Friday, 31 December 2010


I am not one for making New Year Resolutions - however - I really, really promise not to moan when it gets too HOT (well not much anyway).  This cold spell will stay in my mind for a long time, several nights with temperatures  down to minus 18/19 and days with a maximum of minus 12 took its toll.  As well as the River Severn freezing our central heating did too!!  The log burner warms the whole house so all internal doors are open and the central heating comes on at night when the fire goes out - well usually it does.  Overnight last Saturday the bedroom radiator froze and didn't we know it.  Thankfully the thaw arrived on Monday and all was resolved very easily.

The thaw came too early for son Matthew who went off to Snowdonia on Christmas Day with his tent to do a weeks climbing which had to be abandoned on Monday as it was not safe.

The Alpacas are well and enjoying the sight of the grass again which was very nice as we had a lovely couple visit yesterday who are thinking of owning a couple of these special animals.  We look forward to their next visit.

Thank you to everyone who does a blog - they are a great source of information and also fun.  We all have our ups and downs and sharing each others knowledge, dreams and aspirations always puts life into perspective, and Thank You to everyone who reads this blog - it is a pleasure to share our Alpaca Adventure.

So enjoy this evening, whether you are going to a party with friends, spending time with your family or celebrating with a loved one and look forward to the year ahead.

Best Wishes for 2011

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

On the Mend

Unfortunately I have had pneumonia so Christmas preparations came to a standstill, however things are now looking up so Christmas will hopefully happen this weekend, albeit quietly.

We are in the same position as most people, freezing temperatures, lots of snow and bad roads.  Last weekend temperatures went down to -19 overnight and 'rose' to -10 degrees in the day.  I am fortunate in that I have remained inside in the warm and Sid has faced the challenges - admirably.

The Alpacas look well and as soon as the hay is delivered they are there before it is in the feeders.

The dogs haven't ventured too far

Meanwhile the birds enjoy the Christmas tree in the Day time and we do at night.
Lastly, a picture taken many years of Lisa's first pony who died recently aged 40 years.  Magpie was a gem and well known locally.  She gave many children enormous pleasure.
Thank you to the many people who have sent us Christmas wishes, unfortunately not all cards have been sent or presents bought but nevertheless


Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect." (Oren Arnold)

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Cold - but better than most

We seemed to have been very fortunate and missed most of the terrible weather that has swept the country.  Our thoughts are with those who are having so much difficulty doing the everyday tasks.

Last Sunday we woke to a very hard frost of -11 degrees which didn't improve much throughout the day.  We only had about an inch of snow in the week, it's been cold and we have had to take water to the animals as the water troughs are all frozen and of course extra feed is needed by all.  Today started at -7 degrees and stayed below freezing all day, even though the sun was lovely and bright.
Wellground Scriptwriter looking through the fence at Toad Hall Blue Ember and Toad Hall Skye Blue. 

Skye Blue is the eldest of our three cria born this year, Brittania is doing well and still being bottle fed as Cambridge Bluebell has very little milk and as for Jolly Ruffo  -- Well!!!  He is a just so - different!!!  He looks wonderful and he is very entertaining - he loves he snow and frost and thinks all the others should too.

Knitwear sales have soared and we have met some lovely people recently who have come to purchase some of our home produced garments.  June's knitting needles are red hot in her race to keep up with demand.

The birds have moved towards the house even more as they know there is a ready supply of food here as the feeders are kept well stocked.  The buzzard and sparrow hawk are now a bit close for the goldfinches and tits comfort but no easy meals for them from the garden yet I am glad to say.

Pheasants seemed to have moved in despite trying to send them on their way (or they'll go in the pot!).

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Quiet Blog - Busy Time

Well October came and went and I never made it to the blog.   Life has been pretty hectic at Toad Hall since our last post.

Things didn't go according to plan for daughter Lisa following the birth of Jessica as she had a return spell in hospital so grand parenting duties to the fore but she is improving now so hopefully she will be fighting fit before too long.

My email address was hacked into and my password changed so lots of hassle to sort that out and the hard drive on the computer crashed so eventually I got round to sorting that out.

Anyway enough of woe - others have more to cope with, the alpacas are all fit and well.  Jolly Ruffo is certainly a lively lad, a credit to 'Wellground Scriptwriter' - I think all the other alpacas wonder what has hit them.  He is growing into a superb young chap - some photos of the animals next time.  They have all been injected, body scored, nails trimmed and bonnets coiffured!  Paddocks topped and edges strimmed - phew just more poovering to do.

