Monday, 10 December 2012

Falling in Love Again..

Andy and I initially just asked for two brown boys, preferrably friendly, to complete our little herd.  We didn't know how lucky we were with our new Beck Brow boys until we went up to see Hamish and Dougal at their current home in Cumbria last Saturday.

Well to be fair Dougal was already adored from afar because first of all he is the brother of our lovely Noah, and secondly he was the galant and caring boy who looked after a poorly Sox in Barbara's blog of a few months ago.  Who could not love this boy.. The full story on Barbara's blog

Dougal (aka Domingo) with Sox who was suffering with colic.
Dougal is the younger of the two boys, and is still in with his very protective mum, so we didn't get very close, but managed to get a couple of photos.
Dougal and Bonita
Dougal has his serious teddy bear face on
Hamish was in the weanlings group, who all came bounding up when we entered their paddock, still missing Mums a bit we thought.  Hamish was friendly and fairly confident and gave me two kisses (which really only means he allowed me to touch his nose with my nose, thereby giving him the chance to sniff me out..)
Hamish was a little more cautious with Andy.  We couldn't be sure if his
cute black feet were permanent, or just thanks to the muddy conditions.
We thought both boys were adorable, gentle and bright, and we can't wait to get them home.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The end of the world is nigh !

You may know that the Mayans were the first to map time.  And that their calender is due to run out in a few days.  And of course the Mayans are a bit like the Incas who are not too far off the good folk of South America who had the wisdom to invent the Alpaca.  I came across this on the Internet and thought I would share.

 (c) acknowledged if I could actual trace who the originator was !

Sunday, 25 November 2012

A bit dense

In my youth. Not so long ago. It was common, and almost polite, if someone was perhaps not the sharpest person around, to refer to them as 'a bit dense'.  "He's a bit dense, that one" would be muttered while watching some youth attempt to woo his love at the local disco by setting the curtains on fire. Believe me, this was not an atypical Friday night in the further reaches of back-of-beyond where I grew up.

However, in my middle age, and in Alpaca circles, being a bit dense is an accolade and the cause of some celebration.  Indeed, if you are an Alpaca, your station in life and your very future may ride on your density.  For those followers of the blog who are not Alpaca addicts (I know of one or two) density in an Alpaca relates to how many fibres grow per square mm of Alpaca skin.  The more the better, as it means you get more fibre per animal and therefore make more money. In our case, this theoretically could translate to loosing money a little less quickly .

But money isn't everything and being dense has other advantages and disadvantages. 

Advantage.  The chances of getting to use your wedding tackle is higher if you are dense.  This didn't work out for our boys.  But news on this front is encouraging.  Not pretty, but better than it was.  

Advantage. When it finally stops raining for more than an hour, and you get a nice clear frosty night. If you have a nice dense fleece,  You can choose to sleep out on Bev's archery pitch and leave a warm patch on the grass in the morning.

Disadvantage.  The problem of being dense and 'well covered'  Is that it can effect your vision. Here you can see the problem, even if the problem cant see you !

 Poor Kenzie. He has to lift his head and peer out under the fleece that covers his eyes.

The only solution is a bit of a trim.  Its not easy. His fibre is so fine and dense that it clogs scissors and it takes a bit of effort. But the effort is worth it.

Here is an 'after' shot.  Its not pretty, but its effective.  I have a theory that Kenzie's somewhat anxious outlook on life may not be totally unrelated to his restricted vision and I am sure that he appreciates his thinning out.

While snapping Kenzie's new cut I caught this moment.  I am not sure what was going on.  I think Noah has something interesting stuck to his back.  A bit of dead buttercup ?  I small bit of poo ?  Or maybe Fin was just spreading the love?  Either way the boys are happy, apart from the soggy field that it !


Sunday, 11 November 2012

4 'B's

A tale of four Bs.  and I am keeping the best till last so you have to read all the boring bits before you get to the cute photos.

