Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Fun and Games of Shearing 2013

Ooopsy I forgot all about filling you in on shearing this year.  Once again we were very fortunate to have the one and only Mr James Dixon from down under.  He slots the Spanish alpacas in during his European tour of shearing, lucky for us!  Sadly he didn't have his lovely wife Kym or even his nephew Noah, so it was all hands on deck, and Alan and I had to be more involved this year.

We actually had quite a wet May, well a very wet spring in fact so we played musical alpacas the day before shearing to ensure they could all be kept dry. 

"Let us out!"

The Girls

James arrived quite late one evening and stayed over to enable us to be ready to go bright and early the following morning.  The following morning Alan had a quick lesson in the best way help James to get an alpaca onto the floor and restrained.  For anyone that doesn't know, alpacas are usually restrained, it is safest way for them to be sheared.  We find that when the animal realises it cannot move, it relaxes and the shearer can just get on with job, far quicker and safer.  That's not to say there is not the occasional wee, spit or dreadful high-pitched screaming sound, you would think they are being tortured, however it's just fear, bless them.  An old towel over the weeing equipment, and an old sock over the mouth usually does the trick, although most are just happy to lie there and relax.  As for me, I had the exciting plasticy paddley typy thingies for scooping up the fleece.  I'm sure they have a proper name.  So it was my job to scoop the fleece up and try and aim it into bags Alan was holding.  Injections were done, toe nails clipped, and a bit of dentistry then they were released again to have a little wander round and try to work out who is who again!  It's very strange!  

This year I didn't bother to do before and after photos, and I just took what I thought would be interesting, and a little video too.  

Yep Lily can be a spitter!

Me with my plasticy, paddley thingies

Bermuda being a very good girl

Casandra chilled and beautiful, as always

Santa being a right baby, spitting, weeing and screaming!

Gorgeous Galaxy looking relaxed

Beautiful colour fleece

Galaxy being sheared

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blue's phantom pregnancy

Our beautiful Blue is a wonderful, huge lump of Spanish Mastin dog.  She adores everyone in the world especially her big brother Arthur.  She loves everyone so much that when she began "living" in the big kitchen with us during the hot summer months a couple of years ago, and started meeting guests and friends regularly, she refused to move back out with the other dogs, into their terrace and cool room.  Believe me if Blue doesn't want to go anywhere or do anything, at around 60 kilos it aint going to happen!  We have so many photos of her with our friends, they all fall in love with her.  So imagine our suprise when she started getting grumpy with her favouite "person" in the whole world, her Arthur!

It all began one evening, Alan and I were taking the washing off the line and we could hear Blue and Arthur having a bit of rough and tumble.  The only time that ever happens is after dinner.   Usually Blue wants to play, so she runs and jumps at Big Arf and they play happily for a couple of minutes, then either it makes one of them sick, or Arthur gets a bit too rough and Blue tells him off, and Arthur will slope off feeling dejected!  After a while he seems to apologise and he'll lick all over her face.  So this particular evening we were suprised to find plant pots had even been knocked over in the commotion!

A day or so after, Blue was making an awul whiny whingey noise, which is not like her at all.  She snores, farts and joins in with barking when Arthur barks, but never moans.  For a while I was concerned she was ill, but she was leaping about for food as usual, plus she always was excited to go for a walk, however she would also mooch about outside for a while and would do this crying noise. She then began digging holes to lie in outside.  One, unfortunately, was very close to the door, which meant if any of the other dogs would come near she would growl ferociously at them.  In the kitchen she decided to take up residence and curl up in the fireplace, which she has never done before.  

One evening things really got bad and she went for Arthur for no reason so Alan put the hose on them, and she soon scappered into the kitchen   I decided to ask a friend who breeds mastins for some advice.  I told her when Blue was in season, and she said it sounded very much like a phantom pregnancy.  She also sent me a link and it was Blue's symptoms totally.  Apparently you can ask you vet for medication to calm these symptons down, so we will think about it before her next one.

The symptoms lastest about 3 weeks, which seems forever at the time.  Thankfully, for Arthur especially, she is back to her lovely, cuddly, teddybear like self!  I know people wonder why she has not been neutered but we live 45 minutes from the city, where the operation would have to take place, and you seem to take the animal home as soon as it has come round from the anaesthetic, as least we have with our smaller dogs.  I also believe it is a different operation here, and a much larger one, plus it's all money of course.  So at the moment we are happy to keep her unneutered for the time being.

Blue with a few of her friends / fans!

Unhappy Blue, sitting in her fireplace

.... and in her hole, by the door

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Fabulous Cordoba Feria

We set off to the the Cordoba feria, nice and early.  The plan was to leave home about 8.30 pm and have just a couple of hours there, as Maisie being just over 3 would of course be pretty tired.  Alan had the bright idea of parking in one of the shopping centre car parks, it's free and about the same distance to walk as it is from the official feria car park, which we remembered cost a whacking 8 euros last year.  Suprise suprise that car park and every other in the vecinity were full, so after driving round Cordoba for about an hour Alan relented and we headed to the official car park, we had probably spent more than the 8euros in petrol driving around!

