Saturday, 31 January 2009

Poor Lily

I would like to post an open invitation to all and sundry to pitch up here at Patouland and hoof me as hard as possible in the rear end. We have had an accident here involving Lily (our favourite alpaca in the whole wide world) for which I take full responsibility.

The plan was to start weaning today and move the mums to our friends place down the road where they can put on some condition and leave us here to start halter training. All was going well until we arrived at Liz's (5 minutes down the road) and started to unload. Lily was lying down and it became apparent that her foot had been trapped in the trailer door. I quickly released her but unfortunately half of one of her toes had been severed.

Sue and I have no idea how this happened. We were both there shutting the trailer door. There was no undue resistance, no noise from any of the alpacas and no inkling that someone had been trapped. It must have happened there as I don't see how else it can have happened.

Our vet has been out and examined Lily, she has had the wound cleaned and dressed, had antibiotcs painkillers and she is now in the garden with her sister Lola. She seems fine and has been tearing into the food I have given her. The vet thinks she will make a full recovery and is not worried.

However, I still feel that it is my fault and the invitation to kick my behind remains open. Believe me if I could do it I would.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Disaster in the south of France!!!!!!!!!!!!

Warning, this edition of the blog is alpaca free.

Some of you may know that the great master plan for the Patou tribe is to take the mighty herd to the South of France in about 5 years time. We have already established a stronghold down there in the Hautes Pyrenees region having bought our 'Wooden House' three years ago.
We visit the house as much as possible and our friends and family use it as a place to escape and relax, or not, depending on who it is. The rental cost is a minimum of half a days work with the petrol strimmer. It's a jungle down there folks.
Anyway you may also have heard that the south of France and the north of Spain have recently suffered some of the worst storms in living memory, with death (literally) and destruction across the Pyrenees.
Sadly our little piece of France has been caught right in the middle of the storms and we have suffered our own bit of destruction.
Our french farmer neighbour kindly went round to check the damage once the storm had passed and noted several big trees down around the house. Thankfully none of them hit the house. However, whilst he was there it became apparent that there was a burst water pipe inside the house, in the bathroom. What made matters worse was that one of the biggest trees to come down, a huge conifer had come down right on top of the below ground water meter and stopcock.

Sue and I have been on and off the phone to people in France for the last couple of days trying to get someone to sort it out. Being 700 miles away and unable to just drop everything and go is very frustrating.
The wooden house last summer.

Finally late this morning I heard from Matt, a friend who lives in the Ariege region who had managed to get to the stopcock and turn the water off. I don't know if Matt and Becky read this but if they do THANK YOU GUYS!!

Matt was also able to tell me which trees had come down. The news was part good, part bad.

Basically the two big trees to the left of the house and the two to the right of the house are now not quite as vertical as they shoud be. The two on the right we were going to fell anyway to open up the view but the two on the left, magnificent specimens of some sort of blue spruce type tree were my favourite trees. As a result the bottom lip is out and I am sulking.

All Sue and I want to do is get out there and clear up the mess. We don't know how long the water had been squirting out inside. I imagine the resident mice are taking the opportunity to host their world swimming championships and I can just picture the plasterboard walls and wooden floors soaking up the water nicely. Still it could be worse. At least it's still standing.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Mud, mud glorious mud.

A few days of silence on the blog to let the full gravity of the mighty Patou Alpacas show team announcement sink in. I can hear jaws dropping as the giants of the UK alpaca world are brought to their knees in desperation, their plans for the futurity shattered in the black, brown and fawn categories. A years planning ruined in one quick revelation. Hardly worth going now is it?

(Yes the fantasy continues in my tiny little brain!)

Mud, mud, glorious mud, nothing quite like it for cooling the blood, so follow me follow, down to the hollow and there let me wallow in glorious mud!

When I was at school we had an annual house song competition. One year we sang 'The Hippopotamus song' by Flanders and Swann from which the above opening chorus line comes.

Never in my life has it felt more appropriate and I find myself humming it every morning as I wade, yes folks the mud is now extremely sloppy and is closer in consistency to water, towards the alpaca feeding area to give them their breakfast. The alpacas charge up the field until they hit 'the somme' and then slow down dramatically as they gingerly make their way up the runway (slipway) to the feeding paddock. We then all squelch our way across to the ever decreasing grassy feeding area where breakfast is served. We then all slip and slide our way back to dry ground. This morning I heard muttering. I'm not sure who it was but someone was definitely muttering. The ranks of the mighty Patou are not happy. They have had enough of the mud. We have all had enough of the mud.

The mothers of the show team will be heading off on Wednesday as we begin weaning. They will be joining the small herd down the road in Tisbury belonging to our friend Liz who will be kindly looking after them for a couple of months. It will give them the opportunity to regain some condition and it will give us the chance to get on with some halter training. That should be fun in this mud! It's actually one of my favourite times of the year, time to bond with the little weaners. If we can get them out of the mud and onto some dry ground it will be fun.

