We were close to running out when we arranged to make an emergency hay trip to our neighbor and friend who owns a beautiful dairy farm. Since it has been about 100 degrees the last few days, we waited until evening to get the hay, hoping for the temperature to drop to, Oh, let's say 85 degrees or something bearable like that. But then we realized that a storm was approaching and our lovely hay might be getting wet before we ever got it into our barn so we raced out to the dairy.
the milking parlour but all the pretty Holsteins are already gone back to the fields. I LOVE cows! And I desperately want a holstein of my own but I don't want to milk!
Our mission? Pick up the hay and get it into our barn BEFORE the storm arrived and made our lovely hay a soggy mess.
I climbed up into the hay wagon and started throwing bales down from the top of the pile while my husband and the dairy owner stacked them in our flatbed trailer. It's impossible to seem at all dignified when you are balanced on top of a huge pile of hay, trying to keep your footing, throwing hay bales down below you and hoping not to tumble down the pile yourself so don't even try! But we got about 50 bales down in a very short time all the while listening to the ominous rumble of the approaching storm. The sky was darkening rapidly when we tied the bales together and jumped back into the truck to drive home.
We raced back to the farm ahead of the approaching storm and Tom positioned the truck and trailer so that he could back them right into the barn. Forget about unloading the hay, we just hoped to get it inside before the rain descended.
I ran to the barn to open the doors and guide the trailer in while Tom backed up the hill. If there was some sort of contest at the fair for guys who can back up a trailer at practically full speed and still guide it precisely where they wanted it to go, Tom would surely win. And, it isn't easy because, when you're backing a trailer, you have to turn the wheel the opposite way from the way you want it to turn, something I, myself, could never manage to do. Back up a hill with the trailer and guide it inside a door with inches to spare on either side? Forget about it! Tom made it look easy though.
I couldn't believe how lucky we were going to get! The storm was upon us but the first drops waited until just AFTER the trailer cleared the door of the barn and the hay made it inside! The alpacas were somewhat non-plussed to see a big truck and trailer INSIDE the barn. "What the heck is that?!!", they seemed to be thinking.
My job was to stand in the back of the barn and yell when Tom got within 2 feet of the back doors.
Then, it came. Huge sheets of rain, moving in waves across the fields, lightening, thunder and fairly large pellets of hail were all around us and the wind blustering through the barn but the hay was safe! What a thrill! These are the little adventures that make our lives so entertaining and satisfying and we owe it all to the alpacas!
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the Great Frederick Fair of which I am the fleece show superintendent. I am also receiving e-mails and one that I get all too frequently is from various people asking if my husband is Tom Perez, who is running for Attorney General of MD.
The OTHER Tom Perez - politician at left
I AM married to a Tom Perez and he is an Hispanic (sometimes these calls and e-mails are in Spanish.) but he is a pharmacist and alpaca farmer and he is NOT a politician unless you count the fact that he is the former president of the Maryland Alpaca Breeders Association. Nor do we live in Montgomery County. MC is OK but we are proud to live in Frederick County, Maryland. Y, Si, hablamos Espanol pero por mi parte, necessito que me habla despacio por favor.
Tom Perez the alpaca farmer
The latest e-mail on this subject contained a web site address for the campaign of the other Tom Perez so, of course, I clicked on it and found a place to request a yard sign and bumper sticker asking people to vote for Tom Perez. Yes, this is somewhat juvenile and also a clear case of "work avoidance" and time wasting but I do intend to use the bumper sticker and yard sign because I do actually agree with the politics of this OTHER Tom Perez. Get yours here:
Get a yard sign and/or bumper sticker for campaign of Tom Perez
Maybe we should host a fund raiser for the OTHER Tom Perez at our alpaca farm? I hope he does win Attorney General but I still think that MY Tom Perez is cuter! Lo siento Senior Perez, abogado pero, entiende, el otro es mi esposo.
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I cut and pasted the sentence below from a comment sent to the blog from Helen Lewis Red Barn Alpacas
There WAS a problem in the entry form online where it said " $35 per alpaca per stall" or something but look below to see correct amount.
Entry form on the site is being corrected on the stall fee. Fee is $25 per stall allowing 2 alpacas per stall.
costume class at the Great Frederick Fair
So in a previous post I promised a "rant" about people who think they are too good to go to the The Great Frederick Fair In the following article, which I submitted to an alpaca newsletter, I tried to tone down my crankyness and just state my view as coherently as possible. Those of you who know me, know what an effort this is for me because I tend to be passionate about alpacas, real farmers, disliking arrogant behavior and respecting the knowledge of other people. I LOVE farmers! They are SMART, BRAVE, GOOD people. Not every single one, but the majority of the ones I have known have been amazing.
