Saturday, 31 August 2013

It's war!

We are very frustrated here in Patouland and my hatred for flies and the subsequent war against the fly population of South Wiltshire is growing to almost obsessive proportions.

Firstly to little Vanilla, she is the pick of the crop this year, full sister to Tsar and looking every bit as good. But she is either thick or just being plain picky. 
She was the smallest cria we had this year weighing in just over 6.5kg and she is a very delicate little flower, very girly indeed. She was born on the 4th of August and all seemed well, she was strong, she was lively, she was feeding well and she was putting on weight steadily. 
At ten days old she had put on 800g from birth, not a massive weight gain but she was small and the gain was steady. Four days later we weighed her and she had lost 200g. Now why was that then? The Patou Alpacas observation and intervention team moved in. 
We checked her mother, Millie, and she had lots of milk.
We observed Vanilla feeding several times that day and started topping her up with a bottle twice a day, she started gaining weight again, about 70-100g a day. 

 

Our observations revealed that Vanilla preferred the front right teat to the others. In fact she suckled exclusively from that one teat, she nudges the others but only suckles from that one, now slightly elongated teat. Sue milked the others and the milk was there but for some reason Vanilla only used one. Now is she just plain stupid? How do you get her to use the other three? Any suggestions greatly appreciated! She is simply not getting enough from that one teat and we therefore have to supplement her from the bottle. 

Now to the flies. We are surrounded by woodland here which is obviously where all the flies come from. I see the woods now as the fly cities. They all come out into the countryside (our fields) and plague the alpacas, like large gangs of hoody wearing yobbos. I have declared full on war with them and will not rest until they are all dead, every last beady eyed, buzzing, piece of flying scum. 

The adults and older cria seem to cope ok but the youngsters (some more than others) are really struggling. They attack the eyes and poor little Vanilla has had an awful eye infection as a result. We have tried Citronella spray, Flyz Off, Nettons anti fly strike spray all to no avail, they work for a short time then the flys are back.
Vanilla is now on anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory injections and we have her in the shed with Millie during the day, letting them out at night when all the flies have gone back to their sordid little world in the woods. The shed is turning into a little fortress, we have fly-traps at the doorways and sticky fly paper inside, I stand there just inside the doorway and launch the most ferocious and foul mouthed assault at anything that tries to enter. It seems to be doing the trick, her eyes seem better today.


Now if we can just get her suckling from all four teats, life would be a whole lot better. Anyone else had this problem?

Friday, 23 August 2013

All aboard!

Yesterday I welcomed a return trip from Dave Bearman from Apple Vale Alpacas who had come to spit some girls off.
We don't allow anyone else's alpacas onto our land so matings have to be done outside the fields on the lovely wide grass verges in Ridge. This means that the visiting girls don't come into contact with either our herd or anywhere where they are grazing. This minimises the risk as much as we can. So yesterday I set up the pens on some fresh grass a short distance from the girls field.
Qjori was rejected, which is great news for Dave but bad news for Qjori.
However a large group of onlookers had arrived in the girls field and were gathered looking over the wall at the goings on. Most of the females that we are mating this year are already spitting off nicely but I knew there were two in the field who were ready to go and they were in the group of onlookers. Not wishing to waste an opportunity Qjori and I went into the field and the two chosen ones fell to their knees at the very sight of him. There were also a few that won't be mated this year hitting the deck and an assortment of this years cria in the mix. As such it was all a bit crowded for Qjori!


Being a 'professional'  he just got on with the days business! A lovely sea of brown!


One of the girls waiting patiently was Reeya who is the mother of Whisky Mac. He is one of the little boys that we are keeping a close eye on. He's not brown, not even I can convince myself of that but he is a nice fawn and has a lovely look about him.


Despite my clumsy efforts with one hand I couldn't get a decent fleece shot of him so had to resort to a hands off picture but he certainly looks interesting from the outside!


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Another double header!

