Wednesday, 30 June 2010

And then there were three...

Forgive me readers for I have not blogged for almost a week.
I feel that my blog neglect must be punished so I have been outside and larraped myself repeatedly with a rather whippy stick for several minutes. I feel much better now.
Although I am not sure what the neighbours must think as it hurt like hell and I screamed all the way through like a very unhappy spoilt child, or an England footballer maybe?
The day job must take the largest proportion of blame and has interfered as usual. Not only that but we have been very busy one way or another down here in Patouland.

Meanwhile good news from our friend Liz who has announced the arrival of Columbus's third cria of the year. Little Flora was born last week and makes it three brown girls in a row from The Clumpmeister. They all have his 'look' about them and he is passing on his colour well. We are very pleased with his performance. I nipped over and took a photo of her with her mother Alice, a Mateus girl.

We had the lovely Louise, our vet, out yesterday. We had an insurance health check to do for Polly, the whole herd are now insured under a 'Herd Insurance' option, with Armitage and Polly was the only one we hadn't had checked. Whilst she was here we also wanted Louise to check out a few other ailments. Rosa (Clump daughter number 2) who was a little premature has been limping since birth. Initially it seemed she was limping on all four legs, she was walking very uncomfortably. We gave a her a course of antibiotics to cover any infection and some pain relief and gradually she has recovered to a minor limp on one leg. We couldn't find anything obviously wrong and neither could Louise, general verdict is that it could have been an infection, it could have been loose ligaments, who knows? She seems to be on the mend and is otherwise robust and healthy.
I won't bore you with other details of Louise's visit, suffice to say that the herd is in fine fettle and looking tremendous. All we need now is some nice grass feeding rain!
Short blog this morning as the day job is shouting for me to attend! I am mentally shouting 'No' back but I feel sure that I will be up the apples and pears for a quick shower shortly before trudging my way in. It's rubbish and it's not fair, I feel a tantrum brewing.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The last Patou cria of the year!

Today our lovely medium fawn girl, Fifi, produced the eagerly awaited seventh, and final, Patou cria of the year. (We still have one to come from Sheba who is owned by a friend and up for sale.)

Sue and I were both at work today but Sue had a hunch when she left home that Fifi was up to something.
As a result I was ordered (in a very 'not ordering' sort of way only a beloved wife can get away with) to bunk off work for an hour mid morning to check on her.

I arrived home at 11.30 and Fifi was there next to a very dark little head wobbling about on the end of a dark little neck!

A quick investigation and a flurry of iodine spray revealed a lovely dark chocolate brown boy. Our smallest cria weighing in at 6.70kg. Small, but perfectly formed after having been baked for 346 days. He was soon up and suckling his way along Fifi until he found what he was looking for and I was back off to work wishing the hours away until I could return.

He has yet to be named, the naming committee are out at the local swimming pool at the moment, but I have been out with the hounds and the trusty Canon to get a few photographs.
He is another Lillyfield Jack of Spades cria and boy that big fellah has done well for us this year! Fifi is a Wiracocha's Dream girl and daughter of our oldest girl, Dee.

The little 'un was soon greeted by the big 'un, Rafiki, who was very eager to coax the little chap into some running around.
When he wouldn't join in Rafiki decided to do some modelling work and posed beautifully for me. What a handsome chap.

So there we have it, the Magnificent Seven ride again, this time in the wonderworld that is Patouland!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Elegance revealed!

Saturday morning and Susie Parish and Henry her able assistant arrived in Patouland to defluff the mighty herd. We had never met Susie before but were impressed by her set up and her work. I could hardly contain my excitement as I was keen to see what everyone looked like especially last years cria who would be revealed for the first time.

I love seeing the herd newly shorn, they just look so elegant and beautiful. The short fleece makes them look velvet covered, wonderful.
Susie shears on the back of a trailer which seemed very good for the back and the alpacas did seem calmer. It might be because most of them are still a bit spaced out from giving birth though. Even the 'hair trigger spit fountains' behaved themselves.

Pictured above is Columbus being de-frocked and here he is below, cool and,..... well, ...... cool and, a lot smaller than he was!

