Monday 28 March 2011

Ooh what a swizz!!!!

Nah, you guessed it, I was pulling your leg, nothing exciting happening here. Nothing to see. Move along now.

Sometimes I get very restless. Sometimes, and you may have noticed, I find it very hard to confine myself to the realms of normality. You see, I am odd, sometimes very odd. I know that I am odd because people close to me tell me that I am odd. I am aware of my oddness and I recognise it in others. 'It takes a weirdo to spot a weirdo' is a quote that may have been used before, it may not have been, but I think there is some truth in it. However, back to oddness. In fact strictly speaking we are all odd, because we are all different ('I'm not' came the cry from the back) and as we are all different, we are all 'odd'. I suppose it is just the differing amounts of 'oddness' that sets some apart from others as being, well, odd.

But not only do I acknowledge that I am odd, I enjoy being odd. The one thing I hope I never do is turn into a sheep. I'm not talking about a literal metamorphasis, no I mean 'sheep' as in a follower. No offence meant to sheep or sheep owners or indeed shepherds but sheep are reknowned for following each other about without questioning why. In fact the only time sheep don't follow each other about is if they have their heads stuck in a fence, which they frequently do or if they're dead and they do that pretty frequently too believe me, I live on a sheep farm and I smell the 'knacker wagon' every time it trundles past. I know, they're sheep, they don't question anything but sometimes I see that sheep mentality too much in people. I know to a certain extent we follow each other in a conventional sense. We all wear clothes and go to work and have weekends off, well some people do. We all eat at conventional times, sleep at roughly the same time and well, just do things in general harmony. Apart from criminals and people who are generally anti-social that is, but I'll stop this train of thought straight away or this will turn into a right old sweary rant.
Anyway some people follow each other to a 'sheeplike' extent which is behaviour I find hard to understand. I can't stand it, it makes me want to shout and scream and jump up and down...............but only if no-one else is doing that.

One thing that really annoys me is 'theme weeks'. Not long ago it was 'National sausage week'. Well who the hell decided that it should be national sausage week? No one asked me if I wanted a national sausage week. No one asked if I minded. But someone somewhere decided that the 'sheep' needed to eat some more bangers and generally celebrate everything and anything 'sausage'. Well, and I know I am not alone, not alone by a long way, I didn't. My sausage consumption remained the same. In fact I probably ate less sausages as a result of national bloody sausage week just to prove my point. The forthcoming Royal Wedding is another case in point. Many, many people are organising street parties. Why? Is it really that important? No offence to Prince William and his bride to be but, really, a street party? Or is this just an excuse to try and meet the neighbours that they have never spoken to?

I don't wish to poo poo things such as street parties, by all means go ahead and have one. I hope the sun shines and you get out of it whatever you want, I hope you have a smashing time in fact. I will not be going to a street party. I don't live in a street for starters, but I won't be attending a farm party either. Miserable git I hear you suggest? No, just odd. It's that simple.

In the meantime here is a picture of a rather splendid looking alpaca and by virtue of his general splendidness, he's odd too.

Friday 25 March 2011


Our first herd sire Cambridge Columbus, with plenty of cria due this summer!

Ok, today is the first day of a four day respite from the day job. The sun is shining, the mud is all dried up and all the animals are in fine fettle. As a result I am pronking around like a very large, heavy and bald cria, full of the joys of spring. I am like a Labrador, ready and alert waiting for that stinky old tennis ball to be thrown for me. I am ready to chase, ladies and gentlemen (not to actually chase ladies and gentlemen. That's not what I meant). The sun is shining and I have probably had too much coffee again. I am like a small boy on Christmas Eve. I just can't calm down. Although Sue is politely laughing at my antics and inanity I feel that soon, for sure, she will break and crack my head in with a rolling pin or something (she is making cakes I believe, actually she's lost her rolling pin so I'm reasonably safe. How do you lose a rolling pin?).

This will only be a short blog for I am off to pick up Angus from school shortly and then it's off to take him for his junior lifesaving course. So a short blog it will be.
However, I have many things that I want to tell you. But I just can't. There are many exciting things afoot here at the moment but until certain things have been finalised, until people have given me certain permissions I must remain shtumm. I just can't tell you  any more at the moment there are certain factors that have to be factored in, various minute details to tie up and plenty of suspense to sit through. I just can't say anything, my lips are sealed.... until..............Oh I don't know when. You'll just have to wait and see, maybe tomorrow! Yes maybe tomorrow! Maybe not.

