Three works shops are being held at SAHA June 1-2. On June 1, 2018 come and learn to crochet. This will be our first Stitch 'N Sip so bring a bottle of wine to share! On June 2, 2018 SAHA will have two workshops, one to learn to crochet socks and the second will be dimensional weaving! We are excited to have these two wonderfully talented teachers Joi Chupp and Jonne Davis to share their wealth of fiber knowledge with us. You don't want to miss this opportunity to learn a new craft to use up that yarn that is just laying around shouting to be used in a project. Information is below on the flyer.
Shearing Date is April 14, 2018. We will be starting at 8 am and will probably be done by 11 am. If you want to see this done in person come on out! Bring a chair and dress warm as the weather is unpredictable!
For those with LGD (livestock guard dogs) how do you keep them in with the animals? Ours roams all night. I have been notified that they have been spotted on a trail cam over two miles away! Before any of you say, put up a fence. I have a fence! They dig under the fence! I have patched the fence and they find a new hole! I have put down chicken wire, but seriously do I need to do it to the entire perimeter of 15 acres? Just when I thought I had time to work on my crafts!
These dogs are about to put me in the looney bin!
Top is Max with my daughter Olivia, the sleeping bear is Cosmo and the yellow dog is Talon. Max would get out but he would stay in the yard. Cosmo did not get out but once he did he would roam. Neither will come back when you are yelling at them to, “Stop”, “Leave It”, or “mine”. There is nothing more hard headed than a Great Pyrenees! I am concerned for their safety as well as them being a nuisance to the neighbors!
Talon is a rehomed dog from a family that had medical issues. He is a good dog but he will not be contained and he chases cars! Ok, I hear it now, “How is he a good dog?” Well he is good when he is in with the animals. He is not food aggressive with them and does not bark at them when they come by his food bowl. He appears to not bark as much as the Max or Cosmo. I swear I think they can hear a gnat fart two counties away!
Then there are Percy and Sophie. These are the girls. Both have been spayed so that is not an issue but they also don’t like to be contained. Sophie has an issue with the knees on her hind legs. The ligaments are stiff and she does not walk normally, more like crabs moves around. But she has amazing upper body strength. When she gets out she like to lay right by the road. We have had countless people stop by to let us know our dog has been hit. Once she was laying in red clay and it got on her coat. We had three people stop to let us know our dog was bleeding and having trouble walking and should probably see a vet. Nope it is just Sophie laying by the dang road!
The bottom of our fencing looks like Stanford and Sons truck unloaded along it. We have pipes, logs, bricks, cinder blocks, concrete, rocks, you name it we have probably used it to chink up a hole! On Sunday we again fixed the fence! We not only worked on the holes in the bottom of the fence but we worked on the over the top places as well.
All is well! NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They were in the pastures on Monday, they were in the pastures on Monday night. They were not in the pastures on Tuesday morning! ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Before heading off to work on that gray but warmish morning, I was once again out in the barn yard chinking up holes in the fence!
I priced an invisible fence system for the dogs, for what we will need it will be close to $1000. We have an electric fence charger but not the fence or the insulators. What to do, What to do? I refuse to chain them up, doesn’t matter as they can snap a chain. Well the ones I had on a dog chain.
After Christmas I will put up the electric wire and see where that gets me. I will get batteries for the training collar for Talon to make him stop chasing cars. I did read a blog from a LGD trainer that called most LGD owners lazy, stupid, and ignorant. I don’t think I fall under that heading but I do think I totally under estimated the stubbornness of the Great Pyrenees!
As I sit here this early morning I contemplate my alpaca adventure. It all began about 4 years ago this time of the year. My darling husband gave me three alpaca for Christmas in 2013. I call it an adventure because there was absolutely no discussion, planning, or research on these magical creature before that cold evening in December 2013, when they arrived!
