Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our Colorful Alpacas

There is an official Alpaca Registry color chart, that is certified by the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA). This is how you know what color to list your alpaca on their official registry, and which color class they will show in at any alpaca show.

Here is a picture of our color chart:

In addition to the 16 colors shown on this chart there are also multi-color alpacas, and alpacas with patterns. Even after all those categories, there are some that still don't fit into a category and are put into "Indefinite Light" or "Indefinite Dark". Our own OHVNA Pocahontas is an indefinite dark. She has a main color of brown, but also has some grey fibers. If she had more grey fibers she would have been considered a rose grey, but as it was she wasn't brown or rose grey, so they called her "indefinite dark".

My goal when starting our farm was to have animals in many different colors. Some farms specialize in one or two specific colors, which was a popular theme back when we began our farm (and still is a goal of many farms). We specifically chose not to do that. I like all the colors, and want yarn in all the natural colors. Plus, as we found this past year when you have so many in one color class, it makes showing them very difficult. This past year we had so many greys that shows were hectic and more stressful. We prefer to have a balance of different colors. (But as evidenced by this past year, even if we plan for many colors, you get what you get. Though I have to say, if there was a color for us to have lots of, I'm glad it was grey, I love the greys!)

Here are the alpacas on our farm broken down by color:

White (WH)

GF Raphaella’s Sancha
ATA Peruvian Harley

Beige (BG)

OHVNA Chaska

Light Fawn (LF)

Kateri’s Tehya
Straightfork Vanilla Latte

Medium Fawn (MF)

Dodge City Miss Kitty
ATA Peruvian Boppana
Butterscotch Bay
JLFA Pot of Gold’s Northwestern

Dark Fawn (DF)

Persnickety Miss (Snickers)
MPAF Jewel
JLFA Frango’s Dutch Harbor

Light Brown (LB)


Medium Brown (MB)

Dark Brown (DB)

Hana’s Victoria

Bay Black (BB)

True Black (TB)

Gabriel Star of RobAsia
KSF Midnight Masquerade (Maddie)

Light Silver Grey (LSG)

ARF Our Peruvian Tucker

Medium Silver Grey (MSG)

Dark Silver Grey (DSG)

NL Smokey
Smokey’s Twilight

Light Rose Grey (LRG)

Enlightenment’s Rocky Rose

Medium Rose Grey (MRG)

SA Peruvian Greyt Exxpectations

Dark Rose Grey (DRG)

OHVNA The Challenger
Our Peruvian Dark Thunder

I am very excited that we have animals in just about every color class!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Our First Place Winners

I created a new page (link here, there is also a link on the left side column of this blog) to keep track of all our 1st place ribbon winners. We are so proud of them!!

I added the official show first place ribbon pictures (if we have them). Unfortunately for a couple of shows this year, we never got our picture CD.


Gabriel Star of RobAsia ~ MBS, 5/2011, Davisburg MI (Level II) 1st Place and Color Champion!

Enlightenment's Rocky Rose ~ MBS, 5/2011, Davisburg MI (Level II)

Smokey's Twilight ~ MBS, 5/2011, Davisburg MI (Level II)

Enlightenment's Rocky Rose ~ GMAF, 5/2011, Madion WI (Level IV)

Smokey's Twilight ~ GMAF, 5/2011, Madison WI (Level IV)

OHVNA The Challenger ~ Best of the US, 3/2011, Columbus OH (Level IV)

Smokey's Twilight ~ Best of the US, 3/2011, Colubus OH (Level IV)


Enlightenment's Rocky Rose ~ OABA Alpacafest, 11/2010, Springfield OH (Level IV)

OHVNA Pocahontas ~ Indiana Alpaca Invitational, 4/2010, Ft. Wayne IN (Level IV)

OHVNA Pocahontas ~ Best of The US, 3/2010, Columbus OH (Level IV) 1st Place and Reserve Color Champion!

