Monday, May 24, 2010

Back home from National

I feel a little let down by Nationals. Most shows we go to, I feel like I learned something. I don't feel like I learned that much. Maybe I expected too much. I thought since it's Nationals, I should see so much. We had someone tell us that Nationals really turns into a glorified regional show. For the most part, it's all the local farms, with a few who travel cross country. I do see what they mean. I do also think that even the local farms, only bring their best. We weren't the only one to bring only the top ones from our farm (but then the really big farms do this at every show, they only take the top 10% as it is). So the competition is more fierce. I also feel like we didn't get useful feedback from the judge. We only had full fleece huacaya females there. Many people there had complaints about the judge for them. I am not quick to criticize a judge. I feel it's a difficult job, and sometimes it sounds like people don't like the judge only when their own animals place poorly. But, I do feel like we didn't get useful feedback, and the reasoning didn't make much sense. It changed with each class, so you never knew what he was looking for. From what we have heard, this is only the second show he has ever judged. It seems like a judge for the Nationals should be a senior judge, or at least one with lots of experience. We heard that it may have been an over reaction to the judges last year, who were senior judges, but were very political and not well liked because of that. J wonders if maybe we didn't learn as much at this show because we had our kids with us. He pointed out that we didn't get our hands on as many animals or go into too many pens. We have learned so much doing that at other shows. We did feel like a small fish in a very big pond.

On Sunday, Pocahontas was the last of our group to show. She was in the class of indefinite dark (she has grey fibers, so isn't brown, but not enough grey to be considered rose grey). Her show record:

Awards Received
Reserve Color Champion - Best of the US Alpaca Show, Columbus OH Level IV

1st place - Best of The US Alpaca show, Columbus OH (Diana Timmerman) Level IV Indefinite Dark

1st place - Indiana Alpaca Invitational, Ft. Wayne IN (David Barboza) Level IV

2nd place - The Great Midwest Alpaca Festival, mixed class of multis and indefinites, Level IV

Here she placed 3rd. Now, I can see that going from a level IV show to a level V may have that much more competition that this could be the case. But, the judge went on and on about her fiber, how it has great character and how wonderful it is. Then he said "she is in an awkward growth stage" and that is why she got 3rd. I don't see how she changed that much since three weeks ago at the last show. And there, the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival, she only got 2nd because we didn't trim her teeth (see my write up about that show: being there, day one, Tehya, Pocahontas, and wrap-up).

We did get to see our boy, Tucker! We had no idea the farm who co-owns him with us had him at Nationals. We actually stayed a bit longer because we were thinking of buying a little boy, and stayed so we could see his fiber (he was in the composite class and his fiber was not available until after he showed in shorn). While waiting for that boys' class to show, there was Tucker! The kids and I ran over to hug him. We miss Tucker. He always greeted me at the gate each morning.

I did have a very informative conversation with Andy Merriwether from Nyala Farm Alpacas (he is the author of some of the articles on genetics that I linked to in a past blog post). This was actually the most informative thing I learned all weekend. I had a chance to ask him about Pocahontas, the only one born on our farm that I had not predicted her color. While talking with him it was like all of the sudden a light bulb went off inside my head and I got the difference between a grey color (classic) and roaning (the modern grey). I was right about the tuxedo grey (classic) being dominant and the roaning (modern grey) being recessive. But what I finally understood better is that the reason it doesn't matter if there is grey in the alpaca's background. If it's recessive, it may have never shown up before, and they could still carry the gene (you need 2 of them for it to show in the animal). If you knew for sure the grey in the background was a roaning grey, that might matter, but over the course of time, people have registered these animals differently. The roaning grey in years past likely would have been registered as brown or black (like Po many years ago would have been considered a contaminated brown). So just because Pocahontas has a tuxedo grey great grandsire, doesn't matter. He was a tuxedo grey, which is dominant. If he passed on the grey gene, then his daughter would have been grey (she's white) and her son grey (he's black) and then Po would have the grey. Since none of the ones in between are grey, that grey gene was not passed on. But, somehow both her parents had to have a roaning grey gene, that they both passed on. It may or may not have shown in their background. I'm sure I'm not explaining this that well, but I did feel like I suddenly understand it better (as I've stated before, I'm not good at explaining things, I would never be a good teacher). His suggestion would be to breed Po to a classic grey or another roaning grey, to produce a stronger grey (to bring out more grey than she has). This makes a lot of sense.

Here are pictures of our pen at the show:

We were in a second room (which we knew when we registered for the show, the main room was sold out by the time we registered). I didn't mind that much being separate, a lot of farms were there. But most people referred to that room as "the dungeon" because it was a lower level, with no windows and felt cave like.

The main room is the same as it was at the Indiana Show, except with 4 rings.

We had planned to have the girl's shorn after they showed. However, people were waiting in line for 5+ hours for shearing! So, we came home with them in full fleece. It doesn't help that it was in the upper 80's yesterday and supposed to be hot all week. Poor girls!

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