Saturday, 28 March 2009

She trotted!

A tentative post from Patouland. We are closely monitoring Lily and she is definitely improving every day. She is getting stronger and stronger and even broke into a trot briefly today when I called them up for elevensies. Most of the time though she is head down grazing. That just has to be a good thing.

She is wearing a rather fetching number supplied by the West Country Dandy outfitters, Timothy Heyhoe-Inca and Son.

The other closely monitored girl here, Penny, is thriving. She has put on 5 kilos in three weeks and is doing everything she should be doing. Whilst I was out this evening she was whirling around like some sort of loon.

We have kitted her out in a Steele-Farquahar & Son suit as we have had some wintry showers and a cold wind.

So there we have it from Patouland. Things continue to look up but there is a long way to go yet.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Cautiously optimistic!

First of all can I use this blog to say a massive thank you to everyone for their comments, e-mails, phone calls and positive vibes. All very much appreciated.

Things have moved on at a pace here and our emotions have been up and down like a couple of yo-yos. The latest situation is briefly as follows:

We got the blood test results from Monday yesterday and they were not good. I will not go into all the details but her PCV (packed cell volume) count was very low at 10 signifying severe anaemia. In other words for some reason Lily is dreadfully short of red blood cells.

The advice from several quarters was for a blood transfusion, yipes, crikey, very scared!

After a series of events which I will not bore you with we asked another vet for an opinion. Another blood sample was taken today and the results were given to us within an hour.

Lily's PCV count is now up to 12. Her liver and kidneys are functioning normally and she is actively regenerating red blood cells. All very good news. She is still deficient in iron and we still don't know why she was anaemic but things are looking up for the moment.

Lily herself has improved every day since she came home. She is no longer frothing at the mouth and appears stress free and happy. She is grazing more and more each day and yesterday stuck her head into a bucket of food I was holding and literally didn't come up for air for 10 minutes. I daren't move a muscle or make a noise. Just stood there with a stupid grin on my face.

Today she is grazing for up to 2 hours at a time and seems to be getting stronger by the day.

The vet's advice was to carry on doing what we have been doing since Monday and they will revisit next week possibly taking more blood samples.

I know there is a long way to go and we are not out of the woods yet but we are hacking our way through the trees and aiming for open spaces.

Our gorgeous beautiful Lily has not given up and we are all fighting to make sure she regains her health.

Bring it on, we are up for a scrap!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Lily has come home.

This blog is a difficult one to write. In fact I don't know why I am writing it. I was outside in the field a moment ago thinking that I would leave the blog for a week or two and then I changed my mind.

This stupid little blog of mine is, as it says, the 'rambling drivel' of some fat bloke as he and his family steer their way through the wonderful world of alpacas. The ups and the downs, warts and all. I think that it is important that the good bits, of which there are countless, are highlighted, equally I also think the relatively infrequent bad times are also acknowledged.

Sadly this blog is one of those relatively infrequent bad times. I'm not after sympathy, far from it. Maybe writing about it helps me in some way to deal with it. Anyway here it is.

Team Patou took a smack in the chops yesterday. I went over to help Ivan who has been looking after Lily (post toe incident) move some of his animals around. At the same time I checked on Lily. Something wasn't right. Her toe has healed up nicely but she looked depressed and listless.

She was down and although she got up when I approached she very quickly went down again.

I called our vet who was there within the hour. He took blood samples and gave her a thorough checking over. He was very open about what he was thinking as he always is. It wasn't good. Lily is severely enaemic, very thin and appears to have given up on life. I went numb. He talked about the possibility of liver and kidney failure and that most alpacas who had given up rarely recovered.

The last words I can remember him saying were 'I'm sorry but I think you are going to lose her'. I have to say tears were streaming out of me as I absorbed what he had said. I looked over at Ivan and his eyes were full of tears, Sue had gone very quiet.

We talked about treatment and what we could possibly do to help her, anything to prevent this seemingly inevitable end. Advice was given and has been acted upon.

