Monday, 26 June 2017

Gosh what a week!

The orchids are out now. I think this one is a Marsh Orchid
if I remember correctly
This is one of those weeks when it feels like nothing much seems to get done that we planned on doing and yet we have been busy. It started off with the need to move the sheep from what has really been their winter quarters for far too long. The plan was to shear the one ewe that we had kept, before putting her and the two lambs over the hill, out of the way. This is so they are not continually making a noise every time we move because they think they are going to get fed. The grass is good enough to eat these days.

The chicks got put outside this week and the new ones have
started hatching in the incubator. We had a broody hen and
this always stops others from laying in the box, so we
moved her out to look after the chicks. That worked quite
well last year, but this year this hen decided that she was
having none of this and eventually started picking on the
chicks. At least it cured her broodiness
Ian tends to get a bad back shearing sheep, alpacas are much easier, still there was only one. He managed to get hold of the sheep okay in the shed where they had been overwintered and start shearing. The two lambs were fine at first, but after a while they started charging around, which was not helping with the shearing. In the end I had to let them out while Ian held onto the ewe. Eventually Ian got to a point where he needed me to hang onto the ewe, which went okay for a while but then she managed to wriggle free and started charging around the shed with half of her fleece still on - she looked ridiculous. Ian was not amused and managed to get hold of her again. This time I basically pinned her down by lying on top, which was not pleasant in the poop on the floor.

The boys have been moved onto fresh grass
The jeans washed okay afterwards though and the ewe didn't look too bad after the haircut. So all was well. We decided to give her a day to recover and a chance to calm down before relocating them. The problem is when sheep or alpacas are sheared the rest of the flock do not recognise them and it takes a while for them to convince the others they are not new animals trying to infiltrate the herd. The following day we managed to relocate them without much hassle, which was a pleasant surprise after last year when the lambs we had then made it really difficult and were chased all over the place to get them in to where they were supposed to be. That was one advantage of being born earlier in the year and Ian having fed them for a while each night.

We've seen a lot of this this summer, a rather heavy shower
At least that was one thing crossed off the list. Another thing crossed off our list was to talk about the possibility of selling one of our apartments. It has been useful having two apartments, especially when people stay, but in the summer that can mean that our stuff is spread over two apartments and one caravan. We sometimes end up not knowing where anything is and ideally we would love a cabin at least out on the land. We have got someone interested and so we at least can now see where that goes.

I'm looking at you.
Other things that got crossed off the list was to tighten the plastic on the greenhouse. It has been a rather cold, blustery and rainy summer for us and that does not do the plastic much good. It is getting older and our cat, Eyre, has not made a positive contribution to the integrity of the stuff. In other words she has been putting holes in it by trying to catch birds on the roof we think. As well as doing that, Ian also got his shears stripped down and cleaned after the shearing of the sheep. Combs and cutters are sharpened ready to do the girls when the weather improves and all have finished giving birth - well that's the plan.

I love rainbows
Alpacas are known to give birth in the morning or early afternoon, which so far has been the case for us, except this week. Late afternoon Ian hurriedly stuck his head around the door of the caravan and said "Come quick! I think Chanel has gone into labour!" Oiks! Not good news! Especially as it can indicate an issue. Sure enough it was clear that Chanel was going into labour outside and was not going into the alpaca house like the others tended to do. She seemed to be struggling with just the head out, so I went to try and get our neighbour. Unfortunately the only thing that greeted me were her two geese who were acting as good guard dogs as they do. I went back and Ian was very obviously concerned about Chanel. She had managed to burst the sac on a stick on the ground and now the cria needed to be born.

Meet Fredriks
The first thing we had to do was catch her, without unduly stressing her. A difficult job at the best of times as she is one of the most stressy of animals as it is. She set off at a bit of a trot with a head still hanging out, but eventually we managed to get hold of her. I held her head while Ian sorted out the problem, which was that one foot was over its head, rather than underneath. He managed to get the leg around the right way and then delivered the baby. He swung the baby upside down a bit to clear its airways as it didn't seem to be breathing properly and thankfully as he did that it started to object. We got Chanel and her baby boy, who we named Frederiks, inside so we could dry him off and ensure that she got started on feeding him before we called it a night.
Frederiks up and about

A very tired Mari
The next day Mari went into labour or at least seemed to. She was very uncomfortable all day and got quite tired. By the evening she still hadn't given birth. She seemed to settle down and we called it a night. Ian had spent all day just watching over her and got nothing done. I got quite a bit done as we had the young chap come and help us again. This time he spent most of the time on his knees weeding first the strawberry bed and then clearing some very weedy plots. We worked really hard all day and the garden is showing improvement. Ian has also managed to mow between the beds today and so it is all looking remarkably neat, just don't look too closely at what is actually growing in the beds but at least even the weeds are mainly edible.

Now meet George
The next morning Ian went to let the alpacas out as usual and found that Mari had just given birth also to a little boy, George. That meant a change to our normal morning routine. Poor Mari looked really tired and she wasn't bonding with her baby. We spent a fraught day watching over the pair and ended up milking her twice to get some colostrum down the little fella. We also gave him a sugar and salt solution to give him some energy. The problem was that he wasn't suckling very well either and there is a danger in giving milk if the suckling reflex is not working. Eventually he started suckling properly, which we were really relieved about.
It is a good job there is a difference in face shape, ear colour
and a shade difference in the brown. We didn't expect Mari's
baby to be totally brown too. Tellus his father is white.

Frederiks and George making friends - well maybe
The next day was a bit fraught too, as he was not doing as well as Frederiks. While Frederiks was bounding around, George was lying down a lot. We let them outside and Mari and George seemed to bond better but still not great and he wasn't really feeding. We were just at the stage of thinking of penning Mari in again and milking her when suddenly she stood still and George started feeding from her. We were so relieved. Still we weren't in the clear yet.

George in his cria coat
He was still rather lethargic today and we were concerned he wasn't getting enough to eat. His mum was still not bonding very well with him but she is much better than she was. Gradually over the day though he seemed to start feeding more often and began running around. The weather hasn't helped, we spent a few times during the day haring up to the paddock to hustle the alpacas inside. They were not impressed, as the girls do not like being penned up in the rain, they would rather stay outside. The babies, however, are not up to getting drenched yet, especially George. We resorted to putting him in a cria coat as he was shivering a bit.
He did rather too much of this for our liking. Crias usually
sit in a cushed position like above. At least he has done
much less of this today and more cushing

Now that is better, much more alert and cushing instead of
We had another visit before Frederiks was born. A young girl with her Mum and the chap who has translated for us at various times. The mother was keen for the young girl to learn English and so we have arranged for her to come and help us a couple of times a week so she can practice. She is used to helping her Mum in the garden, as do many youngsters around here and so hopefully my garden will actually stay under control this year. Now that will be nice. She is also used to being around animals too, as her family have beef cattle. She wasn't afraid of going up to them, but Chanel rewarded her bravery by spitting at her. We had wondered why she was more on edge than usual and now we know that she was probably in labour and that was why she was also moaning more than usual.
Frederiks' ET impression

Cria are so cute

Such a relief to see George feeding

At least Mari has accepted George in his snazzy outfit

No George that is not your mother. Lady V is surprisingly
tolerant of the youngsters, not so tolerant of the adults
though. She didn't tolerate him trying to feed from her

Chanel panics if she cannot see Frederiks

Frederiks and George having a run around

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