Yesterday we grafted. We mended fences, contained lambs and sheep. Emptied an old field shelter of its floor boarding and sheep droppings, lined it with straw and set down some equestrian matting. At the back of the shelter Hubby put up a grid system with various heights to hang the heavy feeding troughs for the alpaca. All this work is prep for winter; a place where the alpaca family can shelter if the weather turns really bad. By all accounts, alpaca would rarely be taken into a stable, always preferring to be out in the elements so the field shelter is a half-way house.
We praised our morning's work over a lunch of tuna and olive bread followed by juicy peaches but it was soon time to see what other jobs needed doing.
I deigned we should move a hefty mountain of Shropshire stone that was sat in the alpaca field, fearing the ladies might hurt their legs on it. Hubby suggested I might actually be 'inventing' work and went off to find a real job while the sproglets and I began to fill the trailer with the cumbersome pieces. Close to the end of this real job I managed to put one heavy stone down, dislodging another. The second stone then rolled onto my ring finger. The pain under my nail is now amazing. I presume I'll have one of those revolting blood blisters, though as yet there is no sign thanks to my Barbie pink nail varnish! (Well, it is summer!)
One thing we have learnt over our past 4 years here is that gates need to be shut. Yesterday we managed to add to our workload by forgetting this. As Hubby and daughter drove Dizzy Discovery down to a lower paddock, they passed through our largest field housing more than 100 borrowed lawnmowers. Unfortunately they left the gate open. The ewes and lambs figured this was surely an invitation to follow and duly poured through the gate. I was in the alpaca field which has free access to this lower field and, fearful that these sheep might stampede Shadow, our baby cria, I ran like Mo Farah to close the gate. The 10yo had the same thought and we met at the gate, heading the sheep off just in time. Phew!
That, it seems was the easy bit. We then spent the next 20 minutes dashing about like sheep dogs, trying to drive the flock back to their big field. Hilariously, once we had completed this task we realised that our cade lambs were among the throng. In truth this didn't really matter, they could easily graze together but the 10yo called their names and from a sea of faces Coco, Bino and Oreo appeared. They happily followed us back to their patch where their was less competition for grass.
If I look back at our move to The Larches on the 28th August 2009, I had no real expectation for learning and yet in 4 years we have learnt so much. When we arrived at The Larches with a 6yo and a 4yo, we'd never even owned a pet as a family, had only gardened on a micro scale and had no clue how to mend a gate or fence. Look at us now, we've moved from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence.
On the 28th of this month will will have completed our 4th year at The Larches. If it wasn't for our lovely neighbours we'd still be in the dark ages regarding sheep, land and horticulture. Bless them for being patient with us and bring it on year 5!