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.