Sid has managed a few hours on the barn - he has improvised instead of getting a lift to enable him to put up more of the roof!!!!

Start by parking the lorry underneath where the steel is required and lean the steel against the lorry.

Up the ladder and hoist up the steel

Walk along the lorry with required piece

Fix in place as required - easy really.

He says he takes Health & Safety seariously but wearing a fluorescent vest wouldn't be very beneficial - after all you do wear vests underneath your shirt don't you!!!!
Enough said!!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Its Official - Hes a Number 1

Well I said that the GWR fleece was the place to be - unfortunately we were too late arriving to witness the opening of the envelope that said 'Wellground Scriptwriter - 1st place'

It was truly wonderful to pick up our 1st place without the stress to Scriptwriter and for such an experienced judge to credit him with 1st place.

We did try to get him to model the rosette but he was still a bit excited today after his visit to 'Cambridge Bluebell'.

The concept of the show is great - the opportunity to see and hear the judge and to look at staple of the winning fleece was ideal.  Hopefully the BAS will take note.

Another little star met her new sister - and greeted her in the best way possible

The Day Holly met Jessica

Thursday, 16 September 2010

An Unexpected Arrival

No not a cria, but we are waiting and hoping that Hope is about to give birth but it is now looking doubtful even though she has repeatedly rejected Scriptwriter.  We are very pleased that Jessica Rose, our second grandchild and sister for Holly made her debut yesterday - unexpected as the due date was October 13th!!

Holly has been here with Nanny and Grampy for the past few days as Lisa had to go into hospital on Sunday, hopefully we will still make it to the GWR show on Saturday as we think it will definetly be the show of the year.

Our three cria are all progressing wonderfully well and it would be lovely if Hope did actually produce as expected.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Toad Hall Jolly Ruffo

Our new addition is most definitely the best cria we have ever produced - he is superb.

We have decided to call him Toad Hall Jolly Ruffo - which started out as him being called a ruffian because he is into everything, very nosey and introducing himself to all the other alpacas whether they wanted to meet him or not. 
Wellground Scriptwriter (the new daddy) has both Jolimont Commisario and Jolimont Arsenia together with NWA Ruffo and the Hermitage Lady Ruffo in his bloodlines so we decided to take a bit of both names

Toad Hall Brittania seems quite pleased to have company that is smaller than herself

Monday, 6 September 2010

A Welcome Surprise

Our new arrival is absolutely stunning.  Sid had not told me one important aspect of this lovely little chap - he is a superb light fawn, a lovely surprise.

Cambridge Princess is registered as a mid fawn but looks slightly off white but her parents were mid fawn and dark fawn.  He weighed in at 8kg and has fed well today.  The rain held off until 6pm and then we had to shut them in which did not please Princess very much but she has settled now in her shelter together with Bluebell and Tania.  Scriptwriter has done us proud.


Cambridge Princess has just given birth to a fine male cria by our very own 'Wellground Scriptwriter'.
All weekend she has been up and down and yesterday we were due to go to grand daughter Holly's Christening but we had to go in shifts as birthing looked imminent but Princess waited until today when at least it is a bit drier (at the moment).

I am at work so no photos until this evening as Sid is 'home alone' so to speak.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Technology Restored

Thank goodness - we have phone and Internet, hopefully I haven't put a jink on it now.

We have been very lucky regarding the weather, until yesterday that is.  At lunchtime it started to rain and rain and rain on through the night but today has been dry but dreary - very autumnal.

Anyway, let me make an introduction.  This is Toad Hall Britannia.

Formerly known as Lady Red, or socks, or boots or little one.  She is now a month old and only wearing one splint.  We have called her Britannia (Tania for short) as she has had a variety of red, white and blue leg coverings.

She only wears one splint now as the right foot is flat on the ground and the left one is not far behind.  Hopefully the excellent progress she has made will continue.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Down but Not Out

Unfortunately we have not had a phone line since last Thursday, it just rang and rang at the exchange but not the house!!!!  Everyone thought we were out (no chance!!).  The phone is now rectified but no internet - hence a visit to borrow a working internet line to let the world know we are all progressing well and hopefully will be back soon.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Slowly but Surely

Our latest arrival continues to improve - we haven't given her a proper name yet, just in case.  She gets called various things, Red, Lady, Socks and Boots but hopefully if she continues to  progress next week she will have a proper name.

