Sunday, 28 June 2009

A visitor from down under.

We have been bathed in glorious sunshine all week again apart from a couple of short thunderstorms and we are loving it. Nothing better than being up at the crack of dawn, outside in my peejays observing the Patou herd as it goes about its mighty morning business. Laying about in the shade basically.
Priscilla's new cria has now been given a name by the Patou herd naming committee, she will be known henceforth as Patou Minstrel, or Minnie for short.
Priscilla is chock full of milk and Minnie has been feeding well, in fact Priscilla has so much milk I almost feel like drawing off a pint myself to have on my cornflakes. There might be a bit of spit involved if I tried so perhaps not.

Yesterday we had a visit from Sarah Wheeler from Prados Alpacas in Australia. Sarah was over on family business and very kindly took time out to come and visit us. Sadly Sue and Angus had to head off to a birthday party but Sarah and I had a very interesting discussion over lunch about alpacas and stuff. What a lovely lady and what lovely presents! You shouldn't have...but you thank you very much!
Sarah and her husband Perry farm alpacas near Adelaide and are following the brown and black route much like ourselves. In fact that wasn't the only thing we have in common. Sarah is a district nurse (Sue is a Community Midwife) and Perry is a retired Copper like me..........have I retired yet?..........damn I don't think I have you know....................bugger.
They also have a splendid blog, if you don't already know it can be accessed at
Massive gardening day for me today so I'm off for some serious limbering up.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

She's done it!

Having heard of lots of late births this year we have decided to buck the trend down here in Patouland as Priscilla gave birth this morning one day short of eleven months.

At 11.30 this morning she popped out the cutest little female, weighing in at 7.25 kilos.

She has a lovely dark brown fleece and has inherited her mothers white spot on her chin which is a common theme with Priscilla's cria. Other than that she is without white fibre so that's great.

She is as yet, unnamed, but doing very well.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Where have I been?

Hello readers I saw today that it has been almost a week since I last posted and I just don't know where the time has gone. So without so much as an intelligent thought here is the drivel.

Things here in Patouland have been ticking along with a hefty bit of interference from the day job which actually turned into a night job for a couple of days. Yes, here in Wiltshire the event or rather 'non-event' of the year is the summer solstice at Stonehenge. I believe Stonehenge is what actually puts Wiltshire on the map. Without it people would just keep going until they reached the real West Country.
As usual fearing the absolute worst the bosses make everyone work all weekend and I was no exception.
The highlight was guarding an empty park and ride car park for 12 hours during the night. Don't ask me why I was there, I just was and I have rarely, if ever, been quite so bored.

Anyway, alpacas. Priscilla our matriarch is now 4 days away from being eleven months preggers and is enormous. Sue tells me her 'bits' have changed shape and a couple of days ago there was so much movement going on inside I thought there was going to be a side exit breakout........messy.
Last year she went eleven months and 2 days and I would be very surprised if she lasted that long.

Poor old Priscilla is doing a very good job of amusing me whilst we wait. She is so large that every movement, be it a scratch, a lie down, a get up, a spit, a sneeze, a sudden trot, even a tight turn, causes her to fart in a comical 'raspberry' like fashion. It's very amusing to a juvenile delinquent like myself.

Priscilla looking LARGE with Lily in the background practising her summer tap dancing routine.

She is carrying a cria by Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca, our favourite stud male and we are very keen to see the result. Priscilla hasn't got the best history with us and has produced three boys in a row over the last three years. Not only that but two of them, Bo Jangles and Jonah were not solid colours. Very handsome boys with lovely fleeces, but not solid. She owes us a beautiful girl and I just know she is going to come through with an absolute cracker.

Other news here is that we are still experiencing something called 'Summer', quite extraordinary. We have had barely a drop of rain in the last month and the alpacas are making the most of their relaxation time. I looked out of the window a couple of days ago and saw that Old Sunface the silent sniper had once again been out picking off the herd one by one.

I was almost tempted to join them but didn't want to take the chance. Bald head, no cream, no hat, excess sun exposure, equals, in no particular order, bollocking, pain, redness and more pain.

