Saturday 18 August 2018

10 years on.

18th August 2008: "Alpacas due at 5.00! I am beside myself with anticipation..."

 - this is the opening sentence in my first 'alpaca diary', the log book of our herd, the record of husbandry, health, shows, matings, births, paddock development, maintenance, shelter construction, fleece development, yarn and product creation. So today is the tenth anniversary of an extraordinary period that began, like so many breeders, with wondering what to do with an acre that was too much for growing vegetables - our son suggested buying a sit-and-ride mower, but I couldn't see the point of burning petrol to cut grass, so three female alpacas were purchased to do that job, and to produce cria, to earn their keep. While being introduced to the potential of alpacas by Chas and Rachel at Classical Mile End, Joy declared, 'well you won't catch me spinning at a wheel' didn't take long before she was spinning, felting, weaving and tutoring, and we built a 'fibre studio', where she creates amazing garments, which completes the 'field to fashion' circle.

After a few months, I started writing a blog, and in the days before Facebook (what?) a merry little group of bloggers including Mark (Patou), Barbara (Beck Brow), Debbie (Barnacre), Rosemary (Westhill), Jayne (Zanzibah) and Shirley (Tigh Mohr) shared their experiences via. their blogs.

Inevitably, we needed to expand, and managed to purchase a couple of acres adjoining our property, divided up the paddocks, installed 'bio-secure' fencing, and built shelters, as our numbers increased depending on sales and births, and we have male groups, weaning groups, nursing female groups and older female groups.

We've particpated in the 'show circuit', and enjoyed winning a Championship, a couple of Reserve Champions and a 2nd place at the BAS National, all from our own breeding.
Apple Vale Fortune

As we've progressed, we've enjoyed introducing new owners to alpaca ownership and breeding, and breeding our own stud male, whose offspring have had success in the show ring this year.

Having named the herd Apple Vale (as we live in a vale, in an apple-growing village), our source for all new cria names is the apple-growers list of apple varieties, and it's proved to be a rich source, working through the alphabet annually - depending whether we have males or females, some names are more appropriate than others, and fortunately we haven't needed to use names such as, Dog's Snout, Broxwood Foxwhelp, Catshead or Goof! Unless we have a large birth numbers in the coming relevant years, we're not likely to use Nonnetip Bastard, Swiss Limbertwig, Westfield Seek-no-Further, Rusty Coat, or Reverend W Wilks as names.

With all of this we have also made new friends, some we see frequently, while others may be only annually at the shows, but it's always good to catch up on developments.
Apple Vale Jupiter

This week our later batch of cria started arriving, with a near-identical brother for Jupiter, again sired by Alpha Polaris, and this time one leg was turned back, which Joy turned around while I held screeching mum 'Apples', at the front. Kitageskee (Kit) is named after an apple variety cultivated by Cherokee Indians.
Apple Vale Kitageskee