Sunday, 29 September 2013

Time to reflect.

And so as another breeding season reaches the end it is perhaps time to reflect on what 2013 has to say about life in Patouland.

Cria count, 20 born here this year, 5 black females, 4 brown females, 2 multi females, 3 brown males, 2 black males, 2 grey males, 1 fawn male and Wilbur, the silver surfer.

I haven't got pictures of them all but here are some of the new kids on the block:

Firstly the four older black girls, all sired by Qjori.

Patou Ulani, mother Bobby, a fawn Mateus girl, head of the herd, bossy, spitty, kicky, we hope Ulani doesn't follow in her mothers footsteps!

Patou Umbria, mother Patou Penny a Witness girl, as bossy, kicky and spitty as her mother Bobby. We hope Umbria doesn't take after her mother or her grandmother............. but she probably will.

 Patou Violet, mother Minstrel, a black Jack of Spades girl. Violet is looking very promising.

Patou Willow, mother Sabrina, another black Jack of Spades girl, the pick of the black girls. Here is a fleece shot we took this morning. As usual the picture does not do it justice, it is lovely.

And now onto some of the boys, the browns.

Patou, mother the delectable fawn FiFi. Will has a gorgeous fleece and if we were picking a show team today he'd be the first name on the team sheet.

This is Patou Umberto, mother Poppy a brown Centurion girl. Sadly you might be able to see the white spot on his little chinny chin chin, his fleece is gorgeous.

Finally for today the only fawn in this years drop, Whisky Mac, out of Reeya our brown Jack of Spades girl. He is definitely one to watch.

And that is your lot for today, in other news, Sue and I came to a massive decision last weekend and that is that I am to retire from the day job at the end of October! That is fantastic news for me!!!

Now where are my pipe, slippers and satin smoking jacket?

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Magnificent Seven!

We have our cria divided into two groups at the moment, the older cria are with the main herd and the last seven cria are still in the birthing paddock with access to the big shed and within view from the kitchen window. 

The last seven are absolutely gorgeous (biased I know but it's my blog!), a really lovely little bunch of cria and so feeling a strong urge to share their wonderfulness with you I scurried out with the camera this morning. It isn't a nice bright sunny day in fact it is quite dull so as I was taking photographs (in the midst of a herd coming from the dark side) the flash was popping up frequently.

So here, for your information and wonder are what I like to call our Magnificent Seven! They have all been sired by Qjori and there is an interesting mixture of colour as you will see!

First is Patou Willloughby, his mother is Skye, a rose grey. This little chap is as smart as a button and has a very tidy fleece on him, one to watch methinks.

Second up is the latest and the last addition to the herd this year, Patou Wasimba. He is without doubt the cutest thing that we have here, by a country mile. His mother is Sahara, a medium fawn Columbus daughter. Wasimba has a glorious tight, curly, dense fleece and is looking every inch a superstar! He is so lively that when we weighed him daily for the first week we could never get an accurate reading as he was non-stop, mid-air galloping whilst hanging from the scales. Muppet.

Now for the first girl in the line up, Patou Waikiki. She is the daughter of fawn Centurion girl Polly. Waikiki has a dense fleece with plenty of character and is lovely but I have reluctantly put Polly and Kiki up for sale - I am hoping no-one buys them, I know it's stupid but I am stupid. It's just so hard to make these decisions. Don't look at her, move on.

The second brown girl is Patou Wagtail, a sort of smoky brown colour out of Patou Sirrocco, a brown Columbus girl. Her fleece is all fluff at the moment but it is starting to change colour (going darker) and the character appears to be arriving. Odd how they can change so much? She is in a blur most of the time as she races everywhere. Not much wrong with her that's for certain.

Next is Patou Whisper, now I know she has huge ears but as she is the daughter of my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world I simply don't care, paddock blinidness maybe but she is gorgeous. She has a very interesting fleece, could be good this one.

