A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 9, 2007

It’s All In The Preparation

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Fiber, Alpaca Shows, Alpacas, camelids, General — alpacalady @ 7:46 am

On Friday I leave for Santa Fe, New Mexico in order to give a seminar on “Skirting Fleeces for Show” at Dream Catcher Ranchito, the home of Mary Ann Andrews and her alpacas.  Mary Ann has a good few people registered for the seminar and it promises to be a fun weekend.

Of course there is preparation to be done before the event and so today I spent the day at the computer putting together a hand out for the seminar and other information I might need over the weekend.

From what I understand most of the people attending the seminar are fairly new to the alpaca business, it will be a good opportunity to get to know them and help them start to feel comfortable with preparing their fleeces for show.

I can still remember the first fleece I entered in a show.  It was the fleece of my first alpaca Jenny and I was so excited to enter it but didn’t have a clue about what I was supposed to do.  At that time I didn’t own a skirting table and so prepared the fleece on the floor of our studio.  I worked on it for hours and tried to pick out every small scrap of vegetable matter.

At that stage in the alpaca industry fleece shows were not as popular as they are now, and when I asked other alpaca breeders what I needed to do to Jenny’s fleece to prepare it for show I got some very vague answers.

By the time I had finished working on Jenny’s fleece my knees and my back were sore – and we still had to drive over 12 hours to Estes Park, Colorado to the show.

After all that hard work my fleece didn’t place well and when I got the fleece scorecard back the scores did not mean much to me and in the comments section were the words “needs more skirting”!  What could they possibly mean, needs more skirting, I had spent hours on that fleece!  I couldn’t figure out what on earth else I could do to poor Jenny’s fleece and became discouraged about entering any more fleece shows.   Of course the problem was that I hadn’t done the preparation that was really needed in order for the fleece to do well.

I think that experience was one of the things that drove me to go on to learn as much about fleece as I possibly could.  I knew someone had the information I needed to successfully prepare a fleece for showing (after all someone wrote the rules and someone judged the show, so there were at least two people who had an idea of what I needed to do!) and I became determined to find and learn that information.

So here I am several years later about to give a seminar on that very subject.  There is still so much to learn about alpaca fleece and so much new information is being developed every year that it is almost a never-ending quest, but it is an enjoyable quest and one that keeps me motivated.

I hope that the people attending the seminar over the weekend find it interesting, and that they come away with the confidence to enter their fleeces in fleece shows without having to go through the experiences I did.  Granted it helps to get your hands on a lot of fleeces and gain experience to be able to get a good gauge for what you are doing, but at least my seminar participants will have some good information to work from.  They will have a place from which to start which is more than I had.  I wish them all a lot of success in the shows that they enter and I hope this weekend’s seminar makes entering a fleece in a show a joy rather than a chore.


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