Maybe I'm just making it all up?

Tuesday 22 March 2011

The secret within.

There is one thing that can never be denied about the Mighty Patou herd. It is a herd of colour. Colour is our bag. We are coloured. Mainly brown, for it is brown that we love, brown that we desire, brown that we endlessly strive for, brown is indeed our own personal Nirvana. No not the rock band, but Nirvana in the Buddhist sense of the word; 'perfect peace of the state of mind that is free from craving, anger, and other afflicting states', I think in other words, to achieve 'Nirvana' means you're pretty chuffed with yourself. So when we have a herd of absolutely top notch brown alpacas to rival any in the world we will have achieved Nirvana and immense chuffedness.

We do also have a very nice line in black alpacas and the inevitable bunch of lovely fawns when we don't quite get enough brownness or blackness in the mix, but mainly we are a brown herd. In fact I am quite proud of the fact that we have never bred an alpaca that has turned out lighter than dark fawn. You could almost say that we are a herd that is closed to white or light fawn alpacas. That is, my friends, until quite recently.

You see dear reader, now lurking within the Mighty Patou herd, in fact white alpacas don't lurk in a dark herd they positively shine out like beacons, so to rephrase, now sticking out like sore thumbs in the Mighty Patou herd are some white alpacas. Not just white alpacas but white female alpacas.

This is Tisbury Alice who is the daughter of Wessex Mateus, a Highlander son. Alice has the lovely solid frame of her father and a dense white fleece. I like her look. Alice also has her grandfathers disposition and is rather highly strung with a penchant to let the spit fly.

Alice had a lovely little dark fawn cria last summer, sired by our very own Columbus. Little Flora  (below) is absolutely gorgeous as you can see. She is almost light brown but not quite there. She also has a little white snout which adds to her general 'cute as a button' appearance. We are so pleased with Flora that Alice will be having another little Clumpmeister later this year.

The other white breeding female that we have now is Tisbury Dilly. Dilly is a maiden female who has actually been here for quite a while as have had her here since she was mated to Columbus last year. She is a Wessex Samurai daughter and we are keen to see what she can produce for us colourwise. Here she is with Alice (just to prove that we do have two and it's not one taken from different angles!).

So there we have it, the Mighty Patou herd is not as coloured as you may have thought.
Just as a way of compromise today though I have added a photograph of my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world, now settled back in with her cria, Runa. Happy days.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

The mothers are back!

This morning Sue and I have been off to collect all the mothers of the weanlings from their secret winter weaning location. It's not far away and it gives them time to chat amongst themselves without being headbutted in the udder every ten minutes. It is a day I have looked forward to since they left, I don't like them going elsewhere and although I know they were being well looked after, I prefer to have them here.

The reactions amongst the reunited family groups were interesting. Unfortunately I didn't have the camera with me at the time but I have since been out and taken some pictures of the mothers interacting with the remainder of the herd.
Bobby (Chief hair-trigger spit monster) resolutely refused to let poor Ruby-May, her daughter, get any closer than she is in the picture. Check out that body language! Ruby's face has a decidedly green tinge to it now.

The lovely Dee and her cria Reeya, however, were most content to pose together. I could have taken a hundred photographs actually they just stood there obligingly waiting for me to finish. They know about cameras you know. Neither of them has ever failed to pose for a picture when required. They are so elegant, almost slightly aloof and Reeya at ten months of age is already bigger than her mum!

Little Roger's mum, Poppy (on the right and first cria of Bobby the hair-trigger chief etc) didn't much appreciate his company but did have quite a chat with the gorgeous Millie (daughter of my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world). What a couple of beautiful looking brown girls. Millie is pregnant to Jack of Spades (can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that one!). Poppy is pregnant to our very own Cambridge Columbus (The Clumpmesiter) and if we get a good combination of both their respective fleece types it could be very good for us. We will see.

And lastly, here she is, my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world, Lily. To have her home means a lot to us and she was absolutely mobbed by Runa (last years cria) and Millie (Lily's first cria) on arrival. That speaks volumes. I could only get a head shot of Lily as she wouldn't stop following me around. She loves me you see. I may have mentioned it in the past.

