Monday, 30 December 2013

Mud. Mud, inglorious mud !

It has been a little while since the last blog.  Mostly because it's been hectic in the non Alpaca part of life.

One reason for the slow blog rate - we have had a bit of a building project on the go !

There hasn't really been too much to report on the Alpaca front either, no comings or goings. The odd visitor now and again.  But that is about it, except for a bit of a scare with our wee Dougal !  We were worried about Dougal a while back. He was isolating himself from the herd, being lethargic and off his food.
Man down ! Where is Dougal ?
(Yes Kenzie is looking directly at the Camera , even from 1/4 mile away !)

This wasn't right, so we double checked on his prophylactics, he had been wormed but was not due to be fluked and AD&E wasn't due just yet. We tried coaxing him to eat and tried sugar beet to get him going with little result.  We made sure he wasn't deferring to the others but there really wasn't  anything obvious.  In fact they seems as concerned about him as we were.  After a few days we called round for advice but there really wasn't much to go on. After a week of the same, we were no further forward. We had brought forward AD&E and there wasn't any improvement so we called the Vet out. He advised that fluke treatment would have been better a little earlier (he is more local than previous vet)  and so we treated the herd straight away (a generic available in small quantities from new vet works out a lot cheaper). The Vet did initial poo checks for worms and sent samples away to confirm and check for fluke.  Clear !  But still Dougal was not getting any better and would even lay with his head in my lap in the shed if I joined him in a lay down.  We were worried and more calls and texts were dispatched to the ever patient Barbara who recommended we try maxigro, a mineral drench.

Maxigro day came and we loaded the drench gun. We thought we had better start with Finian who coughed, spluttered, wretched, hacked and drooled then coughed some more in a most dramatic way. Convinced we had poisoned him we again called the third emergency service - Beckbrow to check we had got the right dose, the right stuff and what it would be like if you had drenched into a lung !  Reassured by Barbara's , "oh yeah, they all do that" we carried on, with similar results - they really don't care too much for this stuff !   When it came to Dougal however, no cough, no gag, no, he licked his lips and rose like Lazarus. Well,he licked his lips anyway and was right as rain the next day. He has not looked back.  Thanks Barbara ! 

We divided the field into two paddocks this year.  This lead to some interesting herd etiquette.  There is something of a prestige about being the first to get through the gate.  A prize often won by Hamish

Hamish - Bold and Fast

The weather it was atrocious (Sorry -  slipping in to Bob Dylan quotes there folks !) .  We are well used to the wind up here.  In fact it is so windy the overhead lines to the house are intentionally slack to reduce the howling !  Being in the Pennines we ought to be used to a bit of rain too.  But it has rained, rained and rained some more.  The whole place is soggy, slippy, and wet. We are going to have to do some serious field drainage work this summer.

The gate between the paddocks has become a quagmire.  Inches deep in slimy mud.  The poor boys are a disgrace to Alpaca kind. There is a different etiquette at play.  They race to the gate then venture across in order of finicky-ness. 

 Boys in Finicky order;  Fin, Noah, Dougal, Hamish, Kenzie .  
(Kenzie is always last and tiptoes with a look on his face -  so undignified)

All the boys have black feet up to their ankles.  So a plan was formulated.  Actually several plans were formulated but the farmer across the road dismissed most of these and recommended a solution that involved some 8'x4' boards and anti-slip stock mats.  So on Christmas eve, in a snow storm, Ted the tractor and I set off on a mission to retrieve and install said boards.

 Ted is a firm herd favorite and always attracts a crowd

Kenzie (rear) , a nice, very light fawn / off white is ..well.. A grey, and not in a good way.

So we are all fed up with the mud.  Just a day or two respite would at least let the standing water dissipate and the drains clear. Here's praying for some lovely clear, frosty winter days.  The boys don't mind the cold, but incessant muck ... No thanks !

New years resolution - More blogs - less moaning .. Happy New Year All.

Andy Bev and the Boys

Friday, 11 October 2013

Dr No(ah)

I was going to blog the other week.  I was going to blog about paddock maintenance.

 I was going to ask questions and seek advice about topping regimes as we have managed to completely get things screwed up.  Dividing the paddock into two seems to have had the effect of making each half twice as productive so our boys are too fat again even though there are more of them and they are restricted to half the grazing. They are are better than they were last year but they are still too tubby.  We need to avoid them becoming chubby carpet factories.

