Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Beware: A long post, my yearly review.

So looking back on 2009 what is the verdict? I think on balance a pretty good one for us here in the land of Patou.
Naturally it has caused us concern and sadness to read about and to hear first hand stories of other people’s bad luck and misfortune this year but these things are beyond our control. We have offered our support and sent cyber hugs and stuff from afar but for us life must go on. We hope things turn around for those who have had bad times, we really do, it could be us next time, they will turn around, I’m sure. Just hang in there.

We had a dodgy start to 2009 as we battled hard to save the life of Lily (my favourite etc etc). She had virtually given up the battle having become extremely anaemic after a series of unfortunate circumstances but thankfully with some great vet work from the lovely Louise and some perseverance, including help and advice from friends we managed to see her through.
She has now fully recovered and hopefully will have a cria in the summer.
Thanks again to everyone who phoned or e-mailed with advice and encouragement. I have to say that the ‘Alpaca world’ is a good place to be, good people in abundance. There when you need them and that's nice.

Lily enjoying the sunshine and hay a few days ago, still time to pose for a photo!

The mighty Patou herd is in good shape and has even increased in size (on paper) recently.
My nemesis, Coolaroo Judah, who has covered me from head to toe more than a couple of times this year has been assimilated into the herd. I have been in contact with her Australian owner regularly about Judy’s behaviour. Believe me writing an e-mail whilst green alpaca spit is dripping off your nose and you are shaking with rage is not a good idea!
Anyway we decided that it wouldn’t be fair to sell Judy or even give her away. She is a big old unit and can be quite fearsome. I don't think anyone would buy her even at a knock down price. We have developed a way of dealing with her and we feel that we owe it to her to carry on trying to get her ‘sorted out’. I will still have periods when I know I will want her to go away but she is pregnant to our main man the Clumpmeister so we hope she has a beautiful little girl next summer!

We only had four cria this year. Regular readers may remember that we reset the herd clock last year. Our births were getting later and later so we took most of the girls through the winter empty. Hopefully this means that we have a bumper crop of late spring, early summer births in 2010. It has set us back a little but we don’t have the facilities to handle winter births here yet. It was a decision we were happy we made.
So the four cria we did have?

First up in early March Bobby produced the truly gorgeous Patou Penny. A glorious light brown colour and now at almost 9 months old carrying a rather good soft fleece. Lucky for her we had a beautiful spring which gave her a tremendous start in life. She weighed 10kg at birth and at one month old weighed double that!

June saw the arrival of Minnie the Minstrel, a Jack of Spades girl out of Priscilla (Bobby's mother). Carrying the white from the spot on Priscilla's chin, Minstrel is the third cria from Priscilla with white markings. Priscilla has produced solid coloured cria when covered by lighter males so she is now pregnant to the Clumpmeister. Hopefully a nice cria in the summer, solid colour, female and gorgeous will suffice!

The third cria born here this year was from Judy who produced a nice fawn boy in July, Samson, who is another big cria was sired by Wessex Cosmos. I haven't had much to do with him as Judy is always on the offensive when I touch him so he is dealt with very speedily!

Samson, getting the cold shoulder from Minnie who he tends to follow about quite a bit!

The final cria born was the result of our ‘rent-a-womb’ scheme with friends of ours. The resulting cria, born in July is a lovely medium fawn female, Polly, sired by ATA Cambridge Centurion. She is still with her mother at the moment but will join the Patou herd next month!

I suppose the biggest thing to ‘hit’ the alpaca world this year has been bTB. We have read a lot about it and spoken to people who have experience of it. I am a little reticent to talk about it too much as so much is unknown about it and how things are going to progress. Suffice it to say that we are taking every precaution we can here in Patouland and will continue to do so.

We have just had dates of bTB awareness meetings from the BAS which will be given by Gina Bromage a very knowledgeable alpaca vet. We will do our best to get to one of them, at least one of us!

The other news this year for us was our a good 2009 Futurity where Poppy and Millie took rosettes for us in the brown female categories, they also took more at the SWAG Spring show, a good result for us.

