Posts Tagged ‘agisting’

Alpacas and the Business of Spring

April 7, 2010

Whoa! Time slips by quickly, doesn’t it? Saturday is our first shearing here at Zena. Spring=nude alpacas. There is some lovely fleece out there in the fields that I can’t wait to get my hands on–unfortunately there is a lot of hay in it and picking it out at this point seems to do little good since it magically reappears overnight.

The little ones are pretty much weaned and partly/mostly halter trained just in time for the business in store for us. Saturday is our big shearing day! I almost messed us up good and didn’t find a shearer to come. I had plenty of time and then I suddenly had no time. Fortunately we have been fit into a schedule. Shearing will happen in the evening on what should be a beautiful Saturday–or the crew may wait and do the deed early Monday morning. We are providing a place to sleep and a nice bathroom with shower.  🙂 The crew does not work on Sundays so we will be playing everything by ear.

I have been invited to speak about alpacas to a local woman’s club and we have had our first ranch visitors. We plan to be open for visitors several times a week–this is a big summer tourist area. The local Chamber of Commerce has announced that we are one of the area’s attractions and we had to put up a gate (before we even talked to the chamber) because we were having so many unannounced visitors. And here we thought we were so out of the way no one would ever come. Now we have to announce hours and everything. Come and visit if you’re out our way, far Northeastern Oklahoma–less than 25 miles to Kansas, Missouri or Arkansas.

There will be a grand opening for our business in June and by then, hopefully our shop will be in place. I owe all of you photos–now all I have to do is find my camera. So much to do!

Our first visitors came with their grandparents on a rainy, cold April day. Luckily we have a big barn and a heated office. The boys came to check them out and appointed Marti as their official spokes-alpaca. We will have another group of alpacas coming in June and have half a dozen babies (cria) due this spring.

Please call 804-389-2579 or email zenasurialpacas@gmail.com for information about tours, purchasing alpacas, alpaca products or agisting (boarding) alpacas.

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Alpaca #5, Cavatina–she’s not mine, you know :-)

August 24, 2009

When we first purchased three alpacas, I had to make a solemn promise. I wouldn’t ask for any more alpacas for a year. Having a fourth born within days of our purchase was astonishing. The little black beauty, Demelza whetted my appetite and any woman who has and enjoys having a baby around knows that it makes you want to keep a little one around.

I really did intend to keep my promise–really. But Madrigal, our third alpaca’s mother had the most darling cria, Cavatina. One of my girls had a half Accoyo, half sister and I wanted her so much. Hmmm. I had been really good between July and November. OK, I wanted Cavatina and had to figure out how to add her to our herd. When I came to visit, she would break away and come running over to see me. So darling, so many alpaca kisses. Hmmm.

I confess. I gave her to my husband for Christmas.

Who to blame?

August 11, 2009

So how did we end up raising alpacas anyway? From the time I was a little girl I have wanted three things no one I knew had ever thought to wish for: a cigar store indian, a covered bridge and an alpaca.

Why a little girl would want a cigar store indian is unclear, even to me…???  The covered bridge is a bit more understandable. They are beautiful wooden structures, cool on warm days, great to fish from, and I once lived near one and was ready to block traffic and call it mine. This is probably the ultimate antique–ooh, maybe some insight into the indian? I even wrote an article for “Maryland Magazine” that had me trekking to every covered bridge in the state comparing structure and history.

Our second alpaca has our fourth.

Our second alpaca has our fourth.

The third item I wanted was, obviously, an alpaca. (I didn’t know you needed two or more at that time.) Mrs. Logmann, my second grade teacher, is to blame for all of this:

Dear Mrs. Logmann,

Thank you for the A on my geography report on Peru. I didn’t know there were animals related to camels that lived anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. I found out about several: llamas, guaranos, vicunas, and alpacas. I plan to spend my free time for the next couple of years sketching these animals and driving my teachers crazy with doodles of alpacas in the margins of my papers. I will quit when I get a low grade because of those doodles and I will never mention alpacas to anyone for many, many years.

Then, when I have lived a reasonably normal life, raised a child and had a career, my friend Jocelyn will go with me on a whim to the Virginia State Fair where we will see real, live alpacas and their humming will intoxicate me all over again. I will remark to her that I would really love to have one of them. Although they are cute to look at and even cuter to listen to, even Jocelyn will think I am insane.

My husband will take a job in Utah and I will say, “I’ll go if I can have an alpaca,” and will lure him to visit alpaca ranches and eventually coerce him into letting me buy the first three from a nice alpaca ranch where they will be agisted–fed and cared for–and we will visit every so often. We buy three, one because he promised, the second because I don’t want the first friendless, and the third because of the discount. I am pretty persuasive and my husband wants me to be happy. Add a baby (cria) in July, 2008.

So I asked for an alpaca for Christmas and got it! Enter Cavatina. Our January anniversary netted another, the pregnant Betty and Martello. Zeke was born in July; another will arrive in November. I will write later about the land and the ranch.

Yours truly,

Kathleen

P. S. Please do not notice my mistakes. I still only use the dictionary for casual reading and not to look up spellings.

Divinity was our second alpaca choice (and definitely the pregnant girl.) She is the mother of a champion, and now mother to two of our additions, Demelza who was born two days after our purchase is a true black. Zeke arrived on July 8, 2009 and is a first class charmer. The jury is still out on whether he is dark brown or medium brown. Divinity is a strong, big boned girl with nice conformation who delivers nice colored crias when bred to colored males. Divinity

The Alpaca Lure

August 10, 2009

Long before we knew we would raise alpacas, we purchased a parcel of vacant land in far northeastern Oklahoma where it is green and beautiful. We did not know why we bought it except that I come from an old Irish family and the thought of owning land was drummed into my very soul from the time I was very young. Add some friends who also bought land in the area and a rancher who would pay to use the property until I knew why I had wanted it so much and it was a done deal.

Flash forward five years to the present and we’ll cover everything else eventually. We, my husband and I have 10 suri alpacas agisted near Salt Lake City, Utah. Oh, yes, and the 11th is in utero and due in November. As our herd has grown from the initial purchase–three because you can’t just have one and while two was nice, there was a price break at three–we have come to realize we find alpacas to be cute, sweet, and a great source of fiber and prize ribbons.

We did the math and realized agisting (boarding) was going to become prohibitive by the end of next year. Our mentors have been wonderful but sooner or later, if you want to have first-hand contact with your alpacas, you need your own place to keep them and your own knowledge of how to care for them. If you have an urge to buy an alpaca, find someone you can talk with easily, who raises alpacas of their own, who is willing to teach (and a good teacher). They will sell you one or more and be your mentor.

So then we decided to build a shed on the property for storage, then a house. Some time this winter we hope to be able to take our alpacas to Utah and move into the house. (They, of course, will move into the barn.)

Wish us luck, we’ll keep you posted.