Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Abscess attack

I mentioned in an earlier blog we have been blessed with another wretched jaw abscess. This time it is Henry our first ever cria. He has been wethered and is such a lovely boy he will stay with us as company for Columbus and the other boys. He is pictured below a few weeks ago.

We think he had an abscess in his first year that we didn't know about as his lower jawbone is thicker on one side than the other. We had been checking him regularly with the rest of the herd and a couple of weeks ago I noticed that this thickening now had a lump on it.

Abscesses now throw me into action pretty rapidly and I was quickly out with a big syringeful of Nuflor. After three doses the lump has all but gone which is great news, we will keep the course going for 5 weeks and hopefully that will be the end of that. Well here's hoping anyway.

The little lad with rickets, Orchard Blackjack, seems to be improving too. He became very stiff legged and I have been treating him with AD&E , Ketofen (anti-inflammatory) and some special lamb treatment that is full of molasses and bits and bobs. He is now looking livelier and has started to regain some of the weight that he lost when he was too stiff and sore to be bothered about eating. He is still not quite right but we are very pleased that he seems to be over the worst of it.
I hope to return soon with some photos with the new camera but the day job, the weather and the co-owner of the camera are all conspiring against me!

Friday, 26 December 2008

Happy Christmas

I have receieved a couple of mild complaints that I haven't posted a blog for a few days.
Sorry people it has been busy here, not with alpaca stuff, (although I was out giving three injections on Christmas morning) but with the behemoth that is Christmas.
Sue, Angus and yours truly spent a lovely day together at home. Angus being nearly 6 was marginally more excited than I was but it was a close call.
The main present for us, I mean Angus, was a fab Scalextric set which I had set up in the attic room a few days early to make sure it all worked and get in some practice as it has been a while!

Suffice it to say we raced those cars, an Aston Martin for me and a Ferrari for Angus pretty hard yesterday and despite the extra practice he was consistently taking me on the corners by the end of the day. In fact I think Sue was giving me a bit of a whupping too. Still as father and husband it is my job, nay duty, to make everyone else feel and look good.

I have no photos to post as the canera that Sue and I bought for each other (which really was my way of buying ME a new camera) seems to have been welded to Sue's hand over the past 24 hours. She is working out how to use it properly and has been following us all round the house clicking away. It's like living with a documentary maker.

Anyway I hope to return with more alpaca talk soon, I have another delightful jaw abscess to tell you about which really has perked me up.

Friday, 19 December 2008

I can make it work!

Now before all you professional photographers out there start writing scathing reviews and offering advice etc. It was a very dull, overcast day and these are literally the first photographs that I have taken with the new camera.
I found a Fully Automatic button, so if they are rubbish I am blaming the camera entirely. I like them anyway.

Our first herdsire Columbus, I think perhaps ear hair trimmers for Christmas for him.
Amelie, looking lovely as always.
Jonah looking about as shocked as it is possible to be without the use of electricity.

Columbus pointing those ears.

Alacazam smoking some weed.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Christmas has come early

Sue and I decided that this year we would buy each other the same present. A joint present. Something we can both use.

A digital SLR camera with an additional zoom lens.

Sue has always been interested in photography and had an old Pentax SLR which is now a bit out of date. I lurk in the field with our little Canon digital camera but I have to be virtually on top of the alpacas to photograph them. As a result I don't get many 'natural' shots of them. They know I am there (I can not be missed) and behave accordingly. In other words they walk right up to me so that I could take a very nice 'up nostril' shot or walk away so that I can get an equally useless rear end shot. They do lots of standing around looking magnificent when I am in the house or at the other end of the field. A big zoom lens is required.

So we have now purchased a fab Canon EOS 1000D digital SLR with a huge zoom lens and some other bits and bobs. Apparently it is a 'starter' digital SLR...............for idiots, perfect.

Sue initially wanted to wrap it up and stick it under the tree but I whined and whinged and walked around with my bottom lip sticking out a lot making really sad pathetic sighing noises and she eventually relented. It never even got wrapped up!

So far I have charged the battery, fitted the memory card and looked at it..........a lot.
I have looked at the instruction manual and it made my head hurt. I will sit down over the next day or two and figure out how it all works. Do not expect any pictures from it here for some time though. I am a self confessed dullard when it comes to technology and it will take time for it to sink in. I am also a self confessed lover of shiney new things and I will probably just look at it for a couple of days first. It is a thing of great beauty.

I caught Sue reading the manual in bed yesterday so it will be a bit of a race to see who knows how to work it first! Actually I'm thinkiing I might let her read the manual and do all the hard work and then she can just show me how to 'do the taking photos bit'.

Then I''l have to work out the 'how to get the photos on the computer bit' and bing bang bong we are in business. Don't hold your breath.

Today I have been rushing around like a blue arsed fly with a firecracker up its doodah. Apparently Christmas it is next week! How did that happen? Last time I looked it was November. Anyway as a consequence we are hopelessly behind with everything and as we both have to fit a fair amount of 'day jobbing' in between now and the big day it is go, go, go, time.

Before you ask, I am writing this in my short morning coffee break in between unloading and chopping logs and nipping across to Wessex to pick up some more hay for the Wiltshire hay speed eating formation display team. I can't believe how quickly they are getting through it.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Early breakfast.

Yesterday I informed readers that I was living in the dark with early departures and late returns to the land of Patou.

This morning I could contain myself no longer.
I was up at stupid o'clock, wellies on and out with a bucket of food.

It was dark as I slithered along in the mud towards the feeding troughs. It was dark, although with the benefit of a very bright and apparently large moon I could see quite well. I couldn't however see any alpacas.

I arrived at the troughs and whistled, and waited.
I heard them first as there was the sound of a distant sneezefart and then I could hear their footfalls. They appeared over the brow of a hillock on the charge and within seconds I was mobbed.
Three heads were in the bucket before I knew what was going on, there was a certain amount of jostling, it was fantastic.
I managed to reclaim control of the bucket to pour out the feed into the troughs and then the spitting, screeching and neck wrestling which starts each alpaca meal began.
Shortly afterwards they all settled into feeding positions and breakfast was underway.
I stood there amongst them while my favourite alpaca in the world and her mother ate the last few handfulls of food out of my bucket. Silence descended, only broken by the sound of happy alpacas munching away.
What a great way to start the day! I will be up earlier in future.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

A dark dark world.

