Meet Yara's new cria Yasmina who arrived at around 9.30 am this morning ... she's very cute, even if she is the wrong colour!

Yara & Yasmina
Bliss and Bruno are now out the field with some other crias and their dams and have been running about and playing in the sunshine. Both are bottle feeding on the other side of the fence to us, so hopefully will train onto bottle holders very shortly.


I'm so disappointed.  News from Peru today that the Alpaca Fiesta 2011 has been cancelled because of their political situation... quite a large group of us were going over for it in November, with all sorts of fantastic alpaca and touristy things planned, I just can't believe it after months of planning. Sod's law I had only booked and paid for my air tickets yesterday can you believe...  Apparently they may have one in 2012....

Meanwhile, back on the farm the bottle feeding going really well now and I think by tomorrow we'll be able to put them out in the field and be able to call them to the bottle ... Bruno has been very quick to learn and has really picked up today, Bliss get's in a bit of a mess in her excitement to find the milk ...

Bruno and Bliss

We weighed all the other crias again today and all are piling it on ... this weeks champion guzzler is Bobby Dazzler gaining 4.2 kgs in a week.  On close inspection we discovered that Calister has an umbilical hernia, so she is wearing a hernia harness ... fortunately I had one already, never had to use one before and took a bit of working out, obviously made for a smaller cria than her, all the straps fit, except for the one that goes round her chest ... but I think it'll stay in place... a bit odd that just one strap doesn't fit?  Hopefully she'll only have to wear it for a couple of weeks.

Bobby Dazzler

And here's a couple of pics of Ena when she was feeding Eros and Bliss ....


So to bring you up to date ..  Ena was seemingly happy to feed both Eros and Bliss whilst being kept in, but as soon as I turned them back out in the field with the other mums and crias she had a hasty change of mind and poor Bliss was again without a regular supply of milk and was getting told off by everyone  in her attempts to steal milk. Very sad.  So on to Plan C, remove Bliss from everybody until she would accept a bottle properly which now she is, thank goodness.

Today we have taken on another cria, Bruno, who has had a similar poor start and needs bottle feeding away from his mum for just the same reasons and the two of them are getting to know one another and are guzzling goats milk every 2 or 3 hours. Maybe we should get a goat ... maybe not .. I had a couple of goat kids years ago, very sweet to start with and used to come along with me when I took the dog for a walk,  no leads just like having a pack of dogs, and my cat too, quite a sight ... but then they grew up and were a total nightmare escaping all the time and eating everything except grass, but I do like them, especially the ones with the long floppy ears, and I love goats cheese!


Well so far so good - Ena continues to feed two crias and seems to be enjoying the rush of endorphins or is it hormones that you get whilst breastfeeding .... whatever,  long may it last!   I am very carefully stage managing it all, keeping them in a stable with an outside pen onto the yard so they get some sunshine. Tomorrow I'll put them out in the little paddock for a few hours and see what happens. Eros has gained weight and Bliss has put on all of .1 of a kilo but it is a gain and she has refused all bottles offered. Ena is happy on her picked grass and increased feed rations.  Poor Bettina is still looking for her Bliss but is calming down and grazing with the others again. I wanted a picture of them both feeding but didn't manage to get one but here they are just enjoying each others company.

Eros, Bliss and Ena

We have had around 40 of the Swanmore Guides here the last two evenings - great kids with lots of really good questions about alpacas and fleece - maybe some alpaca breeders for the future?


Beulah and Bobby Dazzler are just fine....  so thats good. Bettina and her cria Bliss have continued to be a bit of an ongoing saga... yesterday I noticed Ena feeding another cria as well as her own. Bettina has virtually no milk and Bliss refused to take a bottle preferring to suck on mums no-milk teats and was losing weight and energy.  So I took the decision to take Bliss away from Bettina and stable her with Ena and her cria and see what happened... with bottled milk as back up too of course.  During the course of the day Bliss got more and more confident and started taking the odd suckle from Ena... fingers crossed it may work then.  Thought I might try putting the two pairs together in a paddock for the night and maybe Bliss would have her mum for comfort and Ena for milk.  I was wrong - she just spent all night trying to nurse off Bettina and lost the weight she had gained the day before.