B is for :
Bout of man flu on my day off.  Everyone say Ahh.  But I do feel like poo.  Speaking of which;

B is for : 
Bricks for Burning.  Some time ago we posted about the surplus in the poo dept. One method of reducing the supply was identified as burning it on the fire.  The weather being what is has been there has been ample 'garage  time' and I used this to create, out of only 'found items' and ingenuity a new stride forward in poo brick mold technology.

'Found Items' is a term I have come across many times while accompanying Bev into her world of creative art.  There is a certain kudos in the art world about using found items. The use of found items is a statement about the modern world and its throw away culture.  It is also a reflection on the beauty of the every day that is often overlooked.  In the world of Andy's garage however 'found items' are a statement of compulsive hoarding of 'come in handy' stuff and a reflection on clutter and chaos.

The design process chosen was 'organic' following the school of 'make it up as you go along'.  At this point I have to acknowledge the prior art of messers Paul and Debbie of the Barnacre poo works.  I do believe however my creation has moved the state of the art forward addressing the obvious issues of robustness that their designs have, often failing after only 5 years of use !

The finished tool

This was all some time ago.  I delayed writing about it because I thought that it would be best to include some pictures of the finished product.  I have chosen to use quite mature raw material and it has a very high moisture content.  For some unfathomable reason Bev has banned me from using the simmering oven of the Aga which would obviously be the most effective drying method.  In the face of such unreasonable behavior I have had to construct a drying rack.  We are now some 5 weeks into the experiment and not sure we have anything that would burn rather than steam.  Below some 'product' enjoying an airing in the weak northern sun.

The finished product

B is for :
Balls (or the lack of them).  All is not well in this regard.  We are more than a few weeks down the line from the castration and progress towards healing is not what we would like.  Noah is fine , Kenzie is half fine but Finian isn't quite right on either side.  The reason that the healing has not completed as we would like is that the wounds were too wide.  There has been slow progress and no sign of any infection, the wounds being well sealed with scab and dry.  The boys are in good health, eating , drinking, pooing , weeing , and doing everything one would expect and nothing you would not expect.  But we have been worried and concerned.  Today the vet was called to take a look and he has removed the scab, cut back some protruding healing flesh a little and administered further anti-biotic.  We will be keeping a close watch.

There are a few learning points here:
  • This I think is more of a problem in bigger boys? - No I am not convincing myself here.  I have heard of plenty of older castrations without trouble.
  • Because the boys were carrying too much fat this was a problem to remove.  
  • If we ever have to do this again I think that I would ask for more cross stitches. 
  • If in doubt - Call him out.  We have pontificated too much.

B is for :
Boys !  More of them !  We have decided to grow the herd a little and have bought two new boys.  We are now sure the paddock will support more animals.  We would like some darker fibre and anyway two more does not add up to 2/5ths more work.  (Though poo volume is expected to rise in line with the number of bums - there may be a crash in the poo brick fuel market).  The new boys are still with their mums in Cumbria at Beck Brow the boys have been previously known as Pedro and Domingo. We can now reveal that they will be assuming new identities. 

Image (c) Beck Brow 
Hamish - FKA - Pedro (image (c) Beck Brow)

Image (c) Beck Brow
 Dougal - FKA - Domingo (image (c) Beck Brow)

Friday, 28 September 2012

Big Day

This post is not for those of a delicate disposition

Its been a big day for the boys.  I told them repeatedly it was going to be a big day over the past few weeks but they didn't seem to care.  'Yeah yeah, whatever, where is the hay?'

Having thought it through we have decided to go ahead with castration.  We debated this in late spring (see past blog) and had decided not to, but we have changed our minds.