We had a make shift horse barn, with three stalls, attached to a garage. There was absolutely no fencing at ALL!!! Who does this kind of thing? Not to mention no hay or feed for these poor cold babies! My darling husband was so proud of himself, because he had listened to me. What???? When??? I don’t think I has happened since. Why was he not listening when I said I wanted to vacation in Hawaii? These are questions for another time (rant). Apparently we had gone to a home show in a neighboring town and there were tow alpaca there. I off handed said “I wished I had an alpaca.” GEEZZZZZ
Fast forward 4 years, we now owned or co-own 33 alpaca and one llama. It has been a wild ride to say the least. Which brings me to my morning “reflection”. In my alpaca ignorance I assumed all alpaca was soft, luxurious fiber, having once owned a yarn shop where we sold alpaca yarn! Well it is not! Quite the shock for sure! You see most of my initial alpacas were rescues and when I was gifted them I had no idea you registered them! What had my darling husband gotten me into? Through lots of detective work and patience (plus money) we now have all the alpacas registered! I digress….. Back to the point.
Two years into owning alpacas it became clear to us that we needed to have a plan or reason for owning alpaca. You might say for the fleece! Yes, that is a “good” reason to won fiber animals. But it did not apply to our circumstance, I had two years of fleece stored and absolutely no idea of how to “mainstream” utilize it. You might ask “how is that?” As most of our herd were rescues the fiber was not so good, high micron count. We did have a few animals with “ok” fiber. I tried “Spin A Pound/Get A Pound”, unfortunately I ended up with spinners who needed more experience! I forged on with the “art” yarn and knitted scarves, hats, and other items that eventually sold in our “farm store” (yet another rant topic). Thank goodness most of it is now gone! During this time we realized if we were going to make any return on the fleece we needed a good consistent supply. How to accomplish this? Breeding!!!
Yes we will breed better fleece animals! Having my Biology 101 skills dusted off I proceeded to select breeding pairs for these new wonderful fleece animals. Then math kicked! Ok if we do produce better fleece animals with our current herd, how long will it be before we see any noticeable change. Being analytical here is the formula:
Gestation for an alpaca is 11.5 months (1 year), Breeding age is about 2 years of age, and how many alpacas have acceptable fiber? Female alpaca with acceptable fiber was determined at this time by feel, as I was not about to pay for fiber analysis! Brilliant on my part! So we had 6 females that we determined had decent fiber. Each female was pared with a male that we determined (I did as my darling husband was undecided) would boost the deficiencies in the fiber! Oh so scientific! NOT!!!
1 year gesitation X 6 females X 2 years before breeding = in three years will have 6 better fleece animals breeding
So assuming the statistics that not all will have better fleece, drop that number to 4 better fleece animals. How much better? Hmmmm…. Now I need a quantitative way to measure this. Crap I will have to pay for fiber analysis! So I did and the results are promising! Now you can say, job well done! Not YET! I now have four alpaca with better fleece, 4/33, those are not good odds! In another three years I could have 7/33 alpaca with better fleece. Holey Moley! This is not stacking up to be the way to go, as I want to retire at some point and have the alpacas already self-sufficient!
So what to do, what to do! We made the leap to purchase alpaca known to have great fleece. Pricey yes, but well worth the investment! So excited to see what these lovely alpaca do with our herd!
Results of my “Garbage breeding”, 2017 EPDS:
Dam Sire Offspring
AFD 0.132 -0.636 -0.544 (f)
AFD 0.777 Not Reported 0.054 (f)
AFD 0.922 -0.566 0.064 (f)
AFD -0.659 -0.383 -0.575 (f)
AFD 0.834 -0.380 0.496 (m)
In most of my choices I did improve achieve a better fleece offspring than the dam but not so with the sire. But now I have better breeding females to put with the better males, short of line breeding.
Results of the animals we purchased, 2017 EPDs (offspring has not been tested):
Dam Sire (2016) Sire(2017)
AFD -1.332 -2.514 -1.845
AFD -1.180 -1.497 -1.845
AFD -1.286 -2.514 -1.845
AFD -1.293 -1.497
AFD -1.438 -2.514 -1.845
Based on where I am with my “breeding program”, average decrease in AFD of 0.543/year, it will be approximately 3-4 years before I have anywhere near the AFDs of the purchased alpacas. I feel confident we are going in the right direction!