This photo was taken on Day One

Her legs are now almost straight and she is on tip toe instead of the joint.
This photo was taken on Day 12
She is now two weeks old and growing well.  There is 'give' in the foot now to start to bring it forward but we know that it will be a long haul.  She has a lot of strength to build up in her legs before she is in the clear. 

But when wearing her splints she stands tall and proud

Monday, 2 August 2010


Our Lady in Red is growing well, gaining half a kilo a day.  We are bottle feeding - Bluebell has never had enough milk to feed her cria in the past and we thought this might be due to the traumatic births she endured but this time we don't know as the birth was fairly straightforward but it could be because Red can't stand long enough or because she hasn't got enough milk, but it is not a problem - the teat is eagerly taken and what is wanted is consumed with gusto and then she immediately goes and sucks on Bluebell so she has the best of both worlds and Bluebell is content too.

We are flexing the feet as often as we can and are waiting to hear back from various vet hospitals about splints or tendon re aligning.  This has to happen quickly now as she is growing and there is the problem of bone deformity if something is not done soon - and then we may have to make a very unpleasant decision.

As you can see from the pictures we have moved Blue & Skye into the same paddock.  Bluebell was getting quite stressed about us picking up her baby so often but has relaxed now she has more company.  Skye too is enjoying investigating the new arrival and cannot understand why she does not follow her round on her bronking sessions but they do walk around together a little.
She looks perfect in this position - if only!!!!! 

At least the problem is not genetic.  I must thank everyone for their e mails etc., especially from America and Australia where they have encountered this problem before and things have turned out well in the end.  So everything crossed.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Mixed Blessings

The good news is that today Bluebell produced a beautiful solid white girl, almost by herself.  Just before 10.30 this morning there was a head visible but no legs.  Sid scrubbed up and we went to her assistance, the cria's legs were pulled out and she was delivered all OK.  The first straightforward birth for Bluebell.  The sire, Bozedown Flurry is owned by some friends at Grovesnor Alpacas.

Unfortunately the bad news is that our 'Lady Red' has deformed feet.  The flexor tendon on both front feet is too tight meaning that the feet are tucked right up.  Survival looked very bleak at the start as she couldn't stand and seemed very weak.  We gave her glucose through a syringe and before long she had been very adaptive and standing on the joint. We had put them in the shelter but she managed to make her way outside.  If you look closely at the picture you can she how the feet are turned backwards.  We gave her colostrum as she couldn't really stand for too long and we needed to give her the best start - no problems that was gone in a flash, no trouble with sucking.

The vet came and showed us how to give physio to stretch the tendon.  We must do this as often as we can but the vet is hopeful that the problem can be corrected but it will take time.  She certainly is doing her best as she can now stand and feed from Bluebell and follows her around the paddock.

You can see from the picture why she is called Lady Red.  The vet has bandaged the legs and padded the joint to protect it or that will be at risk of infection and put the feet as far forward as they will go.
 They are now shut in the shelter with the infra red light on and we can watch them via the monitor in the house but hopefully she will continue to gain strength and we will continue to stretch the tendon so she has a good chance of pulling through.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Old and the New

As usual life has been very busy at Toad Hall. Our neighbouring farmer was installing a new water supply so we seized the opportunity to upgrade ours. We are a long way from the water mains at the end of the road so a digger and driver had to be hired to do the long stretch.

The moling man then had to come to bring the pipe under the lane and Sid and our mini digger had to do the last stretch - where the old meets the new. Now all ready to be connected up and hopefully we will have better pressure.

The Alpacas are all well and very contented. This is a picture of 'Bluebell' who is now in the 'birthing window' so hopefully we will have a healthy cria before too long, together with a normal birth - which would be a first for 'Bluebell'.

Skye continues to grow well and give the older animals the run around. At the moment she is fairly white, we haven't had much rain but when we have she has delighted in having a mud bath.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Scriptwriter's Birthday

We are very pleased to have received our sample results from Yocom-McColl Testing Laboratories. Five samples were sent for testing and we are very pleased with all of them.

Wellground Scriptwriter (our resident Stud):
Mean 20.1; SD 4.2; CV 20.9 (3rd fleece)

Sample taken at 2 years 10 months.

Unfortunately the photograph does not really show how good it is.

