Thursday 30 December 2010

Nearly there! (part two)

It has been over a week since my last post and I just don't know where the week went.

Christmas here in Patouland was marvellous. To see a 7 year old (nearly eight) burst into tears on Christmas morning out of pure happiness will be a memory treasured forever (I'm afraid he gets his emotional side from his father who can cry at the drop of a hat, don't come near me during any major patriotic sporting event!).

A fabulous day spent with my fabulous family, it doesn't get any better than that.

The Christmas day celebrations started slightly later than normal due to the extended chore regime that all livestock owners were embracing in the ice and snow.

Buckets of hot water lugged, feed, hay and straw distributed and a general looking over of the mighty Patou herd first. Dogs walked and fed, chickens and cats foddered before breakfast was even considered.

My father, an army officer for 32 years, always impressed on me the importance of ensuring everyone else was fed and watered before indulging oneself. A good way to look at life in general.

Anyway, a white Christmas, when did we last have that in the shandy drinking south?

After four days off I was back to work yesterday but after a late shift today another 5 days off beckons, can't really complain about that.

On the alpaca front we separated four females two weeks ago who were a bit thin, this included my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world, Lily, who fought back from near death under two years ago. They have been penned in half the field shelter and half the marquee. Surrounded by food and out of the weather as well as being apart from their cria, (who haven't strayed far from their mums) seems to have done the trick. All four have put on weight and I am not concerned about them any longer. They will be moved to a separate field shortly out of sight of their babies where they will regain even more condition.
As you can see the cria are quite large enough to fend for themselves, especially Rafiki (on the left) who is a giant!

Once New Year is out of the way we have halter training to look forward to, which is always interesting in the mud!

All that remains is for me to wish you all a very, very, splendid New Year!

2011 is going to be an absolute corker! I just know it!

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Nearly there!

Ok, so here we are, the 22nd of Christmas, I mean December, and we are nearly there, the big day is only three days away! The excitement is building at an ever increasing rate here in Patouland and we are just about ready. A 10 hour shift on Christmas Eve and I'm done!

Before I comment on the photographs on this posting I would like to proffer up a couple of thank you's. Firstly, I neglected to mention on my last post our attendance at the social event of the year. Yes, the Wonderful World of Inca Christmas Dinner.

His and Her Royal Alpaca Highnesses, Lord Timothy and Lady Tracey of Inca Alpaca invited us once again to join a select group of seasoned 'troughers' to celebrate all things black .........and brown (of course) ....... and grey (something for the oldies) in a convivial atmosphere.

This year the Inca Warriors chose one of the most remote pubs (and a rather splendid one at that) in deepest darkest Somerdorsetshire (can't remember which). Actually, I must thank the lovely Mrs S too. I had offered gallantly to drive there and back and fully intended to do so but on arrival Sue stated that she would do the honours on the return trip. Within half a second I was at the bar ordering a pint of Doombar. Marvellous. Poor old girl was still in the car park!

There then followed a very relaxing evening shared amongst the massed clans of Inca, Patou, Amyrick and affiliated splendid people. Thanks for a great night guys.

Secondly and most unexpectedly, a big thank you to Andy and Viv at Reddingvale, we have spoken on the phone and they will know what it is about but once again, thank you very much, a fantastic box of fodder!

Right, now to more of the usual drivel. Todays photographic offerings are courtesy of the lovely Mrs S who has been out snapping in the snow, seemingly at anything that moves. Her usual black and white arty fart shots have been superceded by some colourful offerings which I happen to think are rather good.

Firstly our lovely slathering oaf of a Newfie, Kira, in resplendent pose atop a mound of snow, actually more of a hillock really, although she doesn't like to be called that.

Next, our very own beardy weirdy, Fu Man Chu herself, Patou Minstrel.

A couple of Mighty brown powerhouses, Poppy and her son Roger Resilient (aka The Popham basher), colourwise, that is what we here in Patouland are all about.

And finally.......... Angus has been a busy beaver out in the field building a very impressive igloo. Three days in construction this den of snow is what every Inuit reader will be envious of. It has a chimney hole, and several ground floor windows, as well as........................

A rather substantial front door! En suite tractor parking area with every one built!
Thank you for reading readers, I will hopefully blog again before Christmas but if not we hope you all have an absolutely fabulous Christmas. Stay safe and warm and relax (after the chores of course!)
Patouman signing where's my whisky Mac?

Sunday 19 December 2010

It's snowtime!

Yesterday we woke to a beautiful sunny snowy morning. Words sometimes aren't required (obviously I will stick some in, I can't help myself).

