Friday 27 June 2014

It's all on the QT.

Finally after a hugely busy couple of weeks I get time to sit down and update you all with news from Patouland.
We now have 9 cria on the ground, 5 females and 4 males. Colour wise we are very pleased, all brown until last night when the first black girl arrived.

We also have a confession to make, bad herd management I'm afraid, all a bit embarrassing but very cute nonetheless.
On Monday this week I went out to check on the portly ladies to see a female with a head hanging out. When I got closer I could see that it was Tabitha, our lovely dark brown Qjori maiden. The problem was that she had been mated to the awesome Jack of Spades in September and therefore wasn't due until August!
I immediately expected the worst. A premature cria who, at not even 9 months gestation, would be dead on arrival. However, a short while later out plopped a lively little male who was only showing slight signs of dismaturity. According to my records it was a gestation of 268 days. No, the general consensus and the text books suggested that it was not possible. But how could it have happened?

When Sue got home we discussed it at length and tried to work out who had been responsible. It remained a mystery until 5.45am the following morning when I was awoken by Sue declaring "It was Qjori".
During last summer we kept all the males in fields in the next village. They would have had to catch a bus to do the deed. But Qjori kept coming over to do some matings and spit offs. When he was visiting he stayed in a paddock next to the girls. Sue recalls finding him grazing in the girls paddock one day. That day must have been the day he carried out the filthy deed. So Qjori's daughter, Tabitha, has produced a son and a grandson for him. Line breeding or just plain incest?

And here he is, we have named him QT. As in 'on the QT (quiet)', it also stands for Qjori Twice.

Our other cria seem, after a tricky start for some, to be thriving. Here is the gorgeous Rio, she is full of beans. Her mother, Minstrel, is a Jack of Spades girl. In fact Minstrel was the first ever Jack of Spades girl, how about that!

The unnamed brown boy who spent the night in our bedroom is now doing very well and has been named Branson. He is perhaps a little too friendly but has worked hard on his mother's, initially unfruitful, udder so much so that we have now stopped bottle feeding him as she is now providing sufficient milk. He is a nibbler of trousers and a nipper of bottoms.

The only one still being bottle fed is little Pepper. Her mother, Poppy, is not really doing the job we want her to. Frequently wandering off, often in the middle of a feed, she seems oblivious to the fact that she has a cria. Pepper is feeding from her when she can but is not getting enough just yet. We are monitoring her intake and her weight gains very carefully and will reduce the bottle when we can. She'll get there, they are amazing little suckers these cria.

A perfect result from Fifi, finally, as she produced her first ever female cria! A beautiful little thing who we have called Bijou. Text book everything from the word go, just lovely, lovely, lovely.

Bijou, with her mothers ears, bless her and the Qjori greyish head. It usually fades to brown.


I have no pictures of the new black girl as yet, she is a whopper though and was up very quickly last night. She was born at 6.10pm following a quite lengthy assist. Her head was somehow twisted around one leg and upside down so I was up to my elbow for ten minutes sorting it all out. However, she took the longest first feed I have ever seen from a cria. She stood absolutely rock solid for 15 minutes, glugging away before she was even an hour old.

So the first batch are now done. All sired by Qjori. We now have a few days respite before the next dozen.

We have cria from four other herd sires to come so exciting times ahead!

Thursday 12 June 2014

Back on track.

Thanks for all the messages and good wishes over the past couple of days, I can report that we are back on track and the Mighty Patou machine is rumbling on!

An update on the little brown Qjori boy. After a night with us and a bit of TLC he is stronger and feeding from his mother. He is dis-mature though so we are watching him very carefully. He had a couple of doses of bovine colostrum, has been covered with long lasting antibiotics and we are topping him up with supplementary feeds for the time being. The glorious warm sunshine is helping and I am sure he will be OK. Two thirds of the naming committee (it is a big thing here) are at school and work respectfully. I am not permitted to name anyone without consulting said committee but I will have some strong suggestions at the end of the day.

So here is unnamed boy in his 'padded cell' in our bedroom.


And here is the little munchkin with his mother the following day.

Yesterday we moved into shearing mode, bit of a clue in the above picture. I heard Colin Ottery and his side-kick Seb arrive at 0750hrs as I was looking at the back end of a female, Rosa, from across the field as she looked to be acting a bit oddly. By the time I got to her a head and two feet had been pushed out and a short while later a large brown Qjori girl arrived! She was in a cush almost instantly, up within an hour and feeding within 2. She is now hard to catch and pops up in all corners of the 5 acre field, almost instantaneously. I think she may be some sort of shape shifter. She will also be named this evening.

Today I am on cria watch again as we still have seven females due this week and there are a lot of suspicious looking ladies out there. Minstrel makes a habit of giving birth on my birthday, today, and she was wandering about with her tail sticking out earlier.
The herd looks absolutely scrummy at the moment, newly shorn, suede to touch and of cartoon like, almost alien appearance, my favourite time of the year.
Here are the hooligan mobsters, last years boys, they follow me around the field like a team of pick-pockets waiting for an opportunity to half inch my wallet. When I turn round they all look around as if to say "Who? Us? No, not up to anything here". I am sure of they could whistle, they would.


