Thursday, 26 January 2012

To go, or not to go.

Picture the scene.
I'm at the 'day job', it's somewhere between 1 and 2 in the morning. It's raining as I enter an unlit block of flats, a violent disorder has been reported. I am alone as the beam from my torch bounces off the walls of the long corridor. The floor is slippery and as my boots are wet I have to tread carefully so as not to fall over. At the end of the corridor the last door is ajar and there is the sound of a woman shouting hysterically at something or someone. I make my way carefully along the corridor steeling myself for what lies ahead. The hairs on the back of my neck are standing to attention as adrenalin rushes around my body. Out of habit I methodically pat my chest, checking that my handcuffs, baton and spray are where they should be and are ready to go. I look at the numbers on the doors as I pass them counting up from 1 towards the door at the end, number 12. The woman's shouting gets louder and louder as I approach, the language which was fruity as I entered has turned ugly and swear words are flowing freely, all shouted with feeling and a great deal of venom.
I am on full alert as my eyes look one way then the next, I can hear through my earpiece that back-up is 5 to 10 minutes away. I can hear a baby screaming from somewhere behind the door of number 8 as I pass and the muffled sounds of a parent trying to soothe him or her. My mind is racing as I arrive at the door of flat 12 and as I gently push it open several questions are simultaneously rushing around inside my head. Who is she shouting at? What has been going on? Who else is in the flat and how big are they? Shall I get my pepper spray out ready to give an attacker a faceful? Should we or should we not take a pregnant female to the Futurity?

No matter how hard I try, and I don't try very hard, I just can't stop thinking about alpacas and the year ahead. Is it just me? It can't be?

In case the suspense is too much for you........ the woman was shouting to her ex-boyfirend down the phone  who had got drunk and wet himself before plonking himself, much to her annoyance, on the her sofa. She had given him an earful and he had managed to run away before I arrived. She obviously thought he needed a bit more of an earbashing which was thoughtfully shared with everyone within a hundred yards.

Anyway the subject of my deliberation about which Sue and I have had a long discussion is how pregnant would an alpaca have to be before we decided not to take her to a show? Actually we have never taken a pregnant female to a show, never. But, many people do and I think if the female is naturally a calm animal and is used to going to shows, why not? We still haven't finalised our decision and it would only be the Futurity as it is so early in the season, but we are very tempted. The lady in question, Reeya, who would be 8 months pregnant at the time, is looking awesome!

Reeya, a Jack of Spades girl, with her mother, Dee, our oldest alpaca.

Monday, 16 January 2012


Sue and I have been talking this week. I mean we have been discussing things, not just talking, we actually talk to each other very nearly every day! We have been talking because there are plenty of alpaca related decisions to be made. Matings and shows mainly and so far some decisions have indeed been made. Probably the biggest quandary was over The British Alpaca Futurity. We have loved going in the past, three days of total alpaca immersion, fantastic. But, and this was the reason for our long debate, it is a costly affair. It's the best show in Europe but it does come at a price. Anyway after hours of bean counting we have decided that we will be taking the Mighty Patou Show Team on it's first outing at this years Futurity.

A month after that and two days after the World Alpaca Conference is The Alpaca 2012 show which is being organised by the South West Alpaca Group. I am on the organising committee (I know, how very grown up of me) and we had a meeting last week. I tell you what folks this show is shaping up to be every bit as good as the Futurity. It is going to be at The Hand Equestrian Centre which is a fantastic venue. All the animals will be under the same roof, there will be two show rings, four judges and a fleece show. Not only that but huge TV screens will show footage of the judging and results and there will be an evening function too. I urge you to check out the above link and get your show teams entered. We will probably be taking the biggest ever Patou Show Team, it will indeed be Mighty!

The team itself has not just yet been finalised but is shaping up rather well in a largely brown sort of way. We've been out today getting hands on in the fleece department. It is interesting to note the way the cria that were shorn differ vastly from the ones that weren't. Here for instance is the lovely Sirrocco, our oldest cria absolutely covered in hay.

