Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Bobby is still wandering around in a daze. Today she is 333 days pregnant so, for her, she is breaking longevity records.
Sue has been on 'Bobbywatch' for the past four days as the day job has taken me away. However, I now have 6 days off and will be trying not to watch.
Actually those 6 days are going to be pretty busy. On Sunday we are celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary and have invited 90 people for lunch.........like you do. Today we are putting the marquee up (it is bound to rain) collecting garden furniture from all and sundry and generally tidying up the garden. Mmm, that's it then, the cria will be born on Sunday, at lunch time, guaranteed! Actually that would be awesome!
I have been meaning to tell you about a temporary visitor to the herd. Tisbury Dilly arrived with us a couple of weeks ago, she belongs to Liz a good friend who lives 2 miles up the road. Liz has a small herd and has the odd female to sell to cover costs and keep the herd small. Liz has some of the friendliest alpacas and Dilly is no exception. She always runs over when we go into the field and stands right in front of you waiting for attention. Whilst she does this her mouth is moving frantically as if she is trying to speak, she is a lovely girl, and it is nice to have daily cuddles forced upon us!
Dilly above, (yes I know she is completely the wrong colour), actually this is a rare shot as she is normally on the move towards us or as below when Sue was trying to take a picture of Bobby, ever so slightly in the way!
Friday, 23 April 2010
Not watching.......................but still waiting!
Like many alpaca breeders/farmers/growers out there we are waiting for the first birth of the year.
Our resident spit fountain, Bobby, is once again the first one due having produced recent multiple rosette winner Patou Penelope in Spring last year. That was after a 330 day gestation. Previously Bobby has produced our multiple rosette winning Patou Poppy after a 315 day gestation (as you can see Bobby tends to produce something good).
Bobby has now hit the 328 days mark and is showing a lot of signs that she is about to 'unpack'.
She is as wide as a very wide thing, moves very slowly around the paddock and spends a lot of time gazing into the distance as if she's trying to remember where she put something. She lies down a lot and is acting a little bit spaced out. Not only that but she has gone from being the first one at the feeding trough, skipping sideways spitting at will, to being the last one to lumber up the hill. Once at the trough she looks at it as if she doesn't know what it is and wanders around watching everyone else.
Bobby is pregnant to the simply awesome (fanfare required please) Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca. Jack is my favourite stud male in the whole wide world and he is as impressive looking as any stud male of any colour that I have seen, anywhere. Get the picture? He is pretty special. He is also owned by my mate, His Royal Highness the Lord Lieutenant of Inca Timothy Tippietoes.
As a result we are very keen to see what the Jack and Bobby show can produce.
The simply stunning Jack of Spades posing in front of our cottage when he was visiting last year.
Anyway today Sue and I will resume the Bobby watching, my 6.15am check revealed her to be up and grazing with the herd.
To indicate her readiness to unpack, below is a photograph Sue took earlier in the week of Bobby lying in the sun. When she showed it to me I said "I take it she's in mid roll?" Apparently not. Bobby was just lying there in the sun, her stomach so big that all four legs were off the ground.
It's a lovely sunny day today................it would be nice...................... meanwhile, we'll be watching......................and waiting.........................
Monday, 19 April 2010
I eventually decided to take the girls up on Saturday night, they would be dry after a long day in the sun and would be kept out of the overnight frost. It meant that when they arrived in the ring they would be dry.
I had also decided that I would not lead them into the ring. The judge was my good mate His Royal Timness and I thought it would be better if we didn't come face to face in the ring.
Therefore I needed a handler. Someone who knew the animals, someone who knew about alpacas, someone with show ring experience. I also needed someone totally unconnected to the Patou herd and someone who could show them off to the full in the ring.
I chose.........................................my mate Graham.
Graham didn't exactly fit the selection criteria. He had never touched an alpaca before, he looks like a slimmer taller version of me and he doesn't like being told what to do. Oh and he's suffering from a very painful bad back which is worse when he has to stand still. Perfect!
To make matters slightly more challenging we went out on Saturday night and had a skinful. Doing it all with a hangover seemed like the best thing to do.
We checked out of our hotel early on Sunday morning and arrived at the showground just after 7am. The girls were damp but it was sunny so we found some hurdles and got them out into the sun. Nice.
The girls had been checked over by the show organisers (who did a marvellous job by the way), Nick Weber and Lindsey Skinner, ably assisted by Gary Naish sporting a rather curious new hair arrangement. Despite my sneakiest tactics Penny was bumped from the brown intermediate class to the fawn class. She looks light brown sometimes and dark fawn at other times. C'est la vie. However it also meant that my top handler could show both girls.
Thursday, 15 April 2010
Anyway, although I still have tomorrow at the day job I can now start to plan for this weekend's SWAG (South West Alpaca Group) Spring Show at Bristol.
Huge deliberations have taken place all week as to who should represent the mighty Patou in the show and Penny and Millie have once again been volunteered to step into the breech from a potential list of, um.............., yes...................um.....................well ............ it was just the two of them then.
