Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rough Day

My day started at 5 a.m. when I woke up and realized I had some pretty bad heartburn. I knew I needed to get up, because if I stayed laying down it was just going to get worse. I suffer regularly from heartburn and do take a prescription medication. I usually do ok managing, but I have a more difficult time when we travel. The combination of different foods, eating more than usual, and drinking more pop than usual is the perfect combination to set off some problems for me. Thankfully I fell asleep pretty quickly at 10 p.m. and slept solid until 5 a.m. So, while it was an early start to the day, at least I had gotten several good hours of sleep. J, on the other hand, did not like the hotel bed and reports he hardly slept all night.

While we had not planned to attend the exhibitor's meeting at the show this morning at 8 a.m., we were up and ready and had even already gone out to breakfast in time to attend. So we went. These meetings are very important to alpaca farmers new to showing, but once you've been to several of these, they all sound the same. We know the drill at this point.

Most shows we've attended start with the black classes, some even hold the exhibitor's meeting the night before so the black alpacas are hitting the show ring right at 8 a.m. This show instead started with the production class. This is where you can take three animals by your sire, for Get of Sire; or two animals out of your dam, for Produce of Dam. There are also the classes of Bred and Owned and Breeders Best of Three. We have participated in these classes in the past, but chose not to this year. So that meant basically sitting around while these classes took place. It was pushing 11 a.m. before they even started with the black classes. We do not have any black animals at this show, nor do we have any brown. Our first alpaca to show was in the fawn class. Throughout the day we weren't sure we'd even show our fawn girl, things felt like they were moving very slowly.

I don't want this to sound like we didn't do anything this morning. For one, we got the show book, and we looked up each of our animals to see what competition we will be facing. We did walk around the venue and we had a chance to catch up with a lot of people. It is fun to see people we haven't seen in awhile, and to look at other people's animals. We also spent some time watching what was going on in the show ring. However, when we have 6 animals here, we wanted to get started showing these animals.

Our only animal that did show today was Ginger. She was in a class of 11 medium fawn juvenile girls, and unfortunately she "got the gate" ~ which means she didn't place. They only give ribbons out to the top 6. The rest leave the ring without a ribbon and more importantly without any feedback. So, we don't know why she got the gate. This isn't the first time we've gotten the gate, but I really expected her to at least place. I think she's a nice alpaca, her fiber is fine with average density, nice crimp. The only thing we can figure is that she is smaller boned, and that may have been why. Many of the judges prefer bigger boned animals. I could hypotheses other reasons, but honestly, we aren't sure.

This lack of feedback can be extremely difficult for new breeders. I remember our first few shows we were caught off guard anytime we got the gate and only took guesses as to why. We were lucky that early on some well established and experience breeders took us under their wing and helped us see why our animals might not have placed well. We've learned so much and gotten so many helpful tips over the years. It has made me very sympathetic to new breeders, I do remember what those first few shows are like. This is a hard industry to break into. Even though we've learned so much, there is always room for improvement. We will need to seek more feedback on Ginger so that we can figure out why she placed how she did.

Tomorrow we will have a very busy day. Harley, Chaska, Challenger, Rose and Twilight all still need to show. Chaska has never shown before, and we have no idea how he might do. While we do assess our own animals, it's often times hard to be objective. Chaska also has a different type of crimp and fiber structure, which we do not know how it will go over with the judges. Harley has a rough class of yearling white males, and could easily get the gate also. White is an extremely difficult class. While Rose, Twilight and Challenger have shown well in the past, you always need to keep in mind "a different judge, a different day." It comes down to what the competition is, so you can't make any assumptions.

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