Monday, 23 April 2018

Prep time

Wood anemomes
I have spent the whole week prepping, or so it seems. Such as prepping our newer apartment so that the one we were living in can be emptied.  I say newer because we have still had the apartment for a while, but not as long as the one we lived in up until now. I've also been prepping garden beds ready for sowing seeds and transplanting strawberry plants. Well that's just about it! Short blog then! Hahaha only joking.
The woods look really pretty illuminated by the evening
sunshine and carpeted with the wood anemones 

The four heaps in the background are the un-composted hay
that was put on the beds over winter after the potatoes. They
will now be used to grow squash on and the four beds
in the front are for carrots and parsnips. I also need to prep
some beds for onion sets too.
Most of this week has involved a high degree of planning, which is a bit unusual for me as I either wing it these days or just have a rough idea of what needs doing. This time though I needed to be more prepared. One day my list read as follows
                     1. Go to new apartment prepare bread and leave to rise
                     2. Go to old apartment and put on washing load number one
                     3. Fill empty boxes with books, stack in the car
                     4. Take eggs to friend
                     5. Do shopping
                     6. Collect washing load put on second load
                     7. Go to new apartment and hang out first washing load
                     8. Unpack boxes and empty area in the office ready for bookcase and sideboard
                     9. Bake bread and cakes
                     10. Go back to other apartment and collect second washing load
                     11. Finish off tidying up, sort out kitchen and wash up
                     12. Back to the land and do gardening.
More prepping. These ones are for sweetcorn, salad plants
and other things but not brassicas as this is where they were
last year

One lone hanger on after the winter. They were meant to be
Brussel Sprouts, but it will give us some cabbagey leaves
There was that much to-ing and fro-ing that I think the neighbours must be wondering what we are up to. Meanwhile Ian was clearing out the bedding out of one of the alpaca houses. He did the other one the day before while I sorted out veg beds and a strawberry bed. I suddenly realised that the strawberries had been on the same patch of ground for longer than three years and I know from past experience the number of strawberries plummets after that.
Coltsfoot is often the first plant to flower on our land

Poor Chanel, she is missing Freddie, but it is for her own
good. We had hoped she would wean Freddie herself, but
that wasn't happening and she needs to recover some
condition in preparation for getting pregnant again. Normally
the alpacas would have been weaned by now, certainly the
more experienced Lady V had weaned off Brencis much
We have also done more shifting around, both furniture and animals. The young boys needed separating from their mums and because we now have more males than females we needed to move the girls up to where the older boys were and the older boys to the girls alpaca house. This in itself had to be planned too. We constructed a corridor to ensure that the animals would move between the two places. Ian shut the girls in their alpaca house with the younger boys separated into the small side. We then haltered up Brencis and Mr, P, as they are used to walks and the plan was that Ian would lead those two and the rest would follow with me encouraging them from behind.
I'm happy to see that my rose that Heather Potten (one of our felthing tutors) gave me last year is still alive and looking good

Wise old Lady V. taking the changes in her stride - well she
 is now
Well that was the plan anyway. What actually happened was that the older ones headed straight out leaving the ones that Ian had haltered up behind and Ian almost getting tangled up with the pair of them. It was amusing to watch, if a little disconcerting that things were not going to plan. Turbjørn is our most sensitive animal and freaks out easily, but this time he did a fantastic job of leading them all out and into the field where they could be contained while we sorted out the girls. There was only one point where we were a bit worried he was going to go the wrong way at a section that narrowed up, but with a bit of encouragement he got through. That went better than expected, if not quite how we planned it.

Meeting convened with Lady V offering her advice

We used to worry about our alpacas whenever they were laid
 out like this. Now we know they are just sunbathing
The next phase was to drive the girls out through the gate towards their new place. There was some hesitation at the gate and Chanel heard Freddie and panicked. She ended up getting caught in the wire and breaking several electric poles in the process. We got the girls back in the alpaca house and went to Plan B. We haltered up Aggie who likes to go for walks and Chanel, who doesn't to say the least. Well Chanel spat and kicked and created havoc, but with rather more manhandling than we would like we got her out of the paddock and following Aggie at a brisk pace. Once on the move she wasn't so bad.
See! Mari is fine

Aggie enjoying the sunshine too and looking rather pregnant
Next we had to get Lady V and Mari haltered up. Mari was okay if a bit stubborn about walking, however Lady V thought it was beneath her and showed she can still put up a bit of a fight if there is something she does not want to do. We got them both going in the right direction but bizarrely Lady V kept thumping Mari with her neck on Mari's back- those two don't really get on very well, usually they just tolerate each other. Anyway we got them up to where we wanted them and fastened all the girls in for the night. The boys in comparison were not too bad, with a bit of persuasion they did go in the alpaca house.
The guard hairs are long on Mari's fleece

All the boys together now
The little ones were on the smaller side of the alpaca house and the older ones on the other side. There was much sniffing through the fence, but all seemed fine and they were also locked away for the night. The next morning Ian kept them in until coffee time, when we went up so we could watch how they interacted with each other. We didn't need to worry. The youngsters seemed to take a liking to Mr. P and followed him around everywhere, which Mr. P found rather alarming. The youngsters also quickly found out that Uncle Turbjørn was as crotchety as Auntie Aggie and needs to be avoided. Apart from that, as long as normal alpaca manners were observed then they were fine.
Chanel looked more content eating today. You can see the
problems she had with her fleece on her hind legs. The sun
and the grass will do her good though

Father and son together. I think George takes after his Mum
(Mari) rather than his father in looks. His colouring too is the
the colour of Mari's spots
Today we shifted more furniture, two sideboards and a large bookcase. This means we now have places to store more of our stuff and start to put away most of the hundreds of books we have. What is encouraging is that everything seems to be fitting in quite nicely and we can still move around the place, which is rather surprising considering it is a smaller apartment. There are still a few large pieces to move but we mainly know where they are going, so that works. Moving in small amounts at a time, gives us time to sort things out, but we are also restricted by first the size of our horse box, but also by the road between our two apartments - there is a short bumpy section which we wouldn't want to bounce too much stuff around in the horse box
- we would just end up breaking things.
A sign of spring. This is in the top pond for a change. We
usually see it in the bottom pond. We also saw the fish this
week, so at least some have survived the winter. We are not
sure how many though, as we are only seeing a few tails
peeping out from under the dead weed floating in the middle
of the pond.

Sometimes it has been chilly due to a cold wind, but we still
can have coffee looking out from the greenhouse onto our
So that's about it, apart from Sunday when I celebrated my birthday - well when I say celebrated, I mean we went to the hotel for dinner to save me from doing the cooking and Ian from washing up. We don't tend to do birthday presents these days, but the fudge my daughter sent me home with was a rather nice. Still it was a pleasant day, the sun shone, we had coffee watching the boys who all seemed to have settled together nicely, I did more gardening and enjoyed my evening meal - what more could I want?

Brencis looking for grass

The gooseberries are leafing up nicely

The roads are generally drying up, but this is an appalling
section just past our land. I have never seen cars slowing
down quite so much on this stretch and they are bouncing
around all over. We went up in our four by four just to see
what it is was like - even we were bouncing around a lot.

Tractor tyre tracks. The grader did stop and put its blade
down, but I think he didn't make a good job of it and was off
somewhere else anyway.

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