Well Helen ( Red Barn Alpacas ) came through with the photo of Cocoa's brand new cria (above) out of our former boy Valentino
What a cutie!!! You can see photos of the actual breeding that produces this adorable alpaca cria in this post from last year:
Post on breeding Cocoa
Good work Cocoa and Val - especially on the girl thing. Those girls are ever so useful! Val now lives at:
Endless Mountains Alpacas in Northern Pennsylvania
Now we just have to keep waiting for Cocoa's pal, Cotton to deliver her cria out of Nickleby
Meanwhile, back at Wildwood Alpacas our friends, Sue & Judy have acquired a new girl the easy way (by buying her) and she turns out to be out of our old girl, Latte and other Kate's boy, Houdini. She is, "Pretty Penny."
So am a bitterly jealous now that I have no pretty alpacas living in my barn anymore? I'll say! However, we DO have creatures living in our barn now. They are just different creatures. Who was it who said that Nature abhors a vacuum? So true. Here is one creature that has moved into our little barn and we'll be moving his behind right back out again - Mr. Groundhog:
Looks cute doesn't he? (or she?) but the hole he makes is not so cute:
And, who thinks they absolutely OWN the big barn and will dive bomb us furiously when we dare to go in there? Barn swallows. They eat a lot of bugs so we tolerate their bad behavior.
If birds eat bugs, who do we need to eat the mousies and their larger cousins? Our pals the snakes of course. People don't believe me when I say that my crazy husband, Tom is always grabbing these guys by the tail and just flinging them out into the field when they venture somewhere they don't belong but here is the proof - what a nut!
The flinging doesn't hurt them folks! They slither right on back and don't even get vindictive or bratty like those barn swallows - Thank God - because if snakes chased us around, we couldn't like them as well as we do. They have excellent manners - even when harrassed by crazy people!
And then there is the creature we call "the mystery guest." Somebody has turned over a hay holder in the barn and then made a little bed for themselves just as brazen as you please. I plan to sneak up there one night and try to see if this is a cat, possum or raccoon but I am betting on raccoon. They are pretty pushy guys.
Finally, I know I go on about alpaca shearing too much but it bothers me that so many people don't have a proper shearing plan and then call us, desperate for shearing, when my husband cannot shear anymore due to health problems. Tom used to do many of these "mercy shearing jobs" just for the sake of the alpacas involved but now he can't, so other alpaca breeders need to learn to shear and take these jobs and people who need shearing need to make their plan early and have backup in case their traveling shearer dumps them. That happens folks! If you want to see before and after photos of our last year's shearing or read about what you need to know about shearing please go here:
Alpaca Shearing Info.
The only shearing we did this year was our kooky dog, Blair, and he was NOT happy about it. Here he is all happy and furry:
My sheep friend, Linda, says that Blair is able to smile in a mischievous way just like a person. Here he is hairless and looking a little put out about the removal of his stinky, dog fur:
In case you are wondering, Yes, this IS the bad dog that licked the knitting teacher, Janet Szabo's mayonnaise in this previous post:
Dog Licked Mayonnaise
As a hand spinner, I am always asked whether I spin dog fur. No! I love my dog but I don't want to wear dog fur. Sorry.
Please, Cotton!, have your cria soon - I can't stand the suspense!
[ view entry ] ( 1695 views ) | [ 0 trackbacks ] | permalink | ( 3 / 746 )
Alpaca Fleece Reality Check
about being flooded with messages from people who wonder how to sell their alpaca fleeces, here is this week's message:
"I have a friend that has a small farm here in South Carolina. She has a few Alpacas. She was sheering them the other day and I asked what she was to do with the hair? She said she has always thrown it away. I told her she may be able to sell it.
My question for you is if you know anyone (a spinner) locally here in SC that may be interested in purchasing it."
Now, this person's message was directed to the MD Sheep & Wool Festival Website e-mail address which makes me wonder two things, one,
Why e-mail Maryland to sell a South Carolina fleece and,
two, why is it the job of sheep people (whom we LOVE! but, hey, they have their own fleeces to sell!) to sell OUR alpaca fleeces?
Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that someone is out there trying to get alpaca people to use and/or sell their own fleeces but shouldn't that be the job of the alpaca breeders themselves?
Please don't tell people that you THROW IT AWAY! Invite a hand spinners guild to your farm for your shearing day and offer them the fleeces. FYI, you can place an event that is of interest to handspinners, FREE, on the calendar of Spin-Off Magazine . I have done this and it works. Hand spinners love to come to shearing day and they will happily snap up those fleeces if you don't want to use them.