Patou Polly, after much discussion about the pose (she was very fussy about shadows and stuff).

The herd wandering back down to the toilet area (or field shelter with en-suite marquee, as we like to call it) after breakfast.

His Royal Lordship Van Diemen Qjori of Patou, growing into a magnificent looking boy.

Could this be next years Christmas cards (which reminds me, must go to the post office!)

Every day he is more and more interested in what the girls are doing. He stares at them....................................longingly. The Clump hates it.

Right, work beckons. How annoying is that?

Friday 17 December 2010

Killer chicken on the rampage

Just a quick one today as there has been lots to do here in preparation for the next 'big freeze'. Hay racks have been filled, shelters have been re-strawed, troughs defrosted and blah blah blah all the other stuff that goes on daily here., sorry just can't be bothered to list it all.

Haven't got any new alpaca shots to post so here's one of a chicken. Our little Sicilian Buttercup, Doodle (nickname 'The Stiletto').
About 5 years ago when we got our first chickens, Betty and Wilma, I saw Wilma stalk a mouse, pounce on it and then swallow it whole. Couldn't believe my eyes, didn't know chickens had it in them to be so callous, so violent, so vicious. Wilma was a 'Gingernut Ranger' variety and really was a ranger, she used to visit all of our neighbours and became well known about these parts.

Doodle is not so much of a ranger but the other day I watched her catch a shrew!
Do chickens do this regularly? Doodle didn't carry out the kill the way I had imagined though. I had imagined that she would have sidled up silently from behind and with a smooth and lightning fast movement she would have 'slotted' the unsuspecting shrew, killing it instantly. I imagined she would have then bent over, wiped the glistening blade on the pelt of the mouse before crossing herself whilst muttering under her breath a barely audible but brief prayer. She would have then retreated back into the shadows as crowds of other shrews clamoured around gasping at the shocking work of the stealthy killer moving amongst them. But no, she just jumped and pecked it on the back of the neck before slamming it against a rock. She then ran off with it in her beak pursued by the enormous Dottie and little Lulu, our two other chooks.

The picture below shows the mercilless killer running around the garden, the lifeless body dangling from her razor sharp beak.

Gone up in my estimation, chickens. They're not laying any eggs yet but they aren't just lazing about as previously thought.

Saturday 11 December 2010

Back to green!

We have returned to green and brown down here in Patouland. The temperatures are in the positive and everything has thawed leaving nice grass and not so nice mud, very sticky mud, everywhere.

I took a few photographs with my phone yesterday to prove it, not very good quality but it proves that we are back to green. Angus came out on a patrol of the alpaca field driving his Claas tractor, always ready with a smile for the camera that boy.

I took a couple of photographs of Rafiki, born on my birthday he is obviously a character and always sticking his nose in where it isn't exactly welcome. He does look pretty impressive though, enormous compared to everyone else (apart from Ruby May of course) he struts about posing and orgles at everyone which has made him a strutting target for the pregnant hair trigger spit monsters.
He is a Jack of Spades boy and anyone who has seen Jack will be able to recognise the similarities. I can't emphasise enough how impressed we are with our Jack babies, they are absolutely tremendous, so well put together and so well covered in soft crimpy fleece.

Rafiki was soon joined by his sparring partner, little Rory who you may remember has been Rafiki's 'wheelbarrow' for most of his life. They are inseperable and both strut around orgling, like a couple of bumblebees stuck in a couple of jam jars.

We had an interesting scenario today as Qjori escaped through a gate into the girls field whilst poo-sucking was taking place. At first he skipped around a bit but then he gravitated to a small mound next to The Clumpmeisters paddock. He ran to the top of this mound and turned sideways on to Clump, ears and tail raised. Clump went absolutely berserk, charging up and down the fenceline screeching, rearing up, he was bristling with aggression and Qjori just watched him and posed as much as he could. I swear if Clump could have got out there would have been carnage!
After that, as if to rub it in a bit more, he sauntered over to the girls, picked out the prettiest, (Reeya) and with a magnificent orgling display attempted to 'ground her'. That proved to be his mistake though as Sue swooped in and grabbed him. He was then haltered and taken back to his paddock next to Columbus who by this time was apopleptic! I seriously thought his head was going to explode, he was absolutely seething and no doubt was screaming the most foul mouthed
tirade possible.
Qjori will be raring to go come the spring and poor old Clump is going to have to get used to the fact that he will be sharing the lovely ladies of Patou with someone else.