Hamish - Too fat 

I had a great day Saturday.  I collected the neighborhood bins on Ted the tractor. I unhitched the back-box and hitched the topper - even the PTO fitted without the usual wrist twisting manipulations.  I topped the overgrown poo pile edges on the archery pitch in the big paddock ready for boy transfer.  I strimmed the overgrown gateway , I added some cuttings to my domestic compost that had got a bit too rich from excess shopping.  Then it was off to 'Yarndale' to look at, well, yarn of course. This was an enormous event. 13,000 knitters visited on the first day alone!  It was good to see a lot of Alpaca fiber product there on many stands in may forms.  It was especially good to see Robyn from whynot there with some animals.

On Sunday I did a very thorough poo pick. 3 barrows a week now we have 5 boys producing. I then forked over all the gooey bits and mixed in new top-soil and grass seed. We wormed the boys and all was well with them and us.

There was a little twinge.  My Fergie de-mounting technique involves throwing a leg over the steering wheel, perhaps I overdid it getting on and off the tractor.  The twinge got a bit worse, maybe the poo picking was a bit enthusiastic.  The twinge became a niggle. Could it be restraining Fin for his jab I had pulled a muscle ?  Maybe the sausage sarnie at Yarndale was to blame ?  No matter, ill mend and it was a  lovely day.

 Monday morning breakfast routine was unremarkable.  Apart from the 'stich' in my side. Dougal has now come to expect his bucket to be lifted off the ground for him and then held. I am supposed to fend off the others while he takes his own sweet time chomping his Camelibra.  If I fail to do this he melts me with a cute look involving especially wide sad eyes.  Call me a softie but you cant stand up to this for long.  Better have a picture

doogie looking cute

And that's the last I saw of the boys for a few days.  During Monday the stich became a bit of a pain and on leaving work I decided I should probably get it looked at.  It was dark by the time I got back on Thursday night - minus my appendix.

Our district hospital is not very far away so staff are local. A typical encounter.  'Hello, I have come to do something undignified to you, but while I am doing it I'll ask you some questions to distract you.  Where do you come from ? Oh isn't that near the Alpacas ? Oh they are your, they are so cute. What do they eat ? Do they spit ? Are the brown ones a different breed ? My kids know all thier names... And eventually ... How are you feeling ?

I was pleased to get out of the place but it was Saturday before I made it down the shed.  Noah came to check me out.  I swear he sensed not all was well. He behaved strangely, he came alone, normally he would wait for the others, he sniffed at where my wound is and then pushed his weight gently against me and stood there for several minutes. The other boys eventually gathered and settled down around me.  Bev was just out of range with the camera before the magic was broken and Fin decided the best thing to cheer me up would be to eat my hat.

So all is well, I am back on breakfast duty including some light poo picking. But the planned front line application will have to wait.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Tales of Goo

A while ago we had an idea that we should keep the boys topped up with minerals and other vital things.  Following research we opted for what has become known as the goo bucket.

The Boys love it, this is probably because it is made mostly of molasses and they seem to have developed a bit of a sweet tooth.

Bev banished the goo bucket to the human side of the shed recently but the boys were very disappointed.  Hamish in particular felt aggrieved but they would all sneak in for a sly lick when ever the opportunity arose. 

As it was my birthday I decided that if I could have cake - the boys could at least have a bit of goo.

As the goo has been licked quite a bit you have to get your whole head in.

And then you have to suck - and lick and make a disgusting noise  until you have to come up for air..

 sporting a goo moustachioed..  and rinse !

Let Noah have a go ..

Then teach the little ones some bad habits !

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Paddock Times.

I resolved not start this blog with an apology about not blogging.  That's not news and no one wants to spend time reading. it. We tend to keep our heads down in birthing season as our news always seems quite pedestrian compared to tales of colostrum and plasma and prolapse and photos of pronking young cria. This doesn't mean  that nothing has happened, just nothing that compares to the alpaca version of 'one born every minute'.

