Monday, 11 June 2012

Sailing under full canvas

Over the past week I have become obsessed with the weather forecast. Absolutely obsessed.
I have been making checks virtually every hour on the BBC website, the Met Office site, a local weather website and any other weather prediction source I can find. I have been studying cows to see how long they have been lying down I have been asking local farmers (they seem to know) what they think. No stone has remained unturned to ensure that I have been fully briefed as to what weather to expect. They all said the same. It was going to rain all day on Sunday the 10th of June and Sunday the 10th of June was the day the shearers were coming. Bloody marvellous.

Still, the day before was predicted to be dry and sunny so I knew that  if we could get the herd dry we would be in with a chance. Our marquee (4m x 8m) was up next to the shed and we hoisted every gazebo that we had to bolster cover. The Mighty Patou Ship was sailing under full canvas, we had nothing left to hoist.

The herd went under cover on Saturday evening, and when I say under cover I mean they all went into a shelter of some sort they didn't all wander about in dodgy macs speaking in even dodgier accents whilst reading upside down newspapers.

We went to bed on Saturday night and waited to see what would happen the following day. 

Mike Banks and his team arrived shortly after noon and we were ready and waiting. A superb army of helpers we here and keen to get proceedings under way. 

Ladies and gentlemen it was like a well oiled machine. Prior to starting jobs were dished out. Every member of the Patou Army knew what was expected. Sleeves were metaphorically rolled up and, not afraid to get dirty, the army readied itself for action.

Sue and I had decided beforehand that I would oversee the animal side of things (a bit like the fat controller) and she would supervise the fleece side of things. Hamish Davidson was drafted into the alpaca handler team, Luke and Emily were dealing with the alpacas whilst they were down and collecting the blanket fleece. Richard and Di were absolute wizards with the brooms clearing and bagging the remainder of the fleece.  My dad was chief scribe ensuring all fleeces were correctly labelled and Mum assisted Sue in providing coffee initially, then lunch for all. Sausages and tomato soup, it was one of those days.

The rain just about held off and all alpacas were sheared dry meaning all fleeces were bagged dry. 
A massive thank you to all who helped, it was a great bit of teamwork and it made the whole process a pleasure.

Now, a short ranty bit. When a camera was produced one of the shearing team asked that no pictures were taken due to possible complaints from the RSPCA. I'm afraid my blood temperature raised slightly for two reasons. Firstly the pictures were only going to be used privately by the two new alpaca owners who were helping out (some of our boys came back for shearing). Secondly, if the RSPCA thing was true, what the hell do they know about alpacas!! The fleeces had to come off, each alpaca was treated with great care, they were probably restrained for less than 5 minutes each and seconds after release were grazing as if nothing had happened. Not only that but they looked much happier without their fleeces on!

So here are some pictures that I took and if anyone wants to complain I am ready to argue all day long!


Apple Vale Alpacas said...

Glad it went well Mark - I thought about you as it drizzled all morning and turned to steady rain here after lunch. Mind, I never imagined you in a top hat with whistle and green flag!

Nigel said...

Well done - we had the same problem when we sheared our animals here in France at the beginning of May. I still have about 20 fleeces to dry out, but like in England, the rain has come and it won't stop.

Barbara@beckbrowalpacas said...

Yes, still drying some out here...and that we due to morning dew rather than rain!