Wednesday, April 21, 2010

2010 Futurity Sale and Show

It was an eventful weekend for us in Oklahoma City, the first time the ultra-competitive alpaca Futurity and Auction had been held at Heritage Place in 8-10 years (I think!). My good friend Deb of Seven Springs Alpaca Farm and I took our animals together and I drove the motor home with trailer in tow. All went smoothly until we were a bit north of Tulsa, and had a blow-out on the motor home. We felt thankful to maintain control and get to the side of the road safely! Five hours later the appropriate tire had finally been located and changed, and we barely made it in time to check in our animals and get to the annual fundraising banquet for Quechua Benefit.

I worked hard to get the word out on our subsitution animal, Xxxtremely Sweet, one of our herd's best young females, who was Lot #51 out of around 75 in the sale. It wasn't difficult, as she is an eye-catching girl and the armload of blue ribbons and purple banners helped to get attention for her as well. In the end, she was one of the higher selling females at $21,000, purchased by Jim Webb and Sharon Brown of Virginia Alpaca Farm.
I was on cloud nine as the auction began, as I had the shock and honor of being awarded the Craig Wilkins Memorial Sportsmanship trophy! I can't say enough about the strength, friendliness and integrity of the Wilkins family, and very much appreciate them honoring me with their special award that is in memory of their beloved son. Congratulations to them as well for selling the high-selling alpaca at $77,000!
We ended up buying two sale lots, first a 13.8 micron white female, Hummingherd's Amazilla. Our finest foundation female, Dulce de Leche, came from Hummingherd in Idaho and I have always admired the Gedney's emphasis on fine fiber.
We also purchased a stunning dark fawn son of Snowmass Matrix, Snowmass Nebula! Nebula is young and has lots of maturing to do, but what a beautiful and exciting male to add to our stable of Thoroughly Bred Herdsires (co-owned with Stuart and Michele Ray of Catalpa Creek Alpacas).
I got to show Xxxtremely Sweet one last time, and she did not disappoint. She won first in the brown yearling female class, then was awarded Reserve Champion Brown Female! We couldn't have been more happy for Jim Webb and Sharon Brown of Virginia Alpaca Farm, and are glad to have her younger brother, SSF Serendipitous, winning championships for us already.

The weekend was fun once we settled in, and it was so great to reconnect with long-time alpaca friends from all over the country. It's now time for me to concentrate on breeding strategies for the rest of the herd, birthing crias, and getting ready for the Kentucky Fiber Festival. I also had an order for 100 felted soaps, so I've got lots of work ahead of me!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On to Another Exciting Weekend... 2010 Futurity!

This coming weekend at Heritage Place in Oklahoma City is The Futurity Show, one of the country's largest and most prestigious alpaca events. It draws many of the best breeders from coast to coast, and the Futurity Auction is always one of the most exciting. Just some of the big names we have had the pleasure of watching sell at Futurity have included.... Accoyo Legacy (a multiple Herdsire of the Year), Snowmass Casanova (also a Herdsire of the year, I think!), Snowmass XXtreme (2006 and 2007 Herdsire of the Year, you'll hear that name again here!), Snowmass Enlightenment (2009 Top-seller, son of XXXtreme) and other greats.We needed to make a substitution for our Lot #51, and have decided to use the same strategy we did in the 2000 AOBA Auction when we were asked to fill an empty slot at the last minute. Knowing that we were at a disadvantage without pre-advertising, we chose to put in our most eye-catching, quality, gorgeous, BEST from the top of our herd. That was the year we sold Accoyo Royal Performance and she was the 2nd highest seller. This year we are digging deep and chose to offer..... XXXtremely Sweet!
In just 6 shows, XXXtremely Sweet has won 5 blue ribbons and 3 Color Championships in huge color groups, including being the 2009 AOBA National Brown Female Champion! The judges have RAVED about her extreme fineness and uniformity, size and structure, breed type, presence, "the total package, a clear cut winner!"We agonized over giving her up, however we do own her outstanding dam (Snowmass Sweet Serenity) and a younger brother, SSF Serendipitous is already making a name for himself with a Reserve Championship from his first show and breathtaking fiber stats. Her sire, Snowmass XXXtreme's genetics, however, are not easy to replace. Keep in mind that XXXtreme himself sold for over $250,000 a few years back at Futurity, his son Enlightenment was last year's high seller, now here's your chance for a Champion Female from XXXtreme! Her grandsire on both sides of her pedigree is Royal Rose, who is a Hemingway son, so she has deep genetics for fineness.Sweet is entered in the Futurity, and is then ready to grace YOUR pastures with her beauty and her crias. She's now ready to breed, and we'd be more than happy to bring her back here and breed her to any of our herdsires including El Nino's Accoyo Michelangelo, Snowmass Nova's Private Reserve, Accoyo America Sinbad, or Accoyo Maverick.

Please contact us if you have ANY questions regarding XXXtremely Sweet- I'll be on the road starting Thursday morning and can be reached at 859-428-8883.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wonderful Day of Shearing!

Each year gets better, and hands-down this was our best shearing day in every way. The weather was absolutely perfect, and lots of people came out to enjoy the farm.As always, we had a few unexpected "angels" show up to help- special thanks to Libby and Ken- we can never have too many sweepers and fleece-gatherers. Paul and Sue were the uncomplaining heads of the sweeping crew!The kids worked especially hard, and one of my favorite points in the day was when I sent Robert into the big field on a scooter to herd up a group of rogue females that were heading for the back forty. He got around the group, and they took one look at him and headed immediately to the barn! It was priceless, and Robert was proud of this particular contribution!
Here, Mirian is gathering up the fleece from her alpaca, Willow, who is a Snowmass Casanova daughter with very fine fiber.

