Yesterday was a very interesting day.
Like many other alpaca owners I went to the EPC 'soiree' at Baydon.
What a place.
Matt and Cathy have bought a superb house with absolutely tremendous facilities for an alpaca business. I am very jealous..............I want one and I want it now.
It had obviously been used as a home for racehorses (it's not far from Lambourne) and has plush stables, exhibition paddocks, and enough acres for a lot of alpacas.
Driving the battered old 'Patouwagon' through the archway into the parking area I felt slightly conspicuous. I hadn't washed the old girl and perhaps I should of. I almost spoiled the setting.
Thankfully I was as smart as I could possibly be, suited and tied.
Having been brought up in a military family, resided for 10 years at boarding school and been a uniformed Policeman for the past 20 years I am very aware of dress codes etc. The invitation said 'smart'. As a result I went as smart as I could. Actually I only really have two dress settings, scruffy and smart.
At this point I would like to make a plea for the humble tie. Where have they all gone? I think I counted 3 in total out of about 80 guests. Have I missed something? Are ties no longer worn? Am I hopelessly out of touch with todays fashion? Actually I have been hopelessly out of touch for my entire life so maybe that is it. Anyway a small observation I thought I would share.
The talks were very interesting Jane Vaughan on nutrition and ET (yeah I thought it was strange to be talking about the funny little Spielberg creation at an alpaca event but was prepared to go with it. Embryo transfer actually, fascinating stuff).
We all moan about how long it takes for things to happen in the alpaca world, gestation lengths then waiting to see how the cria is going to turn out, shows, then matings etc etc. Well ET is a massive corner cutter. It's not for us yet but jeepers I can see how it could really improve a herd very quickly. I shall be keeping an eye on that subject.
The other talk, by an amiable Ian Watt, was equally fascinating. It was all about fleece and fibre, in particular the SRS method of measuring the qualities and characteristics of fibre. It was very interesting to hear his views on how we should be doing 10 or 20 years down the line and how we should approach getting there. A lot of food for thought.
The champagne reception and lunch were good and it was great to catch up with friends and meet new people, hear different views and talk about a subject we are all passionate about.
I see Baydon becoming the centre of all things alpaca in the UK. I don't know whether that is the plan but the facilities are all there, the Lloyds are so laid back and welcoming and they have some magnificent looking animals. The plan is, I think, to hold seminars there every 6 months or so and I think that would be a good thing.
I left having looked at all the stud males on show in the stable block and returned to the land of Patou to have a chat with the girls to let them know that we had some serious work ahead of us and one or two of them were going to have to pull their fingers out.
Lily, who can do no wrong, was still hanging on and looking very comfortable.
I am back to the day job next Wednesday and am not looking forward to it at all. I want more than ever now to be an alpaca breeder full time.
My brain will be working overtime from now on to find a way to make it so.