Sunday 30 July 2017

Happy Birthday Hobsey

Happy birthday to my sweet Hobson, and to her brother Angus.

To see her crawling all over Hobsey, anyone would think Saffi was Hobsey's daughter rather than Indi's.

Friday 28 July 2017

On the Road with Alpacas

Poppy was booked in for a visit to a boy today. Fortuitously, someone else came by to buy fleeces two days ago, and happened to have a stud male with her, and kindly allowed us to borrow the male to spit off Bess. (Spitting off is showing a male to a female hoped to be pregnant, and using the reaction to tell if she is pregnant or not.) Bess reacted by wanting to mate, which unfortunately means her previous mating did not take, but fortunately it also means I know it didn't work so I could take her along to see her beau again. Both cria have to stay with their mothers at this stage, so it was all aboard the Shag Wagon and back on the Fosse Way.

Bess was very keen to mate and the poor boy was quite exhausted by the end. Poppy and her boy seemed happy with each other and had a good but relatively short mating, and were not quite as enamoured of each other.

When we got home, all the alpacas ended up in the top paddock together briefly, as I had put the lads in with Olivia, who is still waiting to have a cria, to keep her company. Poor Trident's fluffy bonce had to be clipped off, but it was his own fault because he rubbed it in burdocks and matted it full of them. Trebuchet is still a runt and not that much bigger than the cria, but he has filled out since being shorn and grown a bit, as his headcollar size has increased.

Monday 24 July 2017

Poodles July

The bad weather stopped for a bit today, although it is sweaty and sticky and insecty rather than pleasant because of all the damp. The poodles and the pacas all appreciate it. (Indi isn't in this video, as she doesn't like playing roughly with the other dogs, so she gets to go for a different walk by herself)

Sunday 16 July 2017

Saturday 15 July 2017


I'm making available some new buckle options for my poodle collars. Some people have asked for a lighter and less bulky buckle than the standard brass one (centre yellow collar in image above) so I'm offering this lighter low-profile buckle, still English brass. I've already done a number of custom quick-release collars for people who have asked, so they aren't new as such, but I'm making the option more 'official'. Quick-release buckles are designed to fail under undue force, and for this reason I don't recommend them for dogs who pull hard or where your dog could be in danger were a collar fastening to break away. They can be really useful for people who have difficulty with standard buckles because of arthritis, etc. or for dogs who are at risk of becoming caught by the collar, particularly if the dog is walked on a slip lead or harness. Please do also be aware that a dog is much likely to get caught on something wearing a properly fitted collar than one that is too loose. If you are ordering a quick-release collar, I need to know your dog's exact neck measurement with no 'finger room' as unfortunately it's not possible to make this type of fastening adjustable easily.

These are the current basic leather colours I have available. Most of them are available in a few different stitching colours, or you can request your own combination if you prefer. Collars are available to buy at my Etsy shop.

Meanwhile, Fleur is doing well and this morning had gained about a pound from her weight yesterday evening. Poppy's mammary glands are looking a lot better as I think they were quite sore.

Poppy is returning to a more normal shape. In two weeks time, provided both she and Fleur continue to do well, she will be ready to mate again, although it will take nearly a year for a cria to be born.

Friday 14 July 2017

Fleur the Paca

Poppy's cria Fleur is out and about. Her weight dropped slightly overnight, which is to be expected, but has stayed over 17 pounds and she seems to be feeding properly, despite her mother's gross udder anatomy. Poppy was showing mammary development more than a month before she gave birth, and while trying not to be too vulgar or too medical, the relevant parts seem to be rather larger than the cria's mouth.

Patience and Fleur don't seem to know what to make of each other. Poppy is quite protective of her cria (except for this morning when she ran to the corral to get her breakfast, and forgot Fleur asleep in the field, and then threw a wobbly because I weighed the cria while she was shut in) and Poppy doesn't like it much when Patience runs and pronks near Fleur, or when Fleur runs away from Poppy towards anything else, which leads to episodes of Fleur running around the field with Poppy chasing after her and desperately trying to keep herself between Fleur and anything Poppy thinks might be dangerous or play too roughly.

Other people get to have boobs for lunch too?

Will you be my friend?

If I pretend to ignore you, then will you like me?

Thursday 13 July 2017

Poppy's Cria

Nota bene: the video in this blog post includes footage of bums, poo, and mammals doing both the things that mammals are famous for.

About 10 AM this morning, I went to feed the pacas only to find that Poppy had an extra pair of legs. Poppy gave birth to an 18-pound daughter who is white with black feet and black ear tips, and a brown spot on her withers! Congratulations to her father, Van Diemen Qjori of Patou.

I feel I have to add a few explanatory caveats to the video included with this post, which managed to capture most of the birth. Unfortunately in the modern information age, some people try to rely on the Internet as a how-to guide, which can cause problems if they have misunderstood genuine information, without going into the amount of misinformation and outright disinformation that goes around. Also, there are always some people who think they have an inalienable right to take offence at anything they see that they don't understand.

Poppy and the cria are in the corral so Poppy can give birth where she can still see the other alpacas and animals with whom she shares her pasture, but where she has some privacy to keep nosey neighbours from getting too close and stressing her or stepping on the cria. Once the cria is dry and feeding well, probably by this evening, they will be let out to rejoin the other three alpacas.

When the cria's head and forelimbs were out, Poppy was becoming agitated trying to find the cria and moving a lot and sitting down and getting up, and not straining to expel the cria, which looked to be quite large. I held the cria's front legs gently in a clean towel to help her give birth. I did not apply force or try to pull the cria out, I just held the cria still and let Poppy do the work, as this gives her pelvic muscles better traction when the cria can't move backwards and increases her urge to bear down. You should never attempt to pull an infant animal out of its mother unless you are sure it is stuck and the life of the dam or offspring is in danger because of this. I made a straining noise to try to encourage Poppy to strain and because I tend to talk rubbish to my animals when I am doing things to them to reassure them and let them know where I am (particularly as some animals have restricted vision to the rear).

The cria is covered in a membrane which has a rubbery texture, which rubbing with a towel helps to remove. This cria had some of the membrane stuck in her mouth and nose, which was removed to help her breathe.

Poppy's loin looks to have caved in after she has given birth because her pregnancy has stretched her abdominal muscles and caused her internal organs to rearrange themselves. It takes a few days for her abdomen to shrink back down and them to return to their non-pregnant positions. Most of the film was made before she had expelled the placenta, and the contractions also make her suck in her flanks. She is in correct body condition.

The stuff sprayed on the cria is iodine, to help keep her umbilical cord clean while it heals.

Friday 7 July 2017


Today is exactly 11 months since Olivia and Poppy mated. Last year, Poppy gave birth at 11 months and Olivia gave birth two days later. As of 10 AM this morning, nobody is looking like they are thinking about having a cria today, so we shall see. Alpacas are very variable in how long gestation takes, and Bess's cria took over a year to make an appearance, but it's generally considered that they tend to be fairly consistent as individuals.

Sunday 2 July 2017


I've updated the webpage about the Chevron and Twill leather leads. I recently had my 100th Etsy order, and it was for a lead! Although I have been making and selling them for some time, the page about them had remained under construction as a result of not getting round to putting up pictures.