Suddenly I realise that our Open Day is just 3 weeks away and I have an awful lot of stuff to arrange... that's the trouble with having crias is that they're all lovely but very distracting.  We usually have a very good turnout and people come from far and wide to see what alpacas are all about and enjoy being amongst them on our farm walk, have afternoon tea and buy a pair of socks or yarn to knit a scarf with. The kids love it of course and everyone enjoys watching the spinning ladies do their stuff.

Of course we get other alpaca breeders coming too to check out our cria and studs and have a chinwag and those coming to see the stock that we have for sale. The list of things to organise seems endless, and what with the stud work to do both at home and away taking up a fair bit of my time I am beginning to panic ... trouble is I'm not very good at knuckling down to things in the office, especially when the sun is shining.. it's the only part of this job that I don't like!  I've done it all before of course, for previous Open Days,  just need a bit of pressure to get on with it, well I'm suddenly feeling the pressure! At least I ordered the portaloo today, and hopefully hired the tents and tables, teapots and urns ... got to dig out our party tents, and find the quiz papers, and the information boards.... hose out the field shelter that becomes our shop ... sort fleece ... sorry rambling....  I will be ready - promise.


Agrippina was being very vocal both yesterday and today, and something about her this morning made me think she was going to birth today. However, first I was to lose Polly, one of our dogs, on our morning walk - being a labrador it must have been something edible and probably disgusting (still waiting for the sick) that distracted her, normally she's fairly quick to come to the whistle (food reward) but she didn't return, even after about half an hour - very enormous field with very high crop of oil seed rape as far as you can see. Having lost one dog to the A32 I was getting rather anxious by now - to cut a very long story short, thank goodness I hear you all say, after phone calls to the police, then the council and then the dog warden, I discovered that someone had picked her up and reported her 'found'... and within an hour this very kind lady delivered her back to me safe and sound. So Polly lives to walk and eat rubbish another day!

Anyway, back to Agrippina - all day she looked a little uncomfortable and then towards the middle of the afternoon more like first stage labour... great ... afternoon birth... usually means trouble. When Peter returned from his flying (first time for almost a week, 'cos of awful weather - now human again!) I got him to hold her for me whilst I had a polite poke about... cervix not dilated at all. So, she'll either get going now or have it tomorrow. She decided now - and after another hour managed to get the head and legs out and then circled hysterically round and round screaming and spitting at her cria hanging out of her backend!

Good job I was there ... but I kept my distance and after a few minutes she calmed down.  However, the birth didn't progress, not surprising after all that commotion, so given it was already 5.15pm I went over and gently pulled the cria out. A very lovely dark fawn female, our first from Snowmass Invincibly Elite and I am thrilled to get a fawn from him. Within just a few minutes she was up, feeding well and now cosy in a coat for the night.

Finally,  for those who have been following the progress of Bliss and Bruno, our two 'bottles' - today they had their first proper gallop round the fields - a good 5 minutes of real leg stretching, lung filling, heart pumping, flat out fun - just great to see at last.


Is it Autumn already? I could see my breath when I walked the dogs and fed round this morning ... foggy, damp, horrible.... summer?

Dipper Dapper chasing Monroe

Bobby Dazzler joins in..

 Managed to get the mobile matings done in the dry thankfully and back home this afternoon I took a few snaps of the crias letting off steam, and some 'arty-farty' flower pictures ... 


Yasmina gets it now!

Missy and Mystery 


After all that lovely sunny weather Missy waited until today's torrential rain this morning to gave birth in the field shelter to a lovely little solid mid brown female, who despite her rather small size at just 6 kg, was up on her feet in minutes and then paraded at top speed around the field by Missy in the pouring rain.   Given the weather and Missy's rather agitated state and slight reluctance to stand still for her cria to find the milk bar, I brought them into a warm dry stable and have left them in there for the night with a companion and will put them out again tomorrow.  Oh and we have called her Mystery...

We're exhibiting at the Rare Breed Show at Singleton tomorrow, it's a lovely old fashioned country show with lots of rare breed farm animals and wool crafts. I always hanker after a wensleydale sheep or two when I'm there, and the cattle are gorgeous. I have come home with a rabbit before and some chickens once too. It's held at the Open Air Museum where there are some fabulous very ancient houses that have been reconstructed on site, and the views of the South Downs are stunning.  I just hope that it's not too windy and wet as we only have our little gazebo at this one. I'll try and remember to take lots of photos.


