Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shearing starts – then stops

Well, the show season has come to an end, that means one thing – it’s time to shear. Or at least it should be.

We started this year’s shearing with two of the weanlings, a couple of boys destined for wetherhood. You know, sometimes wethering some of these boys seems almost criminal, look at this one: rfleece

This is from Rudolph, one of this year’s drop, a Jolimont Warrior boy who, just a few years ago, would have been destined for a stud career. Today though, he just doesn’t cut it and will probably become a pet for someone early next year.

Doing all of our own shearing is a great advantage – it means that, instead of a mad couple of days, we can spread things out over a month.

Anyway… Rudolph and Bond are both overheating and so go to the front of the queue. Off with their fleeces and, like magic, there’s a sudden change in the weather. Rain, near freezing wind and two very cold boys.

shearingstarts “Can we have our fleece back please”

So we now have two boys in coats living in the very sheltered hospital paddock and shearing is on-hold until things dry out.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

National Show Diary

Wednesday 13th October

3am… There shouldn’t be a 3 am – it’s an offence against nature itself. But here we are – time to get up and start loading the animals. Four of our own to go to the show and three overspills for Ambersun.

A brief word about distance here, I know that many of the readers of this occasional blog are in Europe and the ‘old country’. To think, that when I used to live in Dover in South East England, I used to whinge about having to drive to Birmingham. Tamworth, where the National is held this year is about 1600km away (994 miles). That’s about the same as the driving distance between London and Gibraltar! Here, that’s considered to be a reasonable day’s drive.

That’s it really it for Wednesday – driving. 18 hrs solid driving, in convoy. Part of the South Australian Contingent along with Ambersun, Classic and Yaringa. We arrived in Tamworth at just after 11pm, got the ‘pacas into their stable and us into our tents.

Thursday 14th October

Hmm.. Camping seemed such a good idea at the time…

This year, the National Show is being held at the National Equestrian Centre at Tamworth. Here’s a tip for any horsey person who’s found this blog via google and is thinking of camping there – There are some really good motels in town!

Campsite at Tamworth

Camping plots are well equipped but are situated on ground that is either hard as concrete or soft as mud and is right on the edge of the New England Highway on the approach to a roundabout. Truck drivers are friendly characters – they like you to know that they are amongst the safest of road users by demonstrating their exhaust brakes throughout the night – some of the really friendly ones will even toot their air horns in a cheerful way to to say hello to the sleeping camper.

Most of the day spent getting the team back to something like show standard following the long journey.

Friday 15th October

Wet, wet, wet.

When we heard that the show was to be in Tamworth in spring, like most breeders, our concerns were with heat and humidity, not torrential rain and freezing wind. The quality of the animals here is jaw-dropping, even under less than ideal conditions, it’s clear that the standards are still getting better year-on-year.

National Alpaca Show 2010

We had a reasonable show – a second and four thirds out of our four animals and four fleeces, not bad at this level and a fair reflection of what we were showing (a list of excuses and reasons why things were less than ideal can be found on page 94).

National Alpaca Show 2010

Highpoint of the day – the cocktail party in the evening when the arts and crafts competition awards are made. Sarah has a first for a knitted item and I took a smattering of ribbons and the championship for photography with a portrait of Lysander called ‘Bad Hair Day’

Bad Hair Day - Lysander the soggy suri

Saturday 15th October

OK, I admit it – I’m a wimp. But I never want to go through a night like that again. Sarah went and slept in the car at 1:30. By 2:30 I was laying on the floor of the tent to stop it blowing away – there’s a river running under the groundsheet and a carbon fibre reinforced pole breaks under the strain. Tonight we find a motel.

Today is the last day of showing and again, the standard of the animals is breathtaking. Ambersun are the stars of the show, taking out most of the major championships. It’s encouraging though to see the increasing profile of coloured animals – Milduck in particular have a really great show with their browns.

Sunday 16th October

Ah… A real roof, a decent bed and a good night’s sleep. A return to the land of the living.

Last day. Association AGM, Sale and Junior judging championship.

I have to give a talk at the AGM about IT at very short notice – hopefully it didn’t go off too badly.

The sale goes reasonably well given the current economic situation with nearly all of the animals offered selling.

Monday 17th October

3am again. Time to hit the road again for the long drive home. We decide to come back a different way – using the Barrier highway via Broken Hill. A classic Australian driving moment at one point when the GPS in the ute shows the next junction as ‘turn right in 585km’. This really is a big country.

Great moment at Little Topar roadhouse out in the middle of nowhere – lots of questions about the Alpacas and we end up bringing out Puck and Kobe for photos – needless to say, they both love the attention and ham it up like they they were a couple of b-list celebs, posing for Hello magazine.

It’s gone midnight when we get back.

Next year it’s Sydney, so we’ll do it all again