And finally, the arrival of 'the mothers' caused a bit of stir amongst the big boys. Qjori (nearest) was very interested and that really wound The Clumpmeister up. There was much pacing, snorting, posing and general puffing up by the two of them. Please ignore the fencing, it works, ok. That is all.

Monday 14 March 2011

Long drive for new socks.

Ok, here we go, The Futurity. 
In short, we came away with a fifth place rosette for the Mighty Ruby May a sixth place for the beautiful Reeya, a third place rosette for a photograph of Polly in the snow, the second of two thunderous hangovers for me and a craving for spoon food and an early night.

At one point and I will be brutally honest I had almost given up the will to breathe. Disappointed does not cover it. Extremely disappointed gets somewhere near but devastatedly disappointed with bells, whistles and claxons on probably hits it on the head. I am however, better now.
Perspective has been searched for and found and we will bounce back. We are also going to buy a fan. Wet alpacas, not good, and we had some very wet alpacas. Weird. It was cold in the hall but the alpacas were sweating like seriously sweaty things. I took them outside but that was against the law so they came back in.

That was some seriously tough competition. I have never seen such a gathering of high quality alpacas across all colours before with large classes everywhere. I went round and looked at some of the alpacas that had been placed above us. I tell you what people that was the best thing I could have done because the margins were fine. The quality is improving across the board and there isn't a lot between the best and the rest. That gave me heart. I have looked again at The Mighty show team and I still think they are good. Another month of fleece growth, different conditions and who knows, we all know how much alpacas can change as they go through the show season. We haven't thrown the towel in yet, we will be back. We are, after all, mighty!

On a positive note we had a splendid time in good company all weekend, looked at loads of alpacas and met and talked to some very nice people. Not only that but we restocked with some rather splendid socks. I got red ones, nice.

So with a smile on my face a skip in my step and joy in my heart I post some photographs of the event for the benefit of anyone who reads this. As Sue was enjoying herself in the ring I had free rein to wander about with the camera. I will post some of my favourite pictures from the event. I hope nobody minds, I don't think it's illegal so here we go.

Firstly we have Sue in the ring with Rico. They are standing next to the large dollop of doodah that Rico has just deposited on the green carpet. He also had a big wee. Somebody in the background seems to find it very amusing but should really have been concentrating on the showing. Actually Karen did have a good weekend so well done to Amyrick.

Here is Karen with little Inca Euphoria taking first place in the Junior black female class. The Inca's did very well as usual and Jack of Spades had a massive influence on the coloured classes. He is a superstar and I know there was some controversy over the 'non-awarding' of the Junior Herdsire award so I'll say it here. The award for the Junior Herdsire 2011 goes to.........(drum roll)..............LILLYFIELD JACK OF SPADES OF INCA (huge roar and a standing audience applauds).

Now some photographs of people who I enjoyed watching doing well. Graham and Jenny McHarg had a cracking weekend with, I think (forgive me if I'm wrong), four first places and two Champion ribbons for their Top Account progeny. Here is Graham having a few quiet congratulatory words with Fowberry Paloma after she took first place in the junior white female class.

Some people from Cornwall also did escapes me at the moment.........Pop something.....Oh yes Popham! Smile of the day from Gary as he wins yet another first place.

I finally met little Explorer from Beckbrow who is seen below with Paul getting third place in the junior whites. Not much competition there then!

Now I don't really know what to say about the next photo. Dave Bearman seems to have a small woman sitting on his lap. What on earth was going on?

And finally, for I have dribbled on for too long, a picture without an alpaca in sight. She will not like me putting it on the blog but she's gone out. Sue was, as I stated previously, quite brilliant in the ring and out of the ring was there to dust me down and get me to see things in perspective. She is truly a wonderful, wonderful person and I love her more than it is possible to convey in words.

Now, SWAG next, bring it on!

Monday 7 March 2011

A whimsical day.

I have to confess to being in a somewhat whimsical mood today. Whimsy, what a great word, very underused. Anyway I am feeling whimsical, it may be something to do with the beautiful warm sunshine and the fact that I am at home, alone, pottering about doing bits and bobs, it may not, I just don't know.

