It is such a great pleasure to watch little Olivers and Pete chasing each other around and annoying the adults, just like their dads used too. Especially when I wasn’t expecting any cria this year. I had been concerned about Vanessa as she was older and did look massive. I had been given the contact for another vet reasonably nearby who I spoke to, and they agreed to be “on standby” if there were any problems if I couldn’t get hold of our vet. In the end both births were reasonably straight forward. Olivers and Pete are very different in both their face structure and fleece. Pete has a much longer, narrower face and has inherited his dads (Josefs) mad staring eyes, he is also the more nervous of the two. Olivers (aka Olly) has a more rounded face, poor guy gets really bothered with the flies on his eyes, don’t know exactly why but he is usually covered in them. Olly looks like he will have a very crimped fleece like his dad, Jakobs, and his grandmother Mari. Whereas Pete’s looks much straighter.
We got the fleece test results back for this year and Marvin and Norman have some of the finest fleeces we have ever had, Marvin especially. I did wonder because he did feel very different, very, very soft to the touch. Normans has a very silky feel to it like his mums, Ilvija. Ilvija herself is very odd, normally as an alpaca gets older the fibres get thicker, but with Ilvija she is getting finer??? May have been with being pregnant and then feeding Norman. Hopefully she is pregnant again for next year.
Marvin, Norman, and the two new Suri alpacas Lincoln and Timon have bonded very well. I tell visitors this group are “the special alpacas”, since Marvin and Norman have very fine fleeces and Lincoln and Timon are the rare Suri’s. I now have the fence wire so soon will be connecting their paddock with the big boys so they can mix.
I am fairly convinced that Lolly is pregnant for next year as her behaviour has changed dramatically. She was very friendly (if not too friendly) and would come up and was happy to be stroked. Now she runs to the other end of the paddock when I go up, just like her mum (Aggie) did when she was pregnant. I just hope and pray she will not be like her mum when it’s born, and she will be patient and feed the cria. I don’t fancy having to bottle feed another. Karla is a little more “bolshy” than normal, so I suspect she maybe pregnant too. Ilvija did give a spit off to George, but Mari I have no idea. She would do a spit off one time, sit the next, then spit off and sit, so who knows.
It’s been a good year for the swallows, there was five hatched in Aggies girls house and when they flew the nest, they laid more eggs and there were another two chicks. There was also five hatched in the boy’s house. The storks also seem to have had a good year, when I was cutting hay, I counted 36 following the tractor.
It has not been a good year for hay though, with the very dry first half of the year the grass has not grown. This year I got 44 bales from the ski hill and last year 270. The last bad year was 2018 and we got 145. I do have about 80 bales left over from last year so in total have around 200, we need around 350 for the year!!!!!!
Lots and lots of photos this time.
Olivers at one day old in his coat as it was cold. The brown mark under his ear is not dirt it's his natural colouring.
Olivers and his mum, Silla.
Jakobs is Olivers dad.
Vanessa with her new born, Pete. I was a bit concerned with Vanessa as she is getting old and she was rather large, but all went well.
Josefs is Pete's dad.
Pete gets to meet the rest of the girls.
It's been a good year for the swallows too. There was a group of five hatched in the boys and five in the girls house. Then another two hatched in the girls house.
This is little Olivers on his first day having a run around, but he tripped and took a tumble.
This is my usual view of Lolly now, she used to always come up to me, now she keeps out of my way. I think she might be pregnant, which would explain the change. Her mum, Aggie, was exactly the same.
Karla is a little more of a "madam" than usual too. I suspect she may be pregnant as well.
Come on aunty Valeria lets play, asks Olivers.
Aunty Valeria has also taken on the roll of "comfort feeder" for Olivers. She will let him go under to feed, even though she isn't producing any milk.
I have only once seen her do it with Pete though.
A friend bought us this toy Llama, it has pride of place in the window of the summer house acting as a guard Llama.
This tomato looks so much like a baby bird.
The storm we had snapped this large spruce tree in half.
Mari is at it again, eating through the fence.
I may regret not shearing Lincoln this year as his fleece is getting rather long, I will probably have to trim it before the snow comes.
Lincoln having a shake.
Timon having a flat hair day.
Rocket Ron is still around (as is Betty), but we haven't seen GT for months now.
Marvellous Marv turned out to have the finest fleece we have ever had, he feels so different.
Norm has inherited the very silky feel from his mum Ilvija.
The annual general meeting of the miserable alpaca club......
Let's play spot the hay waiting to be baled. As you can see there is not a lot.
Something has been digging up all the wasps nests (a badger or pine Marten we suspect). The holes can be quite deep.
Marv and Timon side by side showing the difference between the Huacaya type (Marv) and the Suri type (Timon)
Silla and Antonia having a relaxing day.
I finally demolished the original house our first boys went into 11 years ago. It was used as a hay store and the roof had collapsed and it looked like it was in imminent danger of falling over.
Speaking of the original boys, this is Tellus the only one left of our first three boys, he is 16 this year, still the boss though.
Mr.P. is nine this year and is getting more and more grey each year.
Timon enjoying a big mouthful of grass.
Valeria sitting all prim and proper.
Olivers and Pete were sat out in the rain yesterday.
Looks like Pete has inherited his mad staring eyes from his dad Josefs.
Lincoln is a master of alpaca yoga.
It sure was a bit of a surprise to find out Vanessa and Silla were actually pregnant, when I had resigned myself to the fact there would be no cria this year. Silla has been pregnant before but sadly lost the cria during birth. Vanessa, who is 15 this year, has also previously been pregnant but that was before she arrived with us nearly five years ago. They were mated last year but with no real obvious signs of a spit off (good indication she is pregnant), so I wasn’t too hopeful they were pregnant. I wanted them scanned last year to confirm, but getting hold of the vet with the scanner is getting difficult. She eventually came beginning of May by which time the girls would be around 9 out of 11.5 months pregnant. The results from the scan were “negative”, which I thought was not surprising. Our own vet had tried with her scanner, but it was only really for small animals and the ultrasound does not really penetrate deep enough, worth a try though. I appreciate late term scans can be difficult and of course the vet has no experience of doing them on alpacas so I cannot blame her for missing it. Since the girls were sheared, I had been noticing both Silla and Vanessa seemed to be getting “rounder” and Vanessa had quite a bulge, maybe just a full stomach, but she sure does look pregnant, I thought. But last Wednesday I noticed with both the udders also looked a little swollen. So, we got hold of them and had a check and low and behold you could feel the cria moving around. Checking the records from last year the cria should be due anytime in the next two weeks. Silla was mated with Jakobs and Vanessa with Josefs so hopefully we get some interesting colours and patterns. I am now regularly checking Antonia and Valeria who were also mated last year to see if they are also pregnant, but they would potentially be due end of July early August.
I am frustrated but also thankful the girls seem ok even though my usual management for pregnant females was not followed.
1. With alpacas in the last few months of pregnancy you should increase the amount of feed they get (not done) as this is when the cria begins to rapidly grow. This is why it can be really difficult to see if an alpaca is pregnant almost right up to the last few weeks.
2. Thinking they were not pregnant they have been mated, Silla did sit for the male, but Vanessa was not letting the male anywhere near which she has done in the past. Mating an alpaca when she is pregnant is risky and can result in abortions due to the mating process itself and stress.
3. Because these girls have been difficult to get pregnant in the past and current the mating was not going well, I had been discussing with the vet about giving them hormone therapy first then try remating. Boy I am so glad I didn’t as Silla and Vanessa would have aborted their pregnancies.
4. Even simple things like if they had a medical issue, we may have used medications containing steroids which also could have caused them to abort.
So now I am preparing my birthing kit and making sure all is ready and keep regularly checking on them. Fingers crossed all goes well during birth, my stress levels have now gone through the roof.
So apart from all the recent excitement what else has been happening. We managed to get all the alpacas sheared, much to their great relief I bet as it has been hot. Norman has been like a completely different alpaca since he was sheared both in appearance and character. He now will come up to you, eat out of your hand and will sometimes even let you stroke him. I wonder if it is because he can now see properly so is not as nervous. Must cut Timon’s fringe and see if it has the same effect on him.
Marvin and Norman were separated from their mums and moved in with Lincoln and Timon. Norman didn’t seem bothered but Marvin had a few days of looking for his mum. He did even escape on the day we were finishing shearing some of the girls. I saw him and must admit thought it was Karla who had escaped, we managed to get him back into the girl’s paddock while we cleared up. It was only afterwards when I went to check on them, I realised it was Marvin not Karla, Doh…so he was haltered up and walked back home. Amanda was not bothered at all that Marvin had gone, I think she was ready, Ilvija had a few times when she realised Norman wasn’t around then went back to eating. Marvin, Norman, Lincoln and Timon have formed a nice little group, and all seemed to have accepted each other. I discovered Lincoln really loves a neck rub, he stands for ages while you do it, but he is not so keen if you touch his body. Timon and Lincoln are coming up for toenail trimming so it will be interesting to see how they react.
As I mentioned before we have also been mating the alpacas. This time Brencis with Mari, George with Ilvija, Jakobs with Valeria and Antonia. I was going to leave Lolly and Karla till next year but with the apparent limited success of mating this year decided to do it this year. So, Lolly is being mated with Jakobs and Karla with Josefs.
Oh well must go and check on the girls…….
Valeria is adamant she will not be mated, she just spits and spits at poor Jakobs. (Maybe she is already pregnant).
Jakobs after yet another failed mating attempt with Valeria.
I mean how can she not like this gorgeous young chap
Mating of Ilvija with George has been a little more successful. Here George gets to meet his son, Norman.
Shearing time. This is me doing Marvin, don't worry I didn't leave the tail looking like that, personally I absolutly hate to see alpacas with "funny hair cuts" where they look like poodles. I refuse to do them when I am shearing.
Marvin after shearing.
First thing they always do after shearing is roll in the dust.
This is Amanda, Marvins mum, believe it or not she is a white alpaca.
A family photo, Marvin, his mum Amanda, and Karla his sister still waiting to be sheared. It was much cooler this day and Amanda is a bit on the thin side so I put a coat on her for the day.
Norm is a totally different animal after shearing, both in behaviour and appearance.
Freddie before shearing.
Freddie after shearing.
George after shearing.
Mr.P after shearing, he has such a wonderful velvety black appearance when first sheared then goes and spoils it all by rolling in the dust.
Lincoln and Timon won't be sheared this year, Suri's only need doing every two to three years.
Phew, I am relived about that says Lincoln.
Lincoln having a yawn, look closley and you can see the fighting teeth in his upper jaw.
Ginger Tom keeps turning up then disappearing again for a week or so.
Aggie having a sleep on a hot day.
She's not the only one.
The boys were very interested to see who the new neighbours are. This was when we moved Marv and Norm in with Lincoln and Timon.
Proud fathers (Brencis and George) and grandfathers (Tellus and Mr.P).
Hello we are your new room mates.
Silla had been sheared about two weeks ago, Lolly was still waiting to be done.
Who, me!!!! Yes you Lolly.
Karla still waiting too. We did eventually get Karla, Lolly, Ilvija and Chanel sheared.
Marv back in with the girls after he escaped and "tricked" me into letting him in.
Rain at last, we have only had about four days of rain since the snow went in mid April, everything is very dry and the grass has hardly grown at all. This was at 4:30 am as the sun came up.
