Tuesday 14 February 2017

Elbow, Eucalyptus and ocean-going yachts...

Well, the 'alpaca year' is getting going already - entries are already open for the first couple of shows in the summer, so I've done those this evening. We are weaning last year's cria, and now halter training them, though that is taking time with just the weekends available. Hawkeye has taken to hard feed, but not Harvey.

We are having a few trees pruned, and that includes the Eucalyptus, which the alpacas love, so there is a great pile of branches which we are distributing slowly, to their obvious pleasure - I hang it up in the shelters, and they eat it, and rub their coats in it.
I recently assisted as a Handler and Ring Steward at the BAS judge training and certification week. For those unaware of this, the BAS re-assesses existing judges periodically to ensure consistency, and the opportunity is also taken to assess potential new judges (Apprentices) - the process involves setting up a show situation, almost exactly as in a real situation, with six sets of six alpacas in two rings running together - so at least 16 handlers and stewards were required, along with alpacas and shorn fleeces on loan -  the judges and apprentices judge  as if in a show situation, assessing and giving oral reasoning, followed by a written exam (apprentices only for the exam, I believe). This was all over-seen by two American judges and an Australian. It clearly took a tremendous amount of planning ahead, effort and organizing through the week, and it went very smoothly, with all due credit to the organizers. While the halter shows may not be a perfect, objective assessment of every characteristic of an alpaca, we can be reassured that considerable efforts are made to seek consistency in the process - ultimately a show result is purely an assessment made on the day, in those particular weather conditions, between those animals in the ring.
The senior group having 'breakfast'.
I was paddock hoovering on sunday, and over-filled the bin - I have a Muck Truck mounted hoover, and when facing downhill it tipped onto it's nose -  usually, I can climb on the platform and lean back, as if on an ocean-going racing yacht, and get it to tip back, but not this time - because the poo is wet at this time of year it is heavy and sticks to the front of the bin as it shoots in - so I had to lift from the front like an east European weight lifter - does anyone else have this problem, and have they fitted deflectors to correct it?

I'll leave you for now, listening to the new album by Elbow, where I noticed in a track titled, 'K2', the lines: "See you in Hull, in a sweater made of Atacama Llama wool"... either songwriter Guy Garvey was using poetic license and it was alpaca wool, or it wasn't as good a sweater as it might have been. I met, and shook hands with Guy Garvey at Glastonbury Festival in 2008 as we both queued up at the Cider Bus - we discussed their performance the day before, and it was just before the release of 'One Day Like This', which has become a modern classic - I'm sure I was the first person to recognize how good it was...................see you at the National Show.

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