Monday, 27 September 2010

No, he's not here today.

I promise that this blog posting will be totally free of any mention of a certain brown male alpaca. I have been told that I have gone on long and loud enough about 'you know who' that I must give it a rest. I'm not happy about it, I could carry on for weeks, months maybe. However I have been told so I will stop................for a while.

Anyway it is about time I published some up to date pictures of some of our cria, the 2011 show team to be precise. They were shorn almost two months ago and their fleece is growing back nicely. Nicely? Nicely? What has come over me? Nicely? That doesn't sound like me at all! Actually, they are simply the smartest most magnificent looking cria in the whole wide world, in my humble opinion of course.
I am very proud of them. I am excited about them, very excited. Sometimes when I sit, stand or lie watching them I literally start to buzz with excitement. I have to make sure there are no sharp objects nearby as I may well pop.

'So where are they then? Come on let us see how they are getting on, come on!' I hear you all shout as one (sometimes I do hear voices you know).

Well as you asked so nicely, here they are with some pedigree information for those of you who haven't been paying attention over the summer months.

First up is the Mighty Patou Ruby May, daughter of hair-trigger spit monster Bobby, a Mateus daughter. Sired by the main man Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca. She is built like a tank. Ruby is either black or very dark brown we haven't really decided yet. When her fleece grows a little bit longer we will make a decision.

Next is the youngest of the showteam, Patou Rico, son of Patou Fifi who in turn is a Wiracocha's Dream girl. Rico is also sired by the big man Jack. Rico, who was named after a weapon regurgitating penguin, is black, although in this picture his head looks brown. What's that all about? Just been outside and it looks black again?

Next up is the gorgeous Patou Runa, daughter of my most favourite alpaca in the world, Patou Lily, a Shaft's Dream girl. Runa is also a Jack daughter, actually the whole show team have Jack as their father. I believe he is so good, that we used him a lot last year. Runa is pictured munching on an apple, she loves them!

Now into the browns with the Mighty Popham busting Roger Resilient. Roger's mum is multiple rosette winner Patou Poppy an ATA Cambridge Centurion daughter. He's a special boy.

And finally, the scrumptious Patou Reeya, daughter of our oldest female, Dee, who was imported from Chile and we therefore have no idea who her sire was. Not a clue.
Thankfully they are all thriving and growing well. Much to be grateful for this year and we are looking forward to pushing on next year with some more crackers! I love this fantastic world of alpacas!

Monday, 20 September 2010

What's it all about?

I had an e-mail last week from the Wool Testing Authority (Europe) in North Wales. They had sent me the histograms (Oh yes people, I know what a histogram is!) of the fleece samples that I had sent them about a week earlier. I was eager to see Qjori's results in particular. He is, after all, a major part of the future of the Mighty Patou.

I was at work when the e-mail arrived, my Backberry quivered in my pocket as I sat at a desk doing something. Ooooh an e-mail, I exclaimed reaching for the shiny black phone (I am always quite excited when I receive an e-mail, I have no idea how this whole internet/e-mail/telephone thing works so there is always a bit of a WOW factor in it for me).

Anyway, the e-mail was from the WTA(E) which heightened my excitement. I downloaded the certificates (Oh yes, I can download as well as a carry out a myriad of other functions) and the first one was Qjori's results.
By now I was standing up and trembling slightly. This was the big one. There was a lot riding on these results.
So from the top. Average Fibre Diameter (AFD)......18.9!

Get in there my son! I exclaimed out loud (and I mean LOUD!) Pretty good for a fourth fleece! The one thing I knew about fleece statistics, or histograms as I now know them, was that the AFD was good if it was low, the lower the average micron meant the finer the fibres were and that is good, obviously. I wanted the AFD to be less than 20 microns so I was chuffed, very chuffed.

So what did the rest of it mean? The next stat was the SD or Standard Deviation. Again I knew the lower the number the better. Qjori's came in at 3.90. Now I didn't know what it meant but I knew that was a good number, very good.
I now know that the SD is the micron deviation that 95% of the fibres fall into. So 95% of the fibres were within 3.9 microns of the AFD (18.9). This in turn means that more of the fibres are very similar and so the uniformity of fleece is better. A low SD means a very uniform fleece. Oh yeah baby we were rocking and a rolling!

CV was the next number. Coefficient of Variation. Again I knew that I was looking for a low number around the 20 mark. Qjori's came in at 20.50%. Looked good but what is the CV?
Well the CV is the SD divided by the AFD x 100. I think that's right but I don't really know what the point of it is?

