Valentino to his new home in Northern PA (Endless Mountains Area) this past Saturday. At least he will have girlfriends there and the new owner is very nice so that takes some of the sting out of it. She (the new owner) is Judy Simpson of Endless Mountains Alpacas
But, I did promise to finish the fair update. sooooooo
Saturday at the fair and that means, performance day. The animals were judged the day before and now it is the handlers' who are going to be judged and, in some cases, found wanting. My goals for performance day are modest and include,
Try not to trip and/or fall down.
Try not to look fat.
Try not to be disqualified for doing the course wrong. This last one sounds easy but I HAVE experienced the shame of getting the course wrong more than once and it always happens when the obstacles themselves go perfectly so that people ask all day long why I didn't win, they thought I looked great, etc. etc. and I have to say over and over, "I did not follow the course correctly."
My daughter also has this problem. Here she is concentrating hard on answering the judge's question correctly, not realizing that she has already lost because she forgot to back up 3 steps as he instructed everyone to do before he let them come into the ring.
As soon as she watched the next kid in line do the routine, she clearly realized that she'd messed up and then just couldn't wait to get out of that show ring. This exactly how I feel about showing too.
Since I was, apparently, the very first person to enter the Frederick Fair alpaca show this year, my children and I have the lowest exhibitor numbers meaning that we will have the added stress and disadvantage of going first in every single class all day long. That way, we will not get to see anyone else do the course and figure out what they did right or wrong. Not an auspicious beginning to this scary day!
There are some people, though, who just live to be out there in that show ring and look as happy as can be out there. They get great behavior out of even stubborn, panicky animals because THEY (the handlers) are calm and relaxed. Here are two such exhibitors, my son and Ben's youngest daughter. My son has actually been known to ask in a disappointed tone, "Don't we have any more classes to show in?
These two little brats had no trouble with the Ring obstacle, where they had to get their alpacas to walk sideways around the ring with the front legs inside and the back legs outside.
We were supposed to get at least 180 degrees around on that one. I think I got to about 120 degrees around before things fell apart but I had already messed up the bridge, so no big.
I managed to pull out a second place out of 7 or so in showmanship only to be beaten for first place by a child. Here is a photo of said, EVIL child smiling prettily after beating a bunch of other kids. (Ok, I am kidding when I say "evil" and I hope you know that Erica! Thank you for posting a comment on my blog but please don't beat me any more. It's mean to beat old people in the showring just because you can!) Erica is on the right in this photo along with my daughter, Cassandra and another serial alpaca show winner, Ms. Krystal German.
Cassandra did manage to get a second place in P.R. class and my son got a 2nd in showmanship in a super big class and with a pretty freaked out, misbehaving alpaca. Look at the size of this class:
Ben's daughter got a second place in that huge junior class as well and it was her first time ever showing alpacas!
The senior class winner was one of the nicest, most hard working kids you'll ever meet and so pretty! Here is a photo of Miss. Tiffany German who won Senior class Versatility Champion. That award is for the person and alpaca who got the highest combined score for the day.
I did not keep track of every winner so I do not know who won the junior versatility champion but I know Heinz Wilms won the adult title and, in my opinion, he used the unfair tactics of:
1. Actually knowing the proper way to do all the obstacles.
2. Knowing the correct answer to the judge's questions. And,
3. I strongly suspect he has actually practiced although I can't prove it.
And, if that isn't enough of an unfair advantage, he wears a cowboy hat in the ring. I find this super unfair because on a man "of a certain age" (sorry Heinz!) a cowboy hat looks cool and dashing but if I, as a WOMAN of a certain age, tried to wear one, I would just end up looking like a guy.
So I had no cowboy hat, did a couple of things backwards and did not know the answer to one of the questions and completely tanked, and Heinz, did know the answers, did do things properly and DID have the cowboy hat and just happened to have won. Coincidence. I think not!
I did not think to take a photo of him but here is one of him in the audience. Note the hat!
