It will soon be Christmas followed quickly in its footsteps by the New Year 2022. I find that when you look after livestock you are constantly looking forward and as you get older time passes so quickly that the future is never far from today. It seems only a brief time ago that we were waiting for this year’s cria to be born and yet here we are looking forward to next year’s.
Weaning is imminent here and our 9 cria are doing well and I think that their mothers will be glad to have a rest from them. Once weaned they do still get to see other as each group have their own space in the barn when the weather is bad and can also see each other out in the fields. We usually find that the cria take it all in their stride, as do most of the mothers, but we do get a couple of mothers each year who take a day or two before settling down properly. We have a couple of cria who have mothers that are not pregnant for 2022 and these mothers will stay with the weanlings for a while to help them adjust and they are also useful during halter training in leading the youngsters out until they gain confidence enough to do it on their own.
Gary and I went to watch the 2021 Midlands Championships in October and thoroughly enjoyed catching up with people and seeing all the beautiful alpacas on display. It was interesting to see the progress breeders had made in the two years we had been without any halter shows. We have missed the Shows and look forward to getting back into competition next year.
In early December I was a volunteer handler for the BAS Advanced Alpaca Assessment course held at CS Alpacas in Oxfordshire. It was a very enjoyable experience, and I learnt a lot through listening to the Tutors and the attendees as they assessed alpacas and shared their thoughts with the Tutors leading to a discussion on the points raised. I definitely recommend stepping forward as a volunteer as there is a huge amount to be gained from it and without volunteers there can be no courses.
I am now into my second year as a Board Member. It has been a largely enjoyable experience and the positives far outweigh the negatives. Working with a great set of colleagues on initiatives designed to help our members meet the challenges ahead and endeavouring to continue to meet the founding principles of the society is a privilege and to have been elected by fellow members is an honour.
Much like any one of you I have a busy life looking after and developing my herd of alpacas in addition to making time to spend with family and doing all the usual household tasks. COVID has presented all of us with challenges and my own have included the death of my father at a time when I was unable to visit him in hospital and he had to have an unattended cremation. Nearly two years later we are still waiting for my brother to be able to travel from overseas so that we can get together and spread Dad’s ashes and celebrate his life. Through all of this I have found the friendship of members of the alpaca community to be a source of light with their funny stories and willingness to share experience and learning. My mother always told me that if I had nothing nice to say then say nothing at all, and I always try to do this but obviously no one is perfect and we all slip from time to time, and very occasionally I can still feel that clip around the ear from Mum! I believe that if we can all try to be kind to each other and offer positive feedback rather than negative then all our lives will be richer for it.
Happy Christmas to you all and wishing you the best, and kindest, of New Years!”