We followed the crowds all decked out in our finest, especially the gorgeous Maisie, and we arrived at the edge of the huge feria ground.  The music was loud, and the children and ladies all around us were in their tradition Spanish gypsy dress and immediately Maisie burst into a little dance, she was very excited!  

We strolled up and down watching the fair ground rides, which this year included the largest temporary big wheel in Europe.  Oh how we laugh at Spain's lack of health and safety issues, as adults and small children are literally thrown from rides much to all the hilarity of everyone watching.  The rides for children are second to none, and have mini varitions of most of the adult rides.  The only "ride"  I do not enjoy watching is the merry go round with real miniature horses on it.  Most children I'm sure would love to ride on one, however I wish it would be on open land and not going round and round in circles.  The animals all look in very good condition although I'm not sure how long they "work" for, or if there is water for them to drink ... if they ever get a break of course!

The feria which every city, town and even small village has, really is the highlight of the year for it's townsfolk.  Many businesses close for the duration as most people party hard throughout the night... most nights!  As well as the fairground rides which attract mainly the young families with children and teens, they are many marquees for eating drinking and practicing your Sevillana or flamenco dancing.  I love to peer into them and watch the dancing.  The passion and attitude is wonderful to watch.

We were all getting a little peckish after walking up and down smelling the familiar fairground food, so we stopped for a bite to eat.  Hot dogs (although the sausages looked rather like dead men's fingers), with chips and drinks, and then we then hunted out a churros stall.  Maisie is a tad fussy with her food, and doesn't eat chips would you believe, although when her dad forced a little chocolate from the cup that the churros gets dunked into, it was an instant hit, and she pretty much devoured the rest of that, bless her.

The time flew by and about 2am for the very first time during the holiday Maisie had a little cry.  That was only because her naughty dad was smoking so he wouldn't pick her up.  The cigarette was hastily stubbed out, I'm pleased to say, so little Maisie got her cuddle and it was time to go home.

It was the perfect end to having the family over for a holiday!

Feria Entrance

My Beautiful Maisie

 Wow that's one big wheel

The fun of the feria

For the little ones too!

Someone is having a great time!

Shame these are a little blurry!

With "Grandad Alan" too!

Mark, Laura (or Nora as Maisie calls her) and my little cutie Maisie

I just love to see the children all dressed up.  Of course I always ask permission to take the photos and the parents are always very happy and proud for me to do so, although Alan gets very embarrassed about me doing this!

This little lad was dancing so fast it was difficult to capture him!

Another gorgeous tot!

Monday, June 10, 2013

We are off to the Zooooooo!

Alan and I love zoos, and what could have make it even better for me?  Bringing a little granddaughter with us of course. 

At just over three Maisie took great delight in every sparrow in every enclosure.  Even if there were also zebras, bears tigers or anything else exotic, the little sparrow always got a mention, then we were very quickly onto the next animal! 

I will let the photos do most of the talking.   The weather was perfect not too hot, and we had a lovely day.


Cordoba zoo is great for children, it's pretty small, you can see  it all in a couple of hours, and still not be too tired had an ice lolly, then backtrack around the favoutes again. Would you believe it only costs 4. 50€ entry, and children are free until 5 years old!


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Half the family arrives for a fab holiday!

I was desperately hoping that the kids could make it for holidays this year.  Last year circumstances made it impossible, so I was over the moon to hear they would both be coming with their gorgeous little girls this year.

First over was Mark, with his lovely girlfriend Laura, and the beautiful Maisie.  Mark took the brave move to hire a car from Malaga and drive here for the first time.  He did great, and they were able to get out and about and enjoy trips to Montoro and Cordoba without being totally reliant on us.  He said he would definitley do it again too.  I hope he managed to drive around a roundabout safely when he got back to England!

Their first couple of days were a little cloudy, which actually made it very pleasant for going out and about in, and not too hot for Maisie.  I'm sure Mark was very thankful it did warm up throughout the week, and they were even able to swim in the pool.  Somehow I think Maisie would have been swimming in the pool, whatever the weather.

"Granddad Alan" appeared to be a big hit with Maisie, 
and they enjoyed some fuzzy felt moments together!  

We also had a lovely day when our friends Pat and Pedro came over and we had a lovely bbq in the sunshine.

Spain took on England in a kick about, at the hotel in town! 

I'm sure the highlight of the holiday for Maisie was swimming, 
and dare I say posing by the pool!

Maisie loved all the animals.  Of course she was a little nervous of Arthur and Blue at first... well they are huge!  We took it slowly, and she got as close as she wanted, when she wanted.  As usual the mastins simply wanted to lie down and be tickled!

Brave girl

The smaller dogs aren't nearly so scary.  It was lovely to see Geri having a fuss made of her.  Geri the black and white collie cross beagle was Mark's pet as a teenager, when we lived in England.

Off to see the alpacas and chickens now!

Mark and Laura were rather excited about see a flamenco show in Cordoba and asked if we would be happy to look after Maisie one evening.  Of course, I jumped at the chance!  So they dolled themselves up and had a great night out.  

Maisie says "CHEEEEEESE!"

 Maisie and I had an evening of colouring.  A good time was had by all!