Sunday, December 17, 2006

What do you do with an alpaca??

This blog is dedicated to my friend, Cozmic. Because long ago I was asked what I do with my alpacas, and all I can say is, the internet ate my answer....

Seriously!! I wrote out this lovely answer that took me about an hour, and then after I hit the publish blog button, it said it couldn't find the connection and the blog disappeared into cyberspace.

So, here it is my friend!

Hay Cozmic!
I get to name the ones born on my ranch. We have a herd identifier: BMAR (Black Magic Alpaca Ranch) and all of our alpacas are registered with our national registry ARI- Alpaca Registry Inc.
We name all our 'characters' after the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit books- my very favorite books growing up. With the exception of Fanny Bryce- my daughter got to name her! So far we have had: Elrond, Pippin, Bilbo Baggins, Mithril (one of our llamas actually) Tinuviel, Elanor, Nenya, Lady Galadriel, Arwen Undomiel, Gil Galad, Faramir, Heathertoes, Mithrandir and Earendil..... I think that's it. I have one white male who doesn't have a name yet. Sometimes they just pop out and we know right away. Other times it takes a while, hmmm, that one isn't a Hobbit, is she Elven royalty? No.... what about an Ent, or a Ranger? LOL.
Not all alpacas are registered, but most alpacas are. It isn't a requirement, but it is good business, and reputable breeders always register. Registered alpacas cost more, for good reason. Their ancestry can be traced, and they are all DNA typed, making them more desirable. The Alpaca Registry just recorded their 100,000th alpaca registered! So our industry is indeed growing here in North America.
There isn't anyone who says which alpaca is 'okay' and which is not. A good breeding program speaks for itself, and good stock is easily recognized. There are books out there by industry experts that are all known for their recognition of what makes an alpaca an alpaca, like correct conformation, ear shape, topline and body structure. Some alpacas look "cuter" than others, but I have had older, less attractive alpaca ladies here on my ranch that provided me with the most spectacular offspring when the right breeding decisions have been made. Conversely I have seen some really great looking alpacas spit out some not so great looking crias. It is all based on phenotype and genotype and the hallmark of a good male or female is in the progeny they create.
There are two types of alpacas, the suri- which has long locks that are very lustrous and silky and hang down from the body, and huacayas- that have crimpy fleece and look like fuzzy teddy bears. We have two suri males, one gelding and one breeding male, and the rest of our herd are huacayas. Someday I want some suri females!

There is a funny video out there of someone spit testing with a snorkel on :)) I think it is an Aussie production LOL. I suggested rain gear because yellow and green are so festive together.... ha-ha.

Yes, alpacas produce one of the finest natural fibers in the world, 22 natural colors, very, very soft. And we shear them every year, once per year. I send out my fleece to get it processed into yarn and my mother in law crochets it for us. Above here are pictures of some of the wonderful things she makes. Not me, give me a crochet needle and I will poke my eye out with it.
I can spin, and do have a wheel- what I don't have is the time to do it! I want to learn how to weave, it is a dream of mine. Anyone wanna get me a loom for Christmas?? --wink-wink--
In our first three years of production we bred solely for black alpacas, and were successful at it 100%. Now, we want them in all colors! We have had crias in black, white, three shades of fawn, various grays- including rose gray, and next year are hoping for more gray and fawn.
We make all the decisions regarding matings. The boys and girls are kept seperately, and we move our little boys out from their mommas and girlfriends before they turn 1 year old.
Breeding decisions are based on several things, like- what color we would like, fiber characteristics, density of fleece, desirable dispositions, and overall conformation of the animal. If princess to Die For needs more density, and we would like to see straighter front legs, we will choose Prince Charming based on those characteristics.
If Lady Fire Breather needs an attitude adjustment, we will factor this in our decision when deciding her mate- with a gentle temperament in mind.
The future of our industry is indeed in the fleece. Building a viable and sustainable North American fiber industry is what every breeder is contributing to at this time. There are a few coops out there, the largest being the Alpaca Fiber Coop of North America- AFCNA where the members send in a portion of their clip every year and in return get shares in the coop and product at wholesale.
I hope this has answered some of your questions! If you want to know more about anything, just let me know okay?


Mousie said...

oh what a shame we live so far away, I have an old loom I don't use...i only knit and saw now...
rachelle dear is always such a pleasure to visit you and your furry friends.
love from Mousie

Gattina said...

It was adressed to me too ! That is all what I wanted to know. Thank you so much. Sitting here with my cats it seems so strange to me what you are doing. But it must be wonderful. The only thing that I am happy about is that I could choose my partner without looking at his legs, haircolor or other things to make suitable babies !

Rachelle Black said...

Gattina I want you to know I dreamt about a stunning black cat with the most striking lavender eyes the other night. It was all after visiting your paintings! :))
They are beautiful.
In the dream I was surrounded by cats, all gray or black. Then I looked up to see this special cat sitting up above me and I was mesmerized by her eyes.
Great dream!

Mousie my dear, boo-hoo! I wish you lived closer as well, and not just so I could use your loom.
Someday maybe I will visit you and stay in the little blue house.

cozmic said...

This is to my friend Rachelle, what a charming person you are!! Woo hoo, fancy someone dedicating something so interesting to me! Thank you so much for such an in depth write up I am so much more wiser now. May I be so bold as to suggest a name for your white alpaca 'Gandalf', after all he did change from Gandalf the grey to Gandalf the white.
Have a peaceful Christmas, as much as your animals will allow!! and may your prosperity grow by leaps and bounds in 2007,cozmic

Gattina said...

Just came to tell you that our suitcases are packed and Pookie sleeps in one ! Tomorrow at 7am we are off ! I am happy to escape the bad belgian weather !
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year !

mousie said...

just popping to wish all the family and the animals a very very happy Christmas...
love from Mousie

mousie said...

forgot to say:
In Brittany we know that on Christmas night humans and animals speak the same don't forget to visit the alpacas at midnight...mind, it's just once in a year.

Robyne said...

NOW I am envious!!I just checked on mapquest to see where Lebec is...what a gorgeous part of Ca..
No wonder your alpacas look so content....

best wishes

RD said...

This very an entertaining post, and I learned something new about alpacas (not that I knew much to begin with)! I think it is really neat that you have a "family operation" going on, as well. Your place sounds amazing.

Anonymous said...