Monday, 31 May 2010

Reeya, Runa and Ruby May

Sue and I are absolutely thrilled with our first three cria, three girls, in our colours, marvellous.

Today there will be few written words as I let the pictures tell the story of our three Jack of Spades girls, Reeya, Runa and Ruby May.

Reeya, two days old, mother, Dee, our oldest and calmest alpaca.

Runa, daughter of my favourite, Lily.

And Ruby May, simply stunning, a real gem.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Three in a row!

So this morning we wondered if we would have another cria, Dee was now at 355 days, Bannock at 349. We had a lovely girl yesterday, could we be lucky again?
An early morning check of the herd revealed a lovely healthy Runa (pictured below) but no-one looking ready to give birth.

However, we reminded ourselves that we are dealing with two seasoned pros here. Dee is 13 years old and the two cria she has had with us have mysteriously appeared without warning. Bannock is of the same ilk, she is 10 years old and is another who will be grazing one minute and giving birth the next, no mooching around, no signs, they take it all in their strides these girls. We have to have our wits about us.

Sue took Angus off to his swimming lesson at 9.30am (Oh Daaahling your backstroke is simply divine! Look, he needs to be able to swim! Ok!) I was left with checking the lardy girls.
Sue and Angus returned, we lunched, nothing. No sign from anyone, grazing as normal. In fact Dee was munching hay in the shed.

After lunch I wandered out and went down to the shed. As I got near Dee walked purposefully out. Dee normally just wanders about aimlessly, she would whistle silly little tunes if she could, I'm sure of it. This was different. She strode past me without so much as a glance and headed for a large empty part of the field. She appeared to be on a mission. I turned and watched her. After about 50 yards she turned in a circle and lay down. I ambled over to see if she was alright and saw two front legs and a head being pushed out! It was that quick!

Five minutes later and Dee presented us with another girl, a beautiful brown girl! Just what we had ordered! The truly magnificent Jack of Spades has done it again. Three girls in a row, colours as hoped for! Obviously our Mums have a large part to play but so far Big Jack is doing the business. Big Time!

She was another strong girl weighing in at 7.9kg with very long and difficult to work legs. She was born in a pretty ropey bit of weather so I took her and Dee back to the shed and they got down to being mother and daughter.

It wasn't long before Reeya (yes she has been named already, Reeya is an Indian name meaning Gem) was rooting around for her afternoon tea and she was soon latched on.

Sue and I are absolutely delighted with her, she will probably be either dark fawn or light brown and is very pretty (aren't they all?).

Reeya and Dee are staying in the shed with Bannock (Dee and Bannock are big buddies) until the rain passes which should be late this evening. If it clears up I will let them all out for the night which is forecasted to be dry.

Another great day in the mighty land of Patou!!!

She's been and gone and done it!

Ok, so saying in my last blog that nobody was looking remotely like having a baby was tempting fate. It had to happen and it did!

My most favourite alpaca in the whole wide world, Lily, popped out a beautiful black female yesterday lunchtime. Sired by the magnificent Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca.

Sue and I both thought she was up to something first thing in the morning and once Sue went to work I armed myself with binoculars and a bucket of coffee and watched and waited. After two hours of mooching around sniffing the ground, rolling, flaking out in the sun and looking ready to go Lily rejoined the herd and they went into the shed to get out of the sun.
I watched some cricket, checking on Lily every 15 minutes or so. Nothing happening, so at midday I nipped out to the butcher, I'd only be gone for 45 minutes. I think you can guess what I found on my return. She must have been watching me!

When I got back she had just given birth to a beautiful black girl, weighing in at a respectable 9.1kg. She was very strong and was up and running within 30 minutes but could she find the milk? No people, she couldn't find the milk.

Sue returned from work at 2pm and we watched her together, she tried to suckle from everyone and everything apart from where she should be suckling.
We don't like to intervene unless we have to and we wanted to give her every chance to find the right place herself so we watched and waited. She was strong, she was running around, it should only be a matter of time.

I then had to pick up Angus and take him for his tennis lesson in Salisbury (Oh Daahhhling your backhand is sublime - look he's seven, he wants to try every sport going so no comments about the tennis lesson).

