Thursday, 5 November 2015

Big fish, little fish?

I am an optimist in most aspects of my life. I am also prone to wildly fluctuating moods, one minute the world is absolutely fabulous, a minute later we are all doomed...... then seconds pass and once again all is well with the world.
Generally, however, I am well up for anything, most of the time, facing life head on and never taking a backward step, a sort of semi-permanent personal atmosphere of 'bring it on!'.
Until I am a little bit tired or emotional of course and then I need comfort and rest (usually in the form of spicy food and wine) whilst the batteries recharge.
I never seek or desire sympathy, it is very rarely deserved and although publicly to some it may seem as if I am sulking at times, I am not. I am using the 'quiet times' to continue my plan for world domination,........................ on a tight budget.

So what is the purpose of letting you have a glimpse into my interior world? Well it's the subject of alpaca showing. Last weekend we took a small team to Alpaca Showtime, an extremely well organised and laid on show at the HQ of the mighty Houghton Hall Alpacas. After the National and the Futurity the next biggest show I think? With just under 300 alpacas entered there was stiff competition across all colours with most of the 'big players' represented. Excellent stuff we like a challenge down here in Patouland. So to our results.

Sadly, due to in my opinion a rather silly rule (comments welcome on that one) that if you own an alpaca with a judge you (or any close relative) may not enter the ring with any animal at all, we did not pack our white shirts. However, we had asked Paul and Kathryn from the small but perfectly formed Nero Black alpacas to take our team in and they did a marvellous job, thank you!

Patou Nutmeg, fourth place intermediate black female.
 Patou Pinot, receiving fourth place in the other intermediate black female class.
Incidentally the cameraman in the ring and the big screen was a great success once the cameraman and judges sorted out what was required to get good images up. A welcome addition to shows, compulsive viewing in fact!

Patou Wasimba (closest), a fifth place in the adult grey male division.
Unfortunately I don't have a picture of Patou Primrose, I was slipping into that planning phase as she was given a sixth place rosette. No complaints about the placings and the reasoning behind them was understood, fair enough. We enjoyed the show and the company we kept.
So to the title of this blog, 'Big fish, little fish?' What's that all about? Well, the last show we went to, a small show in the south, three of the same little show team were colour champions. Which was great, fantastic in fact!
But would I rather be a 'big fish' in a small pond? No. Definitely not.
I am happy in the big pond with the big fish and I'll tell you why. 
Because one day, one day, this little fish will be eating big fish for dinner and it will taste soooo good! Bring it on!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Favourites? There are no favourites here.

October! 'It's October', someone said just now on the radio? Is it? It can't be, it's sunny outside.

Oh, hang on I am wearing a rather natty hoodie and reinforced undercrackers, it must be October.
It can't be as warm as it looks, winter must be just around the corner.
My temperature controlled instinct takes over at getting dressed time and I subconsciously clothe accordingly, my hands rooting around in the underwear chamber for sturdy garments not the flimsy summer 'smugglers', but the heavy duty four season gear, the extra weight ensuring a toastie feeling. Secure, ready for the icy winds blowing across from Siberia.

Anyway suitably clothed I ventured into the glorious autumn glow to have a look and see who of the shadow dwellers I could coax into the sunlight for some cria update photographs. I have to say they look marvellous, biased I know, but they do. If you want to dispute that come down and we'll have a jolly good argument about it followed by some gentle wresting and then we'll agree to agree over a pint. It's the way things are done down here in the land of the mighty Patou.

Moving on, I was immediately greeted by a rather scrummy trio on one of the Patou slopes nibbling at something tasty. I made my usual strangled chicken noise which attracted their attention in time for me to point and shoot with the camera. From left to right, Millichamp, Crackerjack and Hollister. Actually must have thrown my voice unintentionally on that one, unless there is some hearing deficiency going on?

Once I had chased them onto slightly better terrain with my best and loudest baboon barking I settled down to get some better 'solo' shots. And, ladies and gentlemen, who care to read this tripe, here are the results.

Patou Bollinger (sire Lilyfield Jack of Spades of Inca). Doing well and thriving again after a recent udder related weight loss.

