Friday, 28 June 2013

Rain Stops Play ........or does it?

Rain might have stopped play temporarily at Wimbledon this afternoon, but that wasn’t the case here at Fallowfield as far as our crias were concerned.  The three of them were full of beans despite the weather.  However, I am beginning to suspect that our long, hard winter is responsible for the extended pregnancies and late births amongst our females.

Isadora is still waiting to give birth, but is pretty chilled out and not going to be disturbed by three crias.

The weather here today is not only wet, but pretty, darned chilly.  I actually lit the fire this afternoon in the sitting room used by our Bed and Breakfast guests.  Despite it being Wimbledon week, I only had tea and home-made fruit cake for our visitors – no Pimms or strawberries.  Mind you, given the weather here, I think that a hot toddy might have been more appropriate, but needless to say they didn’t get that either! 

I’m beginning to think that it is time that I varied my home-made cakes.  I think we all have our favourites and those that are really “failsafe”, but as I bake a lot, I think that I would enjoy a change so it is out with the cookery books this weekend.

I’m giving myself a pat on the back this evening, as I have not only been hugely domesticated today, but I have also sent off all of our alpaca fleece samples to be tested at WTA Europe in Wales – not to mention a zillion other jobs that I have got done today.  As always I am really looking forward to getting the fleece test results – I’m especially excited about our 2012 crias.  Will keep you posted!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

It's a cria!

It has been a bit of a trying week here.  It’s probably been the warmest week of the year and yet our central heating was coming on when it was supposed to be off and then the house electrics went down completely!  It took a while to sort out all of these problems but fortunately things have settled down on the domestic front! 

No matter how many things are sent to try us, there is nothing more likely to raise our spirits than another healthy new cria who was born this morning.  Maisie finally decided to give birth in the rain and had a lovely little fawn girl at 366 days gestation. I was beginning to think that she was going to wait until tomorrow morning before giving birth – just to add to my belief that my heathen alpacas will do everything they can to stop us from going to church on a Sunday.
Our grandson Archie was out inspecting the herd yesterday afternoon and was himself being inspected by Leonora and Livia, who is still not feeding from her Mum.  It’s quite remarkable – Leonora has plenty of milk, Livia is really strong but she just won’t feed from Mum.  We are still working on the situation, but as she will be one week old tomorrow, I suspect we are rapidly running out of time for things to change dramatically.   
I couldn't resist including this great photo Mike took of Natalia.  It just sums up the little hooligan as she hardly stands still for a minute.
Isadora is the next one due – wouldn’t it be amazing if she had a female too.  Then it would be 4 – 0 to the girls!!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Good Life!

Mike and I are very, very lucky people.  We have three sons, two gorgeous daughters in law – Harry is still interviewing!!! – and three beautiful grandsons.  Then, if that was not enough, we live in a fabulous place.

We get a huge amount of pleasure from our family, our animals and our garden and we spend most of our time with them.  Leonora finally decided to give birth this morning - heathen that she is – preventing us from going to church!  Fortunately I had just finished serving breakfast to our B and B guests before she decided to go into action.  It was all text book stuff which really impressed some of our guests who are sheep farmers and were amazed at how easy it all was. 

Although we have only got two crias on the ground so far – both are girls and both are really strong and healthy.  We would be a bit happier if the latest addition – Livia – was feeding from her Mum , but we had plenty of colostrum in the freezer, so hopefully she will be fine and feeding from Mum tomorrow.

I had hoped to get a bit of gardening done today, but Livia changed those plans.  Nevertheless I did enjoy a walk around the garden this evening, I love rhododendrons but I have to say that azaleas are my favourites – the perfume is so exotic.

Please don’t get the impression that I’ve been swanning around, taking pretty pictures all day.  We are anxious to crack on with our breeding programme and so had all three boys working this afternoon.  Houghton King, Grazing Hills Parker and Emelises’s Montezuma were all in action.  Parker and Monte are American imports and will hopefully add some top quality coloured genetics to our herd.

Our pigs are also thriving and just love to say hello whenever you go over to see them.  They haven't quite got the hang of close up photos yet!  ie there's close up and there's too close up!
Needless to say, with all of this amount of activity going on, there hasn't been a great amount of time for culinary  expertise.  Fortunately I had a lovely free- range chicken in the fridge so I've just picked loads of herbs from the garden and have mixed them with garlic, lemon rind and butter and have eased them in between the skin and the breasts.  So lots of salad and new potatoes and I think that we can we well pleased with our day!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

All is calm and peaceful at Fallowfield!

 After the past crazy days here with the film crew, the Northumberland County show and shearing, we are now in a phase of total relaxation – well almost!  Bear in mind that our idea of total relaxation, would be working flat out for others!  But can you really call doing the garden and working with animals in such a beautiful place as this hard work? – I think not! 
 There’s no doubt that our attitude to life is reflected in our animals which are completely chilled.  Whether it be the dogs, cat, hens, pigs or alpacas – they are totally relaxed.
We had thought that we would have another cria this weekend – but no.  If I had a pound for every time that I’ve said that one of our alpacas is DEFINITELY going to give birth today, I would be a very wealthy woman.  I’m quite sure that all those who are due, or overdue, are waiting until I am about to cook breakfast for the B and B’s!    Maisie has looked as if she was going to drop at any minute for the past few days - but no!
It’s such a lovely time of year here.  The weather is great.  I wouldn’t want it any warmer.  Mike and I are really enjoying getting on with our gardening.  The sweet peas are all planted out in their final positions and the greenhouse is full of tomatoes.  We’ve planted loads of different salad leaves as we just love being able to pick a variety in the evening.  Because it was such a cold Spring, the rhododendrons are just flowering now – and they look so gorgeous!
If you haven’t sheared yet, don’t forget to make sure that your fleeces are really dry before you store them.  Our alpacas were just slightly damp on the day of shearing so we have aired our fleeces in the warm sunshine. 


Sunday, 2 June 2013

What's For Supper?

We are really busy right now with bed and breakfast guests, some of whom have booked evening meals here.  Probably a wise move, as it never ceases to amaze us that it’s just not possible to get an evening meal in a pub or restaurant in the Tyne Valley on a Sunday evening – and Mondays can be pretty tricky too!  Ok – perhaps limit the evening meals in the winter, but in the height of the tourist season???!!!!

We have got four guests staying the night from Luxembourg – that’s a first for us.  I have cooked a Chicken Tagine with Lime and Lemon Couscous and a Rhubarb Syllabub for pudding.  Obviously, a tagine is not a Northumbrian dish, but rhubarb syllabub is very much a traditional English pudding – just hope they like rhubarb!!!!!!!!!!    Mike picked the rhubarb from the garden this afternoon.  It’s so good to eat fresh garden produce when it’s in season.  I have to say that my sons might not be impressed with rhubarb, but it is particularly delicious as the rhubarb is cooked in the juice of an orange, spiced with star anise and cardamom pods.  Yum, Yum!!!

Our pigs are growing enormously and loving their woodland freedom – not a chance of weighing them as they have grown so much and are really speedy. They are really sociable and always rush over to see you.

Talking of things growing, our little cria who was born last weekend, has put on 1.9 kgs in a week.  I think we can safely assume that she is doing fine!