I am living in a dark world at the moment which is, to say the least, rather irritating.
My day job, which I have to say I am finding rather loathesome at the moment, is interfering with my alpaca interaction.
I am half way through a four day stretch of 10 hour days shifts. I leave home at 6.30am (in the dark) and return at 5.30pm (in the dark).
Consequently I don't see the fluffy munchkins. The mighty herd is being looked after well by Sue and she gives me routine updates on them during the day, particularly a couple of our cria who are suffering from rickets, but it's not the same I miss them.
It is a bit of a mystery, we had nine cria this year and all have received the same medication and treatment but only two are showing signs of rickets.
For those of you unaware of the symptoms of rickets the classic signs are that the affected animal seems very quiet and slow and develops very stiff legs. They can get a bit 'hoppy' at the back. This in turn puts them off their food as their joints are all very stiff and they lie down a lot. Rickets is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D which they would normally get from sunshine. Does anyone remember sunshine…… summer……… the UK? Anyway we inject all our alpacas with AD&E every two months during the winter. For some reason Jack and Jonah seem to need extra, which they have had. It will take a couple of weeks for the extra vitamins to take effect but hopefully they will make a full recovery. We have dosed all the other cria again to prevent any others getting it.
Ooh hark at me sounding all knowledgeable. Actually, as usual, thanks must go to the Uncle Timothy of Inca for his wise words of wisdomness.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Herd names

I note from our friends North of the border that there is discussion about herd names.
The mighty Coire (or Corrie) is named after the ancient word for a scooped out glacial Scottish valley.
In response I thought I would explain the reasoning behind Patou.

In 2005 before Patou Alpacas was formed Sue and I decided that we would buy a house in France. We decided on the Midi Pyrenees region and found our dream house on the northern edge of the Hautes Pyrenees.
The plan was a long 8 year period of building up a business to take over to the Pyrenees when I retired from the day job in 2013.

We are now over three years into the plan and although we have grown quicker than expected (the business….not me) we are still planning on making the big move in 2013 and launching in the south of France.

So, going back to naming the herd. We wanted a name that would mean something in France. Something with a connection to the region that we would be living in.

Sue came up with 'Patou'.

The Pyrenees mountains are famous for the Pyrenean Mountain dogs who live up in the high pastures with the sheep. They have historically protected the sheep from wolves and bears.
They are known locally as 'patou', which is an ancient french word meaning shepherd. How appropriate we thought and the name stuck.

There is one herd name that has me puzzled though.
Zanzibah Alpacas…………..Jayne…………..come on we need an explanation!

Monday, 8 December 2008

A busy old week

A frosty Fifi.

Sorry I have been awol from the blog since Tuesday but it has been a busy old week.
I was at the day job until Friday and with um ........what's it tip of my know this one.......................with..............Christmas, that's it, with Christmas rapidly heaving into view there has been a fair amount of running around to be done.

Friday night I went out for a boys night out with a couple of chums, one of them being Lord Tim of Inca, much beer (too much) was drunk and as a result Saturday was a bit of a wash out. Although we were delighted to get a visit from Nigel and Ginny Cobb in the afternoon who came down with Sue Turle for a look at a couple of alpacas. It was lovely to see them again, they farm alpacas in Spain in case you didn't know. It was very interesting, and heart wrenching to hear them talk about BVD and the animals they lost to it. Something else to be aware of. I admire them greatly for what they are doing in Spain. True pioneers of the alpaca world.

Yesterday I was up in the Cotswolds delivering a couple of alpacas to Roger Mount of Snowshill Alpacas. What a beautiful place and what a lovely looking herd of alpacas. It was my first trip to the Cotswolds, what a cracking place, loved it.

I see from the blogs of our Northern cousins boasts of snow. Well we can't yet match that but we have had some very hard frosts the last couple of days. I have been concerned about the alpacas as they were sheared so late, but they seem to be fine. The frost free contingent wander out of the shed when the sun has risen, they really are amazing as it is chuffing cold out there. Well I think it is but we are, according to a friend from Yorkshire, a bunch of southern shandy drinking poofters after all.
Amelie, a shed dweller, hence she is frost free.

Hay feast.

Anyway must go I have a sloppy poo and a limp to investigate. Outside................. in the alpaca field, in case you thought that was just too much information!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

More blue tongue jabs.

Sue and I have just been out in the bitter cold (with occasional sleet) checking over the mighty herd and administering various bits of husbandry. First up was a blue tongue jab for all the adults. We had first jabbed them in May this year followed by a second dose at the beginning of June. We had no side effects to report incidentally.
I have been reading all sorts of advice reference blue tongue some people saying follow up jabs should be every 6 months, some saying 12 months. All very confusing so I decided to ask the advice of our vet Dave. He is after all the expert and has done some great stuff here in the past. His view was that you could probably get away with vaccinating every 12 months but there would be no harm in vaccinating every 6 months.
It was a no-brainer. We try as best as we can to provide the herd with the best possible care. If it was a safer option to inject every 6 months then so be it. The vaccine is not expensive and for the sake of half an hours work it is well worth it. Peace of mind is a great thing too.

So that was it jabs all round apart from the babies as they have recently had theirs. They will all synchronise when they are done again in June. It also gave us a chance to get up close and personal with the fluffsters which is always great.
Most of the herd is well behaved and will stand quietly whilst we fiddle about but there are the three 'troublesome monkeys' that need a little extra care and attention. They are treated with the same speed and precision a formula one car gets at a pit stop. We are in and out in a matter of seconds, job done. I will name and shame.

Coolaroo Judah (Judy) is a big strong scaredy cat who starts trembling as soon as the herd is rounded up and as such is one of the first for treatment. Her owner lives in Australia and we have looked after Judy for the past two years. She has improved but is still a complete stresspants. Not the best looking alpaca in the world (her nickname which Sue says I mustn't use is 'horse') but she does throw nice cria. The tactics for Judy are grab, hold on, jab, hold on, toenails, hold on, clear, out. Thankfully she doesn't spit.

Coolaroo Judah

Jake our huge big white whether is almost as bad, not quite so scared but just very strong. I am the toenail clipper so it is up to Sue to hang on. Sometimes it's very entertaining! He was actually very good today.