A lot has happened in the last two months, we have gone from white snow everywhere to green grass and from -10oC to +20oC. Of course, the really big news was the arrival of our two Suri alpacas, Lincoln and Timon. I just love to watch them as they run around, the way the fleece just bounces, they are gorgeous. Visitors have been amazed to see the difference between the two types of alpaca. They have both settled in very well and have quickly picked up the normal daily routines, soon they will be joined by Marvin and Norman. I have been halter training Marvin in the morning when I let them out, just short 5 – 10 minute periods. He has done very well, no problems with putting the halter on and off, but sometimes he has not been too keen to walk. But I did realise one morning I was mainly walking him in a direction, so the low early morning sun was shining straight into his eyes, changed the direction and he was much better. Norman will have to wait till he is separated from his mum (and grandmother, Chanel), they would be panicking if I tried to train him with them still around so he would not be able to concentrate and I would get covered in spit. He is also very much like his dad, George, who was over a year old before he was halter trained. His nose was too short, and I was not confident the halter would not slip down his nose, also he was not eating the pellet food which I normally use as a reward.
Two days after my last full update (18th March), where I mentioned Antonia had a tooth root abscess, I discovered Josefs also had one, this time in his upper jaw. So, I had to get the vet back out to X-ray him just to confirm and to see if there was any serious bone damage. He did have some just under his eye socket. About a week after starting Penicillin injections, he was back to his normal active self, he has just finished the eight-week course of injections and seems to be ok. He is brilliant, I give him the injections in the evening at putting away time, so while he is eating from his tray, I can just lean over him and give him the injection, he flinches when the needle goes in but just carries on eating. Then I always give him a few pellets as a reward, I wish they were all that good, I would dread Jakobs or Brencis needing a course of long-term injections.
They are all now out on the grass, it is wonderful to see them running around in the evening. Ilvija and Mr.P had lost a little weight over the winter but have already put it back on, Mr.P is looking much better than he has in a long while. He did have his usual early spring breathing issues; we are beginning to think he is allergic to willow pollen.
On three consecutive days I cleared out the bedding from all the alpaca houses and put down fresh hay, I was exhausted. But it does mean they are ready for shearing to be done. I can’t shear the alpacas on the floor with a big hump in the middle. In fact, shearing season has begun, I have been out to shear some customers alpacas already. I hope to do some of mine next week, some of the girls have been struggling in the heat. I finally had the vet come to scan the girls to see if they were pregnant and as I expected none of them were. So, I will start the mating process again very soon, that will please the boys. I had thought about not mating Ilvija because she was thin but since being out on the grass, she has returned to normal so I will mate her using George again and hope for a “Normette”. (Female Norman).
We are now open for visitors so if you would like to come and see the new Suri’s and learn all about alpacas then please contact me to arrange a visit. A visit is usually lasts about 1.5 hours, so we book in 2 hour slots.
You’ve guessed it, two months of sunny spring weather and new alpacas can mean only one thing, lots of photos.
Mari looks very happy in the warm spring sunshine.
And Antonia is happy that her tooth root abscess has gone.
Chanel and her curly hair.
Not another black alpaca, but Vanessa's shadow.
The original alpaca house is around 13 years old but is now on its last legs, the roof collapsed last winter, I pinched the door to use on the alpaca house the Suri's are now in.
Middle of April and the last remnants of snow.
Mari eating through the fence.
And so was George, this was the last straw, he broke some fence posts so I had to let them out into the field.
Come on let us out.
I am surprised Norman can see.
Come on Lolly, you can do it you are nearly up.
Nah, it's too much hard work, I'm staying here.
I finally got the old caravan moved up next to the new one behind the greenhouse.
Mr Fluffy is getting even fluffier.
Norman and Marvin.
Norman having a good scratch.
Mum can I have my milk now? The answer was a definite NO!!
Lolly playing Peek a Boo.
Vanessa having a good rub up against a tree.
Lincoln running around, just look at the fleece.
There's a Timon in there somewhere.
Love this picture of Lincoln and Timon.
The biggest male, Brencis and the smallest male, Jakobs having a fight.
Brencis has somehow managed to break one of his front teeth.
We are expecting a plague of vampires in the next few months so I have been preparing some wooden stakes to be ready. I much prefer the home made ones to the massed produced ones. (They are posts for the electric fence, I use three plastic posts then a wooden one to give the fence more strength.)
Spring is definitely here, even the old oak is leafing up.
Betty doesn't look too sure about Freddie.
The storks are also back.
There are no flies on Freddie....well maybe just a few...
A pensive looking Ilvija on a hot day, can you shear me soon she asks.
Silla sat around the back of the alpaca house in the shade.
Brencis peeking out of the shadows.
This time of year the sun shines straight into the boys house as it goes down and you can get some great photos.
Mr. P is looking very good this year, he has put weight on and I am sure his fleece is longer and thicker.
George, Jakobs and Freddie all looking at....
Timon and his shadow.
Recently the swallows have returned and are checking out the nests in the alpaca houses.
Over the last month all I feel like I have been doing is clearing snow, either with a shovel or with the snow blower. It was nice initially to use the big snow shovel that you push but then the sides got so deep that you couldn’t easily get it up to dump the snow, so I had to get the snow blower out. So glad I repaired it towards the end of last year as it has had a lot of use. Within the last week it has warmed up and in just a couple of days I would say around half the snow has gone.
There have been a few medical issues with some of the alpacas. Aggie’s eye flared up again and after some steroid drops began to calm down, but I noticed that it appeared cloudy in the eye, and I now think she is starting with a cataract in her eye. Karla began walking strangely with her rear legs, kicking them up and out behind her, I will admit it did look funny. When I had a look, she was very crusty and hard on the inside of her knees and had small red patches on her feet where she had lost fleece. It all looked like a mite related problem. Which was very surprising as both her mum and her dad and grandad have never had mite issues. Her grandmother (Lady V) used to occasionally have problems. I treated her with both Ivermectin injections and with Fipronil spray and it seems to be working.
More worrying was the discovery of a lump on Antonia’s jaw which usually means a tooth root abscess. I started her on daily penicillin injections for ten days and managed to get hold of a vet to come and x-ray her to make sure it was a tooth root abscess. In fact, it was two teeth side by side. Luckily, we had caught it early and there wasn’t a lot of bone involvement, not like when Aggie had hers, her X-ray looked like she had been shot in the jaw. After the ten days she moved onto a longer lasting penicillin, so needed an injection every three days. I gave her the first one and within a couple of minutes she stumbled and spread her back legs stood there groaning. I was panicking as the last time I saw an alpaca do this was with Estelle just before she died with heat stroke. Antonia was stretching her back and neck, seemed very wide eyed and was salivating. After about five minutes she began to come round. I have no idea why she reacted that way. It was very cold that day and I had the 7ml injection in my pocket and maybe it got too cold but it was a sub cutaneous injection not intra muscular. Vet wonders if I accidently hit a nerve or put the cold fluid into a vein. Just to be on the safe side in case it was an allergic reaction I was given some anti histamine and steroid injections by the vet to give if it happened again. I decided to test her and give her half a dose (3ml) on one day and another half dose the next day. I have never been so nervous giving an injection and sat and watched her for 20 mins. All seemed well, so three days later gave her a 3ml injection in the morning then another in the evening, again all seemed well. Then three days later gave her the full 7ml injection with no issues. She needs to have the penicillin for at least 6 to 8 weeks. The lump has certainly reduced in size and the went from a hard lump to being “squashy”, in fact there was s scab formed at the bottom which came off and I was expecting a lot of pus, but it was dry and is healing up.
It wasn’t just the alpacas requiring medical treatment, Joanna slipped on some ice and broke her wrist and has had to spend some time in hospital having a metal plate put in to support it. She didn’t just come back with a metal plate but also picked up a chest infection which she very kindly passed onto me. Last weekend I was supposed to be giving the alpacas their Vit D injections and cut toenails with Lelde helping. I had to cancel it and spent most of the day asleep. Next day I did feel better but not well enough to give the alpacas some hay which they desperately needed. This time it was Lelde and Rolands to the rescue, they came to give the alpacas hay, I was so relived and very grateful.
Aggie can be a bit of a pain at putting away time, she gets her tray first and by the time I have distributed the other trays she has finished and then goes and eats from Chanel’s tray which causes chaos. I came up with the idea of roping her in to stop her. I used a rope fastened to the wall with a hook on the other end and when I put down her tray, I grab the rope and fasten her in. She doesn’t challenge the rope, so it is much more peaceful in there now. Even Norman has his own tray now, he gets his next to his grandmother, Chanel, who likes to pinch a few mouthfuls from it.
Lolly looking forward to Spring, the days are getting longer and warmer.
View towards the garden 5th February.
View towards the garden 22nd February
View towards the garden 27th February.
View towards the garden 7th March.
Yes Marv, it was rather a lot of snow.
This is my "anti Aggie" device. It's a bit of rope fastened to the wall at one end and a hook on the other. At putting away time Aggie gets her tray first but as soon as she finished she would go and pinch Chanel's creating havoc. So now she gets fastened in and 99% of the time she waits till I let her out and does not challenge the rope. Makes things so much more peaceful.
This was Karla's rear legs showing the loss of fleece, she was very crusty on the inside of her knees but we hit her hard with mite treatment and the fleece seems to be growing back.
You tired Lolly?
Pathway to Vanessa's girls house.
Pathway from the girls back to the greenhouse, I like to make it wide enough so I can carry a bucket of water in each hand without them banging into the sides.
Pathway up to the boys.
Snow on the new caravan. Last week I dug a pathway to check inside, glad I did as when I went inside I noticed the roof was bowing due to the weight of snow. So I had to get a ladder and clear off the snow, seems OK now.
You really must go to bed earlier Lolly.
Now look what you have done, you have set Mari off yawning now!
You can see the lump on Antonia's jaw.
Looks even bigger from underneath.
This is Antonia's X-Ray, you can see the lump and there is a small amount of bone involvement. Just look how long those rear teeth are.
Then it began to warm up a bit, don't think the icicles were too happy about it.
Hey Lolly, I heard a rumour that Spring might be on it's way.
Here Aggie is praying to the great alpaca god to send an abundance of green grass.
Antonia adopts more of the foetal position.
Even Lolly is on her knees.
I am sure the great alpaca god must have heard you now Aggie.
My goodness, Lolly has exhausted herself with all that praying.
Alpacas are part of the Camelid family of animals which also includes the proper camels, Brencis here is showing the family likeness.
The snow was up to the top of the greenhouse walls, which are around 2m tall.
"Serious Silla", always looks very serious.
Love this "soft focus" photo of Karla.
Mr Tellus and George sharing the water bucket.
George will be six this year. Those lighter patches on his neck are patches of cream coloured fleece that grow much longer than the brown. They have only appeared in the last few years.
Looks like more snow is on its way.
The old, original alpaca house the first boys were in is " not long for this world", by the look of it.
Marvellous Marv lit by the afternoon sun.
Norman and his mum, Ilvija.
Amanda is leg deep in the snow. She is actually stood on the pathway I cleared, but it does give an impression of how deep it actually is.
Better view of the snow surrounding the greenhouse.
OK girls and boys, the snowbank cafe is now open.
