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.
[ view entry ] ( 888 views ) | [ 0 trackbacks ] | permalink | ( 3.1 / 57 )