Another message that I received right before the Festival was from a CHARITY in Texas that had a dozen alpaca fleeces in trash bags "donated" to them and wanted to know where to sell them! I had to, regretfully, explain to this nice person that I can't tell from here in Maryland if these fleeces are any good or not.
OK, off the soap box. Here is the Re-knit of the brown sweater that I mentioned in
I'm pretty happy with the way it came out. It is 100% alpaca from my former stud boy, Valentino except for the blue yarn accents that I spun up from a merino and silk roving bought by my daughter as a Mother's Day gift.
Val now lives at:
Endless Mountains Alpacas in Northern Pennsylvania.
Since I am supposed to be working on my Seminar I guess I should work now and stop blogging. At least until HELEN from
Red Barn Alpacas gets back to me with the birth photos of the brand new alpaca babies of Cocoa and Cotten whose breedings were discussed in
THIS POST and the one after it.
You ARE planning to send the photos, right Helen????
Oops! I almost forgot, my friend, "Other Kate" from Alpacas of Sunset Fields sent the following cute photo of the new alpaca baby of Arwen and Camelot. Arwen was bred by me, out of AF Morgan and Campion, click their names to see more information about them, and Camelot is Other Kate's really pretty, true black sire.
Nice black Girl! Just what the breeder ordered! Arwen's dad, Campy was a GIRL PRODUCING MACHINE! He gave us way more female cria than male and all were beautiful! He is still at stud at
Yellow Rose of Virginia Alpacas
[ view entry ] ( 1490 views ) | [ 0 trackbacks ] | permalink | ( 2.9 / 619 )
OK, I do have a life outside of the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (sort of) so this will be my last post about that. As usual, I saw many of my alpaca friends at the Festival so I am far from the only alpaca person skulking around at the sheep events. All serious hand spinners, knitters, weavers and felters have to go the Festival - that's the law. One person who did not come, Sue Hammer ( Wildwood Alpacas but she sent me the above photo of my old girl (now her girl), Pinka so Sue is forgiven for not showing up. She captioned the photo:
Pinka has given up smoking but taken up chewing.
Good one Sue. One person that I always see at the Festival is Jane Christie Thistledown Alpacas, who also has a booth there. Jane raises alpacas AND angora rabbits. Here she is in her booth, "The Wool Merchant."
Jane had the idea of making "Pinto" skeins of yarn from her pinto alpacas this year. Brilliant! Can't buy that from Peru.
Here is one of the cute Angora rabbits with Jane's, equally cute, daughter.
If WE had alpaca queens and princesses like all of the other livestock breeders, little miss rabbit girl (who also shows alpacas) would be perfect. That's one thing that bugs me about the alpaca business. Where are our Queens!??
I always stop by the Fleece Show at the Festival because I used to help run that a few years ago and OK, I admit it!, I like to drool over the sheep fleeces. The get around 500 fleeces at this thing and after they judge them and slap the ribbons on them, they sell them for a broker fee - right there at the show. That's what the alpaca people would do if they had any smarts. The line to buy these fleeces is out the door and around the corner!
I wrote the relational database program used at this fleece show and this year some of the new, (ahem) younger programmers told me that they are going to convert my program to Open Source code and make it available on the Internet to other Fleece Shows as Shareware. I'm pretty proud of that.
So that is the scoop on the yummy, show-winning fleece but, meanwhile, there were some very questionable alpaca offerings at the Festival this year. This poison green roving had a big sign that said "Alpaca" on it but it sure doesn't look like alpaca! If it is, it must be a 23 year old male who's half llama!
Here is one of the many booths that I could barely get near because they had a crowd like a swarm of locusts crawling over everything and buying it up.
I called this one the "Shiny Booth" because, when I finally got near it, it turned out to contain super-shiny yarn and clothing. Weirdly attractive but what does it look like ON YOUR BODY I wonder?
Other fiber/alpaca people who came by to say Hi were, Diane Six Morning Moon Alpacas and Harryette Cipoletti from Cinnamon Run Alpacas (in Mount Airy, MD like me.) Wendy Wilds from Wildwyn Acres came by and bought my drum carder. Thanks Wendy! If Wendy and Harryette had WEBSITES, I could have linked to them just now. Luckily, Harryette is going to take my
computer marketing for alpaca breeders seminar in June and then, hopefully, we can all go to her website. She is a Suri breeder. See more on my seminar here:
And, if you don't know what a Suri Alpaca looks like, go here:
Difference between a Huacaya & a Suri Alpaca
As always, we did well at the Festival. We sold bunches of sweaters, socks, books and teddy bears. A nice lady from Pennsylvania bought one of my spinning wheels for 4-H kids to learn on. Gotta love that. A lady from the weaving demonstration at the Festival bought the handspun hat made from Snowman's fleece. It was COLD there on Sunday morning! Sold a few of our Alpaca Care DVDs and sold my Valkyrie mini combs, Clock Reel Skeinwinder and Louet Hand Cards. Guess it's time to update Equipment Page on my website.