Patou Millichamp (sire Wimmera Skies Class Act of Reddingvale Alpacas, just off the A303 in Somerset on the edge of the village of Templecombe), looking every inch the legend I hope he will be (no pressure then little fellow).

Patou Gilbert (Sire Lilyfield Jack of Spades of Inca) named after the rugby ball being used in this world cup. Big strong, dense...............just like me.

Patou Hollister (sire Wimmera Skies Class Act of Reddingvale Alpacas, just off the A303 in Somerset on the edge of the village of Templecombe).
Now Hollister was named after a trendy clothes shop apparently, unbeknown to me. I have since investigated this emporium and can declare that there does not appear any reason at all why I should darken their door with my wallet clasped in my hand. I don't believe they have suitable attire for, erm, someone like me. Doesn't he look fabulous though!

Patou Tuppence (sire Wimmera Skies Class Act of Reddingvale Alpacas, just off the A303 in Somerset on the edge of the village of Templecombe). She is utterly gorgeous, a real knee weakener, a creator of a trembling bottom lip, Tuppence is secretly my favourite. Oh bugger!

And to finish, my favourites, Tuppence, Millichamp and Hollister, in formation getting ready for their group dance.

Thanks go to Andy and Viv Walker of Reddingvale Alpacas, just off the A303 in Somerset on the edge of the village of Templecombe, oh and some other bloke. I think the balance has been redressed!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Why 10? I didn't even know how to work 8!

I know it has been a very long since I last posted a blog, way too long. You may be forgiven for thinking that I had 'done a runner' and left these shores to take up the role of a food taster for some nomadic tribe of paranoid pygmies in some far away exotic land. Endless days of running around in a loin cloth eating strong cheese and slightly iffy lamb chops. Sadly, I mean fortunately, no, I am still here in sunny, (finally) Wiltshire. However, I do have a whole raft of pathetic, I mean valid, excuses.

The main reason for my lack of communication is that I have been computing beyond my understanding. I have brought tragedy upon myself.
Let me explain. I used to like Windows Vista, I got very comfortable using it so it was a big change when Windows 7 came out but I embraced the challenge and eventually mastered Windows 7, I even became friends with good old Windows 7.
When my computer went into meltdown 6 months ago and turned out to be irretrievably damaged I was forced into buying a new laptop with something called Windows 8 operating it.

Now Windows 8 was something very different and to be honest I didn't like it, but I could sort of still use it like Windows 7, it was bearable, I got used to it by ignoring most of it.

For some bizarre reason I then upgraded to something called Windows 8.1. Why, I have no idea, not a clue, but I did it. The change was hardly noticeable. I find it hard to notice things when I am not actually paying them any attention.

Having not learned my lesson I was like a moth drawn to a flame when someone in my laptop told me that I could upgrade to something called Windows 10. For free (I think that is what swung it.)

So I once again embraced the challenge and started using Windows 10, albeit by ignoring most of it's functions. However, I liked it. I actually preferred it to the Windows 8.1 thing. It was kind of groovy and did a lot of things for me.

But, and this is a big but, Windows 10 seemed to stop me from uploading photographs to my blog, hence the lack of postings. I tried very many things to try and fix this problem but none were successful. Mostly I was just clicking on random things and shouting a lot. Eventually I decided that I would return to Windows 8.1 (there was no option to return to Windows 7). I clicked the buttons required of me and waited. I waited for a long time before my computer went into a seemingly endless loop of repairing itself or preparing itself to repair itself. It went on for a very long time and was looking very much like my computer was looking before it went into complete meltdown.
However, there was a happy ending to this story because overnight, whilst continuing to repair itself, my laptop has in fact mended itself! I am now back with Windows 8.1 and can once again upload pictures to my blog. So, although I did like Windows 10, be aware people it has a hidded mean streak!

Right, birthing here in Patouland is finally over and due to a lack of blogging there is some catching up to do. The dark side has grown magnificently here over the summer and here are a few of the new arrivals.