When we left off Dougal had an abscess the size of a golf ball on the side of his head.  This was worrisome and despite treatment wasn't getting any better for a while.  Thinking something wasn't quite right we double checked the dosage of the anti-biotic and found we had been prescribed half the dose known to be effective. This means we were at least two weeks down into the infection (probably more) and poor wee Dougie was getting fed up with being jabbed every other day.   We kept it up for another 3 weeks and we are happy to say we had good results.  I have been keeping a close eye on  his jaw ever since and all seems well with no obvious jaw line damage to be felt.


Dougal today - All better

Our summer herd hand this year was Phoebe who made her way from Austin, Texas all by herself to help us tend to the boys (and do a few extra-paddock activity such as go to London , Cumbria , Scotland , the Roman Wall , the Yorkshire dales).

Here she is meeting the boys  
(Don't bother getting up Noah - She has only come 5,000 miles !)

And here she is practicing IM and SC technique on a banana
 (syringe loaded with rum and sugar prior to the whole thing going on the BBQ)

Hamish, our other new arrival, romped ahead growing into a fine young chap and for a while left Dougal standing.  I am not sure if this is because of the infections and antibiotic or just because it's the way of things but whatever the cause Dougal is making up for lost ground now.

 Two Healthy Boys - Growing fast.

One concern about Dougal's development was that his err, 'tackle' was small, or rather, non-existent.  Admittedly this is a purely hypothetical concern.  He wont get a chance to use whatever he grows , and it wont be with him for that long anyway.  But here at Lane House we take pride in having an elite collection of second rate males so we were just about to spend time researching the ATD (average time to drop) when all of a sudden there they were.  Phew.  An emergency celebration down the local curry house was called for, where we ate the traditional pudding in such circumstances !

Gulab Jamun - Celebration of Dougal Transition into ...

Its not all about the little guys.  The big boys are still close to our hearts and they continue to amuse amaze, entertain and relax.

Down with the boyz

Another reason for not blogging too much is that the weather has been so hot that we just really want to yawn and flake out in the shade.

 Its summer time ...

The herd dynamic is just that.  It is constantly subtly shifting. Finian is still the boss of the paddock and whenever I go into the field he will turn sideways and posture with a straight back and tail out.  He can't keep it up though and as soon as I hold his gaze for more than a few seconds his ears drop and he gives up on macho.  Since the little guys arrival Noah has decided he needs to learm the same posture.  Its a bit like looking at Dylan the rabbit dress up as a paratrooper.

We have been rummaging in our collection of 3 years fleece and have now got some firm plans that we will detail later.  Our boys are doing us proud - great quality !

Plies and piles and lovely fine glowing fiber

  In the mean time - we have rather more second cut than we have need for. Free to a good home - but you will have to collect.  Leave a comment if you want any.


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Sunshine Good, Abscess Bad

It's been a week, an unbelievable whole week of lovely sunshine.  The day after shearing out came the sun, just in time because we had been worrying about shearing wee Dougal.  So small and thin, we thought, so we ordered a dog coat just in case.  However, fleece off there's nothing very wee about young Dougie, he's quite solid in reality, so back went the coat, unopened, for a refund.

There was plenty of opportunity for water play at the weekend, Noah Kenzie and Dougal like a spray,  Hamish prefers a complete drenching..

Noah, refreshing

Hamish, more more more

Another sunny day treat is snoozing in the dust bath the boys seem to have made for themselves - on my archery pitch.  Here's Kenzie, I know he's hard to see, looks overexposed, but no he just glows like that in the sun..

Notice how Kenzie is left in peace to snooze
No such respect for my personal space when I try for a lie in the grass
Hamish and Fin to the Rescue?

Meanwhile, back at the water play on Saturday we both thought the shearer had left a little clump of long fleece under Dougal's right eye, it made him look a bit cockeyed, but no worries.

By yesterday, Sunday, the 'clump' was the size of a golf ball, definitely not right, a quick inspection and a dental abscess was diagnosed.  Poor Dougal, he's already had to fight off an eye infection, now this.  He's been off his hard food for a couple of weeks, but he's been grazing and eating hay, and chewing the cud ok, so we thought he just didn't like it.

Poor Dougal

Today Chris the Vet came out, confirmed an abscess and syringed some pus out, then he gave Dougal a painkiller and the first of 4 injections of antibiotic (Nuflor).  We will give him the other injections every alternate day until gone, and keep fingers crossed there are no underlying issues that will make the abscess erupt again.  Dougal used to love to give kisses, but not anymore, I hope he forgives us soon.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Hair today ...

