Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Good Health!

Isn't Hester gorgeous?  I love her to bits and I'm really thrilled that she is now so healthy after a difficult time post weaning earlier this year.
Although being ever so slightly competitive - yes I admit it!! - and really loving the thrill of doing well in the show ring, what I want more than anything is to have healthy, contented alpacas in our paddocks.

On Boxing Day, I was enjoying a quiet day when I got a telephone call from one of our clients who thought that their alpacas might have eaten some poisonous plants in the rhododendron family.  The alpacas had managed to get into the garden and had eaten some Pieris. Although they were only ringing for advice, I quickly jumped into the car and went over to their place to help.

It is a pretty awful thing seeing alpacas suffering from plant poisoning.  They froth at the mouth, writhe around on the ground in obvious pain, loudly vocalise in a pitiful way and when things get really bad are unable to stand.

Obviously you must call the vet asap.  But what can you do before the vet arrives?  The answer is tea, tea and more tea.  And I don’t mean Earl Grey or any of the fancy fruit teas (if that is what you can call them!!).  No what you want is a good old strong builders’ brew.  And I mean strong!  Get a large pan on the hob with lots of teabags in and keep it simmering away.  Take a large syringe and administer the cooled tea in the form of a liquid drench.  In my experience, there is no such thing as too much tea in this situation.

On arrival, the vet administered injections of saline solution, steroids and vitamins.  In an ideal world, the alpacas would have been put on a drip, but unfortunately the vet on call on this occasion had little experience of alpacas and was unable to get a line in.

Thankfully the alpacas survived, although I was not confident that this would have been the outcome.

It’s easy to say that this would never happen to your own alpacas but it possibly could.  Gates can be left open, fences blown down. 

So, I wish you and your alpacas, a HEALTHY, Happy and Prosperous New Year.

God Bless you all!


Thursday, 12 December 2013

So what's to do...?

This is the time of year when most people are silly busy – I am certainly one of those.  You see these images in magazines of beautifully decorated houses with elegantly dressed people and exquisite food and we think we should be able to do it all.  This is a challenge in itself.

Then you get people like me who enjoy – well maybe not always! -  a real challenge.  So what is different you ask?  Well, for one thing all my daylight hours seem to be currently spent in organising the programme of seminars and activities / displays etc in the Fibre Zone of the 2014 BAS National Show.  In the gaps when I remember that I do actually have work to do here, I have been busy dying my alpaca yarn which is selling brilliantly at the Vintage at the Tower shop in Corbridge.  You really must take time to visit this great shop if you are ever in the area.

Then of course I have my orders for alpaca bedding to fulfil, the holiday cottage to run and fill with Christmas decorations and last but not least look after my beloved alpacas. 

So not much to do really but keep smiling even if it is sometimes through gritted teeth!



Thursday, 21 November 2013

Sad Times

I suspect that my blog followers will be split into two camps - those who are wondering why I haven't done a blog for a while and those who understand the reason why.

Well the truth is that we have had a bit of a tough time here in the last couple of weeks.  One of our very closest friends died suddenly in his sleep a couple of weeks ago at the age of 58.  This was a real shock and has hit all his family and friends very hard.  Then my mother passed away last Saturday morning.  My mother was 90 and had started to go downhill pretty rapidly, so it was no surprise but we all miss her greatly.

At times like this, you have to take comfort in your friends and family. Nature too has a way of offering its own solace.  We have had some beautiful sunny days, showcasing the glorious autumnal colour in the trees and the shrubs.  Our alpacas too seem to be particularly relaxed and even more friendly than they normally are.  Even my little terrier, Scrumpy, seems to have taken on a new lease of life.

Thanks to all of you who have been in touch - much appreciated.  I very much hope to get back in the groove very soon.

On a more cheerful note...every cloud has a silver lining. Housework is really not my forte but with the impending funeral tea here on Monday, I have been dusting and polishing like mad.  I think my mother would be very proud of me!!!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Winter is coming!

