Monday, 28 May 2012

Thunder in the air.

Right, well it seems that a week has flown by and I must post something or you will all think that I have grown fairy wings and fluttered off to the land of Narnia. 
A week that has not been exactly full of incident but a week where stuff has happened. I had a week off for starters so there was no day job to interfere. I have spent hours on my little John Deere tractor mowing literally acres of grass, nettles and dock leaves. I love it and Sue never gets a look in. John, or Mr Deere as I like to think of him, is mine. All mine.

So from paddock news (they all look great by the way) to Patou cria news. First here is the latest picture of my favourite little brown alpaca, Truffle. She is absolutely gorgeous, she wags her tail like a dog, (what's that all about) and is constantly being spat at as she barges into the big round fluffbag heavily pregnant mothers, who, due to the extreme heat (it was 29C here yesterday) are more grumpy than usual. Are those nettles in the background? Is that a dock leaf in the foreground? Mr Deere and I have more work to do.

Anyway Truffle needed a play mate and now she has one!

On Friday Poppy gave birth to a super little (if you can call 9.64 kilos little) black male. So ladies and gentlemen may I introduce you all, and you heard it hear first, to the latest addition to the Mighty Patou herd.
Usually at this point I would ask you to imagine a trumpet fanfare or a raucous cheer, or even the sound of the massed male voiced choirs of Wales but no, on this auspicious occasion I want you to imagine a seriously long and deafening roar of thunder as I introduce to the world, and remember this name and this day people for it is momentous...... Oh crikey how can I give such a little fellow such a huge build I've started so I will finish. Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me, Chief Warrior of the Mighty Patou tribe to introduce the latest addition to the Patou ranks, his awesomeness will undoubtedly stretch far and wide (is this going too far? Help!) he will forever cast a shadow of greatness upon the green land of Patou, people of the United Kingdom and beyond, I give you Patou Thor, God of Thunder!

And here he is, bless him.

His sire is the Mighty Van Diemen Qjori of Patou and his mother is Patou Poppy, an ATA Cambridge Centurion girl. We asked Qjori for colour and, well if I'm honest he's gone a bit too far this time, but he has done the job again. Solid black and an absolute cracker.  

Ok, that's enough, I must go and take one of my tablets.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Brown rules the day in Devon!

He was a champion of mankind, known for his wily intelligence. He stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals. Zeus then punished him for his crime by having him bound to a rock while a great eagle ate his liver every day only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day.
He was eventually saved from any further punishment when Hercules slayed the eagle and set him free.
The myth surrounding him led to a number of ancient sources crediting him with, or blaming him for, playing a pivotal role in the history of mankind.

His name was Prometheus and last weekend, in modern times, in a field near Exeter, he made history.

For last weekend at The Devon County Show Prometheus was declared Supreme Champion Huacaya.

Why does he make history? Because Prometheus is a brown alpaca. Just.
Why do I know so much about him? Well that is easy. For last year Prometheus and our own brown warrior, Qjori, slugged it out at several shows and Prometheus came out on top.

I haven't got a picture of Prometheus looking magnificent so here is a picture of Qjori, looking magnificent! Well come on guys this is my blog!

Congratulations to Chas and Rachel at Classical MileEnd for the win, a great result for them, he is a cracking looking male, and a great result for breeders of brown alpacas. Now if we can just make sure that the next brown supreme champion is owned by a proper brown breeder and that it is me everything will be dandy!

But before all that there was this:

It didn't start well. I was up at stupid o'clock on Thursday morning to get the show team (the four brown boys) loaded for the trek into Devon. There had been a heavy dew and they were soaked. Needless to say I was in a pretty foul mood when I left. We had been admiring them in the sunshine the day before and said it would be good to get them into the ring in that condition. For the first 30 miles or so I was muttering obscenities to myself. I was thundering down the A303. Stupid boy.

After a rather fast journey, (how fast are you allowed to go towing a trailer?) we arrived and the boys were unloaded into a nice outside pen where the breeze could do it's job (it did).

First though there was the little matter of assisting my friend and camping companion, Trevor, who was showing his greys. His beautiful female Dubonnet bagged first place and went on to win Champion Grey Female.  We then took his junior boys in, Trevor made me take the one that couldn't walk. We eventually got him in and it was worth the effort. Trevor's top boy got first and Jonny Legless got fourth. Here we are once he decided he did have legs after all.

Once the greys were out of the way it was time for some real colour, proper rich gorgeous colour. It was time for some browns. 
Sultan and Sherwood were first up in the junior brown male class and we notched up First and Second places. A great start!

There then followed the intermediate brown boys and Third and Fourth places were secured. Disappointed? Yes. But hey ho life goes on. Anyway it meant that we had the full set. 
Rafiki who had taken the fourth place rosette was slightly disgruntled and later destroyed it by chewing the string off and then treading it into some alpaca crap. His own presumably. We know how to sulk down here in Patouland, especially us boys.