Later in the year we had the holiday of a lifetime in Australia where somewhere along the way, in Tasmania, whilst staying with friends Bob and Diane Hey, we did exactly what we said we would not do, we bought an alpaca. Van Diemen Qjori will be with us hopefully in July 2010 and we can't wait for his arrival. He was quite simply the best looking brown alpaca I have seen anywhere and we are sure that he will make his mark on the Patou herd over the next few years.

We lost our beloved Bryn (silly old Lab) this year and also our first ever cat, Bob.
Taking their place in the house have come Belle and Sebastian our two kittens who have ripped the house and it's contents to pieces and reintroduced the daily body count that we had missed so much since Bob died.

The Christmas tree is already down as they systematically set about destroying it. Just about every bauble was flicked off and chased, branches were broken, chaos was caused.
Talking of Christmas the highlight was watching Angus opening his presents and enjoying all the excitement of the occasion. His face on Christmas morning almost brought tears to my eyes and he has been an absolute joy to be with, as has Sue who I love more each year.

Angus complete with new bike on Christmas Day. Snow? Who needs snow when you have mud?

So anyway there is my brief review of the year, if you're still reading you must be very bored or have no life!

Seriously though, thanks for reading during the year, I know wits hegets alittele hatdf to follow at time sespeecialkyh when I try toe tyupe ftas but hey!

I hope you all have a great 2010, I just feel that it is going to be a good year. Be good and may the sun shine on you.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I had some interesting reactions to my last post which was quite obviously complete drivel. I asked Sue to read it and she did without so much as a smile crossing her face, she just didn't find it funny. I, on the other hand nearly wet myself writing it. Ah well there we go.
For the record we did attend the Inca Christmas lunch and we would have travelled a lot farther than we did if we had to. It was a very pleasant few hours spent in the company of some crackingly good people. People we are delighted and proud to call our friends. We must do that more often guys, we really should.

Anyway the day before that whilst we had a sprinkling of snow on the ground I was out to take some festive shots. As usual on Christmas Eve the snow has been replaced by the more customary rain and mud.

Here is little Samson, son of my friend Judy. He was sired by Wessex Cosmos and is a nice little fellow, it's just that every time I go near him I have you know who breathing down my neck!
Here is the Clumpmeister enjoying his breakfast of peas, oats and alfafa in the sunshine.

The rest of the herd are tucking in also, it doesn't take them long to polish off a couple of trough fulls!
We have been concerned about the alpacas in the weather that we have had. They have wandered in and out of the old field shelter (new one arrives next week) but have generally stayed out. It has been as low as -6 here but thankfully dry and wind free. It doesn't seem to bother them at all, it probably bothers us more on their behalf. Still with the new shelter arriving soon I will be able to shut the whole herd in at night if required.
All that remains is for me to say Merry Christmas to all readers of this drivel. I have one more shift pounding the streets of Salisbury tonight but as of 0200hrs I am on full speed ahead, all stops to go Christmas mode for ten days. Can't wait to see the face of Angus tomorrow morning.
Anyway, Sue, Angus and all the fluffstables hope you all have a great Christmas and that 2010 is a cracker of a year, especially for alpaca owners!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Anywhere for a free lunch!

Today we managed to wangle a free lunch. We had to travel down into deepest darkest Dorset, or Somerset, (one of the two) but the cunning plan bore fruit.
Several months ago I sent an e-mail to Tom from Inky Alpacas in Dorset saying I might be interested in looking at some alpacas with a view to possibly, and that's all it was folks, possibly buying one. A multi-coloured wether, an old one, with three legs it was. I think Inky Alpacas specialise in black ones but I'm not sure.
Anyway I thought nothing of it really but blow me down I subsequently got invited to Inky Alpacas Christmas do!
I couldn't believe it, I mean I had no intention of buying anything, I was just bored and messing around with the computer one morning.
Well, I have never been one to turn down free nosh so we were off!
I made sure we got there nice and early so that we could get the Inky Alpaca tab up and running and get a few scoops down before Tom and the rest of the Inky's turned up.

