Friday, July 2, 2010

July means - upcoming events

Even though we are between spring shows and fall shows, and most of our cria have been born (well, at this point half of ours have, 2 of the 4 due have been born, the next 2 should come very soon). There is still a lot of farm stuff going on.

July means the opening of Farmer's Markets (at least around here, most open up the beginning of July). I found a handy reference for farmer's markets in West Michigan. Last year I stopped by a couple local Farmer's Markets to check them out. I kept thinking that as the cooler weather hit in the fall, I'd get a booth and sell some alpaca product. (no one wants to buy scarves etc in the heat of the summer, but come September/October, those things do start to sell). But, I never got enough product together to create a booth. So this never happened. But it is on my idea list of things to do.

I'm also looking into local festivals. Last year we took a couple alpacas and my spinning wheel to the Grant Frontier Days. Looking at their website, this is scheduled this year for August 20 and 21. I also had a booth at The Farm Girls Fiber Festival. This year it is being held on September 3 & 4.

Then, there are fall shows to consider. While is might seem early to be thinking about this, I know some shows have opened up registration already. There is a list of all the AOBA Certified Shows. It's good to plan ahead. We typically attend 2 or 3 spring shows (this year we went to 4, only because the National Show was so close). One year we did attend 2 fall shows, but last year we decided to go to 1, to cut expenses. Going to alpaca shows is fun, and makes a neat weekend away. But, they can get very expensive. For those wondering what *expensive* means, we figure it's about $1,000 for each show we go to (some are more due to further travel, and/or we take more animals, some are less with less travel and/or we take less animals). Since we did go to so many spring shows, we debated not going to any fall shows. We considered going the least expensive route and attending Michigan International Alpacafest (MIAF). It's the least expensive because it's close, and because we would only take 2 animals to it. When we looked over our herd of animals, the ones we would want to take to fall shows would be: OHVNA Pocahontas,and OHVNA The Cavalier. Pocahontas has won a couple first place ribbons, and a reserve color banner. Cavalier held his own in the show ring this spring, and seeing his histogram results, we are even more excited for how well he could do this fall. I do think his fiber is going to come in that much better. He had some issues with crimp not going to the tips, but they were cria tips. The fiber was nice and crimpy by his skin. Now that all the cria tips have been shorn off, we are quite excited to see how he will do. Tehya and Cafe are now bred, so not appropriate for showing. I don't really like taking older males to shows. There can be a time and a place to do this, but generally, I'm not a fan of it. There is also Rosco. This brings up many discussions on our farm about the purpose of showing animals. Part is to brag about how they do. Part is to be at shows to network. We have made so many friends at shows, we want to go to catch up with people. Another reason to take an animal is to get the judges opinion on that animal. We also ask other alpaca farmer to evaluate our animals. Feedback is what helps you learn and grown as a farmer. Now with Po, we really want to see that Po has held onto those awesome traits that got her ribbons this spring. With Cav we want to see how he's growing, and if he meets the top 1/3 of the males to be considered herd sire quality. With Rosco, we know she's incredibly fine, but lacks density. We know we need to breed her to a very dense male. I don't know what else we could gain from taking her to more shows. Then we thought, if we could wait until Rocky Rose is 6 months old, we could show her to. That would make a fall show string of 3 animals, perfect size for 1 pen. Rose was born in late April, so will be six months old by late October. After looking at the show schedule, we found Alpacafest in Ohio in early November. We have never attended this show before, but it looks like it will be a level IV or V show. MIAF is a level III. Generally we prefer the higher level shows. It gives more competition, and they are less likely to combine classes (which I think gives unfair advantages at times). Another issue is that J has to work the weekend of MIAF. I may go to MIAF and volunteer for a day though. Our plan is to take Pocahontas, Cavalier and Rose to Alpacafest in early November.

Lots of busy things coming up! It's never dull on an alpaca farm.

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