The final number was the % of Fibres > 30 micron. Once again I knew that a low number was good. The percentage of fibres over 30 microns gives you a rough idea about how the fleece will feel to the touch. The manufacturing industry (I have been researching you know!) deems that any fibre over 30 microns is likely to feel scratchy or rough on the skin. So a score of 0.83% was a pretty good result for our boy then !

All in all we were extremely happy with Qjori's results. He is a superstar, he is the future, he is a god amongst brown alpacas, he is the shining light for the Mighty Patou to follow on the path to righteousness, guide us Qjori, Ye are the great one............ ooops got a bit carried away there, er hum.
So what of other results? Well Columbus is still holding his fineness at 22.8 microns, good lad. The best of the girls were our two superstars from the show ring last year. Millie (double reserve champion brown female last year - British Alpaca Futurity and the BAS Spring Show if you're interested) had an AFD of 24.1 with an SD of 4.30 (CV of 17.90%). Penny, who was judged as a brown and a fawn (two second place rosettes) came in with an AFD of 20.4, SD 4.0 (CV 19.70%).

Right must stop all that, all those numbers have made me feel quite queasy.

So AFD 18.9, SD 3.90, CV 20.50% and 0.83% of fibres > 30 micron. What does that look like when it is packed onto a beautiful brown boy?
Allow me.

Oooh baby baby!! MMMmmmmmmmm!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

There's a new Sherrif in town

Regular readers will know that our first herdsire is Cambridge Columbus, The Clumpmeister, Clump, our Clumpy.
He has his first cria on the ground this year and has done very well in stamping his colour, his fineness and his perfect conformation onto his offspring. We are very happy with what he has produced.
But Clump is a bit of a pain in the arse to be honest. He is destined to lead a life in solitary confinement as he hates other male alpacas. He is as soft as anything with humans or females or chickens but let him have sight or scent of another male and his machoness rushes to the fore and he develops murderous intentions. He has his own paddock with a six foot runway in between it and Qjori's paddock. Qjori has Crawford and Barney Rickenbacker for company and all three of them ignore Columbus. That just seems to wind him up even more! I know Columbus is just doing what his hormones and instinct tells him but it is very wearing. He has worn a trench along the fence line by running up and down shouting at the boys and I am sure one day we will just see the top of his head bobbing along as he patrols relentlessly.

Anyway, I think things are going to get even more trying for The Clumpmeister next year as Qjori, our fabulous Aussie import is starting to take an interest in the ladies.
Qjori, sporting a lovely blue coat to keep him warm after his recent shearing, has started to stand on a little mound in his paddock and watch the girls go by. He then wanders down to the dividing fenceline and winds Columbus up by completely ignoring him.

Ooh look chickens!

We have exciting times ahead next year. We have kept three girls open for Qjori and will introduce him to them in April next year. I can't wait.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

I have been away.

So there I was, yesterday, standing in a scout hut in Wiltshire. A video camera was pointing at me as I stood in profile. A man held a small torch above the camera. The torch threw a shadow of my head onto a white wall. Another man was doing the same as me but facing me. We were looking over each others shoulders reading drivel which had been scrawled in red ink onto flipcharts.
After that I was pretending to be a cowboy sitting in a bar as 'Clint Eastwood' walked in and shot someone in the face.
I then resumed my side onto the wall profile shot with the other fellow and read some more drivel.
A few minutes later I was running round a grassy field using ultra fast tiny steps a la Benny Hill as music played in the background.

I am still a little bit at a loss for words as to what happened yesterday. Yes, I was at work. The world is going, or more likely, has gone, bonkers. It can't just be me? Can it?

Actually I have been away from the family and the mighty Patou herd for a few days.
Last weekend I went to Snowdonia with seven good men who I was lucky enough to go to school with. We see each other as a group a couple of times a year and this was our weekend away.
The challenge was to climb Snowdon. I have done it before when I was younger and fitter. So with another previous 'summiter' I set off for a round of golf whilst the main party headed upwards into the wind and rain.
After golf we nipped up on the train to get the 'summit shot'. It was very wet and very busy up there, and we beat the main 'ascent team'. Marvellous.
Beer may have been consumed and there may have been constant childish mickey taking. It was awesome. Thanks guys.

So having been away there is much work to be done. The herd look magnificent as usual. The main shed appears to be knee deep in alpaca poop and I need to immerse myself into their world to recharge the pacabatteries. I may take photos. I'll be back.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

This is what I'm talking about!