Big Jake

The dangerous one is Bobby, one of our foundation herd. Bobby is our medium fawn Wessex Mateus girl. She produces masses of fleece and is mother to our rosette winning Patou Poppy. Not only is Bobby big strong and stressy she is also a spit fountain. She spits at anyone, human or alpaca that goes anywhere near her, apart from her mother Priscilla and Poppy. At spit-off times she starts before the male gets anywhere near her, most males retreat immediately. The trick with Bobby is to grab low, below the arc of fire, point her down wind and crack on as fast as possible. Sue and I have become such experts with Bobby that although everything around us had a green tinge to it we were spit free. Hurrah!

Bobby looking very sweet, looks deceive!
Suffice it to say we still love them, it's just them being alpacas afterall.
Oh look at the time, whoopee, it is time to dress up and head off for another 10 hour shift at the day job. This has got to stop, I'm just having too much fun.

Saturday, 29 November 2008


Occasionally you come across moments of sheer brilliance. Last night was one of those occasions.

Let me set the scene. As some of you may know I am good buddies with the Lord Mayor of Incaworld and have the pleasure of using herdsires from his impressive line up.

The latest male, and undoubtedly the star of the show, is the mighty, nay awesome, Lillyfield Jack of Spades.

We had the big fellow here for a few days over the late summer months and he was introduced to some of the Patou girls. For some inexplicable reason that we shall put down to 'that's life' not many fell pregnant.

A few days ago I read in the entertaining Amiryck blog (Inca splinter group Karen and Richard) that they had a very good success rate with the splendid Mr Spades.

I commented, enquiring " Well done, did you have low lighting, soft music and a glass of bubbly for Jack?"

The response was a highly entertaining piece of brilliance which I would urge you all to look at as a matter of urgency. is the site, blogspot url is check out the blog entitled 'In answer to your comment Mark'.

Make sure to achieve the full effect that you have your speakers turned on with the volume up.

Brilliance, sheer brilliance.

Monday, 24 November 2008

A touch of the trots

The last three days we have been pretty busy here in Patouland.

On Friday we noticed that our lovely 'older lady' of the herd, Deedee, was a bit lethargic and not eating. She is a ten year old medium fawn Chilean import with an absolutely super temperament which she passes on to her cria. Fifi, the 'noser', who I mentioned in the last blog is Dee's cria from last year.
She has done this before so we knew what to do, a dose of antibiotics, and a course of Vetrumex and she perked up.
However, I also noticed that Valley Farm Sheba had a rather runny bottom. We observed her for 24 hours and the 'softness' turned into 'wateriness'. Chocolate moose to oxtail soup if you will pardon the comparison. That was the cue to throw everything at her and also look at the rest of the herd. Sheba was wormed (1.5ml Ivomec super), treated for coccidiosis (20ml Vecoxan), given antibiotics (4ml Nuflor) and given 7ml of Kaogel. Having done that we wormed the whole herd to be on the safe side.

Today I have been out amongst them and there are no signs of 'looseness' anywhere. Sheba herself saw me coming and as I approached her she turned sideways on, assumed the position and plopped out a nice firm poop for me to look at. Marvellous. We are still watching carefully for anymore signs but seem to have sorted it out which is satisfying.

Saturday was a good day here. We were visited by some very nice people who had come to look at Milarka. Milarka is an incredible alpaca being a Purrumbete Highlander daughter. We have had her for sale for over a year and it has baffled the doodahs out of me why no-one snapped her up. She has a beautiful white Killawasi girl at foot and has bred some tremendous cria in the past few years. In short she is a superb breeding machine and would be a valuable addition to any herd. I am very happy to report that the visitors are now to be Milarka and Minna's new owners. I know they will be very pleased with her, she does the business.

Thursday, 20 November 2008


What a splendiforous day it has been today.

I have been at home alone left to my own devices. Sue has been at work and Angus has been at school, obviously, for he is a schoolboy. First up was some badly needed updating of the girls on alpacaseller so a couple of hours on the computer. Then some other computer work that needed doing and out I went to mingle with the herd.

It is four weeks since Lily had her jaw abscess operated on so I was giving her a final check over to relay to the vet. I had just paid the bill and if I could avoid another visit costing more money I would.

On the subject of the bill and to encourage you all to check jaw lines religiously you may be interested to know that it came to a whopping £755. Now I don't know about you and bills but when I opened that envelope I was so scared a little bit of wee came out.........and that's never good.

Anyway I checked the lovely Lily over this morning for the vet. I knew what she was going to be like as I checked her yesterday. We've checked her just about every day since she came home so we know that she has almost healed up, the swelling has gone and she is munching apples like an apple munching monster, a lovely monster of course.

So I phoned the vet and told him what a great job he'd done and that was that. We'll just keep an eye on her but we have no cause for concern.

Something else I spotted yesterday amongst the herd was Patou Fifi had lost a toenail on one of her back legs. It looked painful but was dry and she wasn't limping, she is now also under observation. I haven't mentioned Fifi much on the blog, she is the cutest sweetest friendliest little bag of fawn fluff in the herd.

Fifi is what I call a 'noser'. If you walk out into the herd and bend over so that your head is the same height as an alpacas, within 5 minutes, more often than not, you will have a small fawn alpaca stuck to your nose peering at you with the biggest brown eyes.

I have never seen or heard her spit. I don't think she knows how to and if she did she would think it an awfully revolting habit.

After all that 'alpacerring' it was off to pick up the boy Angus from shool and once he was changed we were off out in the beautiful winter sunshine to walk the mad labs. We climbed a hill and looked back down on the herd and had some fun throwing a ball down that hill so that the really mad lab, the boy Josh could expend some energy. No doubt he will still be up at five tomorrow but hey we had a great time. If you're a parent you will know that sort of time together is special. Doing nothing special just enjoying each others company.........I'm talking about me and Angus here by the way not me and the mad labs.

As I write Angus is eating an enormous amount of spaghetti closely monitored by the labs. The chickens are shut in and I will shortly be lighting the woodburner and thinking about preparing supper for Sue and myself. A simple day, no dramas, nothing hugely exciting but an immensely satisfying one. Splendiforous all round.

Monday, 17 November 2008


My last ramble seemed to provoke a reaction and what an unexpected reaction it was, Sue and I are very grateful for the very nice comments that were posted. What a pick me up! Or pick US up I should say.

