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Archive for February, 2013

Inaugural North Island Colourbration Show – Jenny Durno, NZ

The first thing that occurred to visitors of the Alpaca Section of the Waikato Show, Claudelands in May 2012 was how attractive this area was. When you walked in from the ‘show’ side, fresh from the Antique Halls and the sideshows, you were treated to an attractive array of displayed fleeces on one side, all arranged in colour order and festooned with ribbons.  The sought after broad sashes gaily proclaimed the best, the Supremes and Champions of the show, but even the place ribbons added to the overall impression that someone cared and was proud of this part of the show.  You only had to pause for a moment to see people from the public attracted to the baskets of ‘feel me’ fleeces, Huacaya and Suri and then look up and around to appreciate the wealth of beautiful colours in front of them.

On the other side were the equally well set out trade stands, with every imaginable use of alpaca celebrated and displayed to great advantage.  Gorgeous clothes, stylish hats and shawls, funny or funky ornaments and jewellery;  the creative people in the alpaca industry proved that they can provide a wide range of viable products in a sophisticated and business-like retail environment. 

Smack in the middle as you came in was a busy looking ring with intriguing items ranged around – the obstacle course. Obstacle course!  Cool!  When do we see the alpacas do this?  Soon – do you want to lead an alpaca around yourself?  Wow!  And babies!  The name-the-cria competition attracted a crowd several people deep and some excited participants had to be reminded that this little creature was only a few days old.  Please don’t rattle the cage!

If visitors could get past the appeal of the Mums and crias they could sit for a while and watch the more serious business of judging. With Huacaya in one ring and Suri in the other, the differences were very clear to anyone and many members found themselves hosting impromptu lessons on the attributes of one type of alpaca over another.  We were very proud of our judges and their comprehensive explanations of why they were placing one animal over another; great for us as breeders as always, but very informative for the general public who had just learned that they were not looking at llamas.

But we were only half way around the hall. The pens themselves were an attraction at this show – bright branding, high branches of greenery, more ribbons proclaiming the success of the cool customers nestled in their clean straw.  With plenty of clean pathway between the rows of pens we saw whole families with pushchairs becoming well acquainted with mature or young, white or coloured Huacaya and Suri. Comparing big brown eyes to fleece covered faces, cute little ones nosing in the chaff together or big imperious males haughtily checking the bigger picture, people of all walks of life were smilingly choosing their favourites.

This was an attractive show all right. Well conceived, well put together and well attended by the very people it was designed for. It was a credit to its organizers, the participants and the Alpaca Association.  It deserves its place on the busy show calendar. 


Where in the World? – Alpaca property around the globe

As this is a new online blog for the alpaca world, I thought it would be interesting to compare alpaca properties that can be found for sale around the world. I have been told about properties in the US, Australia, France and the UK.

France

The first one is taken from the internet and is here on the web – Click here

Alpaca farm with 5 bedrooms and a 1 bed annexe – an ideal B&B 397,500 Euros

This is an ideal business opportunity. Ready to welcome B&B guests and an alpaca farm! Or just move in and enjoy the views.

Sitting proudly on the hillside, overlooking the land, you can keep an eye on your alpacas from the house.
Over 6 acres of land, all fenced to make six separate paddocks and bordered by a stream on the lower edge.
The house is beautifully renovated and has 4 good sized bedrooms and a single room as well as a self-contained annexe with one double room adjoining the house.

The alpacas are not included in the price of the property but could be sold direct if you wanted to continue this business.

The Vienne was formed in 1790 from parts of the historical regions of Poitou, Berry and Touraine. The department tends to slope downwards from the north to the south with the highest point reaching 764 ft and the lowest point being 115ft at the confluence of the River Creuse and the River Charente. The department gets its name from the River Vienne, which flows straight down the centre.
Poitiers is the departmental and regional capital and boasts France’s oldest Christian building, the Saint Jean baptistery, constructed back in the fourth century. The town has some fine examples of Romanesque architecture, is a pleasant small city, and visitors will find a relaxed atmosphere, especially compared to Paris. It is home to around 90,000 people including many students thanks to the popular university. Poitiers is also a good base to visit nearby towns and cities. A lot of retirees move to the city and its’ environs, attracted by its warm climate (snow is rare).

