Monday, June 30. 2008
The image you see here today is the 999th photo image I have loaded into this alpaca blog which has become some strange combination of habit and labor of love. I am no longer totally sure who reads my alpaca blog and who doesn't anymore.
Google appears to like my blog most of the time and guess they are just grateful for all those lost souls who create content for their Goliath.
Irrigation in action
Here you can see the irrigation canon in action and get some idea of just how far it can throw water ...the answer is a little short of 100 feet which is pretty darn impressive. In the background you might just be able to see the tip of Mount Ashland which still has snow on the peak. I say just because the valley is full of smoke today, probably from some of the fires in northern California. But I can't be totally sure. The air quality is dreadful and we are all hoping it will blow through soon.
We put some of our old junk ( I of course mean treasured family momentos) into a yard sale today and came away with $125 which I was very pleased with. Until my eldest son spotted that I had in fact sold his old bicycle and demanded his share of the loot. Thats my boy !!
Sunday, June 29. 2008
I am not totally sure if it is possible to have a Hurricane in the Pacific North West but whatever we had last night came pretty close and we saw it come speeding up the valley then slam into the house. A combination of very strong winds, wild rain and an electrical storm thrown in for good measure. My daughter tells me that Hurricane is from the Mid-16th century. Via Spanish Taino hurakán "god of the storm" - laptops and Google where would we be without them?
Luckily we only suffered minor damage to some of the older trees so no real harm done.
A few of the branches that we lost in last nights storm.
Just as well we didn't mow yesterday.....
Saturday, June 28. 2008
Just as I was getting my hopes up that we would be able to mow the hay field today I heard that there are storm warnings for Saturday, Sunday and Monday so that puts grass cutting on hold. Its been bad enough having to wait this long for a decent stretch of good weather but it would be very disappointing to mow the grass and then have it get wet...so once again we find ourselves waiting.
The real problem with these unexpected delays is that I have skipped irrigating for almost a month now so that the hay field would be dry and easy to cut. Now it is totally parched and I fear the quality might be below its usually high standard.
Time to keep one eye on Southern Cross who is due to deliver in the next few days and one eye on the weather forecasts, fingers crossed.
Friday, June 27. 2008
As usual I was busy minding my own business just assuming that the irrigation was doing its stuff on the alpaca pastures when I noticed the pump had shut off. This usually means that the last filter is full of weeds - but today as I restarted the pump and a gusher shot skywards I realised it meant the high pressure hose had failed and while I was tempted to run and take a picture of the spectacle I opted to fix the problem.
Fortunately like most major parts that are likely to fail time and bitter experience has told me to keep parts close to hand. Its ironic really because even the local dealer is dreadful at stocking parts which are bound to fail every season.
Thinking about it more I guess its just a great way of reducing inventory and pushing the cost and responsibility of stocking parts onto the farmers... well that's enough speculation on the motivations of irrigation companies.
I am going up to Portland on Wednesday to collect two female alpacas one of my own called Latte and another for a friend so I need to find out exactly where the second animal has to be delivered to as i will be just a bit bushed after 12 hours of interstate driving with a trailer. Speaking of which I better make a note to prep the trailer on Tuesday.
Thursday, June 26. 2008
The Alpaca registry has added to their 'Streaming Video' archive today with the addition of the 2008 Annual Meeting.
While some members attended this meeting, it is not possible for all of the members to attend.
Anyone who was not able to attend the annual meeting to take some time to watch the video. It is slightly over 1 hour in length and contains information about what our Registry has been up to over the past year, and where we might be headed in the coming year, discussion about the strategic plan, and recognition of past Board Members and announcement of the new Board Members.
The video also contains a Q & A session at the end.
You can find the video of the Alpaca Registry Annual Meeting here.
You do have to be an ARI member and log in so have your details ready...what a shame they didn't put this up on You.Tube which would have been so much more accessible for members and those thinking for joining ARI or even starting alpaca breeding. Still get a coffee sit back and enjoy the show....
Wednesday, June 25. 2008
Expected Progeny Differences Seminar - July 4th
This year is the tenth Parade of Champions Auction and as always it is a flagship event for the alpaca industry nor just here on the West Coast but nationally too,
I didn't go last year but was there the year before and the quality of animals is outstanding.