Why ?
  • Shirley from Tigh Mhor made some useful comments that made us think about the longer term
  • This year's fleece is not as good as last and fleece is important to us.
  • Probably the deciding thing was that Finian has begun to challenge us a little and is increasingly dominant with Noah.  Just last night I was giving him a bit of a hug because I knew what was coming, and there was a bit of a stand off. 
We think that castration will help settle him down a little and may help us if we decide to introduce any new additions to the herd.  I am a little skeptical, I think they may be more or less the same after the event, but with sore bits for a while. Lets see.

So.  Its was a day off work and out bright and early with the pressure washer again, to change the shed into a field hospital. This involved pressure washing and disinfecting with something pink and DEFRA certified to kill all germs dead for a couple of days (Same stuff you use in foot baths for foot and mouth according to the label).

Then an agonising wait for the appointed time.  Neither Bev nor I could settle down to anything.  I busied myself trying to fix my power-line gadget thingy, fetched some logs, scraped the tile adhesive off some tiles that must have been on there for 10 years, pottered in the garage, checked on the progress of the poo-log I made last week-end (still soggy), fiddled with my phone etc. etc.  Nothing got done right, nothing really distracted me.

Chris the vet turned up at the appointed time with his usual cheer.  The boys ran to the shed with their usual thoughts of some grub or other interesting thing.  Then it was down to work.

One at a time they were brought forward into the OR (shed) from the pre-op room (yard).  Fin was chosen to go first, we wanted to get him done as he is apt to enjoy snuffling your ear or tugging on your collar if you are bent over one of the other boys.  Mildly annoying if you are doing something routine, but not what you want when doing something more delicate. Kenzie was going to go next because he would stress if left to last, Noah would bring up the rear (as it were).

Chris is a member of the BVCS and his experience shows. The epitome of  a calm, organized professional.  He soon got down to work.  Setting out his implements, drugs, potions, gloves etc in the 'human side' making great use of Bev's archery target as a useful shelf.  Then to business proper.

Step 1 - Ask the right questions about general health and assess the animals in a calm conversational manor with subtle hands on before you begin. (Boys professionally certified as Fat!)

Step 2 - Brief the daft folk about what is going to happen - Remember the animals history and have a stab at their names (top class account management skills, in a shed!).  Include clear details of what is going to happen, in what order (more Agile than prince-2)

Step 3 - Ask if it is OK to shave a small patch of fleece - assure owner that it will grow back (I guess this one is from experience - but for goodness sake would someone really object?)

Step 4 - Bring in the boy!

Step 5 - Andy to the left, using the usual head cuddle / hand on back restraint.  Bev to the rear right.

Step 6 - Sedative into right Jugular.  Just a few seconds and you can feel the Alpaca begin to relax in your arms.

Step 7 - Pain relief SC into shoulder.  Long acting anti-biotic IM rear flank.

Step 8 - By this time the legs were getting a bit wobbly (the Alpacas, not mine) and were soon on the ground cushed, then on their sides.

Noah, even more out of it than usual  - He was the most floppy.

 Step 9 - Local anesthetic to the target area

A bit of local

Step 9 - Not exactly sure about the detail of these next steps.  I was at the front with a relaxed, but clearly aware Alpaca in my arms.  I know it involved a sterile sheet, a scalpel, a clamp, some suture, There are some pictures below.

Half way !

Two is a pair

A close-up if you are interested
Step 10 - Chis leaves the 1" incision open to allow drainage but puts in a single cross stitch to hold things together.

Step 11 - A spray of blue spray and we are done.  It was amazing how quickly they boys recovered and got on their feet.  We thought we would have to lift Fin into the corner and commence operations with Kenzie, but he soon got himself together and decided he wanted to be outside in the yard.   The picture below shows Fin and Kenzie while Noah was getting done.  Alert and back to themselves minutes after they were having the most horrendous things done to them.
Fin watching Noah 

All over in just around and hour. The worst part was the waiting for the vet!

The behavior of Alpacas is the most fascinating thing about them.  The boys watched their mates with concern during the procedure and looked out for each other after the event.  The best example was when Noah came out.  He was unsteady on his feet and Fin moved close to support him and let him rest his head on Fins neck until he was steady.

