Thursday, 24 February 2011

A full day in Patouland

No photographs with today's blog. I am on the 'new laptop' which doesn't have many images on it and, well to be honest I just can't be arsed to get Sue in a headlock and hurl her off the other computer. No seriously, I am aching a bit and need a rest, we have had a very busy day today.

Sue was working so after walking the dogs and checking the alpacas Angus and I were back into the Airfix workshop. A Supermarine Spitfire Mk IV and a Messerschmidt 110 were in need of finishing off. A bit of a paint 'touch up' followed by strange stickers that had to be soaked and floated off their backing prior to mounting on the aircraft, brought back memories of my childhood I can tell you!

After this the Airfix workshop table was cleared to reveal the table tennis table that it is (Sue maintains that it is a kitchen/dining room table, but me and the boy know differently, it does have a net afterall!). We then played table tennis with much of the usual hilarity for 30 minutes or so, or until it all got a bit silly if you like. There is a time and a place for a full blown smash I told Angus and it does have to be sort of aimed at the table.

Angus and I then travelled down to a hospital far, far, away to visit an Old Rooster (no need for any further description), we went with gifts of nuts and chocolate and it was nice to cheer someone up. He's out tomorrow so we had to be quick.

Upon our return, via somewhere that sold rather nice bratwursts in rolls, we joined up with Sue who had just returned from work. No resting though as we were out with the alpacas to round them up for a photographic project. Our photographers arrived and I posed with the beautiful Millie who behaved impeccably.

Next we went into 'microchipping mode' which went extremely smoothly. We have changed tactics on chipping this year after Sue heard about a good chip site at the base of the ear in a nice little flap of skin. All chips successfully inserted and checked with the scanner. Nice job, if I don't say so myself.

After chipping we were off halter training which sort of went well. There was quite a lot of running around afterwards, chasing alpacas who were still wearing halters which I have promised not to talk to Angus about anymore, if you get my drift.

It has been a spiffingly bright and sunny day with a high of 14C. The grass is growing and spring is just around the corner, no doubt about it.

Right enough of this drivel, it would appear to be beer o'clock.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

An Newf on the 'run'.

Finally I have resurfaced after seven days at the day job. I now have three days at home with Angus (aged 8) who is on half term (Sue is at her day job this week), and of course, all the Patou animals.

It has been a somewhat 'interesting' past four days. Kira, our big beautiful Newf has had a touch of gastro-entiritis. Now if I was going to select an animal to live with that had a 'touch of gastro-enteritis' it would not be a Newfoundland. She isn't big for a Newf by any means but still tips the scales at over 40 kilos. That is one large poop production plant. Sue and I have been entering the kitchen with trepidation over the last few days to see the extent of the, well what shall we call it, I think so as not to offend we will call it 'the outage'.

Can you imagine how much 'outage' a fully grown Newfoundland can produce? No, add a bit more. No, more still, it's more than that. That's it, you've got it, that's how much 'outage' a fully grown Newf can produce. That is a lot of cleaning up. Our kitchen floor has never been washed so much so often as it has over the past four days. It is, periodically, spotless. Then it is not, if you get my drift.

Anyway, we seem to be on top of things now, a trip to the vet was eventually required and medication has been administered. This morning she was given food again, only chicken and rice, but she has had an 'input'. We await with a kind of 'peeping out from behind the curtains' feeling to see what the 'outage' will be and where and when it will appear. Sorry if I have put you off your breakfast, lunch or supper but I felt the need to share!
A tough decsision has been made this week. We have decided to reduce the show team from five down to four. A further inspection of the lovely Runa, daughter of Lily, my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world, has revealed that she hasn't quite hit the mark fleecewise. She is now officially withdrawn from The Futurity. She is the blackest of our black weaners (and the only one out of a black mother) but her fleece is less dense than the others and she doesn't have that 'wow' factor when you look inside her fleece that the others have. There is no point in putting her through the show when we know she will not do well. The others, we think, have a chance but Runa will stay at home with the rest of the herd.
On the subject of the Futurity, Sue and I are becoming increasingly more excited about attending. The necessary arrangements have been made for the care of 8 year old son, dogs, cats, chickens and alpacas. We have it all covered and now our attention has turned to getting the show team in the best possible condition to be judged. Last year I travelled up in torrential rain and I just couldn't get Penny, who was being shown as a fawn, dry. She was still sopping wet in the ring. She still picked up a third place in a large class but I reckon if she had been dry she might have bettered that.
A modification will be made to the trailer over the next day or two to prevent the rain getting in this year. We will be travelling up on Thursday afternoon to get the team settled in during the evening. Being coloured they will all be shown on Friday morning I expect so should be in good nick. We have a couple more halter training sessions to get through and then we will be ready.
Let the fun begin!

Monday, 14 February 2011

It has begun!