To tell the truth I do feel a little embarassed. I have always been someone who speaks (or in this case writes) without thinking. Sometimes it has got me into trouble, occasionally it as got me out of trouble but mostly I have ended up thinking that I should have thought a little more about what I was going to say before transmitting. In fact I spend a lot of time thinking about what I should have said instead of what I did say. When you are a Policeman dealing with highly charged situations it pays to wait, think, and then speak, but you don't always get the time.

I have declared in the blog previously that I am pretty much an open book, my emotions are right out there for all to see, I am transparent. I can't hide what I am feeling, just can't. Believe me I used to try...............until I realised I couldn't.

I suppose emotionally I am a still in my early teens and I say that with a soaking wet head having just had a flannel fight with Angus whilst he was having a bath.
Jeepers that boy's throwing arm is getting good. He caught me fair and square right in the chops with a somewhat illegally heavy flannel. Completely loaded with bath water, close range, hard throw, it hurt.
The rules state that each flannel should be squeezed out before throwing. That one wasn't, I saw him bend down and pick it straight up out of the water and then....... wallop......... it was stuck to my face. You should have heard him laughing, it was priceless. Situations like that make you realise how lucky you are. How lucky I am.

Anyway, I have been at work for the last four days, leaving in the dark, getting home in the dark, miserable. I haven't seen the herd since Friday and here I am finishing this blog entry on Wednesday morning. The sun is shining and I am immersing myself in alpaca world for the next two days. First up with some AD & E injecting this morning and then moving amongst the mighty patou with the camera and a bucket of food. They will have missed me as much as I have missed them! Obviously.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Faith,'s under attack.

I am in a very thoughtful mood. Drivel it still may be but it is thoughtful drivel.

Sue and I entered the alpaca world almost three years ago as the second step on a ladder which would ultimately change our lives dramatically. The first step had been the sale of our house in Dorset and the resulting purchase of our 'Wooden House' in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the South of France. It was a long term plan, eight years to be precise (still 4 years and 11 months to go). Some people said it was too long, sometimes I think it is too long.

The plan was to buy three female alpacas, which we did, and from them build a herd of alpacas through careful breeding that would be worthy of a business after the eight years had passed.

Three years down the line and we have 9 breeding females, (three black, three brown and three fawn) having purchased two more a year ago and 'grown' the others ourselves.

The herd, however, stands at 29 at the moment, which for us and our 5 acres, is maximum occupancy.

The rest of the herd is made up of our boys, including our new herdsire Columbus, and the sales herd. The sales herd is made up of animals belonging to others who have asked us to sell them on their behalf. The commission on the sales covers stud fees and the cost of running a herd of alpacas, in theory.

Last year, the first year of real business we did well. We have just received the accounts and we actually made a profit. Everything we made went back into the business.

This year the belief that we have in the ability of our alpacas to provide us with an income is under fire. We are going through the 'difficult' second year. The alpacas are in tip top condition, they are pampered, they are adored, they are watched carefully, they are fabulous, we love them all...........yes even the spitty ones and we don't regret making the decision to enter the alpaca world one single bit. Actually we can't imagine life without them.

However, we are starting to struggle. The cost of running two homes, a five year old and a herd of alpacas is beginning to take it's toll. For the last six months the alpaca bills have been paid by us personally and not the business (we don't earn huge amounts so it makes a big difference). The latest raft of bills (including Lily's jaw abscess whopper) arrived today and made me wince. In fact it made me want to run away and hide.

To try and ease the situation we have reduced the prices of all the alpacas on the website. We are having a winter sale, we need to shift some alpacas for monetary reasons and to reduce numbers, as I said earlier we are at maximum occupancy.

My faith and belief that we have made the right decision is still strong, I see that there is a future for alpacas and deep down I know that if we can weather the storm we will come out the other side and we will look back on a 'glitch'. At the moment though, the belief and faith are under attack.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Days too short

Winter seems to have arrived here and that brings the darkness. My dayshifts now start in the dark and finish in the dark which makes checking the alpacas tricky to say the least. Most of the time if I am working during the day Sue isn't but there are the odd occasions. I have considered reflective collars for them all but it might send them all potty. Going out in the dark to check them has its own hazards. Patouland is on a hillside, which means that we don't flood or get boggy but there is plenty of mud around at the moment and some days you would be better off strapping on skis to get down the runway to the grass.

It's funny to see the alpacas coming up for food. They obviously don't like the mud and tiptoe through it very daintily, the slightest slip sending them into alpaca panic mode!

I was out sorting the herd out yesterday as we had to rearrange the grazing for a day. The landlord has a small driven shoot twice a year and yesterday was the first. He likes all his chums to park their cars in the main field which is where the main herd is. So for the day we had to move the main herd into the top paddock and bump the boys into the little paddock.

It also meant the boys had access to the fieldshelter. I managed to take a picture of Columbus (left) and his new best friend Henry, who was our first ever cria.

They are joined at the hip and get on very well together although there is still a bit of standing still refusing to look at each other when there is food around. It is also of note that Columbus was sheared by some australian bloke and looks very neat and tidy whilst Henry was 'hacksheared' by yours truly. Hackshearing is the next big thing in shearing and will be all the rage soon. Before you gasp at the lack of ears on Henry in this photograph I must point out that they were not 'hacksheared' off but are simply tucked away until he is sure I'm not carrying anything sharp.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Back with some photos

I have been at work for the past 4 days working the evening shift, a gloomy mood descended upon me. However, the ridiculous grin has now found its way back on to my ridiculous face as I have three days at home with a) the family and b) the animals. Fantastic, not only that but as I write the sun is shining and the herd is looking magnificent!

I have just been out with the daily feed and herd check. Whilst out there I was watching the cria and the habit they have of hogging trough space but not actually eating anything. They just lie down next to the trough and soak up the atmosphere as the feeding frenzy around them takes place.
Jonah, Millie and Reggie assume pole position.

Priscilla is the worst offender she sounds like a wookie on crack as she tries to hog the whole trough.
Whilst watching I wandered up and took a close up of Lily's cria, Millie, she really has the most wonderful colouring and has inherited the lovely nature of her mum.

As I kneeled next to her I felt like I was being watched, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and I could detect the faint sound of something breathing close behind me. I looked round slowly to find Alacazam and Reggie taking a great interest. They were begging for a photograph I could tell so here they are.

Reggie, you may remember, was delivered by the vet after presenting in the breach position, he really hasn't suffered as a result and is growing up into a very handsome young fellow.