The boys are locked in the shed /yard tonight, for the first time ever. We wanted them bedding down in the dry and where we had disinfected.  We hung around for a couple of hours to make sure the sedative had worked out of their system before leaving them.  Hourly checks thereafter to dark.  As the pain relief wears off they are obviously not 'comfortable' and there is more mutual humming going on, this is usually just Noah but nothing too serious.  I'll set them free in the morning.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

$h1t Happens

The boys like to keep a clean shed. Occasionally we need to brush down to gather the waste hay and every blue moon we take it upon our self's to pressure wash the shed and the concrete handling area to keep things Bristol fashion.  This is a routine operation now and I know just how to string together our collection of extension leads and hoses to reach the shed.

I have a store of a mild insecticide / disinfectant that I use to dowse down the living quarters in the belief that it may keep any reservoir of mites at bay. I have no knowledge of a mites life cycle. I have no evidence that there are any microbial colonies lurking with malintent, or plans to take over the earth.  So this is more an act of ceremony than any thing else - but it can't be a bad thing, it seems like the right thing to do a couple of times a year.  Pressure washing is a treat. Normally shy and nervous Kenzie is especially keen.  He noses right up to the water jet, lies down in the way etc. Just so out of character but he clearly loves the experience.

So anyway,  mission complete. A nice clean shed and concrete.  Until the next morning when someone had done a poo in the shed.  This hardly ever happens, only in the wildest gale, with horizontal rain has it ever been known,  perhaps once or twice.  The pattern has repeated though and without direct evidence an investigation of the type seen on Columbo takes place.  Who is the phantom pooer of the shed ? What are the underlying causes of the crime ?

Lets examine the evidence :

  • Who ?  Forensic analysis says that the evidence is too bean like for Fin, he produces more of a hand-grenade offering.  So that narrows it down. 
  • Why ?  Confusion.  I have been conducting a bit of poo pile engineering of late.  This involves digging over the burned patches and re-seeding.  The boys seem mostly to keep clear of the newly dug areas (get your feet dirty) - This would tend to implicate Kenzie.
  • Why ? Safety in numbers.  Pooing does seem to be a communal activity.  Perhaps someone is out of sync with the others.  This could implicate Noah. He won't go anywhere without Fin and if he felt the need in the middle of the night perhaps didn't feel it appropriate to wake Fin and ask if he would accompany him ? 
  • Why ? The sweet smell of home.  Perhaps the pristine shed has lost its homely smell ?  Maybe a bit of poo will reestablish ownership ?   
  •  Why ? Health.  Is someone sick and unable to hold on.  Absolutely no signs of anything wrong with the evidence so I am going to discount that. 

Whoever it is, it seems to have stopped after a few days.  Maybe this is a result of Bev's counselling.  Maybe after Fin rolled in it, and got a nice patch of poo on his neck, he has had a word with the offender? Maybe the usual smell has been re-established?  But perhaps this is a mystery that will never be solved, or perhaps it doesn't need to be solved.  I'm trying to get Bev to move on...

Our midden floweth over.  In 18 months I recon we have a couple or three tons of well compacted wet and smelly gold.  Muck isn't exactly a scarce commodity in these parts. The Yorkshire adage of 'where there is muck, there is brass' doesn't hold.

So what to do ? Brian the bee man lives down the road and has a substantial garden. So operation poo bagging commenced.

So that is say 20% of the stock disposed of.  Our own garden will get a generous cover.  I did this last year come the first frost and have to say that the results have been fantastic.  Reminds me of a joke my dad told me "What do you put on your rhubarb ? Alpaca poo ! Oh really, we put custard on ours"

Really we should be putting it back on the paddock. But this leads to further logistical problems.  We would have to borrow a muck spreader.  Not a problem.  We would have to load the muck spreader, that probably would not be a problem, if I hadn't built the midden with a 3' wide gate !

