Sunday, 31 January 2010

Another one gone!

Yes another week has flown by with me spending most of my daylight hours at the day job, intensely irritating!
I now have four days off and yesterday Sue and I were flat out all day.

During the week I picked up the big, shiny, brand spanking new, Patou alpacas transportion device (alright it's a trailer) anyway it was, as I said, big and shiny and being a man I had to look at it from every direction with a silly grin on my face.

I have taken photographs of the alpacas also admiring it in front of the new shed, which they are now visiting frequently. However, I took the photographs on my small, shiny, brand spanking new, Patou alpacas communication device (Blackberry mobile phone). I have just sent the photographs to the laptop and they came out a bit rubbishy in fact not pictures at all just lots of numbers and symbols which is obviously not right. I will be working on the small, shiny object later to rectify this problem.

It has been a big week of discussion this week between Sue and I. We have been talking long and hard about the Futurity. Will we go, who will go? If we do go will we take any alpacas with us etc etc.
It is not a decision we made lightly or easily but we have decided that I will be going and I will be taking Patou Amelie and Patou Penny with me.
Sue and Angus will stay behind to protect the remainder of the Patou family and property from the 'Newfie factor', or Kira as she is known.

As I said it was not an easy decision to make, we looked at all the factors and having previously said we would not be showing at all this year have changed our minds. We will be taking all the precautions that we can and I am looking forward to it.

Today Sue and I will be flat out again, Penny needs halter training so that will start today. Penny is from our 'hair trigger grumpy' line here at Patou. Her mother is the resident spit fountain, Bobby and she is sister to the whirling thing that is Poppy. Halter training should be interesting to say the least.

I have also been promising myself that I would spend a couple of hours with the poo sucker thing out in the field. I am obviously very excited about this and am looking forward to it very much.

The latest news on Van Diemen Qjori of Patou, the fabulous brown male we are importing from Australia, is that he has passed screening (I knew he would) and is now in quarantine in New Zealand. He will be with us hopefully in July and I can't wait to see him here.

Right must go, the sun is shining and I know for a fact that there are some sausages in the fridge with my name on them! Well you can't go to work on an empty stomach can you?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Where did that week go?

It has been bedlam here in the land of the Patou this week. I just don't know where the week has gone. It was last Sunday and now bing bang bong it's Sunday again.

The week started as reported in my last posting with the arrival of Kira, the large, hairy, slobbery Newfie pup. She basically turned the world upside down here and everything has had to change.


Her first day here and she caught Betty, our oldest chicken (4 and a half if your interested). I wasn't here but Sue reports that she caught her by her head and stood there with Betty's parsons nose and feet sticking out of her mouth. Not very dignified for poor old Betty. Anyway Sue ran through every command she could think of, drop, leave, down, NO etc until Betty was dropped. Angus was in hysterics (not the laughy ones) and there was grave concern for Betty as she lay there in a pile of feathers.
Sue put Kira in the house and returned expecting to have to finish off a mortally wounded Betty. But no, Betty was up dusting herself down and muttering as only a chicken can do when it's been peering at a set of tonsils whilst in a dog breath wind tunnel. She was soon tucking into some nice sweetcorn, seemingly uninjured. Tough old bird is Betty. As a result the chickens are now roosting high up in a tree every night and refuse to come down.


The kittens, Belle and Sebastian, disappeared for two days returning briefly to snatch some food, before disappearing again. It has since been discovered that they were sleeping in the shed. Slowly over the week they have become more and more used to Kira and she has stopped running at them to say hello, in the house anyway. They have touched noses now and the kittens have returned to the inside of the house. Outside, however, it is a different matter, they must be chased. I know she just wants to say hello but they don't take any chances. I don't suppose I would either. A forty foot high bear running at me? No I think I might just take cover to be on the safe side.


The alpacas are very interested in Kira apart from Judy who once again I really wish would just go away. Judy screeches whenever Kira comes into view and gets the whole herd worried. Kira is showing very little interest in the alpacas but Judy is simply not having any of it. I was feeding the herd a couple of days ago with the dogs nearby minding their own business when Judy decided she would charge them. Josh, became the target and damn near got trampled. I then intervened and chased Judy off with the customary volley of abuse going both ways.
Judy is not my favourite alpaca, make me an offer someone, I'm pretty damn sure I will accept it.


Josh has welcomed Kira with open paws and they have become firm friends. He has however also suffered. Kira has lived outside for most of her life and is not house trained (no we did not know this beforehand). She has never been allowed the run of a house and has been shut in a cage when inside at night. We thought we would try to assimilate her without the use of a cage. The first, second and third nights Kira howled. Being a Newfie it is a long deep howl reminiscent of a mooing cow. Josh who has never been a howler decided to accompany her. We lay in bed immediately above the kitchen, ears bleeding, listening to Kira singing the hymn with Josh performing the descant. Took me right back to my choirboy days. Sleep? No.

