Wednesday, 30 September 2009

A few pics and a favourites daughter.

I was at a loose end this evening so I wandered out into the field as the sun broke through the clouds to take a few photographs of the residents. The sun bathed the alpacas in a beautiful light and it is only the limited knowhow of the photographer that has limited the quality of the following pictures.

First up is a picture of Priscilla's daughter, Minstrel (with her white chin, Sire: The Fantastic Jack of Spades) next to Judy's cria, Samson (Wessex Cosmos) who is a good three weeks younger.
Next up is our lovely Amelie. Amelie is the first cria from my most favourite alpaca in the whole wide world, Lily.
Amelie, or Millie as we call her, has a simply stunning fleece (she is a Cambridge Centurion girl) and has inherited all her mothers traits. She is calm, friendly and as you can see, she loves apples.

She is absolutely gorgeous in my books and will be mated in the Spring to Jack of Spades, a combination that has the possibility of producing something special.
Finally, as I was wandering back in, the kittens, Seb and Belle, were playing on the gatepost. They are smashing little cats and are bringing in 'kills' every day. Not nice, but that is why we got them so, thats life!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

A long day on the road as a new herd is created.

It was an early start for me today as I was off to deliver three alpacas to new owners on the Leicestershire/Warwickshire border.

First of all though I was in stitches before I even loaded up. Newly arrived in the large field behind the alpaca field are about 50 thousand sheep. When I went out at first light this morning (about 6.45am for those who have the luxury of lying in) I called the alpacas up so that the travellers could be separated out. I usually whistle to get their attention and then shout 'Come on' enthusiastically at the same time rattling a bucket which gets them on the move.

This morning the herd were at the far end of the field, the sheep end. I whistled and they all looked up the hill at me, ears erect, waiting for further instructions. Behind them on the hillside were the massed ranks of the newly arrived sheep, silent and also watching. I then shouted 'Come on' as normal and I swear every single sheep baa-ed in unison at me. It was deafening and quite extraordinary. The sheep fell silent. I shouted again............bugger me if they didn't roar at me again! It sounded like they were all baa-ing 'NO'. On top of this the alpacas had stopped moving towards me as if they were obeying the sheep. There was confusion in the ranks of the mighty Patou herd. The girls looked at each other as if to say ' Ooh er this is new, we want to go... but the sheep, the sheep say no!' By now I was having fun with the sheep. They fell silent and I shouted, they all baa-ed. It was great! I called to Sue, I needed a witness this was seriously bizarre stuff. 'Watch this' I said. The sheep were silent, 'Come on' I shouted, the noise was deafening as the sheep protested strongly. I must admit I could have stayed there all day it was fab! Anyway eventually the alpacas succumbed to the rattle of the feed bucket and left the silly sheep who looked like they really couldn't have cared less anyway.

So I set off with Sophie, Joy and Henry and three and a half hours later I arrived at the empty and newly prepared field that was waiting for the first three members of Clover Park Alpacas. Bill and Linda Lyons were there to welcome us and the herd is now up and running!

Here are Bill and Linda (seriously nice people by the way) with Sophie and Joy, Henry is in the far distance as he settled in immediately and claimed most of the field as his own!
There then followed a tour of the estate, very nice, (I was impressed) and a husbandry lesson.
Then I was invited out for a lovely Sunday lunch at the local pub. Most splendiforous indeed, great company and good food (not to mention a lovely pint of Old Speckled Hen).

I finally got home at 6.30pm with some lovely 'Clover Park' hay in the trailer.
Thank you very much to Bill and Linda, I look forward to seeing you again and keep living the dream!!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Just a quickie

I have about 2 and a half minutes so this will be brief!
Firstly, regular readers will be aware that a 'Johan Krol' has been commenting recently on this blog. He is from the Netherlands (or Holland if that sounds better) and basically seems to want to eat alpacas and everything else!

His comments were getting under my skin even though I smelled a rat on first reading. I kept telling Sue that I would answer his comments in a manner but she dissuaded me, she's like that, a seriously nice and decent person. So, I responded............nicely.

Anyway I can now reveal that Johan Krol is not Johan Krol at all but my oldest friend (his words people, not mine) and he had me hook line and sinker.

I will plan my revenge and he will be dealt with.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Well that's never happened before.

A funny thing happened to me last night and it's never happened before.
Actually I say last night it was at about 4.30 this morning. There I was fast asleep in the middle of a slightly odd dream when something amusing happened. Something amusing happened in the dream that is. The slightly strange characters in the dream with me all started laughing uproariously. So did I. In fact I woke myself up laughing. How odd is that? Half past four in the morning and I'm lying in bed laughing my head off. Obviously Sue woke up, what can she have thought? I'll ask her later. I'm now downstairs as Bryn (old mad deaf lab) started his usual 5.45am barking at Josh (young and completely mad lab) to get him to swap beds. It happens every day, it's very irritating.