Of course, you can't go to the MD Sheep & Wool Festival without seeing tons of sheep in every color and size, some with horns, some without horns, some with 2 sets of horns! Here a just a few of the many pretty sheep that I admired:
Other notable sights at the Festival, Handknit sweater with the Gryffindor Lion on it! (Remember that Ron's mother made this one for Harry as a gift after he saved Ginny Weasley's life?) I have the chart for this sweater sitting, un-used in my night stand drawer.
Amazing hand knit socks with clear clogs (so you can SEE THE SOCKS!)
OK, the Festival IS really large and it's hard to get around to see everything there but, - Traveling through the Festival by Segway?!!?
Haven't seen that one before. And what about this wreath made from Cotton Bolls? How pretty is that?
Believe it or not, the Festival is not ALL fun and games for us. We have to work hard to set up our booth there and sell stuff and then, of course, we have to take down our booth at the end. Here is the gang doing just that while I, helpfully, take a photo. From right to left, half of my sister Kris' head, my daughter, Cassandra, Lois Pocock ( Shady Nook Alpacas, Helen and Bob Lewis ( Red Barn Alpacas) and my husband Tom, bent over, unscrewing something and, as usual, overdoing it and working too hard.
In case you were wondering about the disembodied, scary, Adams Family, hand in that photo, it belongs to my son Nick.
After breakdown, the kids, along with their cousin, Anastasia, load up the trailer. We have to get some use out of these brats.
Then, all too soon, the 34th MD Sheep & Wool Festival is over and we all have to go back to our boring little lives until next year. Regrettably, I do not have any sheep but, if I did, of course - they would be black.
[ view entry ] ( 1466 views ) | [ 0 trackbacks ] | permalink | related link | ( 3.1 / 780 )
The Sheep to Shawl competition and
The Jr. Handspinner's Contest
at the 2007 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. The Sheep to Shawl Competition is one of the MAJOR highlights of the Festival. The teams have to shear the sheep:
Then the handspinners card and spin the fleeces so that they can give the spun yarn to the weaver who weaves up the yarn into a shawl.
I am pretty sure that this is the weaver from the team that won, the Chesapeake Spinners & Weavers Guild. But all of the shawls were gorgeous!
Yes, they do the entire thing, from the Sheep to the Shawl, right there at the Festival!
This year the Sheep to Shawl Competition had a touching tribute to our late friend and Festival Committee Member, Jane Hyland. If you can't read the top of this sign, it says, "Extraordinary people teach - simply by living."
Jane helped run the Sheep to Shawl Competition and auction off the shawls. She was also a special ed. teacher in Montgomery County, MD. She touched so many lives with her love and joy. Here is a blanket made in her memory from Jane's own handspun yarn, assembled by her friends from the Cloverhill (MD) Spinner's Guild, the Weavers Guild of Greater Baltimore, the Chesapeake Spinners and Weavers Guild (MD) and other friends.
Speaking of teaching future generations about the beauty of creating your own art from the animals you love, here is a photo of the kids spinning at the Jr. Handspinners Contest at the 2007 MD Sheep & Wool Festival:
This year we had many kids come out to spin for us including, these two cute little ones:
And this boy and his sister. It was touching how she helped her brother get his yarn attached.
And, "cool girls" hand spin too!
Her wheel had a little, painted cat on the bottom of it.
While yours truly took photos, the other members of Team Jr. Handspinners helped the judge, Karen McNalley - a.k.a. angora rabbit lady from Hill 'n Dale Rabbitry (sp?) - judge the children's skeins. Left to right, Toni Minkel (a.k.a. Miss Perfect knitted circle from Aran Knit class - see previous post) and Roseann Mauroni, the Uber Knitter, who is also a great hand spinner - see her blog - Possessed to Knit
Below are our happy handspinning contest winners.
Coming in next (and LAST) blog on 2007 MD Sheep & Wool Festival, sheep photos, amazing socks, booth break down, Segways at the Festival!? Gryffindor Lion sweater and more.
[ view entry ] ( 1117 views ) | [ 0 trackbacks ] | permalink | ( 3 / 621 )