Thursday, 30 December 2010

Nearly there! (part two)

It has been over a week since my last post and I just don't know where the week went.

Christmas here in Patouland was marvellous. To see a 7 year old (nearly eight) burst into tears on Christmas morning out of pure happiness will be a memory treasured forever (I'm afraid he gets his emotional side from his father who can cry at the drop of a hat, don't come near me during any major patriotic sporting event!).

A fabulous day spent with my fabulous family, it doesn't get any better than that.

The Christmas day celebrations started slightly later than normal due to the extended chore regime that all livestock owners were embracing in the ice and snow.

Buckets of hot water lugged, feed, hay and straw distributed and a general looking over of the mighty Patou herd first. Dogs walked and fed, chickens and cats foddered before breakfast was even considered.

My father, an army officer for 32 years, always impressed on me the importance of ensuring everyone else was fed and watered before indulging oneself. A good way to look at life in general.

Anyway, a white Christmas, when did we last have that in the shandy drinking south?

After four days off I was back to work yesterday but after a late shift today another 5 days off beckons, can't really complain about that.

On the alpaca front we separated four females two weeks ago who were a bit thin, this included my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world, Lily, who fought back from near death under two years ago. They have been penned in half the field shelter and half the marquee. Surrounded by food and out of the weather as well as being apart from their cria, (who haven't strayed far from their mums) seems to have done the trick. All four have put on weight and I am not concerned about them any longer. They will be moved to a separate field shortly out of sight of their babies where they will regain even more condition.
As you can see the cria are quite large enough to fend for themselves, especially Rafiki (on the left) who is a giant!

Once New Year is out of the way we have halter training to look forward to, which is always interesting in the mud!

All that remains is for me to wish you all a very, very, splendid New Year!

2011 is going to be an absolute corker! I just know it!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Nearly there!

Ok, so here we are, the 22nd of Christmas, I mean December, and we are nearly there, the big day is only three days away! The excitement is building at an ever increasing rate here in Patouland and we are just about ready. A 10 hour shift on Christmas Eve and I'm done!

Before I comment on the photographs on this posting I would like to proffer up a couple of thank you's. Firstly, I neglected to mention on my last post our attendance at the social event of the year. Yes, the Wonderful World of Inca Christmas Dinner.

His and Her Royal Alpaca Highnesses, Lord Timothy and Lady Tracey of Inca Alpaca invited us once again to join a select group of seasoned 'troughers' to celebrate all things black .........and brown (of course) ....... and grey (something for the oldies) in a convivial atmosphere.

This year the Inca Warriors chose one of the most remote pubs (and a rather splendid one at that) in deepest darkest Somerdorsetshire (can't remember which). Actually, I must thank the lovely Mrs S too. I had offered gallantly to drive there and back and fully intended to do so but on arrival Sue stated that she would do the honours on the return trip. Within half a second I was at the bar ordering a pint of Doombar. Marvellous. Poor old girl was still in the car park!

There then followed a very relaxing evening shared amongst the massed clans of Inca, Patou, Amyrick and affiliated splendid people. Thanks for a great night guys.

Secondly and most unexpectedly, a big thank you to Andy and Viv at Reddingvale, we have spoken on the phone and they will know what it is about but once again, thank you very much, a fantastic box of fodder!

Right, now to more of the usual drivel. Todays photographic offerings are courtesy of the lovely Mrs S who has been out snapping in the snow, seemingly at anything that moves. Her usual black and white arty fart shots have been superceded by some colourful offerings which I happen to think are rather good.

Firstly our lovely slathering oaf of a Newfie, Kira, in resplendent pose atop a mound of snow, actually more of a hillock really, although she doesn't like to be called that.

Next, our very own beardy weirdy, Fu Man Chu herself, Patou Minstrel.

A couple of Mighty brown powerhouses, Poppy and her son Roger Resilient (aka The Popham basher), colourwise, that is what we here in Patouland are all about.

And finally.......... Angus has been a busy beaver out in the field building a very impressive igloo. Three days in construction this den of snow is what every Inuit reader will be envious of. It has a chimney hole, and several ground floor windows, as well as........................

A rather substantial front door! En suite tractor parking area with every one built!
Thank you for reading readers, I will hopefully blog again before Christmas but if not we hope you all have an absolutely fabulous Christmas. Stay safe and warm and relax (after the chores of course!)
Patouman signing where's my whisky Mac?

Sunday, 19 December 2010

It's snowtime!