Next is the star of this years cria drop. Patou Vanilla, full sister to our boy Tsar and causing us almost as much anguish. Vanilla started off well putting on a lot of weight initially before starting to lose weight at 10 days old. Finickety feeding (one teat only) seemed to be the cause. We tried everything to get her onto the other teats (plenty of milk in all of them) and in the meantime have been supplementing her with goats milk. She has now started to gain weight and is refusing the bottle most of the time. The teats of her mother (Millie) have changed shape slightly so all now appear to be in use. We are monitoring the situation carefully. Vanilla has an identical fleece to Tsar at the same age but she is very much a girl and therefore very frustrating (ooh did I say that?).

And lastly, the big bruiser of the seven is Patou Vickery. Vickery is out of Dilly, one of our two white girls and is a cracking rose grey with a very promising fleece. He is the noisiest cria we have ever had, touch him with one finger and off he goes clucking and humming and chuntering to himself.

So there we have it, the Patou Magnificent Seven. An odd mixture of colour for someone breeding for brown I know but hey-ho variety is the spice of life!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

A boys day out at Romsey.

Yesterday Angus and I spent a great day at The Romsey Show in the grounds of Broadlands House. The Romsey show is less than an hours drive for us and is one of my favourite shows.
We took a small but perfectly formed show team selected from the massed ranks of the Mighty Patou army.
Patou Todd, our rose grey boy and Patou Talisker who had taken the brown male championship at the Ellingham show last month.
We also took a third member of the herd for his show debut. The third member of the team was none other than a very special little boy, Patou Tsar. Those of you who regularly read this drivel will know that Tsar is the little male that we struggled to keep alive last summer and over the winter. After a long hard and emotional battle we have managed to get the bugger sorted out and although he is still a bit on the small side he is in fine fettle.
Anyway off we set well equipped for the day ahead. I had been up early cooking sausages so that Gus and I could breakfast in style rather than pay £4 for a crap bacon butty. The sausages were put in a thermos flask, we had buns, ketchup, hot coffee for me and hot chocolate for Gus. Nice.

We arrived and unloaded and then had to move the car and trailer to a field designated for trade parking. We trudged back talking about the fantastic sausage butties we were going to devour washed down with our own home made hot beverage of choice. We arrived back at the alpaca marquee salivating and in one of our customary hunger frenzies.
Angus sat down and eagerly awaited the promised feast. It was then that I realised that we had left all the food in the boot of the car! With the judges briefing fast approaching we didn't have time to go back and get it. After the judges briefing we then had Todd in the second class, still no time to get it! Todd went and came second in the intermediate grey class which meant he had to go into the grey championship line up! How inconsiderate! How inconvenient! By now we were becoming ravenous and were looking around for things to eat, hay was looking tasty. Finally at just after 10am we were able to return to the car and breakfast was soon underway. The Patou army marches along in a much better mood when it is well fed!

Our next venture into the ring was with the two brown boys, Talisker and Tsar. The conversation about who was taking who into the ring went something like this:

Me: Who do you want to take in?
Gus: Who's best?
Me: Well I think Tsar has the best fleece?
Gus: I'll take Tsar.
Me: Although I think Talisker is conformationally better.
Gus: I'll take Talisker.
Me: I still think Tsar will beat Talisker.
Gus: I'll take Tsar.
Me: Although Talisker won the brown championship at Ellingham last month.
Gus: I'll take Talisker.

And so it was decided that Gus would take Talisker and I would take Tsar.

It was a large class but eventually Tsar was awarded second place and Talisker fourth. I would have preferred 1st and 2nd obviously but Nick Harrington-Smith is a top judge who commands respect and I have no problems with his decision. First place went to a smart light brown boy owned and bred by Roger Mount, next time Roger!

Lunchtime was fast approaching (just because breakfast was late is no reason to move lunch back by the way) and just before lunch was junior handler time.
Gus had taken the junior handler title at the Royal Bath and West Show so was eager to maintain his supremacy. There were seven junior handlers in the ring and Roger Mount was volunteered to do the honours. Minutes later and Gus had the first place rosette, a lovely halter and lead set and a smile a mile wide. Me too!

Job done, lunch was troughed. Some Reddingvale people said we ate too much! Cheek of it!