I've just looked up 'whimsy' in the dictionary.  Whimsy it says, is "the trait of acting unpredictably and more from whim or caprice than from reason or judgment".
Yes, that indeed sums up my mood today.
I have been acting unpredictably in that I have been doing something and then, like a very large and heavy butterfly (a butterfly incapable of flight obviously, and one that looks nothing like a butterfly, come on you know what I mean) I have stopped, mid-flow so to speak and gone off and started to do something else. I can't explain it really, it must be like being retired, I have no real regimentation about anything today, just aimlessly wandering through the day. Before I started writing this blog I was outside building a new chicken run for when we are away. I haven't finished it yet but I just downed tools and wandered off and now I find myself sitting in the kitchen having left the front door wide open for the first time this year (it is that warm here today).

Earlier today I was sealing the kitchen worktops (at last) and before that I was outside fiddling with some bits of wood. I've walked the dogs and fed the alpacas and had a cup of coffee with an old Rooster and an Australian and I have even had lunch, a couple of homemade wraps if you're interested but I somehow feel a little bit like I'm in limbo. It's as if I'm waiting for something to happen, waiting for some purpose in life, waiting for something to get me going and do you know what, having thought about it whilst composing this particular episode of drivel I have figured out what that 'thing' is.

Yes dear reader, I am waiting to start getting ready for the first Alpaca show of the year, The British Alpaca Futurity. This morning the Rooster and the Australian (not the one you may be thinking of, I know more than one you know) cast an eye over the Mighty Patou show team. Very encouraging noises were made and a rather splendid prediction was made by the Australian about which I shall say no more (there is a clue in the above photograph) but I am very pleased about it. That I think was the start of my whimsical mood. That was when the day seemed to dissolve into a much more fluid experience, when I seemed to go into my current state of waitingness (is that a word? It should be). Tomorrow morning I will wash the trailer and the Land Rover in readiness for the trip northwards. After lunch I have an evening shift at work to get through followed by a day shift on Wednesday. Then I will switch hats and become wholly part of the Mighty Patou. On Thursday morning Sue and I will load up the Land Rover and come 2.30pm, with the trailer loaded, we will be on the road heading North.

I feel that the calmness that is currently pervading everything I do will disappear over the next three days. I fear that come Thursday evening when we arrive at Stoneleigh Park I may be a bit of a gibbering idiot.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Today a new field.......

Exciting news here in Patouland as our expansion plan begins.
We live on a 250 acre sheep farm but the Mighty Patou herd only has access to the 5 acre field in front of the house. With the herd numbering thirty-one and with 12 cria due this summer, we are outgrowing our space.

Last year negotiations began with the farmer for more land. Today a new fence is being installed in a large field which is linked to our five acres. A further three acres is coming our way!!
As you can see from the picture below, taken from the front garden, two splendid chaps are, as I type, putting up stock fencing! The part of the field to the right of the fence will soon have some Mighty Patou alpacas running around in it and I am extremely happy about the situation!

The majestic Qjori is in the foreground patrolling his borders as normal, Columbus (unseen) is in his paddock to the left of Qjori and the rest of the herd is munching away to the right of the picture. Not only that but the sun is shining and it is predicted to remain dry right up to next Thursday which is a day I have looked forward to for about twelve months! The British Alpaca Futurity is hoving into view!
Preparations are well underway, halter training has been taking place regularly and nearly everyone is behaving themselves. I have yet to try on my dinner jacket, I am nervous........ I daren't....... it might have shrunk..........again.
This years Futurity will be the first show we have attended where I will not be going into the show ring. Sue, who is a million times more pleasing on the eye than me, has got her black trousers and white shirt ready and will be taking the mighty show team into the ring and I can't wait to see them strut their stuff.
Don't get me wrong, I love taking our beautiful animals into the ring but I have kind of been hogging the limelight a bit up until now and it is time to relinquish my vicelike grip on the halters.
Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see Sue doing well with our team at the shows and although Sue is a bit nervous she will be brilliant at it. She just will, because she just is brilliant (she's put up with me for well over 20 years and deserves a whole rack of medals for that alone!)
Our show plan for the year has now been decided and we are hitting all the big ones this year. The SWAG Spring show next month which is always a huge show (the big magnificent brown boy will be making his first UK appearance there folks!), then the National Show (our first ever visit to the National) and then The Royal Bath and West Show at Shepton Mallet in June.
So we finally get some more land to expand into. This week, the next field. Next, the whole farm, then the whole village, the county, the Uk and then THE WORLD!! We are coming people the Mighty Patou are on the move!!!!!!
Right I'm off for a lie down in a darkened room. My tablets and teddy please nurse...... thankyou.