Tuesday 7 December 2010


It's bloody freezing down here in the south, today it is still -5C and it's nearly lunchtime. Still we have had no more snow and there is no wind so it isn't too bad.
The alpacas are seemingly unbothered by the temperature and now all of them have access to a shelter. The girls, as previously reported, have the main field shelter with their en suite marquee, Qjori has his own field shelter (well he is rather special) and now Columbus, Mr Stroppy himself, has his own shelter.
We have erected our 'show tent' and strapped it down with some heavy duty straps............ and some bailing twine. It has been filled with straw and hay and The Clumpmeister has been shown round.

Actually for the first day he went no where near it but since then he has been seen regularly munching away on his hay whilst looking out on the rest of the world. We are much happier now, if the weather turns really nasty he should be able to get out of the worst of it. He is pictured below looking ridiculous with a large lump of snow on his face. What a berk.

I took a picture of the hugely impressive looking Ruby May a couple of days ago. She was our first cria this year and is a real chunky monkey, a definite case of thunder thighs. She has an amazing amount of fleece like her sire, Jack of Spades and a temperament like her mother, a feisty one indeed, halter training should be interesting!

A final word for any Australian readers.
I was up very early this morning to watch the conclusion of the cricket.
It was all over though. Australia outplayed in every department.
Can't really see anything but spankings to follow in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
Now you know what it feels like!

Thursday 2 December 2010

We've got it covered.

Whilst we were in Barbados last month I worried about the alpacas. I worried about them because of the onset of the winter weather back in the UK. Although whilst on holiday we endured Hurricane Tomas, it was a warm hurricane, sure falling trees could do damage, the patio furniture blew into the pool but the weather itself wasn't going to cause us any undue stress. However, the high winds did make me think about the situation at home, in the alpaca field.

As a result by the time we landed back at Gatwick I was a man on a mission, I was completely blinkered, nothing would stop me from my task, I was obsessed with providing more shelter in the field.
It may have had something to do with the fact that I travelled light on holiday. I left the UK wearing shorts, a polo shirt and sandals. Apart from my swimmers (or my budgie smugglers as the Inca King called them) I had very little else. I didn't need much more, we were going to the Caribbean where the temperature was unlikely to dip below 30C even at night (it didn't).
However, when we left Barbados to return home I was wearing the same clothing. OK for the flight, OK for the airport, not OK for a windy rainy 6C! Anyway I think that experience hardened my resolve to extend the shelter for the alpacas.

So a couple of days after we got home and a couple of days before gale force winds were expected we were out there putting up our marquee next to the big field shelter. I am sure the neighbours saw what we were doing, saw the much forecasted high winds and thought we were mad. At the time I thought we were a bit mad but once we had started there was no turning back.
I lashed it down with every heavy duty strap that I had, I trimmed it to perfection so that there wasn't a square inch of loose canvas that the wind could get it's teeth into. Then we waited. The gales came and although it wobbled and rattled it held fast. The alpacas went nowhere near it.

But deep down I knew that I had to get the marquee up so that if the weather did turn really nasty I could whack the sides on, put some hurdles round and triple the size of our field shelter. My girls would be inside and out of the bitterly cold winter. That was important.

Recently most of the country has been covered in snow with bitterly cold temperatures. Down here in the softy south we had been fortunate to stay relatively snow free. That all changed last night. We haven't had snow of 'Northern' proportions but we have had 4 or 5 inches overnight and living halfway up a hill it makes a big difference, especially as Sue and I both work. Some days we have to rattle around getting everything done before 8am. Ok on a sunny day, but......
So this morning I was up early and out with the dogs to see what the alpacas were up to.

I was delighted to find that the main herd, and I mean all of them, were either in the field shelter or under the marquee next to it. Not only that but a quick check of the field proved that they had been there all night!

The smell in there was fantastic, hay and alpaca, I love it! The fact that they had used the new enlarged shelter had vindicated my mad obsession. Hopefully if it does turn horrible they will be sorted. Warm and cosy out of the wind!
Dee, our oldest girl with her winter coat (she doesn't produce a huge amount of fleece anymore bless her).
As for the boys, Qjori has his own field shelter and seems to spend a lot of time in there, he loves it, Columbus has no shelter at the moment but has a very dense fleece. Today, however, we are erecting a shelter for him too. By the end of the day I will be able to relax, comfortable in the knowledge that the whole herd has somewhere to go to get out of the weather. That is a nice thought. Nice to know that we've got it covered.

Tuesday 30 November 2010

A cloud has lifted!