Yesterday we woke to a beautiful sunny snowy morning. Words sometimes aren't required (obviously I will stick some in, I can't help myself).

Patou Polly, after much discussion about the pose (she was very fussy about shadows and stuff).

The herd wandering back down to the toilet area (or field shelter with en-suite marquee, as we like to call it) after breakfast.

His Royal Lordship Van Diemen Qjori of Patou, growing into a magnificent looking boy.

Could this be next years Christmas cards (which reminds me, must go to the post office!)

Every day he is more and more interested in what the girls are doing. He stares at them....................................longingly. The Clump hates it.

Right, work beckons. How annoying is that?

Friday, 17 December 2010

Killer chicken on the rampage

Just a quick one today as there has been lots to do here in preparation for the next 'big freeze'. Hay racks have been filled, shelters have been re-strawed, troughs defrosted and blah blah blah all the other stuff that goes on daily here., sorry just can't be bothered to list it all.

Haven't got any new alpaca shots to post so here's one of a chicken. Our little Sicilian Buttercup, Doodle (nickname 'The Stiletto').
About 5 years ago when we got our first chickens, Betty and Wilma, I saw Wilma stalk a mouse, pounce on it and then swallow it whole. Couldn't believe my eyes, didn't know chickens had it in them to be so callous, so violent, so vicious. Wilma was a 'Gingernut Ranger' variety and really was a ranger, she used to visit all of our neighbours and became well known about these parts.

Doodle is not so much of a ranger but the other day I watched her catch a shrew!
Do chickens do this regularly? Doodle didn't carry out the kill the way I had imagined though. I had imagined that she would have sidled up silently from behind and with a smooth and lightning fast movement she would have 'slotted' the unsuspecting shrew, killing it instantly. I imagined she would have then bent over, wiped the glistening blade on the pelt of the mouse before crossing herself whilst muttering under her breath a barely audible but brief prayer. She would have then retreated back into the shadows as crowds of other shrews clamoured around gasping at the shocking work of the stealthy killer moving amongst them. But no, she just jumped and pecked it on the back of the neck before slamming it against a rock. She then ran off with it in her beak pursued by the enormous Dottie and little Lulu, our two other chooks.

The picture below shows the mercilless killer running around the garden, the lifeless body dangling from her razor sharp beak.

Gone up in my estimation, chickens. They're not laying any eggs yet but they aren't just lazing about as previously thought.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Back to green!

We have returned to green and brown down here in Patouland. The temperatures are in the positive and everything has thawed leaving nice grass and not so nice mud, very sticky mud, everywhere.

I took a few photographs with my phone yesterday to prove it, not very good quality but it proves that we are back to green. Angus came out on a patrol of the alpaca field driving his Claas tractor, always ready with a smile for the camera that boy.

I took a couple of photographs of Rafiki, born on my birthday he is obviously a character and always sticking his nose in where it isn't exactly welcome. He does look pretty impressive though, enormous compared to everyone else (apart from Ruby May of course) he struts about posing and orgles at everyone which has made him a strutting target for the pregnant hair trigger spit monsters.
He is a Jack of Spades boy and anyone who has seen Jack will be able to recognise the similarities. I can't emphasise enough how impressed we are with our Jack babies, they are absolutely tremendous, so well put together and so well covered in soft crimpy fleece.

Rafiki was soon joined by his sparring partner, little Rory who you may remember has been Rafiki's 'wheelbarrow' for most of his life. They are inseperable and both strut around orgling, like a couple of bumblebees stuck in a couple of jam jars.

We had an interesting scenario today as Qjori escaped through a gate into the girls field whilst poo-sucking was taking place. At first he skipped around a bit but then he gravitated to a small mound next to The Clumpmeisters paddock. He ran to the top of this mound and turned sideways on to Clump, ears and tail raised. Clump went absolutely berserk, charging up and down the fenceline screeching, rearing up, he was bristling with aggression and Qjori just watched him and posed as much as he could. I swear if Clump could have got out there would have been carnage!
After that, as if to rub it in a bit more, he sauntered over to the girls, picked out the prettiest, (Reeya) and with a magnificent orgling display attempted to 'ground her'. That proved to be his mistake though as Sue swooped in and grabbed him. He was then haltered and taken back to his paddock next to Columbus who by this time was apopleptic! I seriously thought his head was going to explode, he was absolutely seething and no doubt was screaming the most foul mouthed
tirade possible.
Qjori will be raring to go come the spring and poor old Clump is going to have to get used to the fact that he will be sharing the lovely ladies of Patou with someone else.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010


It's bloody freezing down here in the south, today it is still -5C and it's nearly lunchtime. Still we have had no more snow and there is no wind so it isn't too bad.
The alpacas are seemingly unbothered by the temperature and now all of them have access to a shelter. The girls, as previously reported, have the main field shelter with their en suite marquee, Qjori has his own field shelter (well he is rather special) and now Columbus, Mr Stroppy himself, has his own shelter.
We have erected our 'show tent' and strapped it down with some heavy duty straps............ and some bailing twine. It has been filled with straw and hay and The Clumpmeister has been shown round.