One day soon, I promise, I may act like a grown up.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Spit offs and stuff

First of all some news about Miss Rosemary Mint, the invading lamb of doom. She has gone. I had just about had enough last night with her continuous sleep breaking bleating that I cracked. Downstairs I ran and sorted her out once and for all. No more Miss Mint.

Actually before you all start bleating about animal cruelty that was a fib. Some friends of ours who live about a mile up the road fell in love with her and so she has gone to live in their garden as a pet. She will be spoilt rotten by three young girls who will no doubt be fighting over who feeds her etc. If I am honest with myself, I miss the little ball of fluff, she was quite sweet, noisy but sweet.

Anyway on to alpaca stuff. Big Jack of Spades, surely the coolest, dudiest stud male around was spitting off here yesterday and all but one of the girls didn't want anything to do with him.

Lily who wasn't keen to be covered a week ago went down like a sack of spuds this time and there was love in her eyes as she looked round at the big fellow. Now if that mating doesn't result in the most beautiful cria in the whole wide world I'm a chinaman. I'll let you know in about 11 months or so hopefully.

Columbus's one and only conquest so far is also still spitting off so at least we know he works. He ought to with nadgers like that, they are seriously big, proper big.

He has caused us some consternation recently. The idea was initially to get Jack of Spades working and then to get Columbus in a pen next to him so that he could watch the master at work and would have an idea of what to do. That worked until Columbus decided that he didn't like watching Jack messing with his girls and he turned a bit protective.
In fact he turned violent and as previously reported was banished to solitary confinement, where he remains. He still paces the fenceline, a big mass of testosterone and confusion. Bless him he's acting the part but doesn't really know what to do.
The plan now is to surround him with empty females and play an orgling CD to him which I suppose is a bit like Barry White for Alpacas. We'll get there eventually. We have to, he's got some lovely ladies waiting for him.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Under seige

We are under seige here at Patou HQ. Security has never been so tight.
There is a round the clock watch mentality here.
This, fellow alpaca loving friends, is serious, we are now at Defcon 4.

What, I here you wail, is causing such concern?
What terrible being is keeping us on our toes and has caused such unrest within the confines of the mighty Patou headquarters.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the cause of such fear.

You may have guessed from previous posts.

Yes, it is Miss Rosemary Mint, the invading lamb of doom!

Sure she appears all fluffy, all cute, all cuddly, but within that fluffy outer shell lurks the wicked mischievous mind of a machiavellian demon. She is the master of deception, an evil genius and she is toying with us. She has managed to get inside our heads. She is relentless and her wickedness seems to have no boundaries.

Having portrayed the role of 'abandoned dying lamb' to perfection, she gained a foothold into the house. A bath to warm her up and 24hours living in the bathroom as she lounged as if unable to stand whilst Sue tended to her every need. A night in the kitchen where she was able to work her evil mind games on the poor unsuspecting mad labs, they now follow her commands silently and without question.

We managed to oust her into the garden as her spells were not quite strong enough to defeat us and there she has remained largely until this very day.

She is, however, very definitely staking us out. She sits, lies or stands near the door, sometimes bleating to deafening levels waiting for her next opportunity to enter the house. We feed her three times a day without question, she has gained that control quite easily whilst we suspected nothing. Now when she commands we run around in a panic until milk is prepared, powerless to stop ourselves, we try, believe me, we try.

If we do happen to leave the door open as she mentally distracts us with her mind control she leaps up the step and enters. If anyone approaches her to eject her she has perfected a final evil trick which she carries out with a smile and sometimes a wink. She wees on the carpet. As soon as she gets through the door her rear end drops and it's tinkle time, we are powerless to stop her. Having peed, she prances off and we are left with nothing but the echoes of her evil cackle in the air and a growing wet patch on the carpet.

I ask for your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Latest report from Patou HQ

Well I am now three days into four days off and I don't know whether I work harder at work or at home. I know, asking for trouble with that comment.

Jack of Spades was back this weekend and four females out of the five he 'saw' last time spat off very nicely. The one conquest of Columbus so far is also spitting off. We have two other ladies here for him to get acquainted with but he is not making life easy for himself. Columbus has become a complete hooligan. He is currently still in solitary confinement as he attacks any male that comes anywhere near him, apart from me of course, mainly because I am usually chasing him whilst waving a piece of blue piping and shouting obscenities! We will see if we can introduce him to some girls tomorrow.