Kira is also destructive. It would be foolhardy of me to attempt to write down the full list of 'things that have been Kira'd' in the short week that she has been here. Briefly, she has scratched and chewed the kitchen door, door frame and wall. She has emptied the bin several times. She has chewed lego, wellies, laptops and place mats. She has poohed and wee'd as if in training for the indoor defecation Olympics and has turned her water bowl over seemingly on the hour, every hour. In short we have never seen anything like it. She is the most gorgeous, beguiling and gentle creature but left unsupervised she turns into some sort of one dog destruction unit on a mission.

Take yesterday for instance. I returned to complete carnage after taking Angus swimming. I stood in the kitchen doorway thinking, mop? hoover? broom? dustpan? cloth? I literally did not know how to start the clean up operation.

After I had finished I installed a large dog cage in the kitchen. Kira spent the night in it last night and we didn't hear a peep. Sue and I, for the first time this week, slept like logs.

Monday, 18 January 2010

There's a bear in the house!

I must open this edition of the blog by announcing that the time of the anticipated arrival of our new addition has come and gone. Yesterday we went to visit an eight month old Newfoundland pup called Kira (pronounced Keira, as in Knightley.....oooooh errrrrr!). We ended up leaving minus a huge amount of dosh but with her in the boot of the Discovery. Well, she started off in the boot, with Josh, but ended up on the back seat with Angus..........mmmmm interesting start.

As you can see from the below photograph she is irresistibly gorgeous and her fleece, I mean fur, is soft and as black as coal.

She gets on well with Josh and I took the camera out this afternoon into the alpaca field.
That is where the first startling revelation took place. You see Kira looks like a big fluffy bear but we have hands on experience with her and know that she is mostly fluff at the moment, sporting a particularly sleek frame under all that black stuff.
As a result she has some pace to her.
She can shift.
Josh, being a rather streamlined Lab can also shift and has frequently been referred to here as the chocolate missile. So I was surprised to see that Kira was catching up with him! I don't think he was going full pelt because he really, really, is a missile when he opens the taps but I think he was surprised by Kira's turn of speed.
As you can you see from the below picture Kira is not far behind the 'missile'. But it was not Kira's speed that was the revelation. No.
No, it was something far more sinister. Something we have not seen for some time here, something that is lower than a snakes undercarriage and is quite frankly frowned upon at Patou HQ.
Photographic evidence proves it. The below picture shows Josh toying with the new arrival, easing ahead with his superior speed and sleek leg extension. He's just not bothered. He's probably chuckling away to himself, thinking of what's for supper maybe.

But the next shot shows a very different story.
Yes, I am almost ashamed to admit this but one of the mighty Patou, Kira, as you can quite clearly see in the photograph below is, ................... is ..............a CORNER CUTTER!!!

Following such monumental cheating there could be only one end result. Poor old Joshie was completely oblivious to the low down, sneaky behaviour that was going on behind him.

When he realised that the inevitable was he starts to react but it is simply too late.
As you an see from the following picture, my boy Joshua Washington (his full name) gets bitten on the arse!!!!!!!!!!

There then followed a 'discussion' between Josh and Kira whereby Kira may have realised that she might have made a mistake. We shall see. Kira is only eight months old and is about half grown, Josh may have to be careful!!
Anyway as this is an alpaca blog I must report that apart from the screeching from Judy every time she sees Kira things are running smoothly. Kira is not really interested in them and they are wary of her as she's new.

Here we have (left to right) Lily (my favourite alpaca in the whole etc etc), Minstrel, the gorgeous Fifi, Poppy, Penny, Bobby, Samson and the equally gorgeous Millie.
Big husbandry day tomorrow so more alpaca stuff to come.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

A new shed and someone is 7!

Two things to report today, actually no! Three things! Ooh, almost forgot the third.

Anyway first up is the arrival of the new multi-purpose alpaca shed. It was supposed to be here at the end of December but due to some weather difficulties it arrived today. What a beauty it is too! It is a large 24' x 12' 'mobile' shelter with, as you can see, gates and stuff.
It will be used as a general shelter, sickbay, storage unit, alpaca toilet (obviously) and all weather feeding centre. I am rather pleased with it. We can't have a barn or anything quite so grand due to restrictions on the land and in the bank account so the new shed will do the job.

Two gents arrived from (who I would thoroughly recommend) and constructed it in the field in quick smart time, well done guys, good job!
I couldn't take a photograph of it completed as they were still working away as it got dark and I had two small boys to fill up with hot chocolate. They had snowballed themselves (and me, and Josh) to a freezing cold footed standstill.

