Friday, 27 August 2010

He's here!

He's here!
Two words that I sent in a text to Sue at 9.30am yesterday morning.
Whilst pressing the buttons on my phone with my podgy fingers, tears were streaming uncontrollably down my cheeks. Even thinking about those two words now is causing me no small amount of emotion. It had been a long day.

I had arrived at Baydon, the UK home of the mighty EP Cambridge Alpaca Stud twelve hours and forty minutes earlier. I was under the impression that Qjori and his fellow travellers would be arriving at 9pm Wednesday evening. That is what I had been told.

The trailer had been scrubbed, fresh hay and straw waited in a newly cleaned field shelter for his arrival. You are probably aware that the excitement had been building here in Patouland.

The original information was that the alpacas would be arriving 36 hours earlier than that on Tuesday morning. However, the journey from New Zealand was to become dogged by a series of delays that really beggar belief. I am not going to go on and on about it and who was to blame, sometimes you just have to accept that what happened, happened and move on.

But briefly. Firstly a twelve hour delay at Auckland Airport. The alpacas were 'looked after' at the airport but I don't really know what that meant. They then flew to Los Angeles and from there (I don't know how long they were there but I don't think it was long) they then flew to Luxembourg.

From Luxembourg they were loaded onto a large livestock truck and trailer. The truck travelled towards Calais but broke down near Paris. Again what happened to the alpacas and how long they were static for I just don't know.

They were then transported across the channel to Dover where they were dealt with by the authorities, whatever that means. The driver then set off for an alpaca farm near Milton Keynes to drop off some alpacas before heading for Baydon. He was stopped by the Police and everything was checked. Apparently a three hour journey took ten hours. Why I don't know.
Anyway word from that farm was that the truck left at a quarter to one on Thursday morning and would take approximately 2 and a half hours to reach Baydon.

That meant arriving at 3.15am. We waited. I was lucky enough to have Lawrence Shapland, chief alpaca man at Baydon to keep me company. We were also joined by Lynne Pepper from Tai Wind Alpacas who appeared from her van at sometime during the night, I couldn't guess when.

3.15am came and went, so too did 4.15am. Lawrence tried to contact the driver but his phone was going to answerphone. All this time we were thinking about how long those alpacas had been cooped up. How long was it since they had been fed and watered? What sort of condition would they be in. Would they ever arrive? What had happened since they left Milton Keynes? Why had they not arrived. We waited, and we waited, I have never drunk so much coffee.

In some way I was feeling guilty for causing that little brown alpaca to be uprooted from his home on the other side of the world and be put through what was now getting to be a 3 or 4 day ordeal (I had lost count).

It got light as the sun rose on a drizzly Thursday in Wiltshire.

At 6.30am I was told that the truck driver had needed to stop for an enforced rest and was now back on the road. An hour away that was all. More coffee needed. 7.30am came and went. At 8am Larence spoke to the truck driver! He was at least real and he was alive and in a truck containing alpacas, I had started to doubt everything by this point. An hour and a quarter away he said. Hold on, wasn't he an hour away an hour and a half ago?
I stopped looking at my watch. I paced. I had lost my sense of humour. I was very tired.

At 9.30 am I sent that text to Sue and followed the truck up the drive to the barn wiping my face and clearing my throat. A reply from Sue confirmed that she was in tears.
The first compartment contained EPC females who cautiously came down the ramp into the barn. The second compartment was opened and the boys were onto UK soil for the first time. I saw white males, black males and then I saw him! The only brown boy there, our boy. Qjori was here! This is ridiculous, I am welling up again.

Matt and Kathy had arrived and the boys were put into a nice stable with some straw, hay and water. I looked at Lynne, she was in tears. That set me off again. I went outside to um, well to um, get my head sorted out. It was the fatigue you know, sort of got to me.

Anyway it is all fanbloodytastic from thereon in.

First a photograph of Qjori with his two chums in Tasmania. The very first time that we set eyes on him on the 25th of October 2009.

Secondly a picture of Qjori as he set foot in Patouland yesterday morning. He's grown a bit!

And thirdly, Van Diemen Qjori of Patou, settling in at his new home. By the way his fleece looks incredible, better than I can remember it all those months ago.

Was it worth it? Looking at Qjori now here in our field? Yes, a massive yes.
Would we ever do it again?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Qjori left Luxembourg airport just over an hour ago and is on his way to the ferry port!

Arrival at Baydon estimated at 1200hrs tomorrow!

I am a little bit excited.

Monday, 23 August 2010


I have been informed that Qjori has left New Zealand and is on his way to Luxembourg via Los Angeles.

It has begun.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The excitement is building.

Yes, here in Patouland I am aquiver with excitement. The great brown hope from Downunder is arriving next week.

