Tuesday, April 27, 2010

processing the show

After each show we go to I have all these thoughts racing through my head. I usually take the day off of work on Monday after a show, and find all day long my mind is processing. (I take the day off because I'm usually too tired to be worth much productivity and to do laundry and all those after trip chores).

One thing we learned (the hard way) is to make sure the alpaca's teeth are nice and trim before a show. Some of my thoughts I've already expressed in regards to combining color classes. (See previous days postings for that rant). The venue wasn't ideal in that the pens were mostly behind a wall from the rings (except for the big sponsors who were in the same room as the rings). We do prefer venues where it's all one big room. It also was cold in there, but this had more to do with the rainy 40* weather. And actually, I'll take cold if it brings rain because that moisture does help the fiber look really nice. Another down side was the distance. With having our last animal to show be in the 2nd to last class, we were at the show until past 4 p.m. on Sunday. By the time we picked up the kids and got home, it was after midnight. That's a long weekend.

One thing we noticed in the ring, and this is just our observation, I have no data to back it up, was an increase in animals with white spots. I wondered if maybe the stigma of the white spot is starting to lessen as people understand better how to breed these animals. Two animals with a white spot, when bred together, have a 25% chance of producing a blue eyed white (they each have a 50% chance of passing on the white spot, and if they both do, a blue eyed white is the result). As an industry we don't want blue eyed whites, because they often are also deaf. It is not responsible to produce animals with these birth defects. With responsible breeding though, you can have an animal with a white spot and never produce a blue eyed white. We would never breed Maddie to an animal with a white spot, or a tuxedo grey, so she will not produce a blue eyed white. She does have a 50% chance of passing the white spot onto any of her cria. But a white spot in itself is not a birth defect. J thinks that these white spotted animals are due to farms that are breeding for grey. The by-product of trying to breed grey (especially when tuxedo greys are involved) means that sometimes there will be a black or brown or fawn produced that does have a white spot. Since grey is a very popular color right now, that increase in breeding choices alone would account for more white spotted animals. This makes a lot of sense to me. I would be curious to hear if other people have noticed an increase in white spotted animals.

Overall we enjoyed this show in Madison, Wisconsin. I did appreciate that the building had bright lighting in the rings. Everything seemed to run smoothly at this show. I love the town of Madison. We had a nice hotel, and found places to eat easily. You would not believe the struggle we have when we go to Columbus, Ohio, just to find a gas station or a restaurant. It's enough to make us not want to go to a show there again. Also, the venue there, the building is dark and hard to see well. It makes us appreciate towns where things are easily accessible. One thing we found unique in Madison was a Wal-mart with a parking lot under the store. I have never seen anything like it. We had to stop there because I forgot to bring some essential personal items (who forgets to pack underwear? I guess I do). The Wal-mart had escalators and elevators from this underground parking lot to the level of the store. It was really neat. I could see in the snowy winter and during rain storms this being a huge benefit. The town seemed to be growing and productive. So different from most of the rest of the mid-west where the economy has been hit so hard. The town was clean and seems to be thriving. I loved all the lakes in Madison. No wonder I remember swimming and biking a lot when we lived there. I didn't find I recognized much, but we were downtown, and when I lived there some 20 years ago, we lived a bit out of town.

I knew I was forgetting something in this post when I wrote it so I am adding this part now:

Another thing that we thought about a lot at this show was how taking 3 alpacas is different from taking 6 or 9 (the number we took to the last two shows we were at). I felt more relaxed because at this show I knew there was no chance I would end up in the ring showing an animal. For some reason I fear this happening. Though I know in reality I could do it, and do well at it. I do most of the daily farm chores, I hold our animals for herd health, I halter train our animals, I know them. I could do fine in the ring with them. And actually it's not even that. I know I could do it. It's more the idea of being in front of people that sort of freaks me out. I think I need to just go in the ring one time to get over this fear. It's sort of like having to take a speech class in school, what a horror for someone like me. I'd rather hide in the audience. Anyway, despite my liking the fact I knew there was no chance I'd end up in the ring, we felt that the show went slow and wasn't as exciting. J said he'd never choose to take "only" 3 again (with the exception of Nationals next month, that's different, there is no point to take more than your best to a big show like that). I have a feeling our fall show(s) will be bigger than "just" 3 animals. I think we actually preferred the show with 9. We were busy with lots to see and do and think about. Though at this last show it was nice to network, and I do think we had more time to talk with the farms in neighboring stalls, I think in the past I overlooked how much networking and chatting goes on in the show ring and around the ring, that we have been more apart of at shows where we do have a lot of animals.

This blog post seems kind of all over the place. I must still be processing the show in my mind. I also have been thinking a lot about small farms at big shows and how we can compete. Having gone to a few shows this spring, and seeing some threads on alpaca forums, I know this is a topic that is being discussed; it's not just floating around in my head. But, this is still simmering in my mind and not ready for a verbal post. I think I'll wait until after we attend the National show, and have some time to process that to get into this topic further.

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