Anyway, this dream, it does have alpacas in it but looking back at it now, it doesn't actually seem that funny. If you are interested here's what I can remember:

I was in a radio studio, with a huge picture window overlooking a parkland setting. Roaming in this parkland were, obviously, a magnificent herd of alpacas. On the far side of the park were some large white marquees and an alpaca show was taking place.

From here on in folks alpacas play no part in the dream so if you want alpaca news there is a tiny bit at the end of the blog. If you want to carry on reading about my dream that's your choice. The more I think about it the less funny and more odd it becomes so maybe skipping to the end would be a wise move.

So there I was with Sue and two eccentric old men in cardigans (alpaca wool? Who knows?) they had just started their radio show. The room had a large wooden table in it on which stood a small microphone. There were no chairs. The two 'DJ's' did their show standing up, in fact they did it whilst walking around the table as if playing some bizarre game of musical chairs, without the chairs.
On a shelf under the large window was a small lcd screen, about 4 inches across. This screen had brightly coloured swirling lights that seemed to swirl in time with the music that was playing. I have no recollection of what music was playing, not a clue.
Anyway, Sue and I were there seemingly in an observing role, maybe we were guests on the show or something, I really don't know.
After a while we all became aware that the music had come to an end and there was silence in the studio. I shout-whispered something like 'The listener, he will have fallen asleep', it was the sort of show that wouldn't have had many listeners I'm sure.
Panic then ensued as the two old men tried to get to the little screen which obviously controlled the music. By now lots of chairs had appeared and were seriously getting in the way, preventing the frantic old men from getting to the little screen which obviously controlled the music.
To cover for them and fill the 'dead' airtime I said loudly in my best 1950's radio announcers voice 'We interrupt this important news bulletin to bring you an important news..............(a rather long pause as the old men froze and stared at me incredulously)................bulletin.'

It was at this point that the two old broadcasters started roaring with laughter, I don't know why. I also then started roaring with laughter as did Sue. It was then that I woke up, roaring with laughter. Sue also woke up wondering what the hell was going on presumably (she's still upstairs, having a well deserved lie in).

Anyway that was that, all very odd indeed, and sadly nowhere near as funny now as it was then, sorry about that it was your choice to read on.

So to other news, the kittens Seb and Belle have turned into small cats and are out of control crazy. They do nothing you tell them and seem to spend all night flicking everything on a surface in the kitchen onto the floor. They particularly like pens, although mobile phones and keys also seem to need to be flicked over the edge and chased. They also feel the need to eat everyone elses food. The chickens, Betty and Lulu, get a few scraps on the doorstep most days, yesterday they had some left over Basmati rice. It wasn't long before the kittens joined in the feeding frenzy as seen below.

Similarly poor old Bryn is quite often joined at his bowl by Seb who seems to think it's for him too. The only one who can eat in peace is Josh who guards his food from them fiercely and barks at them if they come close.

Still, they caught their first mouse a couple of days ago so the rodent populaton better watch out.

Now to swing the blog back onto alpacas momentarily here is a picture of the lovely Penny who was born in March, she is as big as the weanlings now and looking rather splendid, if a little angry!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The old lady of the herd.

The oldest alpaca we own is a lovely medium fawn girl called Dee (full name Indira of Cambridge). But it is not just her age (she will be 12 later this year) that sets her apart from the rest of the herd.

She is the quietest, calmest alpaca we own, she is the only alpaca we own imported from Chile and she produces lovely cria, all of whom inherit her 'supercalm nature'.
In short our Dee is a bit of a favourite here, she's lovely in every way.

She arrived here 2 and a half years ago as part of a consignment from EP Cambridge. We had them to sell as we looked for ways of raising money for stud fees etc. She came with 4 or 5 other females but was the oldest, and in our opinion the most attractive.
She very quickly became a firm favourite here. She would be found calmly standing at the garden gate on her own, as if she was waiting for us to say hello. In short we fell in love with Dee and bought her ourselves, together with her fist cria born here the scrummy Fifi.

(Dee with last years cria, Barney, a super little chap)

Dee has always had a mind of her own, never feeling the need to follow the herd as they circuit the field. She loves the field shelter and if she has access will basically 'move in'.