Actually for the first day he went no where near it but since then he has been seen regularly munching away on his hay whilst looking out on the rest of the world. We are much happier now, if the weather turns really nasty he should be able to get out of the worst of it. He is pictured below looking ridiculous with a large lump of snow on his face. What a berk.

I took a picture of the hugely impressive looking Ruby May a couple of days ago. She was our first cria this year and is a real chunky monkey, a definite case of thunder thighs. She has an amazing amount of fleece like her sire, Jack of Spades and a temperament like her mother, a feisty one indeed, halter training should be interesting!

A final word for any Australian readers.
I was up very early this morning to watch the conclusion of the cricket.
It was all over though. Australia outplayed in every department.
Can't really see anything but spankings to follow in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
Now you know what it feels like!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

We've got it covered.

Whilst we were in Barbados last month I worried about the alpacas. I worried about them because of the onset of the winter weather back in the UK. Although whilst on holiday we endured Hurricane Tomas, it was a warm hurricane, sure falling trees could do damage, the patio furniture blew into the pool but the weather itself wasn't going to cause us any undue stress. However, the high winds did make me think about the situation at home, in the alpaca field.

As a result by the time we landed back at Gatwick I was a man on a mission, I was completely blinkered, nothing would stop me from my task, I was obsessed with providing more shelter in the field.
It may have had something to do with the fact that I travelled light on holiday. I left the UK wearing shorts, a polo shirt and sandals. Apart from my swimmers (or my budgie smugglers as the Inca King called them) I had very little else. I didn't need much more, we were going to the Caribbean where the temperature was unlikely to dip below 30C even at night (it didn't).
However, when we left Barbados to return home I was wearing the same clothing. OK for the flight, OK for the airport, not OK for a windy rainy 6C! Anyway I think that experience hardened my resolve to extend the shelter for the alpacas.

So a couple of days after we got home and a couple of days before gale force winds were expected we were out there putting up our marquee next to the big field shelter. I am sure the neighbours saw what we were doing, saw the much forecasted high winds and thought we were mad. At the time I thought we were a bit mad but once we had started there was no turning back.
I lashed it down with every heavy duty strap that I had, I trimmed it to perfection so that there wasn't a square inch of loose canvas that the wind could get it's teeth into. Then we waited. The gales came and although it wobbled and rattled it held fast. The alpacas went nowhere near it.

But deep down I knew that I had to get the marquee up so that if the weather did turn really nasty I could whack the sides on, put some hurdles round and triple the size of our field shelter. My girls would be inside and out of the bitterly cold winter. That was important.

Recently most of the country has been covered in snow with bitterly cold temperatures. Down here in the softy south we had been fortunate to stay relatively snow free. That all changed last night. We haven't had snow of 'Northern' proportions but we have had 4 or 5 inches overnight and living halfway up a hill it makes a big difference, especially as Sue and I both work. Some days we have to rattle around getting everything done before 8am. Ok on a sunny day, but......
So this morning I was up early and out with the dogs to see what the alpacas were up to.

I was delighted to find that the main herd, and I mean all of them, were either in the field shelter or under the marquee next to it. Not only that but a quick check of the field proved that they had been there all night!

The smell in there was fantastic, hay and alpaca, I love it! The fact that they had used the new enlarged shelter had vindicated my mad obsession. Hopefully if it does turn horrible they will be sorted. Warm and cosy out of the wind!
Dee, our oldest girl with her winter coat (she doesn't produce a huge amount of fleece anymore bless her).
As for the boys, Qjori has his own field shelter and seems to spend a lot of time in there, he loves it, Columbus has no shelter at the moment but has a very dense fleece. Today, however, we are erecting a shelter for him too. By the end of the day I will be able to relax, comfortable in the knowledge that the whole herd has somewhere to go to get out of the weather. That is a nice thought. Nice to know that we've got it covered.