Wishing all our family, friends in the alpaca community and everyone beyond all the very best for 2019 - really looking forward to catching up with many of you in the months to come.
Regular followers will be aware of a momentous 2018 for Kathryn and I. Moving to our new home in late May was the culmination of 4 years of hoping, planning, negotiation and upheaval. Seven months on we could not be happier. We’ve had a fabulous family Christmas in our new home with lots of family visiting. Our herd are generally flourishing and we have so much to look forward to. Our lives revolve around our family and our alpacas - Life is good!
In a quick further review of 2018, aside from “Hillfield” our name for the log cabin, highlights include:-
Our first purchased stud Houghton Cosmic taking National Coloured Herdsire Champion
Lots of healthy cria births, all bar one being black.
Nero Black Mountbatten taking Supreme Champion at the Northumberland Show
Launching our new Alpaca Encounters business - the start-up was steady at best but momentum is now strong - in the run up to Christmas we sold over 50 gift vouchers and love introducing alpaca lovers to our herd as they graze.
Now looking ahead alpaca-wise, we are still actively planning our 2019 show schedule. We are already committed to the Nationals in March and are finalising our booked show team of 6. We have an exciting crop of cria but as you will see from the pic taken at breakfast time this morning they are all well thatched with hay :( I’m delighted to report that Nero Black Roma who was laid low with pleurisy seems to have made a full recovery now. We also have a couple of Intermediates to add to the mix.
We always attend our local show in Northumberland but before then there is also the HoE Spring Fiesta, NWAG and the Scottish Championships. It’s impossible and too costly to attend them all - much as we’d like to. Jacks stag do (in Portugal) clashes with Scotland for me but that may not stop Kathryn attending?
As mentioned in my last blog we have lots of alpacas to deliver to new homes in early 2019 and the list has grown longer since. That said we still have 10 pregnant females retained and look forward as ever to the birthing season that will start in April/May. This morning I took the above picture of the pregnant mums advancing towards me as I went to feed them. They are accompanied by five intermediates awaiting mating in the Spring.
Away from the alpacas we have Will’s graduation from RAF basic training to look forward to in February. As I type he’s half way through and whilst it has been incredibly tough he seems to be more committed than ever. He has been lucky that Christmas has given him an un-typical 2 week break - but he still has a tough 5 weeks ahead. Beyond that he’ll head to Hampshire for 25 weeks Police training. His lovely girlfriend Lois has given him further strength and motivation despite them being apart making life seem more tough.
We’re now less than 6 months from the wedding of Jack and his Fiancé Becky down in Cheshire - in an amazing coincidence our last sale of three lovely females will be heading to the neighbouring village in February. The whole family is incredibly excited for the wedding - particularly Hannah who will fulfil a lifelong ambition to be a bridesmaid. Of course the big day will be in the middle of our birthing season but we are incredibly lucky to have our good friend Jane booked to come and house/alpaca/dog sit.
In the meantime Jane will hopefully be helping us with halter training of the weanlings in the coming weeks, as will lots of the lucky recipients of Alpaca Encounters Gift Vouchers. Let’s hope the rest of the Winter stays as dry as it is at present. We just need more wind to blow the debris out of the fleeces!
Alongside the pics already referred to I have attached a few of our home in the New Years sun and our great new house sign, kindly bought for us by my parents and made locally by Blossom Hill Engineering.
Great update Paul. They are always interesting. You should both be very proud of the fab house you’ve designed and created and how well your business is flourishing due to your hard work. Your children are onto their next chapters and are a great credit to you and themselves. Wishing you a fab 2019 and look forward to seeing you both soon! Xx
Exciting times coming up in 2019! Enjoy and wish you all the luck in the world. Hope to see you both at the National xx
Happy New Year x hope to see you both soon 😊
Your blogs are always so interesting to read Paul. We wish you and Kathryn every happiness in 2019 and trust all your alpaca dreams come true. Lots of love xx
Happy new year!
Happy new year to everyone at Shrimpton towers 👍
Thanks for the update, all looks great going forward! See you soon (request is in) x
Happy new year to you all
Hope to see you next time I am heading south to dads - would love to catch up and see your new home x
Happy new year to you both the boys are doing fantastic David And judith
Amazing – it’s been 8 weeks since I’ve blogged. In all honesty I was worried it had been longer!
Rather embarrassingly my last blog was getting excited about the imminent arrival of pups. Sadly it was some kind of phantom pregnancy. We still hope to try again but I think we’re fast coming to the conclusion breeding dogs is more frustrating than breeding alpacas??
Coincidentally my last blog also refereed to looking “out from our new Log Cabin onto lots of lush green grass” well just a few hours ago we moved our 2018 cria, a few still with mums, on to the paddock right behind the log cabin and some pics are above.
It has certainly been a manic 8 weeks but then I think we’re always busy with something. Having sold 8 alpacas in a flurry in the spring and 4 more in the summer we’ve sold another 11 in the last month. All bar 2 of the recent sales are yet to leave the farm but this will mean our numbers will be very manageable over the worst of the winter and very much within the parameters Kathryn and I set ourselves when we planned the move to the Log Cabin.
