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 that..............................it is important.
I'll also need some wine before during and afterwards and then some whisky.