Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Herding Money??

Katie Couric had a great segment on Alpacas last night on CBS. Click here to read more.

Synopsis - more and more people are trading in their stocks and bonds for tangible, less traditional investments - like ALPACAS!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wondering about Alpaca Fiber??

I write a craft column for an online magazine. If you are new to alpacas, know nothing about alpacas or are a breeder and am wondering "what do I do with the fiber?", then read my first article.

Knitting/Crocheting Corner by Rose Mogerman

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Camelidynamics Success Story - Jimmy Mac

To the left - Jimmy at the show 11/23/08
To the right - Jimmy as a cria Jan 2007

Alma Park Jimmy Mac was one of the cutest crias we ever had with his heart shaped nose and big personality, but he was a naughty boy. He did not like to get shots or touched or much of anything. I thought for sure he was not a show prospect in attitude alone. He did have all the other hallmarks of doing well at a show (confirmation, head, fiber etc). He is late to mature (small for his age)- but I thought, lets get him out there and see how he does.

We halter trained him as a cria - but he liked to jump around and do this funny thing with his neck that made him look like a camel. So about 4 weeks before the show - Laura and I decided to start sessions with him once a week and this would include taking him and a friend out of the barn for a walkabout on the farm. He looked around alot, stopped at the fence to check out the girls and thought the ducks were going to kill him, but all in all, he was slowly getting better.

I did nothing with him a week prior to the show and did not mess with him at all before his class. I see some folks endlessly walking around their animals before the show and I think it can make them tired and cranky. The morning that we had to load up, I put his halter on and walked him to the trailer. Of course he did not want to jump up, so my husband picked him up and loaded him into the trailer. He and his buddy and several other hummed, but eventually settled down and we were off to the show.

We arrived at the show and walked the boys in, of course Sebastian is easy to handle and stood there regal and distinguished. Jimmy Mac as soon as we stepped foot into the show arena, stood proud, posing with an attitude of "yeah, that's right, look at me !" This was quite a transformation. He was like a little man. He behaved very well in the show ring for both me and Laura and took a fifth place in his class, mostly due to his smaller stature. He made me proud of him and the way he behave the whole weekend. He had his father's attitude of calm confidence and never did the neck thing.

He is now settled in back at the farm and acting like a goofy teenager - but I know he will be a well behaved little gentleman at the spring shows.

So I tell you all - if you have a juvenile or yearling that behaves naughty at home, that is not necessrily the way they will act off the farm. Take a shot - they may just surprise you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sebastian Takes Color Champion

MLS Peruvian Sebastian just joined our farm in October. I first saw him on a cold day in January 2008 and knew that he had to be part of my breeding program. He has amazing presence, fine fiber, density, crimp and coverage from head to toe. In addition to all that - he is a love bug and likes to be touched, kissed and loves to pose for pics. After finally wearing Terry and Donald (from Atlantico Ranch Alpacas) down and letting me purchase him, we took him home on October 22, so that he could breed my girls. He has been a busy boy!! We decided to take him to his first show at 4 1/2 years old to see if others thought as I did - that he was an amazing, elite male.

At lunch the first day of the show, the herdsire showcase was in the ring. Sebastian walked into the ring, ears up, proud and tall. He walked like he owned the place and seemed to know people were looking at him. When we came out of the ring, all the folks in the food court wanted to take pictures of him with their camera phones. Of course, Sebastian paused, put his ears up, and stood still until they got their fill of pics of him. I put him back in his pen and he settled in to eat some hay. More folks came by and as soon as he saw them with their cameras, he picked his head up, posed and when the flash subsided, he put his head back down into his hay bag. Many people think animals are unintelligent creatures, but he knew they were there to see him!

When we went back into the ring for the Mature Male Medium Fawn class, only 2 other males were in the ring with us. Sebastian was well over a year older than them, and in the alpaca world that is a disadvantage as breeding males fiber does not retain its fineness, UNLESS they are an elite male like Sebastian. He stood perfectly still, his lead loosely in my hand. When the judge (Tim Lavan) came to look at him, he did not move a muscle and I barely held him in the bracelet hold like Marty showed us. Tim walked away and Sebastian straightened back up and stood there like a statue.

