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In the 2013-2014 breeding season 27 females were due to give birth. All gave birth safely, and all the crias grew well. First was Flora's cria Amelia, a solid black female by Deep Blue, followed by Titania's cria, Tycoon, a light grey male by Platinum. Then came a number of Ekeko crias: Agathon (out of Blue Angel), Bombay (out of Bollywood), Jeannette (out of Joan of Arc), Yasha (out of Hanada), Chloris (out of Northern Lights), Livia (out of Marilla), and Fergus (out of Maeve). Paquita (out of Porcelain) is by Blacklight.
Our last news ended with the National Show in 2013. Royall left for the show with three males and returned on Monday October 14th with just Rigel. We had had the three boys immediately in front of the house for some time. So we missed them.
On the next night, Tuesday October 15th, we had a thunderstorm that started a fire in the mountains directly east of us on Wirritin Ridge. It was burning in remote country, too difficult for ground crews. All air support was in use elsewhere. On October 17 the westerly wind let up and we could see smoke just beyond Currockbilly.
We checked the RFS site and found the fire, but it was a week before we knew to look on the Shoalhaven fire service Facebook page for maps and news. Ours was the closest property to the fire, and although the fire was to our east, it was very close indeed. From the late afternoon we tend to get an easterly breeze, so the view of the mountain at night was frightening.
A few days after the fire started, ground crews began to light back-burning fires. You can see the line of the back burning fire in this photo, with the wildfire coming from the other side at the top of the mountain.
On the 19th the helicopters started, with bases on both sides of the mountain. The one on this side was several properties north and we watched the helicopters coming and going day by day. It was around the 25th that we learned that there were good containment lines on a fire road between the mountain, Currockbilly, and the low ridge between it and us. The photos below were taken on the 25th in the north paddock and the south paddock.
We had had most of the births, but several crias were born after the fires started.
On the 29th we sheared and then helped others for two days. We had a shearer, very experienced but new to us, who turned out to be amazingly slow, so that we finished up after dark.
Once, all the fire crews from the region were out the whole night burning from a containment line not far from us.
At various times the fires got out of control, with wind preventing the helicopters from flying, and there was some fear of the fire spreading further north where it could not be contained. This is the area of Pigeon House and the Castle. In November, with the fire threatening to spread, much larger helicopters were flying directly above our shed and quite low.
The strange lights at night and the helicopters by day upset the animals, so we had to remate a good many, going later in the season than we would normally have.
It had been quite dry, with just 9mm between September 19 and November 10, but on the 10th a storm came in, with rain, cold, and wind. We had to shed all the animals, but we were delighted with 38mm in the gauge the next morning and 45 the following morning. So our fire was out. If it had been drier here (we did have 1146mm for the year) or hotter, or if there had been serious fires elsewhere at the same time, the outcome would have been different.
In that time we started to discuss selling our herd. Reasons were complex, including our age and health, and also the demands of continuing to stay at the level we had achieved.
The last Morning Star animal, Regulus, was born in January 2014 to Wyterrica Catriona. In the first photo she is with her daughter from the previous year, Cat’s Pyjamas.
The first 23 of the animals to go left in Vista’s float on February 23. They were healthy, well-grown, and in good condition.
The first animal that would bear Vista’s prefix was born on February 23, a brown female out of Octavia.
We do not know the names of most of the rest of the crias born after that, but it was a total of sixteen, including one agisted for another breeder. The crias were all born safely, though one needed the vet’s help and another needed my help. Several needed attention after birth, but all grew well and thrived.
Meanwhile, some of the animals who left here on February 23 were shown by Vista and did well, with four shown at Wodonga getting blue ribbons, Galatea best grey, and Bombay best black. Three were also shown in late May at Alpacafest and did well. The photo of Galatea with her ribbon is in an ad of Vista’s handed out at their auction in October and at shows.
The next group, of 18 animals, including Ekeko and the young males, left in Vista’s float on April 29. The third group, of mature males, left May 31st with a transporter, and the fourth, of twenty females and young, left June 9 in Vista’s float.
In late June the four show animals, Ariadne, Bombay, Galatea, and Tycoon, who went to Vista February 23rd, died within one week.
These deaths had nothing to do with our management or property, and none of the possibly associated factors mentioned in reports have existed here.
Seventeen animals remained here until December 19th and 20th, when a transporter took the last ten of Vista’s to them.
These ten left here fit and in excellent health and condition, with the crias from autumn (La Niña’s, Platinum Rose’s, Veronica’s, Platina’s, Blueberry’s) weighing 40 to 50 kilos.
La Niña, Mandy, Silver Cloud, Blue Angel, Amelia, and the crias Morris Minor and Orion, are still here, in another herd name.
So that is the story of the 2013-2014 season.