The last group of due females gave me the run around today.. Missy, one of our blacks,  pregnant to Incan King, presented me with the classic pose of 'baby coming' by lying flat on her side with her head up and looking at her tummy for 5 minutes or more, so I decided to change my plans for the day as Peter had gone flying. By lunchtime Aggripina was looking uncomfortable. Well come on then girls. But no, it was far too nice a day and they just lazed about in the sunshine instead.

Just been out to give the 'bottles', as they have become known, their last feed and everything smells of hay - wonderful. A fabulous full moon has risen above our trees and it's a beautiful creamy light fawn - does this mean we will get a light fawn tomorrow? Will have to call it moonlight or luna or something if we do..

Anyway here's some pics to be going on with..




Another 3 wethers left us today to become chicken guards. This usually works really well, as does keeping alpacas with lambing sheep to chase the foxes away from the lambs.  It's very well documented, especially in countries like Australia where they're used extensively for this purpose by chicken and sheep farmers. Not all alpacas are good guards of course - you need those who are a bit territorial and protective, like these boys, who were older chaps.  They've gone to live on a smallholding and should be very useful  - I've certainly seen them chase a variety of animals out of their field here, including foxes, cats and deer. Good luck with them Nikki!


Nyetimber & Ena
The Snowmass boys have been busy - Incan King and Quetzalcoatl have had a couple of hot dates with my girls each again today and we also have the gorgeous Nyetimber here who is charming the grey ladies ...

We had a vet visit today to see one of the crias,  she has a very nasty eye infection. We decided to give her plasma, as she's had a couple of other little problems since birth and could have a compromised immune system. We harvested plasma from our males back in the winter and it was just a matter of getting comfortable on the straw with her whilst in slowly dripped in - shame I don't have a picture of us both dozing off. We had already given her antibiotics and so now we have to just wait and see what happens.

Peter has been topping the grass again - seems such a shame not to be able to make grass pellets or something with it, but at least the pacas eat most of it as it dries out and the rest just disappears. The fields look lovely and the pacas graze far more evenly.


Well that was a busy few days. Kicking off with Cotton Cake not feeding her cria properly and having to get them bonded again in the stable for a few days under close supervision - which seems to have worked. On Friday our visitors from New Zealand arrived for the weekend which was lovely, we haven't seen each other for 3 years and had so much to catch up on.. much wine was consumed in the process with a fun lunch on Saturday with the old gang of mums and kids.

Bliss is doing very well, but this weekend wasn't so good for Bruno the other bottle fed who went off his milk and became very weak and wobbly on Sunday.. however with lots of TLC and a few potions from the medicine cupboard he has rallied round and is back guzzling the white stuff and up and about again. Managed to take a few hours off the farm between bottles, to take our visitors out in Pixie Lott for a picnic and National Trust visit to Hinton Ampner, which is a lovely old place in a beautiful park setting about 20 mins down the road, followed by a leisurely stroll round New Alresford.

Today Snowmass Incan King and Snowmass Quetzalcoatl arrived on farm, kindly chauffeur driven here by Jay and Hilary Holland from Pure Alpacas for stud duty. It was good to have a gossip over lunch and show off the crias and compare notes, then I had a busy afternoon organising alpaca 'liaisons' - and there will be more hot dates for them tomorrow and the next day until we catch up with our breedings.


Last night we saw Take That at Wembley and I'm so pleased I got us last those last minute tickets, we had a brilliant time!

We got there hours too early, mainly because I don't know my way around the Big City only going there on average once a year and feel I need plenty of time to negotiate the tubes and stuff, for a moment we couldn't even get through the turnstiles because we were trying to go through the 'out' rather than the 'in' - Country Bumpkins -we had to laugh at ourselves! We people watched for ages before we found our seats from where we witnessed the stadium , which is absolutely ginormous, gradually fill up with over 85,000 fans, like a lot of little ants round sugar.

