Monday, 19 May 2014

RIP Alicia

Well after coaxing Alicia to stand for a couple of weeks, Ian came home one morning and said, "she won't stand at all. Can you come out and help me?" I went out with him and we tried to get her moving, we tried rubbing her legs to stimulate the circulation, in case they had gone to sleep by sitting too long, but she was having none of it. Ian at this point decided, enough was enough and we called round to see the vet. We opted to have her put down the following day, as Alicia didn't seem particularly distressed and she wasn't making a lot of noise calling to the others, as they do when they are bothered about sitting on their own. The vet came the next day and I noticed that Alicia seemed to have ballooned up, so something was going on. Ian held her head in his arms while the vet found a vein and while the injection took effect. She passed away peacefully. We then had to carry her out to the tractor to transport her to our barn for an autopsy. Not exactly the most elegant of transportation, but needs must. We found out the reason for her ballooning up anyway, it was fluid collecting in her abdomen and it contained a lot of protein that would suggest liver failure, but her liver looked fine. On reading up on the internet afterwards, we are inclined to think it was heart failure. The vet thought her heart looked big, but she wasn't sure how big an alpaca heart should be. She is now buried up in the corner of one of our fields, it wasn't the most pleasant of jobs, as it was difficult to do it gently, but we figured she was past caring.
Alicia's corner. A nice restful place
Veronica hogging the water bucket
Of course Ian found it hard, she was a lovely alpaca who would stand a bit of molly coddling and they had been through a lot together, what with the baby she gave birth to in the coldest of months and then the lung infections - or at least that's what we thought might be the case. Maybe it was her heart all along, making it difficult to breathe at times. I don't know, I'm not a vet, I'm a pharmacologist or at least was back in my younger days. Today, though Ian is thankful we did what we did, it has been so hot and if she couldn't stand, she wouldn't have been able to reach the water bucket. She was also our only black alpaca and as such would have absorbed a lot of heat. Our two pregnant alpacas have been suffering in the heat, one takes her place by the water bucket, continually sipping out of it and won't let the others near. I'm off tomorrow to get extra buckets. They won't even go out much to eat the grass that is finally growing, they just sit inside their shed eating the hay, out of the sun. I had a bit of a brainwave this morning and suggested to Ian that he moves their fence to incorporate the trees and so they can sit out under those. It is nearer to the boys paddock and a bit of a stretch for the fence from the girls, but they take priority at the moment. They get the afternoon shade too, as they are nearer the trees, good in summer but colder in winter. You can tell how hot it must have been, it is 9 o'clock at night here and still 24C out on the balcony. This is May isn't it?
Well why go out in the hot sun, when food is right out
the door?
They do eat the grass sometimes
It wasn't much use attempting to shear the alpacas at the beginning of the week, they had been spending their days out in the rain getting soaked. Inside when it was dry and out when it was wet. We can't shear the girls, until after they have given birth and now we are beginning to wonder if the sooner they are mated the better for next year (Alpacas have 11 1/2 month pregnancies). The earlier they can have babies the better we think, it might be easier to keep babies warm, than to keep them cool in a heatwave and May can get quite warm. If the alpacas are born later on in the year, the alpaca cria (babies) might not be big enough for the winter to keep warm. A delicate balancing act for sure.  Whilst I'm on about shearing, most people guessed that the mystery object was a pair of shears, but they have been modified with a wooden block. Last year, shearing was a bit of a headache and took absolutely ages and so Ian has been doing some investigating and noticed that there was a special attachment for alpacas that gave a longer cut that cost a huge amount of money and so Ian experimented to see if the wood block might work. If it does work it might be a good idea for when the biting insects start and also may make shearing easier. We tried it out on Alicia, just before the autopsy, one for a reminder of her and two to make the autopsy easier. It seemed to work well, so we hope when we get around to the boys that it will work as well.
Wandering chicken
We are not coming out
We have wondered if our boys are too warm and that is why they have been sitting around the hay feeder, but now we are beginning to suspect that they are just being lazy. The girls we can appreciate not wanting to go out, they have less shade available, but the boys! Ian decided not to fill up their hay feeder and make them go out on the grass. Today though, they sat inside, there is still hay in their shed, as their bedding is made up of hay. Might have to take more drastic action and make them go out in the mornings when it is cooler.
Gorgeous place to be
Ian's hard work, preparing the ground for other crops
There has been some niggly little things happen this week, which only added to the general feeling of misery at the beginning of the week. I broke my crock pot when some weights slid off and hit the bottom of the pot from some dandelions I had cooked and was pressing the juice out. We made dandelion syrup last year and loved it, so we thought we might do the same again this year. It was the merest of cracks and at first I thought it was just chipped, but no, the crack went through. So now we have a planter for outside the caravan and the electrical part will have to be binned at some suitable site when we go to the big town. The breadmaker broke too. Ian thought he might have managed to fix it, but it didn't work, unfortunately. All it needs is a new copper bearing apparently, the rest is working fine. Pah! The part doesn't seem to be available either. Double Pah!