Tim finished looking at all the males and came back to Sebastian for a second look. My heart was racing. There were many lookers on, but I only saw the folks in the crowd that were supporting Sebastian and me. Most of those folks have females bred to Sebastian, others were friends and others were boarders at my farm who came to check out the show and cheer me on. Tim motioned to me to come up to first place - I was so happy I wanted to scream, but I remained reserved and professional. I was never into the shows, and tried to avoid them, but with Sebastian at my side, it was a thrill. Tim placed the other 2 males and then gave his oral reasons. I looked into the crowd to my fans giving me the thumbs up, all smiles! Tim said that although Sebastian was well over a year older than the other males in his class his fineness of micon could not be ignored. He was the complete package along with confirmation, crimp, density and presence.

I walked out of the ring, handed the blue ribbon to someone (it is all a blur) and walked right back in to the championship round. We were now up against juveniles (under 1 year of age), yearlings and 2-3 year old males. There were 4 animals in the front row including Sebastian, one from each age category. Tim went and examined the other 3 males, came to Sebastian, looked at the fiber briefly and walked back to the front to visually inspect the 4 males. He looked at one male and then at Sebastian, the second male and then at Sebastian, the third male and then at Sebastian. He was not looking at me and Sebastian and I had no idea what he was thinking. What I was thinking was, there is NO way a 4 1/2 male could win color champion!! Tim walked to the ring steward to get the banner, looking down at the male standing furthest from us, but standing in front of me. He then walked forward and handed me the banner!!! I was like oh my goodness!!!! He placed the reserve animal (at that point I was in shock). He gave oral reasons stating the same for placing Sebastian. An animal his age with that fine micron count, density, presence and confirmation was the clear winner.

My friends in the crowd screamed, applauded, high fived each other and gave me the thumbs up. I still remained reserved but now had a big smile on my face!!!

When we came out of the ring, everyone wanted to touch his fiber and he gladly let them. People were at his pen the rest of the weekend letting them snap his picture, touch him and in between eating hay.

He came back home, settled back in with his pen mates and acts like all is ok and he is no more special than any other male he shares his space with.

So Sebastian - here is to you !!! A premier, elite male now proudly standing stud at Alma Park.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Great Post from another blogger about my open farm day!

Click here. Yep those are pics of my animals and my farm, and the pic of the woman holding the cria (baby) is me. :)

Peru fuels boom in alpaca, llama fleece fashion

This is an interesting article on how we are moving ahead with promoting the wonderful fiber that comes from the furry little creatures we love to breed.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Econony got you down?

Read this article from the Wall St Journal. . . it talks about tangible assets such as alpacas. Remember alpacas can be fully insured against mortality and theft.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Alpaca Market and the Economy

I am sitting here (at midnight) reading the financial news after watching CNBC in the barn for part of the day . . .it is a crazy time for America. Banks failing, bailout plans and possibly a recession not seen in my generations lifetime.

My stocks are down, my real estate is devalued and I see small alpaca farms bailing out of the industry. Here is my take on it all . . . alpacas are valuable investments. They reproduce other valuable investments that can be sold or traded. They produce the most wonderful fiber that is such a pleasure to spin into yarn and then knit, weave or crochet.

Coming into a major election and the holiday season, the trends I see are that people are nesting. . .and they are continuing to purchase yarn and other alpaca items. I am selling more items then I did at this time last year even in this atmosphere of uncertainty.

So my advice to all is to ride it out, and look for other ways to add value to your business. Work with the fiber, buy yarn and other products from the co-op and resell it and above all keep advertising.

I am more positive than ever about the alpaca industry and will continue to help promote and educate about the "finest livestock investment" in the world. I love these funny little creatures!!

Btw - I am working on my economics masters and from all the signs 3 years ago in the financial and housing markets this was bound to happen and will be healthier for the country and economy in the long run.

Nite Nite --- sweet dreams!


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Open Farm day Sept 27, 2008 10am - 4pm Jackson NJ

Hi All - Sept 27-28 is National Alpaca Farm Day. My farm is open to the pubic Saturday Sept 27, 2008 from 10am to 4pm. Come meet an alpaca or llama, buy some yarn, buy some fleece or just come hang and knit. There will be a fiber artist on site who can spin your raw fleece into yarn. There is also plenty of yarn and products for sale as well as alpacas.

All our animals and products are 10% off for this day only.

