Wednesday, September 10. 2008
Well if you like watching paint dry then ARI is the organisation for you.
The EPD issue was first raised into the consciousness of the AOBA membership in January 2008 and so in the last 9 months what has happened?
Well apparently ARI have developed an EPD Survey...... but hold on a minute because the AOBA survey is coming along soon.
Confused? You will be......there are two surveys. The Ari survey is about EPD's the AOBA survey about Strategic Direction....now I wonder why Tim McCarthy just resigned from the AOBA board?
The ARI site which is generally well constructed and designed contains no reference to the EPD programmes running in North America or in other countries for alpacas. Doesn't that strike you as odd !
And the list of potential traits is exhaustive there is no chance and I mean no chance of ever tracking so many variables across a large and meaningful virtual alpaca herd.
All you do by listing out so many traits is confuse and set expectations that will never be met. Plus there are traits listed which are derived from other traits which strikes me as a illogical.
If you ever wanted a great example of what happens when a committee puts together a survey this has to be a classic.
There is no mention of us ever seeing the results from this survey all we will ever see is the carefully crafted summary...why am I not surprised....
If you are serious about Alpaca EPDs then visit the EPD Library which contains a comprehensive set of articles on EPDs including the alpaca programmes that are currently running both here and in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
I think anyone who is interested seriously in EPds for alpacas and has the discipline to gather and report the data already belongs to the EPD programme that is already running in North America thanks to Virginia tech and is producing EPDs for the alpacas that are in the programme.
To be honest I think the EPD train left town some time ago....
Tuesday, September 9. 2008
The Mulberry alpacas hay field is about 7 acres in size and to be honest is of marginal value. It takes a great deal of time and effort to irrigate correctly and yields after all other direct costs only about $1200 per annum, so its doubtful in my opinion if it even makes money if fully costed.
Global prices for hops along with other beer ingredients such as barley and malt are currently on the rise due to a combination of prolonged drought conditions in Australia, a poor harvest in Europe, and a growing demand from breweries.
Hops climbing up the trellis
The cost of putting in hops is about $10,000 per acre which includes preparing the soil, erecting the trellis work and buying and planting the hops rhizomes.
Now I just need to get some costings for the Mulberry Micro Brewery !!!
Monday, September 8. 2008
The local farmers and growers tell me that the weather is going to be dry and warm for at least another month. This is very good news on two fronts:
Firstly, I might well get a third cutting of hay but I think that is a long shot given I haven't yet taken my second cutting after the total mix up at the start of the season.
Secondly, The annual alpaca show in Medford on Columbus weekend should be warm and dry which makes the whole event more enjoyable. Principally because the alpaca barn and show ring are in two different buildings.
I finally got my alpaca images shipped off or should I say uploaded to the publisher so now we sit and wait to see which images if any they select for the upcoming book on alpacas and llamas....fingers crossed.
The other BIG decision I made this week is to leave my females open this winter and breed them again in the spring of 2009. It was a tough call but I can't see the market recovering any time soon. Even the biggest farms are finding life hard.
Sunday, September 7. 2008
I have spent much of today creating, editing and sorting photographs for a book on alpacas and llamas. I am still some photographs short so need to go out and shoot some pictures once the afternoon light is at its very best.
Its quite interesting trying to work out what this book will look like, given I haven't seen a summary or even the chapter headings. Some of the photographs that have been requested by the publisher are a little odd. But there aren't many missing from my photo collection after all these years of taking alpaca pictures, so I should have most of them.
The weather in this part of the world is still beautiful and warm, in fact this is just about the hands down best part of the summer in my opinion.
Amazingly Google is 10 years old today - From zero value to $160 billion in 10 years! Now that is impressive.
Saturday, September 6. 2008
You may recall that on Thursday when the vet was here our new cria had an elevated temperature and the good news is that when I have retested it yesterday it was down to 101.2 which is much better.
I believe these little guys can bump there temprrature up quite quickly when they run about on a hot day and being small gives them a high ration of body mass to surface area so regulation temperature can be tricky.
No more sightings of the cougar (mountain lion) but my wife reports hearing something that sounded like a large dog running down the road in the early hours of Friday morning. It may well have been the cougar because I always expect dogs that chase you down the road to bark and run....but to just hear the running must have been very spooky.
I am going to set up a motion sensitive camera and try to at least get some pictures of our nocturnal guest.
Scouting cameras are an ideal way to track game movement, monitor the security of your property, and more. These high-tech tracking cameras feature an infrared sensor for instantaneous game capture. Basically you set up the camera and then leave it. If anything moves within 50 feet of the viewing angle it shoots a flash using infrared so the animal isn't startled...although in my case a camera that also startled the cougar might be a better idea!
Anyway that's my plan. Any pictures I get will go onto the alpaca blog.
Friday, September 5. 2008
When I was first getting started here in the USA more than one alpaca farmer told me that the smart thing to do with gelded alpacas is to donate them to 4H and take the tax write down.
What I eventually learnt from talking to accountants and 4H is as follow.
Firstly 4h is a non-profit but does not want any alpacas. What they want you to do is donate (or sell) them to the 4H members. Of course the 4H members do not enjoy non profit status so your donation is not tax deductible.
Further more if the gelding was produced on your farm it has no documented value and so even if 4H did want to receive the alpaca as a charitable donation there would be no write associated with it.
Bottom line as far as i can discover there is no tax benefit to be gained by giving away geldings from your own ranch.
I would very much like to hear from anyone who has an accountant with a different opinion.
