Wednesday, September 24. 2008
Eventually I set up the night vision camera to see what the alpacas got up to after dark..
This is taken at 7.22 pm just as it is getting dark.
Taken at 8.13 pm and clearly something has caught their attention.
Taken at 8.21pm and something is still keeping their attention.
Taken at 1.08am and they are up and about.
7.58am and daylight has arrived and they have all gone off to feed.
I was hoping to see if the alpacas were nursing their cria at night, but didn't catch that on the camera. However it is pretty obvious the alpacas are up and about most of the night. These 5 images are taken from 150 that were captured throughout the night.... So lets see what happens tomorrow.
Tuesday, September 23. 2008
A day of great frustrations.
The hay that we missed last week still isn't bailed which would have been nice.....then we could open up the field.
The alpaca poop has gone while we were out yesterday!! ...I am not sure who is taking it but as you can imagine I had two phone calls from other people wanting alpaca poop.. it always happens as soon as you have none.
One gentleman wasn't too impressed to hear it might be a month before there was another load of alpaca poop ready and asked if we could perhaps speed things up as he wanted to get his garlic planted..... I explained that the alpacas do what they do and we just have to pick up what they do....
Well really must trawl through my valpaca eterinary records and get some accounts sent out and animal health records updated or we will be in a complete mess.
Macario has just called to say that it is time to pick grapes so he wont be here tomorrow....ah it never rains but it pours !
Saturday, September 20. 2008
The best laid plans of mice and men... having got the hay all ready for bailing we set the irrigation going in the alpaca pasture adjacent to the hay field and of course the wind picked up and we ended up with some wet hay...fortunately it isn't much and it is dry now so can be bailed next week. probably only about five bales by the time all is said and done.
Last night we attended a Wine and Wings silent auction fund raiser for the Klamath Bird Observatory and were lucky enough to come away with a night in a very comfortable local hotel... good news all round.
Friday, September 19. 2008
JP on his "squeeze"
As a boy hay making was a wonderful time of year warm summer evenings working in the fields till late with the men who smoked and told great stories.... for the most part it was hot dusty work and afterwards we would all go to the pub for a pint of bitter...I was only 16 but in rural communities no one cared.
Well mechanisation has changed that forever and JP can do in minutes what it would take grown men hours to accomplish.
JP effortlessly pops another 20 bales onto the truck.
And if you ask hime nicely he will even drop it straight into the barn for you....
The second cutting is now neatly stored for another year and the remainder sold off. In total we gathered 261 bales in the second cutting.
Once the hay field is tidy I will close the gates and let the alpacas run wild..... there is something about wide open spaces that sends them a little crazy after the typically small alpacas pastures. I can feel some great alpaca photo opportunities coming on......
Thursday, September 18. 2008
My alpacas appear to get through very little hay in the winter so I have to assume that there is sufficient forage in the pastures to keep them topped up. They have free access to hay and yet consume less than expected. I would estimate that a nursing mother is eating 1 pound of dry hay each day. So about 30lbs per month and over I will go into this winter with about ten bales of hay from last year and about twenty bales from this year.
Grain is another matter and I am waiting to hear when we will be putting in our next grain order with the local coop for our customised alpaca mix which is specially blended to contain high amounts of selenium, which is naturally deficient from grass in this part of the world.
The alpaca farming paperwork beckons and it is not to be ignored lightly. There is nothing worse than missing a key date or event because your animal health records were not up to scratch.... plus I have some cria registrations to file.
Wednesday, September 17. 2008
The 2008 second cutting
Unlike olive oil where people tend to go for the first pressing with hay grass the second cutting is usually superior. Hay analysis of my own hay in previous years shows that second cutting is slightly better than first cutting. However it is by no means clear as to why this should be. Is it the grass in a different stage of its growth cycle? Or is it simply the different weather with cooler evenings and cooler night times?
Maybe it really doesn't matter because it just is the accepted wisdom of hay making. The truth is the alpacas chow down on it no matter what I might think and do not show any preference for a certain age of hay... I guess like most animals including humans if they are hungry enough then they will eat it.
Tuesday, September 16. 2008
The weather remains good and today we rowed up the hay for bailing .
JP rows up the hay wearing his traditional bailing shirt!
Another day in the warm wind and it will be already to bale.
Exactly like last year there was a beautiful moon over the hay field last night.
Too early for a harvest moon which comes next month I suspect we will have a good harvest of second cutting hay none the less.
Today was probably the last meeting of SOJAA with me as president of the local alpaca breeders association - truly the end of an era!
Saturday, September 13. 2008
Regulars to my blog will know that I set up a motion sensitive camera that shoots in infra red at night. This was my attempt to see if the cougar was about on our property.
Now the chances of the cougar walking in front of the camera given the many hundreds of miles he probably covers looking for prey is slim....and indeed I haven't snapped him yet!
But here is what does gone on after dark....
A dear and a skunk at about 12.26 am
Deer and skunk again....
A deer at about 2.09 am
Well no cougar - but this is still pretty cool and being infra red it doesn't startle the animal when it takes a picture..... so I am maybe thinking I will track the alpacas at night and see what they get up to. Maybe I can answer questions I have often wondered like how often do the cria feed from their mother in the night.