It seems longer than the 9 months that it has been since we left Australia. If you remember from earlier postings, Sue and I bought a super looking brown boy when we visited Bob and Diane Hey (parents of old whatsischops) in Tasmania. That was in November last year.

Since then he had to be transported from Tasmania to Adelaide where he stayed at EP Cambridge for a couple of months. He then flew, with several EPC animals, to a quarantine facility in New Zealand. There he was looked after by Greg and Rachel Graham at Valley of Peace Alpacas. He is still there, but not for much longer!

Greg was kind enough to send me a couple of pictures of him. Bearing in mind they shear every shred of fibre off them at the start of quarantine, including top knot and tail he still looks pretty good. I think you can see the quality in his fleece even though its only fairly short.

The last time we saw him was when we were blown away by his fleece in Tasmania. The picture below doesn't really do him justice but still looks good. Fine, dense, crimpy and a beautiful soft handle as well as being a super medium brown colour. Right up our alley!

Qjori, or to give him his full title Van Diemen Qjori of Patou is pictured below in Tasmania just after we left. Looks rather splendid I think.

Below he is pictured at EP Cambridge north of Adelaide where he began his quarantine period thanks to the generosity of Matt and Kathy Lloyd who made room for him at the last minute.

Qjori has been hugely successful on the show circuit down under and has a string of ribbons as you can see below.

Qjori leaves New Zealand next Monday on a plane headed for Los Angeles. He then flies from LA to Luxembourg, by virtue of the time differences he arrives on the same day as he left. He then travels from Luxembourg in a livestock transporter to Dover and then on to EP Cambridge at Baydon, Wiltshire, arriving in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Hopefully when he gets there he will be met by a fat bald man with a smile a mile wide.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Tears in the shed.

I think everyone should go out and buy as much of it as possible. I think the Lavender farmers should all be knighted and have instant access to millions of free money. We will shortly be moving to Provence where we will spend all day rolling around in the lavender fields. When we are not rolling in it we will be sniffing it and playing with it or simply just gazing at it with love in our eyes.

Why? Well you must have guessed! Let me tell you a little story.

I have just come back from the 6am feed and am beside myself. I approached an unusually quiet shed and entered. I grabbed Roger and clamped him between my legs and commenced bottle feeding. He took two sucks then pulled away and walked over to his Mum, not unusual. He normally does this and gets a kick and a faceful for his troubles. Only this time Poppy stood there and watched him go under whereby he then fed for 5 minutes!!!!!!!!!

I daren't move a muscle. In fact the only muscles working were the ones that were pushing tears into my eyes. After 10 days of rejection Poppy seems to have finally accepted her son back!


Thanks to everyone who commented, phoned, e-mailed etc but hopefully the mini-crisis in Patouland is over. Lavender, you've just got to love it!

Friday, 13 August 2010


Just a quick one tonight folks, we are battling against cria rejection here and no-one seems to have encountered this type before.

Roger Resilient (aged 2 months and 6 days), who as you may remember is a rather splendid little fellow is the son of our stressiest alpaca, Poppy. Actually Penny (Poppy's sister) is about equal in the stressy stakes, and come to think of it Bobby (the mother of both Poppy and Penny) is also a complete nightmare.

Anyway moving on. Roger, together with four other Patou cria was shorn last Wednesday in Incaland. Upon our return to the kingdom of Patou all appeared well. However, over the next couple of days we noticed that Poppy was not allowing Roger to feed. She was kicking him off and spitting at him. We checked her out thoroughly. No sign of Mastitis or anything else that would indicate she was in discomfort. We milked her from all four teats, all working perfectly.
As you can imagine this wasn't easy and was done on the floor.

So she was ok, so what was the problem. We penned them together for 24 hours. Poppy spent most of the time peering over the gate at the other cria, humming. Roger stood by her side, unnoticed. Unnoticed that is until he tried to feed, then the kicks flew. I spoke to his Incaness, I spoke to Mary-Jo at Bozedown, we scanned the internet.

Yesterday we bagged up Roger's fleece into hair nets and using double sided sticky tape we stuck it all over him. Poppy sniffed him but still will not let him feed 24 hours later.

Our latest attempt is also based upon smell. We have painted Poppy's nose with lavender oil. We have also painted Roger's bottom and head with lavender oil. The theory is that, well you can probably work it out for yourself. Sue is now observing from a distance.

In the meantime, since a week ago we have been bottle feeding little Roger and his weight is increasing slowly. He is not underweight so at the moment he is alright but we would dearly love for him to be accepted by his mad mother.

Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

A rosette at a dog show!