There will be food, fun and many folks to socialize with, both alpaca breeders and fiber artists.

Please visit www.almapark.com/NAFD2008.html for directions and info. Call or email for more info or questions.

Yarn is as low as $12 for a 200 yard skein. Animals are as low at $300.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Giving Shots using Camelidynamics

Today while my husband was out picking up hay and I was alone at the barn, I decided to try my new technique that I learned from Marty for giving shots. (By the way, I use Ivermectin for Meningial worm prevention at the dose of 1 cc per 50 pounds).

First a little history. When we started 6 years ago, we would chase the animal, my husband would grab and hold and I would give them the shot, albeit clumsily. After reading Marty's book, about 3-4 years ago, I developed a new technique in which I would try to give the shot be myself standing in front of the animal, putting my left arm around their neck and giving the shot with my right hand. That worked on most of the animals, and was clearly better than the chase, but still did not make the animals happy. I blocked their escape route and some of the larger alpacas had a definate advantage over me. My llamas had no issue with shots and I did not need to employ any technique except to ask them to stand and perhaps bribe them with grain.

After my advanced clinic with Marty, she showed us her technique for giving shots. . . far superior than what I had been trying on my own. In a pen (10x10 at the largest, smaller is better), bring in animals enough that there is not a great amount of room for them to run and they feel more comfortable with many friends. For my big boys (200 lbs), this amounts to about 6 animals. I get all my needles drawn up for an individual pen, pick an animal (in my head) and then lean over the animal from the side and give the shot in the opposite side then the one I am standing on. I allow them to walk if they want, never block their escape route and do not hold onto them. I don't need to chase or grab at all. I approach from the side behind their eye.

I was able to give all my boys shots this way today, except for one. They seemed much happier for several reasons. The first I think is because I walked into the pens properly with my shoulders opened in a non-agressive posture, I never blocked their escape route and I thnk the fact that I went into the pens alone without my husband made them feel more confident and trusting that no one was going to grab and hold.

Overall it was a tremendously successful day. So what about the one boy that did not want to work with me and my new technique? Sunny is his name and is one of my top studs (a Bueno son) and wellover 200 pounds. He is usually VERY cooperative and easy to catch. I usually only need to use the midline catch and halter him for breeding and he never once struggled. I thought about what made today different? I know he doesn't like my husband and I usually can give him shots without issue. I stopped for a second and thought . . . ahhhh - I put a new boy in the field last week . . . Sunny is the king of that field and perhaps he did not want to "give in" to the 2 legger with the new younger male watching? I used the wand and the catch rope, put it high on his neck and waiting until he felt balanced. Once he relaxed, I kept contact on the rope and administered the shot. When it was over, I removed the rope and he just stood there as if to say "Oh, that is all you wanted to do?". He did not run or move away from me.

All in all a wonderful day. No muss, no fuss! I think the animals enjoyed the experience and are happy I made the trip to Oregon!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Marty and Me

When I was in Oregon at the advanced clinic, a very talented group of folks attended with me. Not just alpaca talent, but music talent. Here is the clip to the video Jen wrote and performed for us. We were all amazed and loved every second of it.

I learned alot about animals but also feel I made some good friends when I was there . . .

Click here to watch

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I was never a person who "herded" my alpacas and llamas. I simply put food in the troughs (in the barn) and they learned to come in once the barn door opened. Well at Marty's clinic in Oregon, I learned how easy it is to herd a group of animals.

We needed to move a group of male yearlings from the weanling area to the pen where there are other young boys and of course a guard llama. Using a wand and a dressage whip as the other wand (I just placed a wand order from Marty), I decided to give it a try. The trick is to guide them with the whips and use them as a deterrent. We never hit them with them, but may touch them to guide them to where we want them to go. I went into the pen that is in the barn where the boys were and closed the barn door. I "cut" them from the rest of the group and guided them into the aisle way of the barn. Once all 5 of them were in the aisle of the barn, I simply guided them into the new pen (hubby was the gate keeper). All but one of the boys went in like it was no big deal. One boy "Montana" wanted to run around the barn and visit the other animals, but with a little guidance, he too went into the new pen. It was all very easy for us and seemingly stress free for the boys.

Always looking to improve on techniques - the only thing I will do different next time, is to make sure there are no other animals in the barn sticking their noses over the gates, this distracts the animals I am working with, and makes our job a bit harder.

