Sunday 28 February 2010

What a weekend!

I can contain myself no longer so despite battling the mother of all hangovers I am posting my views and news of the 2010 British Alpaca Futurity.

First of all a massive thank you and a huge well done to the organisers who worked very hard to put on a fabulous show weekend. I loved it. They deserve our thanks and our support and I am looking forward to next year already.

Right now to the boasting, I mean now to the reporting.

I arrived on Thursday evening with a soaking wet Penny and a miraculously dry and lovely looking Amelie. Quite how she remained dry is beyond me, the weather travelling up was torrential and Penny was just dripping. It was not a good start.

Friday morning was interesting, I spent nearly three hours standing in a doorway with Penny bouncing around on the end of a halter. It was the only place in the hall with a draught and it was my only chance to get her dry. Sadly due to that I missed all the grey and black judging. I did have a nice view of a wet and windy car park though. At the last possible minute I went back and Penny and I entered the ring. Naturally we were in first and I was a bit bit miserable as she looked in a bit of a state. In fact I just wanted it to be over so I could get the immaculate Millie, who was in the next class. The judge, Jude Anderson, immediately commented on how wet Penny was and my mood deepened. I felt like leaving. I was eyeing up the ropes surrounding the ring. I figured that even with my stumpy legs I could run, clear the ropes and be away. Imagine my surprise when Jude gave Penny third place. Go on, just for a moment try and imagine how jaw droppingly surpised I was. Yes, can you see it? Now just imagine how Penny may have done if she had been dry!
Anyway I started smiling and I don't think that smile has left my face yet.

I was straight back in with Millie. She looked good and I knew she was in with a chance. I then looked to my right and saw a very nice looking Bozedown girl and to my left was the equally impressive looking Cinnamon from Amiryck. This was going to be tough. I started to get very nervous. The judge gave the line up a good inspection and then walked away to confer with other people. What was going on? A few minutes later she was back and Bozedown took the 1st place. Who was going to get second? Millie was that's who! I was very close to kissing everyone within range. Karen and Cinammon picked up third which was good. I made it quite clear beforehand that I wanted revenge but I didn't want to beat them by more than one place.

I was back in the ring a few minutes later for the brown female championship and was delighted when the Bozedown girl got the top prize as it meant we were in with a shout. When we were awarded Reserve Champion I'm afraid I almost lost the plot. I couldn't speak and was fighting back the tears of complete and utter pride. I still get emotional now writing about it. What a wuss!

Anyway in way of appreciation of how well Karen took the crushing defeat I thought I should put a picture of her on the blog doing what she does very well. She is pictured below with one of Moonsbrook's Suris.

Next for the benefit of those of you who didn't go to the show is a picture of the huge building that we were in and the space that was between the pens. It was very well planned and with a larger than usual show ring it meant the alpacas were kept apart all of the time.

Here are the mighty twosome back relaxing in their pen. I really can't explain in words how proud I am of those little munchkins. They were bred here at Patou and considering we only have a herd of 15 alpacas it was a real shot in the arm for the small breeder. The bigs boys are there as an example for us and without them there wouldn't be an alpaca industry but they need to know that we are on their heels and that has to be good for everyone.
No, sorry, that sounded too sensible.

How about this?
Big breeders can you hear that noise? That noise is the distant rumbling thunder of the mighty Patou hunting you down. We are coming for you big boys and we will not stop until we stand side by side! The mighty Patou and others, like the mighty (not quite as mighty but nearly) Amiryck, are coming for you! Yes that's better, that's more like it. I got far too sensible for a moment there, almost like a grown up.

Now just look at that girl Millie together with our first ribbon. Doesn't she look stunning? Shame the fat bloke was in the shot but hey ho!

Friday 26 February 2010

Patou triumphant!

Yes folks we have triumphed at the Futurity but I have failed with the photo upload.
A still very wet Penny was first up this morning in the junior brown female category. As she was so wet and we were surrounded by some of the 'big boys' but I needn't have worried as penny bagged the third place rosette! Fantastic we were up and running.
Next was the turn of Millie who somehow was dry and looking fantastic.
Second place was bagged and I was ecstatic!
Shortly after and Mille and I were back in the ring competing for the champion ribbons. By now we were hungry for more and bugger me if Millie didn't take reserve champion! I couldn't stop smiling and like a big idiot I got quite emotional.
We have punched way above our weight, again. We, the Patou, are indeed MIGHTY!

Thursday 25 February 2010


Well me and two very wet girls have landed at the Futurity. I am posting via my Blackberry which is at the very limit of my technical ability. I am currently at thebar and very hot for some reason, it jas been a long dau, a long wet day! Tomorrow I will try and post a picture! Woohoo get $e!

Wednesday 24 February 2010

We're nearly ready!

Having had a very early morning due to worrying about wet alpacas and a host of other things I set off for work in the dark this morning.
Sue was at home and did a marvellous job of leaving the alpacas outside until 2 minutes before the heavens opened. I have just been down to the shed and Penny, Millie and a few assorted chums are dry, very grumpyhummy, but dry.

