Saturday, 22 September 2012

Ground breaking stuff in Patouland.

I interrupted a conversation yesterday morning whilst I was out checking all the alpacas and walking the dogs, simultaneously I might add. I was multi-tasking if you like. 
The conversation was taking place in the shed between Reeya and her Qjori boy Talisker. They hadn't seen or heard me coming so deeply were they ensconsed in their highly conspirational little chat. 
I paused outside the shed door, just out of sight. I could hear the gentle murmurings of Reeya as she questioned little Talisker who waited patiently for her to finish. When she had finished, and by this point I was becoming more and more amazed at what I was hearing, Talisker sighed thoughtfully and replied, the faintest quiver in his melodious soprano voice.

It's difficult to convey the exact details of their discussion, they don't speak English of course, nor Spanish. They speak alpaca, obviously, but they speak a particular type of alpaca. They speak the highly advanced Patou dialect which is particular only to alpacas in this part of deepest darkest Wiltshire. There is no literal translation into our spoken tongue. The words with which they communicate have no direct comparison, no exact match. Luckily I have been studying this particular dialect for the past seven years and am able with the aid of some photographs by way of illustration to hopefully convey a rough translation for you.

The gist of the conversation was that Reeya and Talisker were discussing which of our two dogs they were going to try and communicate with. Having accepted the dogs as non-threatening and frequent interlopers into the field they were discussing making the leap from alpaca to dog. 

Reeya and Talisker were going to try and speak dog!

They had obviously made the decision prior to yesterday and were now trying to decide who they were going to approach. The conversation that I had stumbled into was about this final choice. The answer was not an easy conclusion to come to and the result of the head to head was that they were going to assess both candidates today, right now in fact, and having done so a decision would be made and contact would be attempted.

I took a step backwards as they walked out of the shed together, mother and son, pioneers in the animal kingdom, about to attempt the impossible.

Nervously I fumbled for my phone and with great excitement I managed to catch the encounter, the assessment and the attempt on camera. I have produced these pictures for you here today.

Firstly, Reeya and Talisker observed the prospective candidates together for some sign of intelligence. The dogs, Newfie Kira and Chocolate Lab Josh didn't really do themselves any favours with some very low brow scratching. I felt my heart sink with disappointment.

The two alpacas then separated the dogs out and discussed the various merits and pitfalls of attempting the feat with Kira.

They moved on after a few seconds and Reeya looked across at me with an expression that said 'Really? Is this the best material that we have to work with?'

They approached Josh who was still scratching himself spectacularly. However, he had made eye contact, he was engaging!
Reeya and Talisker were in deep discussion for several minutes, Josh waited......................and then.......

The attempt was made!!!!

Another amazing occurrence in the wonderful world of Patou!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The clock is ticking.

I have enjoyed reading about peoples exploits at the Alpaca Classic event, it sounds like it was great fun and very well organised. Usually at the merest hint of free booze I'll be the first to arrive and the last to leave but on this occasion the dreaded day job intervened as I was working evenings all weekend. 
So as the canapes were being passed around and the chilled Pinot Grigio was being swilled I was doing one of several things. I was either trying to talk sense into someone who could barely understand what I was saying, he wasn't foreign, no he was British he was just too stupid to understand that it wasn't nice to swear at his mother all of the time. Or I was chasing a group of drunkards who having managed to get themselves onto the roof of Lloyds bank were now throwing pies at passers by. Perhaps I was trying to talk to a man who was so drunk that he thought I was his wife and was trying to kiss me just before he passed out. Maybe it was when I was trying to explain to a man who was quite obviously stoned out of his brains that 1am wasn't the appropriate time to be playing 'gangsta rap' at full volume in the middle of a housing estate.

Whatever I was doing I would have rather been at the Alpaca Classic!

Still I have a little under 14 months to go at the day job and then I can hand my cuffs in and devote my time to the Mighty Patou herd. I can't tell you how good that sounds!

Today was a day off and as the sun was dropping I took the dogs out and grabbed a few pictures of the herd for your perusal.

The lovely Reeya is first, she demanded to be photographed by walking up to me and standing right in front of me. I was happy to oblige, head shot only as I couldn't get far enough away from her.

Approaching from the rear was Millie with Tsar Tsar Superstar, a very photogenic couple, beautiful colour.

Then Talisker, who had come over to see why I was taking pictures of his mother, arrived and posed. Qjori and his minions are in the background, although Qjori is playing it cool by lying down facing the other way.

I then went in to the main field and was approached by Mr Angry himself, Troy. he always has a frown on his face. His mother is Penny, the most volatile of the 'Hair-trigger spit monster family' so maybe it's no surprise that he always looks ready to stick the nut on someone.

