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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Wini wearing her "Got Fleece" T-shirt, examining fleece locks.
If you know me at all, you know that I love running alpaca fleece shows and the more people I can bully into entering, the better I like it! The fleece IS the point of raising alpacas, after all, so I think we should all put our fleeces where our mouths are.
Yesterday the alpaca fleece show at the Great Frederick Fair was judged by Wini Labrecque while I served as superintendent. My guy Campion (who is for sale for a low, low price!) ruled! His son, Pendragon (also for sale) won a 1st place as well as Best Crimp. Campy's son VG Special Dark won 1st in a large class of dark Yearlings. Campy's sons, Misha and Gryffindor took 1st and 2nd respectively in the Light Yearling class. The judge remarked on the fine handle of all of these boys.
But Campion's run at the Great Frederick Fair is not over yet because his sons will also be shown in a "Get of Sire" class that judges the sire based on the quality of that sire's offspring. Campion won "Get of Sire" 2 years ago with a class of 3 little girls. Can he do it again? Come find out on September 22.
Meanwhile, back at the fair, Wini did her usual amazing job of judging, spending over 5 hours judgin and explaining to on-lookers what factors made her place one fleece over another. She also treated us to a fascinating talk on Fleece Foresnsics. We learned all about what the fleeces tell us about the alpaca's nutrition, weather, skin conditions, stress and illnesses. Below is a lock from an alpaca that had some kind of scabbing due to skin problems about 1/2 of an inch from the tip of the lock.
At left in above photo is the current MD Lamb and Wool Queen. I am heavily involved in the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Committee and try to do my part to maintain good relations between sheep and alpaca breeders. It makes me mad when alpaca breeders go around dissing sheep fleeces. The day before our show, I watched the judging of the sheep fleeces and was desperately coveting a gorgeous white Rambouillet. But, back to Wini. She even took time to discuss one on one with some owners about their specific fleeces after the judging was completed.
We had only 22 fleece entries but I would like to see a lot more next year. I am amazed that more alpaca breeders in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania don't get what a great opportunity it is to have your fleeces judged for such a low price at a local show but with a judge of this stature.
Here is a cut and pasted small bio of Wini's:
"Wini currently is the Fiber Chairperson for the PA Alpaca Owner & Breeder Assoc. and serves as Assistant Chairperson on the AOBA Raw Fiber and Fiber Products Committee. She has served as past judge for AOBA Summer Nationals Skein Competition, AOBA Winter Nationals Skein & Fine Arts Competitions and OABA Spin-off and Skein Competition. Recently she taught tapestry weaving workshops at the Fleece to Fashion Winter Conference."
I won 1st places for both of my hand spun skeins and was very gratified that Wini praised them and admired them. she did not know they were MINE whilst this was occurring of course. And, unlike most of the AOBA fleece judges, Wini IS an expert hand spinner herself.
We worked very hard and had a productive day but, no day at the fair is complete for me unless I get to visit my "special friends." What's the point of the fair if you don't get to check out all of the adorable animals? Below are 3 calves that have been born AT THE FAIR in the last 48 hours. Look at this guy in middle! What pattern is that?!??
Every year when I am working at the fleece show, I have the pleasure of seeing some of the harness racing.
I LOVE the mini-horse and the mini donkey! So cute.
The donkey is very friendly and kept trying to sniff the camera.
The geese cracked me up because they kept getting cranky and honking at the maintenance men as they drove their forklifts around.
And, of course, we can't forget the newborn duckies and chicks in their incubators.
And, finally, Mama Pig, hanging out in the birthing tent awaiting her turn. If she does farrow (which I think is the proper word for pig parturation,) I will be sure to get the money shot and update this blog with piglet photos later in the week.
PS. Names of the alpaca fleece show winners are posted on the side of the white display case inside the Fiber Optic tent and will be announced during the live alpaca show this coming weekend. But click HERE if you want a link to a .pdf file of the winners.
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