Tonight I am doing my very first firework display for Angus as he missed it all this week. Afterwards I might have a drop of something warming.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Back to the drivel

Right after the serious stuff of yesterday (gave me a headache) back to the drivel, much more my style.

I was out yesterday amongst the herd walking the dogs and all 9 of our 2008 cria were in a group following us round the field. Now that they are getting older they are much more inquisitive. I only had my phone with me and it was a dreary overcast day but I took some snaps anyway. It was quite strange, every time I stopped and turned round they stopped and stared.
It was like being followed by the paparazzi I would imagine. Except these were the fluffiest cutest most endearing group of 'paps' around.

They were so sweet, some of stared at me some stared at the dogs. There was a lot of standing around pretending that nothing was going on. As soon as we moved off I could hear their little feet on the grass as they resumed 'the follow', only for them to stop when I stopped. It was like playing some sort of weird outdoor alpaca musical statues, without the music and without the present at the end of it. I'm sure there was some whispering going on too.

From left to right: Reggie, Barney, Blackjack, Millie, Minna, Moselle, Alacazam, Jonah with Juno grazing behind.

We are approaching weaning time with the oldest. The mums will go off for a short break with our good friends Liz and Peter just up the road and the male weanlings will go into the boys paddock with Columbus and Henry.

Then of course halter training will start. One of my favourite alpaca things to do. It's a great excuse to get up close and personal and do something together. Don't you just love them!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Mr Anonymous is at it again.

I have been quiet for a few days due to the constant interference of the day job but Sue is at work, I have just dropped Angus off at party and I have an hour to spare.
Then will follow some log chopping, alpaca feeding and a cup of tea with some friends who are coming to have a look at Columbus this afternoon. This evening will consist of a nice roast, followed by Strictly Come dancing in front of the log fire. Watching strictly come dancing, not doing it that is. Yes we are fans. I don't know why I am telling you all that but there we are, you now know.

Anyway alpaca stuff. I have read Bob's blog and see that he received the same letter as I did yesterday. It was a letter extolling the virtues of supporting the increase in registration fees for imported animals thus protecting the existing 'british' stock.

It was written by a 'small Uk home-grown breeder'. I searched for a name, a clue as to who had written it. Nothing, it was an anonymous letter. That annoyed me. Anonymous letters usually go straight in the bin or the fire whichever is closer, such is my disliking of them.

I'm sorry but if you are going to send out letters putting forward a strong point of view and extolling readers to act upon the contents of the letters then please, please have the guts and confidence to sign the bloody thing. Ooh it really annoys me.

Ben Harford, who objected to the introduction of the increased fees, put his name very much to the fore, he rang me (sadly I was in France) and sent me an e-mail and argued his case well. I didn't support his point of view but respect to him for standing up and having his say. As a result of his actions the board has changed it's tack.

I am a small breeder and have sold less animals than last year, has that got anything to do with imported animals? I don't know, but I doubt it. I have seen some very ugly looking alpacas that have been imported though and that can't be good. What sort of screening takes place?

If increasing the registration fees stops sub-standard alpacas that can't contribute to the improvement of the national herd getting into the country then that must be a good thing. Could not the same effect be achieved if the screening standards were much tougher?

I am not a political animal, I would rather let other people with greater knowledge of the subject matter sort things out. Sure I will offer an opinion if asked but that's about it. It's not entirely because I can't be bothered it's just not me. I am insular in a way, I like to just get on with things my own way and not have to rely on others. We like to be independent down here in Patouland

The futurity stuff arrived today, great stuff, we're looking forward to it immensely. We had a fantastic time this year at Newbury and if you are reading this and can't decide whether to go or not you simply must. It is brilliant. Total immersion into alpaca world for three days. Love it, just love it!

One thing annoyed me last year though. It said quite clearly (as it does this year) on the bumpf that people entering the showring must wear black trousers and white shirts. Did everyone abide by this small and not very difficult to follow rule? No, some people didn't. Why not? Because they are complete numpties that's why. It's a small request, for goodness sake make the effort.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Columbus has landed!

The blog has been a bit quiet down here for a few days but I have been busy.
The mighty Patou herd has increased by one this week as we have purchased our first stud male.

Cambridge Columbus, a cracking looking light brown male, is joining us today and I am to say the least a little excited.
I have had my eye on him for a while and when the opportunity arose to buy him that was that.

Black was the new white, well brown is the new black, don't you know!

He is hopefully the first stud of several herdsires to join the herd of the next few years. Watch this space!

Other news, Lily has completed her course of antibiotics and the wound looks very clean, everything seems to be going according to plan which is great.

She spends her entire time eating which shows everything is working alright and she is holding her condition well.

The sun is shining and the world is a great place!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Lily photographs

Just a quickie today as the day job is beckoning.
To prove that Lily, my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world does exist I thought some photographs were in order.

Sadly some fat bald bloke jumped into the picture as it was being taken. Really some people!

Lily with her daughter Millie, who is looking very nice indeed.

Millie is a Centurion girl and has a lovely tight crimpy fleece.
Anyway off to fight crime..................or something.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The girls are home.

Lily, Millie and Lola are now back grazing with the mighty Patou herd after picking them up this afternoon. Lily's operation went very well and the vet was pleased with the outcome and her recovery so she has been released a day early.

Another magical moment for me as when I arrived at the equine hospital I could hear them humming and went straight to their stable.

As I opened the top half of their stable door Lily and Lola both walked over to me and there was a bit of nose on nose action. At one point both their noses were on my nose!

There was no doubt in my mind that they recognised me and that they wanted me to take them home, no doubt whatsoever. Either that or I smell like something very appealing to a hungry alpaca!

I lead them straight into the trailer with little Millie following and that was that. Lily's wound looks very neat and we have some antibiotics to give her over the next few days. It is so good to have her home.

Just have the pain of the bill to look forward to. C'est la vie.

Thank you very much to all the people who took the trouble to ask about her welfare. I know she is just an alpaca but as we all know there is no such thing as 'just' an alpaca.

Monday, 20 October 2008


Hello all, we have returned from a splendid week in the south of France and are now getting back to normality.

