Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tired but happy - Mt Pleasant Show

I don't know what it is about shows that makes them so physically and mentally exhausting. I meant to post this last night when we got back, but all we could manage to do was flop down and drink fizzy wine - Yup.. we were celebrating.

Quick recap. Mt Pleasant is the first show of the year for for us, a short-fleece event to start off the season. We were taking a show team of eight alpaca, four boys and four girls, the largest team we've shown, a mixture of high-hopes and try-outs.

The day didn't start well, it was raining for a start - normally we'd be thrilled about that, but not today.. Not today! We were running late, there were words...

But we made the showground in time (by minutes) and got settled in. The rain had stopped and the mercury started to rise - it turned into one of those horrible days that are thankfully very rare in this part of Australia, 35 degrees, but instead of our usual dry heat it was humid and sticky.

Judge for the event was Peter Kennedy from Canchones - He's an international judge, so some of you reading this in Europe and the US may have met him.

The show started with the Suris. We only had one Suri entry for this one, Lysander.

Second place for Lysander

We were thrilled of course to get a placing in our first class, but it was a small group (suris were poorly represented this year generally) and when Peter picked out the differences between first and second placings, well... we're still not sure of young Lysander's future career.

Lysander cooling off after the stress of his show appearence

Next came the big class for us, Junior brown female. No photo's of this I'm afraid as we had three animals entered so we were all showing rather than snapping. We seemed to be out there for hours, it was a tough class. Hermia and Chorus Girl missed out (although not by much in Chorus Girl's case). But (drum-roll....) Gypsy came first. We thought she was special, we were confident that she'd come away with something but first in that group was something we'll be glowing about for a long time.

So, Hermia is still a nice animal and will form an important part of our breeding program, Chorus Girl we'll show some more - she's a much better looking animal when she has a full fleece on and Gypsy... well, more about her later.

Gypsy was straight back into the ring for the best Junior line-up, that wasn't going to happen against the elite whites and light fawns, but at least it let me get a picture:

James with Gypsy being checked over again by judge Peter Kennedy

By this stage the day is becoming a bit of a blur..

Next came another of our tryout entries - Lulu. Lulu is a girl we brought as a good fit with our breeding program, but she's come on really well so we thought she was worth trying out in a show. It was a much smaller class than the Juniors, but she won us our second first place ribbon so she's coming with us to Stawell in Victoria in May.

(look at the state of my shoes - it was a really dusty show ring)

Yours truely with Lulu

Our next two were up against tough Ambersun competition, second place ribbons for both.

James with Drifter (Ambersun Futuris is the one the right, he came second in class in the nationals last year)

Same story again with Puck - second place after Ambersun's Shear Fortitude.

Finally, as if the day could get any better, it's the best of colour classes. So we're in there with Gypsy and Lulu and all the other brown first-place winners, eight blue ribbon winners in all and again, it seems to take ages.

The judge decides...

He collects the big green ribbon with the gold edging...

He walks over...

Looks like he's heading towards James...

He ties it around Gypsy's neck...

This is silly, but typing this a day later I've started shaking again...

Best brown alpaca in show

Total haul for the day, Two firsts, three seconds, three unplaced and a best in show in colour.

That's it until May now for the next show. But, for the time being, we're walking on air.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Arrrghhh - The Red Weed!

Anyone who has read HG Wells' War of the Worlds will recognise the reference to the Martian vegetation that grew everywhere, choked the rivers and 'glows purple in the night'.

In our case it glows purple in the morning and we haven't a clue what it is.

Purple haze isn't just a Jimi Hendrix track...

It's weird, no-one around here knows what it is and it's only coming up in a single north-facing paddock. The recent rain has started to transform the land already with green shoots coming through everywhere replacing what was dead grass and dust only a week ago. But this stuff - it's a mystery - it's possible that it's something that has stayed dormant in the soil for years and has been woken up by the freakish weather we've had. There was nothing on Saturday, it all just appeared on Sunday morning and today (Monday) is a public holiday so I still can't get it identified.

It looks like a grass of some kind, but beyond that? No idea...

What an exceedingly odd country this is...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Old dog, new tricks...

Halters.... You've got to love 'em.

I've been whinging for some time now about alpaca halters. If they fit well, they look horrible and the ones that look good for shows never seem to be a good fit. So, with the aid of the internet, I've been teaching myself basic leatherwork.

Here's the first attempt...

And, as modeled by Puck who it was made to measure for...

Could be a whole new market.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Meet the show team

The first show of the year is almost upon us.