The boys are enjoying their new pen with the other boys and I did not have to grab or wrestle anyone to do it.

Respect and safety for the animals is what you need to keep in mind, as well as "feeling" what they may be thinking such as fear, stress etc.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cocoa Day 2

Cocoa is nursing on her own and mom has plenty of milk. Her IgG came back fine so the worst is over. She is still a little wobbly, so mom and baby will stay in the barn until she gets stronger. She has gained 0.2 lbs, so I am confident that she just needs a few days to gain strength in those legs so she can match up with the other crias in the field. Here is Cocoa with her mom "Sunrose by a Nose" in the center of my barn stretching their legs.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cocoa the premature cria

We feed beetpulp in the morning and grain at night to all our alpacas in the barn so that we can look at each one of them everyday at least 2 times in a smaller space in case anyone looks "odd". We also like to make sure they come in for their grain, because they love it and if one does not come in, we know something is off. In order to do this and not be run over, we close the barn doors, fill the troughs and then open the doors and they come a running. On Monday morning, when my barn manager's daughter opened the door to the big girls field, she called screaming for us. . .

One of my girls (Savannah) was due on August 19th, and to my surprise, she was laying in front of the door next to a beautiful little dark brown baby girl. She was 2 weeks early and obviously not done cooking in her mom's belly. This was about 8:30am.

I took the cria's temperature and it was only 94.3F. Normal temps are 99.5 - 102.5F. I picked up the little girl "Cocoa", and carried her in the barn. We have a separate "new mommy pen". We immediately put a jacket on her and began warming her. After 30 minutes she was still only 94.7F, so I decided to get a heat lamp on her to warm her further. If a cria's temp is not around 100F or so, her first drink of colostrum will do no good. At 10am, her temp was up to 97.5F, but Cocoa was still lethargi and not able to get up, although she was sucking the air. I gave her 3ccs of light caro syrup to boost blood sugar and kept her under the lamp.

At 11am, her temp had reached 98.4F. The lamp was working. I gave 1.5ccs more of caro and continued to watch her.

At noon, she was trying hard to stand and her temp had reached 99.8F, so I decided to milk out mom and get some into the baby. Mom was an absolute doll and just stood there while my huband petted her neck and I milked her out. 18ccs were gathered and I gave it to the baby with a 3cc syringe. She greddily suckled he syringe and did not miss a drop.

At 1pm - Cocoa was trying to stand but could not find the udder, so we milked out mom again (another 18ccs) and gave it to Cocoa.

At about 2pm, the baby was able to stand and nurse from mom. Mom stood there lke a statue while the baby latched on. It did not last long, so we nursed mom out again, only 6 ccs this time, so Cocoa must have got some milk out of mom. We gave this to the baby and coninued to watch.

Cocoa started nursing at 3pm about every 15 minutes. Still shaky but able to find the udder without much issue, we were past the hard part.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prince - 1st Lesson

Prince is a male in-tact alpaca and is almost 4 years old. I have had him since he was about 16 months and I have never tried to halter him. My first lesson with Prince was 7/31/08 and is described in this post. Since I catch all my animals with the mid-line catch, I went into the pen with my handler helper and a halter. I caught him as I normally do with no issue, balanced him and put the handler helper on. He was calm and in balance and allowed me to put the halter on with no issue. I used my newly acquired skill of ratcheting, but he was not getting my signals, so I stepped back, removed the halter and decided to do some more balancing work with him and the catch rope. After he accepting that, I did some TTouch and called it a day. I worked with him for about 10 minutes and he seemed calm and unafraid during the entire lesson. He seemed to enjoy the TTouch. I think I need to practice the ratcheting technique a bit more on other animals who already lead before I can go back and work with Prince on this. I will continue the other techniques on him, but will not work with him on leading until I get better at this technique myself.

My Work With Camelidyamics

I just returned from Oregon on Thursday 7/31/08 after attending an advanced seminar with Marty. It was amazing! I have been using her methods for years to work with my alpacas and llamas. I have learned from her books and videos, but it was nothing like being there in person and learning one on one. We learned balance and respect for the animals and I am using this blog to discuss my case studies and handling techniques. Chronicling this information is important for me to see my progress as a handler and I hope that it can help others to gain a mutually beneficial relationship with their animals.