It has had me wondering what sort of life she had in Chile? I would bet that she had a pretty nice life, with decent people looking after her. People who I am sure would have been sad to see her go, poor people, obviously, but people who cared about and valued their animals.
I wish I could let them know that Dee (who knows what name she was given at birth, if any?) was being looked after well here in the UK. Maybe they would want to know, maybe not?

Dee is also a bit of a worry at times. She has periods where she is not quite herself, she becomes a bit lethargic, doesn't graze as much as the others and just generally looks under the weather. It happens every six months or so and after initially calling the vet when it first happened we have learned how to 'set her right'. As long as she is up to date with worming and coccidiosis treatment we give her a jab of antibiotics and stick her on a course of Vetrumex or Pro-rumen to settle her stomach and get her running smoothly again. It seems to work every time. I don't know why it happens, I suspect she has some damage caused by parasites in Chile that gives her problems every now and then, maybe it's just her. Whatever the reason we will keep 'putting her right', because we love her.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Cheesed to bits

In my last post I moaned about the week dragging on, well now I am moaning about the weekend flying by!
I suppose that's life. I have spent the vast majority of my working life working shifts. As a result I am sometimes working weekends. However, if I work a weekend I get days off during the week and that really feels like time off because I have time to crack on with things without the usual (and welcome) distractions of the family. I am at the moment having a period of four weeks when I am pretty much working Monday to Friday. Great in that we have weekends off together, unless Sue is working the weekend, which she often does if I'm not working ......................... No ......................... that's it ......................... I'm moving on ........................... its boring the nadgers off me typing this drivel .................. so it must be doing the same to you.

So to the Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival? It was fantastic!
We had been invited along with some of the alpacas and we pitched up at about 8.30am to find a really lovely showground with mown grass and nice white tents and all squeezed into this great space right in the centre of the town. It was lovely.
We set up and hit the bacon butty stand which is an absolute must at a show.
From then on we were surrounded.
One of the show organisers revealed that they had 4,000 people through the gate in the first hour! All of them were greeted by the lovely Lily, Fifi and Amelie as we were the second stand in! They flocked to us, cooing and oohing and loving our alpacas massively! It was awesome dude! The girls took an hour or two to settle in but really were the stars of the show.

Our little stand early on, Angus manning the tent. At this point I should mention that we forgot to take a camera so the mobile phone came out, as a result the pictures are a little hit and miss, it was so sunny I couldn't see what I was pointing at, nothing at all to do with the scrumpy. Well it does go very well with cheese!
The girls, who had all been to shows before, soon settled in. Fifi, here nose aloft, has caught a whiff of some welsh goats cheese (a favourite of hers) and soon had me traipsing off to buy some. Lily is head down troughing on a Jarlsberg fritter with a parmesan crust (she nibbled all of the crust off before sucking on the Jarslberg centre, so childish). Amelie has eaten her Stilton and Nowegian blue souffle a little too quickly and was a little bit sick just after the photo was taken (youngsters eh!)
There then followed what only can be described as a cheese frenzy (well we were at a cheese festival!) and after elevensies (cheese) and lunch (more cheese) the girls had had enough and lay down in the sun for the rest of the day, point blank refusing to stand up and chat to the assembled crowds.
It was a great day out and we have booked ourselves in for a return visit next year. If you are in the area when it's on next year it really is worth a visit.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Off to the cheese festival!

Finally the weekend has arrived, was this week longer than others? It seemed so. Anyway I have loaded up the Mighty Patou Discovery with all the things we will need at the Sturminster Newton Cheese festival tomorrow. It's actually a two day show, lots and lots of cheese, no doubt, and very well attended but we can only go tomorrow. Angus has rugby training on Sunday morning and, well, I don't want to spend my entire weekend telling people 'No they are not llamas and no they will not spit at you'. No, there is grass to cut and loads of other stuff to do, loads and loads.

So who is going from the mighty herd? Well as you may remember I did ask for volunteers. When no volunteers came forth I handed round cards asking them to suggest who should go. When the cards were handed back in they were all defaced. Caked on green covered all the suggestion boxes, not very grown up is it?
I then went out and did 'eenie meenie minie mo' but just couldn't get a selection without a spitmonster in it. So this evening Sue and I had a chat and three girls have been selected. Mainly because they are lovely, they have done it before and because we want to spend the day up close and personal with them.
Obviously the first girl chosen was our favourite alpaca in the whole wide world...................yes, it's the beautiful, wonderful, Lily.
Next one to be selected was Lily's beautiful, wonderful daughter, Amelie, a sure star of the show circuit next year.
And finally the third pick was the absolutely scrummy Fifi, one of my favourite looking alpacas.
That cheese festival just won't know what has hit them!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Time is against me

Apologies again for not blogging sooner, I see that people check the blog daily and feel that I should be writing something down for you to read.

