Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The end of the year

Here our first full year of alpaca farming comes to an end. The first alpacas, Victoria, Kateri and Snowstorm, showed up at our farm in November of 2007. Early in 2008 Sancha, Sommerfield and Maddie came. Then we had the unexpected death of Remington :( who was soon replaced by Maxito. Maxito has since been traded for Apollo Griffon. We gained Tucker, a son of Grey Wing. And we have our three cria born in 2008, Lightning, Shelby and Tehya. From 3 alpacas to 11, our farm has grown a lot in the last year.

The fun parts of the process have been the births and going to shows. I also think we have had a lot of family time taking on farm projects. I'm impressed what farmers the kids have turned out to be. The hard part has been the unexpected health issues (Remington, then Lightning needing a transfusion, and J hurting his back)and growing faster than planned (we had to put in another barn and buy more food than we had budgeted for).

2009 we are expecting at least 3 cria. Sancha is due in just over 4 months. Then over the summer Victoria and Kateri should deliver. We still do not know if Sommerfield is pregnant, if so, make that 4 cria. By next year at this time we could have a farm of 15. Then 5 cria for 2010! And 7 for 2011!! That's a farm of 27 by 2011. Even with the females only having 1 cria a year, we are growing faster than we had planned.

I also hope to get my picture issue resolved soon so that I can get pictures back on my blog. I need those cute faces to keep it interesting :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Protective Mom

Wow did I get a lesson in how protective a mom can be!

On Wednesday when I went to feed the morning grain to the girls, I noticed Shelby was shivering. We have been watching her closely because she's the smallest and because her mom is outside a lot and Shelby tends to stay with her mom outside. We had snow on the ground but there had been some rain first. She had gotten wet, then the water froze and she was cold. I was alone at the barn but decided I needed to get a cria coat on her ASAP. I grab the cria coat and then I grab Shelby. Well, she's a strong little thing and it took some struggling to get the coat on her. In the end she had cushed and I was on the ground almost sitting on top of her. Mom, Victoria, did not like this one bit. As Shelby squirmed she cried and Victoria came to her side. When I had Shelby on the ground Victoria was behind me spitting at me and ready to step on me! I have never seen her so protective. I was sort of glad to see it because she's seemed like a very easy going mom, I wondered what she would do if her baby was in danger. She showed me.

This whole incident got Tucker all excited. Seems he likes a girl that is feisty. Later on that day we spit tested the girls with Tucker. Sancha spit at him before he even got through the gate. Kateri was spitting next. Victoria ran more than spit, but when she is open she is a flirt so this confirmed all three of them pregnant via spit testing (a female will spit off a male if they are pregnant, though this isn't 100% accurate by any means, it has some validity). Sommerfield was much harder to read. This is her first year being bred so she might not even know herself if she's pregnant. She sniffed at the males and flipped up her tail (signs of being open). Being that she's never been pregnant though, it's really hard to know. What was more telling to us is that Tucker chased her and tried to mount her, as if he could smell that she was open. We'll see. I think we will have her u/s this spring to see if we need to rebred her or not.

No Pictures

My blog is going to suffer for a bit here because I am having a problem getting pictures on it. Our home computer died. We have a laptop at home and while it runs, it is not compatible with the software to upload pictures from my camera (the laptop is a bit old). Hopefully we can find someone to fix out computer and it will be up and running and loading pictures again very soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

comments on the alpaca business

Looking at the CBS clip I noticed below people have added comments. Many comments are in support of the business, but there are always some who claim it's a pyramid scheme and/or it will go the way of the ostrich or emus. The only comments I was shocked about were the ones that said it's a snobby Republican business - they apparently never met me! LOL I'm far from snobby (politics aside). Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and like all businesses/investments there are many opinions out there.

I say do your research. We did. We certainly did not jump into it one day on a whim. I had wanted to do it for over 10 years before I got the facts and felt we could do this. And even then, there are days I wonder how we are pulling this off.

It is an investment, but I think people who get the most from it enjoy nature, enjoy animals, and enjoy the alpaca community. We greatly enjoy spending time at the barn (even poop scooping is a break from my day job, there is something easy about it, rather than solving people's problems). I am very excited to knit items from our alpaca fiber, I can't wait! We love going to shows, and chatting with alpaca folks. And to add onto the "snobby" idea, alpaca people come from all walks of life. You can see it blatantly at shows. There are the big farms that drive in with their fancy trucks and trailers and have their polished outfits. There are some small farms that have really nice things but on a smaller scale. And there are those who rent a minivan to transport their 2 alpacas to the show (or drive in a run down old trailer). It's a very diverse crowd of people who show up to the shows, but all have the common interest in alpacas.

There are people who strictly see alpacas as an investment rather than a life style. That would not be my personal choice, but it is done, and some people prefer this. These are people that have another farm care for their alpacas, they personally only have limited involvement (and that varies greatly too, some come by frequently, others only go to shows, and I imagine there are some that do not have any contact with the animals). To me this is a different alpaca owner than the farmers that we are, but it is an option (especially for city folk who cannot have alpacas on their property, or those who just don't care for the nature part of it).

The business/investment is not for everyone. But I would not be so quick to say it's a scheme or to write it off as a "snobby" thing to do. Get more facts before making those assumptions, please.

Alpacas on the news

Last night CBS had a segment at the very end of the show on investments - in alpacas :)

I happened to see an email that this was going to be on, around 6:50 p.m. I turned the channel to CBS just in time to see it. Very cool to see alpacas on TV like that.

If you missed it:

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