I don’t know if it is a good or bad sign, but about 3 months ago I got roped into my first committee, and am now a member of the health and education subcommittee of the Alpaca Association.
On Tuesday Jeanette, the head of our little group, flew down from the far north to meet with me and review over a small stack of census forms that were sent out to the monitor farms a few months ago. She wanted my help with data compilation and analysis (me being a PhD-type that does it professionally and stuff). Now I have to get my results written up in the next few days, and put together a 1-2 page condensed census form that will be handed out at the national meeting in 10 days. Woo.
Yesterday morning before her flight I took Jeanette out to see our ‘paca and get her impressions (since she has been doing this for years, and has been involved in the selection and importation of animals from Australia and Peru). While there we noticed Concetta was feeling a bit crook- something we noticed when we wnt to grab her and she didn’t try to get away. Her milk production was also down, and the cria was a bit thin. So I had the vet come out that afternoon to take a blood sample and give her a shot of B-vitamines, and I will be giving her some calcium supplements this afternoon to try and perk her back up (it may simply be a calcium deficiency during lactation). We will keep you posted.
Jeanette thinks that Boo and Victoria are probably pregnant, and that Victoria will drop first, possibly quite soon. She also let us know that older Chilean girls have been known to go 13 months before giving birth! The vet also thought the two are probably pregnant. We continue to watch and wait. At this point we are late enough into the season, with winter starting in only 2 weeks, that we will wait until the spring to get them all remated.
Yesterday was lovely (though a bit chilly in the shade). Stephen(R) and Jennifer came over to help with the shed-raising & between the four of us, we got tons done:
Stephen and I had gotten the rafters and braces up on Friday, and did the first bay of purlins (the beams that go between the rafters) Saturday AM. Then the Stephens finished the purlins while Jennifer and I sussed out the instructions for making the canopy components (it involved 15 degree angles, a hand calculator, and a certain amount of trial and error). We got the canopy done just as the light was failing. *whew* But it’s really looking like a building now !
Weather is overcast today, and Stephen is off gaming. Weather is supposed to be crap tomorrow, and then I start work, so I suspect progress will now grind to a halt. Darn. I should have asked for another week off.
On Monday we’re going to make an appointment for a vet to come out and ultrasound Victoria and Cariboo and confirm one way or the other whether they’re pregnant. If they are, then they are certainly not showing any signs. If they’re not, then both Jim and a previous ultrasound are wrong. *sigh*
In other news, our latest theory is that the kitten is actually an alien trying desperately to warn us of an incoming invasion fleet, but due to language difficulties, the only way she can think of to communicate this vital information is to try and lick her way to the center of our heads and there meld her tiny alien brain directly with ours. Explanations like this start to make sense when you have a purring kitten try — on multiple occasions on successive nights — to shove her head up your nose at 4am.
[Posted by Tam] Here are some pics from the early part of the shed construction: the poles in the holes (Stephen was so happy), Stephen, John and Adam plumbing and bracing the poles (so, so important), the poles all braced (our Strange Grove), Stephen measuring how the tops should be trimmed, and the scaffolding Stephen built so he could chainsaw the tops of the poles into the right shapes. (Chainsaw sculpting is a competitive sport at some A&P shows, you know…)
And some ‘paca pics: Oak, who’s losing some of his pudge now that he’s not stealing the girls’ yums, and now that he and Pointer are losing their baby teeth. And Boo, who still hasn’t spooted out a baby (is she *really* pregnant ?)
I’m glad we don’t take vacations that often, as the work would probably kill me!
Yesterday (Monday) John and Adam came back, and working all together we got the 10 poles placed, braced, plum and level. John used his digger to lift the poles into the holes, a good thing as they were bl**dy heavy! It was also a 3-man job to get them in place- I was holding/adjusting the pole, Adam was measuring with the level, while John hammered in the braces. Worked well.
This morning I called a conrete company first thing, and to my surprise they could deliver today. With the weather being fine, I expected them to be booked-out. We spent the morning building forms to “square off” the existing concrete foundation from the ex-cattery. 10 minutes after we finished the truck arrived- good timing! The next 3 hours were spent pouring, adjusting, and floating/smoothing the concrete. New skills gained, it does not look half-bad. Tomorrow we can remove the braces, and start the framing. Very exciting.
We did have a fun coffee/tea break with the concrete-truck driver, during which time we took him up to see the cute and fuzzy ‘paca, which he appreciated.
The day was so full-on we never got a chance to eat lunch, so a Divine Pizza dinner did feel very Heaven Sent. Divine is another “gormet pizza” place which recently opened up a few doors down from Hell Pizza in Khandalah. Love the names.
