Jen Pietsch
Orcas Island, WA

I love spending time outdoors, gardening, running and raising my fleeced friends!
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

postheadericon Cows in the Meadow!

We had a big surprise a couple of nights ago while taking the dogs out. Two big cows were in our driveway. Our neighbors are in the process of re-fencing their pastures and well I guess they have more work to do. Why yes the are the same ones who lost the llama too!

A note to those paying attention...these are not the actual cows that were on my lawn.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

postheadericon Catch that Llama!

We have been working hard here on the farm. The other night after a long day of pasture repair and renewal I went out to feed the herd. But what to my wondering eyes should appear but a big black llama running down the road! After the initial shock of thinking that one of ours escaped, Jeff and I were off and running down the street. Herding a single animal in a wide open space is difficult if the animal knows you but even more so if they don't.

We ran him up our neighbor's driveway and into the open arms of his owners across the street. It seems the gate was left open and Nero decided to take a little walk-about. Kind of a fun chase, though!

postheadericon Typical Show Day

Alpaca shows all follow the same type of schedule, more or less. Here is a typical day:

6:00am wake up call then off to the barn for feeding, watering and clean-up by 7:00. There is then a required exhibitors meeting where the judges are introduced and the order of the show is distributed.

For all of the shows we went to this year there were three halter show rings. The schedule for each ring includes the order of classes of competition and the order of entry into the ring for each animal. Animals enter the ring in order of age, oldest to youngest.

The exhibitor wearing black and white, also wears the animals entry number. This number includes the animals age and last shear date. Each animal is walked diagonally across the ring and then across the front. The judge is looking at gate, and proper confirmation of the animal. Once all of the animals are in the ring they all face the judge head on for inspection, then profile and finally rear view.

Each animal is then given a hand on inspection by the judge. Some of what they are looking for are proper bite, confirmation, and fleece characteristics such as, uniformity of color and crimp, softness, handle, density and length. This is the most time consuming part of your time in the show ring.

The judge then looks again at all of the animals and often pulls one or two out to look at again. Different judges have different routines. Then six are chosen as ribbon winners and everyone else gets what is known as ‘the gate’.

Next is the most interesting and educational part of the show ring experience is the judges reasoning. The judge must explain his/her reasoning for the order of ribbon winners. Why is the blue ribbon winner better than the red ribbon winner and so on.

This is a representative day at the show. In between showing I enjoy talking to other owners and meeting their animals, browsing the vendors’ wares and going to seminars on alpaca topics.

postheadericon Off to the Show!

And The Are Off!

We set off Friday for Puyallup and the biggest alpaca show on the west coast…Alpacapalooza! We caravanned with Krystal acres. They brought a show string of 10 beautiful animals and our three stunners.

This is the only show that I attended last year but having been there before it helped take the edge off of my anxiety of travel, set-up and showing. This year I was lucky enough to be able to bring along my son Kahana (11). It was a huge trip for him and the start of his spring break. I was worried about his being bored or unable to keep up with the sometimes hectic pace of the show ring.

We raced to Puyallup, arriving at about 2:30 and waited in line for veterinary check, required for all entries. The first wave of the check in procedure is the identity check. All animals are checked for proper microchips. A few farms were put into quarantine because the animals micro chips had ‘migrated’ to someplace else in the body and proper identification couldn’t be established.

Next, the veterinarian comes through and inspects each animal for health, test papers are turned in and if all goes well you are cleared to go into the show.

After you are cleared to enter the show grounds the real work begins! Stall set-up and color check. The animals are unloaded, fed, watered, walked and put into their stalls. Loads and loads and trips and trips are taken to and from the trailer and truck to bring out all that will be needed to care for and promote the animals for the duration of the weekend.

Color check is up next. We haltered all the animals and brought them to the showring to get signed off on the registered color of the animal. Alpaca come in 22 Natural colors which are broken up into white, browns, fawns, beiges, blacks, grays, and indeterminate. In each of these classifications there are subcategories of light, medium etc…

Upon birth the animal is registered as a color. Cria hair is short and fine. Colors can change in appearance. When you register your animal for the show you register the color as it appears closest to the skin not on the outside. This color may not be the official ARI registered color of the animal. Once at the show each animal is double checked to make sure it is correctly classified. More than one of our animals was reclassified into other color sub-sets.

The day was almost over for us. We attended the pizza meet and greet. It was good to touch base and check-in on farms that were so kind to me last year at my first show.
Off to the hotel and a hopefully good night sleep.

postheadericon Load um' Up

The show season started two weeks before the first show with a quick ferry ride to San Juan Island to drop off my three animals, Valentino, Channel and Autumn at Krystal Acres. Kris and Albert Olsen of Krystal Acres trailered the animals in the ‘circus wagon’ them and we caravaned behind to the show.
I wish I had photos of this but it was all hands on deck for the loading of the trio into the van. I constructed a ramp which eased the loading into the van or as we call it the alpacamoble!