Time seems to fly by these days with little time to think and plan as we try to get all the autumn jobs done before winter sets in. A final topping of the fields to lie unused over the winter exposed to the frosts and ready to provide the best grass for our pregnant girls in early spring and for their cria as they are born in late spring/early summer. Grandchildren make great helpers but can be a little ambitious at times 😊 Winter paddocks inspected and a final top if too long, water troughs cleaned and checked and the shelters all checked to ensure they are ready to protect the alpacas from whatever winter throws at us. The barns are always ready with pens set up to enable us to house any alpacas that we feel need the extra level of protection that it provides and also to make our lives easier in the worst of the weather. Gary has put in some extra automatic drinkers around the barns so that every pen has at least one, so no more filling buckets, and gate hangers which is a great time saver. In the depths of a freeze even they will not work and water will have to be carried from the house but we live in the South West and up until now we have only had to do that on rare occasions. Our barn is well stocked with homemade hay which the alpacas are already enjoying and eating more of as the shorter days and wet weather makes the grazing less attractive.
It is also the time for dosing the herd with fluke medication as living on the Somerset Levels its about the only thing that we routinely dose for rather than testing first. Our vets advise this as the likelihood of fluke is high on the levels. Vitamin injections have started and will continue as appropriate throughout the winter and spring. Routine faecal testing continues, and we treat as indicated, which is actually very seldom here.
Our hopefully pregnant females will be scanned later this month to confirm if they are pregnant which is always exciting and allows us to separate them into suitable groups with similar nutritional requirements.
I organise the annual South West Alpaca Group Fleece Show which takes place in September every year. Starting with creating a budget from planned income and expenditure which has to at least break even as the group cannot afford to subsidise it. Thankfully our show is well supported and we are always grateful to everyone who enters a fleece or fleeces as without exhibitors there would be no show and that would be a missed opportunity for people to have their fleeces evaluated by a BAS Judge and to receive feedback.
I am very lucky to have a great team of volunteers who come along on the day and help make the show actually happen. We have been working together for a few years now and that is a great help as everyone knows their job and although it is enjoyable it is hard work with the occasional stressful moment thrown in.
Our Judges do a great job and in my experience are always helpful and flexible enough to know that things don’t always go according to plan and that when they don’t you just have to crack on and get the job done.
My least favourite part of organising a show is all the packing of fleeces back into boxes and organising couriers to pick them up and deliver them back to their owners. It’s a bit like the morning after a party when you come downstairs and everyone has gone home and you are left to clear up.
Thank you to all the volunteers all over the country who help to make alpaca shows happen, without you no one could exhibit their alpacas or their fleece.”