Firstly, probably my joint favourite is Patou Hollister. He is Wimmera Skies Class Act boy, his mother being our only Canchones Witness of Inca girl, Penny. He is so handsome, the jury is still out on whether he is black or dark brown, his fleece needs to grow a little more. Very excited about him.

Next is another Class Act boy, Patou Millichamp. He is my other joint favourite. His mother is Patou Willow (can you see where his name comes from?) and what comes from Willow? Cricket bats are made from willow and Millichamp and Hall make some of the best in Taunton. He is very promising.
Now for a Jack of Spades boy, Patou Bollinger, son of Polly a Centurion girl, and another joint favourite, very tight bibbly bobbly fleece and a real character, one to watch, I love him.
Bollinger is looking very similar to Patou Crackerjack who is extreeeeemly handsome! That's Jack boys for you! Here is Crackerjack showing off in front of Jamala and Taffy.
No question about the colour of this next boy, Patou Shadow, another Class Act boy from Patou Whisper (daughter of my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world, Lily.) A real live wire and another of my joint favourites.
And now for some girls, no people it's not all  boys! Here is my joint favourite female Patou Tuppence, a Class Act daughter from Reeya our lovely brown Jack of Spades girl. Tuppence, in her "Does my bum look big in this?" pose, is absolutely gorgeous! No really, she is absolutely gorgeous, totally absolutely gorgeous.
Tuppence has a best friend in Patou Constance, another Class Act girl. They both hang around with Reeya, Constance only nips over to her mother, Patou Fifi when she needs a quick feed and then she is back with her chum. They are both totally gorgeous, although Constance is a bit 'hairy'!
There have been further births since then, in fact the last one of the year was born this morning, but I will save that news for another day. Suffice it to say, we are rather pleased with this year's crop!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Dark storm on the horizon.

*This blog posting was started on Wednesday of this week but had to be put on hold while I obtained the necessary permissions to disclose the contents.

As the temperature has risen today past mildly moist through slightly sweaty to uncomfortably hot degrees I have sought sanctuary in the cool of the thick stone walls of the farm cottage that we live in. I am still fully clothed in case anyone was picturing something altogether more unsavoury.

So with a couple of hours or so to spare I thought that I would turn my attentions to the blog, which if I am brutally honest, has not had the attention that I promised myself I would give it recently.

So, with nothing dramatic to report I will reveal the grand master plan down here in Patouland, in case anyone is interested. Suffice it to say that I am very excited about what is going on and what will be going on as the summer evolves. Next year I will be bursting with anticipation.

'So what is going on down there?' I hear you all clamour impatiently. Yes, I can hear you people.

Well, I will tell you. It is time.

We have decided that we need to do something dramatic in order to take the quality of the Patou herd to the next level. We do well at shows, we produce lovely commercially viable alpacas, our herd quality is rising year on year and we are pleased with the way things are going, but I want more.

We need some new genetics and some high quality input, we need to add something special to the herd. And we have. We have dug deep into our piggy banks and invested in some top stud services and also purchased a share of a seriously exciting male.

So to the details. As I write I am unsure how much I should reveal, I used to be very good at keeping secrets. Sue will say otherwise, but I was. It's just that she is a very good interrogator.......and very persistent................and she hurts me sometimes..............she's stronger than she looks.

At the moment we have a very handsome male staying with us. Now those of you who know me well will know that we breed coloured alpacas, particularly brown alpacas and more recently black alpacas and even the odd grey, but never white alpacas. In ten years of breeding we have never used a white male and have never produced a white cria.
However, we do have a top white male here. We are not breeding white alpacas though. We do have two white alpacas incidentally but neither of them will be meeting our visitor. They will be liaising with the dark side again this summer. No, the females being introduced to our visitor are well and truly from the dark side, with at least three generations of colour behind them we are fighting against the whiteness but embracing the qualities that the white side has to offer (hopefully!). As can be seen below, our girls are not worried about a males colour, it is the quality of the orgle and the awesomeness in the way he moves that has them swooning. A queue has formed.

