Friday 29 March 2013

Protection from the wind

I have been out collecting wood this morning and I came across a rather strange sight on my way back from the woods. I am not sure if it was just a coincidence or not. Somehow I doubt it.
We have a very cold south easterly wind here (as do we all) and I had let Tsar and Thor out at around 8.30 this morning. As I came past the top of the field on the tractor at midday I could see Tsar lying down with his feet stretched out in front of him which I always think is rather dog like. Anyway as I looked at him I saw that he had been surrounded by three of the four adult females we have in with the weanlings. They weren't surrounding him haphazardly they were surrounding him so as to create a perfect windbreak from that cold south easterly wind.
As I approached, Joy (always a bit nervous) saw me coming and got up before I could take the picture, she had been lying to the left of Tsar pretty much where she is now but tucked in much closer forming a three alpaca wall.
Now as I say it could be complete coincidence, but it looked very much like those three females were sheltering Tsar from the wind.
Of course they may have been there first and he may have snuck in and snuggled there but either way what clever, clever pacaroonios!

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Behaving like a proper little alpaca.

Still bitterly cold here but we seem to be a whole lot better off than some, so something to be grateful for.

Tsar has smashed through the 25 kilo barrier and continues to thrive (still loose though Andrew). I have attached a video of him this morning after I let him and Thor out. It amused me for several reasons; firstly it is great to see Tsar behaving like a little alpaca should behave, secondly Josh was desperate to join in and thirdly, Thor then decided to enter the shed where the others were having breakfast and saddle up Toddy for a little ride!

This week 5 of our females will hit 10 and a half months gestation, with the weather like it is and our limited inside space that is slightly worrying. Sue and I are already on full alert as Victoria gave birth at just over ten months last year and the cria died almost immediately. Victoria is one of the first 5 to give birth. 
Looking at the weather forecast it looks like it will stay cold until it gets wet, nice, perfect. Still there is naff all that we can do about the weather (except move to another country - not possible in the short term) so we must prepare as best as we can. In the meantime, tomorrow, after two weeks on leave, I return to the day job, now there's something to look forward to. 

Friday 22 March 2013

It's not always about the alpacas.

It's not always about the alpacas here in Patouland. There are other species here too. Last night I witnessed a cross species encounter in the sitting room, luckily I was holding my phone and took a few snaps.

Kira, the resident Newf in Patouland sleeps soundly by the fire.

Belle, the cat approaches with mischief on her mind.

The sleeping Kira wakes from her slumber, Belle is in danger!

Suddenly and without warning, Kira pounces and Belle is flattened. Oh how we laughed. Although instinctively Belle has her claws into Kira's cheek. Stale mate. 

Anyway enough of that nonsense, back to the alpacas. 
It has been a thoroughly miserable day here just as it has everywhere else it seems. At least we have been spared the snow, just rain and that bitterly cold wind. I can't tell you how many times I have stood in the middle of the field looked skywards and shaken my fist at the weather whilst uttering the most venomous insults. When the flying doodah is the weather going to change for the better. Don't they know we will be birthing next month!!!!!

I weighed Tsar again today, please let me know if this is getting boring but the little star had nudged the scales up to 24.50 kilos and was so full of beans (not literally, still loose) that on impulse I let him and Thor out, no coat, no restriction, out in the elements. And off they charged. I saw them haring around the field a couple of times but didn't really see them again until 4.30 when I opened the gate to the shed and they shot in. Heads straight into the feed buckets like a couple of hungry young boys. Splendid. They know where they are supposed go in the evening for certain.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

A day with the herd, and a turd

This week Sue is away helping an old school friend to lamb three hundred ewes. I am therefore in total charge of everything, including Angus. It is proving to be anything other than a relaxing week though. There is a surprising amount of thinking and decision making to be getting on with, otherwise nothing gets started. 
I am beginning to understand how it works. 
I seem to make most of, if not all of, the decisions here in Patouland. I am the self proclaimed Head Warrior of the Mighty Patou tribe and it is down to me to be decisive, positive, to be in charge basically. However, when Sue is not here the decisions don't seem to come that easily and I think I now know why. 

Whenever I make a decision (after much in depth thought, obviously) Sue looks at me with a hint of incredulity and says something like 'That's what I said an hour ago!' She has given me that look hundreds of times and it is in situations like today when I question if I have made many decisions at all! I have had to think, really hard!

Anyway today was husbandry day. It was the day for multiple injections, Vitamin AD & E, worming and Lambivac vaccinations. Three injections each for 40 alpacas, in 5 separate fields. Now I don't mind administering the injections, in fact I like the opportunity to get up close and personal with my girls, I give them a thorough once over after the jabs checking for jaw abscesses, mite and anything else that isn't as it should be finishing off by noting down their condition score. I'm sure we all do the same. The herd seems to be in fine fettle as we approach birthing next month. Marvellous.

Right whilst I was out there I took some photographs. Firstly one for Andrew who complained that I had not kept him fully informed as to the state of Tsars poop. This is a rather graphic shot of a Tsar poop moments after it was delivered this morning. As you can see it is still loose but firmly loose. This is I'm afraid still down to the Pro-kolin paste which we are giving him, without it he really is loose! So we will keep going with it and periodically try to wean him off it. I didn't weigh him today, THAT'S TWO DAYS IN A ROW! What willpower! I will of course weigh him tomorrow. 


The sun actually came out today and I took the opportunity to remove Tsars coat and let him charge around 'au naturel'. He really was going for it today, he actually pronked and was leaping on all and sundry. There was even a small orgle! He stands around as if he owns the place and apart from the bald rear left leg you wouldn't know there had been anything wrong with him (he hides it well in the below picture!).