Yesterday was another double header here in Patouland as both Dilly and Skye decided to unpack.
First at about 9.30am Dilly dropped out a lovely big healthy grey male. This is excellent news, Qjori who has grey parents always had the potential to pop out a grey and last year he produced Todd out of Alice, our other white female. Dilly's cria is more of a textbook grey with all the correct markings in the right places. Last year we thought Todd was brown with a white face, it was only after a couple of months that the grey came through. Well no doubt about this boy, he is grey!
We are very pleased with him, he was a whopper at 10.55kg and had been baked for 352 days. We have named him Vickery.


No he isn't a three legged alpaca, he does have four!


He is a real live wire and is constantly charging around in the field, he seems to love to run, just like me.


A few hours later we realised that Skye was up to something. She had taken herself off into the shed and was looking uncomfortable. Now this is where it gets all weird. Skye was quite obviously pushing. She was definitely in labour and she was trying to have a baby. After a while with nothing progressing we decided to have a feel. Well when I say we, I mean Sue, she is a midwife afterall! So Sue got gloved and lubed up and 'went in' , although she couldn't. She could only get two fingers in. She could feel the top of a head but the, erm, hole, wasn't big enough. This was worrying and Sue went off to phone the vet whilst I stayed with Skye.
Then followed what I can only describe as the most painfull, uncomfortable looking chain of events. Skye was straining for all her worth, her back end was bulging out so far that I could see the shape of a whole head but there was no hole for it to come out of. It took seemingly ages but eventually, by some miracle of nature a nose, then a head and two feet appeared. Skye was knackered.
After a little rest Sue gently eased out the cria and all was well. A strapping big brown Qjori boy weighing in at 8.55kg. Strong and healthy and soon up and feeding. I still do not know how he managed to get out it really was like something from a horror film as far as I was concerned.
I had to shoot off to work so have only seen him up close this morning and I have to say he is a very smart young fellow with a very pretty fleece. Skye is a Collabear Albert girl so I think this Qjori/Albert mix has great potential.


 Whilst I was looking at the new brown boy who I have named Willoughby (I have done this on my own so this may be pooh poohed by the rest of the naming committee) a white and grey missile arrived on the scene quickly followed by his mother who is constantly struggling to keep up with him!


We now have one female left to give birth. Sahara, who is Dilly's daughter is now 349 days in to her pregnancy and looks ready to split! Don't you just love it all!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

One small step for Patou, one giant leap for Patou!


Last weekend was completely and utterly mad. 
Between 7am on Saturday morning and midnight on Sunday I managed to fit in The Ellingham Show (Saturday), The Chicksgrove Country Show (Sunday) and two 10 hour shifts at the day job (late evenings). But I tell you what, it was worth every minute of sleep that I missed!

First up was The Ellingham Show. The inaugural alpaca show within a really nice agricultural show in a great location near Ringwood. It was brilliant. The weather was fantastic, the show itself was very well organised (Viv and Rosemary, very many thanks for your hard work!) and I do believe a rather splendid day was had by all!

We took a small but perfectly formed show team of three Qjori boys, a brown one (Talisker), a black one (Thor, God of Thunder) and a rose grey one (Todd).

First up was little Toddy, who I happen to think is an absolutely cracking looking rose grey male. He took the first place rosette in the intermediate grey class but was pipped to the grey championship by Meon Valley The Sorcerer who looked great and has plenty of wins under his belt already. We don't mind losing to quality such as The Sorcerer. 
However I was very proud of our boy. Here he is photographed this morning with his rather nice rosette.



Thor was a little out of his depth in the black classes which I think might have been the biggest classes, and came away with a third, c'est la vie!

Then we were into the browns and it was the turn of Talisker. His mother is one of our best browns, Reeya, a beautiful Jack of Spades girl.
I like Talisker a lot, he has an incredibly soft buttery fleece with great character, just like his dad, Qjori.
Talisker bagged first place in the intermediate brown class and then we were back in the ring for the brown male championship.

Now, many of you may have seen Sue, me or Angus in the ring winning championships before because we have handled some pretty wonderful animals in the past. But, none of the championship winning animals have been ours. I know, hard to believe isn't it?