Yup winter is definitely coming!  I do miss the warm days and regret having to put a coat on in the mornings.  I've even got a bit soft in my old age and put Livia's coat back on.
We were supplementary feeding Livia for quite a while and although she is doing well and gaining weight I do still worry about her.  We had a really good 2013 breeding season with no birthing problems and Livia was the only one that needed a bit extra TLC - very well deserved too as she has a very special fleece.  Her Mum, Leonora is extremely protective when I try and take any photographs and I usually have to leap out the way pretty quickly before I get shoved out of the way!
At least Livia hasn't got the snivels like I've got - I'm blaming Mike and my grandson Archie for that!
Six of our female alpacas went off to their new homes during the past week.  I think all new owners worry about them and whether they should put them away at night, but we keep telling people that alpacas are a pretty tough lot and we rarely shut them away.  I have to say that both lots of new owners have prepared for their new herds exceptionally well, with excellent fencing and first rate shelters.
These three girls, Phyllida, Aquilegia and Aurora have all settled in really well in Edmundbyers
as have Sabrina, Dido and Artemesia in Hawick, although I sadly don't have any photos of those.
My best bit of news of this wintry week is my sightings of a red squirrel at the top of our drive two days on the trot..  Northumberland is one of the few places in the country where you can still see red squirrels although they are not as prevalent as they were a few years back.  We used to have quite a number here but I hadn't seen any for quite some time. I almost forgot about my snivels when I spotted this squirrel - well for at least a minute or two!!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

TV Stars

I have to admit that I'm jolly glad to be back home again despite a very relaxing break in Annecy.  I had forgotten just how beautiful it is – well it is 40 years since I was there whilst working as an “Assistante Anglaise”!

We had a bit of a mixed bag of weather whilst we were away – warm sunshine some days and torrential rain and thunder and lightning on others. Still what we most needed was a rest without worrying about what was happening at home.  We certainly got that as far as our alpacas are concerned, since we had Paul and Rachel farm sitting for us once again.
 However, we were a bit concerned about what our TV appearance would be like.  For those of you unaware of this, we featured on Ronnie’s Animal Crackers on Friday 18th October on BBC1.  I suspect that most people would have been concerned if they had been in our shoes, given the somewhat wacky preceding episodes, which is why we didn’t let many people know about it in advance. We had thought that we would have been able to watch it on i-player but apparently you can’t do that abroad!  Anyway we started to relax when we got numerous messages saying that it was good – but you never know if people are just trying to be kind!  There were quite a few inaccuracies but despite all of that we were fairly pleased with it.  Where dear old Ronnie got the idea that we were former townies, I have absolutely no idea!

Filming was quite fun in some ways but pretty stressful at the Northumberland Show, since I was the Chief Steward and really had enough on my plate without being wired for sound all day and constantly being interviewed.  I’m really not at all keen on having my photo taken at the best of times, never mind being filmed for about ten hours in total.

We did have a bit of fun whilst the film crew were here as Paul Vaclik was filming them, filming us.  Though as you can so clearly see, not only was Gallica's halter training going pretty badly but all of our alpacas were looking particularly scruffy - bear in mind that this was only 5 days before the Northumberland Show.  Fortunately, both the weather and the alpacas' appearance and behaviour improved greatly before show day.
Would we do it again - absolutely yes!!


Monday, 14 October 2013

Ants in my pants?

Ok guys, before any of you start getting the wrong idea - I have definitely NOT got ants in my pants. Whilst I was rushing around earlier at a great rate of knots, it did occur to me that my Mother would have come out with the "Ants in the pants" phrase when I was a little girl, if I couldn't sit still for more than two minutes.  It's not that I wouldn't really quite like to sit down for even five minutes, it's just that there never seem to be enough hours in the day to do so.

Last Saturday saw us rising at the unearthly hour of 4.30 to load the alpacas for the Yorkshire alpaca show.  We perhaps could have gone later, but muggins here volunteered to do pen inspections.  Thank goodness we were able to get all the show team penned in the barns the night before.  The thought of groping around in a dark field trying to find your alpacas has never really appealed - wimp that I  am!  We took 6 alpacas although not all of them were ours.  However, they all came away with a good haul of rosettes and little Hester was the star of the team by winning the Light Female champion rosette.  I did actually think that she was in with a chance of taking the Supreme sash as the judge spent a long time deliberating between her and the fawn stud male who did win in the end.  It would probably have been too good to be true to win Supreme, two years on the trot with two different animals - both of whom are Houghton King's progeny. 

Here is Hester, standing very quietly which was brilliant as it was her first time in the show ring.