Anyway when I got back, the little monkey, now 4 and a half hours old, had still not had her first drink. Time for intervention.
Sue had got Lily and cria into the shed before I got home, cut down the space, stop her running around, concentrate the mind, that was the plan. We watched and waited, we both had our knees sucked, the walls got sucked, most of Lily got sucked she just couldn't find the teats. We tried holding Lily and fixing her on ourselves but Lily kept lying down. After half an hour Sue went off to get a bottle, we would milk Lily if we couldn't get her on.

Whilst Sue was away Lily and I had a little calm chat. We've been through a lot together, me and my Lil, Sue says that Lily and I have a bond. She says Lily trusts me. I think she does. It's a love thing.
Anyway we had a chat and I gently pushed the little one in the right area and held her there. Lily turned and looked at me, our noses only a few inches apart, we stayed motionless as the cria nuzzled around. We looked at each other, she knew what was supposed to be happening, we waited and after a few minutes the little sucky thing found the things she was supposed to be sucking. The glorious sound of a cria suckling. She had a good feed and that was that.
Then she got licked clean by Lily.

We have named her Patou Runa, which is a name with origins both in Scandinavia and from the Quechua people of South America. According to wikepedia there is a Japanese pornstar called Runa but we'll try to forget that!

Whilst in the shed we had the inevitable audience from outside........

.....and from the other side, but soon Lily and Runa were back out in the field with the rest of the mighty Patou, leading the way.

Life is pretty good down here in the land of the mighty Patou.

Friday, 28 May 2010

News from Down under.

Regular readers will remember that we went on a family holiday to Australia last October and came home having bought a brown herdsire. Yeah I know, how does that happen?

We really hadn't intended on looking at alpacas let alone buying one! However, we stayed for a few days with Bob and Diane Hey in Tasmania and fell in love with a young brown male that they had, Van Diemen Qjori. A deal was struck and the process of getting him here began.

First of all Qjori had to be transported to mainland Australia and onwards to EP Cambridge, just north of Adelaide, where Matt and Kathy Lloyd had generously allowed our boy to join a shipment of their alpacas about to enter quarantine.

After a month or so in quarantine at EPC, Qjori was flown to New Zealand to a quarantine station at Valley of Peace Alpaca Stud just outside Christchurch where he began a further 6 months quarantine.
There he has been looked after by Greg and Rachael Graham. On arrival he was shorn of every ounce of fibre, top knot, legs, everything gone. All part of the procedure that would get him ready for his subsequent transfer to the UK (via Luxembourg I believe!?)

I received an e-mail this morning from Greg letting us know that all was going well and that Qjori would be leaving for the UK on the 23rd of August. A little bit later than we had hoped but what can you do? We will live with that. Greg also sent some pictures of our boy which I had asked him to take. He looks a little different than when we last saw him in full fleece in Tasmania but the quality is still there to see. We just can't wait to get him here!

First of all a picture of him in Burnie, Tasmania, standing in front of his ribbons, fully fleeced, looking magnificent!

Next shot he is pictured at EP Cambridge just prior to entering his first stage of quarantine.

Finally three pictures of him taken this week in New Zealand. He looks as if he has grown a bit.

He still looks a very handsome boy, Greg commented on how very calm and gentle natured he is.

And finally a fleece shot, there's not a huge amount there yet but I think you will agree it looks pretty good.

As far as everything else goes, we are still waiting for our second cria, we are now into unchartered territory here in Patouland. Dee is now at 355 days, Lily and Bannock are at 348. There is lots of tail lifting but to be honest none of them look particularly keen to give birth!

Monday, 24 May 2010

We have the power!!!!!

We have been battling for five years with the grass here in Patouland. We rent just under 5 acres on a gentle south facing slope in front of the house.

The first year the local sheep farmer cut the field for hay, we had asked him to top it but by the time he got round to it (I know farmers are very busy all year round) it was waist high. Hay.

We then asked another local farmer who was very keen and said he would maintain the field and use the hay for his cows blah blah blah. To cut a long story short, he took a crop of hay off it and we never saw him again. Grrrr.

