Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Its coming!!

Right, at the moment I am like a small child on Christmas eve, eve, eve. I am excited.
Today we received the Futurity information and do you know what? That excited me even further.

The plan layout for all the alpaca pens was quite interesting reading.

The Mighty Patou showteam is slap bang in the middle of the whole damn thing. Right in the middle! How fantastic is that? I'll tell you just in case you hadn't read what my answer would be. It's very, very, fantastic that's what it is.

Sure were not on the edge of a public walkway, but who cares, we are in the middle! In fact we are sandwiched between two of the big boys, EP Cambridge and the Suri giant Moonsbrook alpacas.
Little old Patou in the middle of two of the UK's biggest. Are we frightened ? Are we nervous? Do we think that we can punch our weight? You bet your sweet poophatch we do!
I know who runs EPC and Moonsbrook and I can tell you for a fact that I am bigger than both of them. Mass wise that is. They are taller, granted but width...........no contest.

On top of that, Psycho, I mean Poppy can take anyone at the moment. She is fine once I've got the halter on but boy look out if you want to touch her. Sparks are going to fly I can tell you. Intermediate brown female class if you are interested. Me and Poppy, in the ring, as one.

I have to work tomorrow, an important day as I have a new student to impart wise things to but as of 1600hrs I am in full Futurity mood.

This will in fact be the last blog until after the futurity as we enter the meditation phase.

The show team is not actually here at the moment they have gone into their pre-show retreat where they can meditate and prepare themselves for the forthcoming ring performance.
They are staying with the Black behemoth that is Inca Alpaca under the watchful eye of sensei Tim.
No doubt as the Inca herd goes about it's business there can be seen a small group of four (yes folks the team was cut to four at a late stage due to the discovery of some dodgy dental work) sitting quietly in the corner of the pen or field in an inward facing circle.

There will be an unusually high level of humming, which if listened to carefully, will actually be recognised as tantric chanting. It will be melodious and will help the chosen four to relax and prepare. It must be pointed out at this stage that Poppy might not be with the group. She may well be in a far corner of the field committing some terrible act of vandalism or even alpaca on alpaca violence. It will not be pretty.

Anyway folks I am now signing off. The Patou herd will represent itself at the Futurity in the best way that it can. We may even pick up a rosette. If not we will not cry. We will not be despondent. We will not blame or criticise or have envious thoughts.
No, the mighty Patou will travel home heads held high as a herd small in resources, small in numbers but big in heart.
We travel, we enjoy, we return. And that is what it is all about.

We would love to talk to anyone who has read this drivel so if you are at the futurity please come on over and say hello.
Enough said.

Sunday, 22 February 2009


Cripes, it appears that I haven't 'blogged' for ten days. I have plenty of excuses which I will not bore you with, suffice it to say that life has been pretty hectic for the last week or so.

We are now as ready as we will ever be for the Futurity and are looking forward to it. I will be heading up with the mighty team on Thursday. The three littlies are nicely trained and Poppy has reverted to type. She will be a handful and is now known as Psycho again. She is mad, completely mad, kicking, bucking, pulling, all that is missing is the spitting. No doubt she will master that by Friday. The judge will have to be warned.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Up and running

Finally halter training got under way on Thursday.

As you can see Patou Barney and Avon Water Moselle were less than impressed. However, progress was made and after half an hour or so we were walking around the small patch of grass in the feeding paddock.

Alacazam, was an absolute star and took to it very quickly. In fact the other two were holding him back really. I'm sure I heard him tutting impatiently.

Yesterday I had a chum over and we cracked on with a few circuits of the field, Patou Amelie also joined in and behaved as if she had done it all before.

Today Sue and I took them out for a nice long walk and I think they are getting the hang of it, the sun was shining and once out of the mud it was great fun.

One thing we have noticed over the last couple of days is that Bobby (resident spit fountain) is getting ready to give birth. She was three weeks early two years ago and tomorrow she will have three weeks to go. She is wandering around in a very mellow way, no spitting at feeding time and she seems to be visiting the poo piles frequently.

Her last cria, Poppy, an ATA Cambridge Centurion girl, was a winner at the Royal Bath and West show last year.

When she was born we had to bottle feed her for a couple of days but even though she was 3 weeks early she was a good size.

This year Bobby is pregnant to Canchones Witness. We couldn't get her pregnant in 2007 so started early last year and she took first time on the 8th of April. Bloody typical! So we are now waiting for our earliest ever birthing. Yikes!


Wednesday, 11 February 2009

A new dawn

I have spent the last four days living in the dark.
The day job has meant leaving home in the dark and returning home in the dark.

Yesterday, however, I managed to bunk off early and arrived home in daylight. My spirits were immediately lifted when I rounded the corner and looked up the hill towards the house to see alpacas. Yes folks the slightly wimpy mighty Patou herd had come out of its shed and was grazing in the open air!

We had massive amounts of rain in the morning and most of the snow has now gone leaving exposed grass.

They have been pretty much entrenched in the shed for a week. I even went in there on Monday night to try and get them out to the feeding troughs. I was most unsuccessful. I was pushing them but they weren't having any of it and were backing in to me, it could have turned into a wrestling bout. There was muttering! They were not going out and so I gave up.

I am a bit miffed that I wasn't here to see the herd emerge. I wonder how it had happened. Who was first?