Thursday, September 4. 2008
Dr Leslie Richardson our local alpaca vet came by with her assistant Dannie to check out the new cria that arrived last week and draw some blood for the BVD test and the ARI DNA testing card.
Dr Richardson is an excellent "shot" !
Young cria can sometimes be a real handful and getting them up off the floor is one way to ensure that they relax. Once their legs lose contact with the ground they do generally give up trying to escape.
Doing the blood draw.
This makes it much easier for the vet to hit her target and draw blood at the first attempt.
Always take enough blood on the first draw - there is nothing worse than having to back for more....
The cria is fine and has a slightly raised temperature so I will take it again tomorrow and see where we are. Anything over 102.6 and Dr Richardson has asked to be informed.
The Mountain Lion.
My neighbor has just called to say the Mountain Lion was seen near my property last night but took off when it was disturbed by the headlights of a car. Obviously we must maintain our precautions with lights and radio talk shows to give the impression of humans being around 24/7.
Wednesday, September 3. 2008
Today's major event is the 18th birthday of my only daughter Camilla Rose Stewart.
The farm is in good shape and nothing much to report on that front, the vet will be out tomorrow to check over our new cria.
Meanwhile I have been approached by the publishers of an upcoming llama and alpaca book about providing illustrations. I have no idea if my work will be accepted but I am very flattered to have been asked in the first place. I shall keep you posted if anything comes of this assignment.
The annual alpaca show AlpacaMania is now almost closed for entries which means we will be full and that is a huge achievement in the current climate. This event is now only weeks away so I better get planning the vet check which is my own part in the proceedings.
Tuesday, September 2. 2008
Long time friend and beneficiary of SOJAA funding, Dr. Christopher Cebra, DVM and colleagues at Oregon State University are about to embark upon a study to:
1) determine the incubation period from infection to symptoms with coronavirus (CoV),
Dr Chris Cebra - Oregons Alpaca Guru
Dr. Cebra’s work is based upon a previous study conducted by Ling Jin, PhD at Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon. Dr. Jin sequenced the genome of a CoV from an alpaca with diarrheal disease and compared it to that of several common bovine CoVs.
Her study has been published in the Journal of Virology, 365, 198-203, 2007. Overall, alpaca CoV was found to be very similar to the type II bovine CoVs that cause diarrhea and respiratory disease in cattle.
Close analysis suggests that the alpaca CoV shares a common ancestor with two of the bovine type II viruses. An interesting finding of this study was that the structure of the alpaca CoV is different from the bovine CoVs at a particular region of the genome that plays an important role in determining species specificity. This finding may explain the increased susceptibility of alpacas to the unique virus isolated from alpaca.
Dr. Crossley, and her colleagues at the Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, Davis California, will undertake the sequencing of the genome of a CoV isolated from the lung of an alpaca with ARS. From the sequence they will determine whether the alpaca CoV is the same or different from the CoV that it causes diarrhea in alpacas and causes both respiratory disease and diarrhea in cattle.
Both studies will increase knowledge within the alpaca industry of the many factors that surely contributed to the Fall ’07 outbreak in our alpacas and hopefully provide valuable data for preventing further outbreaks.
Monday, September 1. 2008
A herd of Elk spotted on the way home from Yachats.
Here we are back on the farm for the last day of our vacation. This is also the last day we will run irrigation in the hay field this year. After today we will let the field dry out then take our second and final cutting of hay. After which I move the fences around and let the alpacas go wild in there for a while.
We always keep some of the second cutting for our own use and this year the hay does look pretty good if I say so myself. Still best not to count our second cuttings just yet!
The big question to ponder upon today is breeding. Do we leave some females open until the spring of 2009 or do we breed now for Autumn babies next year? There are many considerations - not least of which, is trying to guess what state the economy and in particular the alpaca market will be in this time next year.... Time for some crystal ball gazing.
Sunday, August 31. 2008
No trip to the Oregon coast is complete without some whale watching..... it was rough out there!
Clan Stewart on the beach at Yachats - and for those that know us yes we did watch the Sound of Music.
Sunset on the last night with crashing surf in silhouette.....
Saturday, August 30. 2008
Friday, August 29. 2008
Today is the first full day of our three day vacation in Yachats on the Oregon coast.
The seaside town of Yachats - pronounced YAH - HATS
Starfish hanging out near the tidal pools.
Crashing surf - the locals say its amazing during the January storms and I have no reason to doubt them!
Thursday, August 28. 2008
Its always reassuring when you see a new cria urinate. A very good indicator that she is getting fluids and that her kidneys are working just fine. Of course unless you are eagle eyed and watch them all day there is a certain amount of good fortune involved. But better lucky than rich as my old man used to say.
Cria plumbing working just fine.
A new crias stools will be like tiny grains of rice so they are easy enough to spot on the ground. Speaking of alpaca stools I did take a sample from Lucy to the vet yesterday for a fecal test. Not because I thought she had worms particularly, but she just happened to deliver a sample as I walked past and I always keep a zip lock bag in my pocket when out in the alpaca paddock. They are extremely handy just for this very reason.
Wednesday, August 27. 2008
Well here we are at Wednesday half way through the week already and still one hundred and one things to do on the alpaca farm before I go on vacation for a few days.
Our new arrival is fine and is still called "Mia Sorella 08" until we can think of a new name for her. The sire is Paul Revere and I am very pleased with the results.
Mia Sorella '08
The vet will be coming out next Thursday to give the once over and draw some blood for the usual BVD test and a few drops for the DNA card required by ARI.
Well better get on there are some boys out there that need there toe nails trimming and time is moving right along.