Day job done we then relaxed into enjoying the rest of the show. Barbecue and wine would come later. A late night unwanted guest would follow that. Here are the boys, job done, relaxing in the sunshine.

And so to the unwanted guest. As I was travelling solo (ie without Mrs S and Angus) I was not allowed to book into a hotel nearby, no, I was forced to sleep in the back of the trailer. I tell you its not easy being me.

Anyway once me, Trevor and Garry (Super-steward and Pringle supplier) had barbecued and quaffed sufficiently we retired to bed. Not together you understand, Garry in his tent, Trevor in the Inca Wagon and me, as previously mentioned in the back of the trailer.

I had been supplied with plenty of bedding and so once ensconced amongst the straw I was warm and comfortable. I couldn't fully shut the jockey door as there was no handle on the inside so it was open by about 4 inches. It meant that there was a fresh breeze which helped with the general smell inside the trailer. 
Now I have to say it wasn't the best nights sleep. Firstly, Trevor kept setting off the alarm in the Inca wagon.  Secondly there was obviously some sort of military exercise going on at the nearby Exeter airport as we were buzzed by several low flying jet fighters. Both these things I could cope with. Both were noise issues which although inconvenient could be overcome. 

Whilst all this was going on I could hear, on and off some rustling in the straw but in my half asleep  weariness I thought nothing of it.  Nothing until something walked up my body and sat on my shoulder!

Now I don't know who was more surprised me or the rat but I think I moved quicker as the rat slammed into the wall of the trailer and then made his exit through the gap in the jockey.

It was a bit difficult to get back to sleep afterwards I have to admit. I had gone to Defcon 4 in a whisker and there was no coming down from that!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Me, Myself and Qjori

I was up bright and early this morning, for I have a week off! Yes a whole week away from the day job, a whole week where I don't have to sort anybody else's life out because they can't manage it themselves. So an early morning blog is required, for I have a list of jobs to do that is longer than my ape like arm.

Actually before I start I feel the need for a non-alpaca related rant. Oh no here he goes again I hear you exclaim in unison like a well rehearsed Welsh male voice choir! (Well that's how it sounds in my head).

If you don't want the rant you can skip down to the ALPACA NEWS bit. I won't be upset.

It may seem petty, in fact it is petty but it is annoying me to the point of exasperation. It concerns the word 'me'. 
I have noticed, primarily from the TV programme 'The Apprentice' that the word 'me' seems to have been banned or at the very least forgotten. If one of the engagingly irritating contestants is asked a question such as 'Who is the team leader?' the reply is invariably 'myself Lord Sugar'. 
Myself? MYSELF? What sort of language is that? The answer is 'Me Lord Sugar' not myself. Who started
this myself business? When did the word me become lost? Have I missed something?

The word myself is a perfectly good word of course but only when it is used correctly. By way of  illustration here are some examples.
'I have been trying to kick myself up the arse. '
'I ask myself why I am here every day.'
'I managed to make a telephone call, all by myself.'
'May I help myself to some more sausages please?'

Conversely the term 'me' can be used thus:
'Please help me for I can not help myself' (Ooh did you see what I did there?!).
'Please pick me!'
Or one that I hear frequently 'It wasn't me, honestly!'

I don't know where this myself stuff has come from but I twitch violently and uncontrollably when I hear it used in place of the word me. Stop it you blithering idiots! Just stop it, it doesn't make you sound clever, it makes you sound like a twat! STOP IT. Rant over.

*****************ALPACA NEWS*******************

I bring news of another Qjori son, not here in Patouland but down the road just over the border into Somerset at Reddingvale Alpacas.
Andy and Viv Walker, who are absolutely splendid people by the way, were the first people to take faith in Qjori last year and took six stud services from him. We will always be grateful for that leap of faith. Now they proudly announce that the first of their big 'Q' babies has arrived! 

Quintus, a healthy 11kg at birth is described by Andy as 'stunning'. Here he is with a beautiful looking Jack of Spades girl. What a gorgeous couple they are! Apparently little Quintus has already been orgling. I have passed on this great news to Qjori who gave me a knowing smile and a wink before wandering off to take a dump.

And here is little Quintus (just love that name!) with his mother, not a bad job at all on the colour front there.

Right breakfast beckons. Then busy busy busy!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Wet underpants

Yesterday, for most of the day I had wet underpants. No bladder problem to report though, it was weather related. For yesterday we set off for the North Somerset Show. 
Now I hadn't had the best preparation for a 5.45am start, the day job had me working late the three previous days with 3am, 5am and midnight finishes. That all meant that when we set off I think I was slurring my words and hallucinating slightly. The weather forecast was not good and we had been warned to bring our own shelter to keep the alpacas dry. The alpacas were dry at about 4pm on the afternoon of the show, momentarily, fat lot of good that was but hey ho we were all in the same boat, almost literally.

