some of the Needles, Hooks & Books Gang
Life is weird - there's no doubt about that. I was hanging out with my knitting pals from Needles, Hooks and Books at the Mount Airy Library on Wednesday morning and I had brought my laptop with me. The Library is now offering FREE WI-FI ACCESS!!! Of course I had to try it out. So I jumped on their network and, since it was during knitting club, I started bragging about my friend, Roseann's knitting blog and how amazing it is and browsed over there to show it to the Needles, Hooks and Books gang. Imagine how surprised and embarrassed I was when it turned out that Wednesday's entry on her blog was about me and one of my alpacas. How funny! It was about a handspun alpaca hat that Roseann's been working on from my guy, Valentino. Val now lives at Endless Mountains Alpacas in northern Pennsylvania but I still think of him as mine.
me and my boy Val
Here is the link to Roseann's Wednesday blog:
Roseann's Blog - Possessed to Knit
I like to call Roseann the Uber Knitter because her knitting is amazing and she also speaks German and reads knitting books in German. I am way jealous of both of these abilities. Roseann and I took the FairIsle class together at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival last May and you can check out her gorgeous FairIsle work on her blog. Here is my pitiful effort at FairIsle using mostly alpaca yarn but the blue and pink are Merino wool.
This was the second time I had knit this glove up because the first one came out UGLY! It didn't fit and the color mixture was muddy looking. This one's far from perfect but getting there. Our teacher, Ann Feitelson did not approve of the alpaca wool at all. She is all about the way the colors look together and there was a whole day of class where we were supposed to understand what colors are a "tint", a "shade" a "tone" ect. I didn't get it and never managed to pick the correct ones to go with each other. I love the pattern part of the FairIsle though. I took out a whole block of pattern on the one above to improve the fit. Here is the one that didn't fit.
Here's my other big news: Rose Page has made herself a website!!! Rose and her brother Ben bought some alpacas from us in August and they now have them at their place in Dameron, Maryland. You can read about that teary, alpaca delivery HERE.
I strongly encourage ( some might say bully ) all of my alpaca buyers to do their own websites. I sit down with them and explain how to get started and what host to use and arm them with my secret alpaca web site document and then the nagging begins in earnest. To my happy surprise, Rose got right in there and built up a cute web site about her new alpaca farm and the very first photo is of my baby, Cher, the first alpaca ever born on our farm. My daughter made Cher a dandelion necklace to wear while we were all in the barn shearing this past April but it turned out that Cher was more interested in eating the necklace then wearing it. You can see Rose's Website at:
Coming soon, I hope, TARA'S WEBSITE!!!
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Here I am feeling all weak and sentimental again. We hadn't gotten over the sadness of dropping off our last alpaca girls when we started making the deliveries of our alpaca boys to THEIR new homes. Once again, we are thrilled to have found such good homes for them but there's been a lot of moping around here! We delivered Valentino to Judy Simpson at Endless Mountains Alpacas
near Scranton, PA in the last week of September. Judy is very experienced and we have NO worries about her care of our boy. Here is Val looking out the window of our barn, the morning he will move on to his new home.
Val was the second alpaca ever born on our farm and we were so happy when we saw this little chocolate, crimpy guy get up and run around. He was gorgeous! He never failed to produce crimpy babies even from the dams with no crimp at all. And he was a sweet, gentle boy for us.
Whenever we deliver one alpaca, we put the alpaca inside the van or, in this case, Suburban, rather than put them alone in the livestock trailer. We don't think they are happy being transported alone. Too scary!!!
Sure, it's weird to drive around with alpacas inside your vehicle and it makes for a smelly interior, but lot's of alpaca owners do it! Two things that always cheer me up on long drives are the opportunity to knit a lot and seeing the scenery. I'm a scenery freak so the trip to the Endless Mountains Area of the Pennsylvania / New York border was a good one. We went right by Other Kate (McKelvie's) place. I love how the cute little town of Glen Rock looks:
Up closer to Judy's place there was a lot of the type of road that they just blast right out of the rocky mountainside.