Indeed readers a large, black, pain filled cloud has lifted!
In my previous post I whinged about suffering from an episode of gout. The 'episode' turned out to be the worst 'episode' of gout that I have ever had. Ten days on and I still can't put a shoe on due to the inflammation.
But, and this is the news that has lifted the cloud and put me back in charge of being the silliest person amongst the mighty Patou, the gout pain has gone! It has buggered off and left me alone and that is, and I can't emphasise this enough people, bloody fantastic!

I am left with the residual swelling and joint pain but that intense soul destroying pain that only fellow gout sufferers will know, has gone. I can now hobble about. I can now feed the mighty herd, I can bring in the logs, I am alive again! Sue and Angus are also sighing a big sigh of relief as the whingeing, grouchy, snappy, depressed, angry, unpleasant lump of sofa bound misery has gone and been replaced by Mr Slightly-Irritatingly-Happy!

I haven't yet been out with the camera, not much point today as it is a cold grey miserable day. So above is a picture from last year of Patou Fifi, one of my favourite girls, mother of Patou Rico who is looking good for next year.

Snow has been forecasted for the next couple of days and the temperature is set to sink below -10C tonight (taking into account the wind-chill factor) but the Mighty Patou herd seem to be coping very well. Qjori, who I think came over from Oz with St Pat of Beckbrow is virtually living in his shed. Being shorn in September he is a little short of fleece compared to the rest.
The main bulk of the herd seem oblivious to the cold, although taking a hint from fellow bloggers, they loved the buckets of warm water that I gave them yesterday.

Thank you for all the gout advice. Having had it before a couple of times I have read most things about gout. On this occasion it was high doses of a gout specific drugs, anti-inflammatories and time. Now that it's gone...............I'm ready for anything!

Wednesday 24 November 2010

A little bit fed up.

Before the main body of this posting here are a couple of random pictures from a few years ago.
Firstly, Lily, our first female cria and my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world when she was a few weeks old in 2006.
Secondly, here are some alpacas lying down in 2007.

I'm fed up. Properly, totally, unequivocally, miserably, fed up.

I'm fed up because I had 7 long days at work last week where I was leaving in the dark and getting home in the dark. I was looking forward to getting stuck into a lot of jobs that needed doing over a nice long four day weekend.
On Friday, I did get stuck into some alpaca jobs, Baycox Bovis was administered, the herd was given the once over, all seemed well. But I could feel a familiar gentle throbbing in the big toe of my right foot. A throbbing that I have had before and it was a throbbing that filled me with dread. I have tablets to take when this happens and I was taking them but the throbbing continued.
At lunchtime on Saturday, after a morning working outside, I decided to rest for the afternoon with my foot elevated. The throbbing was getting worse. I was becoming worried.

I went to bed at around 10.30pm. Before midnight I had arisen, hobbled, sworn, several times, and was back downstairs. The throbbing had changed to super turbo throbbing. Excrutiating, intense, unrelenting, tear-makingly painful throbbing.

I stayed downstairs, wide awake, for the remainder of Saturday night, mainly trying to put my foot somewhere where it didn't hurt, I couldn't find anywhere, it was a long night.

Anyway, to cut a long and boring story short, I am still sitting with my foot elevated. The throbbing has abated considerably but my toe is still red and shiny. For the third time in my life I have a severe case of gout.
Bugger. Double bugger in fact because the days off I was waiting for have been wasted. Jobs remain undone. Once the gout has abated to the extent whereby I can put a shoe on and walk about I will have to go back to work. Triple bugger.

Why am I telling you this? Why not? After all, I am fed up.

Friday 19 November 2010

A week in the dark

Right, finally a day off and I can attend to all things alpaca. I have just worked seven days in a row and most of those days I have been leaving for work in the dark and getting home in the dark. It is not a situation that pleases me. It is not conducive to alpaca farming.
Luckily I have the lovely Mrs S on the case and she has been dealing with things in my abscence. There have been several telephone discussions but Sue has been in charge and I am happy to report that as I take over for a few days all is well.
However, it has been a slightly stressful week with a few medical issues that needed sorting out. The main cause for concern has been our oldest alpaca, Dee and her cria Reeya. They have both been under the weather (and boy we've had some weather over the last week!) but hopefully are now on the mend.
Reeya had quite severe diaorrhea and was very listless and in considerable abdominal pain. Thankfully after a dose of wormer, some Baycox Bovis, a course of anti-biotics and a course of Pro-rumen she seems back to normal. Sue did call out our vet, the lovely Louise, as a precaution, but I think by then we were on top of things. Better to be safe than sorry, these girls are so special to us it is important to get diagnosis and treatment right.

The beautiful, majestic Reeya, earlier this year, before the mud arrived!

