Monday, March 29, 2010

New Girls' Shelter

After putting up the hay shelter last week, J started building a new shelter for our maiden girls. We've found that having the older pregnant girls with the younger girls can at times be a pain. One issue we've had is trouble weaning the young ones. This year we had our little ones go to Ashton Stones Alpacas for a couple weeks to help with weaning. They did wean, but we had problems even after that with Lily clinging to her mom. Another problem we've run into is that we want to make sure our pregnant moms keep their weight up. Especially Sancha can get very thin through birth and nursing her baby, so she needs plenty of food. But if we leave extra food out for her, then the younger ones (like Cafe) eat it and they put on too much weight. We think having a separate area for the pregnant moms and the young girls would help these issues. Plus, we are looking to the future when we will need that much room to hold all our girls.

We found with the shelter we put up for the girls last year that they almost never use it. Unless it's pouring rain, they hang out in the pasture or paddock. So we decided if they hardly use the shelter anyway, we don't need to go all out for one.

This is the area before:

Then the frame:

Almost done (it still needs to have trim and paint):

From our experience with the other shelters, I really think they will like this one the best. I predict they will all cush right in the entry way, chewing their cud.

My hay shelter is working out great! Even with a load of hay in there I have plenty of room:

I do still want to move all our grain inside here so that I can free up our garage. I also want to put the wagon and the wheelbarrow in there. Getting all that in order is a chore waiting for me after show season.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Balancing Act

Often times alpaca farming means doing a good job of balancing different aspects of life. Some farms are able to do alpaca farming as their full time job, and that would require a lot less juggling. But I'd say most alpaca farmers count on some form of stable consistent income from a regular day job. J and I both hold a job outside of the home. We also have 2 children, ages 7 and 10. Before we had our alpaca farm, even with our normal life of work and kids, I actually found there were a lot of times I was bored. That was one of the reasons we became alpaca farmers. We do like the alpaca lifestyle, so many aspects of it work well for us. For the most part I think we do a good job of balancing things. We meet our farm needs, but also our family's needs. Like for the last 12 weeks the kids have been taking swimming lessons. Well, those 2 hours I'm at the pool each Saturday morning watching their lessons, makes a great time to get some knitting done.

I've been working on knitting these baby booties out of yarn I spun from Sommerfield and Shelby (the white is Sommer's and the variation is a twist of Shelby and Sommer). I started knitting these on our trip to a show a couple weeks ago. I wasn't able to finish them on our trip, so I brought them to the kids' swimming lessons last week. I finished knitting them at swimming lessons last week; however, I didn't quite like how they turned out. This week when I was looking at them, I realized instantly how I needed to change them. I was able to finish them this week during the kids swimming lessons.

Baby Booties:

I think they turned out pretty neat! I tweaked the pattern so much it isn't even like the original, so that is even better. My own home spun yarn, my own knitting, and my own pattern creation.

I started making a matching baby hat:

At home this weekend I started spinning some of Victoria's fiber:

Since we started our farm about 2.5 years ago, I think the one thing that I have let slip a bit is exercising. I used to run a lot. Since we started our farm, I've had times I tried to keep up with my running, but it's been very inconsistent. I know I do a lot of work on the farm, that is exercise. I've often argued that in the olden days we did not need to exercise, life kept us busy enough that people were healthy. But, I've been starting to worry that I'm not getting enough of a cardio workout. So on Sunday I set out to jog. I was sad that my constant running companion, Dottie, has gotten too old to go running with me. Her back hips are really bad (due to a car accident when she was young). She is now 12 years old, and not doing well. I felt bad leaving her at home, but it would have been painful for her to go. Quinn was more than willing to run with me. I usually run up and down our driveway:

It's 1/3 of a mile if you go down the private drive to the main road and back, so 3 laps = 1 mile. The main road is off in the distance on that picture (down that last hill), past where you can see. Several laps makes for a good workout. I like it because I'm outside, but still close enough to the house if the kids need me. I was worried I was quite out of shape and this might be a miserable thing to do. I've had some problems with one of my knees and wondered if I should even try to exercise on it. But I was feeling good, so I gave it a go. While I admit I am a bit out of shape, and I've gotten more flabby than I'd like, it wasn't near as bad as I thought it would be. Turns out hauling water and hay and scooping poop really does keep one in decent shape. This was a great workout. I'm going to make a point to start running regularly again.

