Friday, July 30, 2010

New Book - A Sneak Peak - "A Mama for Mr. Frost"

My new book. This book is due out the first week of September 2010 - just in time for NAFD. I If you would like a copy when it is ready - please let me know . Wholesale also available for alpaca/llama farms - email for info. I will be setting the price within the week with my publisher. Will be under $20 - I am hoping for around $15.  Contact us for more info or for advance ordering.  Contact info at the top of the right column of this blog. 

This story is based on the life of my alpaca Mr. Frost who was our first and only bottle baby in 8 years. He is almost 3 years old today and still holds my heart in his hand (or is that paw. . hoof?)

Heartwarming childrens book that adults will love as well. Fully illustrated.

Sneak Peak:
"On a cold September morning, I was taking my daily hike through the woods that surround our farm. It was a walk I had taken many, many times since we started our Alpaca farm. The trees started to display their beautiful colorful fall wardrobes and the leaves that only days ago were green had turned wonderful shades of golden, red and brown and blanketed the forest floor. I smiled as I looked forward to the cool crisp beauty of the fall season, my most favorite time of year. But as I walked, I had no idea that this rather ordinary day would turn out to be quite extraordinary!"

Sneak Peak of one illustration within the book. 

Pictures and text Copyright 2010 Rose Mogerman & Alma Park Alpacas

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Facebook Becoming More Important than Google?

I remember many, many years ago watching television with my husband and he asked what were the letters at the bottom of the screen of the television commercials., and so forth. It was the advent of the world wide web as a marketing mega giant. E-commerce was not even in the embryonic stages of the internet at this point, but many large companies saw the potential of electronic media as another advertising channel. Now I am seeing companies post their Facebook address instead of their website on commercials. I was amazed, but thrilled in the fact that I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon in the beginning!

Since the original www crazy days, many folks have used affiliate marketing, pay per click and sponsored searches to get traffic to their websites. Remember, the old adage in internet advertising is "Traffic is King". Google has long been the sponsored search and ppc giant and Yahoo! isn't far behing, now Bing is gaining some market share. But something amazing happened in March 13th of this year. Facebook overtook Google as the #1 most visited site in the US. For those of you that do not think this is big news - IT IS !!

Facebook is a advertising mecca. Social networking allows people who would otherwise not normally meet build relationships, gain some trust and perhaps do business. Many people do not understand that in order to do this well several key factors must be followed:

1 - Keep your business and personal life separate. If you have a business, you may want to create a "page" or "group" for that business and keep it separate from your personal profile. If your personal profile is going to contain family updates, etc, then you should not "friend" business acquaintances and just keep those relationships on the business "page" or "group".
2 - Keep your advertising to a reasonable volume and pepper it with useful facts, articles etc about your business or your industry. Constant advertising about a certain product or sale will make you look "spammy", infuriate your customers and may just drive them to your competitors.
3 - If you are going to be posting under your personal account, then pics should be appropriate, and beware of "friends" who will potentially post inappropriate material to your wall or comments. Again - another reason to keep it separate or be very careful to not cross this line.
4 - Games - do not send people who are acquaintances "game requests" unless you are 100% sure they are playing that game. It can be a nuisance and turn someone off to thinking that you are on FB all day playing Mafia Wars instead of running your business.

Facebook can be a valuable tool and is free (except for the amount of time you may spend on it), and if used wisely, can be potentially your best source for new revenue generation this year.

Have a tip on how to use FB more effectively?? Let me know and post a comment!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Market for Alpacas - 6 months Later

It has been a little over 6 months since I posted my prediction on the Alpaca Market in 2010 and 2011 - you can read the original post here.

We all saw many breeders/farms panic, have retirement sales, stop advertising, try to get out at any cost. This may have sent a message to some folks sitting on the sidelines wondering if alpacas are a good investment, I believe it has done some good things that is beneficial for our industry as a whole.