His sire is EP Cambridge Commish Lad who was sired by Jolimont commisario and his Dam is The Hermitage Lady Ruffo of Cambridge who was sired by NWA Ltd Ruffo. An excellent pedigree.

Scriptwriter's Stud Services are only being offered to selected breeders who, like ourselves are taking the risk of TB in Alpacas seriously and are keeping Biosecurity at the forefront of their business.

So today we wish him a very happy birthday and gave him a few extra grains of Camelibra to celebrate!!!!

We are also very pleased with Toad Hall King of Diamonds who is almost 2years old:
Mean 20.5 SD 4.3 CV 21.0 Known as 'Barnaby' at home he is a good future herd sire as is

Toad Hall Cool Troy: Mean 17.6 SD 4.0 CV 23.0 who is also almost 2 years old.

The other samples that we sent off were from our cria born last year and these are very similiar to Barnaby and Troy.

Hiccup has now been on different antibiotics for 2 weeks and seems to be moving around more and generally socialising with the others more - hopefully this will continue. We have now bought a bale of Alfalfa with Lucerne to give her as well as the camelibra and oats in the hope we can get her to gain weight. Any other ideas?

Monday, 28 June 2010

All Safely Gathered In

Too busy this week to do any work on the new barn or on the house. Sid cut the grass on Tuesday and has turned it and spread it over the week. Saturday was time for rowing up before the contractor arrived for baling.

The contractor arrived on Saturday afternoon and we ended up with 230 small bales of lovely sweet smelling hay

With the forecast so good we decided to leave the hauling until Sunday when help was summoned so that all was safely gathered in.

We finished the week with a relaxing barbecue and Holly cooling off in her paddling pool

Friday, 18 June 2010

Time Flies

Well its two weeks since I managed to update the blog.
Our little cria, who was born two weeks ago today is a stunner. We have called her Toad Hall Skye Blue - her dam is Toad Hall Blue Ember who is by Wellground Imber and her sire is Cambridge Buckingham - a wonderful combination. Blue was our second cria born here at Toad Hall and after a diffult birth was bottle reared. She is a superb mother - if she thinks you are a threat to her little one you are quickly covered in green spit!!!!!!!

Hiccup continues to give us cause for concern. She seemed to be making a slow but sure improvement but she is now back to square one. Her knee and elbow joints fill with fluid which makes movement very difficult. Unfortunately blood and fluid samples have not thrown any light on the cause of the problem so various anti flammatories have been used. Hopefully we will get an answer soon from somewhere. Any suggestions gratefully received.

Our next cria will be from Cambridge Bluebell (Blue's mother) who is due in July but her previous two pregnancies were three weeks over the expected date and we had to bottle feed both of her cria. Very stressful as we didn't actually live here then so sleeping in a shed on a mattress was not the most pleasant way to spend the night!!!
We did not breed from her last year in the hope that it would give her system time to rest after two difficult births, hopefully things will be more straightforward this year.

In the meantime we will enjoy watching Toad Hall Skye Blue exploring her surroundings.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Surprise, Surprise

Today has been a glorious day, not only because of the lovely sunshine but also our surprise package which was delivered while we were both out this afternoon. When I arrived home about 5.15pm I looked out at the animals, good all is well, all accounted for. Then I went through to another room and looked out again and there behind the adults and much to my surprise was a wobbly cria. Across the paddock I went to see that Toad Hall Blue Ember had given birth to a solid white female during our absence.

Blue's pregnancy was rather hit and miss. Last year she was mated to Cambridge Buckingham three times, did not give a definite spit off test so she was scanned to make sure but on two occasions this was given as negative.
When we went to mate her to Scriptwriter she was very indecisive so that was abandoned. In March she was behaving very strangely so the vet was called - a scan this time was positive. So going by her last mating date she was 326 days today, we hadn't expected an arrival for a couple of weeks.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Job VERY well done

After our mild panic that our shearers might not be coming on Tuesday as we hadn't heard from them for some months it all went very smoothly - and quickly.

Sam and Shannon arrived and immediately got to work. We had the Alpacas all close by on a one way system. We started with 'Toad Hall Blue Ember' whose cria is due in a few weeks, she screamed all the time but was up and out very quickly. The others were much quieter. They were very considerate with 'Atlantic Hiccup' as she had been so poorly with her joint problem and she was able to get up and move away with no after effects. My bag system worked very well, and as Barbara pointed out I needed a MUCH bigger bag for Scriptwriter's fleece - there was lots of lovely, dense fleece. Job done and lunch taken all in under three hours.