Finally today is Thor (God of Thunder) who is looking more and more splendid every day. He is the only black Qjori cria and we are very pleased with him, he has amazing fleece coverage.

Tomorrow is another day off so there is more alpaca stuff to get through as well as a hundred other chores then it's back for another weekend of conferring with the intellectually challenged.
Every shift is a day closer..........

Thursday, 13 September 2012

It's a girl thing?

You may remember that on a previous post..... HANG ON A MINUTE! I'll come back to that, Karen at Amyrick reports of the arrival of not one but two brown female Qjori cria yesterday. That means we are almost up to 50/50 girls and boys Huzzah!!

Anyway where was I? Oh yes, you may remember that on a previous post I said that we were weaning Truffle at 4 months because her mother, our old Chilean girl Dee, was rather thin.

This meant that the bulk of the female and cria group went into the big field whilst we kept a small select group who are on extra rations. With that group are three of this years cria, Tabitha, Talisker and Tsar Tsar Superstar.

It is interesting to see that the two boys behave differently to Tabitha. Here she is watching me with the feed bucket having been giggling whilst Talisker was showing off by rolling in the dust bath.

She continued to watch and was soon following me towards the shed.

Where she immediately tucked into some hard food.

And the boys? What's a bucket? What is hard food? Who am I, where are we?

It's always the same, the girls tuck in whilst the boys just haven't got a clue.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Romsey and beyond

On the way home from the Romsey show yesterday Gus asked me what had been my favourite moment of the day. Without much hesitation I said that it had been watching him in the ring with Woody.
I then turned the tables and asked him the same question. I was expecting him to say that it had been taking part in the sumo wrestling organised by the local rugby club, or that the giant slide was tops, even rolling around in the giant bubble or buying sweets and ice creams would be the highlight. But no, Gus's highlight was the same as mine. His favourite part of the day was taking his alpaca, Woody, into the ring. Junior handler or big show I asked? Big show was the answer. That's my boy, that's the future.

So we took three alpacas to the show and we came away with four rosettes for which we must be pleased. We did really well last year with two reserve Champions but this year things had changed. The big boys were here. Not just big boys but the very big boys were here. The Alpaca Stud was here, Bozedown were here, Inca were here and these guys don't turn up with a load of donkeys in their trailers, no they don't. It doesn't make things any easier for someone with just 38 alpacas. It doesn't make things any easier at all but that's fine, if you aren't prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with the big boys you shouldn't be there. 

So what happened, the details? Well Sue and Gus took Sultan and Woody into a class of 9 intermediate brown males (it seems browns are everywhere now!). Woody and Gus picked up fourth and Sue and Sultan  grabbed fifth. Disappointed? Unfortunately due to my highly competitive nature yes I am. We must try harder.

Next up was Roger Resilient in a class of two. Beautifully handled by Sue Roger was awarded second place.  I went and looked at the winner. I don't think I could have separated them so fair enough. You win some you lose some. Three animals in, three rosettes. Nice one, lunch time.

During the lunch break we had the junior handler classes. Gus was in the second class of four, the younger class. It's always a tough one to judge this one, and to a certain extent it is a bit of fun. Gus doesn't care what  colour rosette he gets, which is great as it doesn't really matter, to him. But it does to me and fourth place had me muttering into my sandwiches. 

Gus, handling Woody like a seasoned pro.

Gus, with Woody, standing motionless facing the right way whilst one of the alpacas was spooked by a dog.

Do you ever get the impression that it all means a bit too much to me sometimes? I can't help it you know,  I'll compete at anything with anyone over anything, anywhere. Sometimes I'm competing with someone when they don't even know it, it's daft.

Anyway Mrs Steele took me to one side and had a few words in my ear, 'get a grip' 'sort yourself out' and something about perspective was mentioned and I stopped frowning at everyone.

Another highlight for me was when I was asked to take Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca into the ring. He is a walking, humming orgling legend in my books and it was great to handle him and pick up the first place rosette. He is a really special male. 

Here are the brown boys relaxing after lunch.

So a great show, well organised by Karen and Nicki, well done.
One thing was a bit annoying and I know it was something that was out of the organisers hands, so I am going to whinge at society in general about this one. The public were not allowed into the marquee (some came in anyway, you know what they're like) and I assume that this was for some health and safety (or arse and bum as I like to think of it) rule? Or maybe an insurance (or 'mamby pamby nanny state nonsense' as I like to think of it) regulations? Anyway it was silly whatever it was.