Anyway as it turns out this Kiwi bloke Tom and his wife Trixie were most accommodating and made us feel very welcome. God knows what the hell they were talking about during lunch, I'm sure it was something about crimpy feet? Or fleecy rump?

We just tucked into whatever was on offer and kept our heads down.
I ended up sitting next to some ex pro footballer called Terry, I think that's what he said his name was, bit of a cockney, hard to understand. He wittered on and on about some very old alpacas he had. I assume they were old, he said they were all grey? Actually come to think of it I'm sure he ran an alpaca retirement home or something? Still he seemed nice enough.
I think he was Dad to Trixie and some woman called Kate from another alpaca herd called Amorous Alpacas? What that was all about is anybody's guess. They had both brought children along so I'm glad we brought the sprog, I did think about leaving him at home.
There was also another couple there who I could have sworn said they were Polish chicken stuffers, whatever that means. I have a sneaking suspicion that they may have crashed the wrong do. I couldn't understand a word that the bloke said, I'm sure he was talking Polish most of the afternoon. Foreign names too, Ifan and something like Gillo? They seemed quite friendly but if I had to put money on it I reckon they were up to the same trick as us, feign interest, eat and drink as much as you can, grab a quick kiss off any nice looking birds and then leg it. There was another foreign girl there too, Cara, she talked a lot about Australia but sounded a bit more French than that. I think she might have been some sort of Nanny or something.

Anyhow that's what we did and we were just about to make a quick family trip out through the gents toilet window (leading straight to the car park) when bugger me Tom got up to make a speech! Not only that but photographs were taken! We just couldn't escape!

I couldn't believe it but the bloke with the camera stood right next to me, couldn't get out of the shot. That's me at the front with the red hat on and then clockwise it was Terry(the ex pro), Cara (the Nanny), Amorous Kate, Kate and Trixie's children, Trixie, Tom, Ifan, Gillo, Sue and Angus who as you can see was well stuffed with turkey. That boy can stack it away when he knows he doesn't have to pay!

Here's Tom getting all emotional during his speech, thankfully it was brief as I was very embarrassed at being classed as a close friend. The weeping went on for a bit too long as well. Jeepers it was the first time I've met the bloke! Although I did have a blank couple of hours a week or two back at another Christmas do I managed to crash. Maybe I bumped into him then? Who knows.
Still it appeared that a good day was had by all!
The above article was written by a gibbering idiot.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The sun shines in Patouland!

Patouland is bathed in glorious winter sunshine today, the wind has dropped and the temperature is hovering just above freezing, marvellous.
I have just been out and fed the herd and the ice has been broken in the water troughs.
I have also just taken delivery of a load of lovely soft meadow hay as we had just about run out and they are tucking into it with gusto at the moment.
Whilst out there smiling like a goon in the sunshine I took a few snaps of some key herd herd members.
First up the three brown youngsters. From left to right: Minstrel (6mths), Penny (9mths) and Millie (17mths). As you can see Millie is a bit of a midget compared to Penny and Minnie the Minstrel is also catching up fast.

Next up is a photograph of my most favourite alpaca in the world, Lily. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.
And finally a picture of Millie (daughter of Lily) on her own basking in the sunshine.
Isn't life wonderful when the sun shines?
Have to go now, Angus has back to back parties in Salisbury today and I am the despatcher.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Drama at Patou.

There's me saying there is nothing much to write about and we go and have a medical emergency yesterday!
The girls all came up for their late morning feed and all tucked in to their usual alfalfa and peas. I was busying myself moving the Eglu to a more sheltered spot and was looking near the alpaca feeding area for a possible location when I noticed that one of the alpacas was not feeding with the others.
Lily (why oh why does it always have to be our favourite alpaca in the whole wide world?) was standing motionless between the two troughs, very odd. On closer inspection I could see that she was drooling heavily and struggling for breath, classic choking signs. I shouted for Sue and we quickly got her into a small handling pen. She was definitely choking so I squirted a couple of pints of warm water down her throat to try and shift it. Normally that does the trick. This time it didn't something was stuck and needed shifting. We called the vet and he was on his way from Salisbury straight away.