And here is Octavian who was also well behaved.  He won a 3rd place rosette.  Slightly disappointing but he was sweating very badly and the judge was struggling to open up his fleece which is very fine (14.3 micron with a 3.4 SD)

Sunday had to be spent doing housework - yuck! - and sorting out clothes for our holiday.  Yup we are off to France on Thursday, but I'm dashing off down to Telford in Shropshire as soon as I finish this blog as I've got the first 2014 BAS National Show committee meeting tomorrow.  Was I short of something to do when I volunteered for this - I don't think so!!!!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Absolutely Fabulous!

When you go away and have an absolutely amazing weekend it takes a few days to come back down to earth.  Well we did just that with a bang this morning.  It was only 6 degrees here at 10 a.m. – I was beginning to think that I had turned into a Southern Softie after only 4 days down south!

All joking apart we had a fabulous weekend.  The travelling was pretty easy – no hold ups whatsoever.  The only possible glitch was the suspicion that Alfie (oldest grandson) was coming down with chicken pox on the Sunday afternoon – but he was ok thankfully.

It was great to catch up with the extended Gloucestershire family and to check out Alfie’s growing confidence on horseback.

Little Billy was as laid back as ever – sleeping through his Christening even when the holy water was poured over his head!  I was pretty chuffed at how lovely he looked in his Christening Robe – and as his Mummy said “it’s great because it’s not too girly”!!  As if a little Douglas could wear a girly outfit!

To say I was excited about going to stay at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons is a complete understatement.  In fact, I think Mike was beginning to worry that I might be just a bit disappointed when we got there.  Well, actually, it far exceeded my expectations.  The whole experience of Dinner, Bed and Breakfast was AMAZING!!!!! 
We thoroughly enjoyed walking round the gardens and checking out all the different varieties of herbs and vegetables.   Our bedroom was absolutely perfect.  It was huge and the attention to detail was quite remarkable.  There was even a beautiful French wood burning stove in one corner.  You could just imagine being tucked up there on a winter’s evening. 


I could definitely bore for Britain – and probably the Commonwealth as well! – on the subject of the dinner.  Suffice to say that we had 9 courses, didn’t feel remotely stuffed (technical term) at the end of it and were completely overawed at the quality and the amazing flavours in what sometimes looked to be quite simple dishes. 
Mike’s only criticism of Le Manoir was that I enjoyed myself so much that I want to go back!!!!!!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Just Made It!

I suspect that there are quite a number of you out there who thought that the Christening Robe I have been working on recently was just not going to get finished – in truth, I did feel a bit that way myself at times.   
But...wait for the drum roll!!  Yup it’s finished!  I am rather pleased with it, I must admit although I know fine well that it would not win any prize in a competition.  However, I wasn’t trying to win a rosette but to create a family Christening Robe and this I’ve done.  I did have some rather grand plans for more embroidery on the skirt, but I simply ran out of time.  Nevertheless, considering I have never done any smocking before, I am quietly chuffed with this effort.  I’m sure little Billy will look gorgeous in it on Sunday morning.

We are hugely grateful to Mr & Mrs Vaclik – aka Paul and Rachel,  fresh back from their honeymoon in India -  who are house and alpaca sitting for us this weekend whilst we are down in Gloucestershire.  We couldn’t manage without them.

So in between the showers this afternoon, we just found time to catch up on a few husbandry tasks with a very dirty herd of alpacas.  It’s really easy to get them looking so rough – take one wet alpaca and one barn with an earth floor and this is what you get – simple really!  We’ll obviously have to keep them elsewhere later on next week in an attempt to clean them up before the Yorkshire Show.

Despite their rather grimy appearance, they still look lovely – or am I ever so slightly biased??!!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Never A Dull Moment at Fallowfield!

So much for giving up doing B and B, so I could have a quieter life!  Mike and I seem to have had the week of all weeks.  It has been great fun but we are feeling ever so slightly cream-crackered tonight and even my little Norfolk terrier, Scrumpy, has hardly had the energy to get out of her bed all day.
The week started at a fairly leisurely pace of shopping in Newcastle with my daughter in law, Iona and grandson Archie.  We even stopped to have a coffee which is quite unheard of for me as I usually dash in and out as quickly as I can. 

 Then I did a bit of babysitting for Archie on Tuesday - in between trying to make an impression on the ironing mountain that has developed in this house.

