Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Abscess attack

I mentioned in an earlier blog we have been blessed with another wretched jaw abscess. This time it is Henry our first ever cria. He has been wethered and is such a lovely boy he will stay with us as company for Columbus and the other boys. He is pictured below a few weeks ago.

We think he had an abscess in his first year that we didn't know about as his lower jawbone is thicker on one side than the other. We had been checking him regularly with the rest of the herd and a couple of weeks ago I noticed that this thickening now had a lump on it.

Abscesses now throw me into action pretty rapidly and I was quickly out with a big syringeful of Nuflor. After three doses the lump has all but gone which is great news, we will keep the course going for 5 weeks and hopefully that will be the end of that. Well here's hoping anyway.

The little lad with rickets, Orchard Blackjack, seems to be improving too. He became very stiff legged and I have been treating him with AD&E , Ketofen (anti-inflammatory) and some special lamb treatment that is full of molasses and bits and bobs. He is now looking livelier and has started to regain some of the weight that he lost when he was too stiff and sore to be bothered about eating. He is still not quite right but we are very pleased that he seems to be over the worst of it.
I hope to return soon with some photos with the new camera but the day job, the weather and the co-owner of the camera are all conspiring against me!

Friday, 26 December 2008

Happy Christmas

I have receieved a couple of mild complaints that I haven't posted a blog for a few days.
Sorry people it has been busy here, not with alpaca stuff, (although I was out giving three injections on Christmas morning) but with the behemoth that is Christmas.
Sue, Angus and yours truly spent a lovely day together at home. Angus being nearly 6 was marginally more excited than I was but it was a close call.
The main present for us, I mean Angus, was a fab Scalextric set which I had set up in the attic room a few days early to make sure it all worked and get in some practice as it has been a while!

Suffice it to say we raced those cars, an Aston Martin for me and a Ferrari for Angus pretty hard yesterday and despite the extra practice he was consistently taking me on the corners by the end of the day. In fact I think Sue was giving me a bit of a whupping too. Still as father and husband it is my job, nay duty, to make everyone else feel and look good.

I have no photos to post as the canera that Sue and I bought for each other (which really was my way of buying ME a new camera) seems to have been welded to Sue's hand over the past 24 hours. She is working out how to use it properly and has been following us all round the house clicking away. It's like living with a documentary maker.

Anyway I hope to return with more alpaca talk soon, I have another delightful jaw abscess to tell you about which really has perked me up.

Friday, 19 December 2008

I can make it work!

Now before all you professional photographers out there start writing scathing reviews and offering advice etc. It was a very dull, overcast day and these are literally the first photographs that I have taken with the new camera.
I found a Fully Automatic button, so if they are rubbish I am blaming the camera entirely. I like them anyway.

Our first herdsire Columbus, I think perhaps ear hair trimmers for Christmas for him.
Amelie, looking lovely as always.
Jonah looking about as shocked as it is possible to be without the use of electricity.

Columbus pointing those ears.

Alacazam smoking some weed.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Christmas has come early

Sue and I decided that this year we would buy each other the same present. A joint present. Something we can both use.

A digital SLR camera with an additional zoom lens.

Sue has always been interested in photography and had an old Pentax SLR which is now a bit out of date. I lurk in the field with our little Canon digital camera but I have to be virtually on top of the alpacas to photograph them. As a result I don't get many 'natural' shots of them. They know I am there (I can not be missed) and behave accordingly. In other words they walk right up to me so that I could take a very nice 'up nostril' shot or walk away so that I can get an equally useless rear end shot. They do lots of standing around looking magnificent when I am in the house or at the other end of the field. A big zoom lens is required.

So we have now purchased a fab Canon EOS 1000D digital SLR with a huge zoom lens and some other bits and bobs. Apparently it is a 'starter' digital SLR...............for idiots, perfect.

Sue initially wanted to wrap it up and stick it under the tree but I whined and whinged and walked around with my bottom lip sticking out a lot making really sad pathetic sighing noises and she eventually relented. It never even got wrapped up!

So far I have charged the battery, fitted the memory card and looked at it..........a lot.
I have looked at the instruction manual and it made my head hurt. I will sit down over the next day or two and figure out how it all works. Do not expect any pictures from it here for some time though. I am a self confessed dullard when it comes to technology and it will take time for it to sink in. I am also a self confessed lover of shiney new things and I will probably just look at it for a couple of days first. It is a thing of great beauty.