Lily by this time was really struggling for breath and was shaking, presumably from the stress of it all. We put a coat on her, there was a bitterly cold wind, and tried more water to no avail. We then just kept her calm until the vet arrived. Just prior to his arrival Lily had a huge coughing spasm and I saw a small piece of white matter fly through the air. Lily, however was still struggling for breath and making an awful grunting noise. Something was still restricting her breathing. The vet passed what seemed about 6 feet of tubing down her throat and Lily made various grunting, gasping and bubbling sounds. The tube out she was still struggling for breath. Her heart rate was normal, her lungs sounded clear, she seemed bright enough she was just gasping for breath.

The diagnosis was that she had been choking but the blockage had now been removed either due to the coughing or the tubing. The blockage had caused an inflammation in her throat which was now causing her problems. The vet gave her a large dose of anti-inflammatory intravenously and the reaction was almost instant. Within a minute she was breathing better and five minutes later she was grazing.
Throughout the whole incident Lily was the best behaved alpaca in the world. She stood next to us whilst we waited for the vet. She accepted the stomach tube with hardly a fuss and allowed the vet to examine her as if it was a daily occurrence.

She is a special one that Lily, a special one indeed.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Christmas is a coming.

Sorry for the lack of blogging over the last few days, the day job once again is interfering with my alpaca farming. Mind you there isn't a huge amount to do at the moment.
We have upped the girls feed, adding micronised peas and oats to their alfalfa pellets and one of us is usually here to get them up and check them over visually whilst they munch.
Actually there is no 'getting them up' really. No matter where they are they hear the feed bin opening and the bucket being filled and the next thing is when you turn round, they are all there.

We are pretty much set up now for Christmas, I can't wait to see Angus's little face on Christmas morning (not too early I hope). For me it is the moment of Christmas. I finish work at 2am on Christmas morning for a whole ten days off..............and lo there was much rejoicing in the land of Patou!
Anyway this is an alpaca blog so I must report that the alpacas are getting Christmas presents this year. Big expensive ones.
We have taken the plunge and ordered a large field shelter, 24' x 12', which will go into the main paddock for the girls to use, or not, as will probably be the case. It will be very handy for us as it has three gates on it enabling us to turn it into two separate shelters. It is arriving after Christmas and will be tucked away in the corner of the field up against a big barn so it should be a nice sheltered shelter, if you get my meaning.
We have also ordered a new trailer to replace our 29 year old horsebox. It will arrive in early January and I can't wait to get working on the livery. It will of course be a mighty trailer, for mighty tasks. Although, with the current situation it may lie dormant for a while. Still it's nice, big and shiny and ours and I shall admire it from every angle. I just love new stuff.
The Christmas tree went up this week and with that one of the kittens went up. Up the tree that is. Sebastian comes in every evening and climbs up the tree. He seems to have made the third level (for it is not a real Christmas tree folks but an artificial one, with levels) his base camp. From there he can flick baubels and other sparkly, dangly things until they fall off. Belle, the other destroyer, doesn't climb the tree. No, she attacks it from the outside at the bottom. Together they flick and pat and grab and remove stuff for hours. Oh what fun we have picking it all up and replacing it. Still, it is the season to be jolly. I do a good 'jolly' actually. Not as good as my 'grumpy' or my 'rage' but still good.

Here is the little darling having fun. Oh yes and he weed in my log basket last week. Isn't that nice.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Feed, jabs and drenches.

Today I am not starting work until 4pm so it left Sue and I to ourselves for a while. A little Christmas shopping, lunch and then some alpaca stuff. We thought the sun was going to break through but it didn't.............meanie.