Reeya's mother, Dee, is another matter. She is our oldest alpaca and the only Chilean import that we have. She is 13 years old, although I am not sure how accurate the Chilean record keeping is. A slightly suspicious 1st of January birth date doesn't instil confidence.
Dee is also probably the calmest alpaca in the herd and does produce some superb cria. Reeya herself is the pick of this years cria with a super soft, fine, crimpy, bundly, bright fleece. Another super Jack of Spades production.
Anyway, Dee herself seemed a bit under the weather and was very shivery. It has been cold, indeed it has been wet and cold but not that cold so we were a bit concerned. A couple of days in the shed with Reeya and the application of a nice warm coat seems to have done the trick.

Dee starring in one of my favourite alpaca photographs a couple of years ago with her cria, Barney.

Now here's a thing. I tried to put a coat on her early on in the week. She went berserk, absolutely berserk and was not having it. As soon as it touched her back she took off kicking, screeching and spitting. I removed it quick smart and she calmed down.
Sue tried it whilst I was at work and Dee didn't object at all, she probably even helped to do up the buckles! Now what is that all about? Some sort of feminine conspiracy going on here I think!

Interestingly, Louise said that there was an unusually high worm burden in sheep at the moment. I had already decided to treat the whole herd for worms and coccidiosis but it is interesting to hear that, ideal conditions for the little gits I suppose.

Right enough of this, it's time to step into my wellies and get out into the ankle deep mud, lovely. Still it's better than being at work.

Thursday 11 November 2010

They do love me!

I am pleased to report that the photographs that wouldn't come out of my Blackberry did eventually transport themselves late last night into my laptop. Good job too as it is an absolute shocker out there today, no outdoor photography happening here today, no sirree.
The pictures aren't very interesting actually. The first shot is the Mighty Patou herd just after I had been 'mobbed' at breakfast time. The second is of them as they wandered off to graze. Riveting stuff.

I know we shouldn't humanise animals, but as a stupid, soppy animal lover it is sometimes difficult. I know they don't think as we humans do and that their life generally revolves around food and staying away from scary things (umm, not too dissimilar then?). But they did behave differently when we got back from our holiday. I went out to see them when we got back and they ran to me and surrounded me, which, unless I am carrying a bucket of food is not usual.
I nose nuzzled with several of them, some for the first time ever and some of them nibbled my clothes which again is not what they usually do. Even the 'hair-trigger spit monsters' came up close, although the look in their eyes said 'Just don't come any closer sunshine, I can turn the air green in a split second buddy boy'. Sue reported a similar experience when she went out the following morning with the dogs, a 'mobbing'. Marvellous. They knew we had been away and they were most definitely welcoming us home, no doubt in my mind. Anyone who suggests otherwise can look forward to a poke in the eye.

So anyway, here are my babies milling about in the feeding/husbandry paddock before I rounded them up a bit more and got hands on.

And here they are wandering off down the slippery hill back into the main field.
What a glorious day it was yesterday, how different today.

Back to work tomorrow, holiday well and truly over.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Well that was fun.

We arrived home from Barbados on Monday morning, jet lagged and delighted to see that the temperature was in single figures and the rain was horizontal. It was also lovely to see that everyone else in the world had decided to drive around the M25 at the same time as us, obviously to welcome us home. Very thoughtful of them. We had all the time in the world and weren't tired at all!!!!! Home sweet home.

Actually it had not all been plain sailing in Barbados. Two days before we arrived the much loved and very well respected Prime Minister of Barbados passed away. The island was in mourning.

Four days after we arrived the island was hit by Hurricane Tomas (yes folks it was a proper hurricane, with a name and everything). Not being local and not being privvy to the local televison news it was a complete surprise to us.
When we awoke on Saturday morning the island apparently had been picked up, roughly shaken, dunked into a large bucket of muddy water and then tossed haphazardly back into the Caribbean. Not only that but we had intermittent running water and no electricty for the following four days. As we were in a self catering villa that means no air-con, no cooker but worst of all, no fridge and no freezer. Warm rum punch was not on the list of things to try whilst there!

Still, overall we had a splendid time and came back batteries fully recharged and bank account very empty.

Today I have been grappling with the herd to check that they are all in good stead. Actually I missed them so I was keen to get reacquainted with my lovelies!
Everyone seems in fine fettle, all were condition scored, checked for jaw abscesses and generally squeezed and probed for any sign of illness. The cria fleeces are changing and there were a few surprises as some had improved and some had fallen back a little. All are apparently fabulously healthy and I have stopped worrying. I do, a bit, sometimes.
I was going to take some photographs but have had a bit of a nightmare with assorted cameras today. The first camera ran out of electricity. I then fell back to my Blackberry but for some reason the pictures will not come out of the phone into the computer. I have given up for today, it was safer for all concerned!