Next photo shows Fifi, the last of the mighty Patou due to give birth. She has a lovely round tummy and at 336 days still has a way to go I reckon.

Penny was one I was looking forward to seeing. She was shorn as a cria last year so I was keen to see what was under the huge amount of fleece she was carrying. I have to say she looks lovely.

The next photo shows the equally, if not more lovely, Amelie, a beautiful colour. Penny and Millie are now spitting off to the magnificent Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca. Looking forward to next year already!

Finally, probably the most eagerly awaited and surprising 'unveiling' of them all. Little Minstrel, daughter of Priscilla (she of the white chinny chin chin) and big Jack, has looked brown all year although we could see that next to the skin she was black. Well, she certainly is black (apart from her chinny chin chin of course!)

With shearing out of the way, mating and remating is now underway!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Frollicking cria, a cure for all!

Sorry I haven't blogged for a while, I have been a real grumpy git over the past few days after some blogging shenanigans. Roaming around grunting, it hasn't been pleasant.

Anyway, today I am all better after a wonderful display last night from the Patou Formation Racing around randomly Team.

We have been weighing Rosa and Roger, our two premmie cria daily to make sure their rate of gaining weight has increased. They are now both putting on over 200g a day so we are much happier now. At the weigh in last night the rest of the cria decided to put on a display for us. It was wonderful and I managed a few snaps. Sorry about the lack of focus in some shots but they were moving at speed. Perhaps I should buy a trusty Nikon?

Shall we just stand here and watch? Lets have some fun!

Ruby, airborne!

Rafiki in full racing greyhound mode.

Ruby, Reeay and Runa pick up the pace.

Rafiki joins the girls as the pace hots up.

Finally, having been weighed little Roger the dodger (front right) joins in the fun. I just couldn't get a shot with all six in, try as I might.
So enough of all that, today, we are finally shearing! A little late due to bad weather but we are game on for 10 am today. I can't wait, I love my girls when they are fleeceless, so graceful, so fragile looking, just lovely, lovely, lovely!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

A Challenge accepted.

Sue and I were sitting watching some drivel on the television late last evening when I received a series of bizarre e-mails on my Blackberry. The e-mails in question had been sent by a certain Gary Sanders from Popham Alpacas down in deepest grockle hunting Cornwall.

One can only assume that a fair amount of moonshine had been consumed down in Cornwall, perhaps a celebration of something medieval, a burning at the stake maybe? Anyway suffice it to say that these e-mails were all amusing in varying degrees.

The gist of them was that Gary was issuing a challenge directly to the core of the Mighty Patou herd. Not only that but he was rude, insulting and somewhat arrogant. Either that, or as I mentioned earlier, he was simply drunk.

I urge you all to read the challenge that was thrown down, it really is rather funny. is the link that will take you down to Popham where they have a lovely little website and cute as a button blog going on.

Obviously being the head of the Mighty Patou Tribe I conferred with the leaders of the herd prior to making my decision. It was a short discussion involving the matriachs of the herd and three in particular, Priscilla, her daughter Bobby and Bobby's daughter, Poppy. The three older hair-trigger spit merchants. It didn't take long before anger rose within them and the spit flew. They claimed that they had never been so insulted and assured me that they were a powerful family and without troubling the rest of the herd, they could cover the challenge from within the family.

A word of warning to poor old Gary here, Priscilla and her family are a bit like the herd mafia. They are the enforcers here, they don't take any shit from anyone. They are the mighty core within the mighty herd. They are the lifeblood of the herd, they are very, very powerful. They scare me a little bit.

So back to this challenge, Gary is suggesting that he has brown cria to rival those within the mighty Patou herd. He says that at the SWAG show next year we should come together, head to head in the junior brown classes. He bizarrely thinks that he can win! The even stranger thing is that he is making this challenge before his show team has been born. I think there must be a fair amount of tin in the water down there.

Still, no problem, we will wheel out the big guns in repsonse to this silly challenge and I am prepared to reveal the opposition today, for they HAVE been born and are thriving within the protective midst of the Patou herd.