Putting it on the fire is an attractive option.  Debbie's video shows us the way. So that's a project I intend to start today.  Watch out Paul, my engineering skills will be put into action.

Westmorland show came round again.  Again, Barbara organized the event very well.  Again I got the chance to be ring steward.  It's a long day, but worth it.  I would highly recommend anyone with a small herd and not into showing to offer their services to a show organiser.  We live in a little bit of a bubble and the internet and books don't go near to some hands on experience. I think that there was 100+ animals put forward and I got up-close and personal with most of them.  Conclusion :  Our boys are too fat.  Too fat by far.  Operation slim down has commenced.  Longer term solutions may include dividing the paddock, getting more boys, cutting down on the hay input, no  treats.

Thursday, 30 August 2012


While watching the Para-Olympic opening I was struck by a remarkable similarity

Boris - Mayor of London
Noah - Grand Technocrat of the Shed

Do you think that they could possibly be related ?

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Home Guard Versus The Big Black Beasties

They arrived in the middle of the night amidst thunderous noise, bright flashing lights and the occasional heavy thud. 

The invading force was revealed at dawn to be big, black and scary.  Territory obviously had to be defended.  I don't know how long the boys had been standing guard at the gate when we opened the bedroom curtains, but by the time I got my camera out, 2 hours later, they had obviously decided the attack was not going to be swift, and a seated watch was sufficient - as long as Kenzie blocked the gate with his body..

The enemy viewed from the bedroom window,
the Home Guard on duty.

Like any good General Fin sends his best man (Kenzie) forward,
and sends the pacifist (Noah) to guard the rear. 

I don't know how long the boys stayed on duty, but as I left for work I could see that reinforcements had arrived.  Veteran of many a black beastie invasion our neighbour Charlie was picking them off one by one and removing them from the field of battle, like a modern day Monty on his steed of steel.

They may not have scaled the wall and been bloodied in battle but our boys are still my heroes, showing tremendous courage in the face of a massive enemy - this is in stark contrast to a few months ago when they let a pair of swallows drive them from their own barracks, least said about that the better...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

That Time of Year

It's over a year since the boys arrived and it will soon be their 2nd birthdays.  So now we are seasoned Alpaca owners and things will hopefully start repeating themselves, and we will have more confidence this time round and know what to expect as the year unfolds.

Last year as spring came we found the boys all stood looking quizzically at the shed one morning.  They were reticent to come in for their breakfast.  Whats all this about? we asked .  We then discovered that we had trespassers in the shed. The boys didn't quite know what to do about it so decided standing in the paddock was probably for the best.  The trespassers were a pair of Swallows who had begun to make a nest on one of the joists.  The boys were not at all keen to share so we evicted the birds before they got established and all was well.  A year passes (plus a few weeks due to the weather we have been having) we were not surprised to see this.

 Mr & Mrs Swallow back from their travels

Creatures of habit and tenacious, the swallows remembered the luxury, if not the eviction, and made a bee-line for  the shed.  We were having pangs of guilt about moving them on last year. This year we had something in store for them that may persuade them to seek alternative accommodation.

Meet our newest shed resident and one sure to protect the boys from annoying flapping and coming and going just when they want to chill out.

Meet Mr. Owl

The Swallows have thanked us for this thoughtful provision.  If I am not mistaken they have given up nesting in the rafters.  But I suspect they may have taken to sitting on Mr. Owl's head and pooing down his back instead !  I guess you get what you pay for, Mr Owl cost £4 from ebay.

Spring brought with it a fresh growth of buttercups and Earl was pressed into some real work for a change.  Hopefully regular topping will mean they are less of a problem in coming years without resorting to spraying.  The boys have become too familiar with the tractor so need to be confined during topping operations but watch intently.

And then it was time for the shearer to arrive. 

