A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 16, 2009

Is it Love?

Is This Love?  Black Prince Tries His Luck With Annochia While Little Man Looks On

Is This Love? Black Prince Tries His Luck With Annochia While Little Man Looks On

 

It’s fun to watch the young crias growing up and see the antics they get up to.  To them the world is a great place to explore and they have to check everything out, whether it be by looking, sniffing or tasting.

Chai’s cria Black Prince (who may well become Dark Prince if we decide he is not black when we come to register him) is a curious cria with a neat personality.  Black Prince is nicely curious without pushing any boundaries of inappropriate behavior.  He loves to see what we are doing, following us around when we are putting out hay and coming up for a brief visit when we are in the pasture.  Black Prince has also discovered that the fan produces a nice breeze and is the first in front of the fan every morning.  By the afternoon he has become bored with sitting in front of the fan and will go out into the pasture to play with the other crias or lounge in the sun.

Recently though Black Prince has had other things on his mind as he appears to have fallen in love with Annochia.  Annochia being close to a year old is a lot bigger than Black Prince but does not seem put off by her suitors size or age.  The first time I noticed Black Prince with Annochia they were lying side by side in the pasture, their necks entwined, fast asleep in the sunshine.  From there things have progressed and now Black Prince has turned his thoughts to breeding.

Fortunately Black Prince is nowhere near breeding age, if he was we would put him in the junior male pen safely away from the females, but Black Prince doesn’t realize that and has been making attempts to breed Annochia.  His inexperience shows though as often we find him on Annochia’s neck facing her rear end.  Other times he is facing the right way, but he is so small compared to Annochia that he ends up sitting on top of her with all four feet tucked underneath him.

Annochia is very tolerant of her young paramour and sits chewing her cud while he clambers all over her.  When Black Prince is in her way one quick shake by Annochia unseats him from his perch on top of her and deposits him in the dirt.  Not that Black Prince is offended by Annochia’s unceremonious dumping of him, he just dusts himself off and either goes off to play with another cria or settles down to cush beside Annochia.

It’s funny that often young male crias will find one female in the pasture who they are particularly attracted to.  When Windrush White Blast was a cria he fell hard for a visiting young female called Annie.  Windrush Zindel’s Pride was besotted by our girl Windrush Ashling’s Dream (although with that pairing we did separate them as Pride was getting close to six months old and Dream was actively cushing for him).  Now Black Prince has his sights set on Annochia, a pairing that I don’t see happening at any time in the future, but until Black Prince gets a little older we will allow him to enjoy his first love!

 

Rosemary

August 11, 2009

We Have Ribbons

Our Latest Ribbons From The AFCNA Continental Fleece Show

Our Latest Ribbons From The AFCNA Continental Fleece Show

 

Last Thursday we received a delivery via FedEx – our fleeces that we had submitted to the AFCNA Continental Fleece Show.

 

We were surprised to see our fleeces back so soon after the show, the show had concluded the Sunday before and sometimes it takes while for fleeces to be shipped back to their owners following a show.

 

It is always an exciting moment when you open your box of fleeces wondering if you have won ribbons and for us the answer was yes!

 

Our Windrush Zindel’s Atlas had placed 1st in his class and our Windrush White Blast placed 6th in his class. Unfortunately there were only four entries in Atlas’s class, Atlas has a gorgeous fleece and while we were happy to receive our blue ribbon it would have been good to see how he would do against more competition.

 

Blast’s fleece definitely had competition as he was 6th out of 15 in the ever competitive white classes. I had not been happy with Blast’s fleece when I sent it in as it had become tangled up prior to my skirting it. I didn’t feel that it looked as good as it could do, so I am happy to know that Blast’s fleece placed in a large class despite the mess it was in!

 

I don’t know if I will show Blast’s fleece again, it will depend on how it looks when I take it out of the bag. Maybe I will have got lucky and the fleece show volunteers were able to do a better job of straightening it out than I did! Atlas’s fleece will definitely be shown again.

 

Blast (Left), Biscotti (Center) and Atlas (Right) enjoy some hay, oblivious to Atlas and Blast's latest accomplishments

Blast (Left), Biscotti (Center) and Atlas (Right) enjoy some hay, oblivious to Atlas and Blast's latest accomplishments

So our two up and coming junior herdsires have some more credentials behind them. Atlas at just over a year old is not ready to breed yet, but we have some good news on Blast. It looks as if Blast has got a female pregnant at his first breeding attempt. We still have to confirm the pregnancy by ultrasound, but Dona is spitting hard and fast at any males that come near her so we are pretty confident she is pregnant. How exciting – now all we have to do is wait the 11 ½ months or so for the cria to be born, but if this year is anything to go by the time will go by in a flash!

 

Rosemary

July 23, 2009

To The Fleece Show We Go

 

 Well not us, but two of our fleeces headed off to the AFCNA Continental Fleece Show this afternoon.