Today we have been spitting off with Qjori, excellent results as we had 18 spitting and four (who we expected to) sitters. So Qjori had a lengthy threesome whilst we drank coffee. One girl always spits off in spectacular fashion. No sooner had I walked into the field with Mr Q, than Millie was tail out and puffed up with a real 'come near me and I'll kill you!' look. 

She kept running up to him and spitting at him then stropping off with little Tsar in tow. Wonderful stuff.

Right that's it I'm off to find someone to arm wrestle with.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

It's all about the boy

I have learnt one thing this week. Taking photographs of an alpacas fleece is an absolute nightmare. Actually that's wrong, it is easy to take a photograph of an alpacas fleece. What is hard is taking a photograph of an alpaca's fleece that accurately portrays what you see with the naked eye and what you feel with your hands.

Anyway, I felt that having shown you some cria fleece photographs and then told you that there was one even better still out in the field that I ought to at the very least make the effort. Patou Tsar, is the little monkey that has had Sue and I trying as hard as we can to recreate what we could see. Why, because I think he is rather special and I am very proud of him. I mean just look at him. 

So we have been out with two different cameras, in the sun, in the shed, flash on, flash off you name it we tried it and to be honest we were disappointed with the results. But here are the two best pictures out of a pretty poor bunch. I hope they at least give you a flavour of what he looks like. To know what he feels like, well that's a bit harder, you'll have to come and visit!

It's amazing how different the colour is between these two pictures. One taken in the sunshine (below) and one taken in the shed with a flash (above). Both Tsar, I promise! His real colour is somewhere in between.

We seem to have rather a lot of brown boys here, you could almost call it a brown male production line. This weekend we are off to the Romsey Show and surprise surprise our show team will consist of three brown boys. Sherwood and Sultan who are just over a year old and Roger Resilient who is now into his third year. We have recently put Roger up for sale as he's related to too many of our girls. Roger has started working this summer and if anyone wants to see his details he is on Alpacaseller and on our website.

Patou Resilient

The weather looks set for a great weekend down here in the south and hopefully The grounds of Broadlands where the Romsey Show is held are dry and firm it should be a great show. 

Right I'm off to do anything apart from try and take fleece shots, I am done with them!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Cria and fleece shots

Right, as promised I have managed, or rather Sue and I have managed to get some fleece shots to illustrate what I was wittering on about a week or so ago. Remember, fleeces changing and all that? They are not the best photographs as there seems to be a real knack to getting decent fleece shots and we don't have it yet, but we will be practising again soon.

The first subject is little Todd, resident pie-face. He was sired by Qjori out of Alice, a white Mateus girl.
After a week his fleece was brown with no colour contamination. No sign of any grey, just brown, and his white face of course, and his white feet.

A couple of days ago this is what we found! The top inch or so is brown and then, as if it has been dyed, it changes to dark grey! Not sure if he has enough white marking to be classified as a grey but he has to be pretty close?

I can't offer you anything as dramatic as that as far as fleece changes go but here are a couple of cria and fleece shots that we managed to get. Next is Troy pictured with his mother Penny, leading light in the 'Hair-trigger spit monster' family. She is a Canchones Witness girl and again Qjori is the father. Look at her, she has just about had enough of me looking at her and is about to get really annoyed. She is our spittiest and kickiest alpaca, but she loves me really.

Here is his fleece. It is a very bright and dense fleece with a lovely structure to it. Light brown or dark fawn? Time will tell although I think it is light brown as we don't breed fawns.

Next up is our fawn boy Tarquin. Hang on a minute we don't breed fawns. Here is our very light dark brown boy Tarquin, or the Mighty Quin as he is known here. Quin is a Jack of Spades boy out of Bobby, a fawn Mateus girl. Bobby is Penny's mother and probably edges Penny on the spitting front but doesn't kick much. She want's to love us but just can't bring herself to do it although she tries very hard. You can see it in her face.

The Mighty Quin has a reasonably dense fleece with a big bold crimp and I think it looks quite nice for a brown albeit a very light dark brown. Not sure we'd get him into a brown class though?

That's all the fleece shots for now although the one I really want to show you will have to wait until next time. I am on my own all week as Sue is working days and I am working evenings. We exchange a few words at breakfast time but that's about it. C'est la vie!

As a taster of what is to come here are a couple of pictures of Patou Tsar. He is another Qjori cria and his mother is Patou Amelie, a superstar of the herd and the most beautiful alpaca we have, in my humble opinion.

Tsar has the most amazing cria fleece that I have ever seen on a brown alpaca. He is far and away the best cria we have produced in seven years of striving for perfection. He is a little cracker. 

Here is his mother, Amelie, who as you can see is just totally gorgeous,