The second item of news this week is the seventh birthday of Angus the mighty son of Sue and I. His birthday was on Monday of this week and he is pictured below with this years cake masterpiece, a volcano, magnificently baked by the lovely Mrs S.

We had a lovely supper together and we will have a birthday party in the summer for him as he wants a 'cycling party', whatever that is! Planning is underway.
The third piece of news is probably a bit pre-emptive and I will probably be rebuked for mentioning it now.
On Sunday we are going to meet a 6 month old Newfoundland puppy. She is called Kira and is black and beautiful. As regular readers may remember we lost our old lab, Bryn, at the end of last year and we have been toying with the idea of getting another dog to keep Josh company. An oppportunity has come up to take on Kira and we can't wait to meet her. Now before any of you say anything I know that Newfies are enormous, slobber everywhere and eat massive amounts of food. I know, we know, we have researched it carefully and thoroughly. We know what we are letting ourselves in for. When I informed Angus that Newfies were officially the strongest dogs in the world, positively mighty actually, it was a done deal, decision made.
All being well she will be coming here to make her home in Patouland next week.
Breaking News!
I have been looking after Angus (7) and his best friend George (6) this afternoon and whilst munching on sausages, chips and beans they have come up with a masterplan for making a serious amount of money. Apparently they are going to draw a picture of a chocolate pudding and sell it on ebay. They tell me that lots of people are going to want to buy it and that it will sell for two hundred million pounds. Job done, we're all rich.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

More snow at Patou

We awoke to a fresh covering of snow this morning. I have been leaving for work in the dark and returning in the dark so haven't seen the alpacas for a few days, Sue has been on alpaca duties.
Today and tomorrow though I am off! I have a list of things to do as long as my arm and will be venturing out in the Discovery today.

The first job on the list, after the animals have been sorted out, is to go to the tip which is about 14 miles away in Shaftesbury. We have had our bins emptied once in the last month and we are a little bit awash with rubbish. Perhaps we'll get a rebate on our council tax? Perhaps I'll grow another head. Actually council tax really winds me up so cue a small rant. We have no street lights, no road clearing, no grit bins, no nothing all we get are our bins emptied occasionally! The most expensive bin collection in country? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! There are more of you out there with similar claims I'm sure.

Anyway I will be off with a bootfull of rubbish, Angus may well be with me, his school is closed today and Sue is supposed to be working but I don't think she will get far today.

That probably means that there will be a certain amount of sledging and snowballing later.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Short blog.....very short

The day job is interfering big style at the moment which is really, really annoying!
Sue is doing a great job of feeding, watering and checking the alpacas. They have enough food and water to keep them going.
Here is Bannock one of our older girls getting stuck into some fresh hay.

When I was off there was igloo building.

And sledging!
Now back to work, no excuse when you drive a Land Rover!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Snow, was that it?

Day two of the snow down here in Wiltshire and two things have struck me. Firstly is the fact that we have had about 6 inches of snow and that was it. Not a lot in short. Enough to make all the alpacas head for the shed and all the humans to head off up the hill with the sledge and the tea tray. It is still here today but the sun is out and there is a lot of ice about.

The second thing about it is that it all looks pretty and it's a lot better than rain. Rain means mud and mud here means lots of mud outside and inside. Anyway I was out this morning doing the chores and took a few snaps of life here in Patouland in the snow.

First of all Angus had to clear a path down from the house with his tractor. I know I seem to have preceded him but come on he is only 6 years old! Anyway he did a sterling job under the watchful eye of Columbus.

Then he chased a few of the girls out of the shed into the field where I had prepared lots of lovely hay for them. First down the 'shute' were Bannock and Dee, two of our older herd members, and always knocking around together.

As the girls went past Clump adopted his normal position on his little hump so that he could keep an eye on proceedings. He does like to know what his girls are up to.

The next one down was Fifi, now that has to be a contender for next years Christmas card?

Thereafter followed the rest of the herd who realised there was fresh hay about. With the hay, we have noticed comes the 'thirst'. They get through a lot of water whilst they are on the hay so fresh buckets were filled and refilled. They simply refuse to cross the snowy field to get to the trough. Spoilt? Our alpacas, how dare you!
Anyway must go looks like Mrs S wants to take me to the pub for lunch!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Well the snow has finally arrived here in South West Wiltshire.
I feel a sense of solidarity now with our alpaca owning brethren in Norway, Scotland, oop North and anywhere in the world where snow is laying on the ground and alpacas dare to tread.

We awoke to a white outside this morning, only about 4 inches but it was enough to have caused all the alpacas to retreat to the shelter. As I went out this morning they all trooped out looking for breakfast 'snow free'.

