Well, what a successful day at the North Devon Show yesterday – three First Rosettes for Blacklands Alpacas in the Fleece competition !
In the Junior Fawn class, young Goya did us proud with his first fleece – with particularly high scores for “fineness and handle”, as well as for uniformity of micron, length and colour …
Then in the Intermediate joint black and brown class, Florence’s second fleece won first place, and we were particularly pleased that the fleece achieved a full five points out of five for Uniformity of colour, and 14 out of 15 for clean fleece weight – both of these are factors which can be very difficult to achieve with black animals …
Finally our young stud male Escalibur won the adult grey class with his third fleece. The weight of the blanket, at 2.6 Kg, was particularly good, and although grey might not be the favourite of many commercial spinners (as they prefer to have a single solid colour), it is extremely popular with craft spinners, weavers, felters and knitters. We are eagerly awaiting his first cria – we used him last year in a rather experimental way, mating him to females of different colours just to see what happened ! His sire being the multiple champion (albeit rather strangely named) Daer Enahs Streslecki, we can be sure of some interesting results. Here’s a picture of his prize-winning fleece …
And to cap it all, we had a very good day with our Blacklands Alpacas product stand, chatting with a constant stream of interested visitors, while selling lots of lovely items made from alpaca fibre.
It has indeed been very quiet round here, though the major summer jobs have been done – particularly shearing and haylage-making. We don’t seem to have made it to many shows this year, though that is changing this week with Pat going off to the North Devon Show (near Barnstaple) on Wednesday. See their website for all the details. She’s actually going on the Tuesday to help the alpaca fleece judge get through all the show entries, but on the Wednesday she’ll have a small stand with lots of alpaca products for sale – most of them made from our own natural (undyed) alpaca fibre. Take a look at the Blacklands Alpacas Shop Facebook page to see some of the lovely new things Pat has developed.
Well, I really don’t know what the world is coming to. At the Royal Bath and West Show today, I took the following photo …
… maybe they were just emphasising the message on the banner beside them. If you look carefully, you can see the nose of a third animal caught up in all the excitement. And yes, these are all mature male alpacas (not Blacklands ones, I hasten to add) !
We had a lovely day out in Cheltenham yesterday at the SPANA charity event. The sun shone, the setting was great and there was lots of interest shown in our alpacas. As it happens, we were next door to a couple of llamas, so we were easily able to answer the common question “so what’s the difference between an alpaca and a llama ?”
SPANA is the Society of the Protection of ANimals Abroad, and tomorrow, Sunday 19th, we are taking a few of our alpacas up to Cheltenham to show them off at the SPANA “Stride Out Discovery Day” at the Pittville Pump Room and Park, Cheltenham GL52 3JE. They’re having a Mini Farm, Dog and Duck displays, Donkey rides, Ferrets, Falconry, Craft workshops, face painting, magic shows, … something for all the family !
It was Pat’s birthday yesterday, but she didn’t get much of a lie-in as we had to feed the animals at home, load the show team and leave home all by 6 a.m. in order to get down to the Westpoint Showground outside Exeter by 7 before the organisers closed the livestock gates. But we made it, and each one of the show team (Garnet, Gypsy Princess, Gatsby and Goya) won a rosette – two seconds and two thirds. While it was a shame not to get a first on this occasion, we were far from last in any class, and it’s always good to hear the judge’s comments on each animal. It is a fact that while we can see the quality of own animals improving all the time, so are those of many other breeders.
When we had left home the animals were extremely damp, being covered in dew, even though they had been under cover in a barn overnight. Fortunately, the morning sun at the showground was quite strong, so we led them out from the marquee into the general public area to dry out their fleeces. The team are all juniors (6-12 months old), but they were all well behaved and attracted a lot of interest from members of the public.
… I guess maybe it’s the wrong time to be showing off this lovely neck-warmer ! As usual, this very stylish item is hand-knitted from our own alpaca fibre. It is 100% natural, with no dyes having been added.
Pat entered several items into the Fibre Festival and Craft classes at the British Alpaca Futurity, and we were very pleased indeed to win several awards ..
We were awarded Firsts for three skeins of hand-spun yarn :
Both of the skeins above are of undyed fibre; on the left fancy cabled yarn, and on the right, plain (black, and consequently very difficult to photograph). The one below is hand-dyed with natural products.
A close-up of the above yarn, which earned the comment from the judge “has retained its handle despite the dye on it”.