A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 7, 2009

Back With The Herd

Atlas poses for a picture before having his fleece cover put back on

Atlas poses for a picture before having his fleece cover put back on

 

It’s hard to believe that three weeks have already gone by since the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular.  The show string have been in quarantine since their return home and thankfully have not shown any signs of illness.  Having spent their three weeks in quarantine it is now time for the show string to return to their respective pastures.

 

Atlas, Pride and Mags will rejoin Zin and the junior males, while Dream, Zianna and Kaneka will rejoin the female herd.

 

We didn’t put the fleece covers back on the show string on their immediate return from the show.  Call us soft if you wish, but we felt after doing so well for us at the show it would be a nice treat to allow the show alpacas to have a little time without their covers on, of course the first thing they did when they got home was to have a good roll, but that’s okay the dirt will drop out before their next show.

 

This last Thursday we were forecast for dangerously high winds.  It makes me take notice when the local meteorologists forecast “dangerously high winds”, bearing in mind that their idea of “breezy” is 25 –35 mph winds, it makes you wonder what wind speed would deserve the title “dangerous”.   We decided, in view of the forecast, we should put the fleece covers back on the show alpacas before the entire tumbleweed crop of western New Mexico landed in our pastures and in our alpaca’s fleeces!

 

The winds on Thursday didn’t quite live up to the forecast with wind gusts in the 50 mph range; strong enough we were glad we had put the fleece covers back on the alpacas.  The wind was also strong enough that poor Little Man had a real struggle to get across the pasture, but he’s a tough little guy and he made it.

 

Prior to putting the fleece covers on we cleaned the alpacas fleeces of the worst of the vegetable matter and took photos of the show string without their covers on.   The alpacas were not too cooperative about having their pictures taken, but we got one or two shots that we can use.  We also checked toenails and teeth and treated ears as a preventative measure against ear ticks.  Then it was back to the herd for the show string who wasted no time at all in getting reacquainted with the rest of the herd.

 

Rosemary

February 17, 2009

They’re Back!

Carissima's Fleece

Carissima's Fleece

 

Ric and the show alpacas finally made it home at 7:30 a.m. on Monday morning.  With packing up the show equipment and helping one exhibitor who got his RV stuck in one of the doors to the showground Ric’s trip home was delayed.  Driving a long distance at night is not fun, even more so when you are on your own and hauling a trailer load of alpacas and Ric ended up having to stop a couple of times for rest breaks. 

 

The alpacas had become quite comfortable in the trailer and were not really inclined to get out once they had come home.  A little bit of coaxing and the sight of their alpaca buddies soon got them jumping out of the trailer and they are now happily settled in the quarantine pen for the next three weeks.  So far we have not had any reports of illness in the alpacas visiting the show, so fingers crossed all that came home with the alpacas was their show ribbons and not some nasty bacteria or virus.

 

The show alpacas were ready to eat once settled in their pen, I am sure they are happy to be home away from the hustle and bustle of the showground.

 

From all reports young Mags behaved very well at the show, we had been unsure of how Mags would react to being around a lot of people, but he settled down well and seemed to enjoy watching all of the activity around him.  When it came time to show he behaved very well.   Perhaps being in shows is Mags forte and that extra activity and attention is what he needs to keep him occupied.

 

Now we have the task of unloading all of the show equipment, cleaning it up, restocking supplies and repacking everything ready for the next show.  Over the years we have learned that it really is best to take care of everything immediately after the show, that way there is one less thing to worry about during the hectic days that occur just prior to a show, when we often wonder if we will ever be ready to leave!

 

I finally found out that Carissima took second in her class in the fleece show, not a bad result at all as it was a large, competitive white class and the first place winner was our “Windrush White Blast” who went on to take White Color Champion.  We can’t complain at that result can we!

 

Our next show will most likely be the Great Western Alpaca Show that takes place in early May in Denver, until then our show string will be taking a well deserved break and we will return our attention to the daily care of the herd while making our plans for shearing, spring breedings and the arrival of the spring crias – which will be happening before we can blink I’m sure!

Rosemary

February 15, 2009

Didn’t They Do Well!

 

Courtesy of Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas I have the initial unconfirmed results of how our alpacas did at the show and they did well.

 

Windrush Zindel’s Kanika took 6th in her class – the judge loved Kaneka but felt her staple length (length of her fleece from skin to tip) was shorter than the alpacas that placed above her.

 

Windrush Zindel’s Atlas – 1st Place – poor Regina had to literally run to the class with Atlas due to her having alpacas in the class before.  Regina was the last person to enter the class.  When the judge looked at Atlas’s fleece he told Regina “your going to be happy you made it to the class” so we take it he liked what he saw, especially as he awarded Atlas first place.