I must say that we are very pleased with the way all the animals look, they are so much happier too. 'Scriptwriter' seems to be revitalised - he went bronking around and running up and down the fence, obviously ready to start work again.
This is 'Wellground Scriptwriter' looking across at the ladies this evening
with 'Toad Hall Storm' watching him.
'Atlantic Hope' and 'Toad Hall Ice Gem' quite relaxed and enjoying the grass.
' Toad Hall Ice Lolly' watching the topping in the paddock next to her.

'Toad Hall Ice Gem' and 'Toad Hall Ice Lolly' both have a meeting with 'Wellground Scriptwriter' this weekend.
Now to get the fleeces sorted for the GWR show.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Thank Goodness its Shearing Time

Tomorrow we will be shearing our herd - well when I say we I actually mean Mike Banks' team. A slight concern crept in this afternoon as we had not heard from Mike since the initial booking just after Christmas but thanks to Jeff & Sheila at Easter Wood who gave me his phone number we were able to confirm all systems go. The shearing coincides with an expected drop in the temperatures this week but I don't think the Alpacas will mind.

They are very heavily fleeced and the boys came up to me as if to say

'Get it Sorted!'

Scriptwriter has spent most of the time lying in the shade or drinking. His fleece is very dense. At least he has an interview with the ladies lined up at the weekend, it had to wait until his coat was removed for his own good.

The fleece bags lined up ready for tomorrow, let's hope I put the right quality in the right bag!!!

Lastly, not Alpaca related but one to make you smile -
Grand daughter Holly enjoying some of her Dad's birthday cake!

Did you guess that it was Chocolate Cake by any chance!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

New Web Site done AT LAST

At long last I have been able to photograph the knitted garments, get them modelled (one very dubious model!!! but none the less I am very grateful), photographed and uploaded to the web site. It does help when the sun shines - everything seems to be a little bit easier.

Today has been a lovely day but the Alpacas look very hot. I spent a lovely day at Wellground to watch their set up which was very streamlined and efficient and Colin Ottery did a fantastic job. We will be shearing in a couple of weeks but still have work to do on the shearing area.
This year we will do the shearing in the old hay barn because that has a roof on it and we have to cater for the typical British weather.
The concreting of the floor of the Alpaca barn has now been completed so hopefully we will be able to start building it in the near future - however we also have another field shelter to build before 'Blue Ember' gives birth next month. Plenty to do.

Hiccup is making steady progress and mixing more with the other females now so fingers crossed that the worst is over - really glad we had not re mated her. We made the decision to leave her empty this year as she fed two cria last year so needed some time to herself.
The grass is growing but so are the buttercups and thistles - more paddock maintenance to do.

Friday, 7 May 2010

A Busy Time

As the weather has been mainly dry we have continued with the floor of the Alpaca barn, concreting a bay at a time. Our local supplier mixes on site so you only get what you need and not too much to cope with at one time.

Another load done for today - back again on Saturday.
I thought I would share the view from our bedroom window with you - fancy having to wake up to this every day, what a sacrifice!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile, Hiccup has improved a great deal. She still lies with her legs out to the side but also has managed to 'cush' on occasions. Hopefully she is over the worst - glad we decided to give her a pregnancy free year as she has always been a superb mother to her cria and last year also took on another.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

And so the work goes on ..and on..

The work on the alpaca barn has continued whilst we have had such good weather. Firstly we have decided to concrete the floor of the old hay barn. This has to be done fairly quickly as it is our shearing area so will be needed before long.

Friend Ben was summoned to use his exceptional digger skills to do the ground works.

Then it was the turn of the 'elf and safety expert to lend a hand checking the levels under the supervision of the boss !!!!!!!!
More stone brought in by the toad himself!!

Now it is the turn of 'whacker plate' to finish it off before the concrete arrives.

First load of concrete installed.

Our original intention was to put the roof on first but as the weather has been so good the decision to get the ground levelled and concreted has paid off. Lots more hard work to go but the benefits will be enormous.
The grass is growing slowly, we moved the boys onto fresh pasture and they certainly showed their approval. 'Hiccup' our matriarch has been under the weather. She developed a lameness we have not been able to find the cause of yet, it appears to be some sort of stiffness in her hocks. Hopefully we will get to the root of the problem soon and restore her to full health.