While passing in front of our house I noticed one of my favorite things about spring:

Poor Spot looked like he wanted to join me (doesn't he look so sweet and small here?):

I've read that you aren't supposed to take guardian dogs out of their area because that will confuse them on what they are supposed to do. So I haven't take Spot running with me. I would be curious to hear other people's experience on this.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Getting Ready for the Indiana Alpaca Invitational

Only 6 days until our next show, the Indiana Alpaca Invitational! We leave on Thursday morning, for the show that takes place on Friday and Saturday (due to Easter being on Sunday, they are having the show on Fri/Sat when typically it is Sat/Sun).

This is our 3rd year going to this show. We attended 2 years ago but didn't show our own animals. We actually helped South Haven Alpacas show their animals (well, J helped show them, I'm a behind the scenes kind of person). It was a great learning experience to spend time with them. I am so sad they are no longer alpaca farmers, it's not the same going to shows without them. Since going to this show 3 years ago, we knew we wanted to return last year with our own animals. This is the show that last year we took Tucker to.

This year we are taking SA Peruvian Greyt Exxpectations (AKA "Greyt"). He is a 2 year old medium rose grey male. He has been in quite a few shows, but this will be the first one we are taking him to. I am excited to see how he does. I'm most eager to start his breeding career this year. He's so soft with amazing color. Here's a picture of him from this past winter:

After our experience last year with Tucker trying to climb the gates to get to girls, I hope we have a better experience with Greyt. I'm leery to take these older males to shows because they sometimes act up. I don't blame them, it's only natural for them. It's just that it can be a pain to deal with.

We are also taking our almost 2 year old white male, Sancha's White Lightning (AKA Lighting, or Lightning Bugs, or Bugs). Lightning has not been to a show yet this year, so we will see how he does now that he's a bit older. Here is a picture of him from this winter:

We are taking another male, our little eight month old OHVNA The Cavalier. I love how woolly and cute his face is:

He is woolly all over. Even the vet today commented on how fully covered he is:

We are taking 3 girls with us.

Kateri's Tehya will be 2 years old this summer. She is a fading fawn, who has placed either 1st or 2nd in every show she has been too! Unfortunately I had a hard time finding a good picture of her (we got a new computer in December, so our old pictures, including her ribbon pictures, are not on this computer).

We are eager to see how our OHVNA Pocahontas does at this show. At the Best of the US, she gave us a blue ribbon and our first color banner!! I would love a repeat of that! But, shows can be so unpredictable. While I think she has great fiber and conformation, her issue may be that she may not always show in the same color class. We believe she is a dark rose grey, but at Best of the US she color checked as Indefinite Dark. Actually, the people in color check didn't know what to call her so had us take her to the judges for color verification. I do think the lighting in that venue is darker than other places. We will see how she color checks for this show. The most important thing is for her to be in the right class so she is judged with similar color animals. I'm not stuck on her being in one class over another (sometimes people hope for one class thinking they will do better in that class). But, she could do worse in a class if she isn't quite in the right class (competition isn't quite even then). Here is Po with her winning ribbon, and with her on our farm this winter:

The youngest girl we are taking is Ashton Stones Little Miss Rosco. She is a seven month old true black female. This picture of her is from this past winter:

We are in the midst of our spring show season. I think we might look forward to this even more than when the cria are born. The odd thing is that it is out of character for me. I tend to be a homebody and am a very shy and quiet sort of person (unless you know me really well). You would think that shows would not appeal to me. I tend not to like a lot of people around (I do better one-on-one) and I don't like busy places (a place like Chuck-E-Cheese could put me over the edge). I can't put my finger on what it is about shows.

Vet Day

Since our spring show schedule spans over 7 weeks, we couldn't do all the CVI's (certified vet inspection) in one vet visit. The CVI has to be done within 30 days of the show. We already attended the Best of the US Alpaca Show. That was our first spring show, and we did our CVI for that prior to that show. Our last spring show is the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival in Wisconsin on April 23/24, so today was the earliest we could get the CVI for this show (we could not have gotten this CVI when we were at the vet for the CVI on the Best of the US show). Next weekend we have the Indiana Alpaca Invitational. We could have done that CVI when we did our prior one, but we knew we'd have to come again for our last show, so we waited on this CVI. Today worked for both these shows. But it meant taking 7 alpacas to the vet for their CVI (6 are going to IN and 3 are going to WI, but one of the ones going to WI is not going to IN, so that makes 7 total). On the plus side, it was not snowing today like it was on our last vet outing. And, we are getting better at moving so many alpacas in and out of our trailer. No alpacas made an escape.