'So who is it!' I hear you exclaim as you rise to your feet and wave your arms around frantically.
Well, I don't have a photograph of him, but as a clue, he was pictured on the front of the BAS magazine a couple of years ago. Actually (remember I started writing this a few days ago) I do now have a photograph, so here he is!

His grandfather, on his sire's side is none other than Rural Alianza Wiracocha of Wessex, a legendary male who I have been in awe of for many years. Legend is a word that is overused these days but not in this case.
His grandfather on his mothers side is Windsong Valley Mateus, son of the equally legendary Purrumbete Highlander. This boy has some very impressive genetics indeed.

Further clue! He is a bit of a missile!

Oh bugger it, I've crumbled, Hanley Hall Rural Alianza Polaris is his name. Alpha Alpacas is where he can be found.

Now for the biggest and most exciting part of the grand master plan. I know this has already been revealed on Twitface but announcing it again has caused the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up, that's how big a deal it is!

The second part of the grand master plan is a little more predictable seeing as we are breeders of coloured alpacas. We have purchased a share in a dark brown male who's first fleece statistics read as follows: AFD 14.1, SD 2.3. Yes, you read those stats correctly. He was Champion brown male as a junior at the BAS National show last year and again this year as an intermediate. This is a very special male indeed and he has just started working this summer. He will be visiting us later this year and liaising with a bevvy of Patou beauties.

We are very excited and proud to be allowed to buy a share in this male and are extremely grateful for Rob and Shirley Bettinson for breeding such a wonderful animal.

His name is............... Toft Timogen.

Be aware, there's a dark storm coming........

Monday, 22 June 2015

A condensed month.

It seems another month has gone by and once again I have neglected the blog. It has been a busy month!
So here is a brief catch up of things going on in Patouland.

On the 24th of May we were visited by Colin Ottery and Rachel for some shearing. Together with some returning local Patou boys we had 60 to do and thankfully the weather held off for long enough to get them all done.

The 'aaahhhh' moment of the day was when little Bijou (almost a year old) refused to leave the shearing mat area until her mother (Fifi) had also been shorn. Here she is watching Fifi getting her 'hair done', they then left together.

I love the look of newly sheared alpacas, gorgeous!

A couple of days later and it was off to the SWAG annual fleece and halter show at The Royal Bath and West Show. A band of crack set-up volunteers made short work of the pre show preparations. Special thanks go to the expert team from Urcuchillay!

A new location, a new format and a new vision for the future added to the excitement this year!

On a personal level we had a great show, the highlight for us being Patou Wasimba following up his grey championship at the North Somerset Show with another grey male championship sash. We also picked up two reserve championship ribbons (brown male and female) and enjoyed the whole event immensely. Bring on next year!

A couple of days after the Bath and West the show team were taken by kind invitation to join the Reddingvale shearing day and Wasimba was transformed! Thank you Andy and Viv!

Having then moved all the pregnant girls into the birthing paddock it became a game of watching and waiting. Particularly Alice who seemed larger than ever before this year. Could it be twins! (We say that every year by the way).

Alice was beaten to it by Minstrel who popped out a very handsome Qjori boy, the power of the white chin giving him the pie face look. Patou Taffy is now in residence.

Before Alice had given birth I made a rapid dash across the country to the Essex/Suffolk border with Qjori for a couple of matings. In particular was a mating to Patou Sahara, now owned by Vicki and Deb at Orchard Farm Alpacas. Sahara is the mother of Wasimba so hopefully this pregnancy will stick and if so will be one to watch!

The following day and Alice duly delivered a brown female in rapid time. Born in less than 5 minutes from tip of nose to hitting the deck the cria was obviously in a bit of shock and was not responding as she should. A temperature of 36.5 indicated all was not well so she was rushed inside and given the full hairdryer and electric blanket treatment.

Half an hour later and temperature restored to where it should have been she was reunited with Alice and is doing very well.

And that is about that!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The ups and downs.

It has been a strange past few weeks, we have had show success and complete and utter computer failure. So a month of ups and downs, a month of elation and a month of despair, a month of joy and unfettered fury. I'm exhausted really. However, things are now looking pretty marvellous.

I will report on recent events.