We all arrived safely and Val took up residence in his new field. He got his butt kicked a little, which is normal for the new guy but it hurt my feelings and I had an irrational urge to whoop up on the guy who was picking on my little boy. Of course I didn't. It's natural behavior for alpaca males to fight, but we don't have to like it. Here is how I prefer to think of Val. I love this photo of him from 2 winters ago on our farm:
Judy also has a nice photo of Val at her new place on Her Website so look for him there.
The weekend before Thanksgiving, we delivered Campion to HIS new home in Beaverdam, Virginia (near Richmond.) Campy was our top guy for years. He was our first herdsire. He produced 5 girls out of 5 breedings the first year we ever used him. He always took his job as top guy very seriously and patrolled the fenceline looking for threats to HIS herd. Every morning when I went outside, he would be there on the hill, watching for any sign of trouble, protecting his girls.
When we went into his field, he would come up and sniff us and check us out but not in a bratty way. Unlike most alpacas, who are scared of the camera, Campion never seemed to mind posing for photos. Even here, where, let's just say, he's not as young as he used to be, there's something beautiful and majestic about him.
So, with ouchy hearts, Nick and I walked Campy down from the barn to the Suburban. Campy went along with no fuss at all.
Tom led him gently into the back of the truck and Campy gracefully climbed in, ducking his head under and cushing right down. Those are two cute butts!
From time to time, Campy would get interested in the passing scenery and cars but Nick made sure that he couldn't come too far forward.
I often wonder how my kids will view these strange road trips when they are grown up. Will they tell their children what it's like to drive around with alpacas inside your vehicle? Nick tried to watch a Lord of the Rings DVD but Campy also seemed pretty interested in whether the Hobbits would prevail over Sauron's armies or maybe he just wondered what his pal Nick was so interested in.
Here are the super-nice couple that bought Campion, Tara and Jim Beatty of Yellow Rose of Virginia Alpacas. Web site coming soon - right Tara? These two really impressed me with their concern for their alpacas and how pleasant they are to do business with. No Prima Donnas here! They gave us a really good lunch and send us frequent e-mail updates on how Campy is doing. They are offering a really nice, discount price for Campion's first breedings in Virginia. You can find their contact information HERE.
Here is Campy, trying to hold his own against his younger rival at Jim and Tara's place, a white guy named Eggo! Eggo was not happy to find out that he might have some competition for HIS girlsfriends! In fact, Campion is going to breed a cute girl named "Pepper Ann" sometime in the next week or so but DON'T TELL EGGO!
Of course one of the things I keep coming back to in all of this is how grateful I feel for all the personal connections we have made over the years with friends we have met through our mutual love of alpacas. Just last night, we had a visit from Susan & Larry of Apple Valley Alpacas in Pennsylvania. They brought breeding papers to sign but, also, the photos of the new crias which I can't live without seeing. Here is a photo of Campion and Guenevere's son, Navajo Joe
Repeat after me, "I'm not jealous! I'm not jealous!......
Also received a photo from a woman named Becky Phillips who visited here quite a while ago and subsequently moved to Minnesota. She e-mailed with some really nice comments about our Alpaca Care DVD which she ordered by mail and offered a photo of her new alpaca farm in Minnesota with her first alpaca girls near her new barn. She's loving having her own alpaca farm. It feels good still be part of this on-going adventure in our lives and the lives of others whose paths we've crossed. I hope you all find as much joy in it as we have!