Tuesday 10 June 2014

The worst possible start.

Pretty crap start to the day today.
We are on high alert here as we move into the birthing window for 10 girls.
6am and Sue ran up the stairs announcing that Sabrina was giving birth.
I was straight out and sure enough a head and two front legs were out. Airway was clear and all appeared normal.
However, it soon became obvious that Sabrina was exhausted and was having trouble giving birth.
I delivered the cria but after 30 minutes of trying everything we just couldn't get her breathing and had to call it a day.
Sabrina, meanwhile, was flat out exhausted and had lost a fair amount of blood. Two hours later and she is much improved having had oxytocin (placenta now out, and normal), antibiotics and pain relief.

The cria was a big beautiful dark brown female and I have just laid her to rest in a lovely spot in the field. Tears are falling on the keyboard as I type, I know it is all part of breeding animals but it's hard to come to terms with.

Sabrina knew she was in need of help, she was lying right next to the gate that we always enter the field by.
I know that there was nothing else we could have done, we will be up earlier tomorrow.

Shearing tomorrow, I have a busy day ahead of me getting everything set up.

Monday 2 June 2014

Knackered, as the real work begins!

It was 7pm last Saturday when I finally pulled up outside Patou HQ, weary, knackered, hungry and gasping for a drink. After four and a half days at the Royal Bath and West show I was home, ready to unload the show team and all their kit. The last show of the summer (well maybe just one more in August) was over and so was I, almost.
We had a good show, but it's always difficult for breeders coming from the dark side at the Bath and West as it is run as an age championship, rather than the more familiar and MUCH BETTER colour championship. It basically means that the black, brown and grey juniors are compared to all the other light coloured juniors and so on. That invariably means that the Supreme championship line up is made up of white, light and fawn alpacas, from my point of view that looks a bit dull to anyone watching. OK, so it may be argued that they are the best alpacas in the show and so deserve to be there, but for spectators and breeders of the darker alpacas it is all a bit..........boring. Oops.... did I just say that?

At this point I must point out that there was one exception in the line up this year.
Shining out like a beautiful ball of anthracite amongst a ring of dirty cotton wool, smoulderingly good looking and seemingly tearing a hole through the atmosphere from another darker world was a super Inca female. Black as the ace (or should that be Jack) of Spades, she stood alone amongst all the general assembled beigeness. All was not lost, we, the champions of the dark side were represented by the best of us all.

Actually I was also in the line up with a little white boy owned by Classical Mile End alpacas. He went on to win Best of British, very deservedly.
In that Supreme line up we stood next to the eventual Supreme Champion, a junior fawn female owned by Houghton Hall Alpacas, who was absolutely beautiful. Her fleece was simply gorgeous, like molten gold. A very worthy winner.

Right enough of that drivel. The highlight for team Patou was that we were represented in the ring by two young Patou warriors, Gus had been accompanied by his best mate, George Fry and both of them were up for a scrap. Having camped on site we were up early and breakfasted ready to do battle on Thursday, junior day. Unusually the Bath and West show not only runs as an age championship but also runs in reverse order. I have no idea why, but it does. That meant the whites were in first and we weren't in the ring until after lunch.

Just before lunch, however, was a small matter of the junior handler class. Gus and George were entered in a line up of five eager handlers, including, past master and hot favourite, Isla May, a very shrewd operator with a steely glint in her eye.

The boys couldn't match Isla and she took the trophy, Gus coming second and George a very creditable third. Top marks to Barbara for her judging in, undoubtedly, the toughest class of the show!

Lunch was taken as the boys prepared for the proper show classes and it wasn't long before they were doing battle in the junior grey class. First for Vickery with Gus and second for Wasimba and George, the Mighty Patou were up and running.

As usual it was a all over in a blur with Gus going in six consecutive classes, brown, black and grey, not just for us, he was in demand.

He took Wesley in the junior black male class and came second behind some old bloke from Somerset, who was a little too smug showing off his first placed rosette!

The nuts and bolts of it were that we ended up with colourful display of rosettes as the big boys Tsar and Talisker took first and second in the intermediate brown class on Friday.

I am now at home with plenty to do, we are shearing next Wednesday and we need some sunshine to dry the shearing field up or we won't be able to get any vehicles in, I mean, come on, it's June! Where's the bloody sunshine!
We also have females to watch, ten girls have now passed the eleven month stage and are lying around like a load of beached whales. No galavanting about from now on, we are firmly and properly on 'cria watch'.
I also have a a group of animals to get ready for export, but more on that when they have safely landed the other side of the channel.

So what am I doing sitting here in front of the computer I hear you all roar!
Enough said, now where are my wellies?