Now, if you are a cute, young woman, you will look even cuter wearing that cowboy hat, even if you pair it with a ballet outfit. And, the cowboy hat looks pretty cute on the alpaca, Reinette, too!
At first I didn't get this costume but later I realized that, Yes!, this is what MOST women really want. Let's be cute but also have a six shooter and a horse.
For those of you still wondering about the dreaded questions, they were, Where is the stifle, the croup and the poll (on your alpaca), which I answered correctly, followed by, "If you had to have a conformational fault in your alpaca, would you rather have cow hocks or knock knees?" HUH WHAT? I can't remember what came out of my mouth but it wasn't an answer or anything resembling one.
But, back to costume class. The fair, wisely, realizes that any adult that would enter costume class needs professional help so they limit this one to kids and they all look adorable and it makes for super-cute photo ops for both the farms showing and the fair's publicity team. Ben's daughters were pretty ballerina's with their alpacas:
My kids are SO OVER! looking all cute and stuff!!!! so Cassandra went for the pirate themed outfits:
This outfit was actually quite hard to train the alpaca to wear and that is supposed to be the way this class is judged. The more stuff on the head, blowing around and on the alpaca's legs that they are scared of, the higher the score. My son decided to be a devil with an angel alpaca but it turned out to be the alpaca who was the more devilish of the two this day. Pendragon was cracking up the spectators with his super kung fu side kick or, as one exhibitor remarked, "He looks like he's trying to kick start his Harley." In any case, he was NO ANGEL but this kid's a very good handler and managed that devil just fine.
Of course no day at the fair would be complete without a quick trip to the Birthing Tent to visit my friends. Miss Piggy was looking much happier and actually seemed to be smiling as her litte piglets were nursing away:
They had a heat lamp in their pen and lay under that when they were not eating. Doesn't look that hard to snatch one of these things up and put it under your sweater does it? Hmmmmmm..
Around 7pm, my son ran up to our pens shouting, "Mom, they're taking YOUR calf away in a trailer!" Gotta love this kid! He really buys into all his mother's sentimental craziness. We went towards the parking lot together, hand in hand and said farewell to our calf and our pig, my boy and I. This little farewell was far easier than the one we left unsaid. It's been a priviledge and a thrill to show our alpacas at the Great Frederick Fair. We'll sincerely miss it and all the friends we made doing it.
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Alpaca Halter Show Day at the Great Frederick Fair and cranky little people are beginning to stir at Camp Perez. Some of us needed 2 large cups of coffee to get going whilst others made do with biscuits and bacon from the Emmitsburg Fire Company Tent.
Showering in a public facility reminds some of us uncomfortably of Junior High School gym class but, luckily, the fair bathroom is almost empty at 7a.m. and, thankfully, there is little chance that we will have to run late to algebra class with wet hair because the tough girls monopolized the shower until the last possible minute. The alpacas are ready to go with no primping:
What's the point of having your own blog if you are forced to put up photos of yourself standing around like a goofus in the show ring??? No, I prefer to put up photos of my friends and let them get their OWN blog is they want revenge! Here is the OTHER Kate ( Alpacas of Sunset Fields )looking very cute and, more importantly, winning! with "VG Special Dark" one of Campion's sons. Go Kate!!!
Ben ( Wishful Thinking Farm ) comes out of the ring looking happy with a second place for his girl, Reinette. Ben is annoyingly calm and happy in the showring especially for a relative beginner. I hate people like that!
I showed Mount Airy Pendragon and was happy to have him get a FIRST PLACE in halter. ( No photo available. )
Next Campionwon a first place in Get of Sire class. His 2nd win in this category! He also won this class 2 years ago represented by 3 of his female offspring.
This is a very useful class as it showcases the offspring of a given sire or (in the case of "Produce of Dam" class) a given dam. You need at least 3 offspring of a sire to show in Get of Sire but only 2 offspring of the dam for Produce of Dam due to the fact that it's much easier to get multiple offspring of a sire than a dam.