I caught Sue reading the manual in bed yesterday so it will be a bit of a race to see who knows how to work it first! Actually I'm thinkiing I might let her read the manual and do all the hard work and then she can just show me how to 'do the taking photos bit'.

Then I''l have to work out the 'how to get the photos on the computer bit' and bing bang bong we are in business. Don't hold your breath.

Today I have been rushing around like a blue arsed fly with a firecracker up its doodah. Apparently Christmas it is next week! How did that happen? Last time I looked it was November. Anyway as a consequence we are hopelessly behind with everything and as we both have to fit a fair amount of 'day jobbing' in between now and the big day it is go, go, go, time.

Before you ask, I am writing this in my short morning coffee break in between unloading and chopping logs and nipping across to Wessex to pick up some more hay for the Wiltshire hay speed eating formation display team. I can't believe how quickly they are getting through it.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Early breakfast.

Yesterday I informed readers that I was living in the dark with early departures and late returns to the land of Patou.

This morning I could contain myself no longer.
I was up at stupid o'clock, wellies on and out with a bucket of food.

It was dark as I slithered along in the mud towards the feeding troughs. It was dark, although with the benefit of a very bright and apparently large moon I could see quite well. I couldn't however see any alpacas.

I arrived at the troughs and whistled, and waited.
I heard them first as there was the sound of a distant sneezefart and then I could hear their footfalls. They appeared over the brow of a hillock on the charge and within seconds I was mobbed.
Three heads were in the bucket before I knew what was going on, there was a certain amount of jostling, it was fantastic.
I managed to reclaim control of the bucket to pour out the feed into the troughs and then the spitting, screeching and neck wrestling which starts each alpaca meal began.
Shortly afterwards they all settled into feeding positions and breakfast was underway.
I stood there amongst them while my favourite alpaca in the world and her mother ate the last few handfulls of food out of my bucket. Silence descended, only broken by the sound of happy alpacas munching away.
What a great way to start the day! I will be up earlier in future.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

A dark dark world.

I am living in a dark world at the moment which is, to say the least, rather irritating.
My day job, which I have to say I am finding rather loathesome at the moment, is interfering with my alpaca interaction.
I am half way through a four day stretch of 10 hour days shifts. I leave home at 6.30am (in the dark) and return at 5.30pm (in the dark).
Consequently I don't see the fluffy munchkins. The mighty herd is being looked after well by Sue and she gives me routine updates on them during the day, particularly a couple of our cria who are suffering from rickets, but it's not the same I miss them.
It is a bit of a mystery, we had nine cria this year and all have received the same medication and treatment but only two are showing signs of rickets.
For those of you unaware of the symptoms of rickets the classic signs are that the affected animal seems very quiet and slow and develops very stiff legs. They can get a bit 'hoppy' at the back. This in turn puts them off their food as their joints are all very stiff and they lie down a lot. Rickets is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D which they would normally get from sunshine. Does anyone remember sunshine…… summer……… the UK? Anyway we inject all our alpacas with AD&E every two months during the winter. For some reason Jack and Jonah seem to need extra, which they have had. It will take a couple of weeks for the extra vitamins to take effect but hopefully they will make a full recovery. We have dosed all the other cria again to prevent any others getting it.
Ooh hark at me sounding all knowledgeable. Actually, as usual, thanks must go to the Uncle Timothy of Inca for his wise words of wisdomness.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Herd names

I note from our friends North of the border that there is discussion about herd names.
The mighty Coire (or Corrie) is named after the ancient word for a scooped out glacial Scottish valley.
In response I thought I would explain the reasoning behind Patou.

In 2005 before Patou Alpacas was formed Sue and I decided that we would buy a house in France. We decided on the Midi Pyrenees region and found our dream house on the northern edge of the Hautes Pyrenees.
The plan was a long 8 year period of building up a business to take over to the Pyrenees when I retired from the day job in 2013.

We are now over three years into the plan and although we have grown quicker than expected (the business….not me) we are still planning on making the big move in 2013 and launching in the south of France.

So, going back to naming the herd. We wanted a name that would mean something in France. Something with a connection to the region that we would be living in.

Sue came up with 'Patou'.

The Pyrenees mountains are famous for the Pyrenean Mountain dogs who live up in the high pastures with the sheep. They have historically protected the sheep from wolves and bears.
They are known locally as 'patou', which is an ancient french word meaning shepherd. How appropriate we thought and the name stuck.

There is one herd name that has me puzzled though.
Zanzibah Alpacas…………..Jayne…………..come on we need an explanation!

Monday, 8 December 2008

A busy old week

A frosty Fifi.