We learn constantly with these animals.... So, this morning I put Ena, and Eros (her cria) and Bliss in a stable and have left them there tonight too. After just a few attempts Bliss is feeding one side and Eros the other ... sorry I don't have a picture to show you as I forgot the camera, but very cute as you can imagine.  I really hope this will continue and Ena will foster Bliss, I will weigh both crias every day and keep a very close watch on Ena too of course. Would be great if it worked wouldn't it?!  Have any of you had similar success?


Whatever young stock you may be breeding you will inevitably get a few problems and worries along the way and alpacas are no exception. The more experience you have the easier it gets, but none the less when the problems come, if you care, they are still a worry. Today I have worried about Bettina and her cria, who have had a good start and been fine until now. I have been busy with visitors most of the day, but every time I looked across at the cria group this little girl was trying to suckle off her mums elbow... what is going on?  After a little thought I believe it's because with all the rushing in and out of the shelter with the rain showers Bettina has got all uptight about feeding with everyone else too close by... she has been knocking Bliss over whilst telling off everyone else and the safest place to get close is her elbow - but not very sustaining!  She has had a bottle and now that the showers have subsided they are back in the field again and are beginning to settle down..... I hope.

Worry 2 - Beulah and her cria, now named Bobby Dazzler, after the night in they were ready to go out and all was fine, but poor Beulah has so much milk that her teats are beginning to swell to an un-suckable size, so I am having to milk her out every now and then - what she really needs is a nursing bra with savoy cabbage leaves inside - worked for me!!

Hopefully these problems will resolve themselves in a couple of days .....


Blimey, so much rain! Poor Beulah has been humming very noisily yesterday and this morning, and walking in a very peculiar way, so we knew it wouldn't be long. Being the wise paca mama that she is, she waited until there was a gap in the weather and delivered her enormous and stunning cria, by Snowmass Incan King out in the field.

I prefer to leave them outside for the first few hours if at all possible so that they learn to get up and walk and find the milk bar without crashing into walls and trying to suck off any old dark place they can find. So I put a coat on him and went off to the Chiropractor to be stretched and cracked! Now they're cosy in the stable and his dry colour is beginning to show - wow - he gleams and its a gorgeous orangutang kind of shade under electric lights. Will probably have to get the colour chart out for this one.  He hasn't got a name yet as we can't agree on one!

Lunge ring or duck pond?

The multi-talented Dave's been here today with his wonderful JCB and squashed down all the rabbit warrens so I don't have to worry about anyone falling down the holes - bunnies will have to go elsewhere!


Kim Lauko the Technician from the Australian Alpaca Fibre Testing (AAFT) arrived very late last night after what sounded like a very stressful 5 hour journey without a sat-nat from Suffolk...

Today's weather was a soggy mixture of driving rain and drizzle ...  nothing like the forecast - thankfully we were all indoors for an excellent Workshop where Kim explained very patiently and thoroughly all the ins and outs of fibre testing and how to analyse the results to assist us with our breeding decisions for improvement in fibre - fascinating. Sadly it was not quite picnic weather, shame but we all gossiped happily in the stable instead.... She then set about testing hundreds of samples, most of the attendees were able to stay to watch their samples being tested and discuss their results with her. I'm looking forward to studying our results and seeing how they compare to previous years.... and using all the added information that the AAFT offers.  Tomorrow Kim's off to The New Forest to Faraway Alpacas to do more testing.

Kim hard at work..

Thankfully no cria came today and although it's very wet outside most of them stayed out grazing as it wasn't cold - our little grey boy The Sorcerer is sporting a very flashy blue coat as he is a bit weeny (and a mummies pet) - the others are toughing it out.


Woke to a beautiful sunny morning with clear skies which was to last all day - and warm too. All the girls came up for their breakfast except Bettina, who was on her own in the shelter field and everyone else had moved into the Holly field... mmm.  Sure enough she began, this was going to be exciting as being a black girl we had a bit of an experiment to see if we could get a grey or maybe a black with Royal Vision, given the colour in his background. Did it work - well no as a very white looking bulge started to emerge from under her tail. With just tiny bit of assistance with a stuck elbow she gave birth to a very fluffy and rather whacky white female with a pale fawn topknot and ears - not grey then. We have called her Bliss.