Several of our clients came to watch their animals getting shorn, and a few brought animal over.
More people signed up for the upcoming Hat Felting Class which is scheduled for Sunday, April 25th from 1-5. (I still have a few more openings, so let me know if you're interested!
The shop was bustling- I especially loved watching this young customer trying on hats! We sold lots of products and three alpacas as well. We are continuing to downsize our herd with the goal of being down to 60 by the end of this year, so contact us if you're looking for some great buys!
We all collapsed at the end of the day (this is the shearer, John Gunther, being particular silly after completing 93 head of alpacas and llamas).There's always plenty of cleanup, but we got it done- I love this picture of Mirian sweeping with the spring evening sunshine coming in to the barn behind her. And now, the biggest chore of springtime is complete!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Shearing Day at Seldom Scene Farm!

Accoyo America Sinbad being shorn
Well,, Shearing Time of 2010 is almost here! It's the day that I used to dread but now somewhat look forward to. The reason I don't dread it any more is because we have GREAT shearers and they bring a team of four to help get it all done. It has made it such that our crew pretty much organizes the animals and picks up the fleece, and they do the rest!This year the event will be free and open to the public (10-4) since it's scheduled for a Saturday. Unlike most years, I haven't had the worry of bad weather- it is gorgeous today and is going to be dry and beautiful tomorrow as well! Bring out a picnic and come watch as over 80 alpacas and 8 llamas are de-fleeced.
Inside our farm shop- the great wall of yarn!
We'll have a spinning demonstration (compliments of Linda Hofacker with LSH Creations who will have spinning wheels, fiber, books, etc.). There will be specials in our shop on yarn, fiber and products, new crias to check out, etc. We also have some great new prices on alpacas- check out our new sales list and breeding information. If you are a fan on our Facebook Fan Page or join by 4:00 tomorrow, you are welcome to take an additional $300 off any breeding or purchase over $600 if you make a deposit by the end of this weekend! (AND we'll be drawing for a llama trek for 4 to be won by one of our Farm Fans!)

It's a pretty drive out to Seldom Scene at the very end of Watts Ferry Rd. (follow the signs), and you can stop at Woodford Reserve Distillery on the way or eat lunch at Addie's Creekside Cafe in Millville. We'll have signs up, and you can't miss us if you just keep coming- look for the new barn and pond. If we haven't met, be sure to come and introduce yourself!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Felted Soaps- What the Heck?

One of the more popular items that I make and sell are "felted soaps". Some people look at me REALLY strangely when I say that, trying to picture a soap made of felt or felt made of soap. Actually, it's more like a combination of the two!I start with hand-dyed alpaca roving or batting(fiber which has been "carded"), wrap it around a soap, then wet it and start rubbing to make it felt permanently around the soap.
The end result is a pretty little soap which is kind of like having a washcloth or loofah AND soap all in one. When you wet it in the shower or tub, soap suds come through the felt and you can scrub with it!
I sell these at Damselfly Gallery in Midway, Truly Bluegrass in Versailles, and here on the farm. They make a great gift, and come wrapped with handspun or fabric scaps tied around them and a tag which explains what it is! I'll have plenty available for our Shearing Day which is this Saturday, April 10th, from 10 to 4.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Rare Happening

Well, the necropsy report came back on the beautiful full Accoyo fawn male that we lost a few weeks ago. If you remember, he had seizures and a very high temperature followed by blindness and then what seemed like recovery before he died.

The necropsy showed that he had a rupture in the 3rd stomach (C3) and subsequent peritonitis-there would have been nothing that could have helped him.

Why did this happen? The best the vets can guess is that he was stepped on... just one of those things. Small solace, but it's always good to know the cause and is soothing to know that there's nothing we could have done to prevent it or to save him....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Two in one day!

Two of our anticipated crias arrived within about an hour of each other today! I went to the barn to check on everyone and found Savannah's cria already on the ground and alert. Greyetta (at day 352) was VERY interested in the little brown guy, sniffing him all over and kissing/licking his mouth a lot. I treated the navel and went to the house to get my camera. When I returned just a few minutes later, Greyetta was laboring heavily. I guess that sweet little cria just got her in the mood!When you watch the video, you'll hear the cria taking some pretty noisy breaths- don't be alarmed, it's all normal! Often after the cria is born, they'll breathe heavily for a while- they're just "oxygenating", and it was pretty obvious that this guy was just fine. I did help a little bit since I could tell that it was a very large cria! Note that one should always pull the cria DOWN toward the dam's feet, and work with her contractions.

One interesting point regarding the birth of two brown boys today from the same sire, El Nino's Accoyo Michelangelo. I have a lot of clients ask about the birth weights produced from our sires. The first cria weighed 13.5 pounds (this dam always has smaller crias), while the 2nd cria is a monster at 25 pounds, one of the largest we've ever had! I definitely believe that the dam determines the size of the cria. What has been your experience?

Another interesting point- of the four females in our due barn, the two that delivered today were due AFTER the two that still haven't delivered! Perhaps that means that the other two will be girls? Let's hope so!It was fun checking in on the new boys as I went about my day with lots to get ready for next Saturday's Shearing Day (April 10th)! If you weren't already aware, it's open to the public from 10-4. As always, we're happy to have helpers, or just bring a picnic and come enjoy! There will be spinning demonstrations, fiber, yarn and products for sale, new crias to see, and sale specials on our animals! Hope to see you there.