A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

February 7, 2008

A New Arrival

As the TxOLAN show draws closer you may find my blog entries get shorter!  There is a lot of work to be done to get prepared for the show, and just not enough hours of the day to get it all done!  It will all get done though at the end of the day, and will go well I am sure.

Yesterday we received a new arrival at the farm, one of the sons of our Enchantment’s Prince Regent.  This young male is called Enchantment’s Snow Prince and is one good looking boy.  He belongs to our friends and mentors Rick and Ann Evans of Enchantment Farms Alpacas and he will be traveling to the show with us.  Rick and Ann will be traveling themselves but not to the show grounds.  They have some property in Arkansas that they are setting up and have to be there the weekend of the show and so asked us if we would take Snow Prince to the show.

Snow Prince seems to be an easy going guy, we have put him in with the weanlings who he will be stalled with at the show and so far they are all getting along well.

Snow Prince has a beautiful head on him and lots of fleece, both traits that Regent passes on to his offspring.  I need to take some pictures of Snow Prince for our herd records before he returns to his home farm.  Fingers crossed he will be going home with at least a blue ribbon to his credit.

That’s all from me for now; the show paperwork is calling again so it’s back to the grindstone!


January 28, 2008

Another Different “Do”

Regent’s New Do

Well the creative hairdressing in the boys pasture continues.  This time the new “do” belongs to one of our herdsires Enchantment’s Prince Regent.

Regent is an outstanding herdsire who possesses solid, square confirmation and a beautiful soft handling dense fleece.  Even at eight years old (nine years this October) Regent has held his fineness and he is a consistent producer of championship offspring.

One of Regent’s features that many alpaca breeders like is Regent’s head style.  He does have a beautiful head and fortunately that is one of the traits that he passes onto his offspring.   Regent’s topknot has always been very dense and he also has good coverage of fiber on his cheeks too.

Of late though something has looked a little different about Regent.  It took me a couple of days to figure out what it is, but now I know – I can see his eyes!  For years between his facial wool and his topknot there has not been much of a chance to see Regent’s eyes, but now you can see them.  So what is going on?  What has caused this change?  Well it appears that the culprit is the big bales of hay we are feeding.  You see for a majority of the day the boys stand at the big bale and eat a hole in the side of the big bale.  As the hole gets deeper, so they push their faces into the bale deeper and Voila!  An instant change of hair-do for Regent!

Having realized what looks so different about Regent, I checked out some of the other boys too.  Tobiano’s topknot is pushed back as well and so are a couple of the other boys.  I guess that’s what an alpaca gets for pushing it’s head further and further into a bale of hay.  I just hope Regent remembers that Spring breeding season is fast approaching and he needs to return his “do” to it’s previous glory before his “dates” arrive! 


December 24, 2007

Alpaca Farming on a Budget – Part 4

Regent and Ma Cushla at the Cabin  There are many ways you can reduce some of your costs for your alpaca farm, it may mean you don’t have the prettiest hay feeder or the fanciest barn, but by shopping around and being creative you can come up with some good alternatives.

Some equipment you can make yourself and save costs in the process.  It’s not that difficult, for instance, to make your own hay feeder or you can use large multipurpose plastic tubs that make nice hay containers both at home and at shows.  We like to use garden wagons for hay feeders (the ones that have the rigid mesh sides), they can be moved around from pasture to pasture or put inside a shelter when the weather is bad.  So you can see that while a custom designed alpaca hay feeder may be nice, there are alternatives available that serve the same purpose but are less expensive.

Sharing equipment with other farms is another way to help reduce your costs.  We co-own our shearing equipment, tooth trimmer and microchip reader, all items that we need but that can easily be shared with other farms.

