Monday, March 12, 2012

It's good to have friends

The thing about being an alpaca farmer and going to alpaca shows is that you meet other alpaca farmers from all over the country. You get to know each other at shows, do some business together, and even become friends. But we are all busy with life and farming and often don't see each other very much, especially if we are some distance away. This means that often you have friends whom you see a few times a year, or even only once a year (at the one show you both attend).

One of the big things we look forward to with alpaca show season is seeing all our fellow alpaca farmer friends. Now, I do also have to say that alpaca shows are not one big friend feast. We don't all sit around bonding and singing kumbaya. There is competition and often fierce competition. And while you have fellow farmer friends there where competition is in friendship, there are others there that are just plain competitive. Though I've heard many alpaca farmers say alpaca show competition is never as mean and fierce as it is at say dog shows (I've never been but from what I've heard, it's really competitive in a mean way), there is competition at alpaca shows too. It is a competition. Someone has to win and of course they want to brag about that.

At the alpaca show this weekend we did not do well. It was a shock (after last years great showing - especially with many of the same animals), it was confusing, it was frustrating and every other emotion in there (there were times I wanted to just go home and cry, and other times I was mad, and times I was so overwhelmed I had no emotion). We've had other bad shows, and just like last time, after overcoming "is this really happening?" We pick ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and went to seek out why. If we don't know why, we don't know what to change. We assessed things ourselves, and asked many of our fellow alpaca farmer friends what they thought. We networked and got lots of good feedback.

I'm sure there were some farmers there, who seeing us struggle, took some joy in it. That's ok. It is a competition and that's how it goes. But I also believe in Karma. What goes around comes around. Just wait until it bites you. This industry changes so quickly, you can blink and be behind. It can happen so easy. Even with our going to as many shows as we do, and keeping up on reading any information we can get our hands on, it happened to us. I've seen it happen to even big experienced farms. One small thing can turn into a big thing quickly.

But we also had friends there. People who gave us good advice and helpful suggestions. The good news is that there are some things we can do, with our current show string, to help get them in a better position to show well, even at our next show (in 6 weeks). We have a really short time frame to do some big changes - wish us luck, please! Because I have no doubt that everything we have accomplished has been with a little (or a lot) of help from our friends.

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