There is always the option to have the vet come to your farm. We did this back when we did not have a trailer. I could also see how this would make sense if you have more alpacas that need to see the vet than what you can fit into your trailer. You also might opt for this just to save the hassle of getting all the alpacas haltered and to the vet. I think I figured it out once that it costs an extra $80 to have the vet come out. I can halter alpacas and get them to the vet to save that (but then I tend to be frugal, I have more time and energy than willingness to spend money). But, we always under estimate how much time it takes to gather and halter and get the alpacas into the trailer. Today I timed it and it took us an hour! It would not have taken that long if we were leaving at a typical alpaca grain eating time. I feed them all their grain in the paddock, which is also where we gather them to catch and halter them. If I know we need them all ready to halter, I leave them in the paddock (like on a morning we leave for a show, I feed them, then keep them gated in there). Thankfully on mornings we leave for a show, we leave early, so we catch and halter them right when they are done with their morning grain. But today our vet appointment was at 1:30 p.m. I had an appointment for work early this morning, so I fed them at 6:30 a.m. I wasn't leaving them stuck in the paddock all that time (they do have hay, water and shelter, and a bit of room to roam, but still, that's a long time to keep them penned up). In the end we ended up having to put out grain even though it wasn't grain time to lure them into the paddock. Now we know, it's about an hour to get them together if they aren't already penned up in the paddock.

All our alpacas passed their vet exam. We have our CVI's and are ready for show time!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Alpaca Training

I thought our show alpacas could use a bit more halter training. On Monday I asked the kids to help, which they often are eager to do. It was beautiful sunny weather. I'm not so sure it really counts as haltering training, I think the alpacas ended up training the kids (the extra child is my niece, who oftens hangs out on our farm):

Cavalier was the one who walked the worst on the halter when we were at the show. I've been referring to him as an ADHD boy, because his behaviors fit it so well (that must be the social worker in me coming out). He's a cutie, but his antsy behavior, where he can't stand still and keep bucking, is not fun at the show. Zack snapped a shot of me walking Cav around:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

1st Place and Reserve Color Champion

OHVNA Pocahontas!!

We don't have a picture of her color reserve banner, because they did not have one. Of the animals registered, there were not supposed to be enough in the indefinate class to have a color championship. During color check, animals were added to the class (Po being one of them, we had her registered as Dark Rose Grey). We are supposed to get a banner in the mail, and will get a picture of Po with that when it comes.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

? spring ?

This is what we woke up to today:

I knew we weren't done with snow. It's too early in the season to hope for that. It's OK. I'm still nursing a cold, and love to have the excuse to snuggle in a blanket on the couch. I'll wait for nicer weather to go clean out the garage.

Hay Shelter

We've learned to be creative when it comes to farming. As I've mentioned before, we built our house in 2000/2001, before we ever considered being alpaca farmers. Had that been the plan, we would have done things differently (most likely we would have bought an old farm). But, we've learned to make what we have work. This past year we stored most of our hay in a small barn up by the boys. We now need that barn for our male weanlings. We store a little bit of hay in our garage, for the girls. The boy's barn is about .16 miles from the girls, I'm not hauling hay that far every feeding time. So we had several bales of hay in our garage, right by the girl's area. Thankfully we built an oversized garage (we took plans for an oversized garage and even added more space to it). And, I drive a small economical car, so that there was room in the garage. But still, we had to restack hay every couple weeks to keep up with the girls' eating.

We put the hay behind the bins of grain:

There was only room for 1 pallet there (we like to stack our hay on top of wooden pallets):

To free up our garage and to clear out the male weanling barn, we decided to put up a hay shelter:

Pretty impressive that we have that up already! I can't take any credit for it. I've been at work, and I caught a miserable cold. We've had incredible warm weather and J's been home. After the show all weekend, J had until Friday night off of work (the benefit of working 12 hour shifts three times a week, he ended up with over a week off without taking time off.... but now he works 6 out of the next 7 nights). Anyway, the shelter is up and inside we can fit 3 pallets from left to right, 5 lengthwise. It is huge compared to the 1 pallet area we had back here before.

