Wednesday, 19 December 2007

An Early Birthday Present

Today was a lovely sunny and warm day, reaching 11 degrees on the patio, I even made a start on mowing the lawn. It doesn’t really need doing but a cut now will mean that if the spring is wet I will have a little more time before it becomes critical then. It’s also doing a good job of picking up the dried leaves too.

I was awaiting a visit from the vet to help me vaccinate the alpacas and trim their toenails. I’m really glad the vet did the toenails. All the alpacas were reasonably fine until the last one. Her toenails were long but not overly long so they were only getting a light trim. However it turns out she has quick that go almost to the end of the nails and they started to bleed. If it had been me on my own I think I might have panicked a bit so it was reassuring to have the vet there to say that it would all be OK. A quick squirt of antiseptic spray and they should be fine. The alpacas also all got another worming shot and should be fine now until March/April although I might have to dose them again for the other worm that’s in the ground.

My friend Sandra in La Vienne organised a CamelidDynamics training day with Julie Taylor-Browne a month back and kindly invited me to participate. It was a very intensive (two days crammed into one but there were only 3 of us), and an extremely rewarding day. The principle of CamelidDynamics is that you don’t use force or strength against the alpacas to get them to do things. It interested me because the alpacas are as tall as me and heavier so I would lose in a war of strength. What you do is try to think alpaca and use their fight/flight instinct to move them in a controlled manner. There is also a technique of catching them with a pole and rope that is near enough foolproof. If you try making a grab at their necks they usually see you coming and get out of the way before you make contact. Having caught them in a low stress way they are then more likely to stand still and I also learnt a way to hold them that doesn’t remind them of a predator clinging round their neck. It sounds a bit airy-fairy but I was really astounded how simple it was to implement and how effective it has been.

And the birthday present?

There was I, sitting watching the evening news, when Ann knocks on the shutter and insist I put on boots and come out. Torch in hand and boots on feet I set off to find out what was going on. Had I had my music on, as I do sometimes in the day, she wouldn’t have got me out but she was convinced I had heard her car come up the drive. She had bought me a gorgeous cockerel to go with my Lacey Ladies for my birthday. We popped him into the hen house and they all had a little bit of a chat and then settled down. I’m not sure what I would have thought if he’d walked out of the hen house tomorrow without me knowing he was there. He is lovely and I will post a picture of him tomorrow. I can see that I will be spending a large part of tomorrow watching chickens.


Jamie said...

wow! thats such a cool birthday prezzie! Isnt it lovely when someone actually puts some thought into a gift, choosing something that is perfect for the recipient.

dND said...

I was really chuffed. Ann had found me the chickens, from someone in her village, and I had said I wanted a cockerel. Somehow we never quite got round to going back and picking up a cockerel. Now I know why :-D

I do know I am going to have to be brave to deal with the unwanted cockerels in the future, I read Hedgewizard's post on the subject with great interest.