Sunday, 23 February 2014

Dry land for the boys!

We had a relatively dry couple of days this weekend so decided that we would finally be able to start weaning! This is the latest in the year that we have ever weaned and it is purely down to the weather. The land is so wet and boggy that we haven't been able to get the trailer near the gate and halter training has just been out of the question.
However, with a drying wind and some warm sunshine we took the opportunity to get all thirteen male cria weaned. Usually we leave the cria where they are and move the mums, but this year, again due to the weather, we have done it the other way round. So all the boys were rounded up and carried across the swampy mud to the trailer. First I had to clear the trailer of a few bales of hay, one of which was immediately claimed by the chickens!

Five minutes down the road and all the boys were all released into the dry land that we rent in the next village. Qjori and Tsar had been selected to stay as company and guardians for the gaggle of youngsters whilst the rest of the big boys were moved one field along. Qjori was immediately swamped as the boys gathered around him as if he was some sort of superstar (well he is a bit, to us at least). Tsar was very interested in the new arrivals and tried 'riding' several immediately. He was then pursued by Wilbur, our biggest weanling, who obviously thought that Tsar looked like his mother. Every time Tsar stopped running Wilbur stuck his head under looking for milk, all very odd indeed!

The boys assess their new surroundings in the sunshine, dry land at last!

Halter training will start tomorrow, definitely!

Next we need to move the eleven female weanlings away from their mothers, heavy and persistent rain today has put that back but we are now on the case!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Crash, bang, wallop!

Rain, wind, storms, hurricane winds, snow, sleet, hail, I am not going to go into what is going on down here as it is well documented and I know that we are hugely better off than a lot of people so I just thought I would indulge myself by giving you a Patou update.

As the blog title suggests we have had a crash, bang, wallop week. Actually we haven't had the wallop yet but titling this entry 'Crash, bang!', without the wallop didn't sound right.

The bang occurred as I sat in the kitchen having lunch a few days ago. There was a loud bang outside. When I say bang, it was a properly loud explosion. I immediately feared we were under attack. Milliseconds later I found myself in full combat mode, large carving knife in my teeth, loaded shotgun in my hands, bloodied bandana around my head and I appeared to be standing in a sort of kung-fu state of readiness. After waiting a few seconds with every sense heightened as far as it would go in an attempt to locate where the threat was coming from, I, for some unknown reason, threw myself into a forward roll, crashed into the cooker and hurt my head. That wasn't the 'crash' element of the title though!
Anyway, having gathered myself from the crumpled heap that I had become I waited alert for as long as I could, (cramp set in quite quickly) and established that the threat was outside. I relaxed my position, removed the carving knife from my now very dribbly mouth and hurled myself through the back door. A further forward roll and I was poised like Bruce Lee under the garden table. Again a full sensory scan of the immediate vicinity failed to reveal anything more menacing than the chickens who had stopped pecking and scratching around to stare at me.

Further investigation of the exterior of the house alerted me to the fact that my Discovery was listing hard to starboard as if she had been shot. A hissing noise was coming from her rear end as the left rear slowly lowered itself to the level of the 'wounded' side.

At this point I should inform you that my report of the event may have contained some slight exaggeration of the facts.

What had happened was that one of the rear suspension air-bags had, for some unknown reason, exploded. I have therefore been off the road for a few days and have now replaced the air-bags with a nice pair of unexplodable springs.

So now to the crash. Two days ago in the last hurricane force winds a huge conifer came down taking out a fence-line in one of the alpaca paddocks. Luckily no alpacas were under it and we have now closed off that paddock (it is like a bog anyway).

Angus surveys the damage, well he was until I asked him to smile at the camera!


As you can see, it's a big tree! 

So, another 24 hours of gale force winds and heavy rain to come today, I hope the 'wallop' doesn't arrive!
And another day goes by without any halter training. We will start soon, we have to!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Switching seamlessly to Plan B.

Having slipped and slid and fallen and skidded and generally behaved like a rather fat and ungainly Bambi on the mud greased slopes of our fields we decided to switch to plan B last weekend.

I decided that we needed to check the herd properly on a flat, dry, non-slip surface so we set up a pen on the driveway which is flat, dry and covered in non-slip gravel. The operation was a great success as the alpacas loved coming out of the field and running down the road through the village. All went ridiculously according to the plan which was fantastic.

I had also decided to treat the whole herd against coccidia and worms. This is not something that we normally do at this time of the year, the whole herd had been treated against Coccidiosis in September and wormed and treated against Liver Fluke in November. However, as it has been such a mild and wet winter we needed to tweak the usual regime. Due to the weather, half of the land is waterlogged so grazing areas are tight this year and poop picking has been impossible. Not only that but we have had a couple of females showing signs of abdominal discomfort so to be on the safe side it was decided to treat everyone. Everyone was also due for AD&E and some toenails needed cutting, again as it has been so wet toenails weren't getting worn down. Basically they were getting the whole works, a complete spa day for all!

The female and cria herd is split into two, with 25 on one side of the road and 28 on the other, so to keep it simple and with a dry and sunny weekend predicted we decided to do one side on Saturday (there was rugby to watch remember so outdoor time was restricted) and the other on Sunday. The herd is led by Millie and Vanilla, on the charge, Sue is operating the camera and controlling the rope across the road (multi-tasking) guiding them into the newly constructed 'dry-pen'.

I was wearing my red hat in honour of a Welsh victory on Saturday and bringing up the rear with Gus and his friend Dennis.

Sahara and her brother Vickery needed a little cajoling to join the rest of the herd.

With the herd in the pen we could get on with the job in hand in a fairly relaxed manner. I was even confident enough to promise Sue that I wouldn't throw a tantrum. Two hours later and they were done and I just about kept my promise, restricting myself to just a few swear words, I think.

We used our newly purchased and cheap wooden sheep hurdles to pen them in. I think they will look nice at church fĂȘtes and village shows later in the year.

As it was a virtually rain free day the previous day the alpacas were dry which made things so much nicer for all concerned. Here is Polly and her daughter Waikiki waiting for the return trip up the road.

This is little Wesley, a Popham Thunder son, absolutely cracking fleece but a white spot on his chinny chin chin means he misses out on getting a spot in this years show team.

So there we have it, an action packed weekend in Patouland and as it went so well we will carry out all future husbandry on the driveway. Pats on the backs all round, aren't we clever.