The alpacas for auction come from four farms: Accoyo America the well known Greg Mecklam herd which is now about 200 Strong. Crescent Moon Ranch, Latah Creek and Alpacas de la Patagonia.
This years other big pull is of course the EPD seminar. Sara Via Ph.D from the University of Maryland. David Notter Ph.D from Virginia Tech, and Mike Safley the founder of the ideal alpaca community who needs no introduction.
If you can't make it to this excellent auction and seminar then try the definitive source for EPD information especially alpaca EPD programmes at www.epdlibrary.org
This year the Parade of Champions Auction will present a program for alpaca breeders on the importance of having a EPD program in place, the mechanics of how to do it, the early results of the Ideal Alpaca Community program and how to enroll in one. For those alpaca breeders wanting to be at the cutting edge in the alpaca industry, this EPD seminar is invaluable!
In future Parade of Champion Auctions, the participating alpaca farms plan on making sale lots available for a fixed number of offspring of alpacas purchased in the Parade of Champions for those breeders willing to collect data and enroll in an alpaca EPD program. All of these sale lots will be selected by an impartial judge based on quality. This will be a very exciting development for EPD enabled alpaca breeders. EPD - EAB
Tuesday, June 24. 2008
I have decided to go up to Portland next week on the 2nd of July and collect Latte one of our pregnant female alpacas from NWA and bring her home. I will also be bringing back a female alpaca belonging to another farm and that is good because with gas prices the way they are it always pays to share these journeys.
The question I am mulling over is who to take up to get pregnant but I dont have any answers on that front.
I must also get the ARI registrations filed for the two new arrivals we had this year. I don't know why but I have been putting it off for ages now. I( guess once winter is over and the sun is shining it is just so tempting to be outside and with the alpacas.
Which reminds me I really must get the alpaca fleeces weighed and the samples sent off for analysis.
Oh well onward and upward it can't all be fun and games !
Monday, June 23. 2008
AFCNA the the Alpaca Fibre Cooperative of North America has been going from strength to strength and this year for the very first time issued a dividend to shareholders. In my case it was 37 cents so it isn't going to transform the economics of my alpaca breeding business overnight but I think it is a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.
The famous AFCNA check for 37 cents...
Yet despite this dividend being the first sign of something really starting to happen I know of many farms that are stockpiling alpaca fibre because they can't think of anything to do with it.
AFCNA has appointed regional volunteers to help improve this situation and in our area Larry Vellozi is the Regional Alpaca Fiber Clip Collection Coordinator.
His job will be to organize getting our alpaca fiber to Mora, New Mexico. What he is hoping to do is get a few drop off sites established along the I-5 corridor for easy pick-up and bring the boxes of alpaca fiber (18"x18"x18") back to his ranch to be placed on pallets and then sent off to NM.
Its great initiative and deserves our full support.
Sunday, June 22. 2008
Since its launch the EPD Library has gone from strength to strength and is now ranked highly by Google for all alpaca EPD related terms which is excellent news.
Since its launch the EPD Library site has added new EPD speakers such as AOBA board member David Barboza and a retired AOBA board member Stephen Hull. Both of whom have EPD events coming up this year for alpaca breeders and details of all forthcoming alpaca EPD events can be found on the library web site.
If you are thinking of having an alpaca EPD awareness event either on your own alpaca farm or maybe on behalf of an AOBA affiliate such as CALPACA then please check out the list of EPD speakers that can assist you in having a successful EPD event.
To discover the latest news on alpaca EPD programmes around the globe including the initial research of ARI then visit the EPD Library for up top date information.
While you are there please take the time to complete the EPD survey and sign up for the EPD Newsletter.
Saturday, June 21. 2008
Well if you didn't know today is the longest day of the year. That is to say the biggest time gap between sunrise and sunset....so still the usual 24 hours but from here on in the days are slowly but surely getting shorter.
It also happens to be my birthday so we will be having a quiet day on the alpaca farm, running the irrigation is about as energetic as I will be getting.
See you tomorrow for more tales from the alpacas farm and the alpaca industry.
Friday, June 20. 2008
Its strange how sometimes things that change very gradually just go unnoticed - like a glacier sliding down a mountainside.