Kateri's Tehya ~ MOPACA, 3/2010, Spin Off

Sancha's White Lightning ~ 2 oz. Spin-off AOBA National Show, 2/2010, Ft. Wayne IN


Kateri's Tehya ~ MIAF, 9/2009, Flint MI (Level III)

Victoria's Shelby ~ MIAF, 9/2009, Flint MI (Level III)

Alpacas who won a 1st place ribbon before coming to our farm:

2005 MOPACA (Halter) Kateri

2005 MIAF (Halter) Miss Kitty

1999 MBS (Halter) GF Raphaella's Sancha

Show abbreviations and links:
Best of the US(Midwest)
GMAF = Great Midwest Alpaca Festival
MBS = Michigan Breeders Show
MIAF = Michigan International Alpacafest
OABA Alpacafest

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Our Girls ~ Peruvian Classic Sale

If you were wondering why Twilight and Rose were not listed on our show string line-up, this is because they are signed up for an auction on October 15, 2011.

We are very excited to announce that our two Blue Ribbon winning gray girls will be up for auction at the Peruvian Classic Sale!

Enlightenment's Rocky Rose is a rose gray yearling:

Rose's fiber:

Smokey's Twilight is a dark silver gray yearling:

Aren't they cute!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall Alpaca Show

I am very excited that the Michigan fall alpaca show, Michigan International Alpacafest (MIAF), will be in Grand Rapids, Michigan ~ less than an hour from my house! We have never had an alpaca show on this side of the state.

We had decided to take our 3 yearling boys: OHVNA The Challenger, OHVNA Chaska, and Gabriel Star of RobAsia. Now we are debating also taking our newest male, JLFA Pot of Gold's Northwestern (AKA "Sig"), and our older boy, ATA Peruvian Harley. Sig has never been to a show, so we only can go on our own evaluation of him. We'd like to hear what a judge has to say. And for Harley, we'd like to see how he is holding up now that he's had another year of growth. We specifically chose Harley to add fiber bundling to our breeding program. While we took him to a few spring shows, he's now a bit older and has been shorn, and we'd like to hear how he places now.

Our three yearling boys (Chaska is the beige one, Challenger the grey one, and Gabe is the true black one):

Sig who we've added to our yearling group:

And Harley, I need to get a recent picture of him. After shearing, he has come back looking very macho. This is a big reason we want to get him to a show this fall, to see how his macho look holds up in the ring.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Alpaca Seminar

This past weekend we attended an Educational Seminar by Wade Gease at Triple Diamonds Alpacas Ranch. Wade Gease is an AOBA Certified Judge and Judge Trainer. We attended a seminar put on by him a few years back, but we know in those years we've had new experiences and new questions pop up. This gave us a chance to listen, learn, and ask those questions.

The morning was spent looking over an alpaca from head to toe, assessing each part of them from their top know to teeth to fiber, tail and toes. The afternoon was a mock show ring where people took turns practice showing.

Unfortunately by afternoon I had quite a bad migraine, so I did not take advantage of fine tuning my showing skills. J got up there and had a turn at it, but he's done so much showing in the ring he didn't need it as much as I could have. I decided my biggest anxiety about showing is that I get mixed up between left and right, so which hand to hold the leash in and which way to turn the alpaca gets confusing to me. I have been in the ring and had the alpaca turned the wrong way. It all worked out in the end (my animal still got 1st place), but it would have saved me some anxiety not to have that happen.