Patou Ruby May is now 5 weeks old and is a powerhouse. Her mother, Bobby, is the daughter of Wessex Mateus, he in turn is a son of the legendary Purrumbete Highlander. Did you know that Gary? Did you know that Ruby May was the great grand daughter of the magnificent Highlander? No? No I thought not. Not only that but Ruby May's father is a certain Lillfield Jack of Spades. Mmmmmm, having second thoughts now are we big boy?

To cover the challenge from the junior male side we are wheeling out Patou Resilient. At only a week old and born slightly premature, Resilient is the smallest member of the mighty Patou herd. Small he may be but Mighty he surely will be!

You see Resilient is the first son of the awesome Patou Poppy. Poppy took a first place at the Bath and West two years ago, when there were over 450 animals being shown. She went on to take rosettes at the Futurity and the SWAG show as an intermediate. She is the daughter of Bobby (see above) and the legend that is ATA Cambridge Centurion, a behemoth in the black alpaca world. Not only that but little Resilient is also the son of the mighty Lilyfield Jack of Spades of Inca.

You see, we may just be a small herd in the south of Wiltshire (actually, numbers wise the Popham herd has four times as many alpacas as the the Patou herd) but we have a great big heart. We don't fanny around with our matings, a lot of thought goes into them. We are serious about what we do.

Enough said. Challenge accepted. There's going to be an ass whupping!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Bloody weather!!!!!

Today in the sunny south of England we were supposed to be shearing.
Unfortunately the weather gods who smiled on us on Saturday were NOT SMILING TODAY YOU SILLY BLOODY WEATHER GODS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was up at 6am and the herd was saturated, soaked, drenched, dripping, they were wet guys, very wet. The weather forecast predicted more rain so a phone call was made and shearing has been postponed until Saturday.

Cue rotund bald man throwing tanrums at the drop of a hat for an hour or so.
Then, cue rotund bald man apologising for aforementioned tantrum throwing.

Still life goes on and as we had lost a chicken at the weekend (Snowflake our light Sussex hen decided to keel over), Sue and I went off to buy a couple of replacements to keep Lulu (Norfolk Grey) company.

Currently shut up in the Eglu acclimatising are a lovely Speckled Sussex and a beautiful Scicilian Buttercup. No, I'd never heard of them either. Angus has named then Dottie and Doodle (not sure which is which) and they will be released to roam in a couple of days.

It was cria weigh day today and a few pictures were taken. Couldn't get all six in the same shot, four was the maximum.

First of all though a very close-up of Rafiki who marched up to Sue and stuck his nose on the end of the lens. He is utterly fearless and wanders up for a chat as if he has being doing it for years.

From left to right Roger, Reeya, Rosa and the lump that is Ruby May!

Rafiki following Rosa about, he's heavier than her and she's 5 days older.

Mind you he is the biggest cria we have had weighing in at 10.6kg. A whopper indeed.
From left to right, Ruby May, Rafiki, the utterly gorgeous Runa and Reeya.

So there we have it. Saturday, midday, shearing or I swear there will be more tantrums!
And more apologising.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

What a marvellous weekend!

What an absolute corker of a weekend we have had here in Patouland.
I had been looking forward to it for ages. We had some of my oldest friends and some of my best friends round for a bit of a barbecue and a camp out in the garden. My only regret with events like these is that I could spend all evening in the company of any one of those attending. I feel, as well as hungover, a bit sad that they have all gone. I miss them all already.
Anyway what a night we had. The weather gods beamed from above and we got down to business in the garden.

At about 7pm the eagle eyed Lady Mayoress of Inca, Tracey, pointed out that Bannock was behaving a little strangely. Sure enough on closer inspection it seemed that she was in labour. I am sure she waited for my birthday to give birth, either that or she was waiting for an audience! Bannock was struggling a wee bit, she was 362 days pregnant and it was obvious that the cria was going to be a bit of a whopper. With a little assistance from the Chief of the mighty Inca Clan, Bannock squeezed out (it was an eye watering birth guys) a big brown Jack of Spades boy. A bit of a surprise as we were expecting a black girl, obviously!
Not only big but very strong, Rafiki, as he has been named, was soon up and running and feeding well. As you can see from the picture below he is a very handsome young chap too, we are very pleased with him. Lovely head on him.

