Tuesday, 30 August 2011

It's unnecessary, it's extravagant, its Earl !

I saw an Alpaca breeder somewhere called 'Why Not'.  Indeed, why not?  We need no justification, we owe no explanation to anyone and anyway we can do as we please in a free country.  Besides, we have the land to maintain and the grass needs to be eaten.  That's it, the land.  We have a responsibility as stewards of the countryside to keep the grass eaten. In fact it would be downright irresponsible not to have Alpacas as without them, the grass would grow and grow and the countryside would disappear.

So goes the theory.  We were worried that we may not have enough grass and we would have to improve the pasture to keep the boys fueled.  In fact the converse is true.  We need to employ the services of either (a) More Alpacas (b) A suitable mowing solution (c) Some combination of both (a) and (b) !

This summer we have asked on several occasions for the farmer down the road to top the paddock.  He does a grand job, and does it willingly, and his topper is a tip-top topper.  But there are those other little jobs, and it would be nice to be able to top a little more often to chop off the buttercup and stop it speading further.

I was lent a small ride-on last summer and managed to leave it gasping with the length of the grass and my weight.  After that I decided that really they were not up to the job as the paddock is a large area and has quite a slope on it.

The solution .. Let me introduce Earl.

Whatcha think boys ? 

Earl is a 1950 Ferguson TE-A 20.  AKA a little Grey Fergy and so named as we are both Earl Grey Te-a addicts.
Small enough to get round the paddock and not be too much in the way when parked, Powerful enough to run a small topper, possible to borrow other implements for a proper tractor (Harrow, Roller etc). Possible, with some minor form filling, to make road-legal.

Let me let you into a secret.  If you want a new tractor, buy a vintage one.  Earl cost a lot less than a 'modern' 2nd hand tractor, or even a beat-up ride-on come to that, but has just about new everything.  New paint, new engine bits, new tyres, new oil.  Not that I was around 60 years ago, but I imagine he drives better than when he came out of the factory. The guy who restored him put in a lot of hours - I mean a lot - that simply are not reflected in the going rate.

Not only that - but as a design classic, and not too big, Earl is fun for the whole family.

Get Off !

Are we redundant boss ? - Nargh.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Shed Shenanagins

Post two in our rapid fire catch up series.  Remember a past post where I put up a picture of the shed while still at the concept stage ? No ? Just to remind you here it is.

At the time such planning gave us something to do while the boys grew up but mostly was intended to amuse Barbara and Paul, who humoured us and entertained our fussing very patiently.

Things progressed and the sketch turned, more or less, into reality.  We thought we had covered everything until the planning man knocked on our door.  It turns out we should have sought permission.  Apparently the concrete base wasn't the problem, and the mobile field shelter on its own wasn't an issue per se.  It would seem however that the sum of the parts demanded some bureaucratic attention. 

Two choices.  rage against the machine or play the game. We decided to play the game and take the job on ourselves rather than engage an agent.  Out with the CAD package, read up on the regulations, visit the planners, buy large scale OS maps. Measure and re-measure.  Fill out the forms.  Make the statements, fill out the form again, adjust the plans.  Pay the fee and hope.

So more reasons to keep quiet.  Worry, and not wishing to upset the apple cart.  Failure really was not an option.  The boys have to have a shed for their welfare. It can get wet and its always windy here as we are on the top of the Pennines at just under 1000ft. and the wind accelerates as it comes over the top.  

So the sketch turned into a drawing (actually 2 drawings, a plan, a map, a form, a document or two .. )

But I am happy to announce that all is well ! Planning permission granted !  If anyone wants a copy and some advice - let me know.

Work on the shed was on hold while the decision process was in-work so the first thing was to finish up some elements and the time to do it was while Timmy was at hand to wield a rake.

Hang on, Who is holding the rake here ?

After all that hard work it was time for a 'bit of a do' to celebrate.  The shed was decorated inside and out.
Note the raffia, gold banjo - one of a pair.  A collectors item if ever there was one.  Sadly now removed from public display to our secure storage facility.

 The interior design team

Suitable provisions were made available in the feed-store area (aka 'The Camel Bar').

The guests of honour were seated.

"I tell you boys, you are better off this side of the fence.  A couple of drinks and it will all kick off"
The VIPs were gathered

 "Unaccustomed as I am to Public Speaking" (and sharp pointed scissors)

 " It gives me great pleasure"

 "Without more ado, to declare the Camel Bar ..."

Open !

Phew ! ... Tune in soon for the shed illumination episode - That's all folks.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

New Arrivals

We have been keeping our heads down, and keeping busy.  Hopefully I can cover a lot of ground in a few catch up posts.

To start with we didn't post because when seen beside all the posts of cute little cria and exciting birthings and dramatic events our blog really didn't have much to say. There was just steady progress and we were enjoying the routine of looking after the boys.  Satisfying and enjoyable? Yes.  News worthy? Maybe not.

So perhaps we have not has as many new arrivals as some, and the choice of an all boy herd has been openly discussed but on reflection we are sure we made the right choices and we have had enough to keep us on out toes.

So the first new arrival was our summer herd hand.  Timmy visited us from Texas.  Timmy has always been an 'animal' man enjoying photographs of wild animals and keeping a range of critters, including running an underground Hamster breeding programme.

Timmy got stuck in an had introduced himself to the boys within minutes of arrival.

Within a day or two Timmy had taken over our duties.  No nipping out to see how the boys are doing, just ask Timmy, he will have been out there.  Feeding - No problem , Water Bucket - Already done , Hay Bag filling - He even invented a new and improved tieing up regime ! Poo picking however was not really the top of Timmy's list though apparently this is because we never let him do it !

The concrete got pressure washed within an inch of its life.

The weather was hot and the boys liked the pressure washing, standing down wind and enjoying the 'mist'.

This was so much fun that they asked for more, moving closer and closer.  I know that the advice is that you should not hose down Alpacas and should try to keep their fleece dry but this really was not as dramatic as it looks, they got a lot less moisture than a normal day when the mist rolls in.

Fun as this was, its not something we intended to make a habit of.  But the weather got hotter, and the boys enjoyment could not be curtailed, so an Alpaca fountain was arranged.

Whats going to happen next Fin ?

Whooa ! Leg it !

You may remember the bizarre emergency when Kenzie managed to thread his head though the wire of the fence and then back on himself.  The immediate action was to shore up the fence with some 'euro-mesh' -  Thick plastic netting stuff, and boy were we glad we had it to hand when we needed it.  I was in two minds about what to do, after all the fence had been fine up to the incident and I am sure that the combination of Kenzie being thin after his infection, having just been sheared and there being some juicy 'rose-bay willow herb' on the other side of the fence was not likely to be repeated.

But you cant ignore lessons like this and anyway an over enthusiastic observer had managed to break a fence post.  No, really - I was watching ! This guy was so keen to get a look at the boys he crossed the verge , jumped the 3' the ditch, scaled the rubble remains of an old dry stone wall and levered himself up using my fence post !  Snap !  So after considerable research on wire and hole size and stuff like 'high-tensile'  I got 100 meters of the right stuff.  Timmy was press ganged again into being a 'wire-wrangler' and a 'post-wacker'.  The result ..

re-secured fence with a more aesthetic finish than 'euro-mesh'.

Note the length of the grass.. more on that to follow.