We had a bit of a miracle happen the other week. It had warmed up a little, so we decided to put some cream on Chanel’s rear legs to help soften and break up the hard scaly skin. Normally doing anything with Chanel is a major task which usually results in her spitting and getting stressed out. If you have been following these posts you will know I have changed how I handle Chanel, from the arm round the neck “head lock” approach to the arms outstretched gently holding the head and then to the rope lead around the neck (not a halter that goes on the head). I try where possible to follow a training / handling approach called Camelid Dynamics and the more I use it I am beginning to see changes in the alpaca’s behaviour. With Chanel, during each method I used she became easier and easier to deal with, less stressed and spitty. Well, the other week instead of a rope I used the lead I had had specially made, put it around her neck and stepped away while holding the end and offered her some food. Chanel just stood there while Joanna put the cream on her legs. Yes, she just stood there and didn’t sit down like she always does. We have been wanting her to remain standing which then means you can get the cream to the right places on her legs. I believe the trigger to making Chanel stressed and spitty is not what you are doing to her but the fact you are restraining her to do it. When you give her a bit more freedom and space, she is much more relaxed.
Lelde came to help with cutting the toenails of the remaining alpacas who got missed the last time, namely Brencis, Jakobs and Lolly due to, shall we say “bad behaviour”. Jakobs is only small but very strong and does not like being restrained so maybe I need to try a similar method like we used on Chanel.
I have been busy sorting through our alpaca fleece, preparing it to be sent to a mill to be spun into yarn. I have a frame set up in the barn with a plastic mesh on it, on which I put the fleece. I take out any bits of hay or other vegetable matter, any contaminating fibres or “second cuts” from shearing. I break it apart and fluff it up to remove as much debris, dirt, and dust as possible as you will end up with a much cleaner product at the end. The fleeces have been so dusty this year I am getting covered in dust and even had to resort to wearing a mask. I have even had a little helper as Betty the cat sometimes appears and sits on the fleece. We took some of last years spun fleece to a local weaver to try out, she has made a test sample as an experiment, looks fantastic in the pictures she sent, we go pick it up next week, can’t wait to see it and find out how soft it is. I have also been preparing and spinning Lolly’s fleece to make some yarn. I want to have something made from it for myself as Lolly is quite special to me, since I had to bottle feed her. Both her and Karla’s fleece I will hand spin as the first-year fleeces are usually difficult to clean.
The alpaca houses have had their mid-winter partial clean out as the hump in the middle of the floor means you nearly bump you head on the roof. It is surprising how many wheelbarrow loads of stuff there is to move, at least the exercise keeps you warm on a cold day..
Well mornings are definitely coming earlier and earlier........
The snow has been coming and going, here the boys think it's now time to open the gate and let them into the field. Sorry not for a while yet boys. Just look at all those mole hills.
You need a 4x4 to get up here on the ice.
I have never seen as many mole hills on the land as this year.
Betty and GT practicing their championship ice dancing routine....
Tellus has been eating the snow.
Brencis with a big smile on his face.
Ilvija basking in the winter sun. (Note the fleece on her head for later)
We have had some unwelcome visitors, yes the pigs have been back.
Freddie and his shadow.
Freddie and Brencis. Freddie is an average sized alpaca, just shows how much of a giant Brencis is.
Antonia and Lolly.
I love this photo of Lolly.
Don't be deceived, Norman and Silla weren't kissing. Silla actually had a load of grass hanging out of her mouth and Norman was trying to pinch it. Silla was not happy about it.
This time Norman was just having a sniff of Karla.
Chanel has tight curls around her face and on her head whereas Ilvija (her daughter, see earlier picture) has straight fleece.
Norman looks like he is falling asleep.
We recently had two days of ice rain, this is a pine tree with a thick layer of ice on the needles.
Ice on the fence wire.
On the oak trees.
This is a plumb tree at the top of the ski hill, the ice is at least 3 - 4cm.
The birch trees are really struggling under the weight of the ice.
This doesn't quite capture the scene properly, but when the sun shone the iced covered trees just lit up, it was spectacular.
Silla sat outside in the snow, while all the others were inside. She is a weird one.
I have been sorting some of the alpaca fleece and had a little helper (or should that be hinderer).
Mr.P after having had a roll in the snow.
I am really pleased to say that Marvin is a lot better than he was. In early December we took him in the car to see the vet so she could have a good look at him. I sat in the back holding him while Joanna drove. He looked quite small when he was in with the others, but when it came to carry him to and from the car and when I was sitting with him on my lap, he is a lot bigger than you think. He was on the lower side of normal for his weight, but temperature was ok, heart was ok, blood tests showed nothing too abnormal. Only thing was his first stomach (this is the one where most of the grass/hay digestion occurs) was totally empty. He got some Vitamin B complex, Calcium / Phosphorus, pain killers and further Vitamin D injections. He also got some probiotics to help stimulate his digestion. One made me laugh, it’s called Rumen Rocket and, on the packet, says for racing camels, so there will be no catching him now. He had just started eating pellets, which was a big relief and after the visit to the vet he began to eat hay. Now he is up and about a lot, and even leaving his mums side, I have not seen him shivering and is first in line when I take a new bale of hay. When he was born there was a question over whether he may have been Vitamin D deficient, so the injections may have helped him. But I actually think he just did not get the point of hay. I remember when he was younger, he only seemed to nibble at the very woody bits of hay and not the good stuff. When the grass began to die off, which was around the time I noticed he was sitting down a lot and began shivering, he was surviving on his mums milk only. Once he seemed to understand what the hay was for, he has never looked back, now eats loads and poo’s loads. He now even has his own tray at putting away time.
Aggies eye problem cleared up and a week later started again, now I am putting a couple of steroid drops in about every third day and it seems to be enough to keep on top of it. She will even let me do it on my own with no hassle, good girl. Antonia and Lolly have had a little issue with an infection between the toes but a couple of sprays with an antiseptic spray sorted that problem. I always know when one of them has this problem as there is a very distinctive smell.
It’s been funny that during the day Vanessa’s girls have been coming up to Aggie’s girls house and spending most of the day there. I think they must think there is a better class of hay up there. However, come putting away time, nine times out of ten they are back in their house waiting for me to come with the trays. Vanessa is definitely the matriarch and it’s interesting to see how Antonia follows her all over, even though Vanessa can be quite horrible to her at times. I was thinking the other day who would take on the role of matriarch when Vanessa dies, be interesting to see, but hopefully not for a long time yet.
I seem to have spent most of December clearing snow, I bought one of those large snow shovels and it has been fantastic. Although there have been times, I have had to get the snow blower out. There was a cold spell of around -20oC but the scenery was fantastic, however the car was not. The usual blocked fuel filter problem, I now always have a spare and did change it and the car seemed ok, but it was forecast to get cold again and Joanna was going to be away with her car. So, I decided to stay out in the summer house for a few days as I didn’t want to risk the car dying on me again. It was cool, about 7oC when I went to bed and that was with both electric heaters on full and -5oC when I woke up (it was -15oC outside) but thank God for electric blankets and good warm bedding. Next evening, I moved everything into a smaller room making it easier to heat and it was a bit warmer. Car has been into the garage and the fuel tank and lines all flushed out so fingers crossed it will be ok.
Luckily the snow came before the ground froze which meant I could replace some broken fence posts and move the gate to Vanessa’s girls paddock to make it easier to get in and out if it gets icy. It also meant I could put up a fence around APH 4 which I want to possibly use when it comes to separating Marvin and Norman from their mums, which would be February / March time. I am planning on putting two of the older boys in with them for few weeks to a month (possibly George and Freddie), so they get used to each other. APH 4 is close to the boy’s house and they will see each other and get used to each other before I put them all together. In the past I have just put any new boys in with the older boys, but there was the “mature” calming influence of the much older Herkules and Turbjørn who are no longer with us. There are now more younger “teenage” boys so I want to be a bit more careful with introducing new ones.
Again, I would like to say a big thank you to Aušra from Sodo Alpakos in Lithuania, if you remember she made me a coat for Marvin. I asked if she could make me some small leads, I can put around an alpaca’s neck to help control it without having to use a full harness. I used a home made one with Chanel when we were having to wash her and it made a huge difference to her, there is no way you could get a harness on Chanel, spit will happen again and again and again. I sent Aušra some measurements and pictures and she made me three. With all the snow clearing I have not had the time to try them out properly yet, but I will keep you informed.
Well, 2022 is now over, it’s been a challenging year for many, our problems here pale into insignificance with those faced by many in this troubled world at the moment. For us personally it was such a great privilege to be able to offer our apartment to house a displaced Ukrainian family for three months, as they made their way to the UK. They were such a blessing to us and to the neighbours at the apartment who I think will sorely miss them. I am glad to say they seemed to have settled in well in the UK. Another very, very big plus for us this year as well as the birth on Marvin and Norman and the building of the summer house was the arrival of Lelde our intern. She came completely out of nowhere asking if she could spend time with us over the summer for her placement. She fitted in so well, was so helpful and was a joy to have around, the time passed so quickly. She is probably now in the top 5 to 10 of people with knowledge and experience of keeping alpacas in Latvia, and she thought she was coming to learn about tourism. So, a very big thank you, Lelde for all your help this year.
We all here at Griezites Alpakas, Joanna, Ian, all the alpacas, the three cats and the chickens would like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful New Year.
Norman admiring the winter scenes.
Frost on a cobweb on Vanessa's girls house, but don't spend too long taking the photo.......
Other wise you might get covered in snow...
Icicles on the summer house.
Love the white heart under Mr. P's eye.
A calm, peaceful winter scene.
Mari has been eating the snow.
And so has Aggie, her eye looks much better.
Josefs was the only one of the boys to venture out on this cold day.
Marvin out for a winter stroll with his mum.
The gorgeous Lolly, I am currently processing her first year fleece to spin wool.
I am hoping Norman has inherited his dads fine fleece with his mums silky feel.
A beautiful but cold (-20oC) day.
Guess which room I am staying in, me thinks some roof insulation is required before next winter.
Valeria on her daily visit up to Aggies girls house.
Silla has just about taken up residence there.
Love to see little Marv strutting his stuff, they were actually looking at....
Rocket Ron who had just followed me around on a long walk around the land. I think he was trying to warm his cold paws.
Norman out in the winter sunshine.
And so was his dad, George.
Speaking of father and son, here is Brencis with his dad Tellus (who is also Georges dad and Normans grandad).
Marvin is feeling so much better he decided to have a roll on the spruce tree I had just cut for them to eat.
Did that tire you out Marv?
Marv looks so small and lost amongst the adults.
Please will you let me in.....
Vanessa looks so sweet and gentle here, don't be fooled she is a bossy madam.
Silla asked me to take some moody, atmospheric shots of her, so here's one....
Valeria didn't want to be left out.
Interesting how the sunlight plays with the colour of Mr P's fleece, black here...
Very dark brown here, these were consecutive photos, he just move back a little into the light.
ErrMmmm I will admit I am over due with cutting Brencis rear toenails, it needs three people, Lelde is coming to help in a few weeks.
Love this photo of grandmother Chanel, daughter Ilvija and grandson Norman all sat together and the colours of the fleece.
If you remember I called my last blog “Signs winter is on its way” well just to be clear, it arrived, we now have around 5-10cm of snow and it is not forecast to get above freezing for a while. I knew it was supposed to get cold, but the snow has caught me out. I must have missed that bit in the forecast, probably concentrating too much on the temperatures. I wanted to move the old caravan so it was next to the new one, looks like it will be staying where it is for the winter. I also wanted to clear out some bedding from the alpaca houses, guess that will have to wait too. The moles have been a big problem this autumn, leaving big mole hills on the pathway to the girls and in the girls and boys paddocks. I have had to search through the snow to find them and try to level them off as I want the areas to be flat, so it is easy to use the snow blower to clear the snow.
