Sunday, 4 October 2015

Well, I nearly made a mess of that!

We were moving llamas today, with the forecast of some bad weather coming our way, it is time to think about bad weather and whether each field has enough shelters for the llamas.

We had 14 llamas (including this years two cria) .... one field but that field only has one shelter big enough for just 6 or 7 llamas, whereas in a smaller paddock we have just 4 llamas and the shelter can take at least 10. We also have an empty field that can also take 6 or 7 in its shelter, so....

First up was to move the 14 llamas into the empty field - easy - but I had forgotten to close the gate at the bottom so instead of the 14 llamas stopping in that field while we did the next bit, they went on through that gate, round the side of our land, went up the side of the 4 llamas paddock, through a side gate (open because we had no reason to have it shut), they carried on and found our new hedge and decided to stop there and start munching it.

Panic stations as there a few poisonous plants in that are as well!

We managed, easily as it turned out, to get them to join our three llamas (not yet mentioned) who were living in the pond field (keeping up?) and as it happened were destined to meet up with this lot anyway.

Of the 14 llamas, only 13 of them went that way, there was one - Llancellot - who decided that there was a short cut, mainly because he saw his old enemy Nazca (one of the three) and was giving him some nasty snorts and spitting across a fence line - we caught him, Llancellot - and coerced him back to the empty field, no mean feat, as he clearly didn't want to go. He tipped me up once, or at least made me slip in the mud, but he went, but was very unhappy for a while as he was on his own.

So, at this point we have Llancellot on his own, 16 llamas in our small paddock, the pond field, and the 4 boy llamas who were wondering just what was going on.

These 4 were the next to be moved, as they were in the field with the big shelter, and as they are readily halter-able we planned to walk them on their lead ropes. First up was Wilbur & Gallahad, and as Gallahad hadn't really been walked before we took them through the empty field (Llancellot - his dad, was in a pen, rather than the field) and with a bit of tugging they both walked very well and were put into the bigger field that the 14 llamas had just vacated.

Next, Buster & Cusco, we decided to walk up the lane to join them, the thought of walking them past Llancellot wasn't worth thinking about. That went smoothly, so we had one set of llamas in the right place. Those four had a bigger field but a shelter that would comfortably accommodate them. This will be their home for the next six months, at least until spring.

Now, to split up the 16 llamas - we needed to put at least 6 of them back with Llancellot, so we chose Lima, our first llama (the matriarch) along with Princess & Tallara who were the other two of the three, who needed a bit more space, we put Clara, Bella & Evelyn who are three of our oldies as well. It took a bit of sorting to get them into two groups, but once done they were run back to the empty field to join Llancellot, who was a much happier llama.

So that left just 10 llamas, both sets of mum & cria, along with Poppet, Guinevere, Cola, Llatte & Wispa and of course Nazca, who all need a bit of extra training (except Nazca who is well trained already) and where better to do that but in the paddock closest to the house. It will be good for the youngsters to see the older ones being trained so that when it is their turn it won't be a surprise.

Phew, that's that done, but it wasn't the way we planned it!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

It's been a busy old time!

No excuses really for not keeping my blog updated - all good intentions to write at least once a week just goes out of the window when other things come along.

There is plenty to blog about too!

We have ten acres of land and we are not making best use of it, so we have decided that we need to make the land more productive. Some big decisions needed as it means more work is required to be done outside, and that has meant that social time is impacted as i still have a business or two to run too!

Earlier last year we decided to stop breeding llamas, we are finding it difficult to make the llamas pay for them selves as we struggle to sell some of our youngsters off. In December we had Nazca, our older entire male castrated as he had failed to produce any youngsters for two seasons. Nazca is a great male, well trained to the halter, you just have to show it to him and he puts his head in.

Anyhow, as we couldn't put him in with the other entire male Llancellot we put him in with a few females, thinking that he hadn't done anything the past two years, he won't do anything this time - how wrong we were - look what he produced:-

Misty on the left and Happy on the right (short for Miss Take and Miss Hap) and Happy really does take after her dad Nazca!

When we were breeding - haha - we had four  large enclosures built, with small shelters to keep the stud males in - at one time we had three studs - and we also used them as "sick bays" or as "maternity wings" depending on what was happening, but with no studs left, we do have the ability to keep most of the herd together - with the two new arrivals we now have 21 llamas - but as is the way, the ex-studs still fight and have to be kept apart, and Wilbur doesn't get on with either of them, so he has to be kept apart too, so we still have three groups, but we do not need all of the enclosures, so we have bought in some of these fine creatures:-

Boer goats - these are four young doelings - just weaned from mum - two pairs of twins, and we hope to start breeding from them next winter (2016/17) and will be on the lookout for a buckling in the spring!

These now live in one of the enclosures, the one with the biggest shelter, and they will live there in the summer months. In the winter, our billies will live up there as they are a bit hardier and these girls will share the space around the workshop where our girl pygmy goats live.

One of the other enclosures is being fenced up to take a variety of chickens, the first one is up and has Light Sussex in and next year I hope to add 2 or 3 other varieties - particularly interested in having some Rhode Island Reds and some Cuckoo Marans, and maybe we will have one enclosure of ducks too!