 

If truth be known the fleeces probably should have left earlier, they will still arrive at the show with a day or two to spare but I hate taking a chance on something going wrong with the transportation and the fleeces arriving late. Also having been a fleece show superintendent myself I understand how nice it is to receive entries and fleeces well in advance of the show. (My apologies to all involved with the AFCNA Continental Fleece Show this year!).

 

So which fleeces did we send? After some discussion we settled on Windrush White Blast and Windrush Zindel’s Atlas.

 

White Blast did really well in fleece shows last year winning the white color champion at the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular against some stiff competition. Blast has a beautiful fleece with tiny micro bundles, high frequency crimp, superb brightness and a soft, soft hand.

 

When I went to prepare Blast’s fleece for the show I discovered that it had somehow become entangled within the bag and it took me a while to sort it out. That doesn’t happen often but when it does it is quite a challenge to unravel the puzzle of which piece of fleece needs to be turned in which direction. I had one heart stopping moment when I wondered if the fleece I had prepared was Blast’s 2008 fleece which had already been shown several times. That would have explained the twisting but would also have meant I had wasted my time and would have to start over on the 2009 fleece. I checked the fleece bag and “phew” the bag was marked Blast 2009! I did my best with Blast’s fleece but with it having become twisted I wonder if the judge will stumble across a piece of fleece that should have been skirted out. I wouldn’t’ be surprised if I get the “needs more skirting” comment on my scorecard.

 

Atlas did well in his first year of halter shows and this shearing was his first. Atlas also has a beautiful fleece in a bronzed light brown color. Atlas is really consistent with his fleece, with his crimp style extending all the way down to his belly and upper legs. Like Blast Atlas has a super bright fleece with high frequency crimp micro bundles. Atlas’s fleece was thankfully not tangled and so skirting it was a little easier, although I did start to wonder who allowed him to roll in the straw before shearing!

 

With the fleeces on the way to the show, now I can sit back and wait for the results. The really nice thing about this particular show is that you also get a DVD of the judges oral reasons on each class and of the seminars held at the show. If your fleece places, you get to see and hear the judges comments about it, which is great fun and a good addition to your herd records.

 

If you are thinking that you missed a great opportunity to show fleeces in the AFCNA Show then think again. The show deadline has been extended and late fees waived. Go to http://www.alpacawebsite.com/ for more information and then get your fleeces on the way to the show!

 

Rosemary

February 18, 2009

Still Bragging!

Blast's Fleece

Blast's Fleece

 

Having unpacked the truck I have had a chance to examine the scorecard for Windrush White Blast’s fleece that won white color champion at the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular last weekend.

 

One of the reasons I like fleece shows so much is that no matter where you place you get your scorecard back with your fleece giving you some feedback on where you fleece scored high and where it scored low.  The scorecard is a good record that you can look at and keep with your alpaca files.  In halter classes if you place the judge will give oral reasons for your placing, but then you have to remember what the judge said, which when you are showing several alpacas over the course of the day can prove to be a bit of a challenge.  Oral reasons are not given to the alpacas that place outside of the top six.  We figure to have half a chance of remembering accurately what the judge said in a halter class you would have to have a) a good memory b) a tape or video recorder running during the show or c) use a tape recorder immediately after your class to record what the judges comments were about your alpaca, which could be difficult if you have back to back classes.

 

With AOBA fleece shows the scoring is done using an absolute point system.  You have the potential for scoring 100 points total and that 100 points is divided over several fleece traits.

 

Below is a copy of our scorecard for Blast’s fleece.  As you can see he scored high pretty much across the board, with his lowest score being in the area of fleece weight.  I had suspected that the score for the annualized weight of Blast’s fleece would be a little low because he has fine fleece and also he is not a very big alpaca.

 

 

 

Blast's Fleece Score Card

Blast's Fleece Score Card

 

 

 

 

Blast’s total score was 84.5 – not too shabby!  I like the judge’s comments too “Overall wonderful traits!  Wow!  I might be biased but I have to agree with the judge on the Wow factor of Blast’s fleece.

 

Blast will turn two in June and his breeding career will hopefully begin by fall of 2009, so if you know of any single female alpacas looking for a hot date give us a call or drop us an email as we are sure Blast will be willing to oblige!

 

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

September 22, 2008

Safely Home From The State Fair

 

The New Mexico State Fair is over and Ric and the alpacas arrived back home yesterday evening.

 

This year’s State Fair Alpaca Show was a little smaller than those of previous years with approximately 224 entries.  The economy and high fuel prices are making people think hard about which shows they travel to.  According to the State Fair staff, livestock entries were down across the board and a local news channel reported that attendance at the State Fair was also down.

 

Still the alpaca entries came from several states, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and California to name a few.

 

According to Ric our four alpacas all behaved well and were very relaxed for the whole trip.  Only one of them Windrush White Blast had been to a show before, for the other three this was a new experience.