With the appalling weather down here (no snow folks just lots of wet rain) they will have to remain there until I can escape from the day job tomorrow and return to load up.
Hopefully we can lead them across the field to the trailer without them getting wet. We can do no more, I can't risk taking the trailer into the field as it is just too soft and slippery.

Once loaded it will be Stoneleigh here we come!

Sunday 21 February 2010

The Futurity awaits!

Well it's only a few days now to the premier alpaca event of the year, the British Alpaca Futurity and I am starting to get a little bit excited. Here at Patou, we are almost ready. I say almost as some things will have to be done at the last minute.
The show team of two was carefully and painstakingly selected out of a list of, er, just let me check my list..... er..two eligible alpacas. Last years 'herd clock reset' and our policy of not entering pregnant alpacas means it is a small but perfectly formed show team. Small, perfectly formed and of course, mighty.

The team will be headed by the 'cute as a button' Patou Amelie, seen here in terrifying, 'just about to attack' mode. She is a show veteran and a double rosette winner from last year.

Accompanying Millie is Patou Penelope, equally scrummy looking but much, much meaner. Just like her sister, Poppy, Penny is a bit of a whirling dervish and is partial to a bit of projectile high speed dribbling. Poppy went to the Futurity last year and beforehand I was worried about her performance in the ring. Would she kill or maim anyone? Actually she performed like a princess and only kicked the judge hard once and reserved her spitting for the ring steward. So although I am concerned about Penny's ringcraft, I am hopeful that she will behave.

The weather in the lead up is a concern as I really don't want to be travelling up with two wet alpacas, I need to keep them dry if I can. I also have to finish halter training and load the trailer. This all seems pretty simple but rather annoyingly I have a pretty full week at the day job.
10 hour shifts and a trip somewhere secret on a massive operation could really bugger things up. Not only that but if it does rain heavily all week it could further hinder me.
The new shed now contains all the alpaca 'stuff'. If the field gets wet and boggy it means I will not be able to get the trailer in and out. If the alpacas are in the shed to keep dry they will have to be walked through the predicted rain to get to the trailer. Now, I agree all this does't sound so hard and in reality it probably isn't but it could be easier and that annoys me.
I am due to finish work at 5pm on Thursday, return home load up and head north on the three hour journey to Stoneleigh. Mmmmmm. I fancy they better keep a close eye on me on Thursday afternoon because if I get a sniff of buggering off early, I'll be gone! You would be surprised at how fast I can move over short distances when the need arises.

I may not be able to blog again before I go so good luck to all attending, let's hope it's a good one and if you are a reader of this drivel and are going to Stoneleigh please come and say hello!

Tuesday 16 February 2010

All a bit quiet?

I have been at the day job for the past 4 days and now have a couple of days at home getting on with things.
One thing I have noticed is that there has been a distinct lack of comments about the Monty Don Alpaca programme that aired last week?

I'll keep my comments about it very brief so as not to offend anyone. I was extremely underwhelmed by the whole thing, and I mean the whole thing. Oh wait, no, the alpacas looked nice.

Right, moving on.

Tomorrow halter training will resume and I am sure young Penny will perform marvellously in the field, I'll whisper sweet nothings at her through the spitmist before we start and everything will be tickety-boo!

Our oldest girl, Dee, who is 13 yrs old is shut up in the shed this evening with her daughter the gorgeous Fifi. Dee has 'off moments' every few months or so and is going through one at the moment. She is a Chilean import and although just about the calmest alpaca here does worry us from time to time. I have given her a wormer, Vecoxan and a dose of multivitamins which normally sorts her out. I'll be checking on her tomorrow although with the coziness of the new shed I may have to prise her out. Almost felt like bedding down there myself!

Kira is steadily becoming more house trained, we have actually had two consecutive days without an 'error'. She is simply gorgeous as you can see from the picture below as she is embraced by the boy wonder.

Apparently it's supposed to be black and white, artistic or somethink.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Never enough time!

Ever feel there just isn't enough time in the day? What with day jobs, chores, animals, son, other stuff I seem to get to the end of the day always thinking I could have done with a bit more time to do this or that.

Anyway today has been no different. Up early as usual it was the school run followed by alpaca injections then chores, shopping, blah, blah, blah. The good thing about today and tomorrow though? NO DAY JOB!

Earlier a good chum of mine came round to catch up and have a cuppa. Whilst he was here we fed the alpacas and took some photographs. Graham was the man who designed the original Patou Alpacas website and got us up and running. The site has changed beyond recognition since then but even today he couldn't help having a little fiddle and changed a few things whilst I wasn't looking! Here is the big fellow looking lovingly at the alpacas, or is he looking at me!?

Here is the even bigger fellow looking lovingly at the, um, camera? As you can see it is bitterly cold here today with a penetrating easterly wind, definitely a hats and gloves day. Yes I have no gloves on and yes my hands were cold!

Those of you interested in the progress of Kira, our 8 month old Newfie puppy may be pleased to know that she is settling in very well. The indoor dumping has abated and no damage has been caused for literally hours. She is very much loved here and her and Josh are inseperable.

Halter dragging is continuing, slowly, I don't know if Penny is ever really going to get it, she is so spitty! It will be interesting at the Futurity with her.