Like I mentioned previously, Marvin was shivering and sitting down a lot, so I had a coat made for him, well he still shivers but not as much and still spends a lot of time sat next to his mum, Amanda. I want to try and get him to start eating the pellet food and was also thinking of trying to see if he will feed from a bottle. Amanda is getting thin, and I wonder if she is still producing either enough or maybe her milk is not good enough quality for Marvin. She does let him feed but I am not sure how often. Amanda does get extra food but is still thin, Marvin, I think, is at least so far not losing weight. (We don’t have scales to weigh them so all I can do is regularly check their body score). I need to try and collect a poo sample to check for gut parasites.
Another one causing us problems has been Aggie, she regularly has a problem with her left eye, which is red and swollen to the point where she can only half open it. Over the years we have tried different antibiotic drops with no effect, but the one thing that always does work is steroid drops. The change is very quick, within days. The swelling goes down and the redness almost disappears, and she can open her eye wide. I think she realises the drops make her feel better as she hardly reacts at all when we hold her to put the drops in. The problem is once we stop with the steroid drops within a month all the swelling and redness returns. We need to talk to the vet to see what we can do for a more long-term solution.
On the whole last summer has been good for the alpacas, they appear to have put weight on, in fact maybe a little too much for some of the girls. I am very pleased with Mr.P he was thin at the beginning of the year, his body score has improved a lot and his fleece also looks better.
Lelde has been back to help me with cutting my alpacas toenails and came with me to cut someone else’s alpacas toenails. I am just so glad she still wants to learn and help with the alpacas even though she has finished her placement with us. This weekend Joanna and I have been giving the alpacas their Vitamin D injections, did the girls on Saturday and the boys will be done on Sunday. The girls were good, even though I did get spat at by Chanel, but it was my fault. I was trying to separate her daughter (Ilvija) and grandson (Norman) and she was just doing what any over protective mother / grandmother would do. Typical though she was fine giving her the injection but touch her daughter and “spit happens”.
Vanessa is looking more and more like her mum, the wonderful Lady V. She has inherited that "One is not amused" look.
Norman with a big smile on his face.
Marvin on the other hand look a bit down.
Aggies left eye regularly gets red and swollen and she can only half open it. We have tried various antibiotic drops to no avail, but have found steroid drops clear it up within days.
This is Aggies eye after about three days of steroid drops, so much better.
I have been working hard just lately teaching the alpacas circus skills, here is Vanessa balancing on Karla's back. Impressive Eh?
Lovely Lolly, she's gorgeous.
Mr Tellus in the morning sun.
Mr Tellus will be 16 next year, I think like me, age is beginning to catch up with him, he has lost a little weight and his front teeth are very worn, no idea what his back teeth must be like. Maybe he needs glasses too. He maybe getting old but he is still the boss.
Jakobs has gone all shy.
It must be spreading Josefs has gone all shy too.
At least Freddie isn't shy.
Brencis and Freddie together. Shows just how much bigger Brencis is.
He is a big lad, just so solid.
Close up of Jakobs fleece.
Betty is growing, she is not a kitten anymore.
Marvin in his new coat.
Norman is also growing.
By now the caravan is usually in the greenhouse but this year it is outside and is slowly getting encrusted in ice and snow. The big icicle is now around 5cm thick and growing.
The summer house does look pretty in the snow.
At least I did manage to get all the outside protected before winter arrived.
It’s been a bit of a hectic time trying to get the outside of the summer house painted before it rained. Managed to get one coat on before it rained, then had to wait till it all dried out before I could get a second coat on. But I did it, eventually….Phew. Last week I managed to get some protection on the window frames and doors, it looks nice. At least when it was raining, I could still get on with the inside, we are using linseed oil with a slight white colouring on the walls and linseed oil with pine tar for the floor.
The alpacas are now one more fence move before being confined to the paddocks for winter as there is no grass for them. I will be moving the fences tomorrow as I had an escape of the boys today. I found them all except Tellus in the orchard.
Now I am on my own at the moment as Joanna is away, so this was the plan. First thing, as always when there is an escape is “DON’T PANIC”. I tried the trays with food in to tempt them, but the grass seemed more important. OK, so next thing was go and get the girls back into their paddocks in case the boys decide to make a visit…. Done. Next go and get the long white herding poles and try to herd the boys back into their paddock…. Done. Next problem, where have the boys gone???? They were certainly not where I last saw them. Found one, Mr.P had discovered the girls and was stood outside their paddock. I managed to hold his head, as I didn’t have a harness and rope easily available, and persuade him to walk the 200 meters or so back to the boy’s paddock where he was locked in the alpaca house, he did get some food though for being good and not being too difficult on the walk back.
So where were the boys? I found them back down in the field next to the fence where they had escaped from. Next plan, get some extra fence poles and wire construct a fence to block them from heading back up to the garden and to funnel them back into their fenced area. Drop the wire on their fence and use the herding poles to get them back in…. Done…They went back in and ran straight back to the paddock. Good lads….Apart from Josefs who found the one flaw in the plan, just on the other side of the temporary fence I put up was a small gap which he found and got through and headed up to the garden. Oh well, don’t panic and get the others sorted first. Josefs was next seen by the caravan and looking like he might be heading to the girls. Yep, I was right, I know my boys too well. Next collect a harness, lead rope, and put some food in my pocket and go and get him. He was no problem as he was too interested in the girls, I put the harness on him and walked him back to the paddock, all done and dusted, all boys accounted for. I was “right chuffed” with myself apart from the fact I was soaking wet as it had started to rain.
The alpacas must sense winter is approaching as they are spending most of the day outside eating even in the pouring rain, I suppose there just isn’t the quantity or quality of grass to sustain them now. The other sign that winter is coming is that the chicken arks are now in the small greenhouse where they will be till spring next year. The awning attached to the new caravan has also been taken down, cleaned, and packed away. It looks so empty now, just a patch of dead grass, it was so useful a space, we called it the conference room. One sign of approaching winter that won’t be happening this year is the putting of the old caravan into the big greenhouse. I don’t want to risk it; the wood and plastic of the big greenhouse is not in very good condition, and I don’t want to risk it collapsing on the caravan if there is a lot of snow. So, it will be placed next to the new caravan by the side of the barn, it is also easier to run an electric cable to it from there.
As you probably know GT reappeared after nearly three months away, he is still here, and all three cats have bonded really well. You often find Betty and GT snuggled up together during the day.
I managed to take Lolly for a walk the other day, last time I did it was April, she was very good, there was just one place where the path narrows a bit, and she got a bit spooked so I decided not to push it and took her back to the paddock. I still need to halter train Karla, I will start during winter when they are inside more, makes it a bit easier.
One last reminder we will be closing to visitors from November 1st and hope to reopen April next year. So, there is not long left if you still want to come visit and learn more about the wonderful world of alpacas.
Little Betty has discovered the kettle is still warm after we have our morning coffee.
This is the awning attached to the new caravan, aka the conference room. now you see it.
Now you don't, it has been dismantled and put away for winter.
This was one morning as the mist began clear, there was a very clear fog bow, there is even the slightest hint of colours. Sorry about the dirt on the camera lens.
The girls (and little boys) under the fog bow.
The summer house is slowly getting done, two coats of paint on the outside and since this photo I have painted the windows and door.
Grass seed head covered in a spiders web which is covered in dew.
A very Autumnal looking picture of the girls. Most of the leaves have fallen off now.
Valeria and Norman, something about the mist and the colours makes this picture look so surreal to me.
Norman is very much like his dad, George, and is an "observer" he will stand for ages and watch you, you feel like he is planning something, quite freaky really.
Karla on the other hand is so sweet and friendly, she likes to come up and sniff my face.
Lolly is also very sweet but I am watching her very carefully as she can occasionally jump up, I don't push her away as this only encourages her to do it again. I brace my arm and say very firmly "No Lolly" she soon gets the message I am not playing.
Hopefully soon we will find out if Mari may be pregnant.
Same goes for the old lady, Vanessa, both Mari and her were mated to Josefs.
Marvin and Norman are growing fast, they are now around four and three months old.
Think I might have discovered where GT disappeared too for three months. Looks like he had a modelling assignment. Here he is on the box of a new radiator we bought.
Sunrise a few days ago.
There was even a rainbow.
When the sun did appear it looked like the trees were on fire, the camera just does not do justice to the colours.
At the end of August, we had to say goodbye to Lelde as she finished her placement with us and started back at university. She has been amazing, so willing to help, fitted in really well, great with the alpacas and a has wonderful sense of humour, we had many ongoing jokes over the two months which has passed so quickly. So, from me, Joanna, Rocket Ron, Betty and all the alpacas, including Amanderrrr and the “white” alpacas (sorry that was one of the ongoing jokes), thank you so much for all your help, it was a pleasure to have you and we wish you great success with your studies and all the best for your future. (Just remember you need alpacas in your life).
Her last day was a busy one, she helped me cut Aggie’s girls toenails, so she learnt how to hold the alpacas without restraining them while I cut the toenails. Then we went to the local town with the horse box to help me get insulation, vapour membrane and wire for the summer house floor. Then finally I had her working hard finishing the roof of the summer house in a race against time fitting the shingles and the metal cap for very top before it was forecast to rain.
Lelde was not the only one we said goodbye too. Over the last three months we had a Ukrainian family staying in our apartment while they sorted out all the documentation required to go to the UK. Finally, all that was sorted, and they left. We will miss the Borscht, cake, and pizza’s they would make for us. I hope and pray they find peace and rest in the UK and can maybe one day return to their home country.
My son his wife and family came to visit us for a week, he helped me move wood from the forest and put the insulation in the floor in the summer house. The kids had a great time helping with the alpacas and chickens and even got to take Brencis and Josefs for a walk.
The summer house is almost finished, I wired up the electric from the greenhouse to it so now we don’t need an extension cable trailing through the open front door. I still need to wire in sockets and lights, but we haven’t decided where they will go yet. The other job is to paint the outside with a stain / preservative but that needs a few days of good weather first.
Now as we head into autumn the grass growth is slowing down so the alpacas are quickly getting through it, so I seem to be continually moving fences. One day I moved the girls fence a bit closer to the boys, maybe a bit too close as the boys were stood along the edge of their fence looking at the girls and at one point Mr P and Jakobs were pushing hard on the wire. So, the boys got moved away, and the girls moved back into their paddock and the next day I moved the fence again. I don’t want any repetition of last year’s performance when the boys escaped and got in with the girls.
I have noticed Valeria has been acting a bit strange just lately, she has been very interested in Marvin and at times she acts as if she is encouraging him to feed from her??? She has also been seen spitting at Mari when Mari and Marvin are playing as if she is protecting him. I wonder if there is something hormonal going on as this is so out of character for her, be very interested to see if she is pregnant.
A very big thank you to Lelde for presenting us with these T-shirts when she finished her placement. Anyone who has alpacas will one day be on the receiving end of a mouthful of alpaca spit whether intentionally or just caught in the cross fire. I just loved the phrase "Spit Happens". The little alpaca above the N is actually a picture of Lolly and here she has come to check it out.
Marvin and Norman play fighting.
Well I think Marvin won that round.
First frost on the morning of the 3rd of September.
Silla, Antonia and Valeria tucking into the grass.
Little Norman reminds me so much of his dad, George, that I even accidently call him George at times.