Alpaca shows are great marketing and networking opportunities, but the costs can soon mount up.  By joining together with other nearby farms to share transportation, stalls and display space you can reduce your expenses.  Host hotels are usually offered at alpaca shows but it has been my experience that you can get a better price on your hotel by searching the Internet for deals or by using services such as Priceline and Hotwire.  When traveling to shows that require more than one days travel we usually try and stay at a KOA that has camping cabins, there we can park our trailer next to the cabin and keep a close eye on our alpacas.  We have always found the KOA campgrounds to be clean, well run and reasonable, and when you walk your alpacas around the campground it is a great marketing opportunity.   Just make sure you check in with the campground manager first to ensure that he or she is comfortable with having alpacas on the campground  (The picture at the top of this blog was taken when we were staying at a KOA on the way to an alpaca show in Estes Park, Colorado –the two alpacas in the picture are our herdsire Enchantment’s Prince Regent and our grey female Enchantment’s Ma Cushla Liath, both of whom were just juveniles at the time)

There are some areas where you really cannot cut corners, a good set of scales, your veterinary care and your hay and feed are some of those areas where you need to provide your alpacas with only the best.    Herd sires are another area where it does not pay to cut corners, the alpaca market is so competitive these days that you need to make sure that any male you select to breed your females to has a strong chance of producing a cria that is an improvement on it’s parents. 

If you are an alpaca breeder on a budget you may be tempted not to insure your alpacas, but that is also one area where I would not recommend cutting corners.  The cost of alpaca insurance is reasonable as insurance goes and if you have a significant amount of money invested in your alpacas then it is worth protecting your investment by purchasing insurance on your alpacas, at least until they have paid for themselves either in stud fees or by the sales of offspring they have produced.

Alpaca breeders are some of the friendliest people in the world and the majority are more than willing to share tips and experiences, talk to other alpaca breeders about how they keep their costs down and most likely during the course of the conversation an idea will come up that you can try on your farm at home.

To have an alpaca farm on a budget is not impossible and of course as you become successful with your alpaca business hopefully your budget will have a little more leeway in it.    Like anything else done on a budget, establishing a successful alpaca farm on a budget takes hard work and ingenuity, but along with that hard work comes a lot of joy and the chance to spend part of your life with some unique, beautiful creatures who in time will more than pay you back for your hard work and efforts.


November 7, 2007

Good News All Round

Enchantment’s Prince Regent  I think everyone loves to hear good news, there is so much bad news in the media that many people I talk to are thirsting to hear good news.  It’s also funny how sometimes we get a run of bad news and then thankfully something changes and the good news starts flowing in.

Our first piece of good news today is that Snuggler the cat is doing much better.  After a day of doing pretty much nothing but sleeping he is now up and around, albeit hobbling on his two good legs.  His right rear leg will at least take some of his weight although there is still some looseness there.  His left front leg still has some swelling and is dragging, but I feel it is improved and dragging less than it was when we took him in to the vet on Monday.  Certainly he was up to following me around yesterday afternoon and even jumped up onto the chairs, insisting on sitting next to me while I worked on the computer.  It is great to see him showing such interest in life, even though he made typing on the computer difficult as he tried to bat the keys with his good paw.

Little Zeus has had a good couple of days too, with some more consistent weight gain.  He is eating a little grain and more hay than he was so maybe his system is starting to get used to those new additions to his diet.  He now weighs 26.7 lbs and has not too much further to go to reach the 30 lb mark.  We are still putting a cria coat on him at night as our nights are starting to get close to freezing and I still want to save every calorie I can with that young man.

Kanika is rapidly gaining ground on Zeus and now weights 22.7 lbs.  She is a real live wire, stirring up the other crias to play, coming over to check out what we are doing when we enter the pasture and having regular sessions when she just bucks and runs for joy.

Rebecca has had no further signs of discomfort and is back to being one of the first to meet me at the gate in the morning, which is good to see despite her grumbles and groans when I wont let her steal pellets from the feed bowls as I walk into the pasture.

Over the weekend the LA Deep South Show was held in Shreveport, Louisiana and we have heard that the offspring of our herdsire Enchantment’s Prince Regent did well in the halter show.  We have had reports (unconfirmed as yet) that Regent’s daughter CHR Carlee’s Peak (owned by Copper Hill Ranch) took fourth in her class, Regent’s son Prince Regent’s Treasure of Airlie (owned by Timber Lodge Alpacas) took first in his class and another of Regent’s sons Traversura’s Sulaimon (owned by Tierra Prometida Alpacas) took not only first in his class but went on to take the white color champion as well.   Well done to all our Regent grandkids and well done for Regent for being such a superstar herdsire male!


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