Anyway the girls came up as usual for their food, slowly at the moment due to the mud on the slope, but up they came. I was a little nervous about how my arch enemy Judy was going to behave as we haven't spoken since our little 'incident' happened a couple of weeks ago. She is the white one staring at me from down the hill in the picture below. No doubt she was a whole lot more nervous about it than I was.
Bobby led the way as usual and soon they were all in and heads down. The usual screeching spitting, nudging and humming went on as Sue and I readied the medication.

We like to send the herd into the winter parasite free. We have a had some frosts now so the field should be clean so it was time to dose the herd up accordingly. Everyone received another injection of vitamin AD & E, a jab of wormer (we use Noromectin) and a drench of Vecoxan to sort out any coccidia. Everyone was very well behaved, even Judy who sort of trotted on the spot kicked me a few times but kept her greenness to herself. Marvellous. With Sue watching I would have to behave myself so it was just as well. Hopefully the herd will now spend the winter free from any parasites and will be in tip top condition come springtime.

I was also able to have a good check of everyone, noting condition scores, checking jawlines and generally having a good look for any signs of illness. All appeared in smashing condition and there are some really exciting fleeces in the herd at the moment. Millie and Penny our two brown youngsters particularly look stunning.

Here is the scrummy Penny looking cute but a little bedraggled .
Ah well off to work I must go. The hunt for Mr Bad continues.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

A mighty gathering!

If you are at all involved in the alpaca scene in the UK you may have heard a deep rumbling in the air today as three enormities of the alpaca world met at a secret location in south west Wiltshire this afternoon. The meeting, which wasn't publicised for public safety reasons due to the lack of available crowd space, began in a barn somewhere near the Dorset border deep into bandit country.
I was priviledged to attend with Sue as head of the Mighty Patou at this high powered meeting of alpaca minds. You could have cut the air with a jammy dodger as all parties arrived and we set about our work in a businesslike manner. Actually we had coffee and cake first but you know what I mean.
The meeting place was at the headquarters of Old Stour Alpacas, a name not familiar to many but surely a major force to be reckoned with in the near future. The participants were drawn together with a common bond......to talk alpaca and carry out some pregnancy scanning whilst examining a herd soon to be unleashed in the public domain.

Ivan Hayward was the host, ably supported by his second in command, Jill.
Here I am pictured with Ivan, the expression on my face, I believe, gives you an insight into the awesomeness of the occasion.

The third party was His Emminence Lord Timothy of Inca, an 'Uberpower' in the alpaca world if ever there was one. Tim was wielding the scanner whilst Rob, Inca handler for the day, held the females. I had the suitably important job of 'lubeman', vital to provide baby oil for his Timness at the beginning of every scan.

We worked like a highly oiled machine. Tim on the scanner, Rob on the alpacas, me on the baby oil (no, that doesn't sound right!?) Jill was taking the records, Sue was taking the photographs and Ivan was............ wandering about admiring his herd by the looks of it!

Here you can see the screen whilst a female is scanned, the white splodge in the middle of the black blotch is the next generation of Old Stour Alpacas, a sight to behold. I swear as each female was scanned tears were starting to form as the future of a herd became visible. All females scanned pregnant. Fantastic news!

Next the examinations began as the herd was scrutinised and appraised. Just look at the smile on the proud face of Ivan, good reason too, he has some lovely alpacas.

Next it was off down the pub for a pint and a spot of lunch.
Well even Oligarchs need refreshments!

Friday, 4 December 2009


Not much to say as I have been doing the 'going to work and coming home in the dark' thing all week.
Sue has been here and assures me that the herd is still here and is in fine fettle. Actually I did bunk off early again yesterday to get home in time to see them, it had been dry and sunny all day and they looked great. Even Judy didn't screech at me when I spoke to her.

However, we are just about to order our new Patou transportation device (trailer) and new Patou accommodation block (field shelter) so exciting times ahead! Who says alpacas can't enjoy Christmas too!

I am looking forward to four days off this weekend so will be able to get up close and personal again. Weather permitting there may be photographs.