Thursday, 24 November 2011

I can see clearly now the hedge has gone!

It has been another busy week here in Patouland. On Monday our second field shelter was finally delivered. Our old neighbour, a splendid farmer with a large tractor, gave me a call to say that the shelter was now on the back of a trailer and was ready to be transported. 'It's a bit wide though' he said. Sue and I toodled over and sure enough there it was on the trailer, and it did look a bit wide!
It is a 10ft x 12ft field shelter on wooden skids but it has a 2ft overhang at the front effectively making it 12ft square. Some of the lanes around here are barely that wide and although it only needed moving about three miles there were a lot of trees to negotiate.
I took the lead and shot ahead, lights blazing, to worn oncoming traffic (there wasn't a lot) and the field shelter began it's (ever so slightly illegal) trip along the country lanes. Before long it was deposited in the field exactly where we wanted it and it was surrounded by alpacas. I say 'exactly' where we wanted it because at the time that was exactly where we wanted it. Today it has been dragged, pushed, pulled, kicked and nurdled into a slightly different position! Not exactly where we wanted it today but somewhere different to where it was. Most unsatisfactory! I have no photographs whatsoever of the trip or the field shelter, so it's all down to your imagination.

Yesterday I was at home and luckily Sue was at home with me. Normally this sort of thing only happens to me when I am alone. I am always telling Sue that being me isn't the easiest thing in the world to be. Yesterday she was witness to how I can get myself into a ridiculous mess in a very short period of time. No pictures again guys so please, if you dare, visualise this:

I attempted to move some hurdles and gates to the top of the boys field using the trailer, as I had already got it hitched up for another purpose. I knew the top of the field was getting wet and slippery but I thought if I took a good run at it I would make it through the open gateway and up the very steep incline to the top. I stuck the Discovery into low ratio, gunned the engine from way back and pointed the front at the open gateway knowing I would have to clear the gateway then turn slighty right to attack the North Face of the slope. It felt a bit 'wallowy' and a bit 'splashy' as I careered towards the gateway but I was committed and we were soon through and the nose of the Land Rover rose as I hit the bottom of the slope. Fine so far.

Alas the summit was never reached. I estimate that I got about three quarters of the way up and then momentarily I became stationary, time seemed to freeze and then we started sliding with  increasing speed and lessening control backwards down the hill. How we got back through that gateway I will never know. A two and a half ton Land Rover, a half ton man and a ten foot livestock trailer fishtailing uncontrollably backwards down a steep hill, boy that was some adrenalin rush. The bottom of the hill came and I could see a fence rapidly approaching in both wing mirrors. There was nothing else for it than to voluntarily enter into a jackknife situation. That did the trick, stopped everything dead in a heap of wet mud. Right, a very opportune time to accompany Sue, who had been watching the 'Frank Spencer' moment unfold, home for lunch.
I won't bore you with the details of how we got out of the mess I had plunged us into, suffice it to say it took a lot of time, a lot grunting, sweating and inch by inch manouevering to achieve. I have now parked the trailer and the top field, middle field and bottom bottom field are apparently out of bounds.  

And just to prove it here is a picture of the trailer parked up for the winter. Which brings me onto the subject referred to in the title (apologies to Johnny Nash). Today the tractor with the hedgetrimmer came past and low and behold we can see more clearly now! This photograph was taken from the back doorstep. Dilly, one of our two resident whitey's dominates but is surrounded by the black girls and assorted others.

The other interesting thing this week was that I attended a presentation in Dorset by the South West TB Farm Advisory Service. What a very interesting couple of hours that was. There was a badger expert who gave a fascinating insight into the everyday life of the badger, it's habitat, it's feeding habits, it's breeding habits, basically everything you need to know about those stripey little buggers.
There was a talk by a vet from Animal Health who advised us on farm security and together with a veterinary pathologist gave us a very good insight into the current TB state in Camelids in the South West and the country as a whole. I can't stress how interesting it was, I actually paid attention the whole way through which is very rare for me!
One thing that came out in the figures (and I think everyone was surprised) was that although last year there were 16 NEW cases of TB in Camelids in the South West, this year, so far, there have been NO confirmed new cases in the south west and only ONE new case in the country. When I say 'confirmed' I mean confirmed by culture growth, or something like that.

