Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The story of an elite female!

Maybe it is because the 2015 show season is nearly upon us; or maybe it is because I can feel the excitement of those exhibiting at the BAS National Show for the first time; but I have been doing a little reminiscing. Attending the shows is still exciting, and we look forward to catching up, but nothing can beat those early days. Being in awe of the prize winning alpacas. In fact being in awe of everything...nobody knows who you are, but you know all about them!

One of my fondest memories relates to 2010, when we went as spectators to the British Alpaca Futurity (there was no way at that point that we were going to have a show team). We watched the judging, attended the lectures, and roamed around the trade stands...but nothing could distract me from a certain alpaca at the show...she wasn't in the ring, she was in the elite auction...Ep Cambridge Lady Gaga was the most beautiful female I had ever seen.

We set ourselves a limit of £10,000...then another for £12,000...how much did we want this beauty??? the auction in those days was rather like EBay, who ever had the highest bid at closing was the winner (none of this extending the time). Tactics were required...and a determination that she was going to be ours...it took £13,600 but were ecstatic. I kept going around singing...alternating between Bad Romance and Poker Face!

It wasn't all good news, she did unfortunately, before delivery, have a premature cria which was still born. We then made the decision to leave her at Ep Cambridge for a mating, awaiting the import of Waradene St Patrick of EPC. We did this, and then being so impressed with the boy, we bought him as our first elite stud male...yes, the bug had well and truly bitten.

A massive investment? Yes...and one of the best that we have made...

Ep Cambridge Lady Gaga arrives at Beck Brow in November 2010...showing the boys what they have missed...already pregnant thank you

She went on to produce Beck Brow Snooty Boots with St Patrick...a beautiful mid fawn female who has her parent's presence and style.

Lady Gaga and Snooty Boots

Beck Brow Snooty Boots newly shorn summer 2011.

This year Snooty Boots went on to produce a stunning blue black male sired by Viracocha Black Sabbath (proving once again that St Patrick carries a black gene)

Snooty Boots with Beck Brow Jimmy Choos.

Lady Gaga produced a female for us again in 2013 (after being left over the previous year) another St Patrick mid fawn, pretty as a picture and full of curls...

Beck Brow Cats Pyjamas

Cats as she was fondly known, went on to become Supreme Champion (Northumberland Show 2014). She loved her time on the show circuit...kissing everyone who showed interest in her the pen.

Beck Brow Cats Pyjamas (with Jean who received many a kiss)

We have had many enquires as to whether any of these girls would ever be for sale. So, pregnant again to St Patrick, and a cria due in 2014, we decided if Gaga had another female we would consider putting the offspring up for sale. And Gaga did have another female; Beck Brow Posh Pants. This time beige like her dam.

Lady Gaga with Posh Pants

Well I have considered it...that is all that I said...it might have been easier if she too didn't flip over her tail and come for kisses. Posh Pants is staying...I will convince Paul!!

Beck Brow Posh Pants.

The moral of the story? It just takes the investment in one excellent female for it to have a big impact on a small herd. From one elite female we now have four from the same family and a stunning potential stud male too. And cria due from Cats, Boots and Gaga in the spring and summer...exciting!

Okay I may have repeated this process more than once to have the herd that we have, but these elite females pay dividends! The plan might work even better if I could bring myself to part with more of course!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Happy New Year...a time for reflection?

The 2nd of January....always a time for reflection?

Well it's always good to have a brief glance back at what the previous year brought. However, I am not really one for lingering on either the good or the bad that has gone before...I just like to look forward at what opportunities and excitement might lie ahead. I will just say that 2014 was kind to us.

This outlook on life, I suspect has never been more so than since the obsession with alpacas took hold, for of course we start thinking towards spring and the start of the birthing season. I have been finding it rather difficult to keep a lid on my excitement at the prospect of what Cambridge Stargazer (sired by  Windsong Valley Firedragon pregnant to Beck Brow Explorer) might produce for us. So, I was struggling with my glass half full approach, when I found her looking over an aborted female foetus that I found in the barn this morning. 

The size fit with her gestation period. However, with further detective work undertaken, I am pretty sure that it is Holly who has lost her cria. Holly is eleven years old and was pregnant to St Patrick. Paul and I had just been discussing the fact that we would probably keep Beck Brow Honey Bun (Holly and St Pat cria from 2014) as it might be Holly's last female. Shame:(

The other aspect of the New Year is looking forward to the show season. This has a lot to do with getting together with everyone after the winter months, as well as checking out the competition. Having been heavily involved with the BAS National Show organisation in 2014 and again in 2015, I can't really pretend that it has only come to mind in January, but I am looking forward to getting out and about. This will be the last year that I will be Chairing the committee, so I am already looking forward to 2016 when I can exhibit stress free! Don't pretend that you having thought about your show team for 2016 already...they might not be born yet...but we all have plans!

One for the 2015 team...Beck Brow Trendsetter (dam: Bozedown Celestrial. Sire: Beck Brow Explorer)

One thing in our alpaca lives that has been difficult to avoid looking back upon, has been the decision to take a herd of 40 alpacas on agistment. The alpacas arrived late 2013, under difficult circumstances and many were in a state of either stress, ill health, or both. It has been a challenge that took up a great deal of time in 2014. All bar one are now a picture of health which is satisfying (we still have a female under weight).  

But the most rewarding part, is the change in their disposition. Alpacas who screeched, spat, bit and  kicked when they arrived, now eat from my hand. This aggressiveness was such abnormal behaviour for alpacas, we deduced that it could only be due to fear. The ones who didn't attack kushed in submission or flipped over their tails and urinated. It was a distressing experience and It has taken a lot of time and patience, but without exception, we have gained their trust. 

Lisa, arrived with barely any fleece, such was the damage from mites. We were told that she was near impossible to handle and thus treat properly. Well, admittedly she was very reluctant to be held, so we penned her and sprayed her with Eprinex and maggot oil using a plant spray, holding her only to do her face and ears. Within three weeks I could catch her and treat her single handedly. I reflect on this because, yesterday I caught Lisa's cria when she wasn't expecting it, for a fleeting moment a panic crossed her face, then she remember she was safe. She rushed, then slowed, as she approached, smelt my head, tapped me on the shoulder with her nose and squeezed in for attention too.

We had a lovely family Christmas this year, with our granddaughter Hettie making it four generations present. It was very relaxing as we all mucked in with the morning alpaca rounds and preparation of lunch. Only one minor hiccup, when Craig, who had promised to peel the vegetables, couldn't find the only potato peeler he could apparently use (news to us). We searched the utensil drawers, finding three, but no...not the one he wanted. Having revealed that he had used it the last time he stayed, we accused him of throwing it out with the peelings.. that was me about to submit and peel, but Paul never one to give up, found it. This was after searching for far longer than it would have taken to peel the potatoes and boil them....and certainly far longer than the two potatoes it took Craig to break said potato peeler. Craig did the washing up....

Hettie dressed in one of her Christmas gifts

Happy New Year!