Betty, the only one left of our original chickens clucked her last this week leaving Lulu on her own so a mad dash yesterday resulted in the purchase of Cindy (a Bluebelle) and Snowflake (a light Sussex) to keep her company. They are all in the Eglu for two days now and seem to spend most of the time shouting at each other or giving each other a good kicking. I will let them out to roam freely tomorrow. Betty was nearly 5 years old which sounds like a pretty good age for a chicken to me so we are saying she died of old age and it had nothing to do with the 'Kira incident' a couple of weeks ago.

Must go, need to walk the dogs with the boy wonder.
Now if that's not a 'blog for bloggings sake' I don't know what is.

Sunday 7 February 2010

The Ultimate Professional

I was invited to a hog roast yesterday. Actually I was invited to a gathering which involved a hog roast. The gathering was at Inca Headquarters in deepest darkest Dorset. The gathering was for those of us who dare to breed black alpacas.
Now regular readers will know that the mighty Patou is breeding mainly for brown but we do own some black alpacas. Indeed Lily, my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world, is black. She is not only black but an award winning black alpaca. We have black alpacas people, we have good black stock. Not a lot, but we have a black 'line' of alpacas. Anyway that qualified us for an invite.

Unfortunately Angus had a swimming lesson at 10.30am. The gathering began at 10.30am. The venue for the swimming lesson was about an hours drive from Inca HQ. We were going to struggle to get there on time. Actually, we were an hour and three quarters late. Swimming started late, finished late, the swimming instructor seemed to be talking in slow motion, every slow moving vehicle in the country was on our route. Destiny was against us. We were shamefully late.
We arrived towards the end of a fascinating talk by Kerry Bettinson from Toft Alpacas. She is a fibre processor and turns alpaca fibre into the most beautiful garments. I am sorry I missed most of her talk. Everyone I spoke to said it was fascinating.

I must make mention of 'the pig'. The hog that lost it's life to be roasted on a spit at Inca HQ must have been a marvellous piggly wiggly. In the words of my son Angus it was 'The best pork I have ever tasted!'. He is only 7 but is a huge meat eater, he knows what he's talking about. It was seriously good.

After lunch there followed a demonstration of fleece sorting and skirting together by Kerry and Timbo. Very interesting, Tim talked about, amongst other things, his vast experience with alpacas and how different frame types were likely to produce certain fleece types. Fascinating stuff.
There was more talk and more imparting of wisdom to come but Angus, bless him, was bored rigid and I had received news that Mrs S had arrived home. Poor Sue was working all weekend and that also involved being on call from Friday night until Monday morning. We had to leave. Tim was in full flow so we kind of sneakily snuck out. There was also some rugby to watch but we won't talk about that now.

I didn't take any photographs but Karen from Amiryck Alpacas did and they can be viewed on her very good blog at Proof that Angus and I were there can be seen in the final picture.

But anyway the title of this blog is 'The Ultimate Professional' and it is a title that certainly doesn't belong to me. Not yet anyway. No, the title refers to my good mate Tim Hey. He organised this gathering and Tim and Tracey went to a lot of trouble to make it work, which it did. The barn looked fantastic (well done Trevor, he told me it was all his own work) and the whole event had a very professional atmosphere to it.

I would like to thank Tim for his hard work. For Tim is the ultimate professional.
If there is a more professional and hard working alpaca breeder in Europe I'd like to meet them. I doubt very much if there is one.
I'm very proud to have him as a good friend.

Monday 1 February 2010

The sun shines!

The sun has been shining for three days down here in Patouland and we have been busy.
Today marked the start of halter training and Patou Penny and Patou Minnie were the chosen ones. First of all it was round up time and that is best done when breakfast is served.

Our whole alpaca operation has moved from the top of the hill by the house to the bottom of the hill where we have located the new shelter. To get the munchkins used to going in there we are feeding them in there. Their stomachs now drag them inside, resistance is futile.

Once inside it is heads down and the munching begins. We didn't shut them all in as it would be a bit cramped but most of the girls ate in. After grub was over it was halter time. Here little Minnie the Minstrel is getting her first go with Sue whilst I held on to Penny and the camera.

Penny, may I remind you, is from the 'hair-trigger grumpy' family but actually did very well! She resisted initially but was soon walking, somewhat stiff legged admittedly, behind me on the long lead rein. Any time I went near her she went berserk but that is to be expected bearing in mind her ancestry!

Whilst we were halter training the rest of the herd watched and Poppy looked marvellous in the morning sun as you can see below. Poppy was a big rosette winner for us with a first at the Bath and West and seconds at last years Futurity and last years BAS Spring Show. Now pregnant to Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca she has been retired from the show circuit. Can't wait to see what that combination will produce.

Millie, who will be shown this year, was looking rather gorgeous too, although she refused to put her ears on display until I had put the camera down, typical of her. She will be mated later on in the year but before that will hopefully add to the two rosettes she won for us last year.

Once halter training was over for the day they were all back in the shed to finish off the remnants of breakfast.
Coffee and blog time for us.................poo sucking beckons though!