Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Michigan International Alpaca Fest

Sorry it has been a few weeks since my last post. I attempt to post updates weekly, but had found myself very busy getting ready for our Farm Open House for National Alpaca Farm Days and dealing with our puppy who broke her leg. I had a huge to-do list and little time to complete it. So, here I am , trying to get back to weekly posts. I plan to still post about our open house this week as it was a huge success and about our puppies broken leg, but I still need to upload my pictures.

Last weekend, the Michigan International Alpaca Fest was held in Flint, MI. This is normally the biggest alpaca show in Michigan, with 250-500 alpacas in attendance. While we normally attend, we were unable to show this year because we had no one to show. All of our females are pregnant and all of our babies are too young. Although we were unable to show, Ashton Stones Jolly Roger, whom we sold this spring did attend the show with his new farm parents. Jolly took 3rd place and the judge commented on his good conformation and nice straight legs. Here is a picture of Jolly and his third place ribbon. Congrats to our little Jolly boy! We are so proud of him!

The local ABC news covered the show as well. Follow this link to hear more from the local reporter.

Hundreds Of Alpacas Take Over Mid-Michigan

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Paca Pranksters

So, yesterday morning I went out to feed the alpacas before I left for work. As usual, I let the chickens and ducks out first and then went to the barn for a scoop of food to distribute out to the alpacas. I have had a lot on my mind lately and as I walked into the catch pen where all the girls are usually hungrily waiting for breakfast, I vaguely noticed that there were not as many bodies as are usually present. I snapped out of my daze and noticed that Cinderella, Onyx, Bellesa, and 3 of the cria were the only ones in the catch pen. I glanced in the stall inside the barn which was empty. My eyes quickly scanned the pasture...nothing. My sight darted to all the gates that they could have possibly escaped through and they were all locked securely. My heart started racing and incoherent words started spilling from my mouth. I was missing 6 alpacas! Where were Lady, Soxy, Maree Sol, Snowflake, Apple, and d'Artagnan?!?!?!?! I continued to mutter who-knows-what as adrenaline pumped through my system and I ran out to the pasture thinking 'Maybe they are laying on the other side of the hill and I can't see them!' No pacas there! Just as I turned around and thought to myself, "Oh my God...someone has kidnapped our alpacas!", Maree Sol stuck her head out a cracked door in the hay barn. She saw me and came out, followed by the other missing five! There is a door in our hay barn that connects the barn to the catch pen. As we store hay in there, we don't normally have alpacas in the barn. Somehow, the latch must have not been secured properly the night before and the alpacas thought they would treat themselves to an early breakfast. I am assuming that after they entered the barn, the wind shut the door behind them, leaving a small crack and locking the other 6 alpacas out. Oh my goodness....I was so relieved to see their faces as they popped out through the slightly open doorway one at a time, still hungrily looking at he scoop of paca pellets in my hand. I tried to calm down and stop myself from shaking by taking some deep breaths. This was a dirty trick for the pacas to play on me so early in the morning!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Welcome to the Farm Bellesa and Lacey's Silver Sox

