Monday, 23 June 2014

Green Winter

The sun made an appearance today
Okay we had the dry hot season when nothing germinated, followed by a cold spell, a brief warming spell now followed by rain that has steadily got cooler again to the point that not much further north they even had snow and we are still only in June and we are in the Northern hemisphere and not the Southern one. A few have asked how are we enjoying the "green winter." We had a bit of a localised storm out on the land and Ian heard the roar and then a cracking as he was hoeing around some plants in the field plots, next thing he knows a tree comes crashing down on our buckwheat. Fortunately the patch it ended up in wasn't doing so well, as it was over an area where he had recently pulled some tree roots out of and hadn't got around to throwing some fertiliser on it and fortunately it wasn't a big tree either. I feel sorry for my Latvian neighbours as they are celebrating one of the biggest festivals of the year here, Ligo. They stop up to see the sunrise, well maybe! One of our friends has got a marquee all set up for her family, obviously not chancing the weather. I've booked a place on the ark another friend declared he was building. Hope he doesn't take 150 years to build it like Noah did.
The clouds even looked quite pretty at times
Sunflowers! Not ever so tall yet
Since the drought broke, I am not sure if there has been a day without some rain at least. At least it feels like that. Even I, the hardened Lancashire lass, brought up in a rainy, wet place and misses the clouds in those really sunny places, am getting fed up. Ian who likes the sunny days is even more miserable and just about hanging on to his sense of humour. It doesn't help that I need to get out in the garden. I finished the potatoes that I got half way through last week and not been able to get in the garden since. We have had two and a half days where I could have got out in the garden, but I had other jobs to do and so missed the opportunity. The first dryish day we finally got Snowdrop sheared. Not exactly the best job, but the best we could do. Unfortunately we also discovered that she has a nasty active infestation of mites. Not like Veronica, which seems to have settled down and her fleece even growing back, but nasty red lesions going up her leg. I got the bottle of mineral oil that Ian was using on the shears and plastered the sores with that. After consultation with the vet we gave all of them, the boys included a shot of ivermectin - something they have to have twice a year anyway for liver fluke, but it deals with all sorts of infestations and parasites, although in this case we have to give weekly shots for the next three weeks at least. We also managed to get a scrape of her legs after wrestling her down to the ground for the vet to check on a diagnosis. The vet couldn't come out, she had too many operations.
Alfalfa - we think! The problem was the bag wasn't labelled.
If it isn't that it will be red clover so no worries.
The boys out on the grass and the girls in their paddock.
Their choice! The girls could go out in the field if they
wanted. Mind you Estelle got a bit of a shock the other day.
She was eating through the fence and when she pulled back
because we were coming to give her a telling off, she
snapped a fence post and started charging about carrying
the fence post with her. I had to block the others from
following and Ian had to catch Estelle and disentangle her
from the fence.
And all of that is to say, that scuppered the next dry day, as it meant clearing out the alpaca houses, steam cleaning them and then spraying with some noxious chemical, then putting in fresh bedding. I really hate spraying with the nasty stuff, but at the moment there is not a lot of choice, we have to act fast before all of them are infested. Having said that, apparently mites can live on them quite happily and not cause any problems, then one day some balance is tipped and they have nasty sores. The main problem with Snowdrop, is she is our largest and strongest alpaca. Even Ian has a problem holding her down. She also kicks. We both wrestled her down to get the scrape, but putting more oil on her legs was really difficult. We are not quite sure how we are going to manage a course of it, without inducing more stress that will only make it worse. Herkules has been having oil put on dry skin for quite a while now (that also could be mites but a different sort, more like Veronica's, but also I suspect brought on by being ill with his eye infection earlier on in the year), but he will with a certain amount of reluctance, stand there while Ian holds him and let me put the oil on his legs. Sometimes he protests more than other times, but on the whole not bad. He does look awful poor guy, all mucky looking from the oil and the fact it is dissolving the crusty skin, but at least pink skin is finally beginning to show through again.
That was hiding under some long fleece
poor girl. 
Sofie sleeping in the greenhouse
We have still been mating Tellus to the girls, or attempting to. We are still not sure if any of them are pregnant or not, as they don't seem to be exhibiting the great protestations that suggests they are, but they do seem to be suggesting to Tellus that his presence is not required. If they would just come out and spit at him, we would know for sure. Ian has been putting him with Estelle, as it would be quite incredible for her to be pregnant with him already, unfortunately one attempt demonstrated her improved show jumping skills as she jumped clean over all three bars of the gate in the alpaca house. She also attempted to jump through the stable door, but fortunately Ian hadn't secured that properly and she just crashed through. He was worried she would have hurt herself if it had been secured. She does all that, but still no spitting. We wonder if she is more interested in Turbjørn, the problem is that he hasn't got all the tackle and so that won't work. Oh boy! This is proving more difficult than in the books. Still I'm sure we will find out by the end of the year if they are pregnant.
Estelle gazing over the fence - probably at Turbjørn not Tellus
Estelle and Agnese. Estelle is still not quite sure is she is a
child or an adult. She is two years old
This is turning into a bit of a purely alpaca blog, but then there hasn't been much else happening besides raining a lot. Agnese continues to have a bottle, but quite often she is refusing now. She is putting on weight and getting stronger, so she must be getting her energy from somewhere. The only other things that got done was some more work on the Sociology course I'll be teaching in September (although trying to upload anything on that, was tricky with heavy rain affecting the internet connection) and finishing a draft report for the reflection workshop I did at the end of May. I could have done it earlier but I was waiting for some translation and photos which I got towards the end of last week.
We have grapes

Working in the greenhouse at least. And yes I have a
sweatshirt on, even in the greenhouse

The peas are growing well - in the greenhouse

But the blackberries are flourishing outside.

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