Friday, September 12. 2008
Today we are taking our second cutting of hay...this is not to be confused with the second coming which hasn't happened yet....but it was looking like it could be neck and neck for a while back there.
Still I must not complain JP is here now and busy mowing...quite how he manages to wear a great thick plaid shirt all year round I will never know it must be like a mobile sauna on that tractor of his.
Green green the grass
Well it looks like a good crop to me and this weather will dry it out very nicely.
Today we had a meeting to select a new logo for the local alpaca association SOJAA all quite interesting really. Having re branded a major European bank twice in my previous life I find it fascinating that the discussions are so similar....just goes to show there is really nothing new in the world.
Tuesday, September 9. 2008
The Mulberry alpacas hay field is about 7 acres in size and to be honest is of marginal value. It takes a great deal of time and effort to irrigate correctly and yields after all other direct costs only about $1200 per annum, so its doubtful in my opinion if it even makes money if fully costed.
Global prices for hops along with other beer ingredients such as barley and malt are currently on the rise due to a combination of prolonged drought conditions in Australia, a poor harvest in Europe, and a growing demand from breweries.
Hops climbing up the trellis
The cost of putting in hops is about $10,000 per acre which includes preparing the soil, erecting the trellis work and buying and planting the hops rhizomes.
Now I just need to get some costings for the Mulberry Micro Brewery !!!
Sunday, September 7. 2008
I have spent much of today creating, editing and sorting photographs for a book on alpacas and llamas. I am still some photographs short so need to go out and shoot some pictures once the afternoon light is at its very best.
Its quite interesting trying to work out what this book will look like, given I haven't seen a summary or even the chapter headings. Some of the photographs that have been requested by the publisher are a little odd. But there aren't many missing from my photo collection after all these years of taking alpaca pictures, so I should have most of them.
The weather in this part of the world is still beautiful and warm, in fact this is just about the hands down best part of the summer in my opinion.
Amazingly Google is 10 years old today - From zero value to $160 billion in 10 years! Now that is impressive.
Saturday, September 6. 2008
You may recall that on Thursday when the vet was here our new cria had an elevated temperature and the good news is that when I have retested it yesterday it was down to 101.2 which is much better.
I believe these little guys can bump there temprrature up quite quickly when they run about on a hot day and being small gives them a high ration of body mass to surface area so regulation temperature can be tricky.
No more sightings of the cougar (mountain lion) but my wife reports hearing something that sounded like a large dog running down the road in the early hours of Friday morning. It may well have been the cougar because I always expect dogs that chase you down the road to bark and run....but to just hear the running must have been very spooky.
I am going to set up a motion sensitive camera and try to at least get some pictures of our nocturnal guest.
Scouting cameras are an ideal way to track game movement, monitor the security of your property, and more. These high-tech tracking cameras feature an infrared sensor for instantaneous game capture. Basically you set up the camera and then leave it. If anything moves within 50 feet of the viewing angle it shoots a flash using infrared so the animal isn't startled...although in my case a camera that also startled the cougar might be a better idea!
Anyway that's my plan. Any pictures I get will go onto the alpaca blog.
Thursday, September 4. 2008
Dr Leslie Richardson our local alpaca vet came by with her assistant Dannie to check out the new cria that arrived last week and draw some blood for the BVD test and the ARI DNA testing card.
Dr Richardson is an excellent "shot" !
Young cria can sometimes be a real handful and getting them up off the floor is one way to ensure that they relax. Once their legs lose contact with the ground they do generally give up trying to escape.
Doing the blood draw.
This makes it much easier for the vet to hit her target and draw blood at the first attempt.
Always take enough blood on the first draw - there is nothing worse than having to back for more....
The cria is fine and has a slightly raised temperature so I will take it again tomorrow and see where we are. Anything over 102.6 and Dr Richardson has asked to be informed.
The Mountain Lion.
My neighbor has just called to say the Mountain Lion was seen near my property last night but took off when it was disturbed by the headlights of a car. Obviously we must maintain our precautions with lights and radio talk shows to give the impression of humans being around 24/7.
Wednesday, September 3. 2008
Today's major event is the 18th birthday of my only daughter Camilla Rose Stewart.
The farm is in good shape and nothing much to report on that front, the vet will be out tomorrow to check over our new cria.
Meanwhile I have been approached by the publishers of an upcoming llama and alpaca book about providing illustrations. I have no idea if my work will be accepted but I am very flattered to have been asked in the first place. I shall keep you posted if anything comes of this assignment.
The annual alpaca show AlpacaMania is now almost closed for entries which means we will be full and that is a huge achievement in the current climate. This event is now only weeks away so I better get planning the vet check which is my own part in the proceedings.
Monday, September 1. 2008
A herd of Elk spotted on the way home from Yachats.
Here we are back on the farm for the last day of our vacation. This is also the last day we will run irrigation in the hay field this year. After today we will let the field dry out then take our second and final cutting of hay. After which I move the fences around and let the alpacas go wild in there for a while.
We always keep some of the second cutting for our own use and this year the hay does look pretty good if I say so myself. Still best not to count our second cuttings just yet!
The big question to ponder upon today is breeding. Do we leave some females open until the spring of 2009 or do we breed now for Autumn babies next year? There are many considerations - not least of which, is trying to guess what state the economy and in particular the alpaca market will be in this time next year.... Time for some crystal ball gazing.
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