On Saturday Angus and I, together with his best friend George, went to the Tank Museum at Bovington for the morning. Much fun was had looking at tanks and army stuff. I hope George's mum doesn't mind publication of the following photograph of the two rascals posing in front of one of the many tanks.

Yesterday Angus and I spent the day with three of the mighty Patou herd at the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Spring Fayre. We were very lucky with the weather and spoke to a lot of people about the wonders of alpaca ownership. My parents came along and my father was soon talking 'alpaca' to the massed hoardes. The alpacas were a big hit as usual and as proof I took the following picture. You can clearly see the swarms of people waiting to talk to me.

Alright there's nobody there in the picture but honestly we were busy most of the day! Patou's Millie, Barney and Alacazam strutted their stuff in the ring in front of the gathered crowds whilst John Gaye (yes, the John Gaye of Alpaca show legend) gave a superb commentary. He took a lot persuading as he has officially hung up his microphone but after hours of negotiating agreed for the princely sum of a pint of real ale. Well worth it! Thanks John.

Right I'm now off to play football in the alpaca field with Angus (his thunderous right boot has outgrown the garden).

Au revoir mes petit pois!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Sleep? What's that?

Things have become a little frought here at Patou HQ. Frought due to lack of sleep. Lack of sleep because of the seemingly constant interruptions from the resident domesticated animals here.
Let me give you last night as an example. At approximately 4.00am this morning Sue and I were first awakened (actually Sue tells me she was first up at 2.30am, I am a pretty solid sleeper and missed the first call).
Rosemary Mint, the lamb that Sue rescued was making a racket. We put her in a dog cage in the garden at night with some water and some hay to keep her safe etc. Sue's like that, she is a carer, sensible too, old foxy may be about you never know.
The cage has moved further and further away from the house due to the sheer volume of her bleating. I cannot believe how loud that little lamb has become. I am sure she has a little lamb megaphone hidden in the grass. I can just picture her ferreting around for it, putting it to her lips, taking a deep breath, aiming at our bedroom window and giving it what for. She must be quick hiding it again as we have never seen it.
She follows Sue around everywhere and obviously treats her as her mother so it was down to Sue to get up and feed her. Well I'm not the mum am I? I turned over and closed my eyes.

Rosemary Mint 'Noisebox'

15 minutes later we were pulled back from the verge of sleep by Columbus and Henry having the mother of all alpaca fights. They were in the mating paddock right on front of the house as Jack of Spades is back and he is in the boys field.
Columbus obviously sees Jack as a threat to his manhood and doesn't like watching him have his wicked way with 'his' girls. As a result Columbus was relocated with Henry to let Jack concentrate on the job ahead.

So back to 4.15am and this alpaca fight. Unfortunately for me this comes under my remit. I looked out of the bedroom window and it looked like Columbus was doing Henry some harm. He had him by the back of the neck and had forced him to the floor. So with a sigh and a muttered expletive outside I trundled in my pyjamas to sort them out. Once the gate was open Columbus stopped and they both just stood there motionless apart from their laboured breathing and droopy, dribbling bottom lips. I opened the gate and ushered Henry out to join the other boys. I informed Columbus that it was entirely his own fault that he was now in 'solitary' and unless he changed his tune he would remain there indefinitely.
I watched him, looking for a response but he was still, motionless, mouth agape. A dribble of green slipped out of the side of his mouth and landed in the dusty earth at his feet. I wanted to put my arm round him and give him a few words of fatherly advice. That doesn't work with alpacas so I went back to bed.

Columbus and Henry before testosterone got in the way.

Some time between 5 and 5.30am the dogs started. First there was some whining then some barking. Bryn, the eldest, is almost stone deaf and when he wants to change beds with Josh he stands there and barks at him until he moves. Josh being a 'teenager' resists for several minutes which is lovely for us. Back to sleep then for a final hour perhaps.

The mad labs looking as if butter wouldn't melt.

But oh no not if the chickens have anything to do with it. They decided that it was time to add their own contribution to the melee. Three chickens in a plastic 'Eglu' giving it some wellie. I think the Eglu has perfect acoustics. It's like one of those 'wave sound' wotsits. It must channel all the noise from within into a concentrated beam of noise which then obviously fires straight through our bedroom window.