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OK, I admit it, I am running a little behind on the blog entries but our lives as intrepid alpaca breeders are moving by as a big blur with us hanging on for dear life. Thrilling, but busy. Speaking of thrilling, I have been a huge fan of Dr. Eric Hoffman (author of The Alpaca Book) ever since we started thinking about buying alpacas and started plowing through the first edition of his book. This was a much smaller version than the current Alpaca Book but it was still crammed with information on every conceivable aspect of alpacas. I greatly admire the sheer breadth of knowledge of this man. So I couldn't have been more thrilled when my old friend, Ingrid, ( Stormwind Alpacas )invited Tom and I to hear Dr. Hoffman speak at Rutgers' "Eco Complex" on November 11.
Above is a photo of the man himself along with the current board of Alpaca Heritage Events, Inc. or, from left to right, Other Kate (McKelvie) Alpacas of Sunset Fields, Ingrid Wood, Dr. Hoffman and Yvette Kirilenko Wool and Gray Alpacas I once had the immense pleasure of serving as president of Alpaca Heritage Events Inc. but stepped down when I realized that we would be selling off our alpaca herd. I'm glad they still like me enough to invite me to their events though.
But, I digress. Dr. Hoffman's lecture was wonderful. I was very touched by his obvious love for both the alpacas and the people of the Altiplano who have bred and cared for these alpacas for thousands of years. You can feel the respect he has for these people and for the natural environment there as well as the lives of the alpacas themselves. He encouraged everyone there to take seriously the feelings of their animals and not to dismiss their suffering if they were in a weak position in their herd or removed from their usual group not just out of decency but because it matters to the health, fertility and longevity of the animal.
I felt terribly jealous of all of the beautiful photos Dr. Hoffman had managed to put together from his over 50 trips to the Altiplano in Peru and Bolivia. I even tried to take a photo of one of the slides as it appeared on the very nice, large black screen in the auditorium of the Eco Complex. Not being such a perfect photographer myself, I did NOT get the shot. Here's how my attempt came out (or did not come out, depending on how you look at it.)
One of the most thrilling things that I learned from this lecture is that the newest high tech histogram techniques are contradicting some long held beliefs that we have all been told as fact such as the idea that very obvious "organized" crimp is superior to "less organized" crimp. What this new technique shows through some kind of light bouncing trick is that many of the locks we thought were less "organized" actually have SUPER high frequency crimp and so, are crimpier than the type we have seen touted as the ultimate fleece type. It's quite possible that I am explaining this poorly so I highly recommend that you buy the newest edition of Dr. Hoffman's Alpaca Book if you want to see this explained in a more coherent and detailed way. Most of the revision from the last version has been on the topic of fleece.
Besides cutting edge science, we learned a lot about natural alpaca behavior in their native environment, the workings of the system in Peru between co-ops like Rural Alianza (sp?) and the big mills like the Mitchell group, the newest worldwide players in the alpaca fiber market and other facinating things.
I have found Germans to be somewhat similar to Cubans when it comes to their love of feeding others so it was no surprise that the lunch provided was really good and then there were a bunch of desserts offered. Dr. Hoffman was very friendly and talked to anyone who wanted to talk with him and we all enjoyed talking with one another as well.
There was the usual "mystery auction" and, this time around, attendees could choose to donate to the Alpaca Research Foundation OR the Mennonite Disaster Fund's efforts to rebuild the Amish School that was attacked by the gunman. We won the bids for one package that turned out to be 2 pairs of alpaca socks (My FAVORITE but they were Tom's size! Grrrrr!), and a man's vest. The other package had an alpaca pillow, bottle of wine and more men's socks! People, listen up, it's WOMEN who have the cold feet! Next time you donate, make them women's socks for goodness sakes! and, wine's OK but I have to admit that I'm more of a beer girl. Along with our partners Other Kate & Scott McKelvie, we donated a copy of our DVD "Alpaca Care for Beginners - We Walk You Through It." Yvette won the bidding for this and, I have to admit, she may have guessed what she was bidding on due to the shape of the package.
If you did not get to this lecture, you really missed something great. I'm glad we didn't miss it.
Coming soon, Sara get's hay and Tom & Kate deliver our beloved Campion to a lovely new home.
