Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blue Ribbons

Gabriel our own star won 1st place in his class of 2 year old plus black huacaya males:

There were four males in his class and it was a tough class!  Some of the males he went against are quite famous and highly marketed, yet our sweet Gabe beat them :)

Take Five (AKA: Candy) also won first in her class of suri fawn female, however, she was the only one.   There were not a lot of suris at the show and so she had no competition.  In these situations the judge does not have to give the alpaca a 1st, if they find a fault they can give them a second place even though there was no 1st.  The judge not only gave her first, but had a lot of incredible things to say about her.  We are quite excited!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Show Book

When we arrive at the show venue the first day of the actual show (usually Saturday morning), we are eager to get a hold of a copy of the show booklet.  This is where we see that our alpacas are in the correct class (huacaya or suri, then by sex, age and color) and who we are up against.

We take our show book and highlight our animals, and flag them so we can easily find them.

This become our guide for the next two days as we follow each class and make sure our alpacas are ready to go when their class comes up.

That all seems easy enough but with multiple alpacas at a show, it can be very hard to keep track.  I usually am a bit stressed and have actually missed a class before.  It's a horrible thing.  There have been other times when J is in one ring, I am in another and we have an alpaca that should be ready to go.  We do our best and most of the time things fall into place just fine, but it does take some organizing and some forethought.  It certainly does make it harder to have more alpacas at a show, and especially if they are all similar colors and in classes right after each other.  

The Stalls

We have 7 alpacas at the show which means we have to have 3 stalls (you can have up to 3 alpacas in a stall at this particular show).

It was really hard to get a picture of all three stalls.

On the far end we have our 2 boys (Gabe & Gabe), then in the middle our 2 huacaya girls, and then the 3 suri girls.

This picture is from the boy end:

Then from the other end (suri girls first);

Our farm signs are in the back, with our tag line: Breeding Brightness You Can Feel

On the front of the pen we hang their ARI (Alpaca Registry Inc.).  This is similar to what you'd have with a pure breed dog, it's their pedigree so to speak.   It includes:

+  the alpaca's name
+  the owner of the alpaca
+  the alpaca's date of birth
+  the alpaca's registered color (this is selected by the owner at the time the alpaca is registered)
+  the type of alpaca (suri or huacaya)
+  the alpaca's dam and sire as verified through paternity and maternity testing
+  the owner of the dam and sire at the time of the breeding
+  the alpaca's dam's and sire's heritage (their entire family tree from the time of import and/or 5 generations back) including what color each of these family members are/were

When an alpaca is registered a blood sample is sent into ARI to verify the dam and sire.

We also hang up show ribbons.  We used to take all their show ribbons for every show they have been too.  But there were years where we attended 5 shows in one year, so by the time the alpaca was almost 2 years old there were too many ribbons to hang.  Then we went to hanging up every 1st place ribbon we ever got (I made the Hall of Fame a couple years ago - link to that story and picture below).  But even that was getting out of hand (we added more blue ribbons to this hall of fame and it was way too overcrowded).  Now we just hang the ribbon they get at the actual show we are attending.

As you can see in the pictures that started this post there are a couple blue ribbons hanging which means we got some blue at THIS SHOW!! Blog post to follow :)

Our Show Alpacas

This weekend we brought 7 alpacas with us to GMAF:
+  2 boys
+  2 huacaya girls
+  and 3 suri girls

I took these pictures when we arrived on Friday before we were all set up (so our signs and such aren't up yet like they are during the actual show).

Our two boys, Gabe and Gabe:

We didn't name either of these boys, we just ended up with 2 Gabes.  One is Gabriel Star of RobAsia (the black one) the other is TCS Gabriel (the beige one).   They are both older boys and breeding age so they are quick to check out all the ladies at the show.

Our two huacaya girls are Lady Bing (medium fawn) and Duchess (dark brown):

The suri girls did not want to cooperate with pictures.  First I just had Maxine and Candy (Take Five) with Patty off drinking water:

This one you can sort of see Patty's face, but they still aren't really showing off their stuff here either:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Show Set Up

Today we were up very early to pack up and travel to the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival (GMAF), in Madison, Wisconsin.

The first day is the day you arrive and set up your stalls.  It's a lot of work and of course you want your stall to look nice and your animals well taken care of, so this can take a lot of time.

We made sure to arrive early so that we can set up before it gets really busy.  We also left early in the morning to avoid the worst traffic through Chicago.  Our drive went well other than quite a bit of construction north of Chicago.  But it is construction season.

Each venue is a little different, so each time set up is a little different.  For this venue, we were able to get in and set up most of our stall before we brought the alpacas in.

We went inside the building and put down our stall mats.   We also filled and put up water buckets so our travel weary alpacas could drink some fresh water.   Then we hauled the 7 alpacas inside.  They were vet checked and color checked.  Thankfully both went without any hitches.  They all color checked as assigned - the color check is essential for making sure they are entered into the right class to show.