Thursday 21 October 2010

Hobbling towards a holiday (and world domination)

I have been hobbling about as best as I can getting things sorted out for the holiday. Where are we going? Oh, didn't you know? BARBADOS!!!!!
Sorry but it is one of those place names that always gets a response. I can't tell you how many people have asked to be packed in my suitcase recently, well I suppose I could if I thought about it for a while ..................................... erm .................................... about .................................... well ............................ it has been three, yep, just three.
Not that many actually now that I've counted them. It seemed more. Wish I hadn't mentioned it now, feel a bit silly.

I still have a lot of alpaca stuff to do but I'm waiting until the weekend so that I can fill up all the hay racks and have everything ready to hand over to my parents on Sunday.

Oh yes, I've got rid of the weather thingy in case you hadn't noticed. A bit big, a bit lumpy and a bit unnecessary I thought. I was just playing around and stuck it on. Not a good idea. Anyway it's gone now.

Whilst I was outside today I was counting up the different coloured alpacas so that my Dad can do a quick head count whilst we are away and if necessary identify who is missing (worst case scenario of course). It was quite enlightening, and at the same time slightly disappointing.

The tally reads so: White - 2 (not ours, agistees), black - 6, fawn - 7, and brown - 6. Now considering we are supposed to be a brown specialist, a breeder of brown alpacas, possessor of ribbon winning brown alpacas, six brown alpacas doesn't sound very many, does it? Well it isn't very many. But.

We have a grand master plan. We have a plan that we are following and I am totally convinced that this time next year brown will very much be the largest contingent. In 2012 we will be mainly brown and in 2013 we will be awash with oodles and oodles of beautiful brownness! Ready for the big launch!

Why do I think this? Well we are now the owners of two brown herdsires for starters. Qjori will start working in the Spring but Columbus has already got impressive cria on the ground and we have five of our girls pregnant to him at the moment. Watch this space people for The Mighty Patou is getting browner and browner..................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Van Diemen Qjori of Patou
Cambridge Columbus
I'm sorry if I sound a bit delirious, a bit excitable, but I am.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Taking the sprain before a holiday.

I mentioned two things yesterday that ought to be explained. Firstly, why am I incapacitated at home and not at work? Well, I blame Poppy (she of the hair-trigger spit monster psycho family).

I was carrying out some general husbandry (don't you know) and was injecting the herd with AD&E. I was standing sideways onto a slope with my 'problem' ankle on the downhill side (foolish boy, I know). I was in a small 6' x 6' pen with three or four of the girls. All nice and cosy, all going smoothly. All going smoothly, that is, until Poppy, obviously anticipating that it was her turn to be jabbed next, decided to whirl round like a loon. Her considerable rump met with my considerable rump and as I only have two legs and not four I was the one to end up on the floor. Not before I might add, catching my foot in a small hollow and spraining my ankle on the way down. Ooh it hurt, oooh how I swore, ooooh how I hopped about for a bit, yeeeooowwww it hurt.

Anyway as a result the doc has ordered me to rest it as much as possible. Not hard for me as it bloody well hurts when I walk, so hence the time 'resting' at home.

To my second explanatory point. I hope it clears up quickly because on Sunday, the lovely Mrs S, young Patou warrior Angus and myself are off to Gatwick for an onward flight to Barbados for a couple of weeks. If it doesn't clear up, well I'll just have to rest it in the sunshine, or on the beach, or in the pool, or at the bar. Yes I can hear any sympathy that you may have had draining away as fast as can be imagined.
Anyway it is our annual holiday and there is much work to be done prior to departure. My parents will be moving in and taking the helm here in the land of The Mighty Patou, which obviously involves looking after the alpacas, the dogs, the cats and the chickens. All made slighty more complicated by the introduction into the land of Patou of their crazy but loveable Cocker Spaniel puppies, Toby and Abby. Good luck Mum and Dad, I think you might need it! In my defence all I can say is that it was Dad's airmiles that paid for the tickets so you've kind of brought it on yourself?
Yesterday I managed to stumble outside to feed the massed ranks of the Mighty Patou and grabbed a few snaps of dog/cria action.
Firstly, Josh found Runa sunbathing in a dustbowl.

One quick sniff of the ear and she was 'wide awake!'

The dogs then became the focus of attention for the cria as can be seen now as Ruby-May, Runa and Rico advance, marvellous.