The picture from the front doorstep this morning. It didn't take me long to whack the snow chains on the faithful Discovery and I was off to Angus's school, picking up neighbour's children on the way. Having listened to the local radio it appeared that his school was just about the only one open!

The roads were white but the Land Rover cut a swathe through the snow like an Icebreaker in the frozen Arctic Ocean. We arrived at Angus's school and to be honest other than those that lived in the village there weren't a huge amount of children there. By this time the snow was coming down very heavily. After a brief discussion between the head teacher and the head of the board of Governors the decision was made to close the school. Off we went again plunging into the white abyss, remaking tracks that had already been covered by the heavy snow.

Once home it was alpaca time. A double dose of breakfast (for the alpacas, not me) once the troughs had been emptied. Water buckets were filled and placed by the shelter as last time we had snow they refused to walk across the field to the water trough. How lazy is that?

Above is Poppy at her bucket, she is one of two, the other being her mother Bobby, who find it far too embarrassing to eat at the communal troughs. Bobby actually gets so worked up about feeding time she frequently spits at me when I'm filling her bucket, usually just an 'air shot' but sometimes not. I may swear at her when that happens.

The rest of the herd tuck into their breakfast of Oats, Alfalfa and peas. Luckily we have plenty of hay here at the moment so the herd will no doubt lie around in the shelter munching away. We are predicted a big freeze tonight. The weather sites say -8C but we are usually about 4 or 5 degrees lower than the forecast so tomorrow will be treacherous.
Sue is on a day off today but I am due to start work at 3pm. I am supposed to be going to Salisbury (some 12 miles away) to get my kit so that I can go to Warminster (20 miles further) to assess a student until 11pm. At the moment if it continues snowing I will struggle to get to a main road even with the snow chains. We don't get snow ploughs or gritters around here so we will have to see. I'm off tomorrow anyway so that won't be a problem.
In the meantime it will be sledging, snowball fighting and snowman building!!!!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Winter is coming!

Right, it looks as if we are about to join the party as far as snow and coldness is concerned.

Last night it was down to -11.5C and we have heavy snow forecasted for tonight, all night! That is forecasted both by the BBC and the Met Office so it's quite likely to happen.

I have been badly let down by the people who were going to supply our new field shelter so I am not impressed. I am making new arrangements with someone else now, hopefully more reliable!
To be honest the alpacas don't seem to be too bothered with the freezing temperatures and last year when we had all that snow they just squashed into our small shelter. We shall see!

I am off to work this afternoon and have got the chains in the back of the Discovery, no way I'm being snowed out! Snowed in I can handle but not out, no way!

Anyway, just a short blog today got to walk Joshiepants before departure.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Happy New Year!

I know it's a day late but we partied long and hard here at Patou HQ and I wasn't really fit for anything yesterday.

We had invited some good friends round for a 'Tapas night'. My bizarre idea, the day before. I suggested 6 courses but Sue demanded 10 courses so the challenge was on. She then left for work on the morning of New Years Eve.

At one point during the day it appeared that there had been a small explosion in the kitchen but the menu was written, the Champers was in the fridge and I had opened a bottle of sherry.
Well, being a Spanish menu there was sherry involved in a few of the dishes and then in a freak accident some fell into a glass near me, by mistake.
The evening kicked off officially at 8pm and after 7 courses we were beaten.

It all gets a bit hazy from thereon in. The evening eventually finished due to exhaustion at 4.00am. The kitchen by that time had been turned into a disco (remember those?) and the village resounded to the sounds of the Bee Gees, Earth Wind and Fire and some other old stuff. Ending with a rousing sing-a-long to Frank Sinatra, I think.

We did take some photographs at around midnight but I am not allowed to publish them.
Not that they are rude or anything it's just that in some of them there are people in our living room drinking my champagne and I have absolutely no idea who they are!
They weren't here at the beginning of the evening and they weren't here at the end.

It was that sort of night.

Anyway now fully recovered life is returning to normal, although we are out tonight and we are having a sleepover so it may get a bit tasty again! Can't help it, refuse to grow up, tis the season to party afterall!

Sue was out early this morning taking Joshie (mad lab) for a trundle round the alpaca field so that ice could be broken and alpacas could be counted. We had a very hard frost here last night, nothing like Scotland, oop North or Norway (proper winters there) but a good inch of ice on the water troughs.

Sue took the camera with her and snapped a few frosty alpacas as they lazed about in the warming sunshine.

Here are (from left to right) Amelie, Lily, Fifi with Penny, Poppy and Priscilla in the background. It just shows you how well insulated they are as the frost stays on them until it is burned off by the sun. They don't seem to mind the cold at all.

Anyway, may I say on behalf of all of us here at Patou a very Happy New Year, it's going to be a belter, I just know it!