Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two Blue Ribbons!

Our girls have done well in the show ring, but we kept missing 1st place (Shelby got a 2nd before and Tehya has two 2nd place awards). This weekend that all changed. Shelby was the first of our animals to show. They started with full fleece animals, and they start with the darker colors and move to the lighter ones.

I was nervous when Shelby got into the ring, but even from my seat in the bleachers, I could see her fiber shining in the light. It was more shiny than any other animal there! It glistened. Shelby got 1st place of the five in her class. There wasn't a color champion because there were not enough animals in classes of her color to hold one. We were disappointed about that, especially since we heard they were only 1 animal short of holding a color champion.

The judge said that Shelby had density and fineness She has brightness and consistent crimp. He said her conformation was tight and proportionate. The only negative he noted was that her bite isn't 100% right on. But for her to place in first, her bite isn't bad and her fleece has to be good to overcome even a slight bite issue.

Here is Shelby on her big day:

Tehya hit the show ring next among the animals that we took with us. Tehya also got first place!!! Two first place ribbons in one day! My pen stopped working so I couldn't write down all the judge said, but his main reason for putting Tehya 1st is because she was the finest of group. She also has density and incredible crimp. There were six in her class.

Tehya on her big day:

Lightning Bugs was our last to show. He also hit the show ring on the first day of the show. Lightning has the disadvantage of being in the white class. As I've mentioned before, white class is the most difficult. Back in Peru, white fiber animals were the ones they did the most to improve the fiber because that is what the European textiles wanted. While other colors are now catching up to white, white still has a longer standing advantage. Plus, there are quite a few breeders who breed for white, making more in the white classes than other colors. To put it into perspective, there were 5 in Shelby's class, 6 in Tehya's class, and 10 in Lightning's class. It's even harder to do well with more in the class.

Lightning got 4th place, a very respectable place for a white. Given that four in the class got the gate (no ribbon at all), we are thankful Lightning has the quality to keep him placing in shows. The judge said that Lightning was the finest in his class, but said that he is not as dense and lacked good coverage over his front legs. I'm not sure we completely agree with that assessment. We think Lightning is dense, he's just so fine that you can't feel the density. As for the front leg coverage, we asked others what they thought of that and they did not feel that should be an issue. He does have coverage over his legs, it's just not as long and thick as what Tehya and Shelby have. But I will keep that in mind when breeding him, to make sure we breed him to girls with incredible leg coverage.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall Show

This fall we are attending the Michigan International Alpaca Fest. For this show we are taking last years cria: Lightning, Shelby and Tehya.

We've heard many farms are cutting back a lot on shows because of the economy. Some farms have stopped showing all together. Last year we did 2 fall shows, this year we are only doing this one. We have cut back, but still feel it necessary to get our animals out there. This way people can not only see the animals at the show, but the animals can gain ribbons and recognition.

The fall Michigan show is going to be at a new venue. Last year it was at Birch Run, this year it is at the Perani Arena Event Center in Flint, Michigan. It is this weekend, September 26 and 27. We are excited to see the new venue. We hope another change for this year will be that our animals will show in full fleece rather than shorn. Last year they showed in the shorn class because their fiber was not long enough. Each spring we shear the alpacas. To me the fiber is the end product and is what we are trying to improve. It is the essential part to evaluate an animal on. However, when their fiber is short, it is very hard for judges to evaluate it. So, if the fiber is less than 2 inches long, the alpacas go into a shorn class, meaning they are only evaluate on conformation not fiber. Conformation is things like having straight legs, a straight back, good teeth. This is important of course, but to me the fiber is essential. In shorn you have no evaluation of the fiber. We have been measuring our animals periodically hoping they will make the full fleece cut off and not have to show in shorn. Tehya and Shelby are true fiber machines and appear to have plenty of fiber to show in full fleece. Lightning's fiber is so crimpy that it appears shorter than it is. We feel he meets the 2 inches cut off, but in the end the color check people make that determination.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fiber Festival

I had a booth at my first fiber festival this past weekend. On Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I had at table set up by The Old Farm Girl just north of White Cloud.

The down side would be that I did not plan well for the weather. It's been a cool summer, so the fact the weather man predicted a warm sunny day seemed like a good thing to me. I don't have a tent/canopy so rain would have been impossible for me. But, sun is bright and it was hot sitting there, quite hot. I even got a sun burn, which I am so careful not to have happen. The second day I dressed much lighter and thankfully many people from the spinning guild came and they had a canopy to put up. I also had a cooler of drinks, not just 2 with me.

I learned some tips on setting up my display table too. I had raw fleece weighed out in 4 ounce amounts in zip lock bags. I had read about the idea on Alpaca Nation. Well, this works fine in my basment, but in the blazing sun those bags started to steam up. Not good. I had some baskets with me for display purposes, and thankfully had enough baskets for each color of raw fiber I had with me. So I displayed the fiber in the basket and kept the zip lock bags in my car out of the sun. This worked great and actually was easier to display. Then when people bought fleece, I'd grab a bag out of the car for them, and left the displayed fleece in the little basket.

The big seller was Tehya's fiber. The first thing to sell was the home spun ball of Tehya's fiber. It truly is my favorite yarn. A couple people bought Tehya's raw fiber (1.5 pounds of it!). I loved spinning it, and I hope they do too. I also sold 4 ounces of Lightning's fiber. His is so soft, it is extremely nice (though he does tend to have more vegteable matter than Tehya, so more work to get ready to spin).

It was a fun weekend of spinning and gabbing with fellow spinners.
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