Please keep in mind reading this, that I love alpacas and MOST alpaca farmers too. I am not saying all this to criticize my own but to try to encourage other alpaca farmers, like myself, to go to the farm events, be members of the farming community and not buy into the elitist attitude of a small percentage of alpaca people who think they are "breeders" but not "farmers." Please forgive me if I state my case in a clumsy or angry way. My only intention is to get alpaca people to come to the Great Frederick Fair, show alpacas there, show fleeces there, enter skeins there and meet up there in fellowship with other farmers and livestock breeders.
BEGINNING OF ARTICLE
Today I want to clue all www.MAPACA.org members into a little secret. Itís called The Great Frederick Fair. This is a very large, regional fair located in Maryland, and one that has a grand old agricultural tradition. Almost every kind of livestock is shown there along with vegetables, bees, quilts, weaving, paintings and hand spun skeins to name only a few of the other things exhibited. The alpaca halter show runs from September 21 Ė September 23.* This fair is judged by the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) in the 140,000 person attendance range. Last year this fair was awarded first place in five categories and Best Overall in itís division by the IAFE. This year, the fair will celebrate the 144th year of its existence. As livestock events go, the Great Frederick Fair is a hugely successful event and it is run by a board of directors that cares passionately about educating the public about the importance of farms and livestock in our lives. The alpaca halter show at this fair is now in danger of being discontinued.
In return for providing a venue of this size and popularity for a very low price (pen spaces this year will be $25 apiece) the Great Frederick Fair wants all livestock owners to have live animals in their pens instead of marketing displays. Guess which livestock breeders objected to this rule? Thatís right, the newest exhibitors at this old and well respected event, the alpaca breeders. Guess which type of livestock exhibitors are the only ones who have not had a fair superintendent at the fair committee meetings because their breed organization would not sanction a show unless the breed organizationís superintendents and judges were used? Which exhibitors complained the longest and loudest about dust, dirt, the public trying to ďbotherĒ their animals, the lack of security guards, etc.? One of the alpaca exhibitors complained about the children of the other livestock exhibitors who were curious about the alpacas and wanted to touch them. Unlike me, I guess heís never taken his child over to someone elseís pen to touch their sheep or horse.
In addition to the complaining, the internal political problems of organizations such as AOBA and the Maryland Alpaca Breeders Association have ended up costing the fair staff extra work, many headaches and lowered participation by alpaca exhibitors. And, there were fewer exhibitors from the alpaca show who would volunteer to do anything to help run the fair than there were in the other livestock exhibitor groups.
Some members of the current and past boards of the Maryland Alpaca Breeders have spoken out at their meetings, urging their members not to attend this fair, calling it ďa county fair.Ē That is completely untrue. This fair is open to alpaca breeders from any state and has had alpaca exhibitors from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. The bad-mouthing and political problems of various alpaca groups have taken this fair from a high level of participation (around 90 alpacas and 50 fleeces) to a much lower level of participation during a time when the amount of alpaca breeders has been rapidly increasing. The fair board, feeling upset at the dwindling number of alpaca exhibitors and misbehavior of some alpaca organizations, is considering dropping the alpaca show altogether. It would be a shame to lose our place at an event this important in the agricultural world. We have one more year, 2006, to prove that we do want to keep this venue available to alpaca exhibitors.
In order to help get the fair back on track, some fellow MAPACA members and I have stepped in and offered to run the show ourselves this year. Bob Lewis from Sykesville, Maryland has signed on as the first Alpaca Halter Superintendent who WILL attend fair superintendent meetings. I have agreed to be the Alpaca Fleece Show Superintendent in 2006. I did this job in the years when the fleece show had those high levels of participation so I know that we can find fleece exhibitors again. My experience in helping to run the Alpaca Heritage Budget Caper (ABC show) has shown me that there IS a demand for smaller, less fancy, alpaca halter and fleece shows, especially bargain priced ones.
I have sold an alpaca at the Great Frederick Fair. I have also sold breedings there. I have bought an alpaca from a Pennsylvania breeder there as well as a breeding from a different Pennsylvania breeder. Iíve met several people there who later visited my farm. Some of those were from Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Many other alpaca breeders have also found this fair a good place to do business.
No, the Great Frederick Fair is not heavily guarded, and the crowds coming out of the commercial side of the fair, where big Country and Western music acts perform, can be rowdy at night. All of the livestock groups have some of their exhibitors sleeping in the animal barns at night to guard their animals. Sometimes there is a thunderstorm and the footing in the animal barns and tents gets muddy. Sometimes the fleeces get touched by curious fair goers. Sometimes the alpacas get touched and it is up to the owners to watch over their own animals.
caption: My kid sleeping in pen at the Great Frederick Fair.