 

Maggie’s Lionheart of LSA (known to us as Mags) – placed 6th in his class.  The judge loved the structure and architecture of Mags fleece but discovered that Mags fleece is tender (breaks easily).  Still the judge liked Mags well enough to place him in the class.  Tender fleece can be caused by a nutritional deficiency or stress.  With Mags being an orphan cria he has had a fair amount of stress in his little life, but we will be tweaking up his nutrition too to make sure that his fleece becomes stronger.

 

Windrush Zindel’s Pride – it seems as if Pride did not place in his class.  We are not really sure why as he is a beautiful alpaca.  The alpacas in the ring with him on the day must have pleased the judge more than Pride did.  We’re not giving up on showing Pride based only on this one result, he is young and will no doubt change as he matures.  We are sure he will get his ribbons in time.

 

Windrush Ashling’s Dream – placed 3rd in her class.  The two alpacas that placed above her showed more fleece density than Dream.  Dream’s fleece is pretty dense so the two alpacas placing above her must have really dense fleeces.

 

Windrush Zindel’s Zianna – placed 1st in her class.  I don’t have any feedback on the judge’s comments but with Zianna’s bright, soft handling fleece I am not surprised that she did so well.

 

In the fleece classes we also did well.

 

Windrush Shiimsa  – 3rd in her class

 

Windrush White Blast – 1st in his class and also white Color Champion.  Well done Blast!  To get a color champion ribbon in a white class is a great achievement and for an up and coming junior herdsire it is a great acknowledgement of the quality of Blast’s fleece and his breeding potential.

 

Windrush Zindel’s Carissima – we’re still waiting to find out how Carissima did, hopefully she also placed in her class.

 

Regina and Bob Dart also did well with their alpacas – Nightingale took 4th in her class, Swiss Miss took 1st in her class, Dulcie took 1st in her class (Dulcie is a particular favorite of mine as we bonded when I gave her an impromptu halter lesson when I visited Bob and Regina one day – well done Dulcie!), Athena took 6th in her class and Charlie took 6th in his class.

 

Song who was also an orphan cria and who was bottle fed at our farm at the same time as Mags took 5th in her class and has now met her new owner Debbie Conkle of DJ’s Classic Alpacas.  Song will be staying in Texas after the show.

 

Our Stormy who we sold to Bob and Regina for their daughter Abby to work with also performed well at the show.  Both Abby and her brother Nathan used Stormy in their Performance and Obstacle classes, Public Relations Classes and Showmanship Classes.  Nathan and Stormy took 2nd in their Performance and Obstacle class and 1st in their Public Relations Class, while Abby and Stormy took 5th in their Performance and Obstacle class and 2nd in their Showmanship Class – congratulations Nathan, Abby and Stormy!

 

So all in all it was a good show for us.  Bob and Regina still have three alpacas to show in the white alpaca classes on Sunday and we will be keeping our fingers crossed that they win some good ribbons.    The white classes are the most competitive at any show.

 

A big Thank You has to go to Bob and Regina who took part in their own form of competition – the alpaca 300 yard dash as they worked hard to make sure that all of the alpacas from our two farms made it to their classes on time.  There is quite a distance from the alpaca pens to the show rings, with crowds and alpacas to negotiate along the way.  To keep up with all the classes and persuade some first time show alpacas to make the dash to the show ring with them was no mean feat – I think we need to award Bob and Regina the alpaca handler gold medal!

 

Rosemary

February 14, 2009

Today’s The Day

Dream's beautiful head

Dream's beautiful head

 

The show classes begin today at the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular.  Alpaca show classes run the darkest fleeced animals first gradually working toward the lightest fleeced animals.  With this in mind I fully expect Kaneka (black), Mags (dark brown), Athena (medium brown), Atlas (who color checked as light brown rather than dark fawn), Pride (who color checked dark fawn rather than medium fawn) and Dream (medium fawn) to show today.  Zianna who is light fawn may also show today but may show first thing on Sunday morning depending on the speed at which the classes progress.

 

Young Dream has been receiving lots of attention and admiring looks from other alpaca breeders at the show.  Dream has a stunning head and great coverage making her very striking.  Dream is still not too enthused by all of the attention but I suspect by the end of the show she will be getting used to it.  Mags too seems to be settling down to all the attention.  At home he actively seeks out attention, but as of yesterday evening he was starting to remain cushed when visitors came to our pens indicating that even he had more than enough human attention to satisfy his needs.

 

The fleece show started judging yesterday and hopefully will be completed by this afternoon.  Once the fleece show has been opened for viewing we will be able to fins out if the any of the fleeces we entered won a ribbon.