J still wants to put dolomite on the floor of the shelter. We will need more pallets and lots of hay.

American Express Commerical

Click here for link

I love the alpaca making her comment, and his socks :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


The weather has warmed up. The snow is melted, and the sun is shining. This is the view from my bedroom window:

Here most of the girls are looking out in the woods because the kids are out there playing:

I love spring time, it is by far my favorite season. I fear though that spring is not really here. We do live in West Michigan, and this is a bit early for spring. I'll take it for now though!

fiber craft update

I haven't posted much about my spinning or knitting adventures because I have been spinning a bunch of fiber I promised for Christmas presents. I injured my hand just before Christmas and couldn't do anything, so I had to spin up a bunch of yarn after Christmas. I spun up a neat twist of Tehya and Shelby yarn. Then I spun up a bunch of Sommerfields's fiber. These skeins have now been sent to the individuals I promised them too.

I had some remnant yarn left, some Sommerfield and a twist I did with Shelby and Sommerfield. On the ride down to Ohio for the show this past weekend, I knit this:

This is actually 2 baby booties on the needle. I have learned to knit them at the same time so that they turn out the same size. I thought I would finish this on our trip, but I had no time at the show, and on the ride home it was too dark for me to knit. I'll finish them this Saturday when I watch the kids at swimming lessons.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Best of the US Auction

We have never been in an auction before, and the only one we have attended was this one last year. It was suggested we put Shelby in the auction, and after some thought, we decided we felt comfortable doing that. We have had a lot of interest in buying Shelby, but no one has come through with actually putting down money for her. We have been offered some very tempting trades, but, I feel some animals I am not willing to use in a trade, and Shelby would be one of those. We applied for the auction, she was accepted, and we paid our entrance fee.

Unfortunately, there were some unforeseen issues that came up. I don't know all the details, and it's not my story to tell. What I will say is that some people/farms did not come through on what they promised and dropped out of the auction at the very last minute. This left the organizers hanging. At one point they canceled the auction. We got a call late last week telling us it was canceled. Shortly after that we got a call from the organizers explaining that a backer come forward, and the auction was going to happen. Some of the farms that had put animals in the auction dropped out. It was offered to us that we could drop out, or, we were also offered the opportunity to add another animal in the auction. After some discussion, we decided to stick with the auction and we added Lily to our auction animals (hence my post last week about her being in the auction). We have several reason for Lily to be the one we added into the auction. For one, I wasn't giving up Po (and this was before she gave us a color banner). I have wanted a rose grey and she is exactly what I have wanted. It would take a lot for me to part with her (don't get me wrong, they all have a price on them, and for the right amount of cash I'd pack her up and send her off, it is a business, but I wasn't ready to part with her yet with the uncertainty of what she might get at an auction having never been shown). I also thought Po and Shelby are fairly similar and might distract from each other, as the same buyers might be interested in both of them. We just acquired Rosco and I think she will make a great foundation animal for us. That left Lily. Lily is white, which is not what we are breding for. We have Lily's mom and brother, and if we want, we live near the farm where her sire is, and could bred to him again. These are genetics we have access too fairly easily. Lily is quite different from Shelby, so could would appeal to different people. Lily is cute, and friendly, she could be engaging at an auction. I know there is a farm out there where she would have a great home.

Lily was in lot #10, Shelby in lot #23.

The auction started, and at first no one was bidding (initially I thought the first lot did not sell, but I have since heard that it did, just for a low amount, not many bidders). This was not a good sign. J and I decided it was ok if our girls don't sell. We can take them home and chalk it up to a good learning experience. We weren't planning to put Lily it the auction until a couple days ago, and Shelby will make some amazing cria that would be welcome on our farm.

Some lots sold, some got no bids, some did not hit the reserve.