Last Sunday the mighty Patou tribe attended our local show, The Nadder Valley Fun Dog Show. We took the dogs, naturally and also some alpacas, who had specifically been invited.
It was weird loading up the trailer with all the show equipment and alpacas and then driving half a mile to unload it all. Weird but very pleasant.
The show has only been going for three or four years but is growing every year and is a cracking day out. The alpacas were surrounded for most of the day and there was the usual array of delightful questions. As you can see in the below picture the word Alpaca features quite prominently on the trailer and the banner. It didn't stop the numerous "Oh look, Llamas", "Are these your Llamas?" etc etc. Patience dear boy, patience.

Angus took Kiera into the show ring in the 'Child's best friend class' which attracted over 40 entries (it was bedlam folks). Angus took the job very seriously and worked very hard to control Kira in the ring. He did a splendid job, we were very proud of both of them.

Here he is accepting his third place rosette! Fantastic result!

It was also the rosette that Angus wanted as it matched his trainers!
The other thing about the show is the air display that accompanies it. We have, in the village, someone who obviously knows a lot of people in the RAF and in the aeroplane world generally. As a result we were treated to an amazing display of aircraft buzzing around above us all day.
I was talking to a neighbour and he says that at the first show there was half a dozen people in the field with the Red Arrows screaming past overhead!
We had stunt planes carrying out amazing aerobatics.

World war 1 bi-planes flying in formation and popping balloons with their propellers.

It was a truly tremendous display and amazing to watch from a field next to the pub in our village, Chicksgrove. Towards the end of the day we had a World War 2 fly past, a beautiful Dakota DC3.

And of course no air display would be complete without the most beautiful plane ever to fly, the Supermarine Spitfire. I tell you, a Spitfire flying over low and fast gets the hairs standing up on the back of my neck every time, awesome.

Since then we have been working hard here in Patouland. Poppy has rejected her cria Roger Resilient. We presume it is because he was sheared. She appears to be looking for her cria whilst he follows her around everywhere. Every time he tries to go under he gets kicked off and spat at. We have checked her out thoroughly for signs of mastitis or anything else that would make her uncomfortable but can't find anything, it seems she just doesn't recognise him. It's heartbreaking and I feel very guilty about the situation. Still he has taken to the bottle readily and being over two months old he is already eating hard food and grazing so he will be fine. We haven't given up trying to get Poppy to accept him back yet and today we will be reuniting Roger with his fleece somehow and hopefully she will realise that he's been there all the time. It is frustrating.
Poppy herself was bottle fed as she was premature and too weak to stand, in fact she was the last cria we had to bottle feed. I will keep you posted.

Saturday, 7 August 2010


Right, first up an announcement.
FOR SALE - One day job, over twenty years old but plenty of mileage left in it.
Pros - it pays the bills every month.

Those capital letters I believe indicate that I was shouting - AND I BLOODY WELL WAS, IT GETS IN THE BLOODY WAY ALL THE TIME!!!!!

You may have guessed the reason why I haven't blogged for 8 days, no? Still not got it? THE BLOODY DAY JOB GETS IN THE BLOODY WAY ALL THE TIME!!!!!

Right rant over, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Anyway, on Wednesday I visited the wonderful world that is Incaland. I had an appointment with His Royal Alpacaness Lord Tim of Hey.
The reason for the appointment? I sense you leaning forward in anticipation, your breath quickening slightly as your excitement builds. Calm down. Take a deep breath, really, it's not that exciting. It is to me of course but I am an idiot.

The reason for the visit was for the carefully selected 2011 Patou Alpacas Show Team to be prepared for battle. There was some shearing to do and the chosen five travelled (with mums of course) down into deepest darkest Dorset.

We left at 7am. Angus, me, the alpacas and several frankfurters for the trip. By 9.30am shearing was underway and five fluffy little Patou cria were transformed.

Today as I don't have to go and do THE BLOODY DAY JOB GRRRRR!, I can reveal them to the world. They are all wearing coats as there is a cool breeze and a bit of rain in the air and we are soft in the head.
Above we have (from left to right) Rico (black), Runa (black) and Ruby May (dark brown).

In the foreground Ruby May with Rico at the rear.

Reeya (light brown - not dark fawn, I have checked) with Rosa nosing in from the left.

The utterly magnificent Roger Resilient (medium brown).

Another shot of the lovely Runa.

Finally Runa standing in front of her proud mum, Lily, my most favourite alpaca in the whole wide world.
So there we have it, the cria have been shorn and should be in the best possible shape come the Futurity in March. They will still be at their best come the SWAG show and the Royal Bath and West show in June. How can we possibly fail to dominate everything?
Tomorrow we are attending the local show (it's in our village so it can't get more local!). It is the Nadder Valley Fun Dog Show and is in the field next to the village pub, nice.
We have been asked to take some alpacas along and as it is such a great day out we have obliged. We will obviously take the dogs as well, there are prizes to compete for! Angus has volunteered to be chief dog handler for the event and has been training the unruly mutts for a few days.
Right that's it I'm off, somewhere, there is something for me to do.