Wednesday was another paperwork and ironing day – so feeling pretty virtuous at this point in time – not to mention getting bedrooms ready for the non paying variety of guests ( i.e. our family!) who were due to arrive in force at the weekend.

Then on Thursday evening, we welcomed back Trevor and Julie who had recently attended one of our Alpaca Care Courses to let them select their three female alpacas.  After some deliberation, they selected Aurora, Aquilegia and Phyllida.  I'm sure that they must be pretty excited right now. I had thought of trying out some new recipes that night, but it ended up being an Indian takeaway which slipped down a treat.

Fridays are always pretty manic these days as it is changeover day at our holiday cottage and as I am such a perfectionist – some might say fusspot! – I mainly do the work required myself.  Thank goodness I had a lemon drizzle cake in the freezer as I certainly didn’t have time to bake one for the new guests arriving.
The week built up to a definite crescendo of noise and chaos as we were in sole charge of our three grandsons on Saturday through until Sunday.  Ages ranged from two and a half, eight months and four and a half months. So just think about the logistics for a minute - only one is walking, they all eat different things and sleep at different times.  In between giving bottles to the babies, I was trying to do a bit more on the Christening robe – I admit it I am bonkers!  The boys were pretty good on the whole but there is no way we could have managed without the help of my close friend Gill Robson.  I think bath time and supper time were probably the most challenging bits. I have to say that our well deserved glass of wine after they had all gone to bed tasted like sheer nectar.    Would we offer to have them all again – yes, but please not for a few weeks as we need to recover!!


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Autumn is almost here!

The weather has been really lovely here at Fallowfield this weekend.  Such a treat after several days of cold, wet weather!  Isn’t it amazing how we have all got so used to the hot weather, that even if the temperature has been normal for the time of year, it has felt pretty chilly.   I am relieved that the gales have subsided as we had a big branch down from a tree near the house which just  - and only just! – missed a friend’s car that was parked nearby.
Mike had a good run up to Fife last week to deliver 6 alpacas to a farmer who is starting a new breeding herd of alpacas.  I’m always a bit sad to see our animals go to new homes – especially when some of them are my favourites – but it‘s great to know they have gone to such a good home.   Our other alpacas did seem to miss their mates for a couple of days, but it’s amazing how quickly they forget! What fickle beasties they are!
I really must crack on with making some chutney this week.  I think I might scrounge some apples from friends with more productive apple trees than ours.  Actually it’s been an amazing season for fruit and Mike is out right now picking more blackberries.  I’ve been thinking about trying to cook at least 4 new recipes a week – maybe I’m trying to justify my extensive cookery book collection or justifying getting more cookery books!  Anyway I’m quids in already on trying new recipes this week as I made some of Mary Berry’s lemon and lime possets yesterday – I wasn’t that keen but the others wolfed them down and I’m going to try out Fiona Cairns’ Hedgerow Crumble cake this evening.  All of this baking is fine – but it does make it hard to resist scoffing the stuff when you’re trying your hardest to keep your weight down!

We had a great day yesterday with a couple who are thinking about keeping alpacas and had booked on to one of our Alpaca Care Courses.  They were kind enough to say that it was worth coming just for the lunch – I think they liked the alpacas too!!!!!  I know that most people who run alpaca courses, tend to buy in food for the lunches, but I always cook the food myself.  Yes I know I'm probably a glutton for punishment, but the only time I did try getting stuff in and warming it up, I managed to burn it!   Our visitors certainly learned loads and had a full day of hands on time with the alpacas and took home alpaca gifts and detailed course notes.
For those of you wondering about Billy’s Christening robe – yes, it is underway, if a bit slowly.  I did get slightly alarmed this morning when I realised that the christening was only two weeks away and the smocking is a tad time-consuming.  However, I’ve always said that I work best under pressure – my VAT returns are a case in point!!  I promise I will take some photos when there is a bit more to photo!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


I’m back!

  Yes I know it’s been absolutely ages since I’ve done my blog but when a girl reaches the great age of 60 she has to take a bit of time off to celebrate and that’s what I’ve been doing.  In fact, the celebrations aren’t over yet, but more of that later.