The first thing was that Sue and I decided to bring her home. She may not be so keen to give up on life at home with her herd around her. With her cria near her. So we loaded her and her two 'wingmen' Sheba and Emma up and I drove them home. Most of the way I have to say I was blinking away tears. I haven't felt that low for some time.

We arrived and I unloaded the girls whilst the trailer was surrounded by the herd. Lola, Lily's sister, literally bustled past me as she trotted over to Lily. Lily seemed to perk up. She was greeted with a nose nuzzle by most of the herd including her daughter Amelie and then she got her head down and grazed. She had been grazing pretty much full on since she arrived but this morning she was down and has that 'look' about her again.

She may just be having a rest in the sunshine but her every move is now watched and analysed, probably too much. We want to cling on to every positive sign, any sign that might indicate that she is getting better. We are throwing everything at her to get her to feel better and eat more. And yes any suggestions will be gratefully received!

I don't know if Lily has come home to recover or to die. One thing is for certain, Sue and I will not give up on her. Bugger that. We will do everything in our power to make Lily change her mind.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

A sunny Sunday in Patouland.

Another gloriously sunny day down here in Patouland. Sadly, Sue has had to toddle off to work even though it's Mothers Day, leaving us boys to while away the day doing lots of stuff but achieving very little other than having a good time. We did manage to present her with hot chocolate, flowers and an Angus made card in bed followed by eggs and bacon before departure. Ithink she was pleased.
Angus's best friend has just arrived leaving me a little bit of computer time before lunch.

First up this morning though I was out with the camera, a small boy was an ideal start. Once clicked he took off running round the garden. Quickly switching to the 'action' setting and the big zoom lens I captured him again. There is no escape from the mighty Canon.
The sunbathing herd saw me and as I am associated with either food or needles they took the risk and made their way up to the feeding paddock. Bobby and Little Penny lead the way as usual.
Penny is coming on nicely and has put on 3.5kg in the first two weeks. I'm sure it has something to do with the new grass and the fabulous weather we have been having. A great start for her.

She really is a very dainty little girl with such a pretty face and a very tight crimpy fleece.

The rest of the day has gone in a very pleasant fashion. My parents came over for a nice lunch in the garden and Sue made it home to join us. Angus has been charging around the farm on his bike with his chum all day. They have both sustained injuries during the day but have been patched up and returned to the field. Our little man will be a tired monkey this evening.
I have become aware that the last couple of posts have been a little downbeat with alpaca worries at the forefront of my mind. However, I am now full of the joys of spring, all alpacas appear in robust good health and we are now in the preliminary planning phase for the SWAG show in two weeks time. The team has been streamlined to three with Patou Barney taking a break. It's tough being a junior fawn male. The brown girls though are up for the battle and Alacazam our little black boy is ready to give it another go. Lets get ready to rumble!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Lily's progress

Followers of this blog will be aware of two things:
Firstly we have an alpaca called Lily. She is our most favourite alpaca in the whole wide world and we have all had 'magic' moments with her. She is a very special alpaca and we love her a whole lot more than we should.

Secondly Lily had a horrible jaw abscess last year which resulted in three days in an equine hospital whilst it was cut out. Two months after that we had an accident (I take the blame) in which Lily severed a toe in a trailer door. That was on the 31st of January this year.

Since the 'toe incident' Lily has had her toe in a dressing. After all the snow and rain and yucky weather we just couldn't keep her foot dry. Step in 'Uncle Ivan' , a seriously good fellow, who has a herd of alpacas nearby. Ivan was able to put Lily, with a couple of friends, into his barn.
The wound, now dry, healed relatively quickly. The next problem was that Lily was thin and was not putting on weight. Her guts had stopped working because the bacteria had been killed off by the huge doses of antibiotics she had been getting.

We now think that we have restarted Lily's gut's by some transfaunation and by stopping the antibiotics. We think and hope that Lily is on the road to recovery.

Yesterday was a big day because Sue and our good friend Katie took Lil's dressing off for the last time. The toe seems to have healed and Lily can now have some time free from being interfered with.