In fairness 8 of the 23 alpacas sold in 2018 have been here on agistment and we’ve sold them on behalf of clients, so taking into account our births this year we’ve only reduced our own numbers slightly. 13 of the alpacas have gone to 8 different established herds, the other 10 are split between two new start up which it’s great to play a part in.
Another recent highlight was the Yorkshire Alpaca Show where our small team took Black Male Champion with Nero Black The Chancer and Black Female Reserve Champion with Nero Black Cosmic Girl. One of our Black studs Houghton Cosmic also took the Sires Progeny 1st place too.
There has been plenty of routine husbandry happening including toenails, vitamins, selenium drench and body scoring. Unfortunately we’ve also had a young cria suffering from pleurisy and this has been a real challenge to get on top of.
With winter well and truly underway our “hay mountain” is being significantly depleted and the fields are becoming wet, although I feel we’ve got away quite lighly so far – long may it continue. On the subject of hay and fields a big highlight recently was a North East and Borders Alpaca Group Workshop on Alpaca Nutrition and Pasture Management. It was hosted at the lovely new home of Barnacre Alpacas and both Karin Mueller (Liverpool University) and Ellie Sweetman (NAIB) delivered talks.
With Christmas just around the corner we are so looking forward to spending it in our new log cabin. All 3 “children” are returning, including Will after his first 4 weeks of RAF basic training, plus my parents and then my brother and his family after boxing day - it’s gonna be cosy!
Looking further ahead and beyond winter we are delighted to be taking a Bronze Sponsorship Package at the BAS National Show at Telford 23 and 24 March 2019. We’ve always supported the event in the past by showing and donating to the Stud Auction but it’s even more exciting to be taking a sponsors pen – will be great to catch up with old friends and make lots of new ones.
Well I think that’s enough musing for now. We have our big Christmas Fair in Hexham, weekend after next, to prepare for and I’m trying to break the habit of a lifetime and sort all my tax returns and accounts before Christmas.
Sorry but for the next few weeks this maybe somewhat hijacked by Dog Breeding 🙂
T-14 days and the whelping box has arrived and is installed so Kestrel can get used to it and be comfortable. Also purchased the first 200 absorbent pads and Hannah bought us puppy collars months ago in preparation
Briefly on the alpaca front we’ve wormed the herd as a precaution despite very low to zero counts as we hadn’t needed to worm for over a year.
Young Dolan - 2 months - gave us cause for concern on Weds when he was a little listless and anaemic - he seems much brighter fortunately but we are still awaiting results on bloods.
Whilst I’ve been assembling “beds” and entertaining ramblers who wanted a talk on Alpacas today Kathryn has been visiting Amanda at Florens Alpacas for a good catch up and look at her lovely herd
As winter approaches delighted to look out from our new Log Cabin onto lots of lush green grass - when 2 months ago everything was parched. Now looking forward to the Yorkshire show in 3 weeks time.
We just got back yesterday afternoon from a wonderful 4 nights away with our very dear friends Brian and Jane - our first proper break since the first week of January.
Went out to see all the Alpacas on a beautiful autumnal afternoon - many thanks to Hannah Julie and Jane for looking after them all so well in our absence - they are looking fab.
The start of the attached gallery of photos hopefully highlights one of the key components of our breeding programme here - conformation. Both Shadow and Cosmic regularly produce strong boned, broad chested cria over our wide selection of females. Head style is also important and we’re particularly delighted this year to have had 14/15 black cria. Looking in the paddock some of the youngsters look very brown, like the pic of Inglis, but he’s truly black 🙂
In the last pic you’ll see Merlin being weighed. In the first few weeks of every Crias life we weigh them very regularly and only relax this when we are happy they are gaining weight at a consistently good rate. It won’t be that long now before we start thinking about weaning the earliest born as they approach 5-6 months and top 30kgs.
Kathryn’s job this morning, while I’m running a small Alpaca Encounter, is to watch for poos and do some random sampling. We are mildly concerned by the consistency of some but avoid worming for worming sake.
Before we went away we did the last of the scheduled spit offs of the summer. We are happy that all mated females are holding their pregnancies thus far. Over time we have come to understand the different natures and habits of our pregnant girls. This means we are likely to spot if any of they have lost going forwards. In reality were this to happen now we wouldn’t remate anyway as it’s too late in the year.
Away from the Alpacas again I am delighted to report that our 3 year old black lab Kestrel is pregnant and is six weeks gestation now. She is really beginning to show the physical signs and enjoying extra food rations! She and Lily came with us to South Yorkshire and had a wonderful time too, walking around (and in) various reservoirs. Now she has less than 3 weeks to go - amazing when the Alpacas take up to 12 months typically!
Well there’s some rather important Golf started on the TV now - until the next time ... See moreSee less