The weather here is just pants! Ha - you thought I was going to be talking about my underwear, sorry to disappoint you ... however there is a funny chap in Wiltshire who is happy to discuss his underwear at length on his blog - you know the one I mean don't you!

It rains here every day, sometimes just showers, sometimes continuous drizzle, sometimes continuous heavy rain, sometimes very heavy thundery downpours. Our chalk downland paddocks are completely saturated, usually free draining they just can't take any more, we have puddles where we never have before...  the ground is squelchy and we have MUD.  It's officially the wettest year since records began, this time last year we were in drought... so nature evens things up.

The Meon Valley is a changed landscape - they don't call those fields now under water, 'water meadows' for nothing.  We walk the dogs down there every day just to check out the growing floods, now almost to the top of my boots, which are rotting fast and threatening to leak - good job I had a new pair for Christmas, though they're still pristine in their box where I admire them and promise them regular cleaning and regular leather treatment (some chance). Thankfully we are on high enough ground to be safe from flooding - that must be just awful and I feel so sorry for anyone coping with all that must bring. Snow in the States - doesn't it come here after usually - that'll be fun - at least it'll be clean for a bit!

We have quite a few white pacas here who are doing their very best to blend in with their surroundings. Muddy knees I can put up with but then they go into the dry, earth floored shelters and have a really good roll about and come out a completely different colour.  Not any more - I put straw down, even though I know it's going to be a nightmare taking it all out again. I have heard that this weather could go on for months yet, the thought of showing these things in this state fills me with dread, and when are we supposed to halter train them, not great in the rain and on slippery ground.  I even have to admit to not quite recognising some of the weanlings - they all look remarkably similar with a coating of mud - where has Cassidy's crazy topknot gone?

Water Meadows

A favourite picnic spot

A rare dry moment

Soggy, muddy Melissa and some white ones????


Feeling slightly festive now, our tree is up, I've done the cards and wrapped some presents. We went to carols in the village a couple of nights ago, it could only happen like that in England I'm sure, booming men's voices a bar or so ahead of the band, struggling to read the song sheets because what lights were there shone into your eyes blinding you and freezing cold feet! The pre-christmas panic hasn't set in  yet, I expect it'll get me on Christmas Eve when I remember what I have't got! I hate the food shop bit, I may have to send Peter with a list, but then I quite like choosing special treats that I then regret eating after Christmas when I feel enormous!

I have already bought the pacas their sack of carrots for their Xmas breakfast and will shove them through the processor for chopping - they love them.

It's certainly not very Christmassy weather here today, I love cold and frosty Christmases, we rarely get snow, sadly, in our part of the Country it's far more likely to be wet and yucky - I do hope it cheers up before the big event. We've had torrential rain most of last night and most of today..  the dogs bowls were full to the brim this morning.

The weanlings were in their shelter all night and this morning there was a right old mess to clear up! So difficult when everything is soggy, I ended up hosing all the rubber mats down and then sloshing disinfectant about ... if I win the lotto I'm going to have a big barn with a concrete floor with proper drains!

They were quite happy grazing in the pouring rain all day, and when I called them in for their tea about 3.30 they bombed along to get it. Most of them are now eating hard feed, many of them were before weaning of course, but some are still reluctant to try and I'm hoping they'll get the hang of it in the next day or two. Readigrass seems popular, it smells gorgeous, like candy floss, and I put their hard feed on top of it which usually works. I bought them some timothy haylege, but they prefer their hay, shame, that smells lovely too and would do them more good.

This weekend I have to drench them with Baycox against coccidea... never an enjoyable task and I usually end up wearing a fair bit of it as it's so runny, probably why it's called a drench? It's not a difficult job, just have to syringe it into their mouths slowly and tip their heads up til they swallow it.

I don't have many pics to show you today apart from one of the weanings looking bedraggled this afternoon, and our local river in flood, for those who know the area you will appreciate the difference!

I am hoping to put together a few of my favourite pics from 2012 but if I don't post again before Christmas I hope you have a Cool Yule.

The River Meon - good job I had a good pair of boots on!

Soggy Pacas


This morning we brought the dams and crias into the yard for weighing. With good gains since the last weigh-in and the right weights for weaning, the process of separation began.  We decided to do the whole lot in one go ... some could have stayed longer on their dams age-wise, but in their cases their dams were beginning to lose too much condition and needed the break.

Our tried and tested method of getting dams and crias separated, with as little stress to both humans and alpacas as possible, requires a certain amount of forward planning, the right help, in this case Rebecca and Lucy, plus shear native cunning.  We moved them all together to where the crias were to end up, then we split them in the field shelter leaving the crias in a secure penned area.  The females were then called away into the direction of their new field (they're always keen to go somewhere new) completely out of sight and sound of their crias. Sounds easy doesn't it? Well actually it was fairly, thankfully, only one Mum looked back for a moment and we rushed her along before she could tell everybody else what we were up to!  Once in their new fields both the weanling group and the female group were busy tucking into the grass, seemingly without a thought of eachother. Photos to prove it!!