Our final attempt to organise it's 'topping' this year fell through last week so we decided to take matters into our own hands. Power to the people and all that. We went out and bought a mighty John Deere Paddock tractor (NO IT'S NOT A LAWNMOWER, SO DON'T GO THERE!!!! I WILL GET CROSS!!!)

It has a trailer, can tow all sorts of things, has two cup holders, yes folks, two cupholders! It also has cruise control and is just about the best toy I have ever had (apart from the Land Rover of course).

So taking advantage of the glorious weather I have cut (no, not mowed, cut) the entire five acres. We are now surrounded by perfectly manicured grounds, every blade cut to a precise length of 4 inches! Fantastic! The garden which normally tales an hour and a half with a lawn mower, took 15 minutes tops with the monster that is the John Deere!

How about that? Awesome work by the mighty John Deere. No alpacas to be seen, they are all crashed out in the shade. 37C in the sun here today, 27C in the shade, it's a belter. They love their 'new' field. They now run everywhere, it's very odd.
The only mistake I have made is to show Sue how to use the mighty John Deere. It was taken away from me for a period on Saturday. I didn't know what to do with myself, I was almost incandescent with rage and jealousy as that woman and that boy rode my tractor firstly round the garden and then around the whole field!

They won't be doing that again anytime soon........I've hidden the key.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Three heads and a belly.

No the title doesn't refer to a weirdly freaky cria that we have just had, in fact we haven't had any cria since Ruby May was born two weeks ago.
I was trying not to blog until we had another cria to shout about but alas we are still waiting. We are being a bit spoilt actually because the three who are due (Dee, Lily and Bannock) are still within eleven and a half months (just) so I guess like everyone else we will have to wait for nature to decide when the time is right.
I have been busy, the day job and other things have been interfering with my leadership of the mighty Patou herd and I have been missing my girls. Obviously, they don't seem to give a doodah day whether I am there or not.
Anyway I knocked off early today and nipped out to take a few pictures.

The first one is of a grazing Lily with her lovely little bump hanging low. She is at 339 days and is humming quite a bit and holding her tail out from time to time, surely getting close.

I managed to catch a shot of Ruby in a relaxed pose. She is getting more and more gorgeous by the day, biaised I may be, but it's true!

Minstrel was looking particularly windswept this evening, not the neatest little alpaca in the world, a right old scruffbag in fact!

Lastly, a bearded Samson. He is the son of Judy, who has gone to live with Julie Taylor-Browne in Cornwall. Samson seems much happier with her gone and is always in the thick of it. He is perfectly demonstrating what happens when you have a big sloppy drink and then roll in the dust bowl.
Friday I will be beside myself with excitement as Sue and I have bought a shiny green and yellow paddock tractor to get on top of things ourselves down here and I will be picking it up on Friday morning. Yes folks, a John Deere is coming to Patou (almost wet myself just writing that!)

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Is it the Pimms?

Like everyone else we are waiting for alpacas to unpack.
We are watching and waiting, with good reason.
Regular readers may remember that we carried most of our girls through the winter of 2008 empty as our births were getting later and later. We decided to reset the birthing 'clock'. It meant we missed out on some cria last year (hence the tiny, but mighty, show team) but we think it was worth it.
This year we should be done and dusted by the end of June. As a result we could have crias popping out at any time.
We also have to note that we have never had an alpaca go longer than 345 days. I know, weird isn't it. I see that other bloggers (Debbie and Barbara in particular) are going 'long'. My theory which is worth nothing is that if you are going to breed alpacas 'Oop North' you must expect them to stay in as long as they possibly can! Down here in the soft, shandy drinking south they can't wait to get out and tuck into a canape or two before an evening glass of Pimms!

I know they will probably all go for 400 days plus now that I have said that but it is a fact, 345 days is our longest gestation in 5 years of breeding. It was Lily with Amelie, if you're interested.

Anyway, Lily and Bannock have now hit 330 days and Dee is on 338. Bobby gave birth to Ruby May at 338 days and she weighed in at 9.75 kilos, so we are expecting another cria soooooooon!

Here is the munchkin with her Mum today. She weighed in at 12 kilo's this morning so has done well in her first week.

Ruby was very interested in this nettle and studied it for some time, I think she may sketch it later.

