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.