I won't often talk money. For one, money tends to give me anxiety and it's better if I just don't go there. I am not a risk taker and that part of the alpaca business scares me (ok, freaks me out). J and I make a great team in that he pushes our farm to strive ahead (he's the risk taker), and I hold us grounded so that we don't lose our house through bankruptcy (he'd buy every great deal he could). We balance each other. As for the auction, it was what I would consider a risky thing, so I leave those decisions up to J. He's more level headed, he's more in tune with what is going on in the industry as a whole (what is a fair price, etc), and he did everything to get us into the auction. This is his thing. I trust him. In the big picture, we do make these decision together, but in the fine details, I leave that up to him. He always has a plan, and if I butt in, sometimes I mess up his plan. So in this situation, I left the details up to him, though he ran everything by me for a second opinion, and to make sure I was ok with it.

Another reason I don't talk money is that I feel these things are a private matter. The specific details of deals between farms are private. Sure I'm free to tell whomever I wish, but the other farm involved might not want people to know for one reason or another. I'd hate for my blog to blab something that another person did not want to be public knowledge. But, an auction is done in the public, these are not private deals, anyone could sit in that room and hear it all. And I'm sure there are lists of what the animals sold being posted on alpaca forums. So for this situation, I'll post about money.

We set the reserve on Lily at $5000. I know that may sound low to many farmers, but the economy is what it is. We've seen bred females listed for less. Also, keep in mind that at this point, Lily had never been shown. While we think she's great, it's not been confirmed. We set the reserve on Shelby at $7000. We had wanted more for her, and I'm sure she is worth more. But, after a year of many people showing interest in her, no one has ever come up with a cash deal (we have only been offered trades and/or breedings). We felt these reserve prices were on the low side, but priced to allow these very good quality girls to be considered a great deal.

Of our two, Lily went up to auction first. It took some time for the bidding to start, and I thought we might just be going home with her. Then J walked her into the audience and the bidding did pick up some. Before the reserve was hit, the bidding stopped, so the auctioneer asked J if he was willing to drop the reserve. We hadn't talked about this option prior, so I didn't know what he would want to do. Since he's more in tuned with what is a fair price, I left this up to him. He did agreed to lower it, and Lily sold for $4,600 (just below our initial reserve). Afterward we met the new owners, a wonderful couple from Hi-View Alpacas. They are fairly new to the industry. They said they don't really bred for white, but felt Lily would be a good addition to their herd. I told them some about Lily, commenting that she is very friendly and loves to follow our kids around. The girls' pasture includes our backyard where our kids play, and Lily will follow them around and sniff their heads. They thought their grand kids will love her. I'm glad to hear she will still have kids to watch. (I do want to note that while she does this, she is not in any way aggressive towards us, as some alpacas can develop a condition where they associate more with humans than alpacas, I do NOT see Lily doing this, she is just an above average friendly girl). They were excited about her, and even more excited when she got a ribbon the next day. I think she has a great new home!

Just to add a note, the next day after Lily won a ribbon in her class, J said he talked to a guy who said he regretted he didn't bid higher on Lily and buy her. I know she sold at a great deal.

We had some time between Lily's lot and Shelby's lot. I decided to go feed our other alpacas. It was getting late, we had chores to do, and I was starved. That way when the auction was over I could go get something to eat. I got back to the auction area just as they said Shelby was sold, I missed it. Before I left J had said he wouldn't go below reserve on Shelby. But when it was just $500 less, he decided that wasn't enough to make that much difference, so he agreed. I know Shelby sold for less than she should have. But, the economy is rough. And it's not just this auction, it's difficult everywhere. Sure we *could* get more for Shelby, but at what point? For the last year we have had a lot of interest in Shelby, but not one person has come through with actually buying her. I know sometimes there are deals that are made after the auction on the ones that didn't sell, but I was leery to wait for that, when so many times over the last year we have been disappointed by interest in her not panning out.

In the end, both of our girls sold. We are happy with our first cash sales, and know that both of these girls have great homes. As it worked out, both farms were able to take the girls home from the show, so we came home 2 alpacas less. Don't worry, we have 4 cria coming this summer :)

Best of the US Alpaca Show

I intended to update my blog throughout the weekend. We took our laptop with us so that I could do that. But, as it was, I just plain did not have time to do it. We were so busy all day long, and got back to our hotel late at night, I was too tired to even turn on the computer, let alone mess with pictures and write up anything. I am finally now getting to work on it.

Friday we left our house in the morning, as soon as the kids left for school, we loaded up our alpacas. We took Shelby, Lily, Pocahontas, Cavalier, and Rosco.