Right, that's enough for today, I feel weary, a lie down is required I feel, as I gear myself up for Barbados time.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

The neglected Fawnies

Regular readers will understand that we only breed coloured alpacas. It was a conscious decision that we made when we started 5 years ago and it is a decision we are happy with. You will also know that we are aiming to breed a high quality herd of brown alpacas. As a result of aiming for brown we also get a few blacks and a few dark fawns, in fact we have never had anything lighter than dark fawn, which amazes me.

This years show team was selected early and with no small element of risk attached. We are putting our cards on the table, the gauntlet is down blah blah blah, wagers will be lost and won, rosettes and maybe ribbons too, we will compete with anyone, but we will always be smiling at the end no matter what. It's the way we are down here, life is for living, not for being grumpy!

Anyway, as a result, the showteam, which consists of a small but perfectly formed mass of brown and black fluffy loveliness, has been well publicised. And rightly so, we are very proud of them. The remaining three 'fawnies' have not had as much press and this blog is aiming to go some way to correcting that error. They may not be in the show team, at the moment, but we love those little fawnies as much as the others.

Rafiki should have been black. Rafiki should have been black and female. Rafiki is neither.
Rafiki was baked inside Bannock for 362 days, the longest gestation we have ever had here (we watched and waited and watched and waited) and he was finally eased out by His Royal Incaness half way through a barbecue at 7.30pm in Patouland. His sire is the inimitable Lilyfield Jack of Spades (if you could imagine a nice fanfare at this point that would be good) and he has inherited his fathers looks and bulk. He weighed 10.6 kilos at birth (another record here) and is a lump and a half now. He is always up to something, always jumping on someone or getting told off by someone. He can't help himself, he is a mischief maker. He is adorable, and a very handsome boy. The second fawn boy is not owned by us, he is owned by a friend, Sue. His mother, Sheba, has been here for a couple of years now and little Rory (or Diego) as he has subsequently been named was the final cria to be born here in Patouland this year. His sire is Wessex Samurai and he is a lovely little fellow with a very dense fleece. Rory is ridden around by Rafiki a lot and he is always right in the thick of things with the other boys. He is pictured below with his 'shadow' Rico, who is the closest to him in age. He is a little munchkin.

Lastly and by no means leastly is our beautiful Rosa. Rosa is the first Patou offspring of our first herdsire Cambridge Columbus (or Clump) as he is known here (Amyrick beat us to the first Clump cria with the gorgeous Erica).
Rosa's mother is Priscilla, one of our foundation girls and we are very pleased with Rosa. With probably the finest fleece of all the cria here she is coming on very nicely and looking quite brown under all that fawny fluff. Time will tell but I reckon Rosa could feature heavily in the future of the Mighty Patou. We have her lined up for a liaison with Qjori next year. She is a little sweetheart.
So there we have the lovely Patou fawnies. Hopefully that has righted an imbalance here.
I may be blogging again tomorrow. I have been incapacitated in an alpaca related accident which means I am at home all week. However, on Sunday, Sue, Angus and myself are off on our annual holiday.
I will reveal all over the next couple of days. Don't nag, I have to drag it out, as I've said I'm off work, incapacitated and need stuff to keep me busy that I can do sitting down. How I wished I could remember how to knit!

Friday 15 October 2010

Me and my minders.

There is still not much news here in Patouland.
The cria are growing well, the females are starting to regain condition as our feeding regime and the fact that the cria are grazing more takes the pressure off a bit. This is the first year that we have fed the herd all year. Before now we have stopped feeding during the summer when the grass is plentiful, but this year we have fed all through the year using an all-in-one alpaca feed from Mole Valley (for the benefit of those northern readers and readers from abroad, Mole Valley is a local agricultural store). As a result we have seen the females with cria at foot maintaining a decent weight through the first months of feeding their cria.

Anyway, with not much to report I have been out with the camera today to photograph Qjori and the chickens, Not together you understand and not by design either. No, I just walked out and photographed what I came across first. Well why not?

So without much further ado a photograph of the Great Brown Superstud of the Future, (Qjori's official title amongst the Patou herd) with his two minders Crawford and Barney Rickenbacker.
They stick together most of the time, but as Qjori is growing and his hormones are starting to kick in, the two black boys, both wethers, get a bit of a shoeing every now and then. It's nothing serious just boys being boys but Qjori is definitely the dominant male of the three. Amazing what a couple of balls does for the confidence! Sorry that was more of a 'further ado' than I envisaged.

After I took that picture I happened upon the chickens and was struck by the similarity in pose as one of them also appeared to have minders.

