Miracles do happen......
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.