Once the alpacas were in the stall, J set about getting our fans up and running.  While Suri alpacas do not need fans on them, it's essential for Huacayas.  If a huacaya does not have a fan on them they will start to sweat by their skin.  This makes their fiber wilt and the crimp isn't what it should be.  And instead of feeling soft and luxurious, they feel gross.

Here you can see our line of fans on the far wall:

While J was working on that I took the bale of hay:

And stuffed the hay into the hay bags to hang in the pens:

While that seems like an easy enough job, I always make a terrible embarrassing mess!!

We also put up signs, but I took the picture when only one sign was up, we put up two:

As we started to finish setting up I was tired and did not get a picture of our stall all finished.  I will have to get a picture of that tomorrow.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Leaving for Ohio

J does a really good job of coordinating transport so any necessary trips are made at the same time.  We have some alpacas headed to Pennsylvania and some to Ohio, so this morning we packed them all up and he headed out.

I didn't have time to get pictures of them with all the other stuff we needed to get ready this morning, but I do have pictures on file of them.



In my mind Maddie is still the little cria who came to our farm (in January of 2008):

and Maddie's 2012 cria, Night:

Night always seems to be covered in snow in all of my pictures of him:

here is one of him without snow, the day he was born (August 2012):

Night might look a lot like his mom, but his fiber is even better!  He rivals his sister, our own Twilight who I often brag about on this blog.

Leaving for PA

3 of our alpacas left early this morning for their new home in Pennsylvania.

With all that was going on, I didn't have a chance to get a picture of them before they left, but since a post is only as good as it's pictures, I dug out some pictures of them.

Miss Kitty came to our farm in February of 2011.

Here is Miss Kitty:

Latte came to our farm in October of 2010 with her cria, Ginger at side (Ginger sold by the time she weaned). We have Latte's 2012 cria, Raspberry remaining at our farm. I think this day is worst for her.

Here is Latte:

 Jewel came to our farm in August of 2011. We kept her 2012 cria, Ruby :) one of my favorites!!


Friday, April 19, 2013


I usually love spinning yarn, but every so often I have a skein that seems to fight me the whole way.  This was one of those times.  I am happy to say this skein of brown suri is now plyed, washed, and done!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The rain and signs from alpacas

Zack told me a few days ago that he has noticed we only lose our electricity when ALL the alpacas hide in their shelters.  He believes they know when a storm is really bad and we can use their instincts as a guide.

We have had days and days of rain.  Some light rain, some heavy rain, and some storms with lightning, thunder and hail.  We already had double the rainfall we usually get for the month, then today we have been predicted to get a months worth in a 24 hour span!

Our farm is in the woods, and we have very sandy soil.   We are also up on hill.  All of this means that under normal circumstances, we have excellent drainage.  Sure we have a few low spots but they are few and far between.

Well, even our farm is soaking wet.  We have mushy areas where we never have before.  We have standing water like never before.

All throughout the day I have been watching the alpacas for signs.  Just as one really heavy downfall was slowing up, I took these pictures.

First the sheep (with blue tarp) and pregnant alpaca areas (just behind the play structure) -  note that you can't see any of them, they are all in their shelters:

The water around the play structure is not normal.  That is all standing water.  Zack might enjoy playing out there as a play & swim but typically there is no water there.

I was happy to see in the young girl's area two alpacas holding out, giving me hope that this storm isn't so bad after all:

That is Gigi and Lady Bing, my two hold outs, cushed by the fence giving me hope that the storm isn't so bad after all.  The rest of the little ones are inside their shelter (you can sort of see them in the shelter on the far left).

We have lots of standing water! I am so glad I cleaned up what I could before this storm hit yesterday.  Otherwise it would be a real gross mess.  Thankfully the wind hasn't been as bad as they predicted but it has blown some things around.  They say the wind will get worse and hail is possible.

Between the Raindrops

Well, we aren't actually done with our days and days of rain, more keeps coming but there was a break in the rain on Tuesday morning:

The alpacas are wet, the ground saturated but they still look happy:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Run for Boston

I heard about this and decided to participate.

Here are the rules:

1) You can run anytime on 4/17/2013 ~  Morning, lunch, afternoon, or night.
2) You can run by yourself, with a few friends, or with a whole group of people.
3) Wear yellow or blue, the colors of the Boston Marathon
4) Before or after your run, take a picture with a sign that says "Run For Boston" and includes 4/17 and your city/state.
6) Keep being people who change the world. 

Tons of these pictures can be found here. 

I decided to run 7 miles this morning as part of Run for Boston:

I was home alone so I had to take that picture myself.  And I hate my runner's hair (I usually have big wavy hair) but it is what it is :)  A rare picture of me!

I have to say that I felt strong on that run.  Best run I've had in a long time.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Runners unite and take over

I try really hard to keep this blog about our farm, and I think for the most part I do.  But I'm not just a farmer, I'm a mom and an American, and well, a runner.  Maybe not a marathon runner... not yet anyway.

I have read about many in the running community wearing race shirts today in support of everything that happened in Boston, MA yesterday.

Here are my shirts (links to my race day stories too):

15K in June of 2012:

10K race in 2012:

And that same 10K race in 2011:

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