Here, in the middle, is Dottie, (huge Speckled Sussex, a big chicken) flanked by her tough as you like minders, on the left Lulu (small Norfolk 'Ninja' Grey) and on the left Doodle (even smaller Scicilian 'Stilleto' Buttercup).

Right enough of that nonsense, I'm off.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Tragic Labrador accident!

Right, before you read that headline and start reaching for the tissues, calm down, calm down, calm down dear, it's only me being silly. Josh the mad chocolate Labrador is fine. More on that after the latest up to the minute, hot off the press alpaca news.......

The news is that there is no news. There is nothing going on. Everyone who is supposed to be pregnant, is pregnant. The herd munches grass and hay all day and is pooping, a lot. All alpacas are doing well, absolutely nothing to report, zippo, nada, not a sausage.

So I thought for this blog I would focus on some of the other species living in Patouland.

First though, bearing in mind that this is an alpaca blog I give you a picture. A picture of a smashing little brown fellow who's name escapes me at the moment.......................begins with R.................................. has a long name if I remember correctly.......................................... Oh yes that's it! It's Patou Roger 'The Popham Basher' Resilient, quite simply the neatest looking, grooviest, fabbest little alpaca I have ever seen!

Woohooo go Roger the dodger! Just look at him! Just look at him! (Yes, folks I have recently had a strong cup of coffee and am 'fizzing' a bit at the moment). BUT JUST LOOK AT HIM!!!!!

Anyway back to this tragic Labrador accident. As you may know we have two dogs, Josh, three year old chocolate Labrador and Kira, 16 month old Newfoundland. They are inseparable and play fight all the time, now however, Kira's bulk is starting to take effect. Her considerable size and power is slightly starting to overwhelm Josh who literally gets run over on a daily basis as the following pictures illustrate.

Firstly, Kira closes in for 'the kill'.

Then when close enough she pounces, and Josh is 'run over'.

He tries a sneaky, lower leg retaliatory nip.

But this just invites a trampling on.

There is then usually a bit more general 'roughing up' before Josh is allowed up and the whole thing starts again.

Next time, if there is still no more alpaca news, it may be time for the cats Belle and Sebastian to get a mention!

Monday 27 September 2010

No, he's not here today.

I promise that this blog posting will be totally free of any mention of a certain brown male alpaca. I have been told that I have gone on long and loud enough about 'you know who' that I must give it a rest. I'm not happy about it, I could carry on for weeks, months maybe. However I have been told so I will stop................for a while.

Anyway it is about time I published some up to date pictures of some of our cria, the 2011 show team to be precise. They were shorn almost two months ago and their fleece is growing back nicely. Nicely? Nicely? What has come over me? Nicely? That doesn't sound like me at all! Actually, they are simply the smartest most magnificent looking cria in the whole wide world, in my humble opinion of course.
I am very proud of them. I am excited about them, very excited. Sometimes when I sit, stand or lie watching them I literally start to buzz with excitement. I have to make sure there are no sharp objects nearby as I may well pop.

'So where are they then? Come on let us see how they are getting on, come on!' I hear you all shout as one (sometimes I do hear voices you know).

Well as you asked so nicely, here they are with some pedigree information for those of you who haven't been paying attention over the summer months.

First up is the Mighty Patou Ruby May, daughter of hair-trigger spit monster Bobby, a Mateus daughter. Sired by the main man Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca. She is built like a tank. Ruby is either black or very dark brown we haven't really decided yet. When her fleece grows a little bit longer we will make a decision.

Next is the youngest of the showteam, Patou Rico, son of Patou Fifi who in turn is a Wiracocha's Dream girl. Rico is also sired by the big man Jack. Rico, who was named after a weapon regurgitating penguin, is black, although in this picture his head looks brown. What's that all about? Just been outside and it looks black again?

Next up is the gorgeous Patou Runa, daughter of my most favourite alpaca in the world, Patou Lily, a Shaft's Dream girl. Runa is also a Jack daughter, actually the whole show team have Jack as their father. I believe he is so good, that we used him a lot last year. Runa is pictured munching on an apple, she loves them!

Now into the browns with the Mighty Popham busting Roger Resilient. Roger's mum is multiple rosette winner Patou Poppy an ATA Cambridge Centurion daughter. He's a special boy.

And finally, the scrumptious Patou Reeya, daughter of our oldest female, Dee, who was imported from Chile and we therefore have no idea who her sire was. Not a clue.
Thankfully they are all thriving and growing well. Much to be grateful for this year and we are looking forward to pushing on next year with some more crackers! I love this fantastic world of alpacas!