In the end we gave up and got up. Well Sue did, I stayed low and managed to grab a few more minutes......dreaming about axes and shotguns......................

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Pictures in the sunshine

Too many words last night so today when I took the mad labs round the field I took the camera and bagged a few pictures.

First up, of course, Lily.
She just looks a picture of health now.
They were gathered at the gate, waiting for big Jack to come back maybe?

Fifi as ever looked simply gorgeous.

As did Ronnie and Reggie.

Lily's daughter Amelie and Reggie watching the mad labs as they poop scoop.

And finally a relaxing shot once they got fed up of watching the scoopers. Reggie, again, and Dee mother of Fifi on the right.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Doing cartwheels in my mind

It was probably about 20 year ago when I last did a cartwheel.
I was tempted to do another one about 5 minutes ago. Why? Why indeed my little fluffy animal loving friends.
Sorry, the rest of this blog post will be a bit silly because I feel like being a bit silly. Infact I feel about 14 years old again.
I feel like running...............ok driving, to the top of the nearest hill and belting out at full volume 'The Hills are Alive with the sound of music", I actually really feel like wearing a big blowy Julie Andrews dress when I sing at the top of my voice and completely nail those big high notes.

The reason for my unbridled happiness? The reason why I feel like a boy again? Well the reason concerns my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world.

I know I have wittered on about Lily periodically over the past few months. I took phone calls and e-mails offering advice about how she should be treated all of which were appreciated hugely.
I won't name names, you know who you are, I shall always remember your concern, you will always be welcome to quaff and feed at the mighty Patou dining table, always.
Anyway today we got the results of Lily's final blood test. And it was a bit of a doozie!

A quick recap for the benefit of new readers:

Lily (our first ever female cria and our favourite alpaca in the whole etc etc) had a series of unfortunate situations befall her. Firstly, last year she developed a jaw abscess which we treated twice with long courses of anti-biotics. As it continued to reoccur we eventually had it operated on in November. The operation a success, Lily went on another long course of antibiotics.
In January she lost part of a toe in a trailer door accident. My fault entirely. We have not used the trailer since and I kick it when I pass it sometimes, it makes me feel better. I hate that bloody trailer.

The snow came and we struggled to keep the dressing dry. In stepped our good friends Ivan and Gill and Lily moved into their barn with a couple of chums. The dressing was changed every three days for a month or so but Lily was losing weight. We thought she would improve once the toe had healed. The toe did heal and Lily came out of the barn but when we visited she had stopped eating, was very thin and was frothing at the mouth. We called the vet immediately. He immediately diagnosed severe anaemia and said that she had given up on life and that we would lose her, there was little we could do he said. He took blood. There were tears folks, a lot of tears.

That day marked the first day of 'Lily, Operation fightback'. She may have given up but we hadn't. Lily came home. Lola, Lily's sister, barged past me to get to Lily as I opened the trailer door. Do not ever underestimate the fact that alpacas know and care for their family members. It saved Lily's life, no doubt. Lola and Lily's cria, Amelie, knew who she was and she knew who they were, they stuck together from then on.

The blood results were dreadful. Packed Cell Volume (PCV) of 10. Haemoglobin (Hb) level of 4.

We started her on a regime of medication and supplements. It was like a military operation, we were relentless. Lily perked up. Further blood tests showed improvements. She changed from having given up to actually quite liking being alive. She got caught up in some herd pronking one evening. Seeing her run with little faltering steps was a memorable moment for me. She continued to improve. Nothing got in the way of our course of treatment, nothing.

Anyway that brings me around nicely to this evening. Louise our vet phoned up with the results of the last blood test. 10 weeks after the initial blood test. Read these numbers dudes, read them and weep.

Red blood cell count - 10.5 NORMAL
Haemoglobin - 8.9 JUST ABOUT NORMAL
Everything else - PRETTY BLOODY NORMAL
Lily's condition - PERFECT!

Anyway, that cartwheel.........................I think not.........................but then............ another glass of wine?

I might just give it a go.

Bon nuit mes amies.