Monday, 6 June 2016

Departures and arrivals

One of the last few pictures we have of Estelle. Here Lady V
and Estelle are hogging the water buckets in the heat.
We have had a dramatic end to our shearing season. We have spent the last month shearing animals both on our farm and in Estonia without an issue apart from the dirty fleece issues I have mentioned before and the usual occasional cut, which unfortunately happens. The very last animal we sheared however, our own pregnant Estelle, unfortunately collapsed and died shortly after shearing. We were not able to save the baby either. She was one of those animals we had high hopes to build our herd on. The others who had died were older animals or the young from older animals, but Estelle was only four years old and pregnant with her first baby. She didn't manage to get pregnant last year and we have been wondering for most of this past year if she was or not. Her behaviour changed, which gave us a clue, but she only started to show visible signs in the last few weeks, so it is a double blow for us.
Mari before shearing 

And afterwards. Not sure the hair cut works so well, but it will
grow back. Don't be fooled by the clouds behind either, we
still have not had any significant rain fall , bar one good shower
that didn't leave much in the way of puddles but at least refreshed
the plants. We could see the rain to the North, the East, the West
and the South but they passed us by with only the odd drop for comfort
We have never seen this type of caterpillar before. A very
vivid turquoise though
The shearing itself went okay and she literally jumped up after being released from the restraints. She wandered outside a little stiff in the legs, but that is normal and she walked over to the gate as if she wanted to go in the field. She then moved away, but as she did the other alpacas stopped and stared at her, which was odd. There is usually a bit of hilarity as animals are not recognisable to each other after shearing and they have to assure themselves that the animal is familiar to them by their smell and at first we thought that was the reason. She then seemed to spraddle her legs and we thought she was going into labour, she righted herself and then moved on again before sitting down

I like Chanel's hair cut. I think it suits her
By this time we felt something was wrong and Ian went to phone the vet, but before he finished phoning we think she had gone. The vet was on her way though so we started pumping her chest to keep oxygen going around her system to try and save the baby at least and just in case the vet could bring her round. The vet tried two injections but no response before doing an emergency caesarian. The baby though had also died in the process and we could get no response out of it. So hours later saw us burying Estelle and baby Edmunds. It happened all so fast that it has been hard to process.

After. A much slimmer look and unfortunately shows her age.
At least she is better for it and has been out much more. Neither
is she hogging the water bucket so much, but then again it has
cooled down a lot. So much so that lots of folks have been covering
their tender plants with fleece tonight
Estelle on the 5th May starting to look pregnant
It has been a tough spring/early summer on our animals, especially the girls who had to wait to be sheared. They have been drinking a lot to keep cool, as there have been no showers of rain to wet their fleece to help them cool down from time to time and we just do not have the facilities to spray water on them like some do. Having said that I think now I would contemplate at least using a watering can to help, but our animals have managed with similar problems before, especially our older ones who had babies in dry hot years. It wasn't comfortable for them, but they managed. So of course there are the unanswerable "Why?" questions, when she was only four years old and "If onlys!" of which there are many. What's done is done though and for future years we try and make sure that the animals have electrolytes in their water from time to time if they are drinking lots and we try finding a way of getting them cooler if needed.
Aggie after her hair cut

Group photo, but kind of sad because Estelle is not there
Next year we will not have the same problem and we will be more organised. At least that is the plan, but who knows what our plans will be next year if the UK decide to pull out of Europe! That is a worry in itself, especially as we see the debate slipping into re-creating a supposedly glorious past that in reality never existed for all. Also there those protectionist stances or taking back control over sovereignty as it is labelled, which never achieves what its sets out to achieve, of protecting the state, as it usually end up with an isolated and increasing xenophobic society - not healthy.

Our Christiania bike 
Another departure that is more bittersweet than just bitter is the departure of our Christiania bike. We bought this bike in Denmark and it served as our car for three years. We have many recollections from the mundane carrying a week's worth of shopping in it, to the more bizarre such as the 4m long pipe that was rested in the box and over Ian's shoulder; the numerous friend's of our sons who were ferried to the bus stop in it and the time I had to pick up one of our sons at night from the train station because the bike seat and wheel had been pinched from his bike, so he couldn't ride it home, which meant bike and son had to be ferried back from the train station in it.
The Christiania is not so useful with the hills we have around here though

Mia their dog is having a great time in the Christiania bike.
The bike has carried all sorts of materials in its time, but
never a dog. 
We have tried to use it on our land, but it is just such hilly terrain that it is difficult to ride with it. Even when the ground looks flat it isn't, so our friends from Alpakafarm in Estonia have bought it. We were sad to see the bike go, but we are pleased it is going to a good home where it will be well used. Our friend drove all the way down from his place near Pärnu, dropped some alpaca feed off had a quick look around our farm and then drove all the way back with the Christiania bike. An epic journey in one day for sure, especially on the dirt roads around here at the moment. The last few kilometres are dreadful at the minute.
Even though the boys were sheared a while ago, they still like to
hide in the shelter from the sun

Already we have had to put a mesh on the top because this
little one was trying to escape
On the arrivals front we have three chicks so far, although one seems to be struggling with its legs - if it doesn't improve and get up on its feet that one will have to be despatched. I hate doing it but it is better than letting the poor thing suffer. I aim to make sure it gets the idea about getting up on its feet and making sure the tendon is in the right place, but apart from that there is no point in going through any more rigmarole from experience. Yes there is lots of information about strengthening legs and maybe it works with a lot of intensive effort, but it then also means that there is probably some weak genetics in there and it is better for the flock health and for future generations to dispatch it. Fortunately I think the chick seems to have got the idea about standing properly and so the grisly deed may be avoided.
As this was the first chick by a long way, a day ahead of schedule

Enjoying the cooler weather and eating
There is no news from our expectant sheep, we are still waiting for the arrival of their lambs. Hopefully by next week they will have produced, although it is a bit cold for the arrival of newborns at the moment after our hot weather.

Chanel and Aggie
We also have some friends from Estonia who have arrived today. Our Latvian roads proved a bit daunting and so progress was slower than anticipated. I am not surprised. We thought the dirt road was particularly bad on Saturday when we went to visit a friend about 3/4 hour away and we have a 4x4 (by the way on that trip we ended up with a lovely meal cooked by a Ukrainian, an Armenian and an Englishman so a lovely mix of foods representing the different cultures and a bit of a last minute invite so a rather pleasant surprise for the day). We decided to go and meet our friends from Estonia in the village, rather than make them come out the extra 6km only to travel back to the village later where they are staying in our guest apartment. We will introduce them to the alpacas tomorrow instead.


  1. stay, leave , lots of lies from every party. Whatever the decision made on the EU im sure nothing much will change for us apart from the initial bluster and petty tit for tat between us and France . At the moment we have far more problems from the latest EU trade treaty with America these will be ongoing and petty . Sadly we have a government that cares for nothing other than London and their own insular world , its my mothers generation who will vote to leave and they are the people who bother to vote .

    1. It worries me that if we are not careful we will go back to some of the issues of the 1930s - an era with much xenophobia and protectionist policies and we all know where that lead. It is strange that the older generations are the ones who hark back to the times of War and how much was sacrificed and yet do not see their actions can lead us down that road again.

      I agree about a government that seems to care more about London and living in their very insular world. Let's hope that the younger generations will get out and vote for their future. Now is the time to get them motivated to think about it, let's hope there are people out there who can reach them with thoughtful words that engage not put them off

  2. I had visions
    of you putting your chick on a treadmill to get it walking.

    1. Close. I held its feet flat on the floor and then had it doing leg stretches to get the idea of standing up on its feet properly :D


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