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.
Just back from an excellent weekend at the inaugural Alpaca Classic event, which combined a number of extremely interesting presentations with an auction and lots of socialising with other other alpaca folk. It looks as if alpaca prices might be recovering, which will be great news for breeders … and buyers should get in quick !
Just back from Puriton’s Party in the Park – that was one muggy day ! The alpacas decided that – what with the heat, the noise and the strangeness of it all – they’d spend most of the day in the trailer rather than outside in the pen. But we had lots of visitors admiring them and the products we make from their fleece, and we made many new contacts – and as I can bore for England on the subject of alpacas, I enjoyed myself too !
Off to Puriton’s “Party in the Park” tomorrow with a few animals, fleeces, yarns and products. Anyone going down the M5 past junction 23 (Bridgwater) should just head off on the A39 towards Street and then Puriton’s the first village on the left. Starts at 2 p.m., and the party carries on into the evening – not that the alpacas will be staying up late !
… for both of us today. Pat went off to the annual Fleece Fair put on by the Somerset Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers at Hatch Beauchamp near Taunton, taking lots of fleeces with her – many of which she sold. Meantime, I took four of our yearlings down to the annual Street Fair in Othery near Bridgwater, where they caused great interest, and where Blacklands Fairfax starred in the “Guess the weight of the alpaca” competition (for anyone there who didn’t hear the final announcement, he weighed 42.4 Kg).
Well, the day that many alpaca owners dread is now over. 62 alpacas shorn, resulting in 124 bags of fleece (first and second qualities), together with a few bags of rubbish. An average yield of just over 2 Kg per animal. Colin came along with an assistant this year, so we had two shearing mats on the go, but it all worked out very smoothly once we got the workflow going. Phew – exhausted.