We aways love visiting our little bit of paradise in the French Pyrenees and although we are still a few years off we can picture the mighty Patou herd roaming the foothills with the mountain backdrop.
Our nearest neighbour, George, a french farmer who speaks no english at all came round for a beer and told us all the latest news. It appears that two plots of land near us have been bought by Brits and they will be building houses there within the next couple of years. Not exactly what we had expected.
We hope to fully integrate into the french rural lifestyle and will speak the language fluently. Angus will be going to a French school and hopefully one day I will be accepted into the local boules games in the local town.
Still we can't criticise anyone doing exactly what we are doing and funnily enough met one of the couples a day after speaking to George. They seemed very nice and by the scale of their house plans we will look a little like the poor neighbours!

We returned in the early hours of yesterday morning and I have just returned from the equine hospital in Salisbury where I have left Lily and her cria Millie together with Lola.

Lily has gone in to have her jaw abscess looked at and will be having x-rays this afternoon. The vet will then let me know what he thinks and what needs to be done. To say that I am cacking myself just about sums up my feelings, and that's not about the inevitable large bill. I know we are doing the right thing and that Lily will be very well looked after but I worry something may go wrong. And yes I am far too attached to her I know. The rest of the herd are looking in fine fettle and although I know they missed me terribly they are keeping stumm. They can hide their emotions very well.

Whilst writing this I have heard from the vet. The x-rays have revealed that there is a clear sign of an abscess on the front root of Lily's first molar. We discussed the options and on his recommendation Lily will have a general anaesthetic tomorrow. They will remove the offending root leaving the tooth in place. The hole will then be filled with a plaster mix containing antibiotic which will release directly into the surrounding area for a couple of weeks.

All the risks and possible complications have been discussed and my 'cackometer' has now risen to Defcon 4.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Closing down

That's it folks we are off to La belle France for a week and Sue has told me to switch the computer off and get on with things.
I wish you all well and I will re-establish contact next weekend.
I leave you with the latest picture of 'miracle boy' Reggie who is doing very well indeed!
Au revoir mes amies!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The wooden house beckons!

The blog will fall silent this weekend as the Steele family head south for a week to visit the future headquarters of the Patou herd in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains.
Yes we are off to 'The Wooden House' or 'La Maison de bois', as they might say down there.

We bought our 'wooden house' almost three years ago as we planned for our future life when I retire in 5 years time. Only 5 more years to go. Unless..................................................!?!?

Anyway on Saturday we will fly down to the pink city of Toulouse and immerse ourselves in rural french life for a week. Ahh oui, c'est tres bon, pastis, vin rouge, poulet, canard, les montagnes, les sangliers et la maison de bois. We can't wait, we are all excited.

We haven't been since easter and although the house has been well used throughout the summer by friends and family it will be splendid to get down there throw the shutters open, exterminate insects and give a friendly 'Bonjour' to the resident mouse as he/she scuttles about from time to time.

Our good friends Elvie and Pete, who are also visitors to notre maison, will be moving into Park House to look after the alpacas, chickens and mouse slayer (actually he's pretty hopeless). Now that all the cria have been born we feel able to leave the herd. The mad labs will reside wth my parents for the week and I am sure my mother, with her lovely oatmeal coloured carpets, is looking forward to their visit.

In the meantime Lily's jaw abscess continues to give us cause for concern. The Nuflor does not seem to be working and I fear that we may have to organise her operation sooner rather than later. I gave her another jab yesterday, the 7th in a course 11 and the damn thing seems to have got slightly bigger. She is the nicest friendliest, calmest alpaca and it pains me everytime I have to stick that needle in her.

I know we shouldn't get too attached to alpacas but come on guys when they give you so much it is so hard not to. There are of course alpacas that I am not particularly attached to. The spitty, don't you come near me and don't you ever touch me ever, ever, EVER! sort but thankfully we don't have many of those. I could name names but Sue would tell me off.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Cria pictures.

There still seems to be some discussion on the various blogs about the contents of the BAS letter and it now seems to have slipped across to discussing registry closure.
Good idea, close it. We can always open it again can't we (I mean they).
Anyway, moving on. I have just been out in the little paddock feeding the massed ranks of the mighty Patou. This time of year we are just giving them some Alfa A every day. The lactating mums need a bit of a boost and it gives me an excuse to get up close and personal with my favourite group of ladies. I took a few snaps of some of the cria whilst I was out there.

Patou Barney and Avon Water Moselle assuming the position.

Patou Amelie (daughter of Lily), who has the most gorgeous colouring and a lovely tight fleece.

I am a little worried about Lily actually. We are three weeks into a 5 week course of antibiotics. Big doses, 8mls every 4 days. That's a big syringe and as Nuflor is quite thick it's a great big needle. Poor old Lily. The whole point of blitzing her with antibiotics is to stem the growth of this wretched abscess and hopefully stop it completely. However, I'm not sure it is working. It seemed to be initially but yesterday the lump felt bigger. We shall have to see how it goes. There's no point checking it daily as you never notice any change. Once a week and you have a chance of noticing any growth or shrinkage. Abscesses, I hate them.

Patou Alacazam, a handsome fellow and another tight crimpy fleece.

Moselle looking rather lovely, has the crimpiest fleece of them all.

So there we have it, not much to say so some pictures.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

A weighty matter.

This week Sue and I have been injecting for Britain, ok we only have a small herd and people with hundreds of alpacas will no doubt scoff, but for us we have been doing a lot.

Firstly, on Monday we gave all this years cria (apart from Reggie) their first Blue Tongue vaccination. Very happy to report no apparent side effects.

Today we gave all the adults their lambivac injections and whilst doing that did our routine fortnightly health check. We also gave my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world another huge Nuflor injection. Poor old Lily I feel sure she will start to leak soon.

Whilst updating the records afterwards it struck me that only some of our girls lose condition whilst lactating. In fact looking at our records more closely was quite interesting. Albeit in a James May looking into the engine space of a vintage Rolls type way.

Bannock and Lily, our two lactating black girls, have lost condition quite quickly since giving birth. So has Dee our fawn girl. Both Bannock and Dee have never been fat and quickly regained condition last year once weaning started. Several of the other girls have noticeably lost weight since giving birth.

Priscilla on the other hand has been a consistent 3 and a half on the lardy scale since we got her three years ago. Her condition just doesn't waver and she is at present feeding her third Patou cria, Jonah.

Why is this? Does Priscilla eat like a hungry hippo when she is lactating? Jonah is an absolute whopper. From a birth weight of 10 kilos he passed the 22kg mark when he was just 6 weeks old!