In other news no new babies yet. It would really help if we had a due date for Victoria and Cariboo beyond “April”. I am going to email the ex-owners to find out when the stud was taken out of the paddock. At least that way we know the last possible day they could have gotten pregnant. Considering how cursory the pre-purchase vet-check was, we find ourselves questioning if they are, in-fact, pregnant. At least next year we will know who is pregnant, by whom, and when they are due!
Well, after a few days of terrible weather, a break of lovely fine sunshine came in on Thursday. We spent Thursday and Friday gazing on and off at our two still-pregnant ‘paca, but I guess a watched ‘paca doesn’t pop or something. Today is also predicted to be mainly fine, so I can keep hoping they will be obliging, and give us a nice pair of girls. Please? We want them to give birth so we are free to get away from the farm for a few days during Tam’s second week off. We will see if it happens.
On Thursday John and his cousin/assistant Adam came up to lay out the string-lines for the new shed. He was training Adam in all the tricks to getting a perfectly square foundation, so I was able to learn too. Very useful. Once again a case where a bit of extra setup time saves lots of fiddling and correcting later.
On Friday John came back with his little 2.5 ton digger, and a big rented auger. We discevered that the fill used to level the site was of dubious quality- no surprise as everything the previous owners did seems to have some dubious aspect. When you are finding chunks of asphalt and top soil 5-feet down you know the job was not “done right”. The holes for the poles had to be 1.5 meters (5 feet) deep, so I was very glad to have mechanical assistance. That afternoon a city inspector came by to inspect my holes. We passed, but all in all it was quite a cursory inspection. My holes are deep and dark, and yet he didn’t even probe them. I was totally expecting him to probe my holes, with a hunk of rebar if nothing else. (If you are giggling right now it is due to your dirty, base and scatalogical mind. Get it out of the gutter!)
Today we mix and pour 10 cm (4 inches) of concrete in the bottom of each hole for the poles to rest on. On Tuesday next week John comes back and we lift and brace the poles- with the assistance of the digger. Then all we need is a few cubic meters of concrete poured in the holes, and we are ready for framing and cladding! Woot!
Oh, to get the builders mix for our “little pour” we went to a local quarry. Very cool. Pulled the Ute up to the appropriate bin and hopped out, shovel in hand, ready to load. Then a 30-ton loader pulled up, grabbed a giant scoop of mix, and dumped it on the deck. We were just at the weight capacity for the truck- you could see the suspecsion sagging. But it was a really quick way to load a ton of rock (1.01 tonnes, technically). The drive home with that much load was… interesting.
Stephen, because he is a loon, went and put in the little flaxlets and the ake akes that we got from our neighbor Phil. (Stephen instructs me to note that he was warm and dry the whole time, owing to being swathed head to toe in Gortex.) It’s good those went in, since they’d been languishing in a milkcrate behind the kitchen for, oh, a good few months.
I worked some more on the logo (our logo, that is, for when we become a big famous alpaca stud, hah hah), tracked down a couple places to get microscope slide cover slips, and put together an order for yet-more-trees (plus some grasses and shrubs) from Taupo Native Nurseries.
To get out of the house for a bit, we drove to Petone to check out the new “Mitre 10 Mega Centre” which, like Bunnings in Porirua, is essentially a Home Despot. Mitre 10 is at least NZ owned, though (Bunnings is Aussie).
In the evening, we stuck the girls around behind the house again to get them out of the wind, then Stephen worked on his game and I played some more Onimusha 3.
Still no new babies.
Vacation Day One:
Planted two currents, two hazels, two oranges, and an apricot. A nectarine a lemon and a kumquat to go.
Still no new babies.
The job is dead; long live the job !!
Yesterday was my last day with my current employer. They had a lovely little party for me, too (me and one of the other guys who’s leaving). Among other little going away prezzies, they gave me a little flag and made me an honorary Kiwi, because I get more of the NZ questions right on the quiz than they do. Hee!
Anyway, I have two whole weeks off now before I start at the new place. What we do with those two weeks is largely out of our control: We can’t really go anywhere until the other two girls have their babies, and we can’t start putting up the kitset shed (which arrived Thursday) until John gets a free slot on his schedule to come up and auger the holes for the poles. Ah well — plenty more to do around the place. We’ve got one more wire to pull on the fence around the bush block, and all seven to do on the new curtailage fence, plus planting the rest of the trees, getting in more and planting those, ordering the grass for the drainage field and planting that, plus getting more flax from Maggie and Martin and putting thatin, plus beating back some more of the garden…