 

Back home things have been reasonably quiet.  The four girls in the weaning pen who did not go to the show were a little unsettled the first day after their pen mates left for the show, today they are settled and more interested in hay than anything else.   Once the show alpacas return home the four girls in the weaning pen will be rejoining the main female herd group and the show alpacas will be put into the weaning pen for a three week quarantine period.  By the time the show alpacas return home they will be more than ready to stretch their legs and take a good roll in the dirt and then happily relax in familiar surroundings – even for alpacas there is no place like home.

 

Rosemary

February 13, 2009

Off To The Show They Go

In the early hours of Thursday morning Ric and I loaded up the alpacas going to the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular into our trailer and then Ric drove the seven or so hours to Fort Worth, Texas.

 

Ric’s journey was long but uneventful and the alpacas are now in their pens at the showground.  Atlas, Pride, Mags, Kaneka, Athena, Song, Zianna and Dream are the alpacas at the show this time and with the exception of Kaneka and Athena this is the first show for this group.

 

Ric reports that for the most part the alpacas are doing well, Zianna though is doing quite a bit of humming and seeking attention and Dream is also humming too and was not pleased to have her fleece color checked at the showgrounds – she growled at the volunteers checking her fleece!  Dream is so much like her dam Rosie who is very vocal and has that same growl when she wants to express displeasure.

 

The alpacas will not start showing until Saturday, so they will have time to settle into their surroundings before the classes start.  Ric will walk them as and when he can to get them used to their new surroundings.  Bob and Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas, our alpaca neighbors (they also have alpacas in Clovis, NM) will be arriving on Friday and will take over caring and showing our alpacas for us.

 

Ric will be pretty busy during the show as he is the show superintendent along with his business partner Danette McCleary.  Danette and Ric worked together as Show Superintendents in a volunteer capacity at some earlier alpaca shows and worked so well together that they decided to form a company M & M Supers and contract to work as show superintendents at various alpaca shows around the country.  The position of the Show Superintendent at the show is a big one, among the show superintendent’s duties is the receipt and verification of all of the entries, compilation of the class list, contracting the judges and ensuring the health and color compliance checks are carried out on all alpacas at the show.  The show superintendent basically coordinates the show making sure it runs smoothly – with over 500 alpacas at the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular that adds up to a lot of hard work.

 

As for me, I have remained home to care for the herd and will anxiously wait to hear how our young alpacas do at the show.   We have spent many hours preparing our young alpacas for the show and can only hope that they show well.  Here’s hoping for lots of ribbons, preferably in blue (1st place) and purple (Color Champion and Reserve Color Champion)

Rosemary

January 15, 2008

Born with a Smile

Ric and I are both involved in the upcoming TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular, and alpaca show that will take place February 15 – 17 in Fort Worth, Texas.  Ric along with his business partner Danette McCleary will be performing the duties of halter show superintendent and I will be performing the duties of fleece show superintendent.  We would not normally get both of us that heavily involved in a show, especially one that we usually attend to show alpacas, but I had already volunteered to be the fleece show superintendent when the opportunity for Ric and Danette arose to get the contract for the halter show superintendent.  So the moral of that story is that I need to sit on my hands next time someone asks me to volunteer!

As the show approaches we are starting to get more telephone enquiries relating to the show.  Some people need guidance as to how to fill out the forms, some are new to showing alpacas and have questions as to the correct procedures, others have more general enquires such as directions to the show grounds, local hotels etc.

One such enquiry was from a man who had seen an article about alpacas in Progressive Farmer magazine.  The article had mentioned the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular and that it was being held in Fort Worth, but apparently had not said at which facility the show would be held (which by the way is the Will Rogers Coliseum).  The man was excited that such a large alpaca show was going to be held in the Fort Worth area and was planning to come to the show.

I gave the man the information he needed and spent a few minutes talking to him.  I asked him if he already owned alpacas, he said he did not but was very interested in them and wanted to learn more about them.  He then came out with something that I hadn’t considered before but which made me smile, he said “How can you not fall in love with something that is born smiling”.

To this man the little crias faces hold a smile and had captured his attention.  In reality, as the crias are born, they are usually gasping as their lungs take in those first few breaths of air.  Once they are dried off and settled down though I can see how someone could see the crias as smiling.  Of course usually I am smiling by that time too, the sight of a cria being born will always be a joy to me.

I hope to meet the man at the show.  I told him that while I would probably be unable to leave the fleece room for much of the show, Ric might be a bit more accessible and that we would love to meet him.

It’s great to meet all of the different people who enquire about the shows we work on; they come from all walks of life but share a common thread, an interest or a love of alpacas.  It’s also great to hear their different perspectives about alpacas and the alpaca lifestyle. 

I will look forward to meeting this man who came out with a lovely thought about crias being born smiling, and I bet that one day he too will get to deliver a cria and realize that the smile will be not only be on the crias face but also on his own.

Rosemary

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