Last weekend, we picked up our two new girls Bellesa and Lacey's Silver Sox from Evergreen Elegant Alpacas, LLC in Palmyra, Indiana. We actually purchased Bellesa about 9 months ago in November of 2008. If you have been following the blog, you will remember that we had planned on picking her up much sooner, but she lost her cria at around 80 days bred and we did not want her to be rebred in the winter so she ended up having a much longer stay. We recently decided to purchase Silver Sox as well. It really worked out for the best; they got to make the long trip to our farm together and meet the new herd together.
This was the longest trip we have taken with our horse trailer so far. It is a 2 horse trailer and the people we bought it from said that they transported 4 gelding male alpacas to Michigan from Pennsylvania. While we have gotten 4 alpacas in it for short trips, I wouldn't put more than 2 or 3 in it for longer trips. Now, when I think of Indiana, I think oh...our neighbor to the south..... Picking alpacas up from Indiana shouldn't be too much hassle. Unfortunately, Evergreen Elegant Alpacas is located just over the Indiana/Kentucky border near Louisville, KY. It was about a 7 1/2 hour drive, 15 hours round trip. I felt like we spent the whole weekend in the car. Luckily the scenery was interesting the closer we got to Kentucky (rocky foothills and horse farms galore!). There was a little adventure along the way too. I drove most of the way between Kalamazoo, MI and Indianapolis, IN while Noah slept (he wasn't feeling well). This was my first real time driving the truck while pulling the trailer and I was pretty proud of myself. Just before we got to Indy, Noah woke up and almost immediately told me to pull over. I was alarmed and kept asking "What, what, what?" Apparently, one of the tires on the trailer had gone flat without me noticing and was hanging off the rim. Noah thought the trailer felt bumpy and looked in the side view mirror and immediately noticed it. We got out on the side of the highway to check it out; it was shredded and melted! I felt really bad, but in my defense, for safety reasons, the trailer has two tires on each side to prevent accidents, so we were still rolling along pretty well on the good tire. Luckily the rim was not damaged and we can get a replacement. Noah quickly put the spare on (while I helped of course) and we were off again. After this incident, I was constantly looking in the mirrors to check the tires anytime I felt any little bounce. Also, I noticed shredded semi-truck tires every few hundred yards strewn across the great state of Indiana, so I felt a little better (although Noah kept reminding me that they have a dozen or more other tires rolling, while I only had 3). Oh well, I guess we live and learn.

I always love visiting other alpaca farms. We have visited over two dozen since first researching alpacas four years ago. I love to see all the alpacas and how other farms are set up and run. I was particularly excited to visit Linda and Gary Grimes of Evergreen because we have been communicating by email for so long and it was nice to meet them in person and because they have the renowned Peruvian Macusani on their farm! Macusani was one of the original imported grey alpacas from Peru. He is a powerhouse herdsire who has a long history of throwing beautiful and award winning cria. He was imported in the early 90's and Linda estimates that he is over 17-years-old now. He has recently been retired from breeding and is going to live out the rest of his days on their farm. Here are some pictures that we took of Mac. He still has a macho presence out in the field despite his age. He continually struck a pose for us as I snapped pictures of him. Bellesa is bred to Macusani for a spring 2010 cria. It will be his last cria and will hopefully make him proud by passing on his genetics to a next generation of cria some day.

Linda and Gary have a beautiful farm. We are so grateful to them for selling us Bellesa and Soxy who seemed to have become a part of their family over the years.
The trip back was less eventful. The girls did really well and munched on hay the whole time. We let them out at a rest stop to stretch their legs and drink some water, which attracted much attention from other travelers. We cleaned the trailer out too since they had pooed in it during our drive. We got the girls home and let them settle in in a separate pasture next to our girls for a few days to let them get used to their surroundings and so we could mix a bale of their last farms hay with our hay to get them used to it. Over the last few days they have been calm, but have seemed anxious to join the rest of our herd. They are now both with our herd and doing really well. It is funny how quickly they seemed to adjust to a new herd of alpacas and how quickly they start trying to figure out where they are in the hierarchy. It got quite warm here yesterday and I hosed the alpacas belly's down. Bellesa and Soxy were right in there with the rest of the girls, fighting for their time in the cool water. They seem to have adjusted very well.

Bellesa is a full Peruvian rose grey import. She has a beautiful rosy color to her fiber that is rare in full Peruvian alpacas. She was imported in 1998; you can still see the hole in her ear where her import tag was. It is estimated that she was born in Peru in 1997, so she is an older gal at 12-years-old. She is smaller in size but is holding her own in our herd. She has beautifully big dark eyes and has a wise look about her. She is over 3 months pregnant now with a Mac cria. I can't wait to see what we get next spring as she will be the first one due on our farm. I am hoping for another grey!. Here are some pictures of Bellesa.

Lacey's Silver Sox is a full peruvian silver grey girl out of Peruvian Midnight Express. She reminds me of Cinderella in her coloring. She has had 2 grey cria and one black cria to date when bred to grey, so I am hoping she will give us another grey or black cria next year. She is bred to half accoyo grey herdsire Accoyo Maverick's Smoke'n'Mirrors for a summer 2010 cria. She was bred to Smoke a week before we picked her up, so we are hoping that she will hold the pregnancy. If she does not, she will be a great match with our guy Smokey too. Here are some pictures of Silver Sox.