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.