Friday, 26 August 2011

Here we are!!!!!!!!!

Finally after much debate with my new best friend, Ranjit from New Delhi, we have been reconnected to broadband!
What a past 10 days we have had!
To cut a long and very tiring story short we moved in last Friday with The woofters (Josh and Kira). One cat (Belle) joined us on Sunday, the other cat Sebastian was captured on Monday swiftly followed by the chickens, Lulu and Doodle.

The mighty herd, meanwhile, gathered it's collective haunches in preparation for the big move. They knew something was up.

First of all there was much fencing to finish off, fields to top and a lot of general running around like headless chickens, however, late on Tuesday afternoon we were ready.

Four trips in the Mighty Herd Transportation Pod and we were all reunited, three humans, two dogs, two chickens, two cats and 39 alpacas and I can safely say that we all ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT HERE!!!!!!!!!!! (Well the cats and chickens will once they have been released from their respective cages.)

We have a really lovely stone cottage, a super garden and at least 10 acres of lush green alpaca grazing on our doorstep!

We had loved living at Chicksgrove but this is something else, it is simply wonderful.

Not only that but since we have been here I have spent the day at the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show and two days ago we met a lovely family who have just chosen their three females from the massed ranks of the Patou herd to form their own brand new alpaca herd.

It has literally been non stop for us all and I am rattling around today trying to get stuff done before the day job grabs me again this afternoon.

Right that's enough from me I have to go and stand outside and laugh for a couple of minutes, no reason for it, just really feel like doing it!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Twilight Zone!

The big move has begun and tonight is our final night here in Chicksgrove. Tomorrow we will be moving the heavy stuff 3 miles down the road to the new Headquarters of The Mighty Patou.
I need one more clear day of fencing and then we can start moving the herd. Forty one alpacas, 5 or 6 trips with the trailer should do it.
There are no pictures with todays blog entry as we are without computers until BT get all the wires connected. This will also be a short blog as my sausage like fingers jab ponderously at the keyboard of my Blackberry.
In fact I've had enough already.
Next post will be when Broadband is connected.

Now, it must be time for a glass of Vino Collapso!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The eye of the storm.

There is a strange feeling of calm here in Patouland. We have gone from the frenzied all guns blazing attack of searching for somewhere that would accommodate us all to the annoying period whereby we wait until we are given the green light to move in. There are so many things that need to be done and so many of those things that need to be done can't be done until something else is done, if you get my drift.

In true Patou style (or is it just me) having said that we would never move ourselves again, we are doing the move ourselves, with a little help from friends and family of course. The beauty is that we have two weeks in which to move. Of course it won't be enough time, there is undoubtedly going to be a mad panic towards the end, there always is with us. Did I tell you about the time we went to Gatwick to catch a plane somewhere (obviously) arrived three hours early and still very nearly missed the plane? No? The look on that woman's face when we hi-jacked her buggy thing was priceless. Perhaps another time but believe me when I say that we can always subconsciously engineer a last minute rush.

However, annual leave has been requested and people and equipment are on stand-by.

The alpacas, as you might suspect, are completely oblivious and are lounging around doing very little, as usual.
I had a trip out this morning with Qjori to meet a couple of ladies at Reddingvale and upon my return there were alpacas crashed out everywhere. Sometimes I wish I was an animal. Take Josh, our chocolate Lab, what a life he has! He is walked at least twice a day, fed twice a day and spends the rest of the time lying about without having to give a second thought about upsetting anyone by farting or burping. As I write this he is spaced out under the table and the unpleasant odour of fermented and digested alpaca poop is gently wafting up from under his tail. Not a care in the world. Sometimes I am deeply envious.

Anyway, alpaca pictures, a must in every blog, so here are some that I have taken this morning.

Little Sandstorm, he who should have been a brown girl, is first. He is a little Jack boy and has the most splendid head in the field.

Next is a barely conscious Sebulba, dried milky chops and a yawny floppy head, really stressed that boy.

Then the darling of the herd, Spirit. Her mother Polly was originally for sale but once we saw her little Columbus girl she was immediately removed. Spirit is a little cracker and I thnk Sue's favourite. They are both going to be with us for a while I reckon.

Here is Sahara nibbling at some grass, still a worry, still acting completely normally apart from her breathing which may or may not have improved. It is hard to tell but Sue and I both think it has a little.

These fluffy bums belong to Sabrina (left) and Saracen, I crept up behind them to see if I could hear what the were talking about and I was a bit dissappointed really. Grass. How much grass do you eat type thing, very dull but I suppose what else would they talk about? I left them to it.

Sienna, who probably takes the prize for the most elegant cria this year is caught nibbling her foot. She even makes that look elegant.

So there we have it for today. We are now off to measure some fences. The new land is divided up into paddocks but only with post and rail fencing. The land used to accommodate horses and two rails certainly isn't going to keep alpacas apart. There is work to do as I said but before that there is inevitably much preparation to fanny about with.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Finally a probable diagnosis!

We have had a busy couple of days here in Patouland and yesterday was not only busy but very, very interesting. You may remember that Patou Sahara (pictured below) had been suffering from some form of respiratory problems which initially was diagnosed as a possible hole in the heart coupled with pneumonia.