So why do so many of the goat, sheep, dairy, beef cattle, horse, pig, chicken and rabbit breeders show at this fair? Maybe they realize that the sheer number of people attending this fair will give them more visibility to the public than other events at which they exhibit. Maybe they think that it is a good thing to educate the public (even the ones with dumb questions and unruly children) about their product. Maybe they value the contacts they will make with other animal breeders. Maybe they want a chance to win some ribbons and show in a fun, low pressure event that is only 2 and Ĺ days long. Maybe they want the experience of showing in front of well qualified judges for a bargain price. Maybe they are proud to be part of one of the oldest and most well respected agricultural fairs in the U.S. They might even think that sleeping at the fair with oneís own animals is a worthwhile experience for their children to have.
I am proud to be an alpaca farmer but not always proud of the attitudes I see displayed by other alpaca farmers. Letís be part of the farming community and not just attend events for alpaca breeders only. Letís help run livestock shows and fairs. Letís do our part to educate the public about alpacas. Letís be grateful to those in the agricultural community who offer us a place at their events and letís participate with humility and a positive attitude. The Great Frederick Fair is one place that we can start.
*The entries for the Alpaca Fleece Show must be made on Saturday, September 16th.
Any internet search on The Great Frederick Fair will bring up a lot more information, photos, newspaper reviews, dates and times and maps relating to the fair.
For entry information go to: www.theGreatFrederickFair.com
and choose the option for "catalog."
To Contact Halter Superintendent Bob Lewis (Red Barn Alpacas) call 410-552-0853 or e-mail: RedBarnAlpacas@aol.com
To Contact Fleece Show Superintendent Kate Perez (Mount Airy Alpacas) call 301-607-9129 or e-mail: Info@MountAiryAlpacas.com
END OF ARTICLE
And here is one more thing I will say before I'm done ranting, When many of my alpaca friends and I have needed emergency farm help it's been other farmers who have been there for us. One of my close friends got goat colostrum for her alpaca cria from the 4-H Goat Superintendent in Carroll County this spring. The woman met her in a parking lot with the colostrum and would not take a dime for it. Another friend and customer had her neighbor, a sheep breeder, step in and do her chores when she and her husband were both recovering from surgery. Tom and I have gotten cow colostrum for a newborn alpaca from our friend and neighbor Sam Tressler, a dairyman. When my horse got cast on her back and kicked her hoof through the metal bars of her stall door during labor, it was my neighbor's father who got a crowbar and pried her hoof out and then he and his son-in-law ripped out the barn wall board by board so the horse could turn over. I can't thank my neighbor enough but at least he has a hand spun, hand knit alpaca hat to wear in the winter when he's out on his tractor now. These farm people make me feel so proud to be amongst them and so humble and hopeful that I may one day be as strong and good as them.
You can see a lot of these people and people like them at the Great Frederick Fair.
kids showing at the Great Frederick Fair
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post where I said that it is great having a comfy chair to lounge in whilst waiting through alpaca breedings? Here is the one caveat, your alpaca barn staff may also be attracted to the chair! This is bad because they will not get their alpaca chores done.
And, even though we have the type of very young, very cheap alpaca barn staff, one drawback to these is their tendency to constantly "save" non alpaca type animals all over the farm. If your staff, like mine are bent on saving newborn bunnies, for instance, the furry type of barn staff will sniff out the bunny nest whilst the child type of barn staff will want to take said bunnies into their bedroom.
This is not OK because bunnies should not drink cow's milk and live in bedrooms with scary rock and roll posters on the walls not to mention the terrifying music played in there. If you try the dental floss trick and leave it overnight to see if momma bunny comes and disturbs it and, still no momma bunny comes, take your bunnies to a wildlife rehabilitator right away. Here is the one I used:
These people serve a very important purpose because you won't get ANY work out of your barn staff if they are crying over dead bunnies in their bedroom. So please give them money - I did. (the rehabilitators, NOT the barn staff!)
So Cotton, one of two pretty and, FOR SALE!, girls from Red Barn Alpacas that are at my place for breeding continues to spit off Nickleby I guess once was enough for her
and that is fine, but it's not making Nickleby very happy!
Cassy is also spitting him off so, if you know some alpaca gals looking for a little action, here is a guy who is very motivated!
I also promised a while back to post a photo of my neighbors' new baby. It is not an alpaca but a horsey and a very pretty little, black filly.
Cute as these things are, I have to warn you that basically their whole goal in life seems to be getting their admirers to scratch their little rumps for hours at a time so you really have to be firm about how long you are willing to scratch or you won't accomplish much else all day.
Finally, anyone else out there just mesmerized by how beautiful are the "amber fields of grain" when you pass them? It's like the earth is covered with beautiful fur that flows and blows in the wind. The rippling, changing colors make me wish I could paint a picture of these fields and hang them on my walls and, being the daughter of a famous painter, (Tom Benson) maybe I will someday. This wheatfield is between my farm and my neighbor's farm.
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