Friday, November 5, 2010

Heading to Alpacafest

This weekend we are taking three of our alpacas to Alpacafest in Springfield, Ohio, at The Champion Center Expo. Going to alpacas shows is fun for several reasons. Of course it's nice to bring your alpacas to show them off. You hope for great ribbon placing. Not only does that give you bragging rights, but everyone wants their alpaca to be the best in their class. But this isn't the only reason to go to alpaca shows. We find we learn so much at shows. We would not be where we are, producing the quality alpaca we are, without the incredible knowledge we have learned at shows. Not only do you get the judge's feedback on your alpacas, but other alpaca owners are a wealth of information. So many alpaca farmers are welcoming of questions and willing to share their knowledge. We also love catching up with fellow alpaca farmers. Over the years we've been going to shows (over three years now), we've developed friendships with various farmers all over the country. It's great to have a chance to see everyone, even if it is only a few times a year. It's also nice to have a weekend away from the farm, away from the regular routine.

It is a lot of work to go to a show though. You have to make sure you have someone to watch the alpacas left at home. This time we are leaving our 11 year old in charge of the entire farm care. While that seems like a tremendous job for an 11 year old, let me add that she's a very responsible 11 year old. She's been feeding the male alpacas twice a day for several months. She knows how to do the routine with the girls. And I know I've mentioned she can lift a bale of hay on her own. She's tough. And there will be grandparents around if she does need help.

It's also work to get the alpacas ready to go. We are taking OHVNA Pocahontas, OHVNA The Cavalier and Enlightenment's Rocky Rose.

As a juvenile, Pocahontas won 1st place twice, once she also won Reserve Color Champion. This was our first color banner, a huge accomplishment for us. Both 1st places were at level IV shows. She also won a 2nd place (level IV show) and a 3rd place (at Nationals, a level V show). We are curious to see how she will do in the show ring as a yearling. My biggest concern about Pocahontas is that she has lost her cute juvi look. She had a fluffy face and a very cute look to her. Her top knot is not full and incredible like I want it to be. But when you dig in her fiber, that luster, bundling and crimp is still there. If it were a fiber only contest, she still has it.

Pocahontas as a cute juvi:

And a more recent photo of her:

Pocahontas' fiber:

Cavalier was one that I almost didn't show as a juvenile. He was a bit on the smaller side, and I felt that while his fiber had great crimp and character at the root, it fell out near the tip. We did cria shear him, but we did it too early on, so it didn't get all the cria tips off. I said all along I expected he will do better as a yearling. We will see if that prediction is correct. Cavalier feels very dense, has good fineness, and incredible character to his fiber crimp and bundles. What he lacks may be size, his chest is a bit smaller than ideal. We will see how that places him in the ring. Last year we did not take him to as many show due to believing he will do better as a yearling. As a juvenile he received 4th placed at a level IV show in a very large class.

Cavalier (I love his big bushy top knot, he is a pretty boy for sure):

Cavalier's fiber (this is last year's shearing, so does include those cria tips, now the entire length looks like the base of this example):

Rose is a juvenile, and this will be her first show, she only just now turned 6 months old. While I know there is always the risk of being barn blind - so in love with your animal that you miss their faults - I don't think this is the case with Rose. I think Rose is the best animal on our farm. To evaluate an alpaca, two things need to be considered: their confirmation and their fiber. Conformation is things like a straight back, legs at the right angles, neck in proportion to body length, and how their teeth line up. Rose is straight and fits in the rectangular box perfectly. The other factor is fiber. Rose's fiber has consistent crimp with bundles throughout her blanket. While alpacas are not judged on their color, it doesn't hurt her at all that she has a wonderful lovely lavender rose grey color.


Rose's fiber:

Shows are run in order of color, starting with black, then brown, fawn, and white, then into the greys and indefinites. Cavalier being fawn will be the first of ours to show. But he easily may not show until Sunday morning. This means most of Saturday we will not have much to do at the show. It will give us a chance to walk around and soak up all the information we can. Rose will show after Cavalier, she will be in the grey class. As a juvi Pocahontas showed in the Indefinite Dark class, she didn't have quite enough grey fibers to be considered grey. She has more grey fibers now, but we aren't sure if there are enough yet for her to be in the grey class. If she is grey, she could show right after Rose, as Rose will be in the juvi class and Po in the yearling class.

We are anxious to see how each of our animals do at the show this weekend.

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