Thursday 21 October 2010

Hobbling towards a holiday (and world domination)

I have been hobbling about as best as I can getting things sorted out for the holiday. Where are we going? Oh, didn't you know? BARBADOS!!!!!
Sorry but it is one of those place names that always gets a response. I can't tell you how many people have asked to be packed in my suitcase recently, well I suppose I could if I thought about it for a while ..................................... erm .................................... about .................................... well ............................ it has been three, yep, just three.
Not that many actually now that I've counted them. It seemed more. Wish I hadn't mentioned it now, feel a bit silly.

I still have a lot of alpaca stuff to do but I'm waiting until the weekend so that I can fill up all the hay racks and have everything ready to hand over to my parents on Sunday.

Oh yes, I've got rid of the weather thingy in case you hadn't noticed. A bit big, a bit lumpy and a bit unnecessary I thought. I was just playing around and stuck it on. Not a good idea. Anyway it's gone now.

Whilst I was outside today I was counting up the different coloured alpacas so that my Dad can do a quick head count whilst we are away and if necessary identify who is missing (worst case scenario of course). It was quite enlightening, and at the same time slightly disappointing.

The tally reads so: White - 2 (not ours, agistees), black - 6, fawn - 7, and brown - 6. Now considering we are supposed to be a brown specialist, a breeder of brown alpacas, possessor of ribbon winning brown alpacas, six brown alpacas doesn't sound very many, does it? Well it isn't very many. But.

We have a grand master plan. We have a plan that we are following and I am totally convinced that this time next year brown will very much be the largest contingent. In 2012 we will be mainly brown and in 2013 we will be awash with oodles and oodles of beautiful brownness! Ready for the big launch!

Why do I think this? Well we are now the owners of two brown herdsires for starters. Qjori will start working in the Spring but Columbus has already got impressive cria on the ground and we have five of our girls pregnant to him at the moment. Watch this space people for The Mighty Patou is getting browner and browner..................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Van Diemen Qjori of Patou
Cambridge Columbus
I'm sorry if I sound a bit delirious, a bit excitable, but I am.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Taking the sprain before a holiday.

I mentioned two things yesterday that ought to be explained. Firstly, why am I incapacitated at home and not at work? Well, I blame Poppy (she of the hair-trigger spit monster psycho family).

I was carrying out some general husbandry (don't you know) and was injecting the herd with AD&E. I was standing sideways onto a slope with my 'problem' ankle on the downhill side (foolish boy, I know). I was in a small 6' x 6' pen with three or four of the girls. All nice and cosy, all going smoothly. All going smoothly, that is, until Poppy, obviously anticipating that it was her turn to be jabbed next, decided to whirl round like a loon. Her considerable rump met with my considerable rump and as I only have two legs and not four I was the one to end up on the floor. Not before I might add, catching my foot in a small hollow and spraining my ankle on the way down. Ooh it hurt, oooh how I swore, ooooh how I hopped about for a bit, yeeeooowwww it hurt.

Anyway as a result the doc has ordered me to rest it as much as possible. Not hard for me as it bloody well hurts when I walk, so hence the time 'resting' at home.

To my second explanatory point. I hope it clears up quickly because on Sunday, the lovely Mrs S, young Patou warrior Angus and myself are off to Gatwick for an onward flight to Barbados for a couple of weeks. If it doesn't clear up, well I'll just have to rest it in the sunshine, or on the beach, or in the pool, or at the bar. Yes I can hear any sympathy that you may have had draining away as fast as can be imagined.
Anyway it is our annual holiday and there is much work to be done prior to departure. My parents will be moving in and taking the helm here in the land of The Mighty Patou, which obviously involves looking after the alpacas, the dogs, the cats and the chickens. All made slighty more complicated by the introduction into the land of Patou of their crazy but loveable Cocker Spaniel puppies, Toby and Abby. Good luck Mum and Dad, I think you might need it! In my defence all I can say is that it was Dad's airmiles that paid for the tickets so you've kind of brought it on yourself?
Yesterday I managed to stumble outside to feed the massed ranks of the Mighty Patou and grabbed a few snaps of dog/cria action.
Firstly, Josh found Runa sunbathing in a dustbowl.

One quick sniff of the ear and she was 'wide awake!'

The dogs then became the focus of attention for the cria as can be seen now as Ruby-May, Runa and Rico advance, marvellous.

Right, that's enough for today, I feel weary, a lie down is required I feel, as I gear myself up for Barbados time.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

The neglected Fawnies

Regular readers will understand that we only breed coloured alpacas. It was a conscious decision that we made when we started 5 years ago and it is a decision we are happy with. You will also know that we are aiming to breed a high quality herd of brown alpacas. As a result of aiming for brown we also get a few blacks and a few dark fawns, in fact we have never had anything lighter than dark fawn, which amazes me.

This years show team was selected early and with no small element of risk attached. We are putting our cards on the table, the gauntlet is down blah blah blah, wagers will be lost and won, rosettes and maybe ribbons too, we will compete with anyone, but we will always be smiling at the end no matter what. It's the way we are down here, life is for living, not for being grumpy!

Anyway, as a result, the showteam, which consists of a small but perfectly formed mass of brown and black fluffy loveliness, has been well publicised. And rightly so, we are very proud of them. The remaining three 'fawnies' have not had as much press and this blog is aiming to go some way to correcting that error. They may not be in the show team, at the moment, but we love those little fawnies as much as the others.