Lolly enjoying the grass.
So is little Marvin.
Amanda prefers the oak leaves.
No, No Karla, stop it, how many times have I told you, you can't eat Norman...........
It's OK Lolly, Norman is going to be OK.
Ilvija just checking Norman is OK.
Brother and sister Marvin and Karla. Karla looks like her dad Brencis but her brother Marvin looks like his Grandad, Tellus.
Vanessa checking out the oak leaves, not too many though our you will have a poorly stomach.
Chanel looking radiant in the morning sun.
My son and his family came for a week, here I put the Grand kids to work drilling a bore hole to find a new water supply.
As well as cutting the grass.
I did give them some time off to feed the alpacas.
I told Marvin if he keeps practicing we might buy him a piano.
Who needs a parrot when you have a cat.
This is the front of the summer house, I had to pay a fortune for the rainbow optional extra, but well worth the money don't you think.
This is the back and side.
At last, I can relax a little, hay making for this year has finished, 556 of our small round bales are now under cover, we need around 400 per year. That works out to somewhere between 12-14 tonnes of hay all moved and stacked by hand, a very big thank the Ukrainian family who are staying in our apartment, one of Joanna’s work colleagues and her partner, a friend’s young son and of course Lelde for helping us with the hay over this period, the alpacas will certainly appreciate all your hard work over the winter as they munch their way through it.
Norman’s leg is now fine, he is walking and running on it with no problems, Marvin and he are usually seen chasing each other around at top speed, even Lolly is beginning to join in the chases. Norman is like his mum (Ilvija) and his dad (George) when he was young and doesn’t like being touched. But Marvin on the other hand is not bothered at all and could sit there all day being stroked. I got the chance to try out my newly acquired tool for cutting fighting teeth on Jakobs and Josefs. It’s basically a Dremel with a grinding stone covered with a 3d printed cover to keep the tongue out of the way, works a treat. But maybe we should have done it a day earlier as we found out Freddie had a wound on his neck probably caused by someone’s fighting teeth.
Mating season has now come to an end as it is getting too late in the year. There is the possibility that Vanessa and Valeria may be pregnant as they gave potential spit offs when we took the males down. However, there are question marks over Antonia and Mari, we will have to wait till they are scanned to find out for sure.
Work on building the summer house has been a bit intermittent due to the hay making and the weather but at least the roof is on and just needs the waterproof shingles to go one which will hopefully be this weekends job. There is a small decking area at the front which I finished off and we have started sitting on it but must get around to making some steps as it is quite a climb to get up there.
As you may have seen we have had yet another new arrival last week when we welcomed little Betty the kitten. Lelde and I had gone to a place to shear some alpacas and they had some two-month-old kittens and asked if we would like one. We had been thinking of getting another cat to replace GT who is still missing, so after a quick phone call to Joanna to confirm we came home with a kitten in a basket. Betty is settling in and is getting more and more freedom to explore the place. She is already bossing Rocket Ron around who has taken to her very well and only hissed at her once.
Marvin has out grown his coat already.
At least Norman's still fits.
Last few weeks have been hot and sunny. Here the girls are sunbathing.
Long legged Lolly, I love the light sandy colour of her fleece.
Haymaking is done for this year, got a little stressful at times with the weather. Here I was joined by a group of storks, I counted around 15 of them. Most of them have left on their journey south now.
Lelde taking George for a walk.
He seems very happy about it.
It's not only alpacas Lelde takes for walks but visitors too. She is on her way up to show the visitors the girls.
Norman trying to hide behind a tree. Needs a bit more practice Norman.
Norman looks like he has overdone it a bit with the eyeliner.
Marvin had spotted something, not sure what it was, I couldn't see anything and none of the other alpacas were responding either.
Norman giving lessons on how to hide behind a tree to Marvin.
Mari not looking at her best first thing in the morning. a strong coffee might be required.
Just moved the girls fence, didn't take long for the boys to spot them.
I guess they didn't want to talk to me.....
What mischief can we get up to next?
Vanessa has spotted the boys.
Who says alpacas don't like long grass.
Aggie looks quite happy about something.
Finally some swallows nested in the boys alpaca house, I think at least three chicks have hatched. Photo taken 21st August.
Photo taken 24th August, they have grown so quickly.
Lolly with Marvin, there is roughly about a years difference in age.
The summer house now has a roof and is ready for the waterproof shingles to go on, then we can start on the floor.
First of August already, where has this year gone? Guess what, it’s raining so it gives me time to do a Facebook post to keep you up to date with what’s been happening.
Firstly, some sad news, it looks like GT the cat has disappeared, he has been gone for over a week now. He was acting a little strange, very nervous and on edge. One night I did hear some cats fighting and the next morning he was gone. So, we are still hoping and praying he will turn up, Sophie used to occasionally disappear for over a week and then turn up as if nothing has happened.
I did manage to get the oak tree hill and half the ski hill cut for hay, around 200 bales which is about half what we need. It looks like I might be able to get other areas cut this week, fingers crossed. I emptied out the 70 or so, three-year-old bales from the barn and put the fresh bales in. We have had people taking the small round bales, we make to use for making decorations for various public events. They are much easier to move around and not so dangerous if they fall.
Alpaca mating is still ongoing with no signs of any spit offs yet. The big plus though is that Vanessa, Valeria, and Antonia are sitting down to be mated and not going berserk and spitting when a male is nearby. Valeria and Antonia did get a prostaglandin injection to basically clear out their womb and reset their reproductive system, which seems to have worked. Mr.P did mate with Antonia yesterday for 45 mins, a new record for us as the longest previous mating was around 15 mins.
As you will know Norman was born on the 23rd July, he did get his hips stuck and thanks to our neighbour who came to help him out he is now ok. After a few days he did start limping on one of his rear legs which seemed to be getting worse. It didn’t stop him from racing around everywhere though. We ended up taking him in the car to see the vet just in case there had been some trauma to his hip when he got stuck. The problem seemed to be more in his knee joint than hip, he has had a course of pain killing injections and he seems to be improving. The vet also had to come to see Marvin, poor guy was straining to poo and not producing anything. So, she gave him an enema and some paraffin oil, and he was ok after that for about five days then stopped pooing again. We gave him another dose of paraffin oil and since then he has been pooing. I think the threat of another enema was enough to get him going.
The last week has been taken up with building the new summer house, a friend said it’s like a giant adult lego set. The various bits are all labelled except some of the labels had faded just to make it a bit more interesting. It is now at the stage of putting on the roof on, but rain has stopped play for the next few days.
Lelde our intern has been fantastic; she has translated for me when we have had visitors and even shown some groups around on her own and is fast becoming an alpaca expert. She has helped with the hay making and building the summer house and many other jobs. Not sure if that is what she had in mind when she initially signed up, but I think she is enjoying it. One thing she has greatly helped with is the planning for our upcoming Felting Workshop on Saturday 13th August, here is a link to the details in English https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=417325020430493&set=pb.100064589955813.-2207520000..
If you are interested in attending, please contact us to book your place as places are limited.
Marvin relaxing in the morning sun.
There is relaxing and then there is falling asleep.
Marvin and his older sister Karla, the two of them are not exactly best of pals.
Marvin resting on his mum Amanda.
Get off mum.....
Norm was centre of attention when we finally let him out.
Lolly is becoming a master at alpaca yoga.
A fine young chap.
Ilvija is a great mum.
Mari enjoying the wide variety of plants on the oak tree hill.
Chanel is a very proud Grandmother, can be a little overprotective of her young grandson.
Family picnic. Marvin, his mum Amanda and her older sister Antonia.
Lolly is destined to become a teacher of alpaca yoga.
Marvin, like his sister Karla did, is growing fast and becoming very stocky and solid.
Photo finish in the alpaca eating race. I think Aggie wins by a nose from Karla and Lolly.
We love our alpacas so much we take them out for rides in the car, all part of their enrichment. Seriously though, this was when we took Norman to see the vet.
This is one of those special magical moments that don't happen too often, but you just enjoy them when they do. Mr.P and Antonia were inside mating and I was watching then Chanel came for a look. Put her head on the door next to me and we stood there for well over 15 minutes while I stroked her neck and back. At one point Mari came as well and stood on the other side. Times like these just make it all worthwhile.
The other new arrival apart from Marv and Norm was the summer house, this is the base prepared and ready.
Here is the base frame mounted on blocks to keep it well off the ground.
We tried to sort out the beams into the relevant groups.
Then we began building, it's a bit like a giant lego set. This is me and my glamorous assistant Lelde, she has been fantastic.
This was the easy bit done, it was getting more complicated as you started on the roof section, also more tiring as I had to keep moving the ladder around.
Yesterday we got all the roof beams in place, but the overnight forecast was for heavy rain so we covered it with a large tarpaulin and plastic.
There had been a lot of rain........
It has been quite a while since I have given a full update on what has been happening here at Griezites Alpakas, so sorry it’s a long one this time. During that time, we have welcomed two new arrivals, Amanda finally gave birth to Marvin and the wonderful Lelde has started her 8-week internship with us, but more on both of those later.
I managed to finish all my bookings for shearing alpacas and then did my own alpacas, just in time. I had done the girls in little groups and left the boys till last, the day after I did the boys the temperature went through the roof, it was 28 – 30oC. The poor alpacas would have really been cooking if they still had full fleece. The warm weather also meant we could get started washing Chanel to treat her skin issues. She has a lot of hard, cracked, crusty skin which needs to be removed, so we wet her, use a special shampoo, and work the crusty areas. She has been done four times now and it is making a big difference, she is moving a lot easier. I made a small area just outside the door with some posts and fence wire, we get her into it, then I put a small lead around her neck to help control her. Problem is she usually sits down but at least she will let us do it, remember this is Chanel we are talking about, famous for redecorating the inside of the alpaca house in spit whenever you touched or even got near her. Three out of the four times she has been done she has just calmly sat there. The time she didn’t was because we had a few issues separating her from Ilvija so she was on edge.
Mating season is now underway, Silla is being mated with Jakobs and Mari with Josefs and the last time she saw Josefs she wouldn’t let him mate so a sign she may be pregnant, we will see if it’s the same on Friday when we take him back. We did have a miracle happen, while Jakobs was mating with Silla, Vanessa sat down on the other side of the fence, and I sat next to her, and she let me stroke her!!!!!! I wondered if she was receptive to mating so the next day, I took Josefs down and after a couple of spits she sat down and let him mate with her. My jaw hit the floor; this was the first time in three years of trying she has let a male near her never mind mate with her. Tried again a few days later and same again so fingers crossed. That now just leaves Antonia and Valeria, I have been chatting to the vet and we are going to try some hormone therapy to see if that will make them more receptive to mating. Just as an aside, when Josefs was mating with Vanessa, Amanda who gave birth to Marvin five days earlier came and sat down next to Vanessa on the other side of the gate suggesting she is ready to be mated again.
About a month ago out of the blue I received a phone call from someone asking if they could possibly come and do an eight-week placement as part of her Batchelors degree in tourism. She lives locally, so came that afternoon and we chatted about what would be involved/expected from both sides. She came and helped with some of the shearing and officially started 1st of July. Lelde speaks Latvian, some Russian and English, so if the fact we don’t speak Latvian was putting you off visiting then now is the time come. She is getting used to the alpacas and them with her, did her first alpaca walk on Saturday and even got to see Marvin being born. She is great, fits in so well and just what we needed.