Its been a bit grim up north (well, when I started writing this blog it was !)  Cold, rain, wind, no grass.  But there have been a couple of chances for the boys to entertain friends young and old.

Fin with Bev's dad John - A gent is treated with due respect

Zoe is checked out by Fin and declared to be safe

 So time to get acquainted with the little boys

Vicky wonders why all her photos came out blurred

We reported that Kenzie had taken a step forward as leader.  It turns out Fin had tooth ache from a back tooth that had not quite come away cleanly.  He was so sweet, he dropped his usual 'front' and sought us out looking for help. He was soon sorted and leader of the pack again .

Fin's job is to prance about being in-charge.

It was time for Ben the shearer to turn up.

So here is a last 'fluffy' picture.

It remained a bit grim.  Very cold for the time of year and damp too..So the boys had to spend the night before their hair cut in the shed.  They went in a bit damp and with all their fleece we were expecting them to be a little sweaty. So it was up extra early to give them a bit of an airing in the yard.
Not often Andy sends emails at 5 a.m. from a field

 7 a.m. - and so to work ...

We were being daft softies we were worried about wee Dougal getting cold.  Ben laughed, and got on with the job.

 'The last Chicken in Sainsburys'


You smell like Noah, but don't look like him at all !

Bye !

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

weighty matters

The new boys have settled in well.  But not without a couple of minor issues.  Dougal is a little chap and there isn't a lot of grass. He gets sugar beet and Camelibra twice a day, and eats his share from the hay bags, but we wanted to be sure he was making progress so decided to weigh him.  We have never done this before so it was a bit of an adventure for us all.  Simple.  Grab the boy and stand on the bathroom scales.  We expected all sorts of fun and games. But no.  He was as good as gold. The results?  +4Kg from his pre-delivery weigh in.  That'll do lad , that'll do.

I expected him to run off afterwards and hide behind his pal but he jumped back onto the scales himself, keen to show Hamish how it should be done.

How come I weighed 3/4 more a moment ago?

Hamish, had managed to pick up an eye infection. We arranged to pick up some anti-biotic eye drops from the vet and began a course of treatment.  After a few days this was slowing the progression of the infection but not really getting on top of it.

We irrigated the eye with some saline, well ok, a Sainsbury's eye wash! - (Great squeezy bottle with a directional jet allows you to aim where you need it).  We saw the end of a bit of grass or hay but failed to get hold of it and it disappeared under his bottom lid not to be seen again.   So the vet was called.

The grass was showing a by a millimetre or so and Chris the vet was able to get a hold of it with his finger nails and pulled.  It was 3-4cm long with a decidedly yucky bit at the end !  I'll spare you the picture!  Chris added some stain to the eye so we could see any injury and indeed there was some ulceration where the grass had been.  Also there was no sign of the stain flowing through his tear duct so we attempted to flush this with a small flexible soft end on a syringe loaded with sterile water.  Not really sure that worked. We continued the drops for a couple of days but they were now causing irritation so were  discontinued.  The eye  was perfectly dry the next morning and we have seen no sign since. 
Dry Eyed Hamish

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Uncle Kenzie

I have said it before this year but I am now saying it out loud.  Spring has sprung.  I spent most of the day in the paddock today, sitting here tonight, I am feeling a little sun burned.  Hard to think that this time last week we still had the last of the drifts.

Every picture tells a story
This story is that one of the boys could not wait for the old poo pile to be uncovered.  Weird animals !

News of the new arrivals has spread.  The sunny day brought many visitors but strangely the behaviour of greeting guests who come to the gate has been abandoned.  The little boys are not accustomed to this but the big boys have lost all interest too - I think they are keeping clear to protect the new guys.   Of course there are some visitors with special privileges.

First visitor : Don't Ask !

 It's alright - It's only Edward and Katie

Today was supposed to be about catching up with jobs, but this was just an excuse to spend the day observing the herd dynamics.  These have changed, and continue to change, since Hamish and Dougal arrived.  

The biggest difference is with Kenzie.  Now firmly in the role of 'uncle' Kenzie.  If Dougal isn't with his mate Hamish he is to be found with Kenzie.

 Lock Step Grazing

 Safe Vantage

Night Night