What lies under these thick blankets ? Have we got two fat boys here ?
Teddy Bear Noah with wet beard syndrome from playing in the trough.

 Fin all fluffed up, but a touch too much guard hair on show.

Kenzie was glad to get the weight off.  He is denser and finer than the others and feels the heat.  Most often its Kenzie flat out taking a nap in the sun.  He doesn't really enjoy the shearing experience but keeps his dignity throughout. 

For a brief period Noah holds himself proud as king of the hill

 Noah looking regal but the forehead cut was all our own work from a week before.  He really is a teddy bear - Not a murmur of complaint during the process.

Fin (as last year) called alarm calls, wet himself, spat and wriggled throughout.  But this year was still top man after the event and made sure the others fell into line straight away.  But the results were worth it.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Here's looking at you kid

We have lots of blog material stored up yet to publish , but thought I would keep things going with this.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Friday, 20 April 2012

A close shave

One for the Alpaca owners really..  No cute kids, no humorous photos, in fact writing this I am wondering can anything from our vast archive of Alpaca photos illustrate the topic.  I'll think of something no doubt but..

I believe that convention is that you castrate non-breeding male Alpacas at around 18 months old. But when 18 months came along we didn't follow convention. We had done some superficial research and taken some advice and believed that it would be better to let the boys grow fully before doing this.

At 18 months this was an easy decision to make.  They were still growing and at that time the decision was made not to castrate mostly to avoid any chance that their conformation could be effected.  And anyway, there really wasn't any outward sign of any other pressing need we could think of so the event was postponed until they were a little older.

Time passed and as the boys are now nearly full grown that reason has evaporated. We fell in with convention and booked the vet so we could get it done before flies were a problem. However, we are not ones for following convention and usually plough our own furrow - however daft. As we waited for the appointed date we started to try and rationalise the decision, the debate went something along the lines of..

Reasons to do it ...
  • Improving the national herd. Removing less than desirable genes from the pool.  Well, given enough time and bottles of malt we could debate eugenics vs husbandry vs economics vs animal rights and arrive at a decision based on moral and philosophical argument.  I am sure I would enjoy the debate not to mention the malt.  But we can save our anguish and hangovers as this this isn't applicable. The boys genes are not in danger of entering the pool so this isn't a good reason to rush into a castration.
  • Avoid accidental breeding.  Well unless there is a realistic chance of the boys leaping the walls and creating a Chimera from next doors hens, or a passing horse this reason doesn't apply either. 
  • To modify group behaviour.  This I can buy.  I can see a rationale that rivalry and competition within the group could be avoided by castration and that the welfare of all the members of our group would be improved by reducing stress. There is a well established dynamic in the group.  I was going to say pecking order but its not a straightforward as that. Fin is the nearest thing to a 'leader'.  He will try to muscle in on Noah's feed bowl if he finishes his own first but Noah has his limits and Fin will back off. There is a healthy respect between Fin and Kenzie.  They are not aggressive to one another and will both avoid confrontation but again, lines are drawn, and Kenzie will let Fin know if he oversteps the mark. There are antics in the field, the occasional wrestle and mounting but its clearly horse play and its as often as not Noah instigating as anyone else.  So I don't think we have a problem here that would mean castration is needed.
  • To avoid frustration.  Males in a herd have a purpose. It is an artificial environment we have put them in where they can't fulfil that purpose.  If there were females around then I could see this being a problem but there really isn't a whiff of Alpaca oestrogen anywhere near.  I am not sure what signs I would look for though.  I have noticed Kenzie has a sniff around the poo pile and he does lift his nose and sniffs the air.  But I think this is as much a personality thing as anything else as he also does this as a greeting to me.  Is there anything else I should be looking out for?  So this is a good reason, but unless I am missing the signs, not a good enough reason by itself.
  • To fulfil an obligation.  Most often 'pet boy' is assumed to mean wether  (I think I am right in this?) this would mean that they would have come to us castrated young, or not come until adult so that the breeder gets more of a chance to assess the value or potential of the animals. We wanted to get the boys young as there were many benefits to us in terms of handling and learning, not to mention our excitement and a wish to start the adventure as soon as possible. We were very grateful that our breeder was willing to risk loosing a potentially high value sale and risk their investment in genetics 'leaking' by selling the boys intact.  Again a good reason, but if there is an obligation, its not one that can't be fulfilled by honesty and trust. So not a good enough reason to wield the knife.
 Then there is the reasons not to ...

