Sunday, 16 January 2011

Pre-Christmas Catch-up 3


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On the night of the 23rd December, while in the local restaurant celebrating my friend C’s birthday it started to snow.  No-one took much notice, it never snows much.  So imagine our surprise when we left the restaurant to find everything covered by 4 in (10 cm) of snow.  The journey back to the house was a rather slow affair.  I know I do have the benefit of 4WD on my car but I was far more worried about not being able to see the edges of the road in the blizzard that was almost reaching white out in places. 

For those who don’t know French roads, they are usually edged by ditches.  Sometimes these ditches are only a foot or so deep, sometimes 3 or 4 feet deep and sometimes there isn’t a ditch, just a cliff! 

The cats were a bit shocked about the snow too.

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The next morning the snow was still there, I looked over to the alpacas and their hay was buried as well as the ground being covered so I decided to take them over a bit more hay before I had breakfast.  Once over with them they all got up and I immediately noticed that Bijou, the youngest and smallest of the cria, had the snow sticking to her fleece which was also looking a bit wet.  In addition she seemed a bit stiff when she started off walking and she was shivering to boot.  Alarm bells!

The morning was spent frantically turning out the barn – I had thankfully reduced the wood pile considerably from the pictures in the earlier post but there was still all the smaller branches that take longer to cut than to burn still there.

Next problem was to transport the alpacas over to the barn. Unfortunately there is not an easy access between the fields and the barn and I have to bring them over in the trailer.  While the snow was still lying on the ground, the sun had started to melt it but the ground was still quite frozen resulting in the top inch or so of the soil becoming totally waterlogged, a total quagmire.  The tractors both started first time and coped brilliantly but the poor trailer just skidded about on the packed snow, slush and liquid mud and once I’d finished with it I just had to abandon it rather than park it.

Bijou recovered within half an hour of being in the barn.  A drink from mum, a munch of hay and being out of the wind and the sleet that started falling later on was all she needed.  I finally had my breakfast at 3pm.

More about cats:

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Barney, my barn cat, has learnt to use the cat flap and has been a regular visitor in the house to fill up. I‘m pretty sure Barney pre-dates me in the house but he used to be really shy and I only caught glimpses of him.  In fact I didn’t see him for a year or so and I thought he’d either moved on or died.  Since he wasn’t a kitten when I first saw him back in 2007 he has to be at least 5 years old and I guess that age and hunger is why he’s started to risk coming in.  On the whole my cats either ignore him or give him a wide berth although Cid is very jealous of another male cat being around.  Having said he’s coming in he’s not been around for a few days but then the weather’s been unseasonably warm.

Jewel has been making here presence felt too; here she is helping me to skirt fleece.

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And here again helping Hazel have a quiet nap!

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It Goes With the Territory


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I’m pretty wimpish about receiving injections and even more so about giving them but there comes a time when they have to be done.  I give the alpacas, and myself a break and use oral drenches too but alpacas are quite adept at spitting back oral doses if they want – injections do enable a known dose to be delivered.  Thankfully, most injections are given by the subcutaneous method which I find far easier to give than the intra-muscular route which I find really difficult on the alpacas.

This time it was anti-clostridium vaccinations which should give some protection against a variety of possible problems.

After their injections the alpacas were really pleased to be let back out into their field after nearly a month in the barn and I recovered with lunch and a cup of tea!