1 - The capitulation event (evidenced by steep price declines on abnormally high trading) is (I believe) behind us and the market is beginning to stabilize. While there is still some depression is some hard hit economic areas (such as Michigan and California), other areas of the country are seeing brisk animal sales. While the prices are not as high per an individual animal as we once enjoyed, most other livestock industry experts would tell you this was inevitable if we want to become a real livestock industry and become serious about the end products produced by these animals . . . fiber.
2 - People sitting on the sidelines for years, unable to break into the alpaca industry because of the incredibly high start up costs are coming out of the woodwork and purchasing their first animals. They either snatched up bargains when the dispersals/retirement sales happened or are looking at other farms who have moderately priced animals and are purchasing from them and are viewing these mentor farms as strong and in for the long haul.
3 - Many show producers have looked for ways to cut expenses and drive more of the public to these events so that alpacas can get more exposure outside the industry.
4 - Many breeders who thought fiber was an afterthought are finding new, creative ways to get their fiber into the pipeline.
5 - The poor economy as a whole has made sustainable agriculture and green products on the minds of many and alpaca breeders are capitalizing on our green products and sustainable industry. Whether a hobby breeder or a full fledged larger farm looking to replace all their income, people are coming together to support and promote alpacas and their products.
6 - People are becoming creative and are trading breedings, animals, products and services to increase revenue, bio-diversity and networking opportunities.
7 - AOBA seems to be listening and are tailoring marketing programs that are geared more toward the general public and less toward each other.
8 - ARI listened and lowered fees.

All in all, I think folks who got out and ran scared were a proper and necessary cleansing for the industry. I believe those that are still here are seeing the importance of fiber and a fiber market and cooperation among ourselves and perhaps other fiber producers is on the rise and will continue to increase.

More local exposure is happening at fairs, festivals, fiber events and public relation events relating to alpacas and public awareness is increasing perhaps creating more of a demand for a products and perhaps animals.

All in all I am positive for the future of our industry and believe that while the "hayday" of high prices are over, the best is yet to come for those of us that are serious about a fiber industry and about making our national herd the best alpacas in the world.

I think the predictions I made back in January are coming to fruition and our industry is on the rise of getting stronger and more realistic as a legitimate money making opportunity!

Fiber Fiesta is Opened!!

I will be judging the spin-off for Fiber Fiesta ! For more info - go to

Stay tuned for info on how to prep a sample for a spin-off!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Christmas in July Sale!

Christmas in July special - take 15% anyting in our store!! If you are local you can pick up and save on shipping as well !! Free shipping in US for orders of $75 or more. Use coupon code BJuly15 at checkout to take advantage of this offer. Ends July 31st !

Click here to visit the store.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How to build a show string

Many folks want to breed to the males with the most ribbons, or the "biggest names" in their lineage, or maybe who sold the most at an auction. We have always taken a different philosophy. We hand pick out males who are young or unknown in order to stamp our babies with our own name. We want to be the ones to promote these unknown males, make the babies and then show the world that, yes - we have an eye for quality. We have a full Accoyo male who babies are just now hitting the show circuit, and our full Peruvian male, MLS Peruvian Sebastian, who is doing amazingly well in the circuit, both himself and his babies. Here is the story of how we came to find our 2 top studs.

MSA Accoyo Volunteer
It was just months after than Snowmass Invincible sold for $480k at auction. We had been searching for a new amazing white male for quite some time, but were not finding something without Beuno genetics on the east coast. We already had an amazing Beuno son and wanted a new white boy to breed his daughters too. We always were and are white and light breeders first, so I wanted to make sure my white program had a head start before I move to lights and blacks.

We went to a local well know auction specifically because there was a young unproven male there who was from the west coast and pretty rare genetics east. He was 20 months old and unproven. There was also an amazing Bay Black male there MA Multomba who came home with us - and for those of you who know me, know he was my favorite of all time!! He passed of cancer the day after Christmas 2008 and there is still a hole in my heart. Special in all ways, "Mo" was my man.

MLS Peruvian Sebastian
Several years ago, my husband and I drove onto a small farm and saw this amazing male standing among a few other males. We were looking for a few more foundation females and had not even known of this male or his status. We were not looking for another male, but he was impressive!!

