Posts Tagged ‘alpaca shows’

Shearing Alpacas 101–past midnight

April 12, 2010

Ain’t life fun? Sometimes maybe not, but if it works out in the end???

We sheared alpacas Saturday night, or was it Sunday morning. Two days later we are all bleary-eyed except Tom, and maybe the shearers. The alpacas and I are still dazed.

Friday I picked hay, straw and all manner of stuff out of 26 fleeces. Saturday I did fine tuning picking. We had our helpers in place and we waited for the shearers to arrive in the afternoon as planned. 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6p.m.–our volunteers started to leave. We sent our ranch helper home at 6:30 since she has a family and we fed our alpacas hay, which they promptly absorbed into their fleece by rolling and rolling and they spread it everywhere–so much for all of our work, and we don’t know yet what we will be able to salvage to show or sell.

People who know me from twitter are aware that I began dissolving sometime between 8 and 8:30. I called our alpaca shearing central and she tracked them down. It seems the farm/ranch before us had 46 alpacas instead of 23, so it took a little longer than planned. Our shearers arrived at approximately 9:10 p.m.! Only Tom and I were left–he was 9/10 asleep and I was a total basket case. The shearers wanted to get the shearing done. Somehow it was done, but I’m afraid to even look at the fleece and two days later I haven’t even entered it all into the record. Near the end Tom was reporting post-shearing weights that were higher than pre-shearing weights.

We did not get to give the post-shearing vitamins we had ready–no one to do that job was left. It was all we could do to identify who was being sheared and label the bags. So much for being prepared. People, please let the shearers know how many alpacas you have–the real number including any from neighboring ranches that you might have for them to do. There is no way to plan for something like this. We knew we would be later in the day, but we never planned for shearing past one a.m. The alpacas all screamed–it was past their bedtime and a couple were so groggy I was afraid they would never recover. …and we try so hard to keep stress to a minimum.

Still, they are shorn and it is done for a year. I’ll report on the fleece in my next blog.

The shearers were good and there were no nicks or cuts, but I suspect it will be next week before we know what the true effects of this nocturnal nightmare will be. Personally, I am trying to schedule time to be downright ill. Not a very good experience for our first shearing.

No pictures, sorry. No pre-shearing, full fleece photos for our website. Now excuse me, I’m going to faint. I’ll let you know if we have any fleece from our prize alpacas in a few days. The good news is that we are all still here.

Fall Fest Show for Owners and Alpacas

November 13, 2009

Before I continue entering info on our herd into openherd, I thought I would select a few unposed photos of the show process. Tom and I learned a lot about driving with alpacas–check on them every 100 miles or so. It’s good for them to stop bouncing, there is ample opportunity to make certain they are eating and that there is plenty of clean water. As an added bonus, the driver gets to make a pit stop and the gasoline and coffee levels are topped off.

Tom spreads bedding

Tom spreads the cardboard bedding at Fall Fest

The show venue provides a bedding material, which needs to be de-lumped and spread to withing six or so inches of the edge of the stall. We joined in with Fox Run Suri Alpacas and rented two stalls since they only had one alpaca they were showing and we didn’t need our boy Cantu mating with both of our nearly-ready-to breed girls on this occasion.

Tom and Don Llewellyn spread out the alpaca mats

Tom and Don spread out the alpaca mats

Alpaca mats are loosely woven stall-sized coverings that keep undesirable liquid (yes, that’s exactly what I mean) away from your beautiful show animals. Having them also means you don’t need excess hay or straw and you can easily remove beans from the area. Remember to bring hay and that you have clean water. We often buy, or bring water that the alpacas are accustomed to drinking and we bring hay from home since changing hay can cause digestive troubles.

The alpacas are under enough stress without adding to it.

The alpacas are under enough stress without adding to it.

Keeping the fleece clean at home and on the road means that it will have the luster and cleanliness needed to show it off to its best advantage. It’s not so much the bits of hay that are on top, as Cantu is showing as it is ground in nastiness that judges (quite rightly) hate to touch. The white alpaca, Fox Run’s Solaris by Apocalypse and our dark brown boy Fox Run’s Cantu by Nomar took home blue ribbons in the Spinoff as well as in Halter judging.

Solaris, who is for sale and can also be seen on Fox Run’s website and on Alpacanation also snagged the Judges Choice ribbon.

CIMG1566Seven ribbons for four alpacas isn’t very discouraging at all. I guess we’ll be doing more shows.

Walking with Alpacas

October 28, 2009

The first weekend in November we will be in Loveland, Colorado, showing three of our alpacas, Cavatina, Fantine, and our boy Cantu. Everyone already has a couple of ribbons, ranging from blue through white, for halter shows or fleece, or spinoffs. So why continue with two girls who are ready to breed? (We have noticed their come hither looks focused on the boys.)

The truth is, we are doing this for ourselves, for experience. Tom and I have only physically attended one show, last spring in Phoenix where Cantu earned a blue under the tutelage of Don Llewellyn of Fox Run Suri Alpacas and Demi and I ventured out and took a fourth. But we didn’t own Cantu yet. Don took alpacas to other shows, some for us and some for them.

One of the reasons we wanted to raise alpacas besides their beauty and their winning personalities was that we wanted to go to shows. Now that we are moving to Oklahoma, it is unlikely we will be teaming up with the Llewellyns for most shows.

 

Tika took a blue and a color championshipCavatina takes a second.

Cavatina with a red.                        Tika with a blue.

 

 

So if we want our alpacas to continue their winning ways, we figured we’d better get off our duffs and learn a bit more about shows. Don is kindly taking on the task of shepherding us though another show. The first task is haltering our darlings and reminding them how to walk on lead.

About the time our alpacas were weaned, they learned how to wear halters and be walked. So this time it was fairly easy. We simply selected approximately right-sized halters, approached our darlings in their stall after we had allowed every other alpaca to leave, and showed them the halters. With an arm around the neck the halter is slipped on making sure it is high enough on the nose that the alpaca can breathe easily and buckled on the side with room for a couple of fingers to slip easily between the halter and the alpaca.

 

Cavatina and Tom

Cavatina with her halter properly fitted and Tom in control

Tom keeps the lead firmly in his left hand, leaving a bit of slack that he controls by holding with his right hand. He talks to Cavatina (probably about political science or the economy) and his voice helps keep her calm. He will never let go of the lead and does not handle the clasp since the wrong motion can release the alpaca. He does not pull on Cavatina, but reassures her so she naturally comes with him. His right hand may allow slack in the lead until she gets the idea.

Since they are quite timid, always walk two of more alpacas together. You want them as calm as possible and the less stress they feel, the easier they will be to walk.

Coming soon, haltering cria.

 

 

 

 

P.M. Alpacas in my Blog

October 15, 2009

Today we signed up for the Fall Festival in Loveland, CO. This will be our second show although our alpacas have been to a few more. I love alpaca shows!

So far: Demi has taken a fourth at the Southwest Regional Alpaca Show and a second for fleece at the Suri Network, Cantu has been in the top 3 three times in some pretty impressive shows, blue-red-white. Bravo Cantu. Cavatina has two reds, one for the whole package and one for fleece. Fantine has a red for fleece despite a nasty break when she was quite young.

We have a basket-full of ribbons that came with the alpacas we just bought, including a several color championships.

Hmmm… What do you think about shows and ribbons? Do you enter? Do you win? Does it add to the value of an alpaca or is it a waste of money? Does the quality of a show alpaca have anything to do with ribbons? Do ribbons won influence how much you like an alpaca or how much you would pay for it?

I love and believe in shows and I will keep on showing our alpacas, but I would like to hear from you. What do you think?

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.