Monday, April 11, 2011

Hurry Up and Wait

After Saturday's rough day at the show, Sunday arrived with low expectations. I even left my camera in the truck, not only would I not take the camera up to the ring, I wasn't even taking it in the building. (At our first few shows it seemed whenever I took the camera up to the ring our alpaca did not show well, so I started not taking the camera up to the ring at all). I'm not superstitious but something about alpaca shows brings it out in me.

Our first animal to show on Sunday was Chaska. Chaska is a beige juvenile male. I don't remember how many were in his class and I can't find our show book right now. I do remember that he took 3rd place. We were quite happy with this placement. The judge called him "robust" stating that he has a solid frame, a nice consistent bold crimp, he is dense, but might lack a bit for fineness. What I appreciate about the judge's comments is that I can see what she is saying and I agree. While I'd love to say all my animals are the best, there is no perfect alpaca, every one has something that could be improved upon.

Our second animal to show was Harley. Harley is a white yearling male, a class I would consider the most competitive class that there is. White is a tough class, and when you get into the yearlings, you are looking at Herdsire potential. Prior to coming to the show, Harley got into a batch of burrs and we had to cut back his top knot. Now, the judge isn't supposed to hold that against him in the ring, but, he looks pretty pathetic, it's hard not to. He was in a class of 11, and we were pretty sure he'd "get the gate" and not place at all. We were thrilled to have him put into 4th place! This puts him in the top 1/2 of the class, which is considered herdsire quality. I don't remember what the judge did say about him. I wrote it down, but I misplaced the show book. It is important what the judge says, because if he's dense but not fine, then you wouldn't want to breed him to a female that struggles with fineness. Once I have a chance I will find that show book (I'm sure J remembers what she said because he was talking about breeding choices based on something she said).

We then had a long break after Harley showed and before they began the grey classes. It appears that when they assigned the judges, they miscalculated how long it would take each judge to complete their classes. One judge was completely done near lunch time on Sunday, the other judge went until after 6 p.m.!! That's a long day of showing, especially when many alpaca farmers have a long way to drive home that night. We were a bit frustrated at having to stay so late. But, we love our grey alpacas.

During this time, it had gotten very warm outside, yet inside the venue was cool. However, as people were packing up and leaving (farms that didn't have any grey animals packed up and left as soon as they could), they opened all the doors. This let in the hot humid air, which caused our alpaca's fiber to whither. Humidity does a terrible thing to crimp. While it could be said that everyone had this disadvantage, the denser the animal, the more the heat and humidity hurt them. The denser animals got more hot and that in turn made them sweat and really messed up the look of their fiber. Our animals tend to be dense, and I know for a fact Challenger's fiber did not look near it's best by the time he showed.

Challenger took 2nd in a class of 6. While 2nd is certainly exciting, the interesting thing is that at the last show he got 1st and the one that took 1st here took 3rd at that show. It just goes to show:

a different judge, a different day

It really can make all the difference. We aren't upset, a 2nd is still a great place to be. We'll be anxious to see how it balances out at the next two shows we go to.

Rose showed in a class of 6 where she took 3rd. Once again she placed behind one of Stachowski's grey girls (I don't remember who took 1st in this group). I told him he produced too nice of animals! He better not show up at the next show we go to, so that at least Rose has a chance to place better. I admit, I was so busy getting Twilight ready for the next class, I didn't pay attention to what the judge said about Rose.

Twilight showed in a grey class this time. The disadvantage to this is that Twilight has mostly black fibers, and typically the darker the color the harder it is to be fine. The animals that are mostly white and grey would have an advantage with that. We were quite pleased to have Twilight placed in 3rd in this class of 6. She was also beat by one of Stachowski's grey girls. The judges comments were that Twilight's fiber is bright and dense, but not as fine (which I predicted would be the outcome).

This means that all our animals, except for Ginger, placed in the top half of their classes. For such a competitive show, we are extremely pleased to be in the top half.

I really enjoy going to shows, usually there is a good balance between having things we need to do, and having time to network and catch up with fellow alpaca farmers. Something about this show, the timing felt off. Maybe it is that we have 3 grey alpacas, half our show string, all clumped in one part of the show, at the end. Also, in the past we usually have at least one black and a brown, to get us started early on. Now we have all lights and greys, so we don't show until further into the show. This changes every year, based on what color cria we have born (and since we breed for all colors, it changes a lot for us each year). I'm not going to start breeding for blacks just to change this :) While I'd love some blacks, I also love my greys, but it is interesting how what color animals you have can change the way the show flows for you.

I felt like all day we were trying to hurry up for this or that, but then we had to wait. We had to hurry to the venue to show Chaska and Harley, then sit around and wait for hours. For some reason we had a lot of down time at this show, more so than we typically do. Then we had to hurry up and show Challenger, Rose and Twilight, all in a row right after each other. It was crazy busy. Then there is the hectic time of packing up. The flow at this show was off for us.

I will say that as usual, I think the Indiana Alpaca Invitational is the most competitive show we attend. It can be brutal at this show. At times I've said we shouldn't even go here, why put ourselves through it. But J points out, if we can't take the heat, why are we breeding show quality alpacas? We have to know how we stack up, and what to strive for. It's these shows where we learn and grow and push our farm to the next level. One day we'll get a color banner at this show, and it will mean all the more to us.

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