The season starts for us with the Mount Pleasant Show on 21st March. Due to the time of year it's judged under short fleece rules. That makes it a show that, despite being a fairly small one (150-200 animals usually), is considered quite important as the overall standard of the animal is as important as the fleece.

So here's the team:

The boys


Our Jolimont Warrior boy, just over a year old now. We've just had to reclassify him for colour (hoping that the registration will be through in time, otherwise it could be a disqualification). He spent last year as a black; but after many arguments we've agreed that he is a very dark brown. It's been a difficult call, his fleece, at the skin, is black, but it immediately fades a tiny bit. So, by the letter of the regulations, he's black, but by the spirit of them, he's dark brown.


I should explain first that we have two herd codes on the farm. The Prados herd is registered to Sarah and yours truly, the other herd - Kobler Alpacas are registered to our son James who's living with us while he finds a property for himself. Drifter is one of his, but we show together.

Drifter is a nearly three year old dark fawn boy with a real macho presence. He's already won a couple of ribbons and with Highlander on both sides of his pedigree he's one of our hopes at this outing.


We really don't know what to make of Choco...

We brought him as a gamble from a breeder who was leaving the business for next to nothing because we thought he had potential. At nearly two, we have to decide what to do with him soon.

He is, without doubt, a good stud male. We've shown him a couple of times and he came away with a second place at both the Colour Classic and the Royal Adelaide Show last year. Trouble is, that they were small classes each time and we're not sure that 'good' is good enough these days.

Mount Pleasant could well decide his future career.

The only Suri that we're taking to the show (our champion boy hasn't got enough fleece back yet even for a short fleece show). Lysander, like Choco, is borderline for whether or not he has stud potential. It's sad in a way, just a few years ago both of these animals would have been champions, the standards have come so far in such a short time that now we're having to ask difficult questions about whether or not they have breeding potential.

The Girls

One of James' animals, we brought Gypsy for him as a Birthday present and she's a bit special. I think that the best brown female I've seen in South Australia is her full sister Goldie - an amazing animal who is never shown. Gypsy isn't quite as good, but she's close (and we brought their mother as well for ourselves at the same time). The Junior brown female class is larger than it's ever been at this show, but we hope Gypsy will come away with something.

Chorus Girl
She'll be in the same class as Gypsy. Chorus Girl is another of our Highlander line animals. How she does depends on the competition and the taste of the judge, some think she's over-fleeced around the face. We'll see how it goes.

Our Coonawarra Gladiator girl. Her pedigree reads like a who's who of Australian genetics. But, how can I put this? Just carrying the genes isn't enough. She's in the same class as Gypsy and Chorus Girl. She's probably just going for the ride.

Older, half-sister to Gypsy. Lulu is our wildcard entry - we really haven't got a clue how she'll do. Fingers crossed.

Well, that's the team. We're not entering any fleeces for this one, it's a busy show year ahead and they get pulled apart so much by the judges that we want to save our potential show fleeces for for the big shows later in the year.

I'll let you know how it goes in a couple of weeks...


Rain Rain Rain!

It's finally raining!

Now, I know this will mean very little to readers in Europe, but for us here at chez Prados, it's a major event. There have been a few little showers, but we've had no serious rain since August last year. The paddocks are almost dust bowls and the feed bill is going through the roof - our fussy alpacas are not that keen on the meadow hay we cut last year so we've had to buy in lucerne and wheaten for them.

It's all we can do not to run out and dance in the garden.

While we didn't quite do that, the temptation to take out the camera was too great.

Prados Friar Franc1s (Frankie)

Frankie's two months old now and has never experienced rain before - he really is as confused as he looks in the picture.

Nice weather for ducks

We don't use pesticides or other chemicals on our veggie plot, just alpaca poo as fertaliser and a pair of Indian Runner ducks for 24/7 slug and snail patrol.


Is there anything in the world quite as pathetic as a wet Suri?

X-Rated Webcams

Well, at the very least, that heading should drive up the traffic statistics on the blog...

'In the spring autumn a young man's alpaca's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.' No question, Tennyson was definitely writing for the Northern Hemisphere and he never gave a moment's thought to camelids.

Yes folks, it's mating time here at the Prados herd, hormones are ruling everything and the paddocks echo to the gentle sounds of 'orgling' boys.

Last weekend was the peak of activities with, at one point, each one of our four certified boys, Drifter, Choco, Iquique and Colin the super-suri, working at the same time (hence the images on the webcam)

Then on Sunday, it was down to Softfoot to introduce one of the girls to the amazing Softfoot Corroboree ( - now there's a fleece to aim for.

We tend to like late summer-early autumn births here. Although, in the traditions of all best laid plans, it hasn't worked out that way so far...