Female alpacas very rarely have twins so you are looking at at least 2 years of production to get those two offspring from the dam. To show in one of these classes, you have to either hold on to a few cria of your animals on your own farm, or bully your friends with offspring of your alpacas into entering the same show as you and showing with you in one of these classes. Here we show 3 of Campion's offspring none of whom still belong to me.
At left is my daughter showing Gryffindor (belonging to Tammy Barthelson), I am in the middle showing Pendragon (belonging to Sara Via) and the OTHER Kate is on my right showing VG Special Dark.
We were all relieved and happy when the halter show ended and we could relax and hang out with our friends. Here are some of my little friends visiting our pens. We really enjoy having the kids come by to say hello although we don't fool ourselves that they want to see US. It's Gryffindor and Pendragon who get the love and adoration. Our job is to open the pen gate and take the photo.
Here is my best friend Ellen, posing with my husband Tom and the alpaca boys:
Ellen brought along her friend Scott. Neither of them had ever been to the Frederick Fair so I'm glad we remedied that situation! However, you can't really say that you have had the full fair experience unless you have posed INSIDE the pen with the livestock! Ellen and Scott claimed to have gone on various scary rides later but I'm not sure I buy that story.
Of course I made several trips to the birthing tent to visit my friends Miss Piggy and Oreo and check for any newcomers to this planet. Here was today's new calf:
One of the most interesting things I learned at this year's fair is that, if a cow has twins and they are male and female, the female will be sterile! and that is called "a freemartin." I have been boring everyone with this little factiod ever since. I can't believe I never heard or read that before. So weird!
One of the cows at this year's fair DID have twins but they were both heifers so that was OK, but that's when I heard the veterinarian in attendance discussing the freemartin situation. Ellen says I'm obsessed with this because I, myself, have a twin brother but I am not a freemartin unless both of my children were the products of some space alien experiment (ENTIRELY POSSIBLE now that I think of it!) In any case, look this word up on the Internet and you will find a link to the Cow/Calf Corner website where they explain this whole situation (the freemarting thing, NOT the space alien impregnantion thing.)
Thanks to my state of post-fair exhaustion, I can't remember if I took the following photo on this day (halter show day) or the day before but I think it's very pretty so I'll post it anyway.
Coming as soon as possible: Photos from the Alpaca Performance Classes (obstacle, showmanship etc.)
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She was in labor on Thursday during the day and finally began to deliver her piglets at around 7pm AT THE FAIR (for those of you just tuning in, Miss Piggy is our friend in the birthing tent from Thursday's posting, which shows photos from Wednesday.) It was quite cold that night and poor Miss Piggy was shivering and exhausted when the final few piglets were delivered just after 12:30 a.m. on thursday evening.
I ran over every 15 minutes or so from my post as Official Alpaca Guard in the alpaca tent across from the Birthing Tent (pay for this important job: 2 food vouchers for fair food which my children promptly stole from me.). I am sure Miss Piggy's owner thought I was a mental case because I kept walking up to her head and coaching her to keep her spirits up and telling her, "You're doing GREAT Miss Piggy, just hang in there a little longer!" And the owner must have been wondering, Who is this nut, talking to MY pig and sticking her hand in the pen to stroke her ear?!!
But pigs are very smart and sensitive creatures who do recognize people by their voices so I like to think that I comforted Miss Piggy just a little bit during that cold, hard night. And here, I must offer a special thanks to the super nice, horse farm lady from Woodbine who mailed me a lovely book about a woman who raises a pig, the book was "The Good Good Pig" by Sy Montgomery and it was a thank you gift for showing this lady and her granddaughter around my alpaca farm. It really enlightened me about the beauty and sensitivity of pigs. Thank you horse farm lady - I LOVED the book!