 

Unfortunately young Zeus did not place in his class, one of the hazards of being in a competitive class of juvenile white male alpacas, usually the largest class at a show.  Zeus is a little small for his age and that probably went against him, but he is still young, has a beautiful bright white fleece and has lots of time to grow.

 

Blast did also not fair as well as we had hoped, but he did come away with a 6th place ribbon, the judge liked his fine, soft handing fleece and crimp style but felt he was not as dense as some of the other alpacas in the class.

 

Windrush Zindel’s Carissima took a third in her class, and she was the youngest in her class as well.  The judge really liked her fleece (it is really nice if I say so myself!) and commented that that she realized Carissima still has some growing to do. Carissima is starting to enter that gangly adolescent stage that young alpacas go through, so hopefully in a few months she will be looking more adult, and I bet her spring show season will be a successful one.

 

Finally our true black juvenile Windrush Zindel’s Kaneka did us proud by taking not only second in her class but also going on to win the Reserve Color Champion – well done Kaneka!  And well done Ric for traveling to the show on your own, setting up and manning the booth and showing the alpacas, even with just four alpacas shows are hard work on your own, but they also are fun too,

 

Now the show alpacas will be placed into quarantine for the next three weeks, just in case they picked up any parasites or other ills during their trip.  The biosecurity and vet checks at the show were very thorough, but there is still always a risk of bringing back something unwanted and if that does happen we don’t want it spreading through the herd, especially as we have young crias due to be born any day.

 

Back at the ranch, we continue with cria watch, no sign of any imminent births yet, just some heavily pregnant dams waddling around the pasture, enjoying the cool breeze of the fan, having a roll in the dust from time to time, dipping their feet in the water bucket (I’ve lost track of how many times I have had to rinse and refill the bucket!) and eating hay to keep those crias growing!

 

Rosemary

August 9, 2008

The Fleeces Are Back – With Ribbons

Winning Fleeces - Blast and Velvet

Winning Fleeces - Blast and Velvet

 

 

 

Thursday saw the arrival of the FedEx van and the return of the fleeces we sent in to the AFCNA Continental Fleece Show.

 

One of the fun things about mail in fleece shows is the moment when you open your box and discover if your fleeces have won ribbons – it’s a little bit like opening a Christmas or birthday gift, except sometimes you experience a little disappointment if your fleeces have not won anything.  Still with a fleece show you at least get the scorecard in with the fleece showing you how your fleece scored in the various areas (fineness, handle, uniformity of micron/length/color, crimp style, staple type/density, brightness, lack of medullation, lack of impurities/stain/damage and fleece weight) and any comments from the judges.

 

So how did our fleeces do?  No firsts or seconds I am afraid, but we did get ribbons.  A 4th place for Velvet and a 5 th place for White Blast.  Not too shabby for a large show with over 300 entries.

 

Velvet’s fleece had been moved from the dark fawn class to the light brown class.  This is not the first time that has happened to Velvet.  Her color is between the two shades and we have found that it depends on the lighting at the facility as to which color designation she is given.  Having the vicuna shading (graduating from dark on her back to lighter fleece toward her belly) Velvet is always at a little bit of a disadvantage when compared to a solid brown or solid fawn alpaca.  When I skirt her fleece to prepare it for showing I end up removing all of the lightest shade, leaving just the dark and mid shade, which of course reflects in her fleece weight.  In fleece shows we are aiming to show the good qualities and consistency of the fleece and so to leave the lightest fiber on Velvet’s show fleece would result in fewer points for color consistency.  Velvet is also very fine which does not help her fleece weight either.  At the end of the day though there were three other fleeces that scored higher than Velvets.  Her score card will give me pointers as to which areas she is lacking in and will assist me in helping to decide which herdsire to breed her to when she comes to breeding age.

 

White Blast placed 5th in his class.  I know the competition in the white classes would have been stiff and so a 5th place is still an achievement.  Another bullet to add to Blast’s future herdsire resume!  Blast’s fleece scored high in all areas except his fleece weight where his fineness and small stature probably didn’t help him too much.  Blast is still young though and has been doing some good growing this summer.  While he will never be a large alpaca he is not undersized by any means and according to him he is ready to try his hand with the ladies.  As he is only 15 months old it will be a little while before he goes on his first date, but he definitely has the potential to make a good herdsire.  As well as Blast’s fleece scores the Judge had written the comment “Commendable Brightness” in the notes area of Blasts scorecard, which is a nice compliment in itself.

 

The fleeces will now go back out to the studio for storage until the next show.  They might need a little straightening out depending on how they were handled at the show, but it will not take much to get them ready for the next time.

 

We are proud of the achievement of our two young alpacas and have several more fleeces to show during the course of the year, which, fingers crossed, will also bring us more ribbons in due course.

 

Rosemary

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