All my friends and family have been really generous and I have been feeling thoroughly spoilt by it all.  The weekend after my birthday was spent at The Devonshire Arms Hotel in Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales.  It was absolutely fabulous.  If you haven’t been there, then do go sometime.  We had an amazing bedroom – probably the best we have ever had in a hotel in this country – and the food was superb.  Dinner in the brasserie the first night and then a fantastic dinner in their Michelin starred restaurant on the Saturday night.  A girl could get used to that sort of thing!  And actually, I hate to admit it, but the last part of my birthday celebrations is to have a night at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons in Oxfordshire in October.  Mike and I are really looking forward to that one.
Whilst at the Devonshire Arms, we took the opportunity to visit Saltaire which isn’t far away.  Well we couldn’t have not gone to see where Sir Titus Salt processed the first alpaca fibre in this country, could we. 
We were hugely grateful to my sister Lucinda and husband Andrew for holding the fort here at Fallowfield in our absence – we owe them big time!
There was no rest for the wicked last week though.  Alpacas to be fed and watered etc., and vet checks to be done on the six going to Scotland tomorrow.  No problems with the vet checks – all were deemed to be in very good health.  So looking forward to our trip to Fife on Thursday.
Last Saturday was a very special day.  It was the wedding day of Paul Vaclik and Rachel Hill who are our good friends and agist their alpacas here at Fallowfield.  The day was made extra special by the inclusion of Pelagia and Hester at the reception at Guyzance Hall.  They were both immaculately behaved (Paul and Rachel too!) and they allowed all the guests to be photographed with them.  Well done girls!!  Paul and Rachel had worked so hard to make the day special.  The ladies had wedding favours of Rachel’s handmade soap inside hand knitted alpaca bags and Paul’s home brewed beer even had special alpaca labels.  And I cannot possibly forget to mention that Rachel looked absolutely stunning.

Then Sunday came along – a bit too early in the morning after a wedding the day before it has to be said – when we loaded up the vehicles and set off for Wolsingham Show.  It was a sunny but bitterly cold morning – a reminder that Autumn is not far away!  We had a brilliant time with so much interest in alpacas and we sold loads of our wool that I had been dying for the past few days.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A pig of a week!

Actually it’s been a pretty good week all in all.  On Wednesday we got some of our crias sheared.  There’s always a bit of a discussion about whether we should or we shouldn’t cria shear, but the fleece does seem to benefit if you do shear them.   They do look really cute if slightly bonkers after shearing.

Thursday saw the birth of what finally proved to be the last cria of 2013 with the arrival of Imogen’s cria.  Imogen is one of our agisted females and I have to say that I worry more about those girls than any of ours.  Ridiculous isn’t it!  All went very smoothly, but it did make us look a lot more closely at the two remaining girls yet to drop.  One of them was our special girl, Fallowfield Athena, and the other was another agisted female.  Athena did really look pregnant, the other one less so, but after doing spits at the weekend, we realised that neither had held on to their pregnancies. Looking on the bright side, at least it means that when Mike and I disappear on Friday for a couple of days – yes we are having time off! – We won’t be worrying about a possible birth in our absence.

Then on Friday, we celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary (not 39th as I had originally thought it was!)  There was no way that either Mike or I could have imagined when we were married all those years ago that we would be celebrating 38 years on by curing bacon and making sausages from our pig that we had just got back from the butchers.  Ten out of ten for Simpsons of Cockfield near Staindrop for their sensitive handling of the pigs and excellent butchery.  They also made us the best black pudding from the pig’s blood that I have ever tasted.  I exaggerate not!  So guys, if you are trying to find the perfect Christmas present for your better half, just follow Mike’s example and buy a couple of pigs!  No brainer actually!

Curing the bacon, pancetta and prosciutto was really easy and great fun – not tasted any of it yet of course but I would recommend you check out www.sausagemaking.org for all your supplies. One of the frequent criticisms about rare breed pork is that it is too fatty.  Our pigs completely bucked the trend as it was the leanest pork that I have ever seen.  We made quite a lot of sausage, but I suspect that we might get the butchers to do this for us next year.  I rather think that theirs might be superior to ours, although ours do look the part.  One of the best bits though was making chorizo last night.  If it tastes half as good as it looks then we are on to a winner.

Mike had a trip over the border on Sunday with Houghton King as he had a couple of hot dates with two of the alpacas belonging to John and Juliet Miller of the Border Mill.  It was good to have a catch up with them and to hear of all the exciting developments with their business.