The weanlings safely penned up whilst their dams are moved away.

15 minutes later and no-ones looking for Mummy!

The females all settled - looks a much smaller group now!

Later on in the afternoon, as we passed them with the dogs on our way for a walk, some of the females rushed up to the gate to see if we had returned with their crias, a couple were humming loudly.  The weanlings came over to us too, but they really didn't seem that bothered, just wanted to look at the dogs and not a sound.

I can see both groups from the windows of the house and all is now peaceful and quiet. A few days to settle down, and then the halter training begins!  21 - thats a lot of halter training!

There is one young lady Aglaia, a 2011 girl, who is supposed to be living with the other maiden females of her year, who is an escape artist. She gets under any fences that don't have stock wire on with apparent ease. For the last couple of weeks she has been residing with the females and crias - her decision and she's not daft they get more food! This morning she was put back where she was meant to be. Less than 5 minutes later she was back having crawled under two fences and wanting to go in with the crias - not sure who she's attached herself to, she obviously just prefers their company!  More fencing needed then....

Aglaia - "I want to be with them - they have more fun!!!"

The Weanlings - not bovvered!


It's all about the timing - amazingly we've had a few dry days. Today we've had glorious sunshine from dawn to dusk. Xmas shopping or tractor driving - no contest!  I spent a happy couple of hours on our ancient little red tractor harrowing another field.  We're on chalk, so we dry out very quickly, thank goodness.  The field is just under 2 acres and it's had 22 females with their crias on it for about 3 weeks, that's an awful lot of poo, way too much for me to attempt to hoover up and after all the rain we've had would be too heavy and stuck in the tube. Life is just too short to bother!

We have a lot of moss here and giving it a really good thrashing with the harrows drags all the dead grass and moss out , as well as spreads the poo about.  So dressed for the arctic, complete with woolly hat under my ear defenders and a blanket to sit on - off I went.  Round and round, up and down, backwards and forwards, the odd swirly bit here and there just for fun (!) until it had all been harrowed at least 4 times in 4 or more directions.

The sunshine kept me lovely and warm, I actually quite enjoyed it, diesel fumes not so much, or my ears being squished by my radio defenders.  I had someone keeping me company most of the time. One of our resident buzzards sat in the tree watching and then landed right in front of me to catch something, ate it and then flew back up to the tree. I managed to get a snap of it with my phone - you'll have to look really closely.

Poo has vanished, wonderful, field now one hell of a mess, but I know how much good it'll do the grass and from experience I know it'll recover within a very short time. The forecast is for sharp frosts this week and then rain the following week, so by then hopefully most of the parasite eggs will have been killed off and the rain will have washed field clean again. On our rotation I don't have to use the field again for about two or three months.  Job Done.

Buzzard - look for shadow on ground then up a bit!
Here's one cria I'm really looking forward to ... Meon Valley Ardingly, The Sorcerer's sire, over Meon Valley Treasure a Tulaco Centurion x MV Toffee Apple daughter - should be lovely but what colour????  Bit of fun but 7 months to wait!

And for those with a sense of humour like me ...


Not much to report, as all is quiet on the farm this week, which is just as well as I've managed to put my back out lifting our two dogs over a fence whilst out on a walk ... mmm the moral of the story is to stick to the footpaths!!

Hopefully my acupuncturist has worked her usual magic and I will soon be back bouncing round the farm as usual ...  what was that ... do you mind!!!

Anyway, I have been saving the last of our rested juicy autumn grass with the intentions of moving the mums and crias into it at the weekend, but as I have been forbidden to lift any hay bales for at least a day, and I couldn't even if I tried, I moved them all in there this afternoon, they won't want hay for days!  They were delighted and spent a very happy five minutes or so racing and pronking about, well those who weren't just getting stuck in to the grass anyway. It's only a small paddock so they'll probably be in it for a week or so and then it's time for a big sort out with weaning time for at least half of them.


We have been plunged into the gloom of cold November fog and I have had just about enough of the great outdoors for one day and have come in for a cuppa and a bit of a warm up.

Yesterday I handled for the Judge Certification at Bozedown, always interesting to have a peek at other animals and a chance for a bit of a gossip. It was bloomin' cold even with my thermal long johns! So much so that the Judges panel were rescued with a patio heater as they were in danger of fading from hypothermia .... hmm I think they should get a few more of those for next year!  I must applaud the candidates for going for their Judges ticket .. I can only imagine how nervous they must have been throughout the long day, with halter classes, fleece classes and written exam. It is just as well that there are those who have the time and are brave, willing and able to qualify so that we have a supply of good British Judges for the increasing number of shows round the UK and Europe. I also believe strongly that their education should be ongoing to maintain high standards and consistency between judges, and all this should be supported by our  Breed Society.....