I went over and saw her today and the toe looks good. Lily still looks thin and we can see that she has been so stressed that her fleece hasn't grown much.

Hopefully she will now begin to regain some condition and will return to the mighty Patou herd.

Lily was the first female Patou cria and as I have said before she is special. I am hopeful that she will make a full recovery. If she doesn't it may affect the whole'Mighty Patou' thing. She really is that important. She is that special.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Can you stop worrying please Mr Patouman?

I have been working all week during the day and am grateful for the lightening evenings as I get to see the herd amongst other things. We have a couple of little problems which we have been dealing with but it does worry us.

I know it is a microdot of a problem when you look at what others have been through and indeed are still going through. I'm thinking of Nigel and Ginny Cobb in Spain who are still battling hard to keep animals alive, we think of them a lot and hope things turn around for them. Nevertheless we still worry every time an alpaca looks 'crook' (that's Australian for poorly you know).
I pride myself on observing the herd at great length whenever I can thus giving myself as much time as possible to see if anyone is not behaving normally and may have a problem. The lovely Sophie was a bit lethargic yesterday and was a little bit 'loose' if you get my drift.

I gave her a worming injection and a dose of anti-coccidiosis medicine last evening. Today Sue has been observing and reported that she was more lethargic, and definitely not herself. So this evening she has had pain relief, antibiotics, and we have started her on a course of Vetrumex to settle her stomach. She looks better already which is probably down to the Ketofen but Sue will be keeping a close eye on her tomorrow.
We have basically given her everything we have. If she is still not well after that barrage of medication it's over to the vet!
I'm sure she will be as right as rain tomorrow and I'm sure I'll be on the phone tomorrow asking Sue for regular status checks. Can I stop worrying? Of course not. Those silly bloody animals capture your heart.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Now back to the drivel

Sorry about the last post people but I was a bit annoyed. You could probably tell.
I have seen the list of BAS members who have now been elected on to the board and was disappointed to see that most of the people that I voted for didn't get on. Oh well, ho hum. What do I know.

Anyway enough of all that serious stuff, I don't think it suits me, back to the drivel which is where I see my real calling. If it's drivel you want I am your man. Harmless, fluffy, inane, drivel.

To the fluffy first as I inflict more pictures of the latest Patou member on you.

Now for the drivel. Little Penny has put on a kilo in her first week and is getting more and more gorgeous by the day. She is also the toughest alpaca in the herd, no question. The rest of the herd are terrified of her, absolutely terrified. It's not that Penny is hard it's just that her mum, Bobby, is. Penny is like a sweet little angel with a murderous beast as a minder. I am sure that someone in the herd called her sir yesterday only to fall over themselves in eagerness to correct themselves before Bobby trotted over and gave them a shoeing.

If anyone so much as looks at Penny in the wrong way there is the thundering (yes folks we are drying out quickly here) of alpaca feet followed by a the sound of a mouthful of green being propelled in the direction of the miscreant. I'm sure I can hear Bobby swearing under her breath from time to time. The herd is aware that Penny is to be treated like a princess or blood will be spilt and will form an ugly stream as it mixes with the gallons of spit that Bobby has at her disposal. It could get ugly out there.

To look at the following photo you wouldn't think it though, aaaah!

Isn't life grand?

Well what was all that about?

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to the BAS AGM.
Well I did go and so did about 160 other people.

I was interested to know what all the fuss was about, it was obvious beforehand that some people, for what ever reason, here not happy about the way the BAS was being run.

I have to say that I was happy with the way it was run, it doesn't really effect us a great deal anyway. We do our own little thing down here, plodding on building a herd, a mighty herd, obviously.

Anyway for the benefit of those who didn't go here is my take on what happened.