Then just to round off the week, we had a visitor from Scotland yesterday who bought 6 of our females who will be the start of his new breeding herd.  It’s really good when you get someone who is so positive about alpacas and wants to start with a quality herd.  So yet more of our girls will be going north of the border in a short while.  Not quite like exporting to Sweden but exporting nonetheless!




Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Our weekend exploits - good and bad!

There were definitely some highs and lows about last weekend’s activities.  On the plus side, the pigs went off to the butchers on Sunday morning with the minimum of stress.  Mike was able to lead them straight into the trailer.  The journey only took about an hour at pretty slow speed and the boys were pretty relaxed as they were gently escorted into their pen for the night.  We were assured that the guys there always go to a lot of trouble to quietly lead the pigs out of their pen, with no raised voices to cause the minimum of stress.  We are very satisfied with these arrangements and are looking forward to getting the pork back on Friday, with a busy day of sausage making and ham and bacon curing in store.

Another plus, was the start of the Christening robe.  I had to trace off the pattern and that all went off without a hitch.  The glass of rose is optional when making a Christening robe, but the sun was over the yard arm and the colour did co-ordinate with my cutting mat!  The jury is still out regarding smocking or pin-tucks.  I would really like to smock the front, but as I have never tried this before and am struggling to find some basic instructions, I’m wondering if this is really the time for experimentation.

Talking of experimentation, my nectarine jam didn’t turn out particularly well – in fact it was a bit of a disaster, being quite honest.  I was talking to one of our Australian B and B guests on Sunday morning who said that she had once made nectarine jam but it was a bit tasteless.  So – I thought it might be a good idea to chuck in some raspberries plus a slosh of Framboise liqueur for good measure.    The only positive outcome was that I got a really good set!  Despite leaving the jam for some minutes before potting into jars, the fruit still rose to the top.  Although it didn’t look great, I thought it should taste ok – but it doesn’t.  I think it is probably the worst jam I’ve ever made.  The pieces of nectarine are chewy and it is far too sweet.  Maybe I should forget the experimentation where jam is concerned and stick to tried and tested recipes!!

In case you are wondering if those last three crias have arrived – they haven’t.  In fact the mums don’t look any more pregnant than they did a month ago.   This photograph is of one our agisted girls who definitely looks pregnant! So when oh when are these babies going to arrive? Perhaps I should run a sweepstake – or not!

Friday, 16 August 2013

So what are you doing this weekend?


Don’t you just hate that question apparently beloved of all hairdressers?   Mike had a certain amount of wicked amusement the other day when asked at the hairdressers what he was going to be doing at the weekend – his answer was “Taking my pigs to the abattoir!” Stony silence from hairdresser.  After a few minutes, she asked “So what do you do then?”  Mike replied “I’m an architect!”  Needless to say there was no more conversation whatsoever.  She was probably trying to get her head round what the hell an architect was doing taking pigs to an abattoir or more likely, thinking that she was cutting the hair of a madman!!!

But yes, Pigfest is looming fast.  It seems no time at all since the pigs arrived but they are now 25 weeks old and are off to be slaughtered this weekend.  Any regrets – none whatsoever!  Will we eat the meat – absolutely yes!  Despite lots of people telling us that we wouldn’t be able to eat the pigs, we don’t have a problem with this.  They have had a great life here and hopefully that will be reflected in the quality of the meat.  They are going a relatively short distance to be slaughtered by a butcher, so no big abattoir for them.

We still have three alpacas waiting to give birth.   Needless to say, these three alpacas are not the girls in waiting! We often get asked “How long is the gestation period of an alpaca?”  we usually say about eleven and a half months but I’m beginning to think – if this year is anything to go by – that it would be more accurate if I replied “How long is a piece of string?”

The nights are drawing in now and so I feel drawn to getting out my sewing machine once again.  I love sewing and seem to do more soft furnishings than anything else these days, but now that I’m an ancient grandmother of three gorgeous boys, I am finding myself tempted to try different projects.  The first on the list is a Christening robe for our youngest grandson Billy.  I have selected a very traditional / heritage style.  The only debate is do I smock the front or do pin tucks which might be a jolly sight quicker.

So what’s it to be Billy – smocking or pin tucks?

My other sewing project planned for the next few weeks, is to try my hand at making some fabric toys.  Not done this before but I have so many scraps of lovely fabrics and trimmings that I would like to give it a go.

