Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Rain, rain go away!

Two wet best buddies
We have baled about 30 bales of hay, or semi-wet grass, which is not recommended as it is likely to go mouldy. We have put them under cover with plenty of air circulation and so far most of them have not got hot, which would be a sign that they are decomposing rather than drying out, so maybe we have got away with it. The problem is that we have now cut half the hay on the ski hill too. It looked really promising as it was drying nicely and it was a better harvest than last year, but then it rained. Not a tiny little bit like the forecast suggested, but frequent showers through the last two days. We still have more we can cut, but it is not looking great so far. We can only hope that the next few days are really as dry as forecast and any possibility of rain does not turn into a downpour. At least we are not in danger of a drought and the ponds are full to overflowing and even the well is filling up faster now.
Well when they are not fighting that is

Drenched. Fortunately this is not so catastrophic as a few
weeks ago. George is not showing any signs of his poor
start in life and is very active now.
All this rain has turned us into obsessive weather watchers. We lose count of the number of times we check the radar and the weather forecast. It has been so unpredictable that I think it is not really helping. At least with a radar it is possible to see the rain coming, but sometimes that is just downright depressing, sometimes it is the spur to get a job done, but not so much at the moment.
Frederiks reaching that itch behind the ear!

George nibbling on cow parsley
The insects have not been quite as bad for us this year but the animals have been bothered by them. It seems that the mite problem has flared up and the flies have been taking advantage of small bits of raw skin. Ian has been putting fly spray on, but the animals are not so keen and so it is more difficult when they are out in the field. Ian tried to take Tellus and Mr. P for a walk with our young helper but there were too many insects irritating them and Tellus gets really cross with them. It didn't help that Mr. P kept trying to walk through long grass, so they gave up. We have also used Fiprinol on some animals with the mites, which often sorts the issue out, but we are well aware that in itself could become a problem if the mites become resistant, so we are trying to monitor the situation to ensure it does not get out of hand.
Frederiks has been losing some fur from off his nose, so we
are starting him on some cream.
Ian sporting the newest head covering. Our young helper
made the hat for him
As I mentioned before, this year it has been easier to keep on top of the garden and not have unkempt look. I think it is easier because even the weeds have been fairly slow to grow. I bet they are waiting until I am away at a conference to leap forward with wild abandon. One bed did get rather weedy and there wasn't really anything to plant in it yet, so we have planted oats and barley for a green manure and to keep the other weeds in check. They have germinated well, so that is a help. I do plan to sow some autumn crops soon though as well, as I have plenty of other spare places. It is nice to be able to concentrate on the garden on our land and not have to make sure I get the gardens weeded in the village too. Even if it does get in a bit of a mess, at least it doesn't affect my neighbours.
A still heavily pregnant Agnese. Come on, hurry up Hilda
- at least we hope we finally get a girl this time.
Chanel before shearing
We finally got most of the girls sheared this week. Agnese still hasn't produced and so she is still waiting for her haircut. I tried to comb through Mari's hair but there was so much matted fleece and remnants of hay from two years ago that I gave up. With Chanel we decided to give her a shorter look than we would like to give her as she had the same problem as Mari. At least now it shouldn't get so matted. We will sort Mari's hair out at the same time as we finally shear Agnese. Our young helper helped out with the shearing this year and she sat with the alpacas heads on her lap, which they seemed to be remarkably calm with, even our spitty alpaca Chanel, who only spat once and not while she was being sheared.
And after shearing. Sorry Chanel! The haircut was a bit
drastic but it will grow back, honest!
The wood pile is growing
Our other helper has started making an impression on the wood pile. Ian had logged up the wood and the young chap split it. He has to work on his knees as he can't stand for long, but Ian gave him some knee pads and that helped. He worked really hard and even when we stopped for coffee he would get up before us and get back on with the job. It is really nice not to have to insist that someone get on with a job. He was pretty tired when it was time to go home though.
Mari before shearing
And after with the rather funky hair cut. That will be going
We've had a few minor miracles this week. The last large hay bale was split up and mercifully this at least had some good hay in it to use as bedding for the girls. We have had to clear it out again for shearing as it was just too wet. We also saw the fish in both our ponds. We haven't seen the ones in the lower pond since last year. It is hard to see them in that pond due to it being so overgrown but there had not even been a glimpse of them. We haven't seen the ones in the top pond either for over a month and thought that maybe a local heron had managed to get them, despite the steep sides of the pond.
We really do have fish in the pond!
Veronica before
Another miracle is that we also narrowly missed our chicks becoming a snack for our cat and a hawk. They are escaping on a fairly regular basis at the moment and Eyre spotted one and started to go for it. Fortunately she stopped after we started to make a commotion. She never bothers while they are inside their netting. The hawk also made a swoop for them, but I don't think there is enough room to fly in and fly out by swooping and so they are safe as long as they stay inside the netting. I have tried clipping their wings to stop them flying out, but not sure this is having the desired effect. They seem to be able to flap and sort of walk up the netting at this age. Plan B will be a cull of some older birds and make room in one of the arks, then there will be no escaping. Oh yes! And finally, there are 15 chicks and I thought we only had 14.
And after

And finally the two best buddies having a rest in the alpaca house

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