With all the dark animals judged it was time for us to have a wander round the show and catch up with fellow exhibitors before our final event the Sire's Progeny class. Now we have never been in one of these but as we had three Qjori boys in our team I thought that we would give it a go.
We roped in Ali Chant from Windrush Farm Alpacas as our third handler and off we went into the ring, the team from the dark side up against three teams from the light side. I loved it, being in the ring with three of our boys at the same time was a real buzz and when we were presented with the second place rosette I was absolutely delighted! Obviously I would like to have come first but we were beaten by The Reddingvale Team with their Top Brass progeny, so no complaints.
Unfortunately the only photos I have of the day are of Gus in the ring with Toddy. I know; I am useless. Anyway here are the three Qjori boys.


And of course Tsar!
  And of course (again), the big Daddy of them all, Van Diemen Qjori of Patou!

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable day, well done to Karen and Nikki for organising it all.

However, something has got to be done about the access of the public. The 'Health and Safety' rule (or is it advice, or law, who knows) that members of the public were not allowed in to the marquee to see the alpacas and talk to the breeders (this removing a massive marketing opportunity) has surely got to be strongly challenged!(Maybe it already has?) It happens everywhere else doesn't it?

And my last word on the subject is that I think the organisers of the Romsey Show (the whole show, not the alpaca bit) are a bit jobsworth. I was berated by a moron in an orange tabbard for walking along the metalled road back to the car park at the end of the day. When I asked why I was being told to walk in the mud I was shouted at 'You will get run over, it's health and safety!'
When I explained that there were no cars within sight and that when one came along I would get out of the way I was accused of being firstly rude and the arrogant. Left a nasty taste that did, jobsworths.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Come out Number 20 your time is up!

And so after a gestation of 360 days our 'cute as a button' Sahara finally gave birth.
It was an interesting experience for me as I had to 'go in' as they say.
At 9.20 this morning we had two front feet sticking out, but that was it, no nose and no amount of pushing and shoving on Sahara's part could progress things.
Sue lubed up and 'went in' to see what was what. The head was back. Sue huffed and puffed but couldn't turn it. We called the vet and stood around discussing things for a short while.

Now I must point out at this juncture that I have never 'been in'. Sue is a midwife (that doesn't make any difference apparently), she has been lambing and helped ewes give birth (surely that does count?) and Sue's hands are an awful lot smaller than mine (surely that is important!). Mine are definitely designed for 'not going in'.
As a result, if there is any 'going in' going on, it is always Sue that 'goes in', are you with me?

So as we discussed what was what and Sue said that the head just wouldn't move I said that I would have a go. I would go beyond where I had been before, I would 'go in'.
I washed my hands and forearms and lubed up and then for the first time ever I 'went in'.

First impressions were that it was nice and warm in there and there wasn't a lot of room. I could feel the head and indeed it was facing the wrong way. So, being careful not to break anything I managed to push and pull and rotate. I am assuming that all you readers who have 'been in' before will know exactly what I mean. Once the head was facing the right way, I knew it was because my thumb went in its mouth at one point and I could feel its teeth, I gently pulled down and crash bang wallop a big wriggly cria was on the ground.
This is what we got! A big strapping rose grey male .

He weighed in at somewhere between 8 and 9 kilos. I can't be any more accurate than that as every time I picked him up in the weighing sling he sort of 'air-galloped' non stop. Suffice it to say he is strong!

Sahara is a beautiful fawn Columbus girl. She probably has the best fleece of all our Columbus progeny and she is without doubt the prettiest member of the Patou herd. We used Qjori over her and this is her first cria. Her mother, Dilly, gave birth to a grey male, Vickery (by Qjori), 3 weeks ago so it was always on the cards that we could get another grey.
After penning them in the shade for a few hours, he was up and feeding very quickly, I let them out after lunch and Sahara was immediately putting the little chap through his paces. Straight up the steep bank which is a short cut to the water trough (she had already drunk a bucket of water!). Fair play to the little man, he had one tumble from half way up back to the bottom and then he charged at it and was away. Like I said, he's a strong one.

So that is it, birthing season for us is now over. We have increased the herd by 20 and it is soon to be increased by another 8 as we add to the black wing of the herd with some new genetics, but more on that when they arrive. Time, I think, for a large one!