And now here we have Sabrina, shorn as a cria, who is just as lovely but much, much tidier!

Again, here is Sherwood, shorn, neat and tidy.  The shorn cria also have a habit of walking about with a clump of hay sticking out of their mouths. Sort of like a badge.

Woody and Sabrina will be in the show team, Sabrina (full sister to the awesome Ruby-May) has a fleece that is just getting better the longer it gets and Woody's has been super right from the start. The decisions about who we take and who we leave will be the toughest selection process we have ever had this year. I can't wait to get all the potentials together next month and make those final decisions. Halter training will be under way soon!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

One last thing

Right that's that then Christmas is over for another year. The decorations came down today, the remains of the turkey went in the bin yesterday and it is only a week until Angus's birthday. Time moves on and so must we. But before we do I am going to go off on one about Christmas, I've got a right old monk on about it and I need to get it off my chest, so here goes.

Hopefully after this minor Patou rage there will be no mention of Christmas until December next year. There will be of course, in this ever impatient world that we live in there will be plenty of Christmas talk before December 2012. Was it October last year that the shops started covering everything in tinsel?
If I had my way, anyone, individual, organisation or whatever that makes mention of Christmas before December the 1st at the very earliest should be taken away to a place where they should be hanged from the neck until they are dead. Honestly, they should. They are spoiling it for those of us who have restraint. It's not that I don't like Christmas, I do, I love it! I just wish that we as a nation (is it the whole world?) could stop being so bloody needy! Why can't we just wait? Why such a long build up? Collectively, as a nation, just exactly how old are we? Grrrrrrrrr!!!!!!

A deep breath........and relax. Thank you I feel better now.

So now to all things alpaca. We are now less than three months away from the arrival of the first cria of 2012. The first ever Van Diemen Qjori of Patou baby will hopefully arrive before the end of March.
The mother of the first one will be Dee, our 14 year old Chilean girl and mother to our top brown girl from last year, Reeya (in fact she's the best we have ever produced and she still looks fabulous!) so we have high hopes from the start, no pressure then Qjori!

After the first one we have a steady spread of births until the end of June when the last one is due. Our initial predictions of 16 births took a small hit a few weeks ago when The Lord Lieutenant of Chilfrome Timothy Twinkletoes arrived with the scanner. Thirteen nicely pregnant but three, Lily, Fifi and Rosa had lost their pregnancies somewhere along the way. Still a busy enough year for us part-timers. There will be 22 females in total to get pregnant this year so we have to get our thinking caps on to decide the mating strategy. We will be using black males over our black females this year and the rest really depends on what Qjori produces.  We will be making fluid rolling decisions as we progress through the Spring and early Summer.

Patou 'Roger' Resilient.

As far as the show team goes, well this year we appear to be very male heavy. Qjori will have the year off after his splendid show season in 2011 which means intermediate browns Roger Resilient and Rafiki will step up. We have just been out for a fleece check and they are both looking very nice thank you. Woody and Sultana, I mean Sultan, are still looking good for the junior brown male berths and that about wraps it up. Reeya is still looking stunning but she is due to give birth on the 30th of May which is cutting it a bit fine. So four brown boys it is then!

Rafiki striking a pose last year.

The weather here has been pretty grim, as with everywhere else, trees down, torrential rain, mud, mud and more mud. However, life must go on and Sue and I were out yesterday giving everyone their monthly AD&E injections. It was very pleasing to see that everyone is holding their condition, we must have the feeding regime about right.

We do have one casualty, first time mum Minstrel has a nasty sprain to her front right leg. The bottom joint is swollen and hot. She is weight bearing on it and getting around in a sort of hoppy 'I don't want to be doing this' type of way. We are treating her with anti-inflammatories and will see how things develop. I'm sure she is a victim of the slippery muddy slopes we have here.

Minstrel and Sherwood photographed last summer.

Right, enough of this mundaneness. I have things to do and places to go. Adios!