Here is Miss Piggy around midnight:
She had 12 piglets in all and some had to be delivered by the veterinarian but Miss Piggy hung on like a trooper and did an excellent job. Earlier in the evening, the Birthing Tent was full of facinated onlookers including my kids and their school friends:
Later, the gang of school friends posed for a photo in the pen with our show alpacas, Pendragon and Gryffindor.
It wasn't easy to sleep there as it was chilly and there was a constant symphony of oinks, bleats, schreeches and moans from the various pigs, goats, sheep and alpacas but the kids did their best to get some rest in the pen next to our alpacas:
Sometime after 10p.m. I jerked to an upright position on my cot, still wrapped in my mummy bag to yell at a group of teenage boys who were teasing the alpacas. The boys got a good scare due to the fact that they thought there were no other people present in the tent and one had the decency to say a quick, "Sorry!" before they ran off but, in my haste to confront them, I ripped the woven plastic material of my cot completely open across the middle. Not Good! Thankfully, I had a brand new roll of duct tape with me (NEVER go to a livestock show without this item folks!) I covered the entire middle portiion of the cot in duct tape. Not only did it work, I found that it was actually more comfortable that way due to the fact that the tape had move "give" in it than the woven plastic. The new and improved cot lasted through the night and most of the next day until it was finally destroyed when four alpaca exhibitor kids sat on it at once.
Got a few hours of sleep anyway and then jumped out of the mummy bag to watch the very picturesque dawn of "Alpaca Show Day" at the Great Frederick Fair:
Coming as soon as I have time, photos of the 2 days of alpaca showing at the Great Frederick Fair.
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my friend, the goat girl
I never put childrens' names on the Web just in case there is some weirdo out there, but here is a photo of a friend who hangs out with me at the fair each year. I have taught her to spin and knit although I don't know if she ever does either one outside of the fair. This is a very lovely child and it's been a priviledge to see how she's grown up a little more each year when I run into her at the fair.
I spent a little while fixing up the alpaca fleece display. We finally got the gutters put on the tent so that the fleeces couldn't get wet, so I stuffed them in their "display" bushell baskets.
Here is Pendragon's blue and purple ribbon winning fleece:
And here are my two hand spun skeins from the show:
Here is the photo of the sheep fleece that I have been coveting. It is a RAM too! What a pretty boy! I asked the owner if she is going to sell it and how much but NO LUCK THERE! Not surprisingly, he wants to show it at Rhinebeck's (New York) Sheep & Wool Festival.
So after I straightened up things in the Fiber tent, I made my rounds of the fair checking up on all my friends. The pretty pink pig, whom I have been calling Miss Piggy, had been moved to an incubator-type pen so I guess she was expected to farrow today. Poor Miss Piggy; she looks so tired!
My favorite calf, that I have been calling "Oreo", is looking cuter than ever! 4 MORE calves have been born at the fair since Sunday!
My friend, Kevin, who runs "City Streets/County Roads" with his wife, Kay, was being interviewed for some local TV Channel. This isn't the first time either. Maybe we should re-name him "Hollywood!"
A quick buzz through the Household Arts Building turned up THIS grand champion sweater of which I am soooo jealous that I can't even stand it! Whoever this woman is, I hate her. I have been knitting FairIsle since this past May, when I took the class at the MD Sheep & Wool Festival and, I can tell you, none of mine looks even remotely like THIS ONE>
And, speaking of that old "green eyed monster", I love my mean, elderly horse, Sweetie (don't let the name fool you) but who could possibly see THIS gorgeous piece of horseflesh and not feel envious?!!? This guy's job seems to be to get the harness racing horses to line up in front of a little truck that drives around with a starting gate hanging off of it and, when the harness racers are lined up with the gate, it swings open for them to start.
This is just one of MANY yummy horses at the fair. Too bad I'm not independently wealthy because I'd like to have one of every kind there.
Coming soon....... results from the live alpaca show (as opposed to the FLEECE show - not the DEAD show as my brother wanted to know.) and the dreaded obstacle and costume classes. Stay tuned!
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