Jam is also on the menu this weekend.  Eating it definitely!  Making some most probably!  Last Saturday I bought some great fresh apricots from the farmers market in Hexham and made some really nice apricot and vanilla jam. I love to pile it on to my toast – especially when Mike isn’t looking and likely to make sarcastic comments like “Would you like some toast on your jam?”  I’ve already done a batch of strawberry, so I think I will probably do some peach or nectarine tomorrow.  I’m not sure that it’s economically viable for me to make jam as I do eat rather a lot of my home-made stuff but then it is so good.


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Happy Days!

By some people’s standards we have had a pretty busy few days, but actually it’s felt pretty chilled really.  Especially compared to last weekend’s Open Day!!!
Hermione’s cria – still unnamed – who was born in the pouring rain last Monday is doing well and is piling on the weight.  Don’t you just love an experienced alpaca Mum that has loads of milk!  The cria was born with one rather weak back leg, but it seems to be getting stronger now.  I’m just glad that I was out there when he was born as it might have been a very different situation if he had been lying there in the rain.
 After lots of false alarms, Pandora finally gave birth on Thursday to a really healthy male cria.  Paul and Rachel are thrilled – surprise, surprise! – especially as Pandora’s cria last year didn’t survive.  Though it has to be said that he is not yet using the more orthodox method of accessing the milk bar!

So we have had three female and three male crias born this year so far – another three to go!
 I've tried to catch up with a few photos of the little ones. 
 This is Hermione's little chap - looking fairly chilled!  Must try and name him soon.
This is Isadora's cria.  Pity I couldn't get close enough to get a really good shot.  He is pretty special - but you will just have to take my word for that tonight!

And last but not least is my gorgeous little Livia.  She is not only everyone's pet but she has a beautiful fleece.
All these attempts at photography were in between poo -picking.  We were out for supper last night and I know most people would take a bottle of wine and maybe some chocolates, but we settled for some home-made chocolate biscuits and 6 bags of alpaca poo!!  Well our hosts do have a lovely walled garden with some gorgeous roses and they were thrilled with their gifts -  well that’s what they said....!  I  even managed to find time to photograph the chief swineherd after he had done a stint of paddock topping.  At least he did what he was told and sat still long enough for me to get a good photograph.  Thanks Mr. D!! xx

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Phew - what a week!



I had assumed – wrongly! – that as this was not the first Open Day to be held at Fallowfield, that it would be pretty straightforward.  I was under no illusions about the amount of work involved, but I had lists, spread sheets and more lists.  I had even sub-contracted the teas out to Wall W.I. – which was a real stroke of genius.  Beat the hell out of my friends and I baking for what seemed like weeks in advance and then having to serve the stuff as well.  I had lined up a great team of helpers to man the stalls, the raffle and the car park – so what could go wrong? 

No it wasn’t the weather – it was those damned pigs.  They had finally chewed right through the telephone cable, thus depriving us of any landline or internet connection from last Tuesday onwards.  Even my I-pad seemed to adopt a go-slow regime, so I was forced to try and carry on business in Cafe Nero in Hexham.    So hence the reason for complete lack of blogging since the 30th July -  note to myself "Must improve"!!

At least we woke up to a gloriously sunny day on Sunday morning so we decided that we would have a fun day regardless and we absolutely did.  We had such a lot of visitors who all loved the alpacas – especially the new crias.  The children loved being able to take alpacas for walks – well supervised! – and had great fun climbing on the tractor and quad bike.  Just how many children can you get on a quad bike? 

We ended the day with a barbeque – not a gourmet experience but a great way to relax and thank all of those who had helped us make the day such a success. Please ignore the smoke - neither Mike nor I have any skill at cooking on a barbeque!!  Sweet peas on the table looked good though!

I had hoped to have a quiet day on Monday as I was feeling pretty shattered, but Pandora looked as if she was going to give birth at any time.  In fact she had changed her mind by lunchtime but, completely without warning, Hermione gave birth to a tiny little boy.  Oh, I forgot to say that Isadora finally gave birth last Friday to a seriously gorgeous little boy.  He has a fabulous fleece that I will try and photograph soon.  She was terribly overdue but he was okay, although we did give him some supplementary colostrum as he was a bit slow to feed at first.