Sorry I have been awol from the blog since Tuesday but it has been a busy old week.
I was at the day job until Friday and with um ........what's it tip of my know this one.......................with..............Christmas, that's it, with Christmas rapidly heaving into view there has been a fair amount of running around to be done.

Friday night I went out for a boys night out with a couple of chums, one of them being Lord Tim of Inca, much beer (too much) was drunk and as a result Saturday was a bit of a wash out. Although we were delighted to get a visit from Nigel and Ginny Cobb in the afternoon who came down with Sue Turle for a look at a couple of alpacas. It was lovely to see them again, they farm alpacas in Spain in case you didn't know. It was very interesting, and heart wrenching to hear them talk about BVD and the animals they lost to it. Something else to be aware of. I admire them greatly for what they are doing in Spain. True pioneers of the alpaca world.

Yesterday I was up in the Cotswolds delivering a couple of alpacas to Roger Mount of Snowshill Alpacas. What a beautiful place and what a lovely looking herd of alpacas. It was my first trip to the Cotswolds, what a cracking place, loved it.

I see from the blogs of our Northern cousins boasts of snow. Well we can't yet match that but we have had some very hard frosts the last couple of days. I have been concerned about the alpacas as they were sheared so late, but they seem to be fine. The frost free contingent wander out of the shed when the sun has risen, they really are amazing as it is chuffing cold out there. Well I think it is but we are, according to a friend from Yorkshire, a bunch of southern shandy drinking poofters after all.
Amelie, a shed dweller, hence she is frost free.

Hay feast.

Anyway must go I have a sloppy poo and a limp to investigate. Outside................. in the alpaca field, in case you thought that was just too much information!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

More blue tongue jabs.

Sue and I have just been out in the bitter cold (with occasional sleet) checking over the mighty herd and administering various bits of husbandry. First up was a blue tongue jab for all the adults. We had first jabbed them in May this year followed by a second dose at the beginning of June. We had no side effects to report incidentally.
I have been reading all sorts of advice reference blue tongue some people saying follow up jabs should be every 6 months, some saying 12 months. All very confusing so I decided to ask the advice of our vet Dave. He is after all the expert and has done some great stuff here in the past. His view was that you could probably get away with vaccinating every 12 months but there would be no harm in vaccinating every 6 months.
It was a no-brainer. We try as best as we can to provide the herd with the best possible care. If it was a safer option to inject every 6 months then so be it. The vaccine is not expensive and for the sake of half an hours work it is well worth it. Peace of mind is a great thing too.

So that was it jabs all round apart from the babies as they have recently had theirs. They will all synchronise when they are done again in June. It also gave us a chance to get up close and personal with the fluffsters which is always great.
Most of the herd is well behaved and will stand quietly whilst we fiddle about but there are the three 'troublesome monkeys' that need a little extra care and attention. They are treated with the same speed and precision a formula one car gets at a pit stop. We are in and out in a matter of seconds, job done. I will name and shame.

Coolaroo Judah (Judy) is a big strong scaredy cat who starts trembling as soon as the herd is rounded up and as such is one of the first for treatment. Her owner lives in Australia and we have looked after Judy for the past two years. She has improved but is still a complete stresspants. Not the best looking alpaca in the world (her nickname which Sue says I mustn't use is 'horse') but she does throw nice cria. The tactics for Judy are grab, hold on, jab, hold on, toenails, hold on, clear, out. Thankfully she doesn't spit.

Coolaroo Judah

Jake our huge big white whether is almost as bad, not quite so scared but just very strong. I am the toenail clipper so it is up to Sue to hang on. Sometimes it's very entertaining! He was actually very good today.

Big Jake

The dangerous one is Bobby, one of our foundation herd. Bobby is our medium fawn Wessex Mateus girl. She produces masses of fleece and is mother to our rosette winning Patou Poppy. Not only is Bobby big strong and stressy she is also a spit fountain. She spits at anyone, human or alpaca that goes anywhere near her, apart from her mother Priscilla and Poppy. At spit-off times she starts before the male gets anywhere near her, most males retreat immediately. The trick with Bobby is to grab low, below the arc of fire, point her down wind and crack on as fast as possible. Sue and I have become such experts with Bobby that although everything around us had a green tinge to it we were spit free. Hurrah!

Bobby looking very sweet, looks deceive!
Suffice it to say we still love them, it's just them being alpacas afterall.
Oh look at the time, whoopee, it is time to dress up and head off for another 10 hour shift at the day job. This has got to stop, I'm just having too much fun.