Firstly, the North Somerset Show. The weather was set fair and the team was looking good as I set off at sparrow-fart, alone, the rest of the family barely rising to bid me farewell. A thrash down the A303 and a potter along some of deepest darkest Somerset's roads and we were there. The sun was coming out.

As usual, with the grey, black and brown classes following on from one another at the front end of the show I was a blur as I was in and out of the ring all morning. Now this is not a bad thing, a benefit of travelling alone, no-one else to don the white coat, I get to show them off, I love it!
Anyway, we had a superb morning, five animals entered, three first places, two seconds, one champion and one reserve champion. Perhaps it's all down to the handler after all?

The championship that we won was the grey male championship with Patou Wasimba, our lovely rose grey Qjori boy. Special in my eyes as he was the first cria that I helped being born in the most intimate of ways, i.e. up to the elbow! Here he is with his mum Sahara on the day I brought him into the world.
And here he is last month. I know I've posted this picture before, but I do happen to think Wasimba looks great especially as he is being held by number one son, Gus.  
I will endeavour to get a picture of him with his Sash when the weather perks up. I know, aren't you all lucky.
The reserve champion was another special boy, the spoiled brat himself, our resident delinquent drama queen, Tsar, reserve champion brown male. I was very pleased indeed with his result.
The other members of the team did their stuff, Instrumental (joint owned with the mighty Inca) was first placed junior brown male and Pinot and Spitfire both took second places in the junior black classes.

Since the show my laptop has died completely, meaning I have lost all my photographs, documents and worst of all my X factor audition tapes. Luckily I have a lot of pictures on my phone which have just been downloaded onto the new laptop. The old laptop sits forlornly nearby as I hope that one day I may be able to get some life back into it so that I may retrieve my 'stuff'. Still it was 5 years old and I now have a nice shiny new one so it's not all bad!

This week I am mostly preparing for the weekend and next week. Firstly on Sunday is shearing day. Colin Ottery is due in at 7.30am and luckily it appears that the weather gods are on our side. I will be putting up the marquee anyway, just in case. It is always a relief to get that day over and done with!

Then we are straight into set-up for the SWAG Show at The Royal Bath and West Show on Tuesday, my favourite show of the year. Gus and his chum George will be coming along for 4 days of the show and three nights of camping. We will of course be sticking to a strict vegetarian diet whilst we are there and I will be throwing myself into the life of a tee-totaller. Guffaw, guffaw, tee hee.

Right, that's enough of this drivel, I have to give a talk to the members of the Salisbury Poultry club this evening so must do some swatting up.

Monday, 20 April 2015

They don't like cricket......................

******************** WARNING EXPLICIT CRICKET REFERENCES**************

This blog post will read better if you have a basic understanding of the inner workings of the glorious game of cricket. 
It will read even better if you have followed the England cricket team through the ups and downs of the last 40 years, as have I. 

It will read even better still if you have a screw have I.

Apologies to my friends on mainland Europe.
Readers from Australia and New Zealand need not comment.

Those of you who know us down here in Patouland will be aware that Gus is cricket mad and has a growing talent for the game. As his father and being even more cricket mad I see it as my fatherly duty to help him as much as I can.

So yesterday we loaded up the trailer (also doubles as a wicket keeper) with his cricket kit and headed off to the only flat strip of land for miles to get in some training. Gus had already mowed the strip and the stumps were in place. The wicket is in the field currently containing 9 weanling females. We were accompanied by our two keen fielders, Josh and Kira. 

Due to the unpredictable bounce from a very bumpy track and the potential for the out of condition bowler to bowl the odd beamer, Gus was fully padded up and ready for anything. Josh was ready to chase anything that moved and Kira, thinking we were going for a walk in the woods, was very excited.

We began with some gentle throw downs and were then surprisingly joined by 9 fielders at mid-off. Despite my request that they spread out a bit they refused, they were all going to field at mid-off. Fine, a bit odd and slightly selfish but fine, better than nothing. I decided to try and bowl to the very strong off-side field.