I was also looking through the fleeces as I went and a new show team is taking shape. Little Todd is coming along nicely and after initially thinking that he was brown he is most definitely grey. Now we haven't ever had a grey before and I am a bit unsure as to how much white they need on them to be classified as grey for the show ring? Has Todd got enough white on his face? I just don't know. Any suggestions?
Here he is next to Tabitha whose fleece is also starting to change in a rather encouraging way.

Finally I took a picture of the ultimate poseur in the field, Talisker. Always looks fab (apart from all the crap he is carrying around in his fleece).

Monday 18 March 2013

All about the boys

We returned from the Futurity yesterday having had a splendid three days up at the NEC. Once again the organisers did the show and the UK Alpaca industry proud with an absolutely fantastic event. Well done to them all but particularly to the three superstars, Chas, Rachel and Cathy. Awesome job all round. Best Futurity so far in my opinion and it would be such a shame if that was the last one.

Anyway the weekend was all about our boys. We made the decision to take Angus out of school for a couple of days (we did get permission) and he loved it. Unfortunately Woody, who Gus showed all last year, was now too big so Gus had to wait until Saturday morning to take little Troy into the ring. Troy wasn't quite brown enough in the end and was bumped from brown to fawn. I prefer to think of him as a light, light brown! Anyway he picked up a rosette, as did Woody and we came away happy. 
We also took Edwina's Journey, an honorary member of Team Patou for the weekend, owned by Ivan and Gill Hayward and by crikey they were glad that we did as she took Fawn female Champion! 

The grand finale turned out to be the Fowberry Show again as the best in show ribbon was taken by Fowberry Nobility. The judges urged people to get hands on with him and I did. That is most definitely the standard to aim for. What a super, super male. 

The dinner was superb, (well done Cathy) and we were lucky enough to be on what I considered to be the 'Top Table'. Sue and I missed the champagne reception as I just couldn't stop watching Wales thrash England with a glass of red in hand, as a result I was buzzing when we arrived! Much wine was consumed and as we drove away on Sunday morning my hangover was in full swing, as usual.

The first thing that I did when we got home was to trot across to the shed with the weighing scales. The animals had been left in the care of our 19 year old nephew and his mate. Full instructions had been left together with a fridge full of beer and the menu for the local takeaway.

The first clue that I had that Tsar had survived the weekend was that I had to chase him around the shed to catch him. A good sign indeed. The scales revealed that he had put on another kilo over the weekend! 

Today the sun came out and the snow was melting so I let Thor and Tsar out to get some fresh air. I have attached a couple of video clips which will tell you that he is very much on the mend! I do apologise for the quality and for the fact that I found myself stuck behind a horse trailer. What a muppet!

Friday 8 March 2013

Next week!!!!!

I am in a slight panic. I have been telling everyone that either, I will see them in two weeks, or, I am off to a show in two weeks. Well it has just dawned on me that it is next week! NEXT WEEK!

There is heaps to do and I have just been put on a set of four night shifts, proper night shifts. That's not all bad as it does leave the days free for doing stuff but then again I also have to sleep at some point. My first night shift is tonight and the forecast is for heavy rain all day. Great. Still as I am often reminded "If you can't take a joke you shouldn't have joined"

Anyway Tsar Tsar Superstar update. He is doing fabulously well. I weighed him yesterday (I don't weigh him every day, every other day, I can't leave it longer than that) and he weighed in at 22.25 kilos, which is very pleasing. He has put on five kilos in the last three weeks. He still has a runny bum and is on Pro-kolin paste for that which does firm him up. We keep trying to wean him off it but the runs return when we do, it is puzzling. Tsar and Thor have been enjoying daytime freedom but are always hanging around the shed at about 4pm as if to say "Enough freedom, we want warm, dry and comfortable accommodation overnight please". So they are shut in overnight with all the creature comforts. They may stay in all day today with the heavy rain forecasted.

I have put another video up for you to see. It features Tsar (obviously) some of the other cria and a cameo performance from Kira, our Newf, oh, and a lot of poo.

Right enough of this I am off to do something preparatory.

Saturday 2 March 2013

The release!

Today was a momentous day. This morning I weighed Tsar and he had put on weight again topping out at 21.45 kilos. I must point out that 2 months ago he weighed a little over 15 kilos and couldn't walk very far without stumbling and falling over, his fleece was coming out in clumps and  the world was pouring out of his bottom. This morning he was a very different animal.

It was also a momentous day for Thor (God of Thunder) who has been Tsars 'cell mate', for the last two months. Thor has been an absolute star and I love him to pieces for the part he has played in Tsars treatment. They have both become very friendly, adorable little alpacas and Sue and I are absolutely in love with both of them. I know that sounds soppy but I don't care.

So to this morning.
We had discussed releasing Tsar and Thor and when I went over this morning I was thinking maybe this afternoon. But, when I weighed Tsar he had put on 800 grams and was the liveliest that he had been. They were both looking so vibrant and full of beans that I just couldn't help myself. I opened the gate and ushered them out! It then dawned on me that Sue might like to be part of this important moment. I paused as my life briefly flashed before me. As I watched Tsar and Thor charging off into the distance skipping sideways and leaping into the air I fumbled for my phone to ring home.

The words "I've let them out" didn't exactly land easily. Sue ran to the window and was enthusing as she watched the two boys darting this way and that as they explored their new found freedom and then she said "You should be filming it you idiot". I hung up. About two minutes later I had figured out how to record a video on my phone (come on I am nearly 50!)