None the worse for his swim
Another cockerel tried to go for a swim again this week, this time chased by the dominant cockerel and not us. They are obviously mistaking the grass growing in the pond as walkable on. Wrong! We have been discussing what to do with the chickens. Someone is interested in buying some off us, so that might help, but they are still wandering near and far. We even discussed things like having a kite with a hawk shape on it, but then it isn't always windy near us. We jokingly thought a drone hawk might be a good idea, flying it every now and again to make them go in. Probably freak out the alpacas too. At least we have sorted out the errant cockerel that wouldn't go in at night, Ian caught him and we put him in the horse box to wait for the culling of two of our cockerels in one of the arks and then he can go in there with his own set of ladies. Rather curbing his freedom, somewhat, but we hope the company makes up for it.
His wandering days are over though.
Next stop one of the arks with some
new lady friends
The oak tree looking good.
Another reason for curbing the dear chaps freedom was the rude awakening at 4:50am the night we decided to stay in the caravan. He decided to cock-a-doodle-do right outside, not a good move. It did mean we were up and moving around quite early that morning. I think we were in the garden before 8am, which was nice since it was quite hot later, in fact so hot we decided to have a snooze in the afternoon - how Mediterranean! This time the other cockerel decided to pay a visit to the greenhouse and started crowing whilst he was in there, I was awake and up running outside in my stockinged feet to chase the blighter out. Fortunately I don't think he damaged anything, since our tomatoes were all planted out. Not a good day, awoken twice by cockerels. We still ponder our decisions about how to deal with them. I think tomorrow there needs to be decisive action.  The drier weather at least has also meant chance to get things in the garden and we have planted out a lot of kale plants (hope they are going to be all right though as the sky has gone a really weird orange as I write this blog, I think a storm is imminent), I planted out more beans, some fodder beet and done lots of weeding, before they really take off. I even managed to tidy up my herb bed and made it look neat and tidy again.
It did rain too earlier on in the week though
At least a nice rainbow to make up for it
Sofie our cat has gone missing again. Why she goes on these little jaunts we have no idea. We do wonder if it is something to do with either the ticks or the tick medicine. She had that two days before she went missing. She does seem to make an annual event of this, maybe she is just away on her holidays. She could send a card though and then we would know where she is. The longest she has been away is six days, so hopefully she will be back soon.
After the rain, the sunshine, so plenty of
solars for our solar drier. Drying some
A rather handsome chap don't you think? Not sure if it is
harmful or not though.
It hasn't all been bad news this week. Our daughter and husband sold their house this week in Australia, all preparation for coming back to the UK. Our youngest finally got a job this week, so relief all round. It should be quite stretching for him as it is a design engineer job, so he needs to learn some more about engineering principles of design, he knows some but his degree was more design based. But after nearly a year out of work, after finishing his degree, it was getting really worrying for him and he was understandably quite despondent. All credit to him, he kept plugging away looking for jobs though.
The dandelions look absolutely gorgeous. Pity we don't
want this many though. We want grass. Ian is holding
off cutting them, because they still turn into seed anyway
after cutting. We are gritting our teeth and letting the grass
grow, as that way they will shade out the sun loving
dandelions. Or at least that's the theory
Barley take two! The stuff we planted before winter died
so we are trying again with a spring one and also the
seed we had last year. Maybe it was spring barley too, it
grew faster than the one we know was spring barley.
Oh well! It will make forage whatever happens.
My studies over the last few weeks have been about making maps with people or for people. It has been an interesting exercise, but something struck me as I read yet another paper that either didn't meet the true participatory ideal, i.e. including at least a representation from all sectors of society that feel the effects of decisions, or are part of the decision making process or bemoaned the fact mapmaking by the authorities wasn't truly participatory, that instead of saying "it isn't happening" type of thing, we should be saying "so how can we make it happen? What needs to change?"I think there are a few things in life that we could add that kind of thinking too and not just in the wishful thinking category, but seriously applying our noggins to the issue (for my friends who might struggle with Google translate for noggin, it is a word sometimes used for head, or brain). Identifying the problem is one thing, but instead of getting stuck there, we should be working towards making it happen and often that means really examining what is done and looking for issues, but also trying to think outside the box. Unfortunately politicians aren't very good at thinking outside the box these days. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes its not. Nowadays though, we need some real creative thinkers to generate some alternative outcomes for our planet - otherwise, one way or another we are in trouble.
Apple blossom time! Taken with my new camera

This evenings rather ominous looking sky


  1. The 'handsome chap" is a Scarlet/Red Lily Beetle. Do you have any lily plants? (See
    Have a good week.

    1. That was what my Mum thought too. Yes I have Lilies, or had!

  2. Sorry to read about Alicia,

  3. I was so sorry to hear about Alicia...

    1. Thanks Karen, we still miss her, especially Ian ,she was a sweetie


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