We asked the owners if he was for sale and they said they were not sure if they were going to sell or keep him. He was at that time, around 4 years of age. He had not been shown in halter or fleece up to that point. I thought it was odd as he was quite the specimen. It was as if the current owners did not even know of his worth, as if they did not even see him standing there.

We bought a few girls from this farm and inquired about the male several times over the next few months, finally the owners decided to let him go and we brought him home in October 2008. This male is MLS Peruvian Sebastian. Click here to see a video of him and some of his 2009 crias. The very next month was the Fall 2008 NJ show. We didn't even have the transferred ARI back yet, but decided to enter him in the show as a mature male.

Tim Lavan was the judge and since it was the last show of the season, there was some really tough competition. I asked my friend what he thought of Sebastian's chances were for the ribbons and he stated "He's gorgeous".

We easily won the blue ribbon round for the mature male class and the Color Championship. You can read here about our experience in the ring.

He went on to take 1st place "Get of Sire" in March 2010 at the NJ Show and Sale out of 4 groups, including a group of white, which is tough to beat, since we had a TB, DB and LF in our group of 3.

His children are doing well in the show ring taking multiple blues, reds and other colors. His son "WaveChaser" is a TB male who has started breeding this past spring and we expect big things from him as well !

So my advice to all of you out there is: instead of chasing the big boys and big breeding programs, trust in your own eye and make your own studs! Stamp your name on them and who knows - you may just be the next sought after breeding program in the country!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Alpaca on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Demos on how alpaca fiber is helping with the spill in the gulf. Although not completely technically accurate in all aspects, the paca was cute and the clean up was good !

Click here for the video.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Synopsis of The Alpaca Fiber Symposium in Virginia 6/25-6/26

Here is my personal synopsis of the latest Alpaca Fiber Symposium (TAFS) in Virginia. As always it did NOT disappoint! It is great to see other breeders and fiber artists creativity, innovation and business savvy. This is my viewpoint only of the weekend. I am not on the steering committee and this post was not approved by anyone. . .it is my personal view and synopsis.

Symposium - a meeting or conference for the public discussion of some topic especially one in which the participants form an audience and make presentations (

History of TAFS
Jillian Ramsey-Stern gave us a synopsis of where we have been and what we have learned and where we are poised to go. The greatest message from all the speakers was: "It's about the fiber!!" .

This was the 3rd Symposium, with the inaugural one being in North Carolina (at Gaston Textile College) and the second being in Denver, Colorado. Both of those were help in 2009. I attended the one at Gaston College and it was an amazing group of people and speakers and the equipment at the college was exciting. My main takeaway was that Alpaca needs to get serious in order to compete with other textiles and the first step needs to be testing of the wild claims made through the years: "7 times warmer than wool", "soft as cashmere", "hypoallergenic" etc.

Alpaca Fiber Properties Testing Ruth Fuqua of New Era Fiber Mill gave a summary of the testing that was done on alpaca fiber at Gaston College in North Carolina (the home of the inaugural TAFS event). Look for Ruth's write ups in future editions of Alpaca Magazine about all the wonderful testing that has been done and is continuing to be done. This testing was paid for by a combination of TAFS and the AOBA fiber committee budgets.

- Moisture regain % - The amount of water a completely dry fiber will absorb from the air at a standard condition of 70 degrees F and a relative humidity of 65%. Expressed as a % of the dry fiber weight.

- Alpaca - 8%
- Wool - 16%
- Cotton - 8%
- Silk - 9%

Alpaca has half the moisture regain % of wool which could account for why it seems much more comfortable and breathable than wool. Also Cotton and Silk are very close to the same % and more work should be done to see how mixing with these other natural fibers can be beneficial to the textile industry as well as alpaca breeders.

- Class I Fiber category - means that alpaca fiber is flame resistant. This is good news for alpaca fiber as it can be used to make insulation, mattress stuffing and may have industrial uses for firefighters or the military. It is also marginally flame retardent which means it will self distinguish.