After a short while in which they proved to be of no use at all they decided, en masse, to move across to the leg side and field at short mid-wicket. Odd, very odd. Most of the time they weren't even watching the ball. Not only that but when the ball did go towards them they split like a shoal of fish and watched it go through the middle of them before reforming in front of it. Useless, absolutely useless.

I was bowling for most of the time and trying to set a field was very frustrating. 

Josh was no problem, he would hare after the ball from wherever he was and chase it down quickly. His throwing arm (leg) is no good though so he would have to run it back to me at the bowlers end each time. Except when he got tired and then he would drop the ball, lie down and give it a quick chew. Very shoddy behaviour. It wasn't going to take long for the ball to go out of shape.

Kira was even worse, she would amble after the ball, pick it up and drop it less than a second later before wandering off in search of some alpaca 'snacks'. Just less than a second was all it took for the ball to become completely encased in a sphere of Newfoundland slobber. I tried to put her out on the boundary at fine leg but she wouldn't go. No respect for the skipper at all.

However, the worst of them all was the one fielder that was basically made up of nine separate muppets who couldn't field for toffee and completely lost interest in the game. Eventually they wandered off and fielded at long on, where they started to eat the outfield. A short while later they abandoned the game and wandered through the open gate to the next paddock. Very bad form.

Just as well really as a few minutes later the bowler blew up as his bowling arm fell out of it's socket.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Solo at the Futurity.

The thing about big alpaca shows is that they send me a bit haywire for a week or so beforehand. I am fine when I get there, once the animals are unloaded a calmness descends across me but for a week prior to departure I go all a bit odd in the head.
So last week was no different in the build up to the biggest alpaca show ever to be held in the UK. The British Alpaca Futurity had a record number of over 440 alpacas entered into the two day show to be held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. We had also entered our biggest show team ever. Now eight alpacas doesn't sound much but we only have a small herd and an even smaller trailer. So proportionately eight alpacas was a lot.

As a result, a week before departure my mind started playing it's usual tricks on me. Sleep became difficult to come by and I was fidgety and restless day and night as my mind raced around in circles.
Nights were particularly annoying as two separate trains of thought kept my brain racing when it was supposed to be shutting down for the night. Firstly, the concern that I wasn't going to make it to Coventry. Mechanical failure, illness, acts of God were all things that I tried hard not to consider as I lay there trying to count lazy alpacas jumping over gates.
Secondly, and completely opposite in emotion to the first train of thought was the notion of what was going to happen when I got there. I can't tell you how many times I worried about how on earth I was going to cope when all eight of the Mighty Patou Show Team were required to be in the championship line up. Travelling solo (school and work keeping Sue and Gus at home) meant that I would need seven extra handlers to help.

So it was this ultra-optimistic and simultaneous gloomy pessimistic thought process that I battled with each night leading up to the show. Death or Glory. Nothing in between. It was exhausting!

As usual I made life difficult for myself on the way. I engaged the sat nav system and faithfully followed it for over 120 miles, then at the crucial moment when it was telling me to exit the motorway near Coventry I decided it was not to be trusted and that I would navigate the last stretch by instinct alone. What? Why? It's just me, it's what I do, I can't explain it, I am an idiot at times.
So, several minutes later I was to be found shouting obscenities at myself for being such a prat (I was using slightly stronger descriptive terminology) as I was stuck in a traffic jam, on a motorway north of Coventry, heading towards Manchester.

Anyway, having calmed down I arrived slightly later than planned and unloaded. Calmness descended, the animals were settled in for the night and all was well with the world.

Two show rings meant I had to be on the ball on Friday, the whole team would be in the ring leaving Saturday free for wandering around seeing what everyone else was up to.

First up I had Patou Nutmeg and Patou Pinot in the junior black class. I was absolutely delighted when Pinot was placed second behind the eventual female black champion. I could have packed up and gone home then, job done, happy days. Nutmeg picked up the 6th place rosette.
Thank you to Pinot's handler, Rebecca Oglesby, who obviously did a great job!

I was brought straight back to earth when Misket and I were asked (amongst others) to take the 'walk of shame' in a highly competitive junior brown female class.

