Thursday, 27 May 2010

The big spit off!

We have collected our two girls, Clara & Lima from Llamalland in Cornwall and they appeared to have a great time, and were a little loathe to come home.

After some enticement, a food bribe, they both got into the horsebox, and we made our way home.

The big spit off is an event that occurs when the girls are re-introduced to the male and won't let the male approach them, as hopefully they are already pregnant! Clara gave Prince Charles, her suitor the spit on the first re-introduction, but Lima wanted another go, so we had to wait another two weeks to see if that was successful, and yes it was, so home they have come.

The re-introduction to the boys was made with some trepidation, as we have had problems in the past. We put the boys in one half of the main paddock, in fact they were haltered and had a short walk as we moved them, and as we have a fence that splits the main paddock into two halves, we hoped to re-introduce the girls in to the empty half so that a fence between the two groups would stop any problems.

Apparently, llamas have a long memory when it comes to knowing other llamas, and will remember faces (and smells) for a very long time!

Anyway, we needn't have worried, the two girls fair jumped out the back of the horsebox into their bit of paddock, ambled over to the fence - had a rubbing of noses, and then set about eating some grass.

That was it then - back to full compliment!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Are the girls pregnant?

I really wish that I could be a bit more proactive in making this blog a bit more regular.

News here - well, we have sent our two girls off to the stud farm.

Lima gave birth last year towards the end of August, and Clara a while earlier in mid-July.

Having lost our own stud male, we decided that it was too late in the year to have them covered - with an 11.5 month gestation period and adding a month for nursing the new cria and getting pregnant it would be a winter birth which we thought wouldn't be a good idea, so we left it to the spring, so at the end of April our two girls went off to Cornwall to stay with a few llamas and have some fun with a stud - Prince Charles no less....

The news is, Clara has taken, as the second meeting has resulted in a spit off, which normally means she is not that interested anymore, but Lima, having turned down her first suitor appears to have turned down her second. So, we have another 10 day wait - Camelids are induced ovulators, which means they shed eggs only in response to mating. They don't have seasons like most mammals. Ovulation takes place 24-48 hours after mating. - and 10 days give the sperm chance to fertilise before we try for the next spit off (the female is not interested because she's pregnant).

So, two more weeks, and it should be time to bring them home.

By the way, Nazca was weaned when mum, Lima, went off, and he has coped very well, and mixes with the boys as if he has always been there.

Until the next time!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Titan the billy goat!

This is our new billy goat, Titan, he is about 3 years old, and is only 18" at the shoulder, and to my cost I have already found that those horns hurt when you get wacked by one.

For the first 3 weeks of his visit to us he was in quarantine, we needed to make sure that he had brought nothing nasty with him before we introduced him to our girls. The vet visited a couple of times and gave him a few injections for worms and the like, and he has settled in quiye well.

After his three weeks were up we let him loose in to the paddock that he now shares with our two boy llamas, Wilbur & Cusco. He was quite agitated as he could hear the girls calling to him, and finally a week ago, we brought two of them down to stay. Amazing how quickly he got his wicked way with poor Fudge, she didn't know what had hit her.

You can find out which goat is which by checking out our website HERE!

The plan is that Frostie and Fudge will stay with Titan for 3 weeks, which is one full cycle, and then we'll swap the girls with Flo & Fizz the other pair and they'll stay for 3 weeks as well.

We hope that they'll all get pregnant and that during August we will become the proud owners of an increased herd of pygmy goats.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Nazca is getting bigger!

This is Nazca - 6 months old and growing like a good 'un.

He has already had the halter put on several times, and handles very well. He's only been groomed, but he does enjoy having his back scratched. In a couple of weeks we'll take him for a short walk, only 40 or 50 yards and back, so he's aware of what he should be doing.

We learned our mistake with Cusco, who we let grow to a year old or more before haltering him, and at a year old he is quite large, and so quite difficult, but he also leads very well now.

Nazca's mum, Lima, has always disliked the halter, and she is a really awkward one to get sorted - but we cannot let her beat us, so a real battle of wills.

The next blog we're going to talk goats!

Now, they're fun!

Monday, 1 March 2010

The boy has got over it...

..poor Cusco, at 18 months old, thinking he was the only male around capable of doing anything, and cut off just like that.

Vicki has done very well in handling the llamas, much better than me - the camelid dynamics course she went on last year has really been good value for money, so when it was time to get Cusco haltered up, and ready for his pre-operation injections, he was calmly standing in his pen waiting for something to happen.