Anyway, back today, now because of all the wet weather and our lush grass and other stuff going on, I am hopelessly behind with the poo hoovering and so the only option was to harrow the paddocks the girls have been in last and leave them to rest for as long as I can.  I did try using our paddock sweeper but that just made a horrible mess because it was all too wet and the brushes are a bit knackered.  Now I have harrowed them to within an inch of their lives - they look a bit sad now but they will recover and be the better for it. The forecast is for more rain and the paddock they're in will last them another few days - if I carry on with this system I can rotate them on a 6/7 week cycle, but then I have to find a field for weaning which makes it slightly more complicated .... oh please can we have some hard frosts and dry weather.

This morning I gave the boys a strip of fresh grass in next doors paddock behind electric sheep fence - their first experience with it, and as I watched 3 of them got a zap on the nose investigating the fence! I never recommend electric fencing with alpacas as I know of plenty of people who's animals have been caught up in it with disastrous consequences, but these are just getting a couple of hours a day when I'm around to supervise them - soo much grass I think they thought they were in heaven!

You can just make out the electric fence - the boys having been zapped they now settle down to some serious munching

Action shot from the tractor - quite straight lines though I say so myself!


Another month and the Hampshire countryside is looking so different - my absolute favourite time of the year and I just want to go on long dog walks and take pictures of leaves and fungi and stuff and then come in for tea and cake and sit in front of the fire watching rubbish on the telly - a simple soul, it doesn't take much to please me. The weather has been a bit wild at times - thunder storms, strong winds  morning mists and even some frost. Half the leaves have fallen in the last week or so, and the colours have been fantastic.
A day of heavy showers - again

Rare sunshine at breakfast time
Autumn mists

Todays walk - there's nothing like kicking through beech leaves!

Beautiful fungi 
The females with crias have munched their way through two paddocks since my last post here and today they have moved on from "Willow" and into "Holly" (field names). The grass is still growing and looks lush and very green, but it's nearly all water and not much goodness so they're getting ad-lib  hay and a delicious breakfast of hard feed to top them up. The field of fatties are still on their maintenance diet of grass, a little hay and camelibra and they're still doing very well thank you, so won't be getting more than that for a while yet, if at all.
Beautiful pacas!
My trusty ride-on mower, which is an ancient hand-me-down, is in the hospital for mowers this week as the drive belt thingy broke.  With nothing to tow the poo-vac or sweeper brush I have had a good excuse not to clean up after the pacas, the only down side to keeping them,  someone needs to develop nappies for pacas? I will have to clean the little paddocks when the mower returns and I just hope that it doesn't rain too much in the meantime so it turns to mush. I had our biggest field harrowed and will leave that to rest now until the Spring if I can, hopefully we'll have a few really hard frosts to kill off the parasite eggs and help break down the moss and dead grass that was dragged up to the surface.

I went to the BVCS conference last weekend which was really excellent. Fantastic speakers - Jane Vaughan was especially inspiring, the venue was good and for me just an hour away,  good food and company though there wasn't much time to chat as the day was so full of lectures. I'm surprised more breeders didn't go - I'm sure they will next year when they realise what they missed.

I've been giving some half day Beginners Courses here in the last few weeks to small groups of newcomers, there's been loads of interest lately and I have sold some females and cria which will be going in the New Year, that's good as it'll help make room for the 2013 crop of cria.

Anyway enough of my ramblings here are some autumnal pictures for you to enjoy...

Pacas in "Willow" they grazed off that paddock in a week!

Moved into "Holly"  


Today was our first frosty morning, we had bright blue skies and a beautiful sunrise, the start of a perfect Autumn day. There was no way I was going stay indoors for long, so first a dog walk to enjoy the frost and then the usual feed rounds and check of the pacas. Domestic chores followed and then some visitors and then another lovely dog walk with the girls this afternoon in the Forest of Bere which is just up the road from us. It seemed that everyone from miles around had the same idea, I don't think I've ever seen so many dogs, fortunately the Forest is big enough to find plenty of empty space and it was looking beautiful.

Forest of Bere
It's been fairly quiet on the farm lately, we wormed and AD&E'd everybody a couple of weeks ago - next job toe nails, but not for a couple of weeks.  We've had quite a few enquiries lately and yesterday we had a lovely family come for a Beginners Course.  I need to add a few more animals to our sales list ... I never like parting with them ... but can't keep them all.  It won't be long and we'll have weanling boys on it from this years crop, they'll be ready to go in January and February.