We made our first stop at Ashton Stone Alpacas to pick up some of their alpacas for the show. We picked up Jolie, Riphaeus, and d'Artagnan. We head out to Ohio, on the way the way we picked up their new suri alpaca, Paisley.

The way the show goes, on Friday you arrive, have your animals vet checked, and color checked (so they know what color class they will show in). You set up your pens for the alpacas. They had a meeting at 7 p.m. for all the show exhibitors. And after that meeting, they met with all the farms who had auction animals.

We are getting better at setting up everything, but this show seemed to take a long time. I know we had more animals with us than we have had in the past, but still, it seemed to all go in slow motion. We had intended to check into our hotel and get some supper before the 7 p.m. meeting, but we weren't even all set up by that point. By the time we left the fairgrounds, and got to our hotel, it was at least 9 p.m.

Saturday we arrived early, because we knew Rosco would be showing in the first class (they start with black juveniles). Rosco has good conformation, and good fiber, that is shiny, fine, but not dense. We know she is not that dense so we knew she wouldn't place at the top of the class. Rosco got a respectable 5th out of 8. This is about what we expected. I have said from the start that Rosco is a great foundation animal and next year we will be sure to breed her to a very dense male. Shelby was the next of our animals to show. Shelby has had a mixed show record. Last year at this show she got 2nd place, and almost got into the color championship. Her 2nd show in Indiana she placed 4th, but she was very hot and that messes up their fiber crimp and structure. Then last fall in Michigan she got a first. We were disappointed with her fourth place at this show. The judges only negative comment was that her fiber lack architecture. I don't know that I agree with that evaluation. Shelby has a bolder crimp and there can be a bias in the show ring for the very crimpy zipper crimp. Saturday evening was the action. I'll write a separate post about that. It did mean a very late night, I don't think we left the fairgrounds until after 7 p.m. (that's late for me ;) ).

Sunday we knew we needed to get there early because D'ar from Ashton Stone Alpacas would show in the very first class of the day. There was also the time change, so it felt an hour earlier. What we didn't expect was that the hotel clock automatically moved forward that hour, we moved forward an hour, so we ended up 2 hours ahead. Plus, I slept terrible that night. I was overtired, but finally fell asleep, then woke up around 1 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. I was running on very low sleep all day Sunday.

3 of our animals showed on Sunday (plus 2 of Ashton Stone Alpacas). Another busy day! First up of our alpacas was Lily. Lily has soft fiber with good crimp, and she has rock solid conformation. However, white classes are by nature very difficult. White is the color that was most improved prior to coming into the States, and many farms specialize in white, making it very competitive. Just placing in a white class can be a challenge. Lily placed 5th out of 11 alpacas. We are happy with that placement, given the tough competition. The only negative the judge stated about Lily is that she had some cross fibers, which I think is what I sometimes call webbing. I can't say I have noticed that on Lily, but I have on other alpacas. After Lily, Cavalier had his chance to show. I have to back track and say that my own opinion is that Cav will be better next year than he is this year. His fiber's crimp isn't consistent the length of the fiber. His cria tipping is so soft, his crimp falls out. My opinion was to wait to show him until after he is shorn this spring. I think he is going to blossom into a nice male, but until he's shorn, his fiber isn't really showing his full potential. We took him to the show, wondering how he'd do, and it confirmed what I had already said about him. He did not place in his class, he "got the gate", meaning we walked out of the ring gate without a ribbon. Last of ours to show was Pocahontas. Pocahontas showed in the Indefinite Dark Class. We have her listed as a dark rose grey, a dark brown that has grey fibers running throughout. I still believe this is what she is (or will turn into), however, at this show she color checked as an Indefinite Dark. What this class means is that she has too many grey fibers to be considered dark brown, but too few grey fibers to be considered a rose grey. I would argue that the lighting in that forum is not the best, because when we are outside I see much more grey than I did inside, but this is how she colored check as (we had the judges decide which color class she should show in and this was their decision).

Pocahontas got 1st place!!!! Add her to our list of 1st place ribbon winners (with Sancha, Kateri, Tehya and Shelby).