We have found that in the alpaca industry, there is always something new to learn. This is what keeps J and I so interested in alpacas. New things come up, new experiences present themselves, and there are changes within the alpaca industry. More so than actually learning from the seminar, is getting together with fellow alpaca owners and learning from each other. I love to hear how other farms cria are doing. I love to learn what other farms do with their fiber. If we all learn and grow together, it will make the alpaca industry that much stronger.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Leader

When new alpacas arrive at the farm there is always an uproar within the herd dynamics. Alpacas are herd animals, and that herd is very much a family. They each have a role within the herd. We have our herd leader, Victoria; our herd nervous nelly who watches out for everyone, Kateri; our herd look out who sounds the alarm if there is danger around, Miss Kitty.... and the list goes on. There is a hierarchy within the herd and the roles within the herd. For example, Snickers used to sound the alarm, but after Miss Kitty arrived, she took over that job. On our farm Victoria has always been the leader. Our first two alpacas were Victoria and Kateri (along with a gelding, Snowstorm). Victoria and Kateri used to have spit fights that went into neck wrestling fights. I am sure they were sorting out who was leader. After a time, Victoria emerged as the leader and she has been ever since. I've noticed when new alpacas come to the farm, sometimes they think they can take over. Miss Kitty had such an idea. Keep in mind here that Miss Kitty is 250 pounds, and Victoria tops out at 130 pounds, yet when it came down to it, Victoria knocked Miss Kitty down. I used to laugh at Miss Kitty trying to fight Victoria, she had no chance.

This past week when Bay and her two children arrived, I noticed very quickly that Bay is outgoing and very curious about her surroundings. Most of the time when a new alpaca comes to our farm, there is an initial sniffing time where the entire herd comes over and everyone sniffs each other (some of that is to determine if it is a male or female). After that, typically the new alpaca finds an area and does not venture far from there. In contrast, after everyone was done sniffing each other, Bay walked around the entire area, checking out the barn and the far pasture area. I mean she walked the far fence line, and took a good look at everything. I've never seen a new alpaca make herself at home like that. It was like she was checking out the entire place to take over. And as could be expected, it wasn't long and she and Victoria got into a fight.

Typically Victoria squeals and fights and if the alpaca still won't back down, I've seen Victoria pin their neck to the ground (as she did with Miss Kitty). That didn't happen here. Victoria and Bay spit at each other, then a neck wrestle got into full force. After awhile they both stepped back. Zack asked me who won, to which I said I think it was a draw and we won't know for a few days who is the winner and therefore the leader of the herd.

With these type of herd issues, we let the herd sort it out. It's their family, their world, they need to be in charge of how it goes. We do watch and observe, but that might be the social worker in me wanting to figure out how they think and work.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A baby!!

After our year of so many cria losses, we needed some good news for a change. J has been looking for a way for us to have 3 2011 cria. Three gives us a cria gang to run around our farm, and 3 is the perfect number to fill a pen at a show next spring. We already have Our Peruvian Dark Thunder, but he's lonely and could use a mate or two.

This week we added this little girl:

We actually acquired 3 alpacas. Butterscotch Bay:

Bay came to live with us along with her 2010 cria and her 2011 cria. Bay was already named, but her two offspring were not. We were given the opportunity to name these two. Names are something that is often negotiated at the time of sale (unless the alpaca is already registered, in that case the name is already official). The farm that owns the dam at the time of the breeding actually has final say in the name. The farm we purchased these from asked that we use their farm name and the sire's name, but then we could name the rest. We decided to go with a water theme for Bay's offspring (each of our breeding females has a theme for their offspring). We have always wanted to have a line with The Deadliest Catch names (The Deadliest Catch is a tv show on the Discovery Channel). Long ago we mentioned how there were so many names associated with this show that would make great alpaca names.

The 2011 cria we named Dutch Harbor (her official registered name will be JLFA Frango's Dutch Harbor). On the farm we will call her "Dutch". Those who watch the show will recognize the name as the port in Alaska. Dutch is one of the first cria from her sire, JLFA Casanova's Peruvian Frango, an award winning rose grey male. Dutch is only a couple of weeks old:

Dutch with her mom, Bay:

Bay's 2010 cria is a fawn boy we named The Northwestern (his registered name will be JLFA Pot of Gold's Northwestern). His farm nick name will be "Sig", who is the captain of the Northwestern on The Deadliest Catch. Here is Sig:

Sig does have a patch of fiber that was shaved down on his neck. It was not a medical issue. His former owner let a local vet school practice on Sig. Poor guy was a pin cushion for learning vets to practice drawing blood. Sig is fine and since we need more vets who specialize in alpacas, I can only hope he won their hearts over.

