Hot on the heels of my blog written yesterday and as referenced Nero Black Galaxy did it again! She delivered within a day of 11 months gestation once again A true black female weighing in at 10.8kg Nero Black Estrella was sired by our 2018 National Dark Herdsire Champion Houghton Cosmic Mum and baby doing well :) ... See moreSee less
Shocking how quiet I’ve been – certainly not because we’ve not been busy – far from it!
This is a brilliant time to be an alpaca breeder. Today (16 May) marks 11 months gestation for our first 2 cria due. One of the pregnant mums is Nero Black Galaxy and she has a track record for unpacking at either 11 months or 11 months and 1 day.
We have another 10 here pregnant all due over a 10 week range so lots to keep our eyes on. We have also started matings. 3 of our rising 2 year olds are already spitting off and yesterday I had the boys out on our first mobile services of the year.
A week on Monday we have our favourite show of the year – our local Northumberland County Show. We’re taking 8 alpacas which is the most we’ve ever shown. Unlike last year they are all black, which of course is our goal. It means a few of them will compete with each other but we’re really looking forward to the competition, the camaraderie and being part of the big show itself.
Aside from the aforementioned 8 we sheared the rest of the herd last Sunday. Right on cue the weather has become lovely and our girls and boys are enjoying their new lightweight physiques.
Since my last blog we‘ve shown at the Nationals and at NWAG in Carlisle. We had some good results but not as good as we’d like. As I often say you’re always learning with alpacas and this past year was no exception. Our eldest cria was our most exciting with an exceptional fleece - however he was slow growing. Ultimately, we left him with his mum too long and as soon as we weaned him, he thrived. Whilst judges loved his fleece he rightly lost out on size. He has now been sheared and we hope he will continue to thrive and catch up whilst growing another great fleece.
The Nationals was a great weekend – as well as the showing it was a great opportunity to catch up with friends. The committee put on a tremendous event and Telford International Centre provides a great venue both for the event and the apres show!
Incredibly we’ve been in the Log Cabin almost 12 months now and it really is like living the dream. As I sit here now mid evening the sun is streaming through the bi fold doors and I can look out on the expectant mums. We get so many compliments from folk about how well our home and grounds look – it’s lovely. Unusually we have all the alpacas on site at home just now. Whilst shearing here we took the opportunity to get the 6.4 acres we rent in the village sprayed. This weekend we’ll have another big move around.
Apart from being busy with the alpacas I’ve been occupied in my role as father of the groom! Jack and Becky get married in just 3 weeks now!! I pleased to report I survived a 4 day stag do in Lagos, Portugal and a 1 dayer a week later in High Wycombe. Kathryn and I also visited the excited couple a month ago to see the venue. It really is special – we just can’t wait to be there on the big day.
I have to confess I’ve not just been living it up on Stag do’s – last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Rugby Champions Cup Final with my great friend Brian. I’ve also seen my beloved Man City retain the Premier League Title – unlucky Liverpool. And on Saturday I have the TV reserved for the FA Cup Final. Happy days for a very long-suffering Blue.
On a sad note – today Kestrel, our beautiful Black Lab was neutered. After 3 unsuccessful attempts at mating we had to acknowledge something was not right. As I type, she’s a bit grumbly but has an incredibly neat wound. I’m sure she’ll be right as rain very soon.
Kathryn is presently recovering from a nasty bug but has an exciting alpaca related trip planned starting on Sunday. We have Will back for the weekend before then. Lois his girlfriend will be visiting too. She’s just started her exams – good luck Lois!
Well I promise my next blog will be sooner rather than later – hoping there’ll be lots of exciting news. In the meantime I’ll post some pics relevant to the above too. ... See moreSee less
I normally wake on a Saturday morning planning everything around my Winter League golf. This morning it’s been persisting down outside and with the forecast set for it to persist all day so I’m catching up on lots of outstanding jobs – including a long overdue blog.