Yes, halter training finally got underway this weekend. Weather charts have been studied in great depth, halters and leads have been collected, cleaned and allocated to their respective weaners. Pep talks have been given, objections have been fielded and rejected. In general the Mighty Patou has been collectively girding it's loins ready for the big 'off'. The rain finally abated on Saturday morning and Sue and I were out rounding up in the slippery, slippery, slippery mud, not ideal for halter training but hey ho the time for talk is finished. Action was required .

We have been out again today as the sun came out and the show team are really getting the hang of it quite quickly. We have taken a different approach this year. Usually we drag, I mean lead them around the main alpaca field but this year we decided to take them out into new unchartered territory. Right behind our house is a ten acre field which usually has either sheep or turnips in it (we have lots of winter type stews when it's full of turnips). At the moment the field is empty, the gate was open, an obvious invitation.
So we rounded up and separated the show team. We then haltered and began. Initially there was the usual rearing up and general flouncing around on the end of the halter but then they settled down. After a few minutes to get used to the halter situation we were off.
I took the three girls, Runa, Reeya and Ruby May and Sue took the two little boys, Roger and Rico. The dragging began. However, after the initial twenty yards to the gateway they all became quite interested in what was for them a bit of an adventure.

I led the way with the girls and Sue followed with the boys. After a gentle stroll around the field Saturday's stint was over and all seemed happy. The only one who seemed to be still resisting was the carthorse that is Ruby May. I wasn't exactly dragging her but she wasn't exactly making it easy for either of us.

Today, however, they all seemed to get the hang of it and we did two very pleasant circuits of the field. Happy days!

On top of the hill we stopped for the obligatory blog photograph.
From left to right: Ruby May, Reeya, Rico, Runa, Sue and Roger.
I had taken the little Canon with us but the batteries went flat as soon as I switched it on, marvellous, for a moment I thought it was going to be one of 'those' days where the world was against me. I'm sure you know the sort. The sort of day when just about everything gets on your wick and you feel the only remedy is to punch 'the world' right in the face accompanied by some choice expletives. Are you with me? No? Just me then.
Anyway out came the Blackberry as back-up and the snaps were taken.
At this juncture I must point out that Sue is not a Wookie. It was a very windy morning and her hair went a little bit out of control. With my sleek streamlined look I had no such problems, obviously.

After that we nipped out for a very pleasant pub lunch to celebrate Valentines day together. What a splendid day.
Tomorrow the day job beckons so the damp all encompassing blanket of misery that envelopes me will return. One day. One day.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Who is this Lampwick Sidley?

Some of you may have noticed the odd (in both senses of the word) and mildly amusing comments on this blog from time to time from someone called Lampwick Sidley.

You may have wondered who this Lampwick Sidley is. It is an odd name, indeed you might think that it is a made up name. Well I can reveal that it is. His real name is Graham. No really it is.

He is a good friend of mine and he obviously has a little too much free time on his hands. He certainly rivals if not exceeds my levels of childishness. We have been mistaken for each other by some of our less observant colleagues. He is taller and slimmer than me. We are both largely bald and sport dodgy goatee beards I suppose but really? Our 'look' will undoubtedly come back into fashion one day.

So back to Lampwick Sidley who, in his comments, professes to know very little about alpacas. Well you may be surprised to know that he knows a little bit more than he lets on.

Lampwick, I mean Graham, has actually been in the show ring with two of the Mighty Patou's females. Not only that but with his assistance, or despite his incompetence more like, one of them picked up a reserve colour championship.

Above, Lampwick can be seen with Patou Amelie prior to entering the ring at last years BAS Spring Show in the intermediate brown female class.

Now that Amelie has taken the reserve champion ribbon, he loses the shades and starts to take a bit more notice.

Thanks Lampwick, good work, now don't stop being silly there's a good boy.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Show Team update

I have decided that today I will post a blog about the Mighty Patou Show Team 2011 and how it is progressing. My opinion? Very nicely indeed thank you.

This year we will have our biggest show team ever, only five alpacas, small to some but big to us. This will be our fifth year in the show ring and our biggest show team to date has been three. We are in unchartered territory here. We will have to be right on top of our organisational skills. We will have to be calm, collected, dare I even say it, professional in our approach. I will have to lower my excitement levels considerably.

For I am excited. It is only just over four weeks until The Futurity. How will the team do? I have no idea. Actually, I have some idea. An idea that is based on the facts in front of me.
I have looked at the show team in great depth over the past few months. Their fleeces have all changed, some for the better, some for the worse. They may change again.
What I can say with some certainty is that this is the best show team we have ever had. We have stepped up a gear. I know, or at least I presume that everyone else, the opposition, will have improved on what they had last year. If not people, watch out, you are in for a kicking. That's how good we are!

Alright enough of the breast beating, they'll be plenty of time for that when we get underway.

So this morning I have been out with the camera with varying degrees of success. It is a dingy morning with a touch of drizzle in the air.