It was obvious to me from the start that there were a certain number of BAS members who were intent on having a 'pop' at the board. It also became obvious that there are long standing feuds between certain people. Previous board members, previous chairmen indeed and to be quite honest I found some of their behaviour pretty disgraceful. I don't care about their petty feuds and I don't want to know about them. Apparently the central England group don't go to the futurity because they don't like someone who is involved in it. For crying out loud these people need to grow up. They are pathetic. Talk about being childish. It did not reflect well on them and it did not reflect well on the BAS.

I did feel sympathy for Graham McHarg, our leader and a decent man, who looked as if he was expecting a snipers bullet at any moment. I guess the board were expecting some attacks. The board in fact came out of the meeting, in my eyes, with a great deal of dignity and did not resort to the infantile tactics of some of the BAS members. What is wrong with these people? Have they nothing else to do?

Another thing that struck me from the members is that some people want to be spoon fed alpacas. It's as if they want to be led around by their own personal board member and shown how to make a go of being in the alpaca business, or industry or whatever you want to call it.

For goodness sakes what is wrong with using your loaf, getting off you arse and using some initiative? We want this and we want that and we want help with this and that. What is wrong with these people?

Look for instance at Paul and Debbie at Barnacre, they will be on Countryfile later today with their alpacas.
Did they ask the board to get them on the television? I don't thnk so. Did they whinge and whine until someone gave them the TV crew on a plate? No of course they didn't they used some good old initiative and sorted it out for themselves and good for them. If everyone used a bit of initiative and made things happen we would all benefit.

I didn't hang around for the result of the voting and to be honest I was a little bored by 3 O'clock. There was a long drive home, rugby to listen to, alpacas to tend to, and food and drink to look forward to.

I don't know if I will ever go to another AGM but I seriously doubt it.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Time to swap some spit.

You may remember that at the end of January, Lily (my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world) had a toe lopped off in a trailer door. My fault, shouldn't have happened, but it did.

Anyway, we then had a whole heap of snow and thaw and rain and general muddiness. We struggled in vain to keep her dressing dry and three weeks ago she moved into a lovely dry barn at our nearby chums Ivan and Gill's. This has really done the trick as far as the wound is concerned, it has healed up very well and looks better every time we change the dressing. We are not out of the woods yet but it is looking good.

Unfortunately because of the high dosage of antibiotics involved Lily herself is not doing so well. She is very thin and is not putting on weight despite a good appetite. We think (alright, Sir Tim thought it first) that the antibiotics have killed off all the naturally occurring bacteria in her stomach(s) and this has meant that she is not able to process the food properly. In effect although she is eating she is not getting the benefit from the food.

We needed to restart her gut. First of all we have stopped the antibiotics. We will have to keep a very close eye on the wound for any signs of infection but she needs a break.

Secondly, we have treated her for coccidiosis and worms and started her on a course of multivitamins and Vetrumex which should help to replace the bacteria in her gut.

(The lovely Lily and her rosette winning cria Amelie last year shortly after her tooth abscess operation. Yes, poor old Lil has been in the wars.)

Today I did something that I have never done before to try and speed up Lily's recovery. Transfaunation folks. Basically it means collecting spit from one alpaca and putting it into another alpaca. Sounds great fun doesn't it!

Step forward the resident spit fountain, Bobby. Bobby had a cria last week and after the first few days of being nice is now back to her spitty best. Ordinarily not a good thing but if you are about to do some transfaunation, ideal.

So the girls were rounded up this morning and Bobby and her cria, Penny, were singled out into a handling pen. I caught hold of Penny to have a close look at her and I could hear Bobby getting ready to let fly. My catlike refexes took over as I let go of Penny, took hold of Bobby and whipped out a plastic bag which I then put over her muzzle. In my minds eye it was all done with remarkable speed and smoothness, in reality.......well who cares about reality? Bobby pretty much did the rest. Within a few seconds we had a nice little bag of spit. Phase one complete.

It was then a quick dash over to Ivan's and after mixing Bobby's 'medicine' with some Vetrumex it was given to Lily. She didn't look that impressed but managed to swallow it. Hopefully that will help to get her back on the right track.