We have won plenty of reserve champion ribbons, Qjori himself, although a multiple champion in Australia has been reserve colour champion twice (losing both times narrowly to CME Prometheus, damn you Prometheus!) and he was also reserve Adult male at the Royal Bath and West Show 2 years ago. With Patou girls also winning a few reserve champions over the years we have a few but we have never won a championship ribbon with one of our home-bred Patou warriors.

Well last weekend at The Ellingham Show that step up was made. Patou Talisker took the brown male championship and I was as proud as punch. In fact it nearly all ended in tears but I managed to man up just in time.
Here is our first home-bred Championship winning alpaca, Patou Talisker, son of Qjori. 
Now if I can just get his brother into the ring................


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Waikiki, Whisper, Vanilla and Wagtail.

As the sun was out again I thought I would whip out and take some better pictures of the latest four cria here in Patouland. I know I am rather biased but they really are very gorgeous.

We have had a major move round this week and the 13 older cria with mum's and females without cria have gone across the road to a recently topped 5 acre field that we have kept empty for the last three months. This just leaves the latest four cria with their mums (obviously) and the three females who are still to give birth in the 'birthing paddock'.

The new cria are certainly enjoying life where there are a few less bodies getting in the way.

Pictured below are Waikiki and Whisper who seem to hang around together all the time.


As they are so lovely I have given you a second picture of them. We had a good look at all the cria fleeces yesterday and these two are definitely ones to watch.

 
Next up is the smallest cria of the year. Little Vanilla is Tsars full sister and is so delicate and dainty you just couldn't mistake her for anything other than a drama queen in the making. Her fleece is stunning! She weighed 6.65kg at a day old and put on 250g in the following 24 hrs so she is growing, she just looks so small!

 

Vanilla is so beautiful that I have added a second picture of her too, aren't you lucky!
You can probably see the flies on her right eye, we are under seige here at the moment and although we are spraying the cria regularly the little bastards are still pestering them. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Any tips on getting rid of or putting off flies will be gratefully received!


And lastly, we have Sirrocco's little girl, the latest arrival. We have named her Wagtail. The reasoning behind naming her after a bird is that she is constantly darting this way and that and that she has a white bottom which is constantly on show as she does seem to wag her tail a lot! She has a slightly grey head which is a little strange but she is gorgeous nonetheless. I guessed her weight at 9kg and wasn't far out when She weighed in at 8.90kg yesterday.


So as not to leave Wagtail out I have added a second picture of her too, this one with her mother Sirrocco. 


A long birthing season has almost come to a close, we have three left to give birth. Dilly and Skye were 345 days pregnant yesterday and Sahara, pictured below is 342 days today. My money is on Sahara beating the other two, I mean look at the size of her! Although Dilly, the white in the background and Sahara's mother, is also rather close to bursting!


May the sun shine for a little longer and may all three be out by the end of the week!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Brown girls everywhere!

We have had a pretty good week or so here in Patouland with three new arrivals, all of them brown females!

First as previously reported, Polly (ATA Centurion girl) gave birth to a super little brown Qjori female who has been named Waikiki.
Then two days ago the one we have been waiting for arrived. Our top brown female, Patou Amelie (another ATA Centurion girl) produced a super little brown female. Amelie is the mother of Patou Tsar who had the best cria fleece that we have ever produced so we were hoping she would do the business again although we hoped for a female. Millie has not disappointed, this little girl, named Vanilla, is looking to be every bit as good as Tsar, and is a feminine version of him at the same age. At two days of age we can say that she has the best fleece of all cria this year. We are simply smitten with her and so is Millie!



And so to this morning. Patou Sirrocco (a Columbus girl) produced her first cria, a lovely brown female sired by Qjori. Born at 7.15am she was up quickly and is feeding well.



Here she is, two hours old, with Sirrocco who is a brilliant first time mother! 



Due to the fact that I have broken the scales through neglect (left them outside in a bucket which subsequently filled up with rain water) we don't have any weights yet, new scales due to arrive this morning. Guesstimates on weight? I would say Vanilla is about 6.5kg and this mornings, as yet unnamed girl, about 9kg. I will find out later today.

I did take a short video this morning as the two new mums met up to compare cria in the sunshine.

video

So, three to go and we are done. The last 5 cria have all been girls, can this continue?