Rafiki should have been black. Rafiki should have been black and female. Rafiki is neither.
Rafiki was baked inside Bannock for 362 days, the longest gestation we have ever had here (we watched and waited and watched and waited) and he was finally eased out by His Royal Incaness half way through a barbecue at 7.30pm in Patouland. His sire is the inimitable Lilyfield Jack of Spades (if you could imagine a nice fanfare at this point that would be good) and he has inherited his fathers looks and bulk. He weighed 10.6 kilos at birth (another record here) and is a lump and a half now. He is always up to something, always jumping on someone or getting told off by someone. He can't help himself, he is a mischief maker. He is adorable, and a very handsome boy. The second fawn boy is not owned by us, he is owned by a friend, Sue. His mother, Sheba, has been here for a couple of years now and little Rory (or Diego) as he has subsequently been named was the final cria to be born here in Patouland this year. His sire is Wessex Samurai and he is a lovely little fellow with a very dense fleece. Rory is ridden around by Rafiki a lot and he is always right in the thick of things with the other boys. He is pictured below with his 'shadow' Rico, who is the closest to him in age. He is a little munchkin.

Lastly and by no means leastly is our beautiful Rosa. Rosa is the first Patou offspring of our first herdsire Cambridge Columbus (or Clump) as he is known here (Amyrick beat us to the first Clump cria with the gorgeous Erica).
Rosa's mother is Priscilla, one of our foundation girls and we are very pleased with Rosa. With probably the finest fleece of all the cria here she is coming on very nicely and looking quite brown under all that fawny fluff. Time will tell but I reckon Rosa could feature heavily in the future of the Mighty Patou. We have her lined up for a liaison with Qjori next year. She is a little sweetheart.
So there we have the lovely Patou fawnies. Hopefully that has righted an imbalance here.
I may be blogging again tomorrow. I have been incapacitated in an alpaca related accident which means I am at home all week. However, on Sunday, Sue, Angus and myself are off on our annual holiday.
I will reveal all over the next couple of days. Don't nag, I have to drag it out, as I've said I'm off work, incapacitated and need stuff to keep me busy that I can do sitting down. How I wished I could remember how to knit!

Friday 15 October 2010

Me and my minders.

There is still not much news here in Patouland.
The cria are growing well, the females are starting to regain condition as our feeding regime and the fact that the cria are grazing more takes the pressure off a bit. This is the first year that we have fed the herd all year. Before now we have stopped feeding during the summer when the grass is plentiful, but this year we have fed all through the year using an all-in-one alpaca feed from Mole Valley (for the benefit of those northern readers and readers from abroad, Mole Valley is a local agricultural store). As a result we have seen the females with cria at foot maintaining a decent weight through the first months of feeding their cria.

Anyway, with not much to report I have been out with the camera today to photograph Qjori and the chickens, Not together you understand and not by design either. No, I just walked out and photographed what I came across first. Well why not?

So without much further ado a photograph of the Great Brown Superstud of the Future, (Qjori's official title amongst the Patou herd) with his two minders Crawford and Barney Rickenbacker.
They stick together most of the time, but as Qjori is growing and his hormones are starting to kick in, the two black boys, both wethers, get a bit of a shoeing every now and then. It's nothing serious just boys being boys but Qjori is definitely the dominant male of the three. Amazing what a couple of balls does for the confidence! Sorry that was more of a 'further ado' than I envisaged.

After I took that picture I happened upon the chickens and was struck by the similarity in pose as one of them also appeared to have minders.

Here, in the middle, is Dottie, (huge Speckled Sussex, a big chicken) flanked by her tough as you like minders, on the left Lulu (small Norfolk 'Ninja' Grey) and on the left Doodle (even smaller Scicilian 'Stilleto' Buttercup).

Right enough of that nonsense, I'm off.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Tragic Labrador accident!

Right, before you read that headline and start reaching for the tissues, calm down, calm down, calm down dear, it's only me being silly. Josh the mad chocolate Labrador is fine. More on that after the latest up to the minute, hot off the press alpaca news.......

The news is that there is no news. There is nothing going on. Everyone who is supposed to be pregnant, is pregnant. The herd munches grass and hay all day and is pooping, a lot. All alpacas are doing well, absolutely nothing to report, zippo, nada, not a sausage.

So I thought for this blog I would focus on some of the other species living in Patouland.

First though, bearing in mind that this is an alpaca blog I give you a picture. A picture of a smashing little brown fellow who's name escapes me at the moment.......................begins with R.................................. has a long name if I remember correctly.......................................... Oh yes that's it! It's Patou Roger 'The Popham Basher' Resilient, quite simply the neatest looking, grooviest, fabbest little alpaca I have ever seen!

Woohooo go Roger the dodger! Just look at him! Just look at him! (Yes, folks I have recently had a strong cup of coffee and am 'fizzing' a bit at the moment). BUT JUST LOOK AT HIM!!!!!

Anyway back to this tragic Labrador accident. As you may know we have two dogs, Josh, three year old chocolate Labrador and Kira, 16 month old Newfoundland. They are inseparable and play fight all the time, now however, Kira's bulk is starting to take effect. Her considerable size and power is slightly starting to overwhelm Josh who literally gets run over on a daily basis as the following pictures illustrate.

Firstly, Kira closes in for 'the kill'.

Then when close enough she pounces, and Josh is 'run over'.

He tries a sneaky, lower leg retaliatory nip.

But this just invites a trampling on.

There is then usually a bit more general 'roughing up' before Josh is allowed up and the whole thing starts again.

Next time, if there is still no more alpaca news, it may be time for the cats Belle and Sebastian to get a mention!