As already mentioned, Amanda gave birth to Marvin (aka Marvellous Marv or Mr Marvellous or just plain Marv). I suspected she was in labour that morning so after all the routine cleaning jobs were done, I rushed to get a hay bale to put fresh bedding on the floor, just finished that when she stood up and began pushing. The head and legs appeared, another few pushes and they were out, at this point it is quite common for the mum to wander around with the cria half in half out for five, ten even fifteen minutes. But Amanda stood for a minute one more push and he was out. He is a very light fawn in colour with a white head and possibly a white ring around his neck. We were a little concerned at first in that he had trouble holding his neck straight and it looked a little kinked which was making it difficult for him to feed. Our neighbour came to check him and put a splint on his neck to help support it which made it better for him. He was kept in for the rest of the day as it was cold and wet, we came every two hours during the first night to make sure he was feeding. Next morning the sun was shining so we let him out and he never stopped running around, so there’s not much wrong with him then. I noticed when he was feeding, he had to keep stopping and was almost gasping for breath, I suspected it had something to do with the splint either crushing his trachea as he was bending his neck to feed or was making him hold his head in the wrong position as he was feeding possibly crushing his nostrils against his mum’s udder. So, we took off the splint and he has been fine since and his neck has remained straight. Mum’s milk must be good stuff as his pilling on the weight. It’s funny now seeing Karla and Lolly who I thought of as the “young’uns”, you can now see how much they have grown in a year when you compare them to Marv. They remind me of the early teenage years when your body is not quite a child’s and not quite an adult’s. Lolly is fascinated with Marv and follows him around and likes to sniff him, Karla is not so sure about her younger brother getting all her mum’s attention now.
So now we are just waiting for Ilvija to have her cria she is due 14th July.
Silla and Antonia before shearing, I bet they are so glad they were sheared when the temperature went up.
Some chicks we hatched early May and are now well overdue to go into one of the chicken arks.
We raise them in this hamster cage till they are big enough to go outside. The cage is on the trolley so it can be moved outside when it gets too hot in the greenhouse.
Another new arrival is the second caravan (to the right of the greenhouse). My son brought it from the UK when he and his family came to visit in May. Hopefully soon they will start on building the summer house which will be where the white sticks are to the left of the other caravan.
Mr. P. before shearing, I keep mentioning the longer grey fibres he is getting as he gets older, here you can very clearly see them.
Look at the grey on the top of his head. Quite distinguished don't you think?
He also got his "tooth" cut the others were also that length but broke off just before shearing.
Freddie pre shearing.
Josefs pre shearing.
George pre shearing.
We noticed after shearing, George is starting to get these distinct lighter patches on his neck, there are more on the other side.
Waiting room at the hairdresser's. I make this little fence so they have a bit of room, then take them inside and through into the other side for shearing.
A very nice sunset.
Freddie just checking that it is his dad Tellus.
Jakobs after shearing, we are mating him with Silla at the moment.
Chanel enjoying the grass, finally we got started on treating her skin problems.
A rainbow over the boys house.
Preparation for the summer house, it now has a level layer of gravel an underground electric cable from the barn in place so is ready to build on.
An escaping grape vine.
Amanda helping Marvellous Marv on his feet.
Here he is with his coat on and matching neck splint.
And here without the coat, he's just so fluffy.
Don't you just love him.
Lolly wasn't too sure about him at first but now follows him everywhere.
Brencis posing for a dark atmospheric photo shoot. Worked well don't you think?
Vanessa on tree pruning duty.
So now we are waiting for Ilvija to have her first cria. Our first totally home grown alpaca as both Ilvija and George were born and bred here.
Hopefully it should only be around three weeks till Amanda has her cria, she definitely now looks pregnant, I even saw it moving around the other day while she was sat down. She has become quite forceful with Karla (her cria from last year) in telling her to go away, I think she now just wants to concentrate on the new cria. Poor Karla does look a little lost though and not sure what to do or who to bond with. Lolly and her were never best of friends, I think Lolly was a little pushy for her. The good news is that Karla has now started eating the pellet food and even has her own tray at putting away time. This means I can look at starting to halter train her.
I mentioned last time how the fleece seems to have rapidly grown since they got out onto the grass, well it’s not just the fleece that has grown, both Karla and Lolly have grown in height. Most of the alpacas who had lost some weight over the winter have now put it back on, to my great relief. I am convinced our hay wasn’t very good last year, so fingers crossed for a better year this year.
I gave up with trying with the early mating for cria to born next April. I was trying the younger boys for the first time and it wasn’t very successful. What I really needed was a experienced male mating in one half of the alpaca house with one of the young boys and a female on the other to “get him going”. It worked with George last year. But due to the logistics and available males and females it was just too difficult, and I just ran out of time. I can’t really aim for cria in May or early June as much as I would like too, because that is when I am usually away shearing and I want to be around when cria are born in case of problems. So, I will wait a bit longer and try again for cria born end of June July. Just in case you didn’t know alpaca pregnancy last around eleven and a half months and they usually have one cria, twins are very rare. Agnese and Amanda and Silla (who lost her cria at birth) last year all carried for around a year, I wonder if that was due to the extreme heat.
Shearing season has started and I have been travelling around shearing other people’s alpacas. It’s great to meet the alpacas and the owners, the downside is trying to organise it all when the weather is so unpredictable. Some places do not have the facility to shear indoors so it needs to be dry, there is one place I have had to rearrange twice because of rain. I haven’t done any of my own alpacas yet, so I hope it doesn’t get too hot in the next few weeks.
I signed up for a recent two-day online conference about alpaca handling, training, the various approaches to it and also alpaca behaviour. Due to time differences, I couldn’t watch it live but have been catching up on the presentations when I have time. They have been fascinating, I am getting really interested in the whole behaviour, handling, training side of alpacas and llamas and I am toying with the idea of taking it further and doing a full-blown training course and becoming a registered camelid training/behaviour consultant. So watch this space.
Josefs taking it easy on a nice warm day.
The girls also relaxing on a warm day.
Lolly and Chanel.
Ilvija is due to have her cria middle of July.
Took this photo of some miniature daffodils we planted under the old oak tree and it was only afterwards when I looked at the photo I saw the spider.
We had some warm sunny weather then some heavy rain. The alpacas decided they needed a wash so spent most of the time outside in the rain and got very wet. This is Aggie.
Antonia with Chanel in the background.
Silla. Sorry Silla but you do remind me of a sheep in this photo.
It may be raining but at least the grass is yummy.
A wet Lolly.
Vanessa having a flat hair day.
Valeria has spotted the cows in the neighbours field.
Amanda is due to have her cria in about three weeks time.
A very wet and grubby looking Karla and Mari.
Lolly looks so different with flat hair.
No Comment Josefs.
Jakobs, stop laughing at Josefs.
Mr Tellus you should know better than to stay out in the rain at your age.
The next day was windy but warm with sunshine and by the afternoon original Lolly had returned.
So had fluffy Karla.
Even George had dried out, now have to hope it stays dry and warm to get them all sheared.
I think it is safe to say that spring has finally sprung, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the bitterly cold north wind has been blowing. So, it has still been three layers of clothes, winter boots, thick coat, woolly hat, and gloves whenever you go outside, but at least it is dry. The grass has been rocketing away, everywhere is now green. I have let the alpacas out of the paddocks into small, fenced areas to eat the grass, they get about three days before I move them again to stop them scalping the grass so early in the year. They love it, and I love to see them run out of the paddock in the morning to the grass and the girls have even been pronking around in the evenings. (For any new followers, pronking is when they look like they are bouncing on all four legs) However spring for the boys usually means chasing each other around in the evenings and fighting (usually playfighting), it happens every year without fail at this time.
I am going to fence off an area around the oak tree hill for the girls to use and the fence posts came last week, just need to get the wire now. I used some of the posts to create a permanent corridor between the two girl’s paddocks so they can mix and share grazing areas. I am hoping it means they can still mix in the winter as I can use the snow blower to keep the corridor clear. At putting away time Vanessa’s girls make their way to their house and Aggie’s girls to theirs, I have them well trained.
I have been taking the alpacas out for walks to get them back into the swing of it again, they usually don’t take much persuasion to go. They know they get to eat grass on the way. It’s not often I get to take Aggie for a walk, and I always feel quite emotional when I do. Last few years she has been pregnant or been feeding and I don’t walk them then. She was the first alpaca I trained to walk and even though she is not walked often she still remembers what to do. She will walk steadily alongside you and respond to commands. I used to walk her a lot when she was small, so it brings back many good memories. I must admit Aggie is my favourite alpaca even though she can be a pain in the bum at times, but she was our first cria and I learned such a lot from her.
Big news is the vet came to scan the girls and Ilvija and Amanda are pregnant, cria due mid-June to beginning of July, but Silla and Valeria are not which is what I suspected from their behaviour when the boys escaped and got in with the girls last year. While the vet was here, she also castrated Freddie. His fleece has never been wonderful, and he has inherited his mums skin issues as well as having a weak knee ligament which is also inheritable, so we were never going to breed from him. He is quite gentle and sweet but towards the end of last year and in the very early spring this year he has been the instigator of many of the fights with the boys so we decided it might be best to have him castrated. He was on his feet and eating after about 20 minutes and has shown no aftereffects at all. It should take around six weeks for the testosterone levels to fall. He is still currently joining in with the boys fighting, I keep telling him to watch those stitches.
Now we know which girls are pregnant we have started the process of mating some of the others. I am trying Josefs and Jakobs for the first time. Josefs was pretty good and knew what to do, but Jakobs was a little slower. It is so funny with the young males until they get more experienced, you have to keep turning them around, “no not that end, try this end, you need to be a little further up” etc, I never thought I would need to be an alpaca sex therapist.
I was beginning to get a little worried that the fleeces this year hadn’t grown a lot but then suddenly over the last two weeks, boom…they seemed to have exploded. They all look so fluffy and long now, it always seems such a shame to have shear them.
The dawn chorus of bird song now is getting quite loud as more and more birds have returned, the wagtails returned about a week and a half ago and last Saturday it was the cuckoo. Then on Sunday it was the one I always love to see and that is the swallows, so fingers crossed they want to nest in the alpaca houses again, they have been looking.
Ilvija is pregnant to George, this is her first cria. I can't wait to see what colour it is.
Jakobs and Brencis relaxing in the morning sunshine, that snow in the background has all gone now and the grass is growing fast.
The wagtails have returned.
Jakobs is a very pretty looking alpaca, but Silla didn't seem to think so when I took him to mate.
Mr P practicing for those long lazy days of summer. The number of those longer grey fibres is increasing every year.
The cranes have been back a while.
Rocket Ron (aka Mr Rocket) has slowly been putting weight back on.
You may remember last year I was stung in the face by a wasp while trying to wash out a wasps nest in a nesting box on the barn. Well I recently took the box down and opened it up, this is the remains of the nest and if you look closely there is even a dead wasp at the bottom.
This was one evening as the sun was going down and it lit up just the top of the trees.
What a scruffy bunch of characters.
Especially this one.....
We had our yearly inspection from Sophie our previous cat. She has deserted us for the last few years and taken up residence in our neighbours cow barn where it is warm and she is well fed.
I have fenced off a corridor between the two girls paddocks so the can easily mix.
Mr.P is also beginning to put weight back on. I think our hay from last year was not very good as a few alpacas have lost weight. The majority are now on extra high protein food to help them.
