Some pics .... not much happening today, just enjoying the sunshine and the pacas.

My favourite tree blossom - the red horse chestnut

Strawberry Shortcake and Cassandra doing pilates

Aglaia, Aggrippina and Medusa chillin'

Aglaia - saving that bit of hay for later

Medusa - a particularly wacky haircut
Bettina of the funky ears

Bliss, her daughter - well she got the ears if not the colour !

Dynasty - sort of dirty grey underneath the fawn, a tempting choice for The Sorcerer


Another week gone and thankfully we can tick shearing off the list.  I have to say it's the first time, and hopefully the last, that we've ever sheared in the dark!

I woke early on shearing day and decided to get up and bring some animals in whilst they were dry, the forecast was awful and the sky looked very threatening. Peter got up with me and together we brought all the boys in from the far fields and put them under cover, and shut the weanlings in the field shelter. By 7am it was chucking it down, and the 39 remaining animals were out in it getting soaked and there seemed no point in bringing them in to get all sweaty and covered in straw as well.

Michael the shearer and his sidekick arrived around 2.30pm by which time the rain had stopped but everything was claggy and wet and there were more showers and winds on the way. We moved everything around to shear under the far archway in the dry.  Our helpers were Lucy who works for us at weekends and her boyfriend Mark, who was a total star, never previously handled alpacas and just got stuck in, and despite getting kicked and spat, seemed to quite enjoy it! We got through all the boys and weanlings and then the field of 20 pregnant girls who were still very damp.  Time came for Lucy, and the now rather exhausted Mark, to go home leaving us to carry on and finish the last 19 who were reasonably dry. As darkness descended Mike was shearing by lamplight, but we did it and finished at 10.30pm, 59 animals in total. I can't tell you what a dreadful state the yard was in in the morning, and I had lost track of whose fleeces I was putting in bags sometimes,  but when it stops blowing a gale and raining I'll get them out and skirt them properly, but that can keep!  Its a great feeling to have it all done.

Selene trying to take a nap and Brie being a pest

Jumper - as tired as me!

Streamlined girls in the buttercups 

"Aunty Miel" 17 years young this month, she gets to keep her blanket on!

Next day we set to and cleaned up all the mess, then welcomed visitors from Belgium and spent a glorious sunny and dry day introducing them to the herd.

Yesterday we hosted the BAS Alpaca Evaluation Course with Nick Harrington Smith which was an excellent day, thankfully it was all classroom based as it rained on and off all day. Everyone enjoyed it and learned loads as always.

The alpacas seem fine without their fleeces, despite the chilly wind,  and this morning we had more visitors to look at them as prospective owners. We have noticed a big increase the the level of enquiries lately, must be the spring sunshine.

Next week is quieter, I think, our due girls are getting to look really pregnant now and I have already started to gaze at their tums and bums for signs of impending births! And so it goes now for the next two months!


So, whilst I can keep my eyes open, a catch up on my weekend at the South of England Show.  I went without Rebecca this time, she stayed at home promising to revise.  Me and Nikki from Faraway Alpacas (or is it Nikki and I, I never know which is correct) stayed in a Hotel just down the road. When we checked in we discovered that there was a wedding reception going on.  We fought through the crowd of suits and posh frocks in our wellies and straw covered fleeces and headed for a quiet part of the hotel for a drink and supper, we had changed and washed our hands by then! However, it wasn't quiet for long as we were invaded by a lot of very rowdy and mostly drunk wedding guests and were consequently forgotten in the rush. After much complaining to a rather harassed young bar manager, our food finally arrived, after waiting almost an hour and a half we were hungry - by then it was on the house - so we ordered puddings and coffee too!  I got off to sleep OK but was woken at 4.30 am by a very noisy threesome, two male voices and one female, lots of laughing from her, coming from the room above me. They seemed to be having a much better time than me, but thankfully wore themselves out after an hour or so!

Anyway I was first in the ring with my black female Enigma, in a class of one, actually we were the only black female! I thought they'd be loads of black animals with Tim Hey judging .. anyway, he praised her highly and said that she was a worthy winner of a Champion ribbon. Always seems a bit daft to me to award a Champion in a one animal category, but I'm not complaining. Thankfully our other entries had more competition. Selene also placed 1st and then took Champion brown female, I was very happy as I think she is beautiful, but then I would. Macy Grey came 2nd and The Sorcerer won his class. Then after lunch it was the fawns. The standard was high, Bonami won his class and we stood in the Championship lineup, one of them being Houghton Halls fawn intermediate who won the Supreme Champion at the Heart of England the previous week. Tim spent a long time weighing up all the traits, going back and forth mainly between Bonami and the Houghton boy - much suspense! Needless to say I was chuffed to bits when he walked towards me with the sash!

Nikki went home at the end of the day, so Vicki from Spring Farm kindly invited me over to join them for a curry. Just as we got stuck in we were interrupted with an urgent call from Nikki to call home. Jazz, our English Pointer, was very ill. He sometimes gets severe colic, which has the potential to develop into a twisted gut.  I decided to go back to the hotel and if he hadn't improved on his medication, check out and drive the 2 hours home to care for him myself.

Back at the hotel I was greeted with a steaming flood of boiling hot water, pouring out of a cupboard in the corridor outside my room. A detour via the kitchens and a fire escape took me around the flood, which was by now creeping under my door. Phoned home to hear the dog had responded to his medication and as it was getting rather late I decided to stay and was eventually moved to another room, where I didn't sleep much because I was worrying about the dog and kept thinking I should have gone home! 

A phone call to hubby early in the morning and was relieved to hear that Jazz was OK but rather subdued, as was Peter, who stayed up til 1.30 am with him (I told him he had to stay with him until he seemed ok)  He doesn't really like the dogs, just not a doggy person, I have some serious making up to do I think, but I do think he might have bonded with Jazz a little!

Back to the show and I had two juniors females left to go - Dynasty in lights and Bling in whites and they both came 2nd with more great comments.

Then came the supremes, Houghton Hall won both, and I was pretty pleased to have 3 Champions in the line-up.  Having got them back to the stables, I was told they were needed for Best of British, so got them back out again! There were 5 qualified altogether and Tim award it to Bonami, I was very happy, I do love Bonami.  Another sash, plus a lovely prize of a hanging basket bracket thingy with alpacas on it.

We have a busy week ahead - with shearing planned on Thursday, weather permitting, visitors from overseas on Friday and the BAS Evaluation course here on Saturday.