Even though we were up in the gods at the opposite end to the stage we could just about make out who was on stage and the screens gave us close ups anyway. We looked down on a sea of glowing mobile phones, a definite sign of the times and millions of pale arms all waving and clapping in unison, including ours of course. The atmosphere was fantastic and the 'five' were on great form, giving us the old favourites from 20 years ago as well as recent stuff. Robbie Williams inevitably stole the thunder (with not as much foul language as I thought there was going to be thankfully),  he certainly took command of the stage, it was a great show.

After a very rushed and quite long walk back to Wembley Central, we were herded gently by police onto the jam packed hot, stuffy tube and just caught the last train home with minutes to spare. Having stopped at every station between Waterloo and Petersfield, we finally drove the last 20 minutes home and crept into the house at 1.45 this morning.  

Feeling just a little tired, I have pottered about on the farm,  I have seen all of 5 people, Peter, Rebecca,  1 visitor, and 2 in the distance.  I quietly went about weighing crias, Bliss is seemingly back to normal now and has even gained weight despite her ordeal. I started our breedings off for the year with Ardingly and Sabrina and Goldrush with Moya,  and then I just enjoyed the peace and quiet - lovely.


We were all up early this morning to go off to Alton Show. Rebecca was given the job of bottle feeding the crias, whilst I fed the rest of the herd. Upon calling the cria over only Bruno came for his milk ... Bliss was behaving very strangely and Rebecca called out to me to come quickly. The poor little thing was staggering around (Bliss that is - not Rebecca), falling over and screaming out. My immediate thought was that she had been attacked by dogs or something and had a terrible injury, but as soon as I got close enough I could tell that she was blind. She was in a terrible panic and when I picked her up she was trembling and I swear I could hear her heart pounding, I could certainly feel it.   We got them into the stable and after a few minutes she seemed to calm down, but was gazing up to the ceiling, but obviously not able to see anything and had a very strange way of standing. We called the Vet and my friend Donna who was going to cria sit ... and I was grateful for the moral support!  Peter and the girls got loaded up with the pacas and went on ahead to the show.

The Vet arrived within half an hour and gave her a thorough examination and we discussed the various things it might be, including Septicaemia, though she seemed well, so not likely, a kick to the head - quite possible, or a vitamin deficiency - possible.  He have her an LA antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and a multivitamin shot.

I left her in the very capable care of Donna and drove like a luny in Peters car, which is very speedy compared to mine,  and went off to the show to catch Peter and Rebecca and her friend Lorna up. Got there too late to get into the exhibitors car park so had to walk the whole length of the show to get to our stand.  They had done a great job in setting it all up (I will arrive late again me thinks!).

I phoned a couple of very good and very knowledgeable friends - namely Nick from the Alpaca Stud and Rachel from Classical MileEnd who had both come across something similar and advised Vitamin B1 ... so (sorry I am going on a bit but I need to get it off my chest and may be useful to someone one day!) phoned Donna, who phoned theVet and then collected a bottle of the stuff and injected it at regular intervals.   Anyway, to cut to the chase Bliss seems to have made a great recovery, I'm not saying she's cured yet but she can definitely see now and is now looking for her bottle... phew.  So can only assume it was the Vitamin B1 deficiency causing something referred to as PEM or CCN (polioencephalomalacia)? Will need to research some more and talk to a few more Vets. A huge thank to all concerned, especially Donna who is a dear friend and has her own alpacas, pigs, turkeys and a vineyard just up the road from us at Poppy Down Farm - great sausages - you must all buy them!

Meanwhile - the show was very busy - lots of interest and serious enquiries - great weather and saw some old friends.   Tomorrow night Rebecca and I are off to London to see Take That!


The last few days have gone by in a flash and we have 2 new cria Archer and Cotton Candy, both solid white, a boy and a girl.  All's well with the herd, the crias play in a big gang now and the two bottle feds are beginning to join in and remain totally devoted to each other, Bliss being in charge.

We should have a slight pause for a couple of weeks before the rest of the females birth, the rest being from our Snowmass males Invincibly Elite and Incan King over our best white and fawn females.  


Annabelle & Archer

Annabelle & Archer

Cotton Candy - very sweet!
Cotton Cake & Cotton Candy (we were kind of hoping for a grey - or something dark! )