  • Medical Risk.  The procedure would mean sedation and then there is a risk of infection in the wound.  Minimal risk I know and we have a great vet so I don't think that this is a problem. 
  • If it ain't broke - Don't fix it.  Really this is a bit of a question due to our inexperience.  Perhaps if we delay until we see an obvious reason the damage will be done and we will have to live with the consequences?  Does anyone have experience to share?
  • Would I like it done to me?  There is a clear answer to that .. NO.
So as you can guess, we cancelled the vet who was very understanding of daft folk. We will have to do it now or wait until September so we have a few more months to observe and decide.  But experiences and opinions would be welcome. 

So now for that picture ..

Would castration diminish Noah's fascination with farm machinery?  Here he is actually pawing at the tractor.  He really is fascinated by it.

And to sign off.  Despite his passive demeanor, smaller stature and low standing in the group.  Noah has the most to lose - he's well endowed down (back?) there !

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Where to Start?

Blog writing is one of those things, the longer you leave it the harder it is to pick up again.  And we have left it rather a long time.  Each time I think about it I think through the whole back-log of ideas and then I think its too daunting to do.  Well - now or never, then I can get back to a more regular schedule.

So let me cast my mind back.  Early in the year I always go to Las Vegas for a trade show.  I hate the idea of Vegas.  Its made of plastic and nothing is real.  Over the years I have come to accept it for what it is and be more comfortable, but it's still fake.  One treat is the flight home, I usually leave in the late evening and make sure I get a window seat and watch the sun go down hitting the canyons and massive sandstone features in the desert and making them glow.  Stumbling off the plane the next morning, and chugging round Manchester on the M60 I even sometimes wonder if moving back to the UK was such a great move, the wildlife and geography in the USA is really something else.  Then a mile away from home this vista came into view.

Somewhere in the vale of mist is our house and my boys were waiting.  Nothing fake here and glad to be home where the boys seemed pleased to see me.

Time passes and routines are now well established.  So there isn't much news.  Hay consumption rose to a bale a week at the coldest times.  Poo picking in the frost becomes easier as long as you don't let it thaw and re-freeze (that lead to broken rake syndrome).  So perhaps all this routine means that the boys are under stimulated?  Perhaps they need something to enrich their experience of life?

Hmmm, Whats going on down there ?    She seems to be standing on something
Better Send Fin to check it out                Noah joins in the fun
You want us to kick these things ?      Can I have a cuddle instead ?
 2 minutes later.

Football antics aside things were dragging on and it was time to have a break.  So a quick trip away was called for leaving the boys in the capable hands of our Alpaca minder Julie (I really don't think anyone could be better at it !) 

Gallicia - North west Spain.  Sea, Food , Castle (not fake , no plastic) Best of all - There was a Sausage festival !

Winter eventually gave way to a wonderful patch of spring time.  The grass started to grow and things sprouted.

A mole provided a hill for the boys to roll on.

Have you ever noticed that Dry Stone walls have a sticky out stone every few feet.  Some say its there to provide extra strength, some say its so you know how much to pay the waller.  But I know what they are really for..
They are there to give your Alpaca a leg up so he can reach over and munch on the nice new Bramble shoots !  Its only Kenzie that shows any interest in the over the wall delicacies.

And then Winter came back again.

So that's more or less up to date.  Except for a decision that resulted in very near miss for the boys ... That deserves a blog of it own.