Just as I had finished drying her off and spraying her with iodine I turned to look at the rest of them under the trees and Sabrina was producing something under her tail too!  Now again we had been trying for a grey, Sabrina is a brown roan (colour contaminated brown in other words!) with a white face, her mother is grey and her father brown with the odd white spot here and there, more contamination- so we  used Ardingly, our grey male over her.... he has produced more grey than any other colour...

Imagine my excitement when I saw this!!

Stunning little boy - very even in colour and very crimpy fleece already... Ardingly has done it again and we will certainly be repeating that mating! We have named him The Sorcerer.


Shearing went well - the first few were a bit damp as we had a shower the previous evening, but wasn't a problem. We started about 8.15 and were finished by 12 ish... We had two shearing stations going and I skirted the fleeces and weighed them as they come off.  Everyone worked really well as a team and we managed to keep up with Mike as he sheared effortlessly through our herd. That's when you know who your friends are - cheers Allison, Stuart and Dave and Lucy - hope you don't ache too much today!!

We had a heavy shower in the afternoon which was a bit of a shock to the poor pacas, but they didn't get that wet as they were sheltering under the trees. However the forecast was for a cold night with maybe a ground frost - in June???? and rain all day today, so we moved all the girls in their 2 groups of 'due and mums and crias',  and 'the others' into the fields with the big shelter and put loads of hay in for them.  They didn't need any persuading to go in .... the rain started first thing this morning and has just kept on and on ... just what we need, more than an inch and the first proper rain for about 3 months, but not what we're used to!

Two shearing stations keeps all of us busy - is that Peter I see leaning on a brush?!

Cosy pacas


Not much happening on the farm today, I say that from my perspective of course, Peter would probably disagree, as he's been filling in holes on the driveway and poo picking, whilst I've been shopping and baking!  We're shearing tomorrow, I'm a bit worried about the weather, but there's nothing I can do about it. We organised the yard in readiness. Two holding pens, two shearing mats, waste bags, disinfectant, fleece bags, fleece room, scales, sorting table, paper work, marker pens, antiseptic spray, tooth wire, towels, hand washing stuff, and food and drink for everyone.  We have a great shearing team again this year and Mike Banks and his helper from Shearco will be coming as usual to do their magic on the herd. We have a lot of fun on shearing day, but it's hard work.... if I get a chance I'll take some snaps, but for the meantime pics below of the yard all spick and span and waiting for action! By the way Zumba was brillient (as was the curry and beer afterwards!) and I don't ache at all - bet I will after shearing! No births today and hopefully not tomorrow.....

Girls relaxing in the shade, little do they know what awaits them!


Well, it was neither Orchid or Beulah but Moya who presented us with a cria up, dry and fed before we woke this morning ... not quite the right colour, or sex .... we'd hoped for a grey female by Ardingly as he's good at giving greys over grey females, but Monroe is very sweet and cheeky and has been charging around all day stretching those tight tendons!

Moya and Monroe

We had some really useful showers today and it wasn't cold so none of the crias had coats on and were all fine. Peter and I have been back on the clearing out job again, fencing, bricks and tiles today, heavy and very dirty, not quite finished but another couple of hours tomorrow should do it.  Off to Zumba tonight .... should be fun!

Ena and Eros

Dipper-Dapper enjoying the rain


I spent yesterday afternoon at The Alpaca Stud gossiping and admiring beautiful Snowmass crias and brought Dove II and her Nyetimber cria,  Dipper or Dapper.... can't make up our minds, home. Dove is a real sweetie and has a stunning fleece, albeit in two colours, and we took the gamble of maybe getting a grey cria from her but it didn't quite work, apart from his little grey feet!  He is gorgeous though and those in the multi classes better look out next year! They've settled in really well and Dipper-Dapper has had fun with his new playmates - Calista and Treasure (now being fed properly).