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So we spent last weekend at the VAOBA Expo near Richmond, VA where I was one of the featured speakers (Alpacas 101) and Tom, the crazy Cuban was selling our new DVD, "Alpaca Care for Beginners - We Walk You Through It."and showing previews from the movie on a laptop. He did a good job; Alot of people bought our DVD which made us VERY happy.
There was a little condensation on the roof of the pretty tent we were located in so it would be kind of drizzly in there in the morning. Tom, never one to worry about being thought of as a crazyman by others, insisted on repeatedly throwing a sneaker at the tent roof every morning to knock down the "rain" before setting up our stuff. Some of the more normal alpaca people found this daily show to be pretty amusing, while others just looked on aghast and directed pitying looks my way.
This was a super great show! I could not believe that, the first time this show was ever held, there were over 400 entries, the faciility was gorgeous and the whole thing went so well! There were free lectures all day, each day, a lot of good vendors including Quality Llama Products who had all the last minute stuff you forgot to bring to the show like grooming wands, those bolo ties that have clips at the end to hold your show number and lot's of halters, t-shirts, books, etc.
There was also a raffle, a silent auction with a lot of good stuff including hand knit alpaca sweaters for dogs (donated by yours truly) and a lot of free breedings to excellent herdsires:
They also had a hand crafter's spin off competition, one of my most favorite alpaca fleece show contests!
Right next to our vendor space was Dr. Karen Baum, a very popular and well-known VA alpaca veterinarian who also lectured at the show. Her practice is called, Little Docs Veterinary Care and she writes many good alpaca veterinary articles in addition to lecturing. Too bad she seems to have no website!?!
I was enjoying having Dr. Baum's very friendly and pretty llama next to me. This guy greeted everyong quite cheerfully but seemed especially attracted to this adorable little alpaca girl:
Mr. Llama also had a smitten admirer of his own, my daughter, Cassandra.
Our son Nick, helped out a great deal and, as usual, did it with a smile on his face.
I always try to find my friends at alpaca shows and annoy them by taking photos of them. This show was no exception. I caught my friend Jovi Fiber Genix Surisexiting the show ring with a blue ribbon.
Here is another friend, Chuck Ives ( Alpacas of Nottingham Hollow ), showing off his red ribbon:
Here is a showring shot of several people. On the far right is Cindy Aldridge Shepherd's Purse Alpacas to her right is Diane Six Morning Moon Alpacas, another serious fleece person - we need more of these! and second from left is Chuck Ives.
Also caught up with two of my favorite people, both of Wildwood Alpacas, Sue Hammer
and Judy Howe (Judy Helped run this show! - Great Job Judy!)
Speaking of people who ran the show, one person who did a gigantic amount of work to put on this very good show was Sue Ives ( Alpacas of Nottingham Hollow ):
I did not get photos of Dawn Dolpp Mada Vemi Alpacas or Jo Overbey (Rock Chimney Farm Alpacas ) but I was thrilled to see them there. I never did find Amanda Schwab of Little Wing Farm Alpacas and was bitterly disappointed about that. I was also a little disappointed to catch my friend Lois Pocock Shady Nook Alpacas involved in a parking lot drug deal with Dr. Baum. Shady indeed! (Yes, this IS, of course, a joke!!!!)
If there had been a prize for cutest hairdo, I am certain it would have gone to Barrie Padgett and her gorgeous hairstyle a la "Romeo and Juliet."
Most unusual pattern seen on an alpaca at the show??? I'd have to give that prize to this cutie whose owner I don't know.
Alpaca whose owner is most likly to go bonkers when they see how dirty he's gotten? This guy! This always happens BEFORE you show the alpaca!
Coolest logo? I LOVED this one:
Well, I had a great time and hope I get invited back next year to this show. A Big Thank You to all the people who worked hard to put this show on! But, enough of this manure,
Time to get back to work!
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