The interesting thing about Sig is that he's Victoria's half-brother's half-brother. I love to play on family trees. While this is true, he and Victoria are not related at all. Victoria has the same mother as SHVN The Buccaneer (he was a male we bred to Kateri to produce Pocahontas), Buc's father is Pot of Gold just like Sig. I do have to say that we LOVE Buc (he is the reason I fell in love with black alpacas). So we were excited at a chance to acquire a boy from Pot of Gold. Within the alpaca community, it's not usual to find common ancestors. It actually can be difficult to find new lines to add to your herd. We are at the point we don't want to see another alpaca join our farm who has Royal Fawn in their background. While Royal Fawn has produced some incredible alpacas, we don't want him in both the male's and female's lineage. Thankfully these new alpacas bring new genetics to our herd.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Never for long

It wasn't long ago I posted a picture of this yarn that I finished. I even considered putting it for sale at our farm's ETSY store. But, I knew better. It wasn't long and J was knitting:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Herd Health

This past weekend we spent half a day on Herd Health. We typically set aside a day each month so that we can address any concerns. This month our plan was to weigh all the cria and yearlings, and to give them AD&E shots. We also trimmed up top knots. Then for all our alpacas (there are 19 alpacas on our farm at this point), we checked each animal over for any concerns, and trimmed their toe nails.

The first thing that impressed us is that we have become so efficient at Herd Health. I remember times we had fewer alpacas, but it took us all day to complete these same chores. We are faster at herding and haltering and assessing each animal. We got everything done in less than half a day!

Another thing that I always keep in mind is that it seems no matter how careful we are, at least one of us walks away with an injury. Thankfully it's never been that serious of an injury, but sometimes it's a lingering issue. I was hopeful that this time we could escape without pain, but at some point something happened to my knee that left bruises. I remember at one point feeling a sharp pain and thinking "my knee hurts" but I don't remember what happened. Now I have some bruises on the right side of my right knee. It doesn't hurt to walk or move my knee. But the bruises are sore and tender enough they wake me up at night if I roll over and my knee touches the bed.

Everyone seems to be healthy and doing well. We are most excited that Gabe is not only on the mend, but he has gained weight and he is back to his healthy self!!

This is the yearling boy's shelter:

The boys up close (Chaska is the beige one, Challenger the grey one, and Gabe is the true black one):

Gabe himself:

I can't get over his ears!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Routine

Last week marked the beginning of the school year for the kids. While we try to stay on some scheduled over the summer, it's never quite the same as the school routine. And it always seems like the longer summer goes on, the further from "normal" our routine gets. None of us do well with change so the last couple of weeks have been a bit of an adjustment for us.

I've found alpacas are very sensitive to routine. They get stuck in a typical routine so much that they know when I typically feed them grain. I've seen them line up at the gate when it was a usual grain feeding time (like a Saturday morning when it's raining and I have no intention on rushing out there to give them gain, but it's the time I usually go out there, they are ready). While we do stick to a typical routine with the alpacas (they prefer it), we do some adjusting due to the season. In the summer it is so hot during the late afternoon and early evening hours that I don't like to feed them grain then. They would eat it, but I would think it would be better to feed them once it's started to cool down. As the temperatures gets warmer, I move back their grain time. Usually by the hot of summer we are feeding them their last grain meal around 7 p.m. Now that summer is passed and fall is starting, I look ahead to the days when it will be dark at our house by 5 p.m. I won't want to be feeding them so late then! This week I slowly started feeding them earlier, moving to 6 p.m., just an hour earlier than they had been fed over the summer. I will keep moving their grain time up until I get it to about 3:30 / 4 p.m. (which is when the kids and I usually get home each day). In the cold dark winter months I prefer to feed them the moment I get home and then not have to venture outside after that.