And yes, the beds were changed.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Show team revealed!

Finally our computer problems are sorted out! Both laptops are now fully protected, fully connected (wirelessly) and everything that was loaded onto the old computer has been fransferred.
I now have the weekend off and having played with Angus all day including an hours kickabout with the rugby ball in the alpaca field I now have an hour to spare while he regains his energy by watching drivel on the television. Happy days.
I had another look through the Patou Show Team for 2009 at feeding time and I am very pleased with them. A nice sunny dry day here and the herd looked tremendous.
Anyway the time has come to reveal the mighty Patou show team. (I know, I know, I am living in a little fantasy world of my own. I don't care, it's my world so it's my fantasy)
First up is the utterly gorgeous Patou Poppy. She took the first prize rosette in the junior brown female section at The Royal Bath and West Show last year and still looks lovely. Her sire is superstud ATA Cambridge Centurion.
Next up is Patou Alacazam. Al is an August baby and will just squeeze into the junior black male section. Once again Centurion is the daddy. Al has the looks and the posability of his Dad and a very sparkly fleece, he's a real character.

Another August baby is Patou Amelie, daughter of my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world, Lily. Amelie is a gorgeous brown colour and is very crimpy. She has the same laid back nature of her rosette winning mum and she is loved a great deal here. She looks after her fleece very well by never allowing it to get wet. I have never seen her dirty, she always looks as if she has just come back from the salon. A proper little madam!

Next up is our feisty little Killawasi boy Patou Barney. He again was born in August and will be really up against it in the junior fawn male section. Another shed dweller he is rarely wet.

Finally another Centurion girl Avon Water Moselle, she caught our eye due to a stunning fleece. She will be up against it in the junior fawn class but we are hopefull.
So there you have it, the show team for the Futurity. We just can't wait! Win lose or draw it will be fab!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


Sorry for the blog abscence but we had a complete computer meltdown over the weekend.
Much huffing and puffing and trying to fix things without success ended in a trip to the big computer shop yesterday.

The array of computers was confusing and the 'customer helper' knew about as much about computers as me. Anyway two hours later and I was on the way home with a shiny new computer for us and a little one for Angus ............................... and a headache.

Today I have spent three hours talking to some very nice men in Delhi, six of them in fact, and two nice chaps and a lady in Waterford, Ireland. Together they have got us back on line but to be honest I am sick of the sight of the thing so this blog is just to say that things will be resuming as normal soon.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

It's show team time.

Yesterday Sue and I rounded up the mighty herd for their latest dose of AD&E and a thorough going over. There is no substitute for hands on examination to check on the welfare of alpacas. It's something we love doing as we get up close and personal with the whole herd. We try to do it every two weeks as a minimum.
Coolaroo Judah, the resident Australian, practically bursts with anxiety (they'll be a few more of those in the summer when we take the Ashes back in majestic style........oops.....light blue touch paper and retire 10 meters) and Bobby turns into an alpaca shaped ornamental spit fountain. Therefore we do Judy and Bobs first and release them so that they are stressed for the least amount of time (as are we!) and we are not covered in green.
We can then relax with the rest of the herd, who don't seem too bothered about it all, and check them over at a more sedate speed. Condition scores were recorded, jaws were checked carefully, ears were looked at and each animal was given a quick jab of AD &E. Nothing major to report, all seemed well.

It was also time to select the show team for the forthcoming British Alpaca Futurity. I know we haven't got a huge amount to choose from but we were really pleased with how the Patou youngsters are looking. The funniest thing was little Patou Barney whose father is the legendary spit monster that is Accoyo Killawasi. Barney is only 5 months old but he was there in the pen clucking at all the girls, orgling, spitting at us when we were examining him and generally behaving just like his illustrious father. I admire his spirit and look forward to halter training which is coming soon. Although with the amount of mud we have here it may be halter wrestling.

Patou Barney, aged 5 days already posing like a herdsire!

Lastly today a couple more pictures from the frosty days of last week. Firstly, Lola who is the nosiest girl in the herd and secondly Lily, my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world, both of whom always seem to be too close to take photographs of that aren't just nose shots!

Lola with lovely frosty ears.

Lily, as a true shed dweller, is never frosty!

Monday, 12 January 2009


Sorry I have been absent from the blog for a few days but things have been pretty hectic around here, not alpacawise, other life wise. Friday was Angus's 6th birthday party and involved a huge amount of work by Sue, baking cakes, making jelly, generally preparing everything. We hired a hall and for two hours 25 screaming children were entertained by a 'childrens entertainer' who I think must have been on some very strong medication. He was brilliant and the kids had a great time.