Priscilla must be producing vast quantities of milk for him yet she remains at the same weight.
Priscilla with Jonah, aged 8 weeks. Look at the size of him, he dwarfs his fellow cria and yet is such a sweetie. We do love him, the big gullah! (that's for the benefit of any australian readers)

I suppose it's the same as people. Some are fat and some are thin. Some people eat massive amounts and never get beyond 'rake' status and I am rather rotund and yet I eat like a sparrow.

However, just in case I get invited to a readers house for any sort of meal I must point out that in the interests of being polite I like to eat large portions at other peoples houses. Please don't forget is important.
I'll also need some wine before during and afterwards and then some whisky.

Monday, 29 September 2008

A letter and the shed dwellers.

We received the letter from the BAS today as described by Bob in his blog. It takes a little longer to get to the south of the county obviously. Anyway I feel it would be remiss of me not to pass some sort of comment. I must admit I hadn't heard any rumour of this development but there is no reason why I should have done.

My initial reaction was 'Excellent news, well done, great for the good of the British market and great for Patou alpacas'.

I have, however, had time to reflect and have been sitting astride the intrusive fence for most of the day. I think I have now slipped off and landed on the same side as the BAS.
Well done to Graham and his band of merry men/women.

The way I see it is that the most important thing for the Uk alpaca 'industry' is for the quality to increase year on year and the numbers of alpacas to increase in line with that. I do see that there is the temptation to import cheap low quality alpacas into the country to make a few quid. I have seen, as we all have, alpacas that were imported and are absolute mingers, if you will excuse the term. That doesn't help the industry at all.

Will adding £2,000 to the registration of imported alpacas stop the importation of cheap sub standard animals? I don't know. I don't know what the mark-ups are from one country to another. I assume that the board do know those figures and have come up with two grand as it makes the importation of cheap alpacas unattractive.

I think the stud males and elite females that will help the industry will still come into the country and I expect that they will cost more when they are here. I think that even if they are priced higher they will continue to sell. People will always be prepared to buy quality.
Will it lead to a closed registry in time? I don't know. The Americans have a closed registry I understand. But then the yanks are all mostly bonkers anyway. Oops shouldn't have said that

Here at Patou we have a herd of british born and bred animals bar one. Dee is a 10 year old Chilean import who is absolutely gorgeous and produces lovely cria. We didn't import her and we haven't imported any alpacas. Actually I tell a lie, we imported three from Dorset when we started. Does Dorset count? Should do.
Anyway that's my opinion for what it's worth.

No onto the drivel section..........or have we just had that?

We have a field shelter here in Patouland, a field shelter that is used quite a lot as we only have the one. Little Reggie was born in there, anyone not very well goes in there and when the big boys come to stay they go in there whilst they are waiting for the girls to be sorted out. It is connected to our birthing paddock by a gate at the front and to our small husbandry/mating paddock by a gate at the side via a runway.
During the summer months it is used for shade and during winter it is used as a shelter from the wind and rain.
Sometimes I close it up for cleaning and give it a few days respite. Some of those alpacas, no name mentioned, seem to think it is a latrine. I have seen them walk across the field into the shelter assume the 'legs apart, tail up position' and let fly. Only to walk back out again afterwards.

I had given it a thoroughly good clean out prior to Reggies arrival as I thought that if he was born in bad weather a nice clean dry shed would be the best place for him.

Now that he has been born and is doing well the shed was not needed. However, I left it open and the usual crew of 'shed dwellers' are back in and spend most of the day there.

The black girls particularly like to take their cria in there. They lounge about chewing and soaking up the sun, it's a south facing shed. Dee our oldest female actually takes up residence at the back of the shed and doesn't come out. I literally have to go in and chase her out.

Ronnie and Reggie continue to thrive and are both happy for me to walk up and sit right next to them. Today they were kissing each other for ages. Someone told me alpacas don't lick, well maybe not but they certainly pucker up and kiss!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Decision time about matings

Firstly an update on the latest addition, the little Groove boy Reggie. He is in top form and seems to be thriving. His mum still looks a little shell shocked but we think she'll be fine.
Here he is with some of his new friends.

As I mentioned in the last blog we had the big boys here for a couple of days and they were kept busy. However, there is only so much they can do in a day and as a result we have some females that are still empty.

Sue and I discussed at length what the plan would be. Do we carry on mating into October and have births in September next year? Do we skip any more matings and wait until spring?

We have decided on the latter. Anyone not pregnant now will be kept empty until the spring. That could be as many as 6 of our girls but it is time to reset the mating clock.
I think we started to fall behind as a result of the foot and mouth outbreaks which meant we couldn't get access to males when we needed them. As a result everything was behind schedule and this year we had some late births. We have also had a higher percentage than usual of females not falling pregnant, I don't know why, just bad luck probably.
We are going to be mating Patou Poppy, Lola, Fifi and Lily in the spring. Bobby, the spittiest female we have is due to give birth in April so she will also fall in with the others.

I had to laugh when I was doing the spit offs with Jack.
Most girls performed as you would expect, a few seconds with Jack sniffing around orgling and they either sat or were saying 'Out, let me out!'
Bobby and her mother Priscilla were so different to the rest. I think I heard Bobby spit before he had even got out of the van.
I didn't put them in with Jack, I just ran them past him. I tell you, if looks could kill!
Both of them stared at him spitting as they walked slowly past. Jack, being a sensible fellow stayed at the back of the mating pen. He's not daft, he doesn't want to be covered in spit.
It was nice to see two of our girls so brilliantly pregnant.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Still ecstatic and now the big boys are here!

I am still a bit on cloud nine here after the events of yesterday.

Ronnie and Reggie seem in fine fettle, he is all fluffed up and although they are both a bit bloodstained they have been roaming the field as they should.
Ronnie seems to have taken to motherhood very well and Reggie is feeding well.
He is very inquisitive as shown by the below photograph.

He is also a mighty handsome little galloper!

Today also saw the arrival of two big boys who had come to stay for a couple of days. Whilst here they will be meeting some of the ladies in the herd.

They were kindly brought over by Trevor, father of Tracey, wife of Tim. Tracey not Trevor. Trevor is not Tims' wife Tracey is. I think I made that more complicated than it should have been. Anyway it was nice to see Trevor and chat over a cup of coffee.