Well, that's this weeks update, follow us on Twitter at @llamakevin for daily updates on what is going on at Ashwood Llamas.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Remembering to put the chooks to bed!

OK, so I don't lock all my chooks up every night.

In my main run, where we have two large coops, one broody coop, and one small isolation coop (this is for a broody and her young chicks before they get let loose with the grown ups, a way of introducing the little ones so the resident hens are used to them and don't bully them when they are let out) - we currently have 10 hens one brood of 3 youngsters that are now around 12 weeks old, one brood of 5 that are around 9 weeks old, a brood of two that are around 4 weeks old, and a another brood of two that have just hatched out.

This run is a very large area, about 50 metres by 30 metres, and has a 4 foot high fence with a single strand of electric fencing running along the top and another running along the bottom. It is a main unit so there is a good wack if anyone or anything touches it (it is not mains electricity, it is a small DC current, run off the mains) and gives a constant level of power as opposed to a battery operated unit that gets weaker over time.

This has been in place for two years and just once over that time have I lost any chickens, and that was on a really wet and windy night, when my llamas were sheltering in their shelter, oh yes, my llamas have access to the next field and guard the fence line on two sides, the two sides where predators, mainly foxes are likely to approach my land.

In this run, I do not go down and lock the chooks up, I leave the guarding to my llamas.

This year we decided to breed a few pure Light Sussex, I had 11 chicks hatch out and they are now around 12 weeks old, we think we have 7 pullets (females) and 4 cockerels which have been split up into two groups. The 7 pullets have had a refurbished coop, and a 6' high enclosure built around them, they too have llamas guarding one side, but as they are youngsters and not wise to the ways of the world they need shutting in at night, no electric fence up there as way too far away from any power.

The 4 cockerels are also in a coop away from all the others and only has a small fence but are closer to my office and have goats on two sides (not sure how effective they'd be against a fox, and in any event they are all locked up at night.

So, a new routine, these two sets of chooks need locking up at dusk, and whilst I have remembered most nights, I have forgotten once when a glass of wine seemed to ruin the memory, luckily nothing happened but I must not forget again, must I?

Friday, 14 August 2015

Changing mobile phones!

What a pa lava!

Our contract is coming up for renewal and it was time to look at upgrading my phone.

The main aim though was to try and save ourselves a few bob, after all these top of the range rockets cost an arm and a leg and at the end of the day they are just a mobile phone. OK, they are a mobile phone that you can send and receive emails, you can tweet away, or check out Facebook, you can upload pictures that you have taken on your phone, and you can even take videos.

Well, on researching, there were a lot of smartphones out there that will do all that the top of the range models do at a fraction of the price.

I had an iPhone - cost was around £500 - they said it was free but I have more than paid for that during the 24 month contract I had to sign up for, and if you deduct a cost of a SIM only contract then that is what I paid for it.

So, this time I have gone for an android, cost just less than £90, and I will be going on to a SIM only contract when the current contract expires - I should save myself over £20 a month, so the phone will have paid for itself in four and half months and the most amazing thing is that this phone does everything that I ever did on the iPhone.

There, I feel better already!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Another broody!

Yes, we have another broody!

This is our 4th - the first successfully hatched 3 chicks, the second 5 chicks and the third just two.

In between times we hatched out a big batch in the incubator. 15 hatched, and 11 have survived so far!

Trouble is with broody number 4 is that our eggs are no longer fertile as we had dispatched the cockerel, so a quick shout out on our local Devon Smallholders Facebook group and I found someone local who had some hatching eggs. So, a quick dash up to Woolsery and I bought 5 french maran eggs. The lady I bought from said that a broody will sit on an odd number of eggs, so I couldn't have six, I had to have 5 or 7, so 5 it was!

Who knew!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Blooming animals are forever picking up ticks - just found a fat juicy one behind one of Lladdies ears. The 50p tick remover that we invested in several years ago has well and truly paid for itself. I think this year that is Lladies second, Gizmo has picked up four, Pepper one and Hilda the cat has picked up three.

Luckily though, no humans have picked up any - always wearing boots or wellies and jeans, very rarely have any bare skin showing. If you do get bitten by a tick be aware of Lymes disease - Many people with early-stage Lyme disease develop a distinctive circular rash at the site of the tick bite, usually around 3 to 30 days after being bitten. This is known as erythema migrans. Follow the link to the NHS website for further symptoms and as long as it is picked up early it is treatable.

However, it doesn't appear to infect the animals - it is just an irritant whilst it sucking their blood.

Monday, 13 July 2015

We have rain..

In fact we have loads of rain, the type of rain that gently comes down and soaks everything. It's good because it soaks into the soil instead of running off and flooding places, it's also good as we fill up our water butts with, in some case much needed water. It's also good in that the vegetable plot won't need a good soak for weeks, but....

It's not so good, because it is summer, and we need sunshine to ripen my tomatoes, amongst other things, so please can we have some more sunshine!