We took our four brown boys, Sherwood, Sultan, Roger and Rafiki and arrived to see that most of the show was made up of brown boys. It seems everyone has several in their show team these days! The junior boys were in a class of 9 and the intermediates were in a class of 8! Bearing in mind that there were only about 75 animals at the show (just over a hundred entered but some fair weather show teams stayed away) that works out that 22.66% of the animals being shown were brown males! How far have the colours come in the last five years? 

Anyway the junior boys did ok with Sultan and Sherwood picking up 3rd and 4th places respectively and Roger Resilient bagged a second place. Rafiki, who has been competing with Roger all year was unplaced which was surprising but never mind, the judge's word is final. We still love him...............Rafiki that is!

Actually I must take my hat off to the judge, Jay Holland. Bearing in mind that the weather varied from brief bouts of hot sunshine (and I mean brief, let's not get carried away it was a bloody awful day) to light drizzle, heavy rain and finally to horizontally propelled torrential thunder filled downpours he managed to get through the animals.

At one point as our gazebo had all but given up the ghost we dropped the legs on the show ring side to stop the rain driving through us and sheltered. The thunder rumbled and the rain pelting into the canvas was deafening, however, just above the noise of what I could describe as a tropical storm I heard the dulcet tones of our judge "This class of junior white males was a pleasure to judge......"
It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, The show must go on. Hat raised to Jay and all the competitors who stood out in that, it is the stuff of legend

As you may imagine I didn't take many photographs. But to give you an idea, here are the brown Suri's being judged. I think you can see the rain lashing in.

We eventually left at around 5.15, well when I say left, we tried to leave. The ground had soaked up as much rain as it could and despite making a determined effort in the trusty Discovery the hill leading to the exit was too much and we sat for about 40 minutes bogged in awaiting rescue by tractor.

The judge, stewards, organisers and competitors did a great job of putting on a show but I sincerely hope that I never, ever have to go to a show as wet as that again!

Next up, in just ten days time is the Devon County Show and the brown boys will once again do battle in the ring. No doubt there will be plenty of competition! Bring it on, we've come through the North Somerset Show we can cope with anything now!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

How very very exciting!

I'm excited, very excited, in fact I can hardly sit still and I haven't even had any coffee yet! I have one next to me now so I could very much expire with exhaustion prior to lunch but for now I am able to type without whooping too much. So why am I excited (it doesn't take much these days) I am excited about teenie tiny things. No we haven't had another cria, which would have been a good guess as that does get me very excited. No, I am excited about our latest cria, little Truffle.

Sue and I have just been out to do Truffle's daily weight check, which first involved catching her. This is getting harder each day as she can now seemingly disappear from one spot and appear in another like some sort of super hero. However with a two pronged cornering manoeuvre she was snaffled and we could get on with the business in hand. She now weighs 9.16kg, a fantabulous gain of 860g in less than 3 days so in that respect we are very happy.
This was the first time, due to working opposite shifts, that we have had the opportunity to have a really good look at her fleece together.

Coat off I gave her another jab of Amoxypen (a precautionary measure advised by the vet) and then we had  a good look at Truffle's fleece.

I have to say that I have never seen a cria fleece like it. Never. Bearing in mind she had been wearing a coat since birth which is constantly moving against the fleece it shouldn't look at it's best but crikey it is beautiful!

Neither of us have ever seen such tiny crimp. Tiny little crimp everywhere. Up her neck, down her legs, down into the belly, just everywhere. We have 33 registered Patou cria prior to Truffle and some of them have gone on to do really well in the shows around the country but none of them have had this sort of crimp in their fleeces at this stage, not one of them. Maybe breeders of the lighter coloured alpacas see this all the time, maybe breeders of the darker colours too, I am just saying that we have never seen it before. And that has made me very excited.

So where has it come from? Well Truffle's mother Dee (Indira of Cambridge) is our mystery girl. A Chilean import with no pedigree Dee is now 14 years old. Dee is also the mother to our top brown female, Reeya (a Jack of Spades daughter). So Dee is a quality cria producer.

Truffle's father is a bit better known in that he has a superb Australian pedigree, but as yet he is unproven as a herdsire. He is of course my boy, my big brown boy, The big Q, Van Diemen Qjori of Patou. Now we know he is a quality alpaca I mean just look at him! But seriously his fleece blew us away when we first saw him in Tasmania. That's why he's here now.

I am not so naive that I don't know that fleeces change, sometimes dramatically, as an alpaca grows but by crikey this is a good start! Reeya is also pregnant to Qjori.

The grand plan for world domination is taking shape!