Changing routines within the house with the kids and outside with the alpacas has me very tired!

Friday, September 9, 2011


Becoming an alpaca farmer has made me learn to appreciate good hay. Alpacas prefer grass hay, the more leafy green hay is their preference. If we give them hay that is yellow and stalky, they will pick through it and throw most of it on the ground, going to waste. Sometimes it can be hard to find good hay (especially during the spring and early summer). The best for alpacas is the second cutting of hay, which isn't usually harvested until August.

This last batch of hay we purchased is the best alpaca hay I have ever seen! J told me when he unloaded it, not only were the bales heavy, but he could stack the hay with a short sleeve shirt on, the hay was so soft it didn't scratch up his arms (usually we put on long sleeve shirts, even in the hot of summer when stacking hay because it tends to scratch you up).

Here are the bales stacked in our hay barn:

Here is it in the alpacas hay bins (inside the bin the new hay, outside on the ground, the old hay):

I have to say, these pictures do not do justice to the real green color of these bales. The best yet - the alpacas aren't wasting any of it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Starting the Vest Project

I'm excited to start working on my Vest Project. While I haven't completely decided on a vest pattern yet, I know I will need yarn, so that is where I will start ~ spinning yarn.

This weekend I skirted, tumbled and flicked up some of Greyt's fiber.

Here is the fiber, all ready to spin:

I started spinning it into yarn, but I haven't gotten a picture of that yet.

The Vest Question Revisited

I know, I can't get over this big decision on what pattern to use for this vest I want to make. I think I have it narrowed down to two choices:

This one I posted about last week. I came across this vest on another blog and I fell in love with it.

I was able to find the pattern on Ravelry. Unfortunately it's not one of the free patterns. I looked to see if the book was at my local library, which it is not (nor any library anywhere nearby). So now the debate is should I buy this book, or find another pattern I like almost as well.

I also like this vest:

I found this pattern on-line, so no worry about having to find and purchase a book.

I'm leaning towards just buying the book for the first vest. I knew the second I saw that vest that it was what I was looking for. I just hate to spend money on anything if I don't have to. But for $12 plus shipping I can get this book and maybe it will have other patterns I love too. Opinions?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Over the weekend I completed this skein of yarn. It is a two ply yarn, one strand from our blue ribbon winning girl Tehya and one strand from our herd sire Greyt. I thought the mix of fading fawn vs rose grey would be very pretty - I love how it turned out!

Both Greyt's fiber and Tehya's fiber is for sale at our ETSY shop. And I may be putting this yarn for sale there too (if J doesn't snap it up and start knitting with it).

Here is when I got my first glimpse of what it would look like, as I plyed the two together:

See the strands:

And here is the whole skein, 168 yards of it:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Nature's Wonder

It seems this weekend we had several reminders of nature.

First, there was a short but severe thunder storm that rolled through our area on Saturday morning (according to the radar we were only supposed to see the very tip of this storm, most went north of us). I woke up to thunder, and quickly decided I better get the farm chores done before the rain hits. I thought I timed it all out perfectly: I had the animals fed before the rain fell, and I had monkey bread baked before our electricity went out. What I didn't plan on was how long the electricity was going to be out. I had a bad feeling and had just started to fill up water buckets when the electricity went out, I hadn't collected near enough water for the next 29 hours (which is how long we were without electric). We did fine with eating. Lunch of sandwich and chips is easy and for dinner we cooked hot dogs on a camp fire. We could have lite the stove if desired. The issue became water, not only for us to drink, but for the alpacas, and to wash up with. I had to laugh a bit at modern technology, while our electricity was out, I had a laptop charged and access to the internet (via dial-up) so I was on-line the entire time. Neighbors who have cable internet were not able to access it while the electricity was out. During this entire experience we had a taste of what we take for granted and how much easier our life is with electricity. Mother nature gave us a bit of a lesson in that regard.