Should be interesting as they are both in the same class and I am reluctant to enter the ring myself this time. Any volunteers to lead one of them into the ring in the intermediate brown female class on Sunday morning will be carefully considered!
The biosecurity issue seems to have been handled very efficiently again but as we are not showing on Saturday we will be tipping up on Sunday morning. I have a lot of fencing to catch up with on Saturday and being the worst fencing operative in the whole wide world I need all the time I can get.
Patou Penelope and Patou Amelie looking resplendent in the sunshine and ready for action!
Looking forward to catching up with friends new and old so see you all on Sunday.
Mrs S will be holding the fort at home as Bobby is now very large, very lethargic (she's even stopped spitting at us at feeding time!) and currently at 320 days which is right in her early birthing window.
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
Lily slowly turned things around, her bloods improved, she improved, she started to put on weight she came back to us and our new vet was very pleased with her progress. She made a full recovery and by the end of May her bloods were back to normal. So much so that after another lengthy discussion Lily was mated to Jack of Spades.
Monday, 5 April 2010
Incidentally our 'foundation girls', Bobby, Priscilla and Bannock were selected using the following criteria; We wanted some alpacas. We could only afford three, they were fluffy and in front of us and could be ours! That was it. There was a little bit of talk about fleece and conformation but I don't think I was listening I just wanted to take them home and look at them.
Anyway, Bobby, was the youngest and the most expensive of the three. She was a Wessex Mateus daughter and we were also buying her mother, Priscilla, she of the chinny chin chin.
She was soooooooo fluffy!
Bobby was pregnant on arrival, who to, I have no idea, I just can't remember. Sadly, she aborted twins at about 6 months. Still that meant we could choose the next sire and as we were looking for some brown in the herd we went for ATA Cambridge Centurion, a black super stud.
Sure enough Centurion and Bobby did their stuff and in June 2007 along came the whirling stress monkey that is Poppy. Poppy was born at 315 days and was very weak. We had 24 hours of round the clock milking and feeding to get her sorted out. Milking Bobby is not something Sue and I would like to repeat! Bobby switched to fully automatic mode and the air was green, every three hours!
It was all worth it though and Poppy turned out to be a little cracker. She went on to pick up rosettes for us at some really big alpaca shows. Here she is pictured with some egg head picking up a first place at the Royal Bath and West Show. A very proud day at Patou! Poppy also went on to win second place rosettes at the SWAG Spring Show and the British Alpaca Futurity.
Pops is now pregnant herself to Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca and we are looking forward to her being a mum in June. Serious potential for a stunning cria there!
We struggled to get Bobby pregnant in 2007, it was either the foot and mouth outbreak or the arrival of Blue tongue that prevented us from having enough 'stud time' and as such Bobby went through the winter empty. We were keen to get started with her in 2008 and as luck would have it all she needed was one mating from Canchones Witness of Inca and she was pregnant.
Subsequently in March last year Bobby gave birth to another feisty hair trigger stress monkey, Penny. Born in a lovely warm Spring Penny grew at a phenomenal weight, doubling her 10kg birth weight in less than a month!
Penny has also been successful in the show ring and is pictured below, with the same idiot as before, picking up a third place at this years Futurity. She was soaking wet I must point out and I reckon she could have done better if she had been in show condition. Well I would say that wouldn't I?
Bobby is now also pregnant to the imperious Jack of Spades and is 310 days down the line today. She is as wide as a house and at her spittiest, frequently giving either Sue or myself a quick sideways blast for no apparent reason at feeding times.
Still, she has been the provider of two lovely girls who will no doubt go on to form the basis of a world beating line of brown alpacas! For that we can forgive her the odd broadside!
Thursday, 1 April 2010
This is three blogs in three nights for me and it's write this or watch a programme called Bob Triangle pants or something on the television with Angus. The blog writing won!
So to the subject of this 'introduction', it is Priscilla, Queen of Patou.
Priscilla was another one of our foundation herd members (don't worry there were only three) and will be ten years old this summer. Another of the foundation members was her daughter Bobby (resident spit fountain).
Priscilla arrived pregnant to Wessex Mateus, who I have to say is one of my favourite white males. I saw him again a couple of weeks ago and he still looks good, great shape to him. Now the more observant amongst you may notice two things in the below head shot of Priscilla. Firstly she has her tag in the wrong ear and secondly she has a white spot about the size of a 50p piece on her chinny chin chin. There are no other white fibres on Priscilla, none apart from her chin. That white spot would go on to have a bearing on Priscilla's cria and Priscilla herself has become a bit of an experiment in motion.
Later that summer the first ever Patou cria was born. Patou Henry a solid dark fawn with no white markings, (eartag number PAT001) arrived in textbook fashion and immediately thrived even though we had absolutely no idea what we were doing or what was going on. He was quickly followed by Lily and we were up and running as a herd.