The first picture is of Patou Runa, daughter of Patou Lily, my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world. She will be in the junior black female class and I know for sure that she will not win. We shouldn't be taking her really but I entered the team early. She will not win because she will be beaten by another member of our team, more on that further down the page. Runa doesn't like to pose for the camera, but she is lovely.

Next up is Patou Roger Resilient, our entry in the junior brown male class. I suspect this may be a tough class for little Roger, he will have his work cut out. He is pictured with Patou Rico.

And here is Patou Rico, our entry in the junior black male class. Rico is the most laid back cria we have, impossible to rush him. If he could whistle, he would be whistling constantly. How can you not love that face?

Now the reason that Runa will not win the junior black female class. Patou Ruby May. The powerhouse of the team. Ruby is simply awesome. She is the best black cria we have ever had by a distance. She is the heaviest boned cria we have ever had and she has a super bright crimpy fleece all over her. A certain black alpaca breeder better watch out. Patou Ruby May is focussed and ready to do battle. She's coming for you big boy!

Lastly and by no means least, in fact I think the absolute pick of our team, is Patou Reeya, daughter of our old Chilean import Dee. Reeya, always poses for the camera. To get the above four pictures I had to take about 30 and pick one that was half decent for each alpaca. Not that way with Reeya. One photgraph was all it took. I actually took two, the other is equally as good. She is just a born superstar. She oozes class, not just to photograph but also in her fleece. She has without doubt the best fleece of any animal we have bred.

So there we have it, the Mighty Patou Show Team. It will change as the year goes on as the Mighty Van Diemen Qjori of Patou will be joining in later.
Sorry if any of you take offence at the contents of this blog posting. I have stuck my neck out, I have put my head on the block, I have set myself up for a fall, I have set out my stall, all of that.
If you know me you will know that I am a bit of a berk and that I don't take myself very seriously. If we win any rosettes I will cry with joy, can't help myself. If we don't win any, I will shrug my shoulders and move on.
We take our alpaca breeding seriously here in Patouland. We are doing what we can to breed the best. But, and this is a big but, we do it with a smile, a wink and a chuckle. Anything for a giggle and if the joke is on us occasionally, so be it, we can take it.
One thing I didn't mention was that, in case you were not aware, all of the above show team were sired by the same male. The awesome Lillyfield Jack of Spades of Inca. He is the business.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Bumble bees in jam jars.

No pictures today as for the last couple of days I have been leaving for work in the dark and returning in the dark, guaranteed to make Mark a very grrrrrrrrrrumpy boy. Grrrr. I could have taken some pictures of something inside the house, perhaps a picture of some plates or a sofa or even some artfully arranged logs? How about some socks carelessly cast aside on the stairs? (What the hell am I talking about???)

Anyway, no pictures unless you want to see more of Qjori? I have loads? Yes? No? Maybe? Why not? Are you saying he's not the most handsome alpaca in the world? Not the right colour? How dare you? What's up with you?

How about a head shot? Ok one head shot and no more. He's mine and he needs rationing to you lot.

I think I may have had one too many cups of coffee today.

So, what news here in Patouland. Well, we have been busy. Things have been occurring here. Weaning to begin with. All ten mothers have now left the main field for a top secret location where they can graze peacefully without a large fluffy bonce hitting them in their underneath dangly bits every couple of hours. The babies are left with all the pregnant maidens and the boys and they don't seem to be missing their mothers at all. In fact it seems to have given Roger Resilient and Rafiki more time for 'stud muffin' action.

They are both practising their orgling big time. It is like being at some sort of weird rodeo as Roger and Rafiki ride various other cria around the field. Male or female it doesn't seem to matter. Backwards and forwards they trot with various weaners acting like wheel barrows. I love it because it produces my favourite noise in the whole wide world. The weanling orgle. Like a very large bumble bee buzzing angrily in a jam jar. I just love it! When they are both at it, which is quite frequent, the noise is fantastic. I will capture it and it will become my ring tone, which is currently Columbus at full throttle!

Actually this week the mighty Patou has increased in numbers. A very kind offer which we simply couldn't refuse came our way and a small herd has amalgamated with the mighty Patou. When I have time I will post pictures of the new arrivals. It includes two Columbus cria who look fantastic, which is very exciting for us. We still can't quite believe the kindness and trust involved in the offer. We are humbled and very proud to have been chosen. I'm not going to mention names, I just don't think it is appropriate at the moment. Suffice it to say that we have plans for the newcomers, some will stay, some will go but all will be loved. It also means that we now have twelve cria due this summer which in turn means that we are going to be growing pretty quickly over the next few years.

We will have to change our herd motto from 'You don't have to be big to be mighty' to 'We're big and mighty, so watch out!' or maybe 'Come on then it's go time punk!' Mmm........perhaps not.

Right, there's a chicken in the oven that smells rather good, Sue and Angus are due home soon so I must clear up a mess somewhere that I will have undoubtedly left and not noticed. Ooh and I sense a glass of wine coming on.