Just before the party I nipped outside on a gloriously frosty morning and took some great shots of very frosty alpacas. Temperatures have been dipping to minus 13 around here and the alpacas copped a bit of frost.

Valley Farm Juno looking very comfy in the sunlight.

Henry and Columbus with frosty topknots and ears.

A closer look at the big fellows frosty make-up.

Bobby with a frosty beard, eyelashes, everything really!

And finally an action shot of the maddest of the two mad labs.
Other than that I was 'dayjobbing' over the weekend and today I have just returned from a days shooting with the above mad lab, Josh. We were both very wet very muddy and are now very shattered. He's now asleep in front of the fire and I will be joining him shortly.
So there you are, not buried in poop, just pooped.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Poop scooping

Today I have been familiarising myself with the poop of the mighty Patou herd.

I spent at least two hours with the big red pooper scooper sucking their doings from the frozen ground. It wasn't easy as a fair proportion of it was actually welded to the ground by the heavy frosts and low temperatures we have been having down here in the south. There was much kicking and bashing prior to the usual petrol fuelled sucking.

I have to admit, aching back aside, it was a somewhat satisfying way of spending the morning.

Let it be known that the mighty Patou herd has very healthy looking poop. It has changed colour ever so slightly due to the hard food regime we have here at the moment but those little pellets were satisfyingly round, plump, shiney and uniform in size, oh yes it is mighty fine looking poop, as far as poop goes.

Their main pooping area is up at the top of the field around the hay feeder. It has a clear area of about 5 metres all round and then the poop circles start and they had become quite substantial. They are now virtually clear, or should I say were virtually clear.

I was, in fact, still in situe with the scooper, unblocking the tube after several 'hand grenades' had become wedged at the top end, when the herd approached inquisitively.
They were very interested in the scooper and what was going on, ears forward, noses twitching with curiosity, creeping ever nearer. They surrounded me on three sides and stood motionless, watching me watching them watching me etc. I greeted each of them by name as I always do and we all paused, caught up in the wonder of being together outside in the cold. It was nice.

Then, almost as if a silent order had been surreptitiously passed around without my knowledge, the shuffling began. You know the sort of shuffling I am talking about, the sort of shuffling that precedes the raising of the tail and the despatching of the poop. They held my gaze, they continued to watch me and the scooper but did their dastardly deed almost as if they were saying 'You will never win human, we will never be defeated, we are too strong'.

Deed done they then wandered off leaving me standing there in stitches, it was one of those magical alpaca moments, pure alpaca brilliance.

Don't you just love it?

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Different styles

Sorry folks more photographs.

It is interesting that Sue looks at the whole thing from a different point of view to me. I wanted a new camera so that I could take better pictures of the alpacas. I am sure we have all walked around the fields and said 'If only I had the camera, look at that pose!' Or 'If only I was closer'. No? Course you have.

Sue, who used to be a keen photographer with the old wind on Pentax about lots of years ago has a different viewpoint, and has been experimenting with black and white shots. Very effectively I think.

The mad lab Josh for once being still.

Angus........................haircut due soon I think.

(left to right) Barney, Moselle, Alacazam (he is currently working undercover on the great alfalfa smuggling fiasco and he has been blacked out for security reasons) and Reggie.
I know too much shadow............the sun was low etc etc.

Orchard Blackjack, who is recovering nicely from his bout of Rickets. I'm quite proud of that shot. A black alpaca standing on a mound, in the sun and you can see his face. Who would have thought it. Very Incaesque.

Finally I caught Henry and Columbus playing musical statues. Couldn't quite work out what tune they were humming. I like the sheep in the background......well I don't actually know them that well but they do seem like a nice bunch.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Time off!!

The day job has been infringing over the Christmas and New Year period but now I am off for three days and sun has been shining on a cold and frosty Patouland.

Sadly Sue is now back to work but on the plus side it was a day for some father and son bonding.
First up was my daily customary drubbing at scalextric. I modified the track this morning, taking out some nasty bends and hopefully evening up the competition but it was not to be. The boy wonder seems to have the knack and his Ferrari 430 was sticking to the track better than my much better looking Aston Martin DB9. I pushed hard but came unstuck (literally) when I tried to get in front. I will win, I may have to start cheating.
After Scalextric it was Lego with much building to be done followed by lunch. Sausages, naturally.

Then this afternoon we ventured out together with the mad labs for some fresh air and I was able to take a few snaps with MY new camera. Ha ha! She went to work and relinquished her iron grip on the mighty Canon! It was all mine, zoom lens attached we stepped out wrapped up to the eyeballs.
It's a start folks and I hope to improve as I find out what all the pretty buttons and knobs are for.
As a matter of interest for a friend of mine north of Hadrians Wall I am currently cradling a crystal glass of Glenlivet. A Speyside malt. Rather delicious. Can the distillery be seen from Coire HQ?