Alpacas, every day something new!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Up close with the Mighty Patou

I have been working evenings all week and that leaves me the mornings to complete my chores and then lie down a lot doing nothing for hours (some people actually believe that you know) whilst I wait for work time to come round again. Anyway today I found that I had a few minutes to spare at feeding time. The sun was out so out came the camera and I sat on an upturned bucket in the top paddock (yes it was a sturdy bucket and no, no winches were involved) to watch the herd go about their business.

First to come over and say hello was the utterly gorgeous Patou Fifi, a nose nuzzler of great repute.

Fifi is a beautiful medium fawn girl and has the most tremendous fleece coverage. This picture was the only one I could get before she got under the lens and was just too close, marvellous.

Little Reggie, who you may remember was a breach birth last September, paraded in front of me almost asking to be photographed. He is a Groove boy and as you can see is turning out into a handsome little chap.

Next up was Sophie who probably has the densest fleece here apart from Columbus. She is a Samurai girl and is for sale at a ridiculously low price. That may have to go up actually. In fact it will once she is pregnant. Anyway she is a very sweet girl and I might buy herself when I can..............mmmmmmmm.........sorry folks thinking out loud there, or through my fingers as it were.

Last photo today is of the scrummy Patou Penelope, now almost a week old and a real live wire. She runs like the wind and we are very pleased with her, she is fab, totally fab.

I am travelling up to the BAS AGM on Saturday with Sir Tim of Inca and Ivan the Great from Old Stour Alpacas. To be quite honest with you I can't quite believe what has been going on recently with people sending e-mails and letters galore. It all seems a bit childish. I don't really know what people's problems are so that's why I'm going to see if I can figure out what is going on. I expect there'll be some hot air floating around and I don't expect I'll contribute much as I honestly don't have much of a clue as to what to say. I hope that at the end of the day I will be more informed and will then be able to form an opinion. Could always catch up on a bit of sleep if it gets too much for my little mind. We'll see.
Anyway after all this loafing around it appears that it is time to set off for the day job once again.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Penny Pictures

Well folks here she is, the latest member of the Mighty Patou!
Patou Penelope, or Penny, is absolutely beautiful as you can now all see. Her mother, Bobby, is very protective and most of the inquisitive Patou herd have had a facefull today. Bless.
Penny with her mum Bobs.

Avon Water Moselle about to cop a mouthful!

Little Lady Penelope in repose.

Penny sporting the latest in reflective wear.
Sue took a hilarious video on her phone today of Bobby spitting, humming and then running after Penny. If we can figure out how to get it on the blog we will.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

New arrival

Just a quick note to say that the Mighty Patou herd has increased in numbers by one as of 0730hrs this morning.

Bobby (mother of recent rosette winning Poppy) gave birth to a beautiful medium brown girl this morning.

Sue and I were both working today and Sue's final check before leaving revealed a little wobbly head on a little wobbly neck out in the field. She rang me and I immediately found that I had an urgent enquiry to make nearby. The birth caught us a little bit by surprise and due to the inclement weather she was whisked into the shed with Bobby and the ever patient Lola as a companion (Bobby is the resident spit fountain).

The new girl, (it seems as if we are beginning to specialise in brown females) is as yet unnamed although Penelope has been put forward by Angus and is likely to be adopted as her name tomorrow.
'Penny' is a Canchones Witness of Inca baby and looks absolutely gorgeous. I am as excited as a really, really excited thing on some very strong drugs and can't wait to see her out in the field with the others. Sue is off tomorrow so she will be releasing the little threesome if it's dry and hopefully taking some photographs. She really is beautiful and I can't wait to post some pics!

Lily (she of the lopped off toe......................... I am still trying to kick myself) is doing very well now. She has been in the barn of a friend for the past couple of weeks to keep her foot dry and the wound is healing up nicely.

Lastly, may I give a huge thank you to all those who commented about our endeavours at the Futurity. We were so proud of the girls and it is lovely to see that so many people are following our exploits in the showring.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Success for the Mighty Patou!!