Just to catch up on a few more names, our little Jack of Spades boy out of Poppy has been named by my father. He will be registered as Patou Resilient. Yes, as you may have guessed Dad is ex-military. He will be known in the paddock as Roger. Next to him in the picture below is Patou Rosa, a lovely little Columbus girl from Priscilla.

Finally, when the sun went down and the temperature dropped the alpaca hats once again came out. As you can see most of us, especially those of us with shiney heads are sporting Patou's finest knitwear, all knitted by my mum. Marvellous.

If you'll excuse me I must go and have a lie down, shearing tomorrow so I need to recharge the batteries.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Our plans for the future.

Sue and I have discussed at length what our mating plans should be for the future.
I feel it is only fair to reveal those plans to the alpaca community in general. It is fair because I want to allow you all to plan your response to what will surely be a mighty onslaught that we will be unleashing in the show rings in 2012.

Be afraid people, be very afraid. We are getting stronger. We are afterall planning for world domination!

I can reveal below the three herdsires that we have chosen to take the mighty Patou forward to meet the demands of the alpaca industry over the next few years. Remember our 'strapline has always been 'You do not have to be big to be mighty'. I believe that these three big boys can do the job for us.

First of all I must heap praise on the Mighty Warrior from the Awesome Inca stud. His Royal Highness Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca.

We have had four cria (three females and one male) from this giant of the black alpaca world this summer and all four are absolute stunners.
He will be used over Lily (my most favourite alpaca in the world, Bobby (mother to the beautiful Ruby May) and our two showgirls from this year Patou Penelope and Patou Amelie (double Reserve Champion this year).
Jack recently added to his ribbon collection by winning Senior Black Male and Reserve Champion Senior Male at the Royal Bath and West Show. No mean feat for a black male. He is awesome. He is the complete package. Just look at him!

Secondly, we will be using our own brown boy the Mighty Cambridge Columbus.
Columbus won First place Senior Brown Male at the Bath and West Show and has had two lovely brown female cria this year. He will be used over the rest of the Mighty Patou herd, Priscilla, Dee, Poppy, Minstrel, Fifi, Bannock and Polly.
We believe his flawless conformation, his fineness, brightness and his density coupled with his low amounts of guard hair and evenness of colour will do the job over our girls.

Thirdly we will be using our new boy, Van Diemen Qjori (pictured below with the five ribbons he has won in Australia).
Due to an unavoidable delay Qjori will not be leaving quarantine in New Zealand until the end of August and we have taken the decision not to wait for him this year. We reset the herd birthing clock two years ago and feel that to wait would put us back where we were two years ago. We will get him here, settle him in and unleash him on the girls next summer.

So there we have it, our plans. You may be interested, you may not. I certainly am and will be watching and waiting with great anticipation. In fact I can hardly contain my excitement!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

We've had another one!

At the moment I barely get the time to write a blog proclaiming another Patou birth before we go and have another one.

Yesterday was our first boy, a cracking looking dark brown Jack of Spades cria out of Poppy, today our own mighty herdsire was about to have his turn.

This time it was another girl leapfrogging Bannock, who remains pregnant at 358 days.
Priscilla, who has been pregnant for only 330 days and is one of our original foundation members produced a lovely light brown (possibly dark fawn) girl, the second daughter of Cambridge Columbus! We are delighted with her (name currently pending, due to Sue's pontificating).

She is very strong and weighed in at a healthy 8.28kg. We are doubly impressed with her as Priscilla hasn't had a solid coloured cria since 2005. Priscilla has a white spot on her chin and her last three cria have all had white markings. Well this time we seem to have got it right. Good old Columbus has produced, as far as I can make out, a very solid coloured cria. In fact I think she does resemble her father.

So there we have it another brown girl joins the mighty Patou herd. I don't know what we have done to cause the cria gods to smile down upon us but we are very happy with things so far!

Monday, 7 June 2010

A boy from out of the blue!

Well bugger me I was walking back up from checking Bannock who is still holding onto her cria at 357 days when I saw Poppy standing on her own by the shed. As I neared I could also see a wibbly wobbly head on a little neck! Poppy is at 33o days today and has produced her first ever cria, a dark brown boy. He weighed in at a reasonably healthy 7.5 kilos but as you can see has very floppy ears.
His teeth have erupted and he seems strong although it took him a little while to get used to his legs. Poppy on the other hand is knackered!