So it was with the blades on the tractor mower deck. We have given them hell over the last four years and before we pulled all the rocks from the alpaca pastures every time we topped a pasture we would shear the safety bolt at least twice by hitting some huge rock.
The quality of the cutting was starting to show and despite altering the angle of the deck and other adjustments there was only one conclusion. New blades were needed.
I put the whole mower into the back of the alpaca trailer and shipped it up to the John Deere dealer who has the tools to replace the blades. So now 8 hours and $300 later the mower is in tip top condition once again.
One of the very worn down mower blades.
Thursday, June 19. 2008
Since the hunting of foxes with hounds has been banned in the UK the fox population has blossomed and become something of a threat to sheep and lambs in particular including those belonging to HRH the Prince of Wales. So the Prince is now using alpacas to protect his 450 head of organically farmed sheep and so far hasn't lost a lamb all year.
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
According to the London Times Newspaper:
The llama-like creatures act as bouncers on his farm near Tetbury, in Gloucestershire, bonding with the sheep, ever ready to protect them against predators such as foxes, which used to kill as many as 50 newborn lambs every year.
There has long been keen public interest in the gardens at Highgrove. Unfortunately the private grounds are only occasionally open, and to organised groups of visitors - and there is a waiting list of up to five years.
Anyone interested in a visit must apply in writing to:
The Prince of Wales Office
St James' Palace
You can read more about the alpacas at Highgrove in:
Wednesday, June 18. 2008
Sometimes you just can't believe your eyes and looking at the moon tonight will give you that feeling. On Wednesday night, June 18th, step outside after sunset and look to the east. You'll see a giant shape rising At first glance it looks like the full Moon. It has craters and "seas" but this Moon is strangely inflated.
The summer solstice moon
There's no better time to see the full Moon than June 18th as it is a "solstice moon", coming two days before the beginning of northern summer. This is significant because the sun and full Moon are like kids on a see-saw; when one is high, the other is low. This week's high solstice sun gives us a low, horizon-hugging Moon.
On a much more practical note one of the things I have learned about alpaca farming is that certain pieces of equipment will break at the worst possible time and if you live even 30 minutes from the nearest store then a journey in and out of time can be very time consuming and frustrating. So create your own mini store on the farm and keep the items you are most likely to need close to hand. It does tie up some cash and space but makes life much less stressful when something suddenly lets go unexpectedly. And with gas prices going up all the time any trips that can be avoided should be avoided.
My on farm hardware store
Tuesday, June 17. 2008
I was hoping to weigh the fleeces and start to mail out the samples for analysis. But ended up heading over to White City. While I was there I went by Vector Control and picked up some fish that eat any mosquito larvae which form in the irrigation pond.
Vector control dispense free fish to help control mosquitoes.
Controlling mosquitoes is very important as they can be a vector for West Nile Virus which affects alpacas. West Nile has slowly spread across the USA and is now on the West Coast.
To learn more about West Nile Virus visit the CDC web site.
While in White City you get a great view of the 9600 foot Mount Mclaughlin. Probably be a great place to live if you were an alpaca hankering for the Peruvian altiplano...
Monday, June 16. 2008
Today we were up before the sun had risen...well not all of us the teenagers were still in bed at 8.30am. Anyway there was plenty to do and we started by separating Minne from the other female alpacas in the herd and breeding her to Conman. She wasn't very enthusiastic at first but soon succumbed to his advances. This breeding sent the young (intact) Leroy Brown into a complete frenzy so he is now in with the male alpacas...I thought he was too young but obviously he is mature for his age.
Irrigastion water in full flight....
Once the alpacas were sorted we started the cycle of irrigation which runs for a whole week. Here you can see the water from the irrigation gun arcing through the air and "over" mount Ashland....well almost !
Overdue hay field
The hay in the hay field is now the tallest it has ever been and as you might expect is falling over in places. With luck we should get the contractor here to cut it on Saturday which will be a big relief. It has been standing and drying for some while now and I wonder just how much of the nutritional value has been lost.
The chickens are on good form and laying eggs faster than we can possibly eat them. In fact when we had the garden party last weekend we gave away at least two dozen eggs to various visitors.
never make eye contact with an angry chicken!
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