The mighty herd has now returned to sleepy Wiltshire after three great days at the 2009 Futurity.

Let me tell you something folks, there were 350 alpacas in a very large building. We are talking about a seriously tough competition.

We arrived on Thursday evening and dug ourselves in ready to do battle in the ring.

The little show team of four was surrounded on all sides by the big guys. EP Cambridge to the left, Langaton to the right, Wessex to the fore, The Alpaca Stud not far away, Classical Mile End, Inca, Moonsbrook and Bozedown seemingly everywhere!

We looked them all squarely in the eye (from afar obviously) without a tremble and plotted our campaign against them. The team were buzzing. They were up for it, I've never seen them so pumped.

First up mid morning on Friday was little Alacazam. In a very tough class he walked in like Darth Vader in a determined mood. We were pulled forward into fourth place. Fantastic I thought, rosette time! Only to be told that there were only rosettes for the first three. Drat, never mind, he was fourth, a good start.
We retreated to the pen and talked tactics. We had been close. We could now smell the shiney round rosettes, we needed to feel one. We needed to wear one.

Next up was little Amelie in the junior brown female class. She looks as cute as a button but is actually highly skilled in the martial arts. She's deadly. There were twelve in the class and some pretty fine looking animals. I was following her in with Poppy in the intermediates so our good friend Ginny Cobb took Amelie into the ring as I watched nervously from the holding pen.
Fourth place and a lovely green rosette! Fantastic! We were in the game, the mighty Patou had struck and we could all feel good knowing Amelie had done the business.

Next it was Poppy time. Poppy was really up for it, she couldn't stand still. In the holding pen she was like a whirling dervish. She couldn't wait to get some action. She was the leader of the little team and wanted to lead by example. I am sure I could hear her humming the theme tune from Apocolypse Now. All of a sudden and we were in the ring under the bright lights, a large crowd watched as Poppy skipped majestically around the ring.

We were in position and then the judge was upon us. I warned the steward, 'She kicks like a mule' I said, 'She doesn't like being touched' I continued.

Then something very strange happened. Poppy focussed. She had her showgame head on and stood motionless. I gasped and my mouth fell open uncontrollably. Poppy was in the zone, she was staring into the distance in a Zen like trance, she didn't move a muscle......even when the judge looked at her privates............not a twitch!

The judge then moved on and we stood as one awaiting the verdict.
The first placed alpaca was called forward, one of the big guns.
Then..................second place for Poppy!!!!!
I know it isn't very manly but I had a small tear in my eye and a lump in my throat like a cricket ball. Second place!!.
The judge, Amanda Van den Bosch immediately became my favourite judge in the whole wide world. I wanted to kiss her. The mighty Patou herd had made its mark, we had cast our dice, played our hand, struck our gong (what?) we had attacked the show at the brown female stage and had secured two rosettes. We retreated to the pen, got drunk and sang bawdy songs all night. Sorry, got carried away there, we went back to the pen and ate some hay.

We managed to get little Barney into the ring for the junior fawn class but he was up against it, there were two classes of eighteen. Thirty six little fawn boys, he never stood a chance.

Overall we had a splendid time and are very proud of our little show team. Considering we only own sixteen alpacas we couldn't have hoped for much more.

We met and talked with a lot of people, I will only mention a few. It was good to see Nigel and Eve, mystery blog readers, but Rosemary where were you?

It was lovely to welcome Ginny into the Patou herd as an honorary member and it was good to catch up with the Debbie and Paul from Barnacre and to meet Felicia from Popham. It was also lovely to hear from our leader and his lovely wife about their move to Yorkshire (Sue did turn up on Friday, she does exist, one day you will meet her, I promise) and great to see Olav and Connie from Norway with pictures of the cria born to a girl we sold them. It was also good to see Roger and Mary from Snowshill and see how well little Minna has grown.

Last but not least it was, as always, a pleasure and privilege to be amongst the Inca tribe.

Roll on the SWAG spring show because the mighty Patou is up and running!