Dove & Dipper-Dapper

When I arrived home at around 7pm I did a check of the due girls and found Ena looking a bit uncomfortable and showing signs of being in the 1st stages of labour.... kept an eye for a while and as she was very calm and quiet left well alone. I'm sure a lot of people wouldn't have noticed anything but I am very in tune with them and can spot things early, usually.  At 9.30pm we decided to check her out and she was barely dilated and there was no sign of a torsion... I thought she would either get going in the next hour or wait and have an early morning birth. Went to bed at 10.45 all quiet ... alarm on for 5pm ... woke at 4 and peeped out the window and she was sat quite happily chewing the cud. Next thing I knew it was 6.45am, I had turned the 5am alarm off earlier having woken from a ridiculous dream of riding a horse up scaffolding....   opened the blind and there she was, feeding her cria! Clever girl.... went out to see what we had - a boy, oh well, he is rather lovely and a beautiful mid fawn, our first Snowmass Incan King and she is totally besotted with him.  Who's next - maybe Beulah or Orchid (she doesn't even look pregnant, but thought I could feel something??...)

Ena and Eros

Being born is soooo tiring!

Meonstoke School Visit

One of my favourite group visits this morning ...  22 children and their teachers from the Reception class of Meonstoke Primary School came for their annual trip to our farm. We know the school really well as Rebecca went there and they come every year and really love the experience.  They were extremely well behaved, as always, and asked loads of really good questions ranging from how long are the babies in their mummies tummies,  to how much do they eat, what are ear tags for etc.  Of course there are a few tricky questions to negotiate such as how do the babies get out... (under their mummies tail) and how are they made ... (you need a mummy and a daddy) and the inevitable giggling when the pacas had a visit to the poo pile - how much do they 'go' they ask - alot I replied! One little boy asked me how old they were when they got married - cute!  After a good run round one of the empty fields, then a drink and a biscuit they had their painting session,  amazing pictures given it was so windy.  They went back to school with lots of alpaca postcards and fleece to make fluffy pipe cleaner alpacas of their own ... here's some of their pictures...


Hurray, yippee.... we have a Snowmass cria - a white Quetzalcoatl female, out of Calico and I am thrilled with her! She is so soft and dense and you can already see that she's going to have a fabulous fleece.... born just one day short of 11 months she's a 10 kg, strong and lively person with slightly wobbly legs... but they'll soon strengthen up and then she'll be racing about the field with her playmate.  We have called her Calister.  She has a coat on because the forecast was heavy rain .... (some hope) ..

"Calister" attempting her first steps - her Mum looks like she's smiling!

On the down side Toffee Apple isn't being a particularly good mum for some reason, not allowing her cria to have full feeds..  and although little Treasure is still lively, she isn't gaining weight, in fact she had lost some today, so we have taken them in for the night hoping this will concentrate her mind on being a more caring mum (usually works). It does go to show how important weighing regularly is especially in the first week. However, although she doesn't want to feed her properly she is devilishly protective and in the process of getting them in, weighing the cria and then settling them in for the night she screamed the place down and spat for England! Once covered I just had to carry on until the job was done ... then all the clothes went straight in the washing machine and I went straight in the shower.... yuck! No pictures of that!!  Can't say I'm looking forward to handling them tomorrow - will have to plan ahead and make a spit mask for her tonight out of one of Peter's old socks!

Royal Bath & West Show

We had fun at the Bath & West Show, though I have to say that we won't be camping again in a hurry, well not there anyway, so noisy all night with all the quarry lorries thundering up and down the road, and it was very chilly...

Anyway enough moaning, Bonami came 3rd in his class of Junior Fawn Males and Judge Val Fullerlove was very complimentary about his fleece and commended the density and length of it as well as the fineness and structure - so all in all he has had a good show season.  Bonaventure wasn't placed this time, but she behaved beautifully for Rebecca who took her into the ring for her class and for the Junior Handler. Rebecca was a star, she won the older section of Junior Handlers and then after many questions from the Judge about all sorts of Husbandry things such as birthing and cria care she took the Champion Junior Handler too.  I have to say Isla May,  who she was up against did really well too - well done to both of them - alpaca breeders of the future!

Helen did her usual display of ring procedure as an alpaca, led by Rebecca, and even dressed up for it - what a laugh!  Not sure I will ever think of chocolate raisins the same again!

The Judge Val Fullerlove seems a bit hesitant with checking conformation!

Rebecca with Bonaventure receiving her Champion Junior Handler sash 

The girls being quizzed on alpaca care and management

Back home now and it's a lovely warm day - little 'Treasure' is doing really well, but needs a playmate, though not today it seems.......