Now I know that there is a long way to go and that vigilance must remain paramount but that is very good news as far as I am concerned.

Friday, 18 November 2011

The world is turning brown!

Yes, just in case anyone had forgotten I thought I would reiterate that I believe the future is bright and the future is brown. Not bright brown but rich, glorious,earthy, gorgeous brown. Hang on a minute what's this? Two blog postings in a week, the same week! I know, I know, what can I say, chores done and a couple of hours to go before I have to dress up and go to work so there was nothing else for it than to scoot out with the dogs and the camera into the deepest recesses of Patouland.

For your delectation a selection of Patou 'brownies' to peruse.
Firstly, probably the most important 'brownie' in the herd. The Mighty Qjori, who now aged 3 and a half, is really a very solidly built boy. He has changed so much since he arrived from Oz and I think he looks pretty darn marvellous. The anticipation for next years cria is something that you can touch here in Patouland. In fact the anticipation is so real we have had to put it in a box and stack it on top of the huge box of excitement. I just can't wait to see what the Big 'Un can produce. We have 14 girls carrying little Qjori cria so no pressure then!

Next up is the young pretender, Roger Resilient, who's development we are keeping a very close eye on. At 18 months old he is looking pretty good and his fleece is coming on very nicely. He obviously has some growing to do and we are interested to see what he can do in the ring next year. Him and Rafiki follow Qjori around quite a bit, I think there is a bit of hero worship going on.

And now for some girls, Patou Rosa was our first Columbus cria and will give birth next summer to the first Columbus/Qjori cria. Rosa herself is the spitting image of Clump, an eagerly awaited birth!

And for the future here is Spirit another Clump cria who is completely adorable. Always keen to rub noses and a complete favourite in Sue's books I don't think Spirit will be going anywhere. In the background are our two Collabear girls, Joy and Victoria.

Joy and Victoria are pictured here with Priscilla, all three have a degree of white fibre on them. All pregnant to Qjori it will be interesting to see what we get.

Now on to our most successful brown female to date, Millie. Daughter of Lily she is, in my book the closest we have to my perfect female alpaca. I just think she is utterly gorgeous and her Qjori cria next year is probably the one that I am most excited about.

So there we have it for today, some of our brownies, hang on what's this? A picture of a non brown alpaca?
A black alpaca? It appears to be a picture of my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world, Lily!
I wonder how that got there.

Monday, 14 November 2011

I have answered the call!

Right, the passage of time is ridiculous, I wake up on a Monday morning have a cup of tea and all of a sudden it's Thursday. I know the days are getting shorter in that it is getting dark just after lunch time but it seems like the days really are getting shorter, I mean less hours shorter, and everyone's writing is looking smaller but that just might be my failing eyesight. I have got to the stage now where my arm just isn't long enough for me to get my watch far enough away to get it into focus. What's that all about? Cosmo Smallpiece here we come!

Anyway, what's new here? Well last week I was called to arms. The call came and I had to respond. I have been draughted onto a committee! Never before have I been on a committee and there's probably a good reason for that. Committees are for grown ups, a status that I don't ever feel that I have ever achieved and to be honest I have never really tried to be one. Committees also have to attend Committee Meetings and that just doesn't sound good. Meetings are boring generally, long, boring and they make my brain ache. I have the attention span of a gnat these days and if there is a window with a country view to look out of that's where my eyes will be going at the slightest chance.

However, the call came and I am now part of the committee that is organising the Alpaca Show that will follow the World Alpaca Conference. It is being organised by SWAG members and will take place at The Hand Equestrian Centre near Bristol. The 2011 SWAG show was held there, it was a great weekend but there will be many changes made to how the show was organised. Lessons have been learned and it is set to be a cracker of a show.

We had our first meeting last week and after 3 and a half hours of jibber jabber I was actually quite excited and I wasn't quite expecting that.

We have also started weaning here, we have five cria in various states of wingey whineyness and five mums who don't really look like they are that bothered at all. Poor Sabrina (above) seems the worst affected and runs around a lot shouting. A few days and they will have settled and then it will be time for microchips, ear tags, registering and halter training. Plenty of work still to come and so little time!