To be fair we’ve had an incredibly dry winter, aside from the past week or so, and life has been far easier than dealing with deep snow and boggy paddocks. The wind has even been blowing debris from cria fleeces - so no complaints really.
Like other breeders that show our focus right now is on the National Alpaca Championships next weekend. For anyone that doesn’t know the show is at Telford International Centre and will feature c. 630 alpaca. Not to be missed if you are into alpacas! In advance we’d like to thank the few who put so much work into staging the show – we know it will be as superb if not better than ever.
We are in the final stages of halter training four juniors – the weather lately has been a handicap but we are confident they’ll be there or there abouts by Friday. Again if you’ve never tried it there’s a lot of fun to be had convincing cria to walk on a halter for the first time. A few are naturals but most take a great deal of patience and encouragement.
Having said the show is our focus we have ten alpacas to deliver to three separate new homes before then. For three different reasons the new owners have not been ready to receive them but now they all are. Tomorrow I’m off to Cheshire with two pregnant females and another proven mum. I’m going to take the opportunity to visit eldest son Jack and his fiancé Becky. Less than three months now til their big day.
On Thursday I’m heading to the Borders with 3 pregnant females and a weanling female. In between times there are three pet boys to deliver just up the road. I’ll spare you all the detail but these two runs have been delayed by frustrations getting our new van fully lined and sprayed to facilitate cleaning.
For anyone that missed Kathryn’s pics of our new van I’ve attached another. We’re expecting our extra long wheel-based Peugeot Boxer with accommodate more alpacas and provide greater fuel economy for our busy and growing mobile stud services.
To complete the vehicle story, in buying the van (big thanks to my bro Nick for getting me a stonking deal) we have traded our pick-up and Fiat 500, sold the trailer to another alpaca owner and bought a 2-year-old Ford Ecosport as our family car. Not looking to miss an opportunity this too has been liveried today – see pic.
This brings me nicely on to Alpaca Encounters, our newest alpaca venture. Both Kathryn and I have loved introducing lots of visitors already to the herd, mingling, feeding and walking. We have our first wedding and care home bookings and we are confident this will provide an ongoing additional income stream, now we no longer have the B&B.
Going back to our breeding business, with all the sales above, another 3 pet boys to go and a young stud male to deliver we would be down to 27 alpaca just 14 of whom will be breedable females this year. Of those we believe all 10 that were mated last year have so far held their pregnancies.
We have however concluded we need some new breeding stock and have also been looking for a new stud male. So far we are delighted to have bought a pregnant female and a very exciting junior female from Caroline at Sheriff Alpacas. Mated to our own Nero Black Shadow – Blue Rock Kate is a beautiful strongly conformed female, herself sired by the renowned Lavender Park Tulley. A nice pic of Kate and Arazona is included.
In our search for a stud we’ve seen some lovely boys but none of the mature options have ticked enough boxes for Kathryn (The Boss). However we have returned to our good friends Mick and Liz at Houghton Hall to make an investment for the future. Those that know us well will remember we bought Cosmic from them as an intermediate. This time we’ve bought a junior, Houghton Savoy. Of course there is a lot of water to flow under the bridge but we love him and believe he will prove to be an astute investment. The pic of the boys is not great but hopefully shows Savoy’s stature at just 10 months.
Our search for a mature male continues but we are also exploring options for a few outside matings to freshen our genetic pool.
In other news – Hannah our daughter has started her new swim teaching job and is settling in well. Will has graduated from RAF Halton and is now 3 weeks into Police training near Portsmouth.
We had a special midweek recently when our great buddies from High Wycombe, Brian and Jane, visited the Log Cabin for the first time, with Bella their dog. Beach walks, pub lunches and lots of laughs were had :)
Well there’s a scrumptious afternoon of live rugby, FA Cup Football and maybe the odd beer to be had. Hope everyone has a great weekend and we’d like to wish all our alpaca showing friends a safe trip to Telford and a fun, successful weekend – really looking forward to catching up with you all. ... See moreSee less