Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Friday, 26 December 2008
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 found a Fully Automatic button, so if they are rubbish I am blaming the camera entirely. I like them anyway.
Thursday, 18 December 2008
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Sue has always been interested in photography and had an old Pentax SLR which is now a bit out of date.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
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
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……..in summer………..in 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
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
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.
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
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.
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!