Friday, 2 September 2011

Bring on the Wind!

We had good intentions of sending off our alpaca fibre for spinning at the start of the summer but have only recently got round to it. We should get it back in the next couple of weeks ready to be knitted up. All our other wool that we had has been made into products and we are just considering whether to sell it on-line or in some of the local tourist shops or perhaps both. Anyway, here are a few of the items we have but are still experimenting with some other patterns.

As we hadn't had a summer holiday for the last few years we decided to treat the kids (and ourselves) to a week at Disneyland Paris. It was fab and brought a lot of memories back for Anne who worked there for 2 years in what was supposed to be a summer job while at Uni. It was a lot of walking and of course a lot of €'s but worth it. Anne's already looking at brochures for next years holiday!

We've had loads of enquires about how our C&F Green Energy CF11 wind turbine is doing. We discovered early on that there was an issue with high voltage on our grid supply which was being caused by the transformer we were connected to. C&F worked out and configured us to run at 50% (6kW max) without pushing the voltage too high until SSE replaced the transformer. Despite this, in our first 3 months we still generated about 4000kWh (would have been 8000kWh had we not had the 50% restriction). I'm happy to say now that SSE have upgraded the transformer and we are back on track to achieving our expected generation or maybe even exceeding it. We'll have a better idea after the winter.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Newest addition to the croft

This week, at long last, we got our turbine up and running. Even although there's hardly any wind its still generating and in the short time it's been running has slashed our domestic meter readings by about 70%.

Its typical that when our turbine went up the wind dropped but as anyone who has visited Lewis will know it wont stay that way for long. The installers arrived with the turbine at 5pm on Monday and were away by 9am the following morning.

Our new CF11 turbine on a 15m mast

We've also made some progress with our alpaca wool and have recruited some new knitters. We have given out all our remaining wool from 2 years ago and we're already seeing the fruits of their labour so we're going to push ahead and send of the last 2 years fibre to be processed. Once we have a selection of products we'll post some pictures here.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Full House!

We're delighted to announce that all our females that we bred have now had their cria with the final 2 being born last week. 3 females and 1 male for the year.

Jasmine (with her new hair doo!) with her cria Jemima

Tara with her wee boy, Tobermory

There was no time to sit back as we were scheduled for Mr Clipper's arrival at the weekend and the weather couldn't have been better. Thanks to the guys for fitting us in again on their UK tour.

I think BB actually enjoyed it - not a whimper from him unlike some of the girls!

The results.

It's been a pretty amazing few weeks in our little alpaca world!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

It's another girl!

Yesterday, despite the horrendous weather, Nicholette decided it was time to give birth to her second Lewis born cria. Anther girl and proof that our stud was up to the job last year - we never doubted you for a moment BB King! Her last cria, Rose, was quite a difficult birth and required some assistance but she had no problems this time managing on her own.

We are hoping for 2 more cria in the coming week so more photos to follow.

We've also made some progress on the wind turbine front with the foundations now complete. The turbine will follow in about a month.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Baby News!

We are over the moon to announce that last night at 6pm Nichole gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl. As it was late it was a difficult birth, but thanks to our friends and neighbours Dina and Calum - she was delivered safely.

Despite the constant "cria watch" over the last two weeks, with excitement over the slightest yawning, rolling, head rubbing, Iain and I were absent for the birth. Typical! I was training on the mainland and Iain was in hospital for 6 hours while he had some minor Day Surgery. Of course, Nichole chose this as the perfect time to go into labour. Luckily, Iain's mum was on alert and called in Dina and Calum who are expert sheep farmers.

In the end there was only one name that would do for the christening of our new herd member - Dinah - of course! Mum and daughter spent last night snuggled up in the barn - but today Dinah has been testing her legs and running rings round the rest of the herd! She is just perfect!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Long overdue update

It’s been quite a while since our last post partly because our camera packed in but also because both Anne and I have been very busy. Anne has taken on a new consultancy job in addition to her teaching which means she is away a lot on the mainland. I have also made a bit of a return into the IT scene by doing some remote software packaging work.

With the announcement of the renewable heat incentive (RHI) due last year we were keen to push ahead with our plans for a ground source heat pump (GSHP). In February we finally got it installed and it has made a huge difference in terms of running cost and the manual effort that came with running a solid fuel range cooker / boiler. We’ve replaced this with an all electric range cooker which has just been great. No more complaints from Anne about the Rayburn not being hot enough for dinner because I’ve left it to late to stoke it!

Trench work for the 450m of pipe required for GSHP

Also, last year we were granted planning permission for our own wind turbine and things have been progressing with the foundation kit arriving the other day. We're scheduled to have the foundations installed in the next couple of weeks so I'd better get a hole dug fairly soon. The turbine will follow at some point in the summer.

Wind turbine foundation kit

Our alpacas are due any day now - No hurry girls, but the suspense is killing us. Although Rose was born here, this year will hopefully mark our first successful home breeding.

Swan taking a few day break on our croft before she continues her migration to the Arctic for breeding season.

Will blog more soon.