Mind you it takes three of us to contain him to have his injections - Vicki at the head keeping him calm, me doing the grunt work and catching him between two hurdles. At the head end the hurdles are joined and at the bum end they are squeezed together so he can't move. I stand against the moving hurdle - the other is fixed permanently against a fence post, and hold on. The vet has the needles and does her job. We've all done this several times now, and it all goes like clockwork.

A real concoction of drugs, some to make him drowsy, some to ease the pain, and some to make him not care, and 10-15 minutes later he's lying down ready. having said he's lying down, we have to keep his head up, so although he's asleep his head cannot drop, as we must leave an airway for the stomach gasses to escape by, otherwise he'll bloat up, and other complications arise. That was Vicki's job.

My job was at the mucky end - keep the tail out of the way, hind leg up, so to relax everything - the rest was up to the vet.

The vet did her job in about 10 minutes, all clean and tidy, plenty of warm water and disinfectant, job done!

The boring bit was next, just standing there, holding his head up until he came around - this took the best part of an hour. Once up though he was a bit wobbly for a few minutes, but then, right what was that all about, I'm hungry. He had to wait for an hour or so, and then hay, water and he was out in the field as if nothing had happened.

It's a week later, vet has checked him over, and he's fine, no infections, and he's carrying on as though nothing happened.

Six weeks the vet said, and then we can put all our llamas together - it will make our lives a little easier, but we couldn't do it while Cusco was entire, as we couldn't have him playing with his mum.

That's a major operation out of the way now, so once we get them all together it's training - plenty of halters on, halters off, and walking on the lead.

Spring is here, what a great season that is!

Worming next!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The vet is coming tomorrow...

.. to visit young Cusco!

We need a clean dry spot for him to have his "operation", so today was spent shifting wet, soggy hay from the ground outside and inside his field shelter (he shares this with Wilbur). Whilst we clean the hay up from and around feeders on a regular basis the ground outside the shelter tends to be left so about 6 wheelbarrow loads of hay was lifted and shifted.

The inside of the shelter was given a good dose of Jeyes Fluid, which has subsequently meant that the boys won't go inside to eat, wary of the smell, which should disappear by tomorrow morning.

Cusco, poor lad, is a shade over 18 months old, and the operation he's due to have is the "chop". This will stop him getting too bolshy, and will mean that we can put him and Wilbur and the girls back together again, if we want to.

I hope the vet knows what she is doing, she has castrated plenty of alpacas, but this will be her first llama!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

2010 - the beginning!

Our animals have all been suffering from the miserable winter, first the rain which has turned our winter ground in to quagmires, then the cold that kept our goats and chickens in their houses, not wanting to come out. The ducks disliked the cold as well, as the ground was so hard they couldn't have a good root around in the mud.

The llamas though, enjoyed the snow, a chance to walk around on top of the normally soggy ground, munching at the fresh hay, you can tell how well insulated they are, as the snow on their backs does not melt as the body heat cannot get out through the thick fibre, and so when lying down they are very well camouflaged against the white snow.

Snow here hasn't been a normal occurrence here in North Devon the past 6 years, a few light coverings is all, but this year we had a good dumping just before Christmas, and in January we had a good eight inches of the stuff.

We had a good spell last week, where we had frosts at night, but no rain, and it is those spells of weather where everything feels springlike - the sunshine is starting to feel really warm on our backs.

Young Nazca is 6 months old now, his brother Cusco, over 18 months. Cusco has spent the winter in a small field with Wilbur, our gelded male, and himself is soon to be gelded. These two boys will start some training in ernest in the next few weeks, as we want them to do a few treks this summer, hopefully paid treks to earn their keep. Nazca will stay with mum until it's time for him to be weaned, and then he'll be introduced to the boys so that they can all play together. There will be a few fights and he'll be picked upon as a new pecking order will be established - he will of course be at the bottom.

His mum Lima and Clara who lost her young one at just a week old last year are still open (ie not covered by a male and therefore are not pregnant) and so they will be trained up to get in the back of a trailer so that they can be mated, probably June time! It'll be 11 and a half months later before we get to see young cria gain here - end of May 2011 - seems ages away.

On the goat front we have acquired our own stud billy - a young lad called Titan - he is undergoing his quarantine time at the moment, but that will be completed on Sunday, and he will be introduced to the girls one by one, and a short 5 month wait and we'll hopefully have a series of young kids - that'll be our challenge in 2010 - a complete learning experience coming up.

So, 2010 has had a quiet start, but things on the land are about to get really busy - seeds are already in the propagator, some of our vegetable beds need digging, animal summer paddocks need treating before the grass is ready to be eaten, so we'll have lots to talk about in the coming weeks and months.