Love this photo of Tellus. Things were so different when Tellus, Herkules and Turbjørn first arrived 10 years ago, we knew very little about keeping alpacas and made plenty of mistakes, but we learned such a lot from them.
George was on "companion" duty here. He was kept in with Freddie as Freddie was not allowed outside having just been castrated that morning. George wasn't too happy about it though and continually moaned at the door.
The girls finally out on the grass.
I expected there to be a choir of heavenly angels singing as Aggie is illuminated by the rays from the sun..
Silla is, as expected, not pregnant, so I am trying to mate her with Jakobs and if that doesn't work then with George.
Karla's fleece feels so soft.
The girls were queuing up to roll in the dust, there were at least five of them one after another. Here Antonia is waiting for Valeria to finish.
Here little bossy Karla is trying it on with Antonia, needless to say she didn't win.
So she decided to go and have a roll in the dust instead.
Lolly's fleece also feels so soft, but doesn't pick up as many bits of stuff as Karla's.
Strange to think just a few weeks ago there was still snow on the ground.
The boys are at it again, especially these two, George and Jakobs.
But Josefs does like to join in too.
As I had suspected from their behaviour Amanda and Ilvija are pregnant but Silla and Valeria are not. Amanda is due mid June and the father is Brencis, who also fathered Karla from Amanda last year. Ilvija is due mid July and the farther is George. I am very excited as this will be our first totally "home grown" cria from parents both conceived and born here and it should be an interesting colour.
Freddie was also castrated this morning, not sure who was the more nervous Freddie, me or the vet as this was the first time she had done an alpaca. All went well and Freddie was up on his feet within about 20mins of the operation. I also took the opportunity while he was sedated to file down his fighting teeth. The operation has come just in time as there have been a couple of evening when Freddie has been chasing the other boys around trying to bite them. It takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the testosterone levels to fall then we should start see some changes in his behaviour.
Amanda is due mid June, will we get another Karla?
Ilvija (on the left) is due mid July, strange to think Chanel (on the right) will be a grandmother, wonder how she will cope with that.
I don't think Freddie will be doing any running around for a few days.
About a week ago I finally stopped feeding Lolly, she has been really good about it. I think she has handled it better than I have, I quite miss doing it, it’s been part of my routine for nearly the last eight months. In the morning when I let them out, she comes running up to me and will pester me a little, “where’s my milk” she says. But if I ignore her, after a minute or so she gets the message that there is no milk and backs off and leaves me alone. I have been wanting to take her out for walks but there is still too much snow around for her short legs, and now it is finally going it is very muddy. Normally this time of year I start taking the boys out for walks to get them back in practice, but because of the lingering snow I haven’t even managed to do that.
We removed the bandage from Brencis rear leg and while he was being held took the opportunity to cut his toenail and give him his vitamin D injection. His leg has healed well, there are no signs of any lasting damage. I am so relived as he is our chief walker. He loves to go for walks.
Shearing time is approaching fast, I have just received some new combs and cutters from the UK and thanks to Brexit they have cost me a fortune. Mr.P and his two sons, Josefs and Jakobs are in serious need of front teeth cutting they are beginning to get a bit long. They may need to be done before shearing time if they get out onto the grass before then as I think they would have difficulty eating it, it’s not so much of an issue eating hay from the feeders.
I think Aggie is after a man. She is in her, I will let you stroke me phase, she will come up to you and will not back away when you reach out and just stands there while you stoke her, it’s almost as if she wants to be touched. She is not getting a man though; Aggie has been well and truly retired from the cria producing group. She has produced some nice cria, but she doesn’t handle being pregnant very well and she is not a good mother, she rejected Josefs for the first three days and then wouldn’t feed Lolly hence why I have had to bottle feed her. We had to put some cream on her feet and legs the other day and once I held her, she more or less just stood there. I stand at arm’s length and put one hand under her jaw, thumb on one side and fingers on the other and with the other hand hold the back of her head just under her ears and with my first three fingers can massage the top of her head. This really seems to relax her and of course I talk to her all the time.
I am still waiting to hear when the vet with the ultrasound can come to scan if my girls are pregnant, been waiting since September, not very good is it. I really need to know soon because we are going to risk early mating this year for early cria births next year. They will also be around nine months pregnant which is when the mum’s energy requirement begins to increase due to the cria inside her, so depending on their body score they may require extra food. This was just little fact I learned on the course I did. Fascinating when you think that they would naturally start to wean any cria when they are around eight to nine months old so they can then concentrate all their energy into growing the next one. Isn’t nature wonderful.
There are lots of photos this time.
We are planning to open again for visitors soon but that will all depend on how quickly the snow disappears and how quickly the ground dries up, so watch this space for further news.
Brencis enjoying the snow.
Flocks of geese have been flying over, but there doesn't seem to be any consensus which is the best direction. I have seen them heading north, south, east and west.
I will be talking to the vet to arrange getting Freddie castrated, before the hormones begin to rise in the spring.
Brencis having a scratch on a spruce tree I put in the paddock.
You are not supposed to dive into it Brencis.
Silla stood on the frozen snow next to the fence, luckily she is not too desperate to get out as I think she could quite easily get over the fence.
This is what she is looking at, she wants to go and see the other girls.
Amanda looks surprised to see me.
Antonia looking very serious.
Aggie having a scratch, we recently put cream on her rear leg, her feet and around her nose to help with her skin problems.
Karla having a roll in the snow.
Lolly has spotted Vanessa's girls.
Mari needs a little trim before shearing so she can see properly.
Karla is just a ball of fleece, and hay, and dirt, and spruce needles, and twigs ...and... and....
Looks like Lolly and Ilvija are posing for the photograph.
Vanessa nibbling at the freshly appearing moss.
The geese have not been the only things flying over just lately.
Brencis and George out in the morning sunshine.
Mr. P and his teeth. The bald patch on his nose is from the rubbing they get when they put their head into the abrasive hay to eat. Most of my alpacas get this this time of year, the fleece normally grows back when they get back on the grass and don't eat as much hay.
A fluffy looking Jakobs and his sticky out teeth.
Josefs has been rolling in the snow, you can see his protruding teeth too.
A coltsfoot flowering inside the greenhouse.
The snow is going but just too slowly for my liking.
A nice portrait of Freddie. You can see the start of a bald patch on his nose.
Mr. P spying on me.
Which side of the post does Brencis have his neck?
This is what I have been up to over the last few weeks, cutting trees. Some of these spruce have been getting too big, taking up too much ground area and light.
This is the stump from the second tree in the previous photo, its about 30 to 35 cm in diameter and I count about 18 to 20 rings.
Lolly looking all cute.
This is what I see each morning, "have you got my milk".
You haven't got time to take photos, we want our food.
I love these patterns on the snow as it disappears, looks like something from another planet.
My chickens are embarking on a new venture, laying ready decorated eggs just in time for easter. Got to admit I have never seen one like this before, it is a two tone blue.
It been an interesting last few weeks, Joanna has been away and I have been on my own, so some of the alpacas decided it would be a good time to make my life difficult. Firstly, there was Josef and the cut to his top dental pad I mentioned in my last post. Then a few days after that I went into Vanessa’s girls house and there was a very distinctive smell. A smell I recognised… feet, or to more precise in between the toes. I managed to get hold of each one of the girls to check and low and behold Antonia had a very bad infection between her toes on both front feet. I tried to clean it out and put on some of Joanna’s “magic” cream but after a few days it still wasn’t healing. Vanessa was also stamping one of her rear legs and when I looked, she also had an infection between the toes. I think it is because of mites and the fact it has been damp. Aggie then started with a sore patch on the inside or her rear thigh due to mites. I tried to put some cream on her and discovered she has quite a kick to her, luckily it was to the wall and not me.
Then to cap it all one evening when I went to put the boys away Brencis was limping badly on one of his rear legs, he was holding it in the air and wouldn’t put any weight on it. I presume he had been fighting and had slipped on the ice. I went to get our neighbour to come and look at him. She didn’t think it was broken and we bandaged him up. She came back next day to check on him and while she was there, we checked on all the girls to see what their feet were like. There was Antonia, Vanessa and Karla who had infections. I got some antibiotic spray from the vet and our neighbour brought some warm water and washed their feet in potassium permanganate solution and I sprayed in between the toes. I continued with the antibiotic spray for five days and glad to say the infections have gone. Brencis still has the bandage on but he is now walking ok, in fact he had a slight trot into the alpaca house one evening at putting away time. We think he has strained his Achilles tendon.
At last the alpacas are beginning to spend some time outside because the sun has finally made an appearance over the last week. It has actually been quite warm during the day.
Lolly is now down to around 40mls of milk in the morning and that’s it, soon I will stop all together. It’s hard to believe she is coming up for 8 months old.
Silla glowing in the sunshine.
Brencis and his bandaged leg, glad to say he is much better now.
Antonia and her blue feet. I wish you could get a spray that didn't have dye in it.
Tracks left in the snow from a hay delivery by sledge to the girls.
Ginger Tom out on the prowl.
I think he has been spotted.
Look at the length of Josefs eyebrows.
Vanessa (left) and Silla (right) catching up on the gossip, Silla always looks so serious.
Little Lolly is nearly 8 months old.
Antonia was very good while I was dealing with her toes, once I got hold of her she more or less stood still while I picked up her legs and sprayed in-between her toes.
This mobile hay stack also goes by the name of Karla.
Karla will be coming up for nine months old, she is still feeding from her mum but not often.
Chanel enjoying the afternoon sun.
Mari is in the zone.
GT and Rocket Ron have spent most of the winter in the small greenhouse with the chickens.
Freddie is another one basking in the sunshine.
And so is George.
Things are certainly a lot quieter around here since Turbjørn died, he used to make his displeasure known if he felt any of the others were invading his personal space by squealing very loudly. Mr.P and him used to make one heck of a noise, there have been times I have gone running up to see what was happening expecting there to be a big fight, only to see them stood next to the feeder looking at each other. I had to cut a pathway through the snow to the top of the land so we could bury him. I am still waiting for the histology results to come back to see it there was any cancerous tissue around his heart and lungs.
On the weekend Turbjørn went rapidly downhill we also had issues with Mari. While giving them some hay on Saturday afternoon I noticed she seemed very unstable on her feet and at one point she even stumbled. I was very concerned as this is not a good sign at all in an alpaca. I contacted our neighbour to see if she could come and take a look and went home to get the Vitamin D, B-complex and Vitamin B1 injections. Her temperature was 42oC, and her stomach motility was a bit slow. I gave her the injections and also a paracetamol tablet to get her temp down and some drops for her stomach. We had to come back in the evening to check again and it was 40oC so she got another tablet. In the morning it was around 39oC so she got another tablet but by the afternoon it was back to normal. She has been fine since.
I finally got the chance to clear out some of the bedding in two of the alpaca houses as I was nearly hitting my head on the roof beams, plus it was starting to get pretty bad in there. I had to clear away the snow on the other side of the paddock fence to dump it, normally I would put it in the trailer and dump it at the top of the land but there is just too much snow at the moment. I managed to clear out about 2/3rds and get some fresh bedding down, I think they were all very relieved it’s a lot more pleasant inside now. This winter the alpacas have hardly been outside at all, I do leave the doors open for them but they just don’t want to go out. They may venture out if the sun is shining but there hasn’t been much of that this year.