Another incident in nature was while we were sitting in our backyard with our campfire. The alpacas seemed to know something was wrong and they all gathered in a group. Miss Kitty was at the head of the group and they were all looking out into the woods. Then Miss Kitty started to sound the alarm call (I describe this sound as a high pitched bird call, but you really have to hear it, it's quite unusual). The kids were about to get mad at Miss Kitty but I suggested that instead we trust the alpaca's intuition and look out into the woods. We followed where their eyes were looking and saw the white part of a deer tail! It took some searching with our eyes between the trees but in the end we saw a total of four deer! That was really neat. The kids wondered why the alpacas were alarmed at the deer to which I explained that deer are not threatening animals, but alpacas don't know that. Alpacas will sound the alarm when any animal they don't know is nearby. Alpacas are very vulnerable animals and in nature would need to be overly cautious. We enjoyed seeing the deer and also were intrigued by the alpacas behavior throughout the whole thing. I've often said each herd member has a job and it's clear Miss Kitty's job is "alarm sounder".

Sunday's interaction with nature was one I'd prefer to have done without. We had gone to the beach, and when we arrived home we found the electricity was back on! We were so happy!! I don't know why, but for some reason I didn't go straight into the house, but walked into the backyard. A loud crying sound caught my attention. That is when I noticed there was a bat on the inside of the screen door to my bedroom! The screen door was shut, the sliding glass door was partially open, and the bat was in my bedroom. The bat clearly wanted to get out of the house, but was stuck on the screen. It was screaming. I was worried it would see me and fly further into the house. I yelled inside the house for the kids shut my bedroom door from the inside so that the bat couldn't get further into the house. At least then it was trapped in my bedroom. I stayed outside, and carefully slide the sliding screen door ever so slightly so that I could get my hand in there to close the glass door. The bat slide with the screen, didn't fly inside the house, but also didn't fly at me. Phew! Now the bat was on the screen but couldn't get back inside the house because the sliding glass door was shut. I let the kids come out and see the bat (after all how often do you get to see a real life in the wild bat) but then told them to go inside while I freed the bat. I thought if I grabbed the sliding screen door off the track, I could turn it (me on one side, the bat on the other), and the bat could get free (with me on the other side of the screen for safety LOL). It worked! I pulled the screen off the track and turned slowly with it. As soon as the bat had a chance it flew off into the woods.

Since this is a three day weekend, I'm a bit nervous what experience nature has waiting for us today!

Friday, September 2, 2011

A couple more

It's so hard to decide on a vest pattern, here are a couple of other ones I like too:

New Project Decisions

For alpaca show season, I have my famous "Tucker Sweater" which is a short sleeve sweater I knit out of fiber from our herdsire Tucker. Here is Tucker (and J) with his ribbon in 2009:

I spun his fiber into yarn and knit this sweater myself (me in the Tucker Sweater and Tucker himself):

There are more pictures of the sweater here.

Typically alpaca shows span two days, so I have this great Tucker Sweater to wear the one day, but nothing special for the other day. I decided I need to make something out of Greyt, our other herdsire.

Greyt is a beautiful Dark Rose Grey male. The rose gray color looks like a deep brown from a distance, but up close the gray shows through as a twinkle and spark contrasting the brown color. This is Greyt (sorry the pictures are so small, see Greyt's Alpaca Nation page for bigger pictures).

I can't decide if I should make a fancy scarf:

or a shaw:

or a vest?

I love the idea of a vest. I'm not really a shaw kind of person and I'm not sure a scarf would be practical during spring show season. But I couldn't find a vest pattern I like. While searching I was impressed with the number of UGLY vests out there. Wow!

I came across this vest on another blog and I fell in love with it. What do you think?

I was able to find the pattern on Ravelry. Unfortunately it's not one of the free patterns. I looked to see if it was at my local library, which it is not. So now the debate if I should buy this book, or find another pattern I like almost as well.
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