On Monday of this week, the best shearer I know, who also happens to be my buddy, fired up his shearing equipment and took Qjori's fleece off.
Since then Sue and I have been waiting for the rain to clear and the sun to shine when we have both been at home. This evening at 6pm our moment arrived. Qjori was haltered (he is the gentlest, calmest, most wonderful alpaca) and the trusty Canon was unleashed in the top paddock.
Our boy posed like the Champion that he is. He is simply beautiful (in a manly sort of way you understand!)

As I have said we could not be more happy with Qjori. His breeders, Bob and Diane Hey, way downunder in Tasmania, can and should, be very proud of him.
He will, I have no doubt, go on to be a superstar here in the UK.

Ok. Have I gone on enough yet? No? I could go on about him all day if you like?
Sadly I have chores to do as I am away for the weekend.
Before his supersoft fleece was removed Tim and I took a few snaps.

I think you will agree he looks pretty damn good to me!
How bright is that!

I will be away from the blog for a few days now. Tomorrow morning I head off with seven old school chums (yes seven!) for a weekend in Snowdonia.
It could get a little messy.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Best of friends?

We have a bit of a mis-match going on here in Patouland. Rafiki, who was our largest and latest cria at 10.5 kilos (baked for 362 days) and Rory born six weeks later weighing in at 8 kilos.
They are inseperable which initially we thought was quite sweet. The biggest boy and the littlest boy hanging around together, aahh bless.

However, I am now not so sure who is friends with who?

Rafiki, big lump that he is seems to spend his entire waking hours chasing little Rory around.

The trouble is when he catches him he jumps on him, how the little fellows legs don't break I don't know. The size difference is quite noticeable!

When the 'big un' is on he then proceeds to ride Rory all over the place. It's like Rory is in training for some marathon mountain running race and Rafiki is his training partner.

He doesn't seem to mind being ridden around too much, there is no spitting, a little orgling (you know the sort, a bumble bee in a jar) from Rafiki but other than that they just run around, 'together'.

Sometimes of course, Rafiki, as big as he is, doesn't always get it his own way! Well done Runa, you show him!

Right, weekend off, much to do.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Update from Patou

Right, I'm back after several days of the day job where I just didn't have time to blog.
Actually that's not strictly true. No, I'm lying to you readers, lying.
'Disgraceful!' I hear you shout as one.
'Why? Why? Oh why must you lie to us Oh leader of the Mighty Patou?' In my head that is what you are all shouting with dismay and a little bit of pain written across your faces.

Well I lied but now I am coming clean, you my valued blog readers who know about all things alpaca need to know the truth. I had Monday off and also Tuesday.
Yes people NO DAY JOB on Monday or Tuesday! 'Erm...... so why no blog' I hear you whisper with a touch of venom.
On Monday we went to a party hosted by a very good friend of mine. It started at lunchtime. I'm afraid readers I over indulged .......ever so slightly. As a result Monday was out. The hangover on Tuesday sort of ruled me out of any sort of coherent thought, so that was that.
Anyway, there we are. One day I might learn. Or not.

First of all an update on the magnificent Qjori. This evening we had a visit from a vet from Animal Health to take some blood for a Blue Tongue test. A result of being driven across Europe. Qjori is such a placid boy, it was a doddle.
Just as a matter of interest I have been following the Inca Lord's instructions for an imported alpaca. A dose of wormer and some Baycox Bovis to knock anything on the head on arrival and since then a week long course of Antacid tablets to settle his stomach. He has settled in extremely well in fact and seems to be enjoying his new life.

Here he is pictured enjoying the sunshine in front of some truly amazing fence work by me. Ok, it doesn't look pretty but it does work.....................most of the time. Qjori will be shorn soon by the Inca Sculptor. He has 7 months fleece on him and will be horrendously overfleeced next Spring. No pressure your Incaness but he needs to look good old son!

Anyway onto some shots of the mighty Patou Show Team who are all looking fabulous darling.
First up is the black beauty that is Patou Runa. Mwah mwah she is so gooooorgeous!

Next is little Patou Rico, a very handsome little black fellow.

Thirdly is the surprise package of the herd, Patou Reeya daughter of Dee our oldest girl. Reeya has the most gorgeous light brown fleece. Really something special.

Now we move into serious territory with a picture of the Popham busting, Hobgoblin trashing Patou Roger the Resilient!

And finally the chunky monkey herself Patou Ruby May, 85 kilos of muscle and beard.

Right, enough of that drivel I'm off to root out some food.