eating side by side.
A rare moment when Freddie is not chasing the others around.
Chanel enjoying a good scratch.
Ilvija is such a gorgeous colour.
Karla has spotted me.
I loved the pattern on the barn door from the frost early one morning as I went to get Lolly's milk.
This is 1kg of hand spun fleece made from a mix of George and Josefs fleece, the customer wants to knit a sweater from it.
Josefs gives it his approval.
George seems quite happy about it too.
We have just had our NIGHTMARE scenario this morning, all the boys escaped and managed to get in with the girls. Luckily I found out just in time, I heard some strange noises and went to have a look and saw seven very randy males chasing the females around. It was a very frantic next hour trying to separate them. I am so glad that alpaca mating’s take a while and it’s not something that is over and done with quickly. The boys were also fighting over who was going to mate with the female so that bought us a bit of time. We were having to drag off any males that had mounted a female at the same time as trying to get the female to stand up. Some of the girls were man handled into the paddocks to get them away from the boys.
Aggie, Chanel and Silla, bless em, were sitting down for the males which didn’t help the situation, also suggests Silla is not pregnant. Antonia and Vanessa did there usual “you are not coming near me”. At least Amanda and Ilvija were resisting suggesting they may be pregnant. Poor Lolly and Karla where also chased by the males.
Eventually we got the girls into the paddocks and then locked them inside the alpaca houses and let the boys wander around for a bit to calm down then managed to herd the boys back into their paddock. I think we will both ache tomorrow, never done so much exercise in a long while. Will be ordering fence posts and wire tomorrow.
This was a photo from a few days ago of the boys chasing each other but it gives you an idea of the situation this morning. Now add into that 11 females and two humans who are trying to keep them all apart!!! Not much fun......but don't panic!!
This was the start of the rain.
This is one end of the rainbow.
And this is the other end, I have never been so close to the start of a rainbow.
I always knew there was something special about Mr.P.
I have just explained to the girls that we are closing for the winter and will reopen again in spring next year. I think it came as a bit of a shock, I don’t think they took the news very well at all.
Seriously though, we are closing for the winter, a very big thank you to everyone who came to see us over the year, I hope you enjoyed your “alpaca experience” and learned a little of what makes these animals so special.
I am trying something new this time, I am absolutely fed up with Facebook changing things and making it harder and harder for me to post. You may have noticed the number of pictures I post has dropped; the reason is not because I haven’t taken as many, it’s because now when I upload them and try to write my post the window created is time limited and refreshes and then gives me a blank screen so I have to start again. It also keeps sending me to something called Creator Suite which can take up to one and a half minutes to load up on our sometimes not so swift internet. So, all in all I have had enough of Facebook. I am going to try and write the post as a blog on our web site, including pictures and post a link on the Facebook page.
Right enough of my Facebook moans, what’s been happening over the nearly a month since I last posted. The weather has definitely taken an Autumnal turn to it, within just a couple of days the leaves on the trees suddenly turned from green to yellow and brown. We did even see a few morning frosts.
I have taken on the main roll of feeding Lolly since Joanna is now too busy. It is so hard trying not to interact too much with her as she comes trotting across to see you. You just want to stroke her while she is feeding but I know too much interaction can cause problems later. She needs to know what her limits are while interacting with humans. At least she is accepted by the rest of the herd. My feeling is that Aggie, her mum, does recognise her and it’s as if there is something special about Lolly but Aggie doesn’t quite know what. I watched them chase each other around the paddock the other night. Lolly is now slightly taller than Karla even though she is a month younger, but we have come to the conclusion Karla has short legs.
Karla is a very determined little madam; she knows what she wants and not much will stop her. She will even stand up to older girls, it was funny watching her neck wrestle and spit at Valeria when Valeria wanted her to move.
The girls have been enjoying themselves amongst the trees on the top of hill next to the big oak tree. They have been doing me a great favour by eating the grass, trampling the small saplings and eating all the leaves off the trees to a fixed height. I can now see through the trees and it helps me to decide which trees to take out during the winter to open it up a bit to give the other trees more space. A lot of the trees are self-seeded oaks from the big oak tree. I have left them to grow so now when they are cut, they are about the right size to make some good oak fence posts from. Well, that is the idea anyway.
The younger boys are beginning to fight more often, nothing too serious but I am watching them. Because of this we made a point of checking their fighting teeth as we didn’t want any serious accidents. We ended up restraining them using the ropes I use for shearing to make the job a little easier. I did used to use a cutting wire for fighting teeth removal but I have had a few occasions where a tooth has cracked. So, I am now using a high-speed drill with a grinder attachment. I had delt with some of George and Freddie’s in the past but now made sure they were all cut. Jakobs had some fine examples of fighting teeth, I am so pleased we checked. I would rather they didn’t fight but I feel a bit more relaxed that they are now not going to rip each other open with their teeth.
Because the rain finally stopped, I managed to do another job that was long overdue and that was to clear out the old bedding from all three alpaca houses. Did the boys on one day and the both girls houses another. There was a lot and it was rather wet, I was shattered by the end of it, but at least it is a bit more pleasant in the alpaca houses now. I will if the weather allows do another quick clear out in about a month with a through clean before winter. I do have some drainage pipes on the floor which collects the urine and directs it to a bucket buried in the ground just outside the building which then gets emptied. It helps to stop it getting too wet inside, but the one in the boys needs some new pipes so that will the next job.
We had a few groups of visitors who wanted to do alpaca walks, these were the first walks the boys have been on in a while as it was just too hot over the summer. They certainly enjoyed it (and so did the visitors). Brencis and Josefs kept stopping to eat the grass every third or fourth step but it did mean plenty of photo opportunities for the visitors. Brencis did his usual walk through the trees routine which made the visitors laugh and we had to walk swiftly past the girls as he was showing a bit too much interest in them. Having said that they did all come running down to say hello.
"Have you got my milk?" asks Lolly
Lolly reflected in the water bucket.
We will find out soon if Valeria is pregnant for next year.
The girls have been eating the leaves off the trees up to a fixed height.
Karla is a determined little madam.
Chanel's skin problems look like they are flaring up again.
Mari is not in good books at the moment, she has recently broken three fence posts with eating through the fence. Admittedly they are coming to the end of their lifespan.
Karla starting with the basics of alpaca yoga.
Freddie has been at the centre of a lot of the fighting going on in the boys paddock. A visit from the vet is looking very likely.
Tellus having a scratch. He was 14 this year and was one of our first alpacas and is Lolly's dad. We were beginning to think he could only produce male offspring. He has fathered seven offspring and the first six were all male, so you can guess how surprised we were when Lolly appeared.
Jakobs has forgiven me for cutting his fighting teeth. Gosh they were sharp.
Turbjørn has been a bit uncomfortable just lately. He has a dislocated neck and I am not sure if he has been knocked by one of the others during the fighting sessions, or tried to move out of the way too quickly or its the cold weather.
Jakobs eating through the fence, at least he doesn't put his whole head through and lean on the fence like his mum Mari.
Even MrP has been joining in with the fighting.
Looks like Freddie has just heard the news about a possible visit from the vet.
Michaelmas Daisy covered in the morning dew.
The birds nest on the barn was becoming a wasps nest, I tried fastening a hose pipe to a long stick and poking the end in to try and wash them out and ended up getting stung just above my eye. In the end the cold weather has put a stop to them.
Ginger Tom, can disappear for a few days then demands attention when he comes back.
The alpacas now even have the cats doing yoga, Rocket Ron at full stretch.