Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Northumberland County Show Debrief

 Wednesday evening, and I’m just beginning to feel more like my old self – ie. just averagely decrepit as opposed to completely geriatric – in mind and body!

When I look back over the past week, I’m just not really sure how we managed to pack so much in –but we did!

Show Day didn’t get off to the most promising start – no I didn’t sleep in but I did manage to lose my glasses between getting up at 4.00 am and leaving for the show field at 6.00 am.  Even the film crew managed to get lost and struggled to follow our directions so eventually had to agree that we would all meet up at Bywell and they would film us unloading the animals.  Probably just as well really as, I was ever so slightly stressed out about my glasses and as we were to be wired for sound......!

My overriding memory of the day was the really fun atmosphere.  I think that our photos show just what I mean.
These boys are concentrating very hard on their handling skills!  Definitely alpaca breeders of the future!
Filming continued throughout the day - so no escape even in the show ring!

Stewarding required great concentration!
But that didn't stop Sharon grinning from ear to ear when she won the Champion Light Male Sash with her Houghton King cria Brook Willow Jefferson
Here's a real cracker of a photo of Kay Kirk of Chestnut Farm with the worthy Supreme Champion
Chestnut Farm Lord Sherwood - I think she's pleased!
Mike and I were pleased too.  Our full results were :
Fallowfield Minerva II - 1st Intermediate Light Female
Fallowfield Maximus - 3rd Junior White Male
Fallowfield Grand Flowerdale Gallica - Champion White Female, Best Northumbrian and Reserve Show Champion
Fallowfield Isabella - 1st Intermediate White Female
Fallowfield Leonora - 2nd Adult White Female
Fallowfield Octavian - 2nd Junior White Male
Fallowfield Isidor - 6th Junior White Male
Fallowfield Octavius - 1st Intermediate White Male
So - not a bad day !

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

It's a busy life!

It’s no exaggeration to say that we have had an incredibly busy weekend – in fact a busy week in total. 
It’s that time of year when we are very busy with Bed and Breakfast guests and our holiday cottage in Corbridge is proving to be extremely popular, even though it is the first year that it has been let.

Then last Tuesday, we had a film crew here for about five hours, filming us preparing the alpacas for the Northumberland County Show.  Not that we do an awful lot to get alpacas ready for a show, but there were topknots to be trimmed and toenails to be clipped not to mention a bit of last minute halter training.  Since we hadn’t been able to get the animals inside the night before, they were soaking wet by the next morning as the rain had been torrential overnight.   The film crew were here as there's to be a series of programmes on the BBC in the autumn about people who are passionate about animals and we were asked if they could film us with our alpacas.  It was quite good fun but I hate having my photograph taken at the best of times, so I’m not really quite sure why I agreed to this – especially as we were wired for sound and then were filmed all day at the show yesterday.

Saturday afternoon was spent at the showground putting up the pens in the alpaca tent.  A big “Thank You” to all those who came along to help. I had promised them all tea and cake, but only managed to take the cake, having left the flasks on the back doorstep of the house.  I think that they would have been more worried though if it had been the cake that I’d left behind!

We got back home on Saturday afternoon at about 5.30 pm – only to find that Nemetia had given birth just a few minutes earlier to a beautiful dark brown female cria.  I could have done without it happening so late in the day, but better then than whilst we were at the show yesterday.  It did mean however that neither Mike or I got much sleep that night as we weren’t sure just how well she was feeding and if she had got enough colostrum.  However, both mother and daughter seem to be absolutely fine.
Sunday afternoon saw us back down at the show ground, completing the finishing touches which all take so long and of course, doing the pen inspections of those breeders who had arrived the day before to avoid a horribly early start the next day.  Speaking of which I was up at 4.15 yesterday morning as we were expecting the film crew here again at 5.30 am!  There’s obviously a price to be paid for stardom!

There was a great atmosphere amongst the breeders and the judge, Nick Harrington Smith worked tirelessly throughout, not even stopping for lunch.  Barbara Hetherington did a great job as an apprentice – particularly in her judging the Junior Handlers competition at lunchtime which had the crowd in absolute stitches.  Our Fallowfield team of alpacas did very well – we got Reserve Show Champion, Best Northumbrian Alpaca and a whole host of rosettes – I promise I will post all the details tomorrow when I can get my brain properly in gear again! 


Friday, 17 May 2013

The excitement is building.....


Many apologies for not having blogged for a wee while, but even alpaca breeders/bed and breakfast landladies (gosh that sounds a bit Victorian!) need a holiday now and then.  And what a holiday it was!  Ok so we weren’t lying around on a sun kissed beach – but then given the state of my body at the moment, I don’t think anyone would have thanked me for doing that!  Actually, we were staying in Gloucestershire helping to look after our grandson Alfie whilst his Mummy had another gorgeous baby boy – little Billy.  And a very special time it was too!

Alfie was such good fun and Mike and I got great pleasure from taking him out and about.  We perhaps should have cut his sandwich in half though when lunching at the Burford Garden Centre! 

But as for excitement.....not only is it the Northumberland County Show on 27th May, which of course we are rather heavily involved in, as I am the Chief Steward, but Nemetia has not yet had her cria – much as I love her, I might be tempted to strangle her if she doesn’t get a move on soon, as I really don’t need her to wait until show day.


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

New Arrivals - or not!

William (Billy) Michael James Douglas arrived today weighing 6lbs 8oz. All doing well and we're thrilled to bits with our new little man!

Only time for a very short blog tonight....

Mike and I are delighted to announce the arrival of our third grandson, William (Billy) Michael James Douglas who arrived safe and sound this afternoon.  Billy and Alfie are the children of our eldest son Max and his wife Jess.  We are really thrilled and so looking forward to seeing them all this weekend when we are on grand-parenting duties.
Those male Douglas genes are certainly strong - three sons and three grandsons to date!!!
No new alpaca births to announce just yet – I’m sure that Nemetia will wait until the end of the month when it is the Northumberland County Show.


Saturday, 4 May 2013

Something for the Weekend!

Bank Holiday Weekend and the sun is shining – hard to believe really!  Although I did hear a rumour that there was snow in parts of Scotland.  And just for everyone’s information – we might be a long way north of Watford Gap, but Northumberland is in England, not Scotland!

Bank Holidays are for relaxing and doing the things you enjoy.  Our alpacas are a huge source of pleasure for us and we spent a bit of time this afternoon doing some halter training.  We don’t usually show adult females, but thought that we would do so this year at the Northumberland  Show.    This might not be one of our better ideas, since Gallica on the right of the photo only arrived in this country from Australia last year and was not halter trained and her mate Leonora is rather pregnant, but she does seem to be quite chilled about it.   Gallica is not only the sweetest natured alpaca but has an awesome pedigree to go with it, with Windsong Valley Iceman and Camelot Tor in her pedigree, to name just a few.

We are looking forward to welcoming our B and B guests for the weekend.  They are coming from Scotland – possibly hoping for some warmer weather!  Their room is ready and waiting.  We don’t operate a “Commercial” B & B set up here, which means that our guests get great value for money.

Supper tonight had to be easy – Warm Chicken Salad.  This is a Douglas family favourite.  Basically it is chargrilled chicken breasts served on a bed of mixed salad leaves, with sautéed bacon, chopped dried apricots and walnuts with parmesan shavings with the pan deglazed with balsamic vinegar.  It’s really quick and delicious so just what you need at the weekend.