This was our first color banner, something we have been eyeing for awhile. How the color championship works is the 1st place winner from each class in a color go up against each other. This class was a little mixed because it was Indefinite Dark, Indefinite Light, and there were juvi classes and yearling classes. All the first place winners (four of them) went against each other. The top one gets Color Champion, the next top one (sort of like 2nd place) gets Color Reserve. Our PoPo got color reserve! We are very excited!!

After this, we stayed around to show Shelby and Cav in Produce of Dam. This is really a class for the mom, Victoria. Three judges evaluate the 2 animals from the same mom to see if she puts her stamp on them (ie her traits come through). We did this on a whim, since we were already staying late for Get of Sire, and this was our only chance to have Shelby there for this, we decided to just do it. Victoria got 4th out of 6 entries. We are happy with this result. This is about how Victoria herself did when she was in the show ring. And, the only fault the judges mentioned was that Cav and Shelby's crimp were different. However, I happen to know that Shelby's was similar to Cav's last year, before she was shorn. I think he will look more like her's after he is shorn. This may be a Victoria trait, and may mean that we show less of Victoria's cria as juvis. We might as well wait until they are yearlings and their full potential comes through.

We also showed Smokey in Get of Sire. We had d'Ar, Jolie, and Rosco there to represent him. We were a little worried that Rosco isn't as much like the other two (less crimp, and her face looks different) but that wasn't part of the feedback we got. He placed 3rd out of 4 entries. The feedback on Smokey's offspring is that they are very bright, very fine, but lacked density. This is what we have already thought, but it was nice to have our own thoughts confirmed. At least we know we are on the right track. To maximize Smokey's potential, he needs to be bred to dense girls who could use fineness and brightness.

Here are some pictures from our weekend. I did not take a lot of pictures. Part of it is that I didn't really have time, we moved from one event to the next at a quick pace. Also, I have found when my camera is on me, the animal doesn't place well. The times I do not have my camera with me, they place better. I know that's not really the case, but it sure feels that way (and makes me less likely to have my camera on me).

In the pen, Rosco wanted to rest on top of Po's back:

everyone resting:

Haltering before going into the ring:

In the ring:

We were one of the last farms to leave the fairgrounds. Most of the farms packed up and left throughout the day on Sunday. We showed in the very last class, Get of Sire, so we were there to the bitter end. And, because we were so busy all day long, we didn't have a chance to pack up much before that last showing. We had a lot of animals to pack up and get home. It is a long drive from Ohio, especially when hauling a trailer. We arrived at our house at 12:45 a.m. Monday morning. I am so glad I didn't plan on going into work on Monday. And so very thankful the kids' grandparents were able to watch them all weekend. I did get up Monday to make their lunches, morning came way too early for me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Auction Girls

We have decided to enter two of our girls in the Best of the US Auction that will take place on March 13, 2010.

In Lot 10 is our Snow Lily by Lord Stanley .

Cute Face:

And her fiber, note how bright white it is, with crimp and bundling, and the dirt ring is further out, which is a sign of good density.

In Lot 21 is our Victoria's Shelby.

Cute wooly face:

Her fiber is so shiny, she literally glistens in the light. She has crimp and bundling and a great handle:

My plan is to update my blog each evening after the show, so stay tuned for weekend updates on our adventures :)

Spit Happens

It's not too often that our alpacas spit. Occassionally during herd health they will get mad at us for grabbing them. On herd health days I dress for the chance of spit. Yesterday I was dressed for work. I was putting down bowls of grain down for our girls, when Maddie spit at another girl. I think she was defending her right for food (you know, pregnant woman stuff). I caught the bad end of it and spit landed on my forhead. Ugh! All ready for work, smelling of spit. And the spit smells bad. To add to it, I was getting my hair cut later on in the day. How nice to show up for hair cut smelling of alpaca spit. I'm sure the hair dresser would have no idea that's what the smell was.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Farm Sign

With show season just days away - ack!!! I'm part excited about that, and part freaked out. I might actually have to show an animal this time around. We have 9 animals that we will be responsible for at the show this coming weekend (as in 4 days from now!). I know I can do it, and I really need to just do it. I've always been one who sits in the stands when J walks the animal in the ring. I do think this weekend that will change. But back to the point of my post, we got signs for our truck. Here is our truck and trailer from a distance (notice the oak trees, we really do live in an oak haven):

And the sign up close:

We are really happy with how these signs turned out.
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