Trevor said that he had never seen a more magnificent herd of alpacas than that of the Mighty Patou. He was somewhat awestruck and I think if he is honest with himself he will admit that it was probably a bit much to take in. I think as he gazed out across the gathered herd I saw a tear in his eye. It wouldn't surprise me if he did a little bit of wee in his pants. It does that to people you know. The Mighty Patou.

Well it is my blog you know, I can make stuff up if I like. Can't I?

The two big boys were Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca and Cambridge Major Baydon.

We have had Jack here several times before and I have rambled on about how good I think he is. He is stunning, a really super looking male, and a complete gentleman. He was soon put to work with spit offs and then some matings.
Afterwards, Jack, being familiar with his surroundings was not interested in posing for the camera, all he wanted to do was graze and poop. After a while I gave up.

The Major has never been here before and I have to say he looks terrific. He posed superbly for the camera, especially when Bob, our black cat, minced into the paddock. He didn't stay for long!

He is a young up and coming male and is very impressive indeed. He was here to mate with Milarka, a white australian female, daughter of the mighty Purrumbete Highlander.
I have to say Milarka, being a mature female, took a little while to succumb to his somewhat clumsy advances but the job was done in the end.

Tomorrow morning will be a couple more matings for Jack and then I will be taking him and the Major back to Inca headquarters.

This evening before bed Angus and I will be splitting some atoms, auditioning for the lead role in a West End play and completing our alternative theory of relativity. It's a cracker!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

What a rollercoaster!

In my previous blog I wrote about Ronnie and the vet visiting yesterday.

This morning at first light I was up and out and homing in on Ronnie. Things had moved on, she was straining. She was very obviously trying to give birth. I reported back to Sue who carried out a quick internal examination and we realised that something was not right.

Instead of the hoped for nose and front feet Sue could feel something else which was either an ear or a tail. The vet was called it was 6.45am.

40 minutes later and the vet arrived. A breach presentation was diagnosed. The last thing we wanted to hear. There then followed a great deal of internal fiddling, pulling and head scratching. The vet told me that it was very likely that the cria was dead, she had not felt it move for sometime. She had managed to get one back leg out but the other was still tucked up under the body. She had a rope round it but the cria wasn't budging. We then went on to discuss the various options whilst we waited for back up to arrive.

The options, if the cria couldn't be pulled out, were not good. A caesarean, which could result in a dead Ronnie or cutting up the cria in order to get it out, hopefully resulting in a live Ronnie.

I wasn't overly keen on either option, but once the second vet arrived decisions were going to have to be made.

At this point in the day I was beginning to wish I was still alseep in the middle of a very bad dream. We were looking at another dead cria and there was a chance we could lose Ronnie as well.

The second vet, David, arrived. He had delivered the two still borns earlier in the summer. He got to work.

As he was lubing up we both saw the foot that was sticking out of Ronnies rear end twitch.

We looked at each other and I asked him if he had seen that foot move. He had but said it might have been due to a contraction.

It moved again. 'It's still alive' I said.
My somewhat low mood had surged upwards.

David was now going to work and bugger me if two minutes later he didn't pull out a lovely healthy male cria!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a fantastic, wonderful, bloody marvellous result!!!!

There were a few tears welling up in that field shelter I can tell you. I just couldn't believe it. From a scenario where we had a dead cria and were in deep pooh with the mother we went to the best possible result, all in about two minutes flat. My emotions still haven't quite caught up with me.
Ronnie was simply marvellous and just lay there without making much of a fuss about any of it. She couldn't have been any better.

Ronnie isn't owned by us so the name of her cria will ultimately be decided by his owner but we have affectionately named him Reggie.

Do you know what happened then. The sun came out. What a fantastic day!! Bring it on!!

Monday, 22 September 2008

In a bit of a dither.

We are in a bit if a dither here in the land of Patou. We have one female yet to unpack, Avon Water Veronique, one of the most gentle alpacas we have here.

She is one of those alpacas that remain virtually invisible within the herd. Never arguing with anyone, always calm, always behaving as a happy healthy alpaca should.

'Ronnie' is now eleven months pregnant and her behaviour today has changed. She is noticeably very pregnant and is mooching around like she is thinking about giving birth. She has been visiting the poo pile frequently, sometimes doing something, sometimes not. Sue was at home and was keeping me updated whilst I was at work. We have become a little hypersensitive about birthing after the two stillborns we had this summer so I came home early and after observing and umming and ahhing we called the vet, just to be on the safe side.

The vet came and checked her over. Ronnie was perfectly behaved and after examining her the vet said she thinks that things will start to happen within 24 hours but she is not ready yet.

So we are in a waiting game.

'Ronnie' is pregnant to Cambridge In the Groove and we are hoping that we are here when it arrives. A healthy cria is all that we wish for. With Ronnies looks and Groove's fab fleece the cria should be good.

Avon Water Veronique in full fleece.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Rumpy pumpy training session

Sue called me out into the garden this morning to watch some of the boys, being........well......being boys.

Jake who is our big white wether thinks that he is a stud male. We think he was castrated a bit late and he still thinks he has what was taken away. Subsequently every now and again he finds an empty female that smells right and gives him the wink and he starts orgling. It can be very useful and we have discovered a few 'empty' females due to Jake's behaviour.

Today he had found Avon Water Monique who is due to be visited by the big man Jack of Spades next week. I don't think he quite anticipated the help he was going to get from the young boys in the herd.
His orgling had also attracted the attention of Bannock our senior black girl and mother of my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world. Bannock came over and lay next to Monique. She was supposed to be pregnant so she will also have another liaison with Jack next week. Bugger.

Orchard Blackjack, Patou Jonah and Patou Alacazam all thought they would come over and help.

Jonah being the oldest and the biggest of the youngsters flapped around on top of Bannock who chewed patiently. I must say female alpacas are so sweet when they just lie there patiently, bless them. Jonah's little orgle was almost as loud as Jakes but he kept falling off and winding himself.

Jack and Al were beside themselves trying to help. They were jumping up onto everyone and orgling their little heads off. It was quite a noisy occasion.

In this last picture poor old Monique is completely pinned down, Jake is in the stud male position and immediately in front of him is Blackjack who has assumed the position on her neck and head.

Patou Lola came over as well. She seemed very interested and as she had refused to entertain Jack a couple weeks ago she looks like she might be ready for him when he visits next week, excellent.

I was slightly concerned not to see our little Killawasi boy joining in but then saw him some distance away trying to get a female down all by himself. Don't you just love it!