We managed to do the latest round of Vitamin D injections and toenail trimming without any real fuss, they all more or less behaved themselves. I wonder if it’s the result of the online training and behaviour course I did. Don’t know what we will be doing for Vitamin D injections next year as a lot of companies have stopped making it due to changes in EU regulations for the amount of Vitamin E allowed in meat. A lot of the injections are a mix of A, D and E it is very rare stuff indeed now, I nearly kissed the vet when she said she did have a bottle, but it will be the last.
I mentioned I have been doing an online course in Alpaca health management, it has been very worthwhile even if it does mean a late (post-midnight) finish on a Wednesday. Last night was about skin problems, probably the most common issue for all alpaca owners, but we have also covered Nutrition, Parasites, biosecurity and next weeks is about what to do when things go wrong.
Although I am trying to learn as much as possible about caring for alpacas (especially the veterinary side of things), so you know what to look out for and what to do in various situations, I am just so grateful for our neighbour who I can call on if I am unsure, she did used to be a vet.
About a week ago I noticed Josefs was sitting down a lot and didn’t seem interested in things, which was strange for him. A few days later he was back to himself so thought no more about it. Yesterday he seemed to have something in his mouth so I got hold of him and got it out, it looked like black plastic, very odd!!! Gave him some food but as he ate it, I could see there was still something in his mouth. Went and got my head torch to have a better look but he wouldn’t keep his head still. So, I asked if our neighbour was free to help hold him while I had a better look. Turned out he had a very large, deep cut to the bottom of the top dental pad in his mouth. First thought was it was his teeth had cut it but his teeth are all in the correct positions. So, I presume he has cut it on a tough woody stem while pulling hay from the feeder. It is well on its way to being healed and luckily it wasn’t infected. But it just shows it is worth while getting to know the behaviour of each alpaca and watching them more carefully and checking them over when that behaviour changes.
Fence, what fence? I think these tracks are actually from a Lynx, they are definitely cat like but much bigger than a typical cat. There have also been recent Lynx sightings nearby.
Did I mention it has been snowing.
Looks like I forgot to take down the Christmas light decorations.
This is the pathway I had to dig to get to the top end of the land so we could bury Turbjørn.
Jakobs is beginning to look very fluffy.
Josefs checking out the pile of old bedding I dumped on the other side of the fence.
Mother and daughter sat side by side, Amanda and Karla.
A view of the snow drift behind Vanessas girls house, it is at least 1m deep. That fence wire is 1.2 meters in height.
Amanda and Karla lit in the light from my head torch.
This is a picture taken with my phone down the microscope while I was checking poo samples for parasites. This is a mite that has been ingested as the alpaca has been scratching itself with its mouth. Some alpacas can cope with them but others are very sensitive to them and they can cause loss of fleece and thickening of the skin.
Rocket Ron and Ginger Tom are either found in the little greenhouse with the chickens or on top of the caravan in the big greenhouse. Why? because both places are warm.
Josefs is just so cuddly and best thing is he will let you.
Mari watching something out of the doorway.
I always wanted to be a surgeon. The patient was in an accident and lost the arm at the shoulder many years ago, the arm and spring was kept and after some in-depth studying (YouTube Video) I decided to try reattach it. This is just post op and the patient is in intensive care.
Day 3 post op, patient doing push ups.......operation was a big success.
Think I need to get out more.............
It is with great sadness that I have to announce the passing of Mr. Turbjørn, he died yesterday morning after a very rapid decline in his condition.
A week ago, I found him on his side on the floor when I went to let them out in the morning, got him up and he seemed ok. But a few days later found he could not get up on his own, so called the vet who came to look at him and take some blood tests. His recent gut parasite tests had shown a slightly increased level of eggs so he was given anti worming treatment. His blood results showed a slight anaemia but everything else was basically normal. Over the week I would help him up in the morning and he would be on his feet most of the day even going outside. But on Sunday he seemed much more uncomfortable with what looked more like colic, we gave him some drops to try and ease the colic and in the afternoon he seemed easier. But then yesterday morning he did not look good at all and by around 11am he had died.
It was such a shock because over the last month or so he seemed to moving so much better and looked so much more alert. An autopsy was done and his kidneys, liver etc and GI tract were all normal, but there was some evidence of bleeding and some unidentified tissue around his lungs and heart which the vet thought may be cancerous so I am taking that today to be tested.
Turbjørn along with Herkules and Tellus was one of the first alpacas we got nearly ten years ago, he was four when he came to us. He was a “pet” quality alpaca, previously castrated and not very fine fleece. Alpacas all have their own distinct personality, just like humans, but Turbjørn was definitely the odd ball. We always said he was the grumpy uncle in the family. He liked his personal space and if anyone entered that they knew about it. He was usually found sat at a great distance from the rest of the group and preferred to be on his own. Any new young males we introduced to the group very rapidly discovered you don’t go near Turbjørn. He was around third in line in the herd hierarchy and had been known to step in and stop some fighting between the others. I think he was perhaps the most intelligent of all the alpacas he knew exactly what you were doing or were about to do. Whenever it came to shearing, toenails, injections etc we always had to do him first as he would have been so stressed by the time it was his turn. He was always a bit nervous and would not eat from your hand, he would if you put it on a tray and hold it but not directly from your hand, however last year he suddenly started doing it. We had an arrangement at putting away time, all the boys would come to the gate as I went in with the trays but Turbjørn would wait at the edge of the group and I would turn and offer him the top tray and he would take a few mouthfuls before we went in.
Turbjørn was the first alpaca that I realised was directly communicating with me, as I mentioned he was very nervous and one day he kept coming and standing in front of me and looking at me which was so out of character for him, as I moved, he would move and do the same again. Eventually I discovered the water bucket was empty and he was telling me he was thirsty and needed a drink.
Nearly two years ago just before shearing I noticed he would walk around with his head down low, at the time there were a lot of flies and I thought he was keeping out the way of them. But after we sheared him, I realised he had a very bad kink in his neck, X-rays showed he had dislocated his neck in two places, I presume him and his older brother Tellus had been fighting. We got an animal physiotherapist to look at him and she did a great job he looked a lot better; I continued with regular massage and got a heating pad for him. I think he knew we were trying to help him as he would just stand there and looked relaxed, again so out of character for him. That winter was very cold and he had lost a lot of weight, I think he couldn’t chew his food properly to grind it up enough to process it efficiently and of course the stress from a constantly uncomfortable neck. So, we had a special coat made for him with an extra neck piece to keep his neck warm, he loved it, I also think it helped support his neck as well as keep him warm. Last summer he made sure he kept his distance for the others, especially when they were fighting or running around, to protect his neck. I was hoping he would start to put some weight back on when on the grass, he did a little but not what I hoped for.
I will sorely miss Turbjørn and his eccentricities which made him so special, thank you for being part of my life and I hope you enjoyed your time with us.
This was the first time we saw Turbjørn, when we went to visit the breeder in Sweden who we got our first three boys from ten years ago.
This is when he first arrived with us along with Herkules and Tellus. He was four years old..
His fleece was always on the coarse side but he used to produce a lot.
He had a small patch of light brown fleece on his back.
Family portrait. Turbjørn at the back, his nephew Brencis in the middle and his older brother Tellus at the front. We always thought Brencis looked more like his uncle Turbjørn than his dad Tellus.
He did enjoy an early morning sing song.
Having a good scratch, this is of course before he dislocated his neck.
This is post dislocation, you can see the main dislocation in his lower neck and the second was about 2/3rds of the way up.
He had physiotherapy and I also used a heat pad to try to keep him comfortable.
I also had a special coat with neck attatchment made for him to keep him warm in the winter as he had lost a huge amount of weight.
A very rare sight of Turbjørn eating from my hand, it was only in the last year he started doing this.
This is the last photo I have of Turbjørn taken 11th January he had been out eating the snow.
R.I.P. Turbjørn you will be dearly missed.
It’s been a weird winter so far, it snows then warms up, one day it was -18oC when I came out in the car and by that evening it was +1oC, in fact I did see +7oC in the greenhouse at one point, I don’t think the alpacas are complaining though. They have spent a lot of time inside, by choice, I do leave the door open so they can go out if they want too. Usually if it is sunny, they will venture out for a little while. Because they are inside a lot has meant I am checking on them more often and poo clearing, as I don’t want it to build up to unacceptable levels. It also reduces the chance of them picking up any intestinal parasites. Over the last few weeks, I have been checking the poo samples for parasites, I am pleased to say they are reasonably free. Some did show a raised number of tapeworm eggs and I am deciding whether to treat or not as when reading up about it, most say tapeworm is not a big problem in alpacas and doesn’t need treatment whereas some say it can cause weight loss. I am more concerned that I did see a lot of mites in the poo samples, way more than I usually do which suggests there is a very high level of them in the bedding and on the alpacas. Possibly because it hasn't been really cold for any real length of time which would kill them off. Strangely though, apart from Chanel who usually reacts to mites, none of the others are showing any signs of mite issues.
In the mornings I have been giving Turbjørn a pot full of soaked Lucerne and Camelibra pellets to try to help him gain weight. He is a very bright alpaca and when I go in makes his way past all the others into the smaller side of the alpaca house while I get anyone else out and close the gate. He stands there while I put it on a tray, literally salivating and smacking his lips. We don’t have weighing scales so I can’t say for certain he is putting weight back on and his body score (a simple way to assess the condition of an alpaca by feeling its spine) is still very low but he really seems to be moving much better and seems much more alert, so I presume it is doing him some good.
I have only had a couple of chances to take Lolly out for a walk due to the snow which is a shame as I would like to take her out more often. I did take her up past the boys who came out to see her. I don’t think she was that bothered at all. I am aiming to have her weaned by early February so she is now down to one ¾ full bottle three times a day and the midday feed will be dropped soon.
I have been studying just lately and have just completed an online course in alpaca behaviour and training, it was fascinating. Now the hard part is putting it all into practice, not as easy as it looks. I will be going in at the deep end as I aim to work mainly with Chanel who is perhaps the most difficult of all my alpacas. She is the one with skin issues that need dealing with and is of course the one who doesn’t like being handled, wish me luck. I am also in the middle of an on-line course in alpaca health management, which again is fascinating, it’s organised by a specialist alpaca vet. I have lots of “bits” of information floating around in my head and it’s been good to have some order and structure put to it and learn the reasons behind some of it.
Awwooooooo Brencis practicing his wolf impressions.
Long ice crystals on a stem on a cold frosty morning.
Peek a boo says Lolly.
Amanda glowing in the afternoon sunshine.
I know I keep saying it but I just can't get over how stunningly beautiful winter can be.
But also hard work, I decided to clear the snow from the sides of the greenhouse.
Over the Autumn and winter Mr. P has shown no signs of his breathing problems, it's usually in the spring when it starts.
George and Mr. P out in the afternoon sunshine.
Our very creative scarf designer Silla, I have been talking to her about possibly doing workshops this year.
Mother and daughter, Vanessa (mum) on the left and daughter (Valeria) on the right.
Close up of Vanessa's smile.
I shall be practicing all my handling and training techniques on Chanel.
Still waiting to find out if Ilvija is pregnant.
Karla is growing fast.
Her fleece is a bit of a hay magnet though, she is usually covered in bits of hay.
Freddie.also glowing in the afternoon sunshine.
Errmmm Freddie I wouldn't do that if I was you, I don't think Brencis is too pleased.
Jakobs might look cute but you have to watch him, he usually pinches the food from Freddie's tray when I pop out to close the other door. He doesn't do it if I am stood there.
Josefs is just so cute though.
Jakobs, Freddie and Josefs tucking into our Christmas tree.