Nick, John and I arrived at Heathrow just after 10am on Thursday to meet up with Jay and Hilary and Richard, and a film crew from the program Airport Animals, which goes out on Animal Planet, who were going to follow the story of our Alpacas coming into the Country. We elected Nick, who had selected these boys on our behalf, (and who we all know is very good at talking!) to be interviewed on camera by the film crew, which he did admirably, of course, and as it turned out, numerous times throughout the day.
For the rest of us this was to be our first sight of the animals - we had only seen their pedigrees, fibre stats and pictures and of course had Nick's descriptions and recommendations and so there was a certain amount of nervous anticipation all round, which intensified as time went on, and on....and on.
Little did we know how well we would get to know those sofas in The Animal Reception Centre, with many delays, the first of which because some 'Div' (John's word which I like very much, there were other's which I couldn't possibly repeat), taking them in their crate to cargo for 2 hours, but mostly because of some quite unbelievable cock-ups on paper work in Canada, which was apparently sent back to the farm by officials rather than accompanying the animals?!?!?!?
Incidentally, the toilet facilities for the day came as a bit of a shock, one of those metal round things with scary doors which threaten to open leaving one exposed to the whole world when one's knickers are round one's ankles - one desperately needed pee was enough for my nerves, I had to insist on using a proper indoor and secure staff loo for the rest of the day!
After many hours it was agreed by Animal Health that we could at least have a sneaky little look at them before Jay and Hilary had to leave and wow, they did not disappoint! After many frantic phone calls to Canada by Richard our Agent, who incidentally did a sterling job keeping us all calm, resulted in journeys to neighbours for scanning, and emailing and the eventual approval of document copies from Customs and DEFRA. Some nine plus hours later we loaded them up, with TV crew still filming, now in the dark, and drove them away. The planned tea party with all the co-owners had been abandoned hours ago.
Unloaded, we took another little peek at them in the light of Nick's head torch before leaving them in the peace and quiet of their cosy barn. I then completed my own journey home, another hour, tired, hungry and feeling bizarrely car sick from my own driving and fell into bed, exhausted.
I can't wait to see them again properly, hopefully very soon and get to know them. It'll be a while before they come to our farm as we don't start breeding until May but in the meantime I will enjoy planning who I will use over our females. They will compliment our white Snowmass boys superbly both with colour and genetics and it promises to get very exciting - how can it not with sires amongst them such as Snowmass Canopa xxx and Snowmass Matrix.
Their names for you to get used to - Snowmass Puna Sky, Snowmass Roll of Honor, Snowmass Golden Legend and Snowmass XXXtreme Dimension - I'm sure you will be hearing a lot about them in the future.
A share in the two blacks we couldn't quite stretch to, but we will almost certainly be taking the odd service to them here and there! Roll on Summer!