Sunday, June 15. 2008
..... and the Official Birthday of HRH Queen Elizabeth the II or was that yesterday?
At this time of year the wild roses are in bloom all over the countryside and next to one particular hay field are some domesticated roses have made their home and truly love the environment.
Red roses go back to nature.
Apart from admiring the roses and fiddling about with alpaca skeletons. We had decided it was time to replace Jo's bicycle...well she had made her current bike last 20 years which is good going in anyone's book.
So off we went to the local cycle shop to buy something she could use to go to and from her office in town which is about three miles away from the alpaca farm.
Jo astride her new eco friendly transport system......
Saturday, June 14. 2008
Once the beetles had done their thing. Gill would degrease and bleach all of the alpaca bones.
I wasn't quite sure how I would feel about getting Felina back as a skeleton when I went to meet Gill.
And this picture doesn't tell the full story, but the amazing detail and perfect mating of joints is truly a thing of beauty. It really is fascinating to see how these wonderful creatures are put together.
The next and most daunting part of the whole task for me is to reassemble the skeleton or "articulate" the alpaca skeleton as they say in the trade.
A few minutes on Google and I had found a man in Alaska called Lee Post The Bone Man who publishes books on how to articulate various skeletons. He recommended his Moose book for an alpaca.
Lee Post - The Bone Man
Here is Lee with the skeleton of an Orca whale which he articulated...for the last 20 years Lee has been working mainly on marine mammal skeletons in Homer, Alaska. Luckily for me Lee had written a manual on how to articulate a Moose skeleton and he told me this would work fine for the alpaca.
Lee's Moose Manual
Inside the manual.
As always I will keep you posted on developments.....
Friday, June 13. 2008
Following on from yesterdays entry today is the slightly gory story of how the beetles ate the alpaca and left behind just her bones.
The beetles as used by Gill the skull doctor.
In the picture below you can clearly make out Felinas pelvis and rear legs, all left in pretty much the same position they were laid down in 12 months earlier.
After 12 months with the beetles .
Thursday, June 12. 2008
Just over one year ago a female alpaca of mine called Ms Felina simply dropped dead. The necropsy showed she had died from heart failure. Quite a shock for every one as she was only 7 years old which is no age at all for an alpaca. Somehow the idea of tossing her into a land fill didn't feel like the most appropriate end.
Ms Felina was regularly being photographed as she suffered from mites on the bridge of her nose.
I then explored the idea of using her as a teaching aid not just her dead body but to strip off her flesh and articulate her skeleton. The local vet put me in contact with Gil Doersch otherwise known as the skull doctor.
Gil explained that his beetles would strip away the flesh and then he could clean the bones.
It felt like the right thing to do so I agreed. You can read more of Felinas Story in tomorrows blog.
Wednesday, June 11. 2008
As you may know there is a detailed history of Sir Titus Salt in the alpaca library
Today Ken Madl sent me an iteresting piece about the dyeing of the first alpaca sample.
Which I hadn't seen before and which i wanted to share with you as its an interesting story.
Tuesday, June 10. 2008
Step one is to get yourself some great alpaca seed stock and then have them carefully transported to your new farm using a reputable alpaca transport company. Pick this company wisely and sleep well at nights
Livestock delivery isn't always to your own high standards
Step two is to make sure you have just enough hay to get your alpacas through the winter with a safety buffer just in case. With gas being so expensive its best to load as much hay as possible on the trailer.
Maximising the load will reduce the number of journeys
Step three is to make some very well researched breeding decisions based on what you know about your alpacas. Their bloodlines, histograms and EPDs if you have them. Remember breeding is not totally scientific it also involves some common sense.
Whoops ! Now how the devil did he get in there ?
Finally, make sure you shear all your alpacas every spring and then get that alpaca fleece to the AFCNA Fibre Cooperative in New Mexico. Do not let it accumulate in your barn.
Alpaca fibre is bulky so make use of all available space in your vehicle.
Monday, June 9. 2008
Alpaca breeders who are members of AOBA are now able to visit their local John Deere dealer and purchase a range of John Deere products at special low prices.
The Gator my favourite tool/toy .
All alpaca farmers have to do is ask for the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association Farm Member Discount and eligible John Deere equipment. You then need to show your 2008 AOBA Membership card to verify your membership; the letter "F" on the card denotes a Farm Member. This is a pretty good idea from AOBA and means we can now enjoy National Account pricing on John Deere equipment. I guess I wont be getting anything back for the $50k I have spent over the last four years..... oh well you can't win em all.
EPD Library Update
The EPD Library has been updated with two new alpaca EPD events featuring David Barboza and a second event featuring Steve Hull. Also the EPDs in alpaca section now features an entry on the work that ARI are doing to investigate EPDs.
Sunday, June 8. 2008
Shearing season is now in full swing, and so AFCNA's 2008 clip call gets underway. This year clip will be collected at the Co-op's grading and sorting facility in Tapetes de Lana, Mora, New Mexico. until October 31 of this year.
Details can be found on the AFCNA web site.
The Cooperative is committed to assisting with regional clip collection by subsidizing freight costs for larger shipments of fiber.
AFCNA will pay 1/2 of the shipping charges for amounts of 200-499 pounds, and will pay 100% of freight costs for amounts of 500 pounds or more.
If you are interested in organizing a regional clip collection then contact Greg Schneider as soon as possible.
2008 AFCNA Continental Alpaca Fleece Show
This year will see the 3rd Annual AFCNA Continental Alpaca Fleece Show!
The Continental was the first "mail-in" fleece show, and remains the largest and most prestigious mail in alpaca fleece show.
