Thursday, 12 February 2009

Farmer takes alpaca to pub

BBC NEWS | England | Farmer takes alpaca to pub
Wonderful video clip from the news. My mum told me about it and while we were still talking on the phone, Google popped up the answer of this page at the BBC. She was delighted that I had not missed out seeing it after all.

This has got to be one of those 'don't try this at home' moments. It does raise the awareness of pub-goers to the existence of alpacas but I am not sure I would like to see this duplicated generally throughout the country.

Perhaps I should have a word with Rob and Joanne at the Shepherds? Maybe a bit of extra interest for the beer garden in the summer.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Warming the pot

When you make tea in a pot rather than a mug (you do still make tea in a pot rather than a mug don't you?) it helps to get the best results if you warm the pot first.

Of course this option tends to be limited by modern day hurry, along with an increase in single cups of tea being brewed because people are alone, at least in still being a tea drinker.  It becomes easier to just throw a tea-bag in the mug. Gone are the days of the English tea ceremony involving warmed pots, leaf tea, strainers and milk-first china cups on saucers.

My late father-in-law would regularly say that his tea was too wet, meaning that it needed a little something to go with it, such as cake or at least a biscuit. This week I discovered a new fact, at least for me. I do not remember having ever heard of Marie biscuits before, let alone having had one. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that they taste almost the same as Rich Tea biscuits, which are half the price! I know, I know, the purists among you will say they are completely different but there you go, when you are in a hurry to make a cup of tea any old biscuit will do...

Doing the job properly and warming the pot has become slightly more difficult these days as jug kettles replace the older squat versions such as our veteran Russell Hobbs. As I was making breakfast for my wife the other morning (sorry for the gratuitous showing off there), I was reminded of my good friend Keith from University days, who taught me many things but especially how to do things right. If you hang the tea pot on the spout of your trusty Russell Hobbs or similarly stumpy kettle, it will sit there perfectly poised, ready to catch all of the steam as it emerges from the kettle spout. By the time the kettle boils, the pot is warmed to perfection.

To get a really good cup of tea out of your warmed pot you then have to add the right kind of tea. Being here in Welsh Wales, then it would have to be Glengettie (which only sounds like it is from Scotland). 

So next time you reach for the kettle and a tea pot, why not have a go at warming the pot and see if you can taste the difference. At least it may lower your stress level a notch or too because after all, if you haven't got time to stop to warm the pot, you probably will not find time to stop and smell the roses either.

1. More than you could ever want to know about the Marie biscuit can be found here

2. There is a website for everyone out there

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Just when things seem to be settling down

Fed and watered, the alpacas were about to be released into the paddock when sticky eyes and lost leg fleece were noticed.

Mike Safely of Northwest Alpacas talks in his book The Alpaca Shepherd, about looking every animal in the eye every day to check how it is doing. When you start looking, it is amazing what you see. While they do not welcome too much fussing and fiddling, they are very tolerant of intention. It is a bit like learning to speak a new language.

Nia's eye bathed with warm water - no major problem but we will monitor. Scylla's leg hair loss looked like mite inflammation so treated with eprinex in pig oil and rubbed it on Owain's ears for good measure - little pink patches starting to show.

No grass to be seen today and probably not for a few days, unless we have heavy rain. Distributed hay nets through the paddocks to keep the fibre flowing and will keep an eye on what they are up to during the day. There is usually a window somewhere in the house you can catch a glimpse of the animals, even if you do have to stand on tip-toe.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Alpacas join in snow time frolic

Well everyone seems to be talking about the snow... 
and why not, it does rather take over normal life when it suddenly arrives. Hard to believe it is only water.

Our alpacas were standing around in it while it settled on their backs and their heads. I did not think they were being very sensible but they seemed to like being out in it. While a blizzard raged, I locked them in the stable. After the blizzard came the sun, so they were released again. Now the fun started.

The instinct to play in snow seems to cross all boundaries of age and even species. The dogs had enjoyed romping in the snow earlier. Now it was the turn of the alpacas. Rolling you can understand but just lying down and stretching out your neck in it, then leaping into the air - quite amazing to see. Clearly they were having a great time. The youngsters chased each other and threw snowballs (well I am sure they would have done if they could), then the mums joined in and played with their cria (term for young alpaca). Caught some of it on video on my digital camera.  A delightful surprise when I thought I was just going down to feed them.