Yesterday I raced home from work so that we could load up Sahara, her mother Dilly and the unilateral calming influence here at Patou, Dee. We all headed off to Endell Vets Equine Hospital just outside Salisbury so that Sahara could have a chest x-ray to see if we could get to the bottom of her problem. We had been treating her with Nuflor for two weeks with no percieved effect. As a result of the lack of improvement I feared the worst, an inoperable hole in the heart, bad prognosis.

We arrived, unloaded and then literally pushed the girls into the x-ray room (they really are getting far too comfortable around us). Before the first x-ray there was much stethoscope action whilst two vets listened to Sahara's chest. Harsh lung sounds but no sign of a heart murmur. Interesting, that was good news.
The first x-ray revealed a normal size heart, a normal abdomen, diaphragm, stomach and lungs. All normal looking, nothing obvious. A second x-ray was taken from the other side and then a third from a different angle. They then took an x-ray from Dee for comparison purposes as they had never taken a chest x-ray of an alpaca before. Dee's chest was bigger, obviously, but looked exactly the same as Sahara's.

Basically everything looked normal and healthy. We had ruled out a chest infection, a heart problem, a perforated diaphragm and any sort of congenital defect in the chest area.
The vets then took blood and analysed it while we waited. Blood results showed no signs of bacterial infection. A PCV level of 14% was a surprise and is still unexplained (it should be higher). We will be seeking more advice on that today.

After much head scratching and summarising the vets came up with a probable diagnosis, Diaphragmatic Paralysis caused by degeneration of the phrenic nerve. Now, Sue had already been researching this on the internet and mentioned it to the vet, who had also been researching it on the internet prior to our arrival. Everything else seems to have been ruled out. There is little known about this rare condition. There is much speculation as to it's cause and not much known about how to treat it. It can be a fatal condition and there doesn't appear that we can do much other than to wait and see what happens. Sahara has a lot in her favour though. She is big, strong and otherwise very healthy. She continues to grow and apart from the breathing problem is thriving. We hope, and believe that it will stand her in good stead. We are feeling very positive about the future.

So, this rare condition. It may well be worth taking a note of the symptoms as it may crop up somewhere else. Lugholes back, here is what we know.

Sahara was a big healthy cria weighing in at over 10 kilos at birth. The birth (first time mum) was normal and she grew very well. In short everything looked normal. She showed the first signs of respiratory problems at 6 weeks of age. By this time she had almost doubled in weight and had been doing very well. The breathing problem was manifested by the abdominal muscles visibly doing the work of compressing the lungs. It was very easy to see from a distance. Her stomach was contracting inwards and upwards in time with her breathing. This was accompanied by flaring of the nostrils. Otherwise she carried on as normal. She was still playing with the other cria but could not sustain it for long. Her temperature was normal, physically she was normal and she was feeding and grazing as you would expect a six week old cria to do.

The vet listened to her lungs and heart. Initially he detected a heart murmur and 'crackly' lungs. She was given an anti-inflammatory (Finadyne) and a course of (anti-biotics) Nuflor. Neither had an discernible effect. She has now been breathing like this for two weeks. It hasn't got any worse, in fact I think it has improved slightly, everso slightly. She continues to behave normally, she does not appear to be in any form of distress, she seems happy and healthy, apart from the breathing, she is, and I know I have overused this word, normal.

We will give her a shot of Vitesel (Selenium/Vitamin E)) today as there is a theory that it may help. Other than that it is very much a wait and see situation, with fingers crossed.

Right, that's it, I'm off, we are walking our new fields this morning, very exciting, more on that later in the week.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

New village invasion planned

Right, I have about 15 minutes to blog before the day job drags me kicking and screaming through the front door. It really is getting in the way at the moment, don't they know that I HAVE THINGS TO DO!!!

I have started to write a blog posting several times in the last week without success, not one finished, this one may not even get finished, in which case I am once more talking (or writing) to myself. The last attempt was written when I did have time for a quick posting. I wrote the blog and then fell asleep as I was reading it back prior to posting. I wasn't tired you understand it was just so bloody boring!
Anyway, here is an another attempt with news from the home of the Mighty Patou Tribe.

Patou Sahara is still having breathing problems, she may have improved slightly but she should have improved a lot more. We are sadly fearing the worst. Later this week we will be taking her to the Equine Hospital in Salisbury for a chest x-ray to see if we can find out exactly what is wrong with her. We can then plan what treatment is possible, if any. We are trying to be positive but realistically her prospects are not good. We will see.

The second piece of news is that by the end of this month the massed ranks of the Mighty Patou will have upped sticks and moved on. Yes folks we have located a lovely stone cottage 2.8 miles away in the beautiful picturesque hamlet of Ridge, just outside Chilmark and have signed the papers. I have even spoken to BT about Broadband connection which is possible and should be quicker than it is here, which wouldn't be difficult, I think I can run faster than the download speeds here and that is not a joke.

We have spoken to the local sheep farmer, who happens to be a friend of ours and he has said we can have enough grazing land to accommodate us all. I will be having a site meeting (well a field meeting really) with him later today to finalise exactly where we will be grazing, I mean I won't be grazing, they will, the alpacas.

So mixed news, everyone else is in peak condition and all the cria are continuing to impress as they grow at a fabulously good rate.

Here is a picture of two of them, Spirit and Scout who will no doubt be part of the Patou show team next year.

Right, time is up, breakfast and then I am off.