Anyway I imagine the emergence from the shed went something like this:

All is quiet and not an alpaca is to be seen as it finally stops raining. There are a few minutes of stillness until the head of an adult alpaca, probably Judy, pops round the corner of the shed and looks around. A glance upwards at the sky, a thoughtful look at the grass, an upturned foot is stretched out to test for rainfall. A retreat back into the shed. Muttering. Reggie, the smallest cria is then forcibly pushed out into the open air. He quickly turns and rushes back into the shed. Seconds later he flies through the air as the herd expells him. He lands in a heap and quickly gets to his feet staring petulantly back into the shed. Words are said.

Reggie walks forward, tentatively sniffing the air, squelching through the mud as he makes his way along the runway towards the grass. Every few seconds he stops and turns only to be greeted by a raised foot from within the shed pointing down the hill into the field. He trudges on reluctantly, cautiously looking around. It appears, to an onlooker, as if the herd supects that there is a sniper hiding patiently somewhere waiting to strike. Reggie, being the youngest, has been sent out, he is expendable.

Reggie reaches the grass and whilst still looking around bends down and sniffs it. He takes a nibble. There is a collective holding of breath in the shed. Reggie nibbles some more and then moves forward, he is transiting into grazing mode. He turns and looks at the shed with a mouthful of grass and a withering stare. He resumes grazing.

More heads appear from within, the noise level is rising as gradually one by one the rest of the herd venture out.

Well it may have happened like that but the main things is that they are now out and about.

HALTER TRAINING DEFINITELY STARTS TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

They don't like snow.

We are still snowbound here in sunny south Wiltshire, we had a brief thaw yesterday which enabled me to get out and pick up a trailer load of hay but we have had more snow overnight and all is white once more.

Someone said to me the other day 'I expect the alpacas are used to it coming from the Andes'. After a seconds thought it dawned on me that actually most of them have never seen snow before. We have two imports amongst the herd, Judy (from Australia - not much snow there) and Dee who is from Chile. Other than that they are all born in the UK.

They are all behaving as if snow is an evil thing sent by nasty people from above to cause great pain. It seems that snow is seen by the mighty Patou herd as pretty damn dangerous. They avoid it like the plague.

As a result they avoid all contact with it. I haven't seen a single flake of it on any of the alpacas.

The field shelter is currently home to 20 alpacas. Lily, Lola and Amelie are firmly entrenched in their tent and the only way I can coax any of them out is with food.

The water trough which is at the bottom of the field (we are all at the top) is checked every day and ice cleared but there wasn't an alpaca footprint anywhere near it yesterday or the day before, or the day before that!

As a result we have started putting buckets of water out up here at the top and they all pile in as if they haven't drunk for days! They simply will not go down to the trough because they have to cross the great white evil plain of the white stuff to get there. It's ridiculous!

A rare photograph of an alpaca, the lovely Fifi, out in the snow.

Food is the only thing that draws them out, once consumed they all head back into the shed.

As for halter training, well it has been put back a little bit. I know the Futurity is racing towards us at breakneck speed and training will start soon with a vengeance but it's just impossible at the moment. They'll be ready when the time comes, I'll have words.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Snow in the south!

We awoke to a snow covered outside his morning and it has snowed all day. As a result we have been very busy sorting out food and shelter for the animals.

It was also the day we had to change Lily's dressing and we were very pleased to see that the, er...... um...........the toe stump is looking very good. Nice and clean and healthy looking. She has now had it redressed by Sue whilst I whispered sweet nothings in her ear............Lily's ear that is.
We also thought that she ought to have a bit of shelter and we returned her cria, Amelie to her. She was stressed enough without having Amelie staring at her through the fence humming.
So Lily, Lola and Amelie now have the Patou Alpacas show tent in the garden in which to shelter.

The tent is open on three sides with just the north wall in to keep out the snow and the wind. There is hay, food and water in there and they have been in there virtually since we put it up. It makes us all feel better.

As you can see they are looking very much at home. The rest of the herd are in the shed eating hay as if it was about to disappear. Which it is.

I am just wondering how important it is for me to travel in to work tomorrow morning and whether it is worth the risk. If it freezes tonight, which it will, and snows even more, which it will, it might be a bit dangerous. Yes, it might be far too dangerous. It is about 4 miles to the nearest gritted road so who would blame me? Anyway I reckon, in the morning, the man on the news will tell me not to venture out unless it is absolutely necessary. Mmm very interesting.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

A new day, a bright new day!

Thank you for all the comments folks. Lily is now firmly entrenched in the garden with her sister Lola and they are both getting a bit of tlc.
Lily's foot has been treated and dressed and thankfully the weather is dry, very cold, but dry.
She has lost half of a toe but as we all know alpacas heal up very quickly. She will stay in the garden for the next 10 days or so until the wound doesn't need to be dressed and then be released back into the herd. To be honest she doesn't seem too bothered about it all and hasn't stopped eating since she came into the garden. Lots of food, no competition, daily cuddles from Angus, what more could she want? (Apart from the rest of her toe of course).

Today is a family day together which doesn't happen very often so Angus has written a list of things we are going to do as a family. We've had the big fry up and as I am writing this the joint of lamb (from this farm) is in the oven.
After breakfast it was time for Angus to ride his bike, minus stabilisers, for the first time. He took to it immediately (that's my boy!) and was soon careering across the alpaca field at breakneck speeds! I know, I know, sharp intake of breath, where's the helmet?
I will have you know that I carried out a full risk assessment prior to releasing the boy/bike combination and deemed it perfectly safe and normal. He only crashed a few times and didn't land on his head.

After lunch we have a nice long dog walk lined up, then it's movie time in front of the fire. I fancy there might be a wee dram of something warming involved too. The world seems a much better place today.

Halter training starts tomorrow!