MY DAY JOB IS GETTING IN THE WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes folks I have been at work all week starting at 7.00am and finishing at the start of getting on with other things time. Consequently I haven't had any blogging time.

We are also in the middle of planning our Australia visit which is in less than five weeks. I phoned up a hotel in Sydney yesterday to book a room and instead of hearing the expected 'G'day cobber what can I do for you' the phone was answered thus, 'Bonjour my name is Michel ow may I elp you'. Yes a Frenchman! That really threw me. Anyway he was a very nice frenchman and the hotel is now booked. So that's the first two nights taken care of, now what? That is what is underway at the moment, planning the two weeks after that. A bit last minute perhaps? Makes it more interesting.

The mighty Patou herd is looking magnificent and we are off to the Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival this weekend where we have been invited to roll up with some alpacas. That in itself has caused a few problems because we have sold all the young boys who would normally come along.

I have passed around a questionnaire to the girls to see if there are any volunteers but most of the paperwork has been defaced, some of it quite abusive. Someone is going to have to go, so we'll be doing eenie meenie or something.

Anyway, guess what? I have to go as I need to put my funny outfit on and head off to work.

Au they say in Sydney!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Inca for the day and a photographer in the making

Yesterday was the first day of The Dorset County Show, a show we had never been to before. This year we hadn't planned to go either but a phone call changed all that.
The Lord Lieutenant of Inca rang earlier in the week to say that Inca had a great pitch at the show but with an imminent birth (of the human kind) due at Inca HQ they would not be able to attend, could we help. A quick check of our incredibly full social calendar revealed that we were free on Saturday, we would do it!

Saturday morning arrived and we paraded in the kitchen, every shred of Patou would be removed from our beings as we became Inca warriors for the day. No Patou shirts, hats or coats, nothing that could reveal who we really were. Inspection over, we were off.
A briefing from his Timness at 0800hrs (or thereabouts......Tim was on 'Timtime') and we manned the stand. We had badges! We were ready to shout about the greatness of Inca to anyone who would listen.
Angus was the one slight rebel in the camp. Not happy about being unable to wear his Patou shirt to the show he point blank refused to wear the Inca cap presented to him by Timbo. He is loyal to the cause that lad.
Anyway a great day was had and we were surrounded for most of the day.

Sue refused to be photographed and took one of me as I manned the perimeter fence ready to pounce on a passers by. Most people stopped, well they do don't they, alpacas act like human magnets.
The two little black cria were the undoubted stars of the show and they behaved immpeccably.
Angus (for those not in the know, Angus is our 6 year old son) took control of the camera and spotted a nearby Land Rover stand. He was off periodically during the day clicking away like mad. Actually when I got home I found there were 55 pictures of Land Rovers on the camera (he is a little obsessed by them!). I have posted a few below.

The Land Rover stand as small boy approached. Camera fixed to eye.

His favourite of the day, a nice red TD5.

There were interior shots too as he clambered all over them.
A Defender was pictured, good but not as good as Discoverys.

A nice example of a silver Discovery, series 3.

Another shot of the favoured red Discovery, facelifted series 2.

Hs attention to detail is incredible as he photographed bits and bobs.

and badges...............the only badge worth having of course!

Before finally returning to the Inca stand where he took a photgraph of the Patou wagon, tucked round the side....oops!
Anyway a great day out and we did our best.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Clump has a new friend.

Regular readers of the blog will know that our resident herdsire, Cambridge Columbus, (Clump or The Clumpmeister to his friends) has been in solitary confinement for the past few months as he sorts out his hormones. Hopefully when all the girls have got to three or four months pregnant and there is no more work for him for a few months he will calm down and be more sociable.

Clump lives in the paddock at the top of the hill directly in front of the house. He can see his girls in the field in front of him easily there and so doesn't panic about being on his own. He also has freedom to roam along the short runway that is at the front of the garden. Consequently being an inquisitive alpaca he is frequently to be found standing at the garden gate watching us as we sit on the patio some 10 or twelve feet away.

On Monday as we sat out having a barbecue supper, Clump was visited by young Sebastian one of the kittens. There was a certain amount of staring from both sides and a nose touch which I missed. However it was lovely to see cat/alpaca interaction which those of us with cats and alpacas will be familiar with.

Sebastian was the first one to break after about three minutes as Clump tried to stick his nose through the gate. If Seb had been a tiny little male alpaca no doubt Clump would have opened the gate and given him a good shoeing, still there we go.