This year's show will be held August 2-3, 2008 in Denver.
Alpaca fleece judges will include Jill MacLeod, Sharon Loner and Wade Gease.
For more information about the show, including registration forms, please take this link.
Custom Label Socks
Each summer AFCNA offers the option for custom label socks. AFCNA will work with alpaca breeders to develop a label showcasing your farm or business for a nominal per pair fee of $1.
Minimum order size is 144 pair (one gross) in any combination of size and style of AFCNA Extreme Alpaca(tm) socks. All the socks are 100% alpaca but their is no guarantee that it will be your alpaca fibre in the socks you purchase even though your label will be on there.
Saturday, June 7. 2008
Friday, June 6. 2008
Not much happening on the alpaca farm today as we are all going to watch the Ashland High School Graduation - Class of 2008.
Which includes our one and only daughter Camilla Rose Stewart.
Camilla and friends head for the stage and their moment with destiny.
High School Graduation 2008 in Lithia Park
Having graduation in the park reminds you just what an amazing state Oregon is and how wonderful it is to live among the trees.
Thursday, June 5. 2008
Mulberry Alpacas want to remind everyone that National Alpaca Farm Day September 27-28, 2008. The 2008 AOBA marketing committee has designed a good plan to increase awareness of alpacas.
AOBA member participation is critical to making these days a success. The goal is for the public to easily find an alpaca farm or ranch in their area to visit on Sept 27th or 28th. This will give all alpaca farmers an opportunity to share their passion for alpacas and meet new people interested in learning about breeding livestock.
Remember however if you are an alpaca farmer (and AOBA member) you need to visit the AOBA web site and pay up if you want to be on the official AOBA Alpaca Farm Day website.
Now of course to participate in National Alpaca Farm Days you do not need to register for the special web site and pay over your hard earned money in fact you don't even have to be a member of AOBA....but you will have to undertake some marketing effort of your own or very few people will be coming to visit.
We put in quite a bit of effort last year and basically operated a petting zoo for two days so I think we will be giving it a miss this year. As always make sure that your alpaca marketing decisions are conscious decisions and assume nothing.
The big fall event in alpaca land
Wednesday, June 4. 2008
Our friends Al Cousill and Jude Andersen had a great show at the Alpaca Nationals in Sandy Utah.
Following on from winning the Reserve Light Suri Herdsire of the Year at the 2008 Futurity their full Accoyo boy, Pucara Kahuna, had great success at the 2008 AOBA Nationals.
He took first, second and third in Suri Bred and Owned male.
Kahuna at 10 years of age
They also took First in Bred and Owned female and followed that with first in the Alpaca Breeders Best Three category. Followed by another combination Kahuna progeny won the Get of Sire.
Al and Jude were thrilled when Kahuna offspring also won the White male Championship and the Reserve in the females.
2008 Yearling Show String
Several of the ribbon winning Pucara Kahuna cria are now for sale including the champions. We also have half shares available of the Kahuna male yearlings that excelled in the show ring in 2007 and 2008.
So for all you suri breeders out there get your check books out load up your females and head up to Pucara for some top flight genetics.
Well done Al and Jude...
Tuesday, June 3. 2008
Evita is pregnant.
She has been at North West Alpacas being bred to alpaca stud MFI Peruvian Impact before going off to her new home.
MFI Peruvian Impact
Evita was ultra-sounded on 6-2-08 and was confirmed pregnant by Dr. Paul Jones, the alpaca veterinarian. Dr. Jones remarked that she appeared to be about 22 days along. Which for an alpaca means she has about another 11 months to go. She will be re-ultrasound her on 6-16-08.
We are estimating her due date as 4-12-09. This date is often earlier than the actual delivery because we want to be alerted to the earliest possible birthing in case the cria is premature or the female needs to be moved to a birthing pen for observation.
The team at NWA will be spitting Evita off to see that she has maintained the pregnancy. Evita should be ready to travel after she has been pregnant 45 days.
Monday, June 2. 2008
Today there is a good weather forecast so I am getting stuck into the very many tasks that need to be done now that the warm wet weather has stimulated both the grass and the weeds into a frenzy of growth.....
I spent the entire day either riding one of two tractors or whacking weeds.....I really should have put the ear defenders on sooner as the noise of the bush hog takes its toll after an hour or so..
By the end of the day everywhere was looking much better and with the weds knocked back (we all know that they win in the end....) the plants and grass have a fighting chance.
Most of the pastures are thick with clover this year both the white clover and the pink or purple clover. I really must do some research and think about hitting them with a herbicide of some sort. If anyone has any tried and trusted suggestions please send them my way.
Clover - the pink variety.
Sunday, June 1. 2008
You may well know of my fascination with Sir Titus Salt the first person to exploit alpaca fibre on a commercial scale.
Way back in the 1850's Sir Titus who lived in the UK acquired alpacas from the Earl of Derby. Before Titus died he shipped most of them off to Australia or South Africa, both part of the British Empire at that time.
I recently heard about some of those shipments.
The first arrival of alpacas to Australia was one male and two females imported from England to South Australia in 1856 by John Haigh, nephew of Sir Titus Salt. apparently he sold them to Sir Thomas Elder, best known for starting a camel stud operation 400 kilometers north of Port Augusta in 1866.
We also know that in 1844, only 3 alpacas out of a shipment of 400 alpacas from Peru survived the voyage to England.
So I am, back on the trail again trying to work out where the 13th earl of Derby got his alpacas from and where they went when they eventually left Sir Titus. I think the poor people at Liverpool library in England are sick of hearing from me.
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