Next up was Spitfire with a disappointing 6th and when Viking and I trudged out of the ring empty handed my head was starting to drop, this was tough. I wasn't the only person saying this was the toughest show ever.

Greys next and it was Wasimba time. We love Wasimba, he looks great and is a bit of a favourite in Patouland. I was delighted with a third place as there were some very big names behind us which always makes me smile. I don't have a picture of Wasimba in the ring but here's one I took yesterday, he deserves to be seen. Being expertly handled here by Gus.

It was then junior brown male time and I entered the ring with Inca Instrumental, a male bred by the Inca Lord, who we are lucky to co-own with them. He looked tremendous and I was happy enough with a 3rd place rosette out of a class of nine. First would have been better obviously but there we go. I looked at the winner, a cracking little Meon Valley boy and couldn't argue much with the result. Well I could have, but the decision had been made.

Tsar was all that was left and I have to say he was looking great. A big class of ten adult brown males and some serious competition meant a sixth place. Disappointing but redeemed by the judges oral reasoning who said some very nice things about him.

Job done and six rosettes bagged. Satisfied. Beer time.

Friday night was quite a long one. I was somehow kidnapped by a mottley bunch from the north, including some odd fellows from Scotland. I was very pleased to see that Dave and Joy from Apple Vale (thanks for the photos Dave!) also came along so that when the northerners became drunk and unintelligible I would still have someone to talk to.
It was a good night and although I did promise to write my whole blog in scottish, I just can't. It sounds too much like a pissed Glaswegian ranting about tatties or something.
So I will say this and this alone. Fair fa' your honest sonsie faces, ya wee scottish bastaaartts!

Thank you all for making it a great show.

Friday, 13 March 2015


Satisfied (adjective)
Having achieved satisfaction, as of one's goal: content, fulfilled, gratified, happy. 

I have been busy since the BAS National Show, it has been a busy week. I have been physically active with one thing and another but I have been properly, mentally active, a lot. I have been thinking about alpacas probably too much since we got back from the show. Really, too much, an unhealthy amount of time has been spent thinking about fleece, conformation, colour, breeding and all things camelid. I am exhausted. 

First to the show. 
It was an absolute triumph. The show was organised very professionally, it ran like clockwork, the judging was, as far as I can make out, impeccable and the show finished early, enabling everyone to get away on time. Faultless. 
Congratulations to the organising team. The BAS has a show that is going from strength to strength and is something to be very proud of. I took this picture early on Saturday before it filled up, and it did fill up very well indeed. 

We had taken a team of five from the mighty Patou and we came away with five rosettes. 

The show format was different to previous years in that Saturday was 'ladies day' with all the female classes and Sunday was macho time, with all the male classes. It was a popular format and I hope it will be repeated.

So, Saturday was Patou Pinot's big moment in the junior black females. She just snuck in with a sixth place rosette so we were up and running. The black female championship was taken by the Mighty Inca, who seemed to win almost everything they entered (well they should do!) despite creating their own strong opposition.

The following day, with a slightly thick head after a late night was the turn of the boys.
First up for us was Patou Wasimba in the intermediate grey male class. I have to say that Wasimba is one of the best looking alpacas that we have bred and he seems to be getting better and better. He was up against strong opposition and secured the third place rosette for us. 

We then moved onto the black male classes and some very strong opposition. Patou Spitfire was up in the juniors and took a fifth place rosette. I can't have been pleased at the time as I don't appear to have a picture of that. Maybe I was knitting or something.

The next class entry for us was Patou Viking in the intermediate black male class. Before we left home Viking, standing in the sunshine, looked fabulous. He looked great going into the trailer with his travelling companions Wasimba and Tsar. 

When he came out of the trailer in Telford, Viking looked like he had been in the washing machine on a slow spit. Tsar, had clearly decided to molest Viking for four hours and then just to make things worse when put in our pen he continued to molest him, a lot, and he wasn't being very gentle. As a result Viking looked like he had been in a spit and slobber fight and Tsar had to be placed in his own individual pen. So when Viking was awarded fourth place I was genuinely delighted, in fact it made my day.

