Monday, 28 April 2014

The thunder is a rumbling!

Thunderstorms are quite rare in North Devon, at least I don't remember that many in the 12-ish years I have been living here compared to the Thames valley where the coal-man was regularly delivering coal to the Queen at Windsor castle.

The animals all get a bit agitated, not sure whether they should just carry on eating grass or whether they should take shelter.

I get a bit agitated, wondering whether to turn the PC off or carry on working!

Carry on for the time being - haven't seen any lightening yet - then it'll be time to panic.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Moving pregnant llamas around!

Oh yes, today we have given up on getting babies from our first lot of "believed" pregnant girls & have shipped them off into the pond field to sample some fresh grass.

The second lot of "believed pregnant" llamas, covered by Llancellot, have now been moved up to the maternity field and will be there for a month while we start cria watch two!

Fingers crossed.

Llancellot the stud llama

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Cria watch is coming to an end

At least our first watch.

Nazca, our own bred youngster spent a month with 5 girls last year and was taken away from the girls around the 5th May, so with an 11.5 months gestation period we are coming to the end of the cria watch for these girls. We will keep an eye on them for another week, as llamas are well known for going over their term, but it is increasingly difficult to see that all five girls are pregnant.

The girls are Willow, who must be about 6 now, so in her prime and she has previously given us Wispa, Cola & Llatte. Wispa was also put in with Nazca as a three year old and so it would be her first time. The other three - Katie, Bella & Evelyn - are all older girls but not that old.

So, it is a disappointment and if we do end up with nothing, I think Nazca will end up having the chop and will join our walking boys - he halters nicely and walks very well.

So, next week, we come to the start of our second watch, We have four girls who spent a month with Llancellot, who as a three year old was not expected to produce. He spent time with Clara, who is looking a big girl and certainly looks as if she will be having a baby. There is also Lima, the herd matriarch, and two of our youngsters Princess and Tallara.

Next weekend we will be swapping everyone around but it looks like another disappointing year for cria.

Princess & Tallara as cria
 Fingers crossed

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Trip to Wales and a pygmy goat update.

Earlier this week we went on an expedition to the Brecon Beacons in Wales in search of a couple of Pygmy goats!

Our little herd of goats is expanding. We currently have 15 pygmy goats including the two new arrivals and from next year we will be back to breeding quite a few of them.

We started our little pygmy goat herd in 2006 with the arrival of Fizz & Flo, two disbudded kids from Crealy Adventure Park, followed very quickly by Fudge & Frosty, two horned kids that were registered goats with the Pygmy Goat Club.

When they were 3 we decided the time was right for us to have a go at breeding and so we bought Titan, a proven stud, to get us started. A huge learning curve 5 months or so later when our first lot of kids turned up. I can remember watching YouTube videos as ours were birthing to make sure it was all happening as it should.

Our four F girls are now retired, the of them having to have C-sections last year, and whilst still old enough to breed we do not want to risk their health by making them go through it again.

We are now on to our N girls, Nugget & Noodle, who will be ready to breed from towards the end of 2015, and we also have an N boy, Nero, who will be ready to work this autumn.

We have Lucky, Mischief & Munchkin who will be ready to breed this year, along with Breeze (not our name, she really should be a J girl I think) will be ready to breed this year with kids arriving in the spring next year.

Here are the N girls, Nugget at the front & Noodle behind!

Monday, 7 April 2014

We are open for llama business!

We've taken our first booking of the season today, for Wednesday afternoon. Doesn't give us long to get ready, but luckily there isn't much to get ready!

We call it the Ashwood Experience , a chance to come and meet us and our llamas!

What we offer -  Up to two hours of our time, both Vicki & Kevin will show you around our smallholding, and giving you the opportunity to get up close and personal with some, if not all of our llamas.
  • First, we’ll do a short introduction, including the essential health and safety rules. We’ll give you some history of llamas in general, some useful facts about the way they will behave, and what you should expect from handling them.
  • Next, we’ll bring some of the llamas up to the holding pen, where you can all get to say hello!
  • Here, we will show you how to halter the llama, and each member of the party (one at a time) can groom a llama and have that one to one photo opportunity.
  • Next, we will take two llamas for a short stroll around their field and you can have the opportunity to lead them.
  • On our return, it will be treat time, the llamas will be rewarded and you’ll have the chance to give them their treats.
  • Then, a chance to wander over and see our other llamas, our goats, chickens, and we may even be joined by the cat!
  • A quick, but thorough wash of the hands and it’ll be time to say goodbye!
Check out our website for more details - - and come and say hi!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

We went to collect a new goat today!

No pictures yet, far too gloomy to do the little chap justice!

A best part of a 360 mile round trip to the other side of Southampton & back to collect Nero, our new stud Pygmy goat! He is only 14 weeks old, so a little bit of growing to do before he can start to fulfil his duties, but surprisingly he can start work at 7 months old, so can look to cover some of our younger girls this autumn!

On the way we went via Salisbury, but what a time consuming event getting through that picturesque little city was. We were making good time until we got there, so on the way back we came the more scenic route via Dorchester in Dorset, a few miles extra but probably 40 minutes quicker!

The movement license means that coming back, there was no stopping for any great lengths of time, a quick stop for a drink & a bar of chocolate to keep us going & one of us stayed in the car for the three minutes that took! Quite a long haul with no real chance to stop and stretch the legs, but the goat was happier with someone in the car with him I am sure. Mind you, he wasn't that happy being there in the first place, but tucked into some feed once we got him home, so we knew he was going to be OK.

Tonight he is in a small pen away from some of our other goats but within talking distance. Tomorrow, he will meet the boys and be introduced to his new quarters which a far roomier albeit a little spartan than where the girls sleep.

All is quiet now, and photographs & proper introductions will be made tomorrow.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

They wouldn't have let us do that 10 years ago!

12 years ago we moved to North Devon! It was always an ambition of mine to own a house in the country with a little bit of land, and after being made redundant in 2002, decided it was time to do that. But it took us a couple of years to decide that it would be quite good to have a few animals.

Vicki is a farmers daughter, so I had an expert in the house, but we started with a few chickens, had 5 pigs for a while, then came the llamas, followed a few years later by the pygmy goats. 2 years ago now, we decided to have a go at fattening our own lambs and this year is our third season and we have got 8 little ones to look after.

Most animals have to have medication and injections. There is the regular six monthly ones and there are the occasional antibiotic as one of the animals catch something they shouldn't, the occasional pain killer if they bruise or hurt them selves in some way.

An expensive business, having to have the vet out to all these injections, but now, the vet trusts us to do it ourselves. We just have to ring up, explain the problem, the vet suggests a remedy and we collect it and administer ourselves. Saves us a lot of money in vet fees, and now that we have got the knack to it, it isn't that difficult.

They wouldn't have let us do that 10 years ago!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

April is cria watch!

Cria is the name of a young llama (and aplaca)!

This year we have 9 believed pregnant llamas & the first cria are due as early as the 7th April!

The first 5 girls have already been moved to the paddock nearest the house where we can keep an eye on them many times a day!

Cria are born during the day and nearly always in the morning, so unlike the lambing & kidding season where lambs & kids can be born at any time of the, no sleepless nights for us!

This is Wispa as a cria, probably just a few months old! She'll be three this year and is one of the, hopefully, expectant mums!