He hasn't been named yet as Poppy is actually owned by my parents so we are waiting for a name from them. He has been feeding well and they both seem to be doing well. He is another Jack of Spades cria which now makes four so far.

Whilst I was out there I bagged a few snaps of the three beautiful girls who preceded him.

Reeya, very pretty, very inquisitive and very friendly like her mother, Dee.

Lily's gorgeous black cria, Runa, a real live wire.

And lastly Ruby May, absolutely stunning in every way and surprisingly turning black!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Royal Bath and West show.

The Mighty Patou Tribe returned hot and tired last night from an absolutely fantastic three days at the Royal Bath and West Show. The picture above illustrates our demeanour whilst we were there; laid back and having fun. Something Angus does particularly well!

We had arrived late on Thursday afternoon and quickly established our base camp which was less than 100yards from the alpaca penning area. Marvellous, game on. We were ready for action.

The Lord Lieutenant of Inca, His Timness kindly provided snags on the barbecue for lunch which was a really nice touch and was a nice meeting point to talk alpaca with other breeders from the SWAG area. As usual the Awesome Inca had a good show, with a bucketful of rosettes.
Friday was the day it all kicked off for us, we had Penny in the intermediate fawns (the dreaded colour chart saw her demoted from the brown class) and the Magnificent Millie in the intermediate browns. Sadly Penny, who did her best to out 'psycho' her sister Poppy in the ring, didn't place in a really high quality class of fawns. She did however, think of me in the heat by hitting me fair and square in the middle of the face with a cooling stomachful of spit. A new experience for me, facing the judge with alpaca spit dribbling off the end of my nose, not one I am particularly keen to repeat!

It was good to see friends doing well in the ring, the 'Silver Fox' himself, Trevor, had a particularly good show with his very old and grey alpacas. Here he is just about to pick up his third first place rosette of the show. Oldest show team in the competition with a combined age of just over 200 years (there was only four of them including Trevor!)

It was also good to see Dave and Joy, fellow bloggers at Apple Vale Alpacas. Dave kindly posted pictures of me and Penny on his blog yesterday and I have an action shot of Dave and Ambrosia being given the once over by Nick Harrington-Smith, our judge for the weekend. Dave resisted my 'legs amnesty' challenge and wore trousers, which is probably just as well!

Anyway with the Penny 'spit-kick-buck-fest' out of the way we wheeled out one of our 'big guns', Patou Amelie (Millie), who completed a fantastic show season with a splendid first pace rosette in the intermediate brown class. She really is a gorgeous alpaca, a massive hit with the crowds too. Here she is pictured with some short fat bloke in shorts.

Saturday was the adult and senior classes and it was time for us to show our herdsire the Mighty Clumpmeister. I was as nervous as possible going into the ring, we had never shown him before and although we like him very much we didn't know how he would be judged.

To say that Nick Harrington-Smith is my new most favourite judge in the world may give you a clue as to what happened next.

First place rosette for Mr Columbus!
Not only that but Nick praised him verbally. He invited the audience to look at him saying he was 'beautifully balanced'. He commented on how 'very fine' his fleece was and in summing up said he was a 'very, very good male'. I was close to tears people. If someone had spoken to me I would have struggled to get the words past the huge lump that was in my throat.

When Nick was at the other end of the line Columbus and I turned to Sue and had a sneaky picture taken. Naughty, I know, but it clearly illustrates that we had our game faces on! We were mean, moody and ready for action!

Gary and Felicia from Popham also had a good show, Gary will no doubt be posting later today of his successes.

However, the most successful show team belonged to Chas and Rachel. Classical Mileend Paris took the Supreme Alpaca title and is pictured below with Chas and our judge,Nick. They also took the 'Best of British' prize which is a really nice one to win.

Congratulations to them, nice people, cracking alpacas.

So there we have it, our show season has come to a close and we will be shearing next week.
All in all our most successful year so far and a thoroughly enjoyable one.
We will return even mightier next year and I feel we have taken another step towards total world domination.