Whilst I was out there I was accompanied by some of the non alpaca members of the herd. Kira, who is now getting rather hefty and possesses the most enormous ears was hunting me down!

And last but not least was Angus, sporting a smart new haircut, riding 'shotgun' on his bike.

Maybe tomorrow, at Pimms O'clock!

Friday, 7 May 2010

The calm before the storm!

Just a quick post as I take a break from a busy day doing home stuff.
Today was herd check day and worming. All alpacas appear in marvellous good health but due to the general 'heavy pregnantness' of the herd they rounded themselves up very sedately. I had to smack a few large woolly bottoms to get them moving.

Todays award for the largest belly goes to Poppy who as you can see from the picture below is huge even though she still has a month to go! Penny and Lily are just visible behind Poppy's enormous bulk!

I weighed the utterly gorgeous Ruby May today and can report that she has put on just over a kilo in her first four days of life. Bobby must be producing some good stuff! She is pictured below having a wee, aaah bless!

We are watching Dee closely at the moment as she has hit the 333 days mark today and has 'bagged up' as Debbie puts it. She is up and down and staring into space a lot.
Dee is medium fawn and is our oldest girl at 13 years. She is the calmest alpaca in the herd and is also pregnant to the mighty Jack of Spades. Another brown girl would go down very nicely thank you!
Exciting times ahead as just behind Dee on 326 days are our black girls Bannock and the completely gorgeous Lily!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A name at last!

Sue and I have been discussing the matter of this years cria names for some time.

Most breeders use a different letter of the alphabet each year so that they can keep track of who was born when etc. We have stubbornly resisted this trend. I don't know why, it's probably my fault, I don't like to conform, I like to be different. I am a bit of a rebel at heart.

This year however, we have decided that it would be sensible to adopt a similar approach so that we too can be sure of who was born when etc.
We thought starting with A would be silly as we already had an A in Amelie. So we looked deeper into the mighty Patou names list. The latest letter that anyone's name begins with is P.
We have Priscilla, Poppy, Penelope and Polly (both born last year).
Logically then, we should follow on from P.
To Q!?!?!

Right................not so easy. But hey ho we decided to look into Q names. We looked and looked and found a few that we liked but could we find seven that we liked that we could pronounce, that didn't sound the same as the others?

We even tried making up 'Q' names, but no it just wasn't going to work. The only name I really liked was Quinn, as in The Mighty Quinn!

So we eventually gave up on the Q thing and decided to skip straight to 'R' names! Again much discussion ensued and not three minutes ago we have decided on a name for our first cria of the year.
She will be known as Patou Ruby May.

And here she is...............again (sorry but I am still very excited about her arrival).

We had a good look at her today and took her coat off so that she could get some air to her fleece. Sheis definitely a lovely deep chocolate brown.

She is showing slight signs of immaturity in that her ears are a little floppy at the tips but her teeth have erupted, she is big and strong and feeding well. We are delighted with her.

She definitely has a bit of her father (Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca) in her appearance and has a very solid frame to her. Strong legs and great fibre coverage together with a very pretty face and a truly beautiful colour. Fantastic.

So there we have it, Patou Ruby May

Monday, 3 May 2010

What a weekend!

Wow, what a simply fantastic weekend, despite the best efforts of the weather gods to spoil things!
We threw a party yesterday lunchtime to celebrate out 20th anniversary and it was a great party. It finished just after midnight and as far as I am aware a cracking time was had by all. Good people, good food and just a few too many sherberts! Marvellous.

As if that wasn't good enough this morning Bobby decided to join the party by producing our first cria of the year. Shortly before 10am Sue noticed Bobby behaving oddly and I went out to check things out. The first thing I saw were two little feet and a nose, nostrils flapping! Pushing my hangover as far back as possible I watched and waited. Sure enough in textbook fashion Bobby popped out a beautiful little female cria. That is three in a row from Bobby, what a star!

She is, as yet unnamed, but weighed in at a healthy 9.75kilos and is a good strong cria. She is either a very dark brown or black, further investigations will be made tomorrow.

One thing is for sure though, she is exactly what we wanted. Female, either brown or black and healthy, and beautiful of course!

All in all a most memorable weekend!
Can I go and lie down now please?