That meant that there was only one class left for us. Adult brown male. My favourite class. My nervous class. My twitchy, itchy, can't sit still class. It was Tsar Tsar Gabor time.

Did he behave himself? No, as usual he was a complete turd in the ring. In fact he took an instant disliking to the AstroTurf ring and walked as if he was on some seriously strong mind-bending drugs. I honestly thought he was stoned.  
However, he was awarded second place which I was pleased with. He was certainly the brownest in the class, but let's not get me on the subject of  'proper browns' please!

There were some great results at the show, particularly the Mighty Popham who seemd to be buried under a mountain of sashes even before they swooped in for Supreme Champion with Popham Havengore. In fact, with my SWAG hat on, I must say that SWAG members seemed to have a great show. 

Personally, as it says at the head of this blog I suppose I must settle for being satisfied with our results. It has, as I said earlier, given me a great deal to think about. We have the Futurity in two weeks time and the team will be bolstered by another three juniors. We will see how they get on. 

The real hard work will begin when the shows are over. We need to improve and for that to happen we need to look far and wide.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Bring on the basmati!

The excitement down here in Patouland is building slowly and steadily like a tsunami thousands of miles from the coast. The power is growing and soon the wave of excitement will be hurtling towards its intended destination, the journey will take another 3 days before with a deafening roar the mighty Patou show team will arrive at the Telford International Centre for the BAS National Show!

I really don't know how I can contain myself. The weather is set fair at the moment and the team is currently lounging around in the sunshine gathering itself for the big kick off. I am not, obviously, as I am sitting at a desk writing this drivel accompanied by a large mug of strong coffee. In about half an hour when the caffeine is coursing through me like hot metal I will burst into action to continue with the chores for the day.

I was a bit slow off the mark and so we only have a small team of five going to the National and as usual, with those of us who breed from the 'dark side', we will probably be all finished and heading for the bar at lunch time on day one. Win lose or draw we will have enjoyed the experience and will have learned a lot too. We will have decided who our favourite judge is and who we think is completely mad and knows nothing about anything at all, nothing.

Preparations have been underway for some time, the trailer has been professionally cleaned by the Gusmeister, the alpacas have been undergoing extensive halter training, chips and tags have been inserted and checked. I have even bought some new buckets, mainly because I had a little tantrum the other day and two buckets became lots of little pieces of bucket. Stupid buckets!   

So who are we taking? Well, one brown one, one grey one and three black ones. It would appear that although my personal passion is for the gorgeous browns, that our dedication to breeding from the best dark males available has lead to a significant increase in the black wing of the mighty Patou empire. Still, they look great together. We have ploughed our own furrow and will continue onwards, wellies on, heads up!

We have two intermediate males and an adult going. The intermediates, Wasimba (rose grey) and Viking (black) and my little chum, stroppy pants himself (after all I have done for the little turd he is such a drama queen and kicks like a mule!) Tsar (brown).

The other members of the team are the junior blacks, Spitfire and Pinot who haven't met Tsar yet and don't know they will be travelling in a trailer together. They may be green on arrival.

No pictures of the juniors, they are currently being held in a high security top secret location whilst they receive their final instructions. Over the past few weeks they have been training hard in the dark arts of the Ninja. Come show time, if things don't go exactly as we want them to, they will explode into a whirling mass of ninja fuelled violence. No-one will be safe from those razor sharp, highly polished alpaca toenails as they fly every which way searching for a soft target, the precision spitting machines  are accurate to within a hundredth of a millimetre, reloading is almost instantaneous. It will be brutal in it's intensity and awe inspiring in it's swiftness. The mighty Patou machine will be merciless!

Sorry it appears that the coffee has already kicked in, I must prepare to go outside.

And the reference to basmati in the title?

My favourite time at a big show is either early morning or late evening when the hall is empty apart from hundreds of alpacas. The soft background noise of the fans keeping the animals cool, the gentle humming of numerous alpacas, content in their environment and the smell, the wonderful smell of alpacas, which to me smells just like a newly opened packet of basmati rice. I love it!