 All our females are in the big fields and so I'm being lazy and not poo hoovering - I just wouldn't know where to start! I'll harrow them when they come out of there in a couple of weeks and then hopefully we'll get a few more frosty days to help clean it all up. Our grass has still been growing a little and the next fields they'll be moving into look lush and still beautifully green. They're eating a bit of hay now and my supplies are pretty low, so I must soon go on the hunt for some good hay, I hope that won't be too difficult this year after our appalling summer.  Anyway here's some pics I took late this afternoon.

Crias keeping their eye on the Marmalade our cat

Macy Grey

Cotton Fields

Topsey Turvey


Some of the girls


The boys

Phew llama breath! 

The boys with their guardian Yerba

Home sweet home


A couple of years ago we found a lovely home for two of our retired stud boys, Grayling and Ocho, just up the road in the next village with Liz and Gus.  They are extremely well cared for and loved and so I was really pleased when they decided to take Sir G under their wing as another retiree,  the three amigos seem very well settled and it's rather nice to be able to see them every now and then when I drive past their field. Thank you Liz and Gus!

Ocho, Grayling and Sir G

This summer I decided to retire some of our older females too. I'm quite happy to keep them here but realistically we should move them on as field pets to make room for the next generations, and the occasional auction acquisition..... Yes, we went to the Alpaca Classic last weekend and had a very good day. This event was really well organised, with great speakers and beautiful animals and one of them  - Bozedown Jumper is now in our field. Well you only live once...

New addition Bozedown Jumper 

Today we brought the cria group in for their weekly inspections. Lots of smelly lotions and potions to combat harvest mites and midges. I'm trying out 3 different things and I'm not sure which is working the best but something is as they're definitely better than last week.

One of our older girls Akela is a very spitty madam when pregnant but when she's open,  as she is now she's very cuddly - as you can see in the picture of Rebecca with her and others wanting to join in.

Another job today was to put the boys into a different field. Loads of grass - they are very happy.


I woke early this morning and thought about yesterdays show - all in all it was a very successful day and I really enjoyed it.  It started very early, as it did for a lot of the competitors. It was chilly too at 6.5 degrees at 5am, the sky a clear black with a mass of stars. The journey was easy with hardly any traffic and light when we arrived.

From an organisers point of view the first part of the day was the trickiest.  Our unloading area happened to also be the main thoroughfare for Trade 2 traffic and at one point we had a bit of road rage going on as we had about 6 trailors parked up unloading and queues both sides of very impatient Trade 2 traffic - some actually driving between exhibitors with animals - not ideal and that will be changed next year.  Everyone in and our Judge Liz Barlow arrived, our PA System hadn't. We were due to start in 20 minutes.  More frantic calls and my version of running halfway across the show ground to the main PA Tower where I staggered breathless and begged for our system to be delivered.  

Judging underway and I was first in the ring with The Sorcerer, our grey Intermediate. Crikey it was already quite hot - this day was going to be a scorcher. Somewhere in the background I was aware of someone putting up loud speakers - thank goodness.  Another mental note for next years double-checklist.   We were awarded a second, shame we like the red ones much better!

The sun just got hotter and hotter, and the crowds bigger and bigger - we attracted a constant crowd around our ring, unfortunately there just wasn't time to open up our tent officially to the public as we had the Junior Handler classes going on in our short break for lunch, which incidentally co-incided with a very noisy band of spidermen - the kids did well to hang on to their animals. We had opened the sides up so people could wander round and see all the animals.  Quite a few of the public snuck in though, despite penning them out for their safety - one even ended up wandering into the ring apparently! 

The rest of our show team did well - Eros 3rd and BobbyDazzler 4th in the Intermediate Fawn Male, then Bonami won his Adult fawn male class and then went on to win Champion Fawn Male - his third this year, so I was happy. Our 3 Invincibly Elite xx intermediate white boys came 4th, 5th and 6th.

The Alpaca Stud deservedly won both both Supremes - their amazing grey Nyetimber, who looked just stunning and who our grey Ardingly always came second to when shown,  taking the Huacaya - many congratulations!  

My thanks as joint organiser go firstly to Nikki who did most of the pre show stuff this year and then to our team of volunteers - Cathy and Graham, Lisa and Ray and Keith and Allison and then John on commentary, Jay and Gary and others and, of course our Judge Liz Barlow you made it a great show. Oh and thank you to all those exhibitors who came and supported us and very kindly stacked your penning away for us, it made such a difference.

Not many pics as only had phone camera... and I kept forgetting to take any!

Eros and Bonami being led round by Donna and Rebecca
The very noisy,  quite good band of spidermen - I'm not sure who they were but possibly not the most attractive
shapes in lycra!

Bonami being awarded Champion Fawn Male - handled by Terry

Suri Supreme Line-up - winner 2nd from left