- Wicking Test - In knitted/woven fabric - it does wick and in felted fabric it does not. It is similar to wool in absorbency and wicking ability. Alpaca is resistent to absorbency much the same as wool.

- Abrasion and Pilling - This test was actually sponsored by Peter Lundburg of the Alpaca Blanket Project.

Range of test -
No Pill - score of 5
Excessive Pill - score of 1

An alpaca blanket made by the Alpaca Blanket Project scored a 3 which is good pill resistance especially in woven material. It also had a score of 15,000 cycles of abrasion which means it meets upholstery standards which is a great thing considering a blanket was tested. What if we actually meant to make upholstery fabric? Yet another use for our amazing fiber!

Some Research Articles on Alpaca Fiber - Ruth also presented some of the research articles that have been done on alpaca fiber in the past. Not alot is out there, but here are the highlights.
- The Quality and Processing Performance of Alpaca Fiber -
1 - Alpaca can be washed at lower temperatures than wool which makes alpaca fiber more environmentally friendly.
2 - Alpaca at a higher AFD feels better than wool at a lower AFD (more research is needed here as this is a tad bit subjective)
3 - Alpaca has lower resistance than wool (squished easier) and stays there more than wool which tends to bounce back more readily.
4 - De-hairing alpaca fiber was not cost effective
5 - Alpaca has a higher propensity to felt during scouring (done at a commercial scouring facility set up for wool)
6 - Huacaya fiber felts as easily as wool

Grants - some resources discussed:
- Google search for "Value Added Grants" , "Sustainable Agricultural Grants" and "Economic Development Office" in your local area.
- USDA - SBIR - Grants for small businesses for economic impact
- Bringing new technology to your state can get you state grants
- Rural development money available - community colleges in your area will have info and also can help you to write grants - they may even have courses - check with your local community college

Vendors/Other speakers
- Sue Bunch from Back to Back fiber products - makes quilt batting as well as felting kits and supplies. She spoke on how strong the craft industry is in this country and is growing every day.
- April Gibson spoke about her experience going through Ruth Elvsted's fiber sorting and grading class at Olds College in Canada and HOW IMPORTANT it is to sort and grade your fiber for maximum yield and profit and a superior product!
- Sara Jane Maclennan & Sharon Loner spoke on show aspects of our industry. Discussions after that talk focused on how animals that are doing well in the show ring are not necessarily the animals needed/desired to make the best product. Does crimp matter? (THIS is a topic for another post)
- Ruth Fuqua - along with her talks on the fiber testing, she spoke about yarn and blending and standards and terminology. Website to review yarnstandards
- me I spoke about the possibility of having a sustainable fiber herd in this country. More research needs to be done and I will be posting another article about this in the coming weeks.
- New Era Fiber - A wonderful Mill in Tennessee owned by Ruth Fuqua and her partners
- The Alpaca Bedding Company - Handmade Duvets and Pillows (cotton covers - stuffing 70% alpaca and 30% wool)
- Prairie Manor - 100% American made alpaca blankets and throws, blended with cotton and merino
- Suri Network - wonderful new patterns available for wholesale or retail
- Vaoba - Virginia's owners and breeders association also had products on display from their members.

Many other discussions and sharing of information from the attendees was all around enlightening, energizing and motivating. This is a dynamic energentic group of folks who are NOT just sitting around waiting for the day to make the "fiber industry" happen! They are seizing the moment and carving out their own piece of the market!! Success comes in all shapes and sizes.

What we as alpaca breeders ALL need to do is get the fiber that is sitting in your basement, garage, barn, spare room or WHEREVER moved out and into the pipeline! We need to go out and work with other natural fiber folks in order to make a market for all of the alpaca breeders in the country. Other fiber producers (wool, cashmere, silk etc) are NOT the enemy! Let's work together. Let's show why alpaca is superior to any synthetic that can be made.

I hope that gives you a glimpse into the Symposium in Richmond and whets your appetite to join us for the next one !!

As always - feel free to comment or email me personally with questions!