The second French property comes from Leah Ducaud

Rare opportunity to buy an old farmhouse with 16 hectares set in a stunning location overlooking the forest of the Double. Peace and tranquility without being isolated as the property is the last in the small hamlet, with instant access for riding, cycling and walking in the beautiful forest surrounding the edges of the property on three sides.
A large entrance hall leads to the carefully restored and well-equipped kitchen and dining room and also to the master bedroom, the bathroom and the toilet. The large master bedroom has a south-facing window looking out onto the garden and has an elegant stone fireplace. The bathroom contains a bath, shower and wash basin, it’s exceptional size can also house a washing machine and tumble dryer if required.
The second bedroom (currently used as a child’s bedroom and playroom) will comfortably hold a double bed and furniture and also has a pretty stone fireplace.
The living room serves also as an easily converted temporary guest room for the moment and is ideal for a small family.
An adjoining barn has enormous potential for conversion into a large sitting room and dining room with a mezzanine ensuite double bedroom.
Another large barn and stables adjoin the first barn giving a total of 220m2 of outbuildings.
The south side of the property has a terrace overlooking a large fenced garden with vegetable garden and poultry pen and on to the surrounding fields and forest. There is also a convenient well, situated in the courtyard, for watering the gardens and livestock. The orchard, populated with various young fruit trees is positioned just to the side of a large parking area at the farms entrance.
The land is particularly well-cared for with around 13 hectares already fenced with posts and sheep wire to 1.2m high (currently used for alpacas) and topped with a strand of electric fencing (currently used for horses). A large wooden field shelter provides shelter in two of the fields close to the house not bordered by the forest.
The only unfenced field is situated furthest from the house and borders a small river and is well sheltered on all sides by mature trees, it also contains a fresh water source with a delightful natural pond.
Sadly for sale as relocating closer to family in the Charente, this beautiful property is immediately habitable but with further scope for renovation or restoration if required.

Available at 299,000 Euros Click here for website

Over to the USA now, and the Silken Suri Ranch, having been posted on Facebook, where I saw it!

Beautiful home in the Golden Foothills Walkout basement 3 car garage Vaulted cathedral ceilings 2 story windows with amazing views An open kitchen boasts cherry cabinets silestone counters and wood flooring Out buildings and fencing set up perfectly for horses or alpacas Main floor laundry Only 20 minutes from Golden Black HawkCentral City Flat acreage Close to Centennial Cone Open Space Priced at $489,000 Please click here for the website for more information.

Also in the USA is this property in Oregon in the US

This is a stunning executive home with views, sited in a peaceful forest above Twin Oaks School. Fir & cherry flooring with walnut, slate & brass accents, soaring ceilings in the living room, wine room, sprinklered grounds, 150 gpm well & lots of wildlife. The property is a perfect country estate with barns, corrals & fenced pastures. Adjacent 5 acre lot is also available. This one is priced at $625,000 (US dollars) Click Here

In Eastern Washington State, close to Idaho border – Click here for link

310 acres for your private estate or hunting paradise. Amazing views. Borders thousands of acres of timber company land which borders national forest. 3800 sq ft country ranch home with a daylight basement started. Built with concrete filled Superform ICF blocks for superior insulation and strength. There is a drilled well. A 2nd rustic cabin with storage building/garage. Good water, timber resources, power, phone and access. 2 creeks run through the property. Numerous springs. One captured spring supplies the cabin with water. Several ponds. Property for sale at $599,000.

UK

In the UK there is an amazing opportunity to purchase a fantastic on-going business in the Ashdown Forest. The llama Park, has been established for years, and is a thriving tourist attraction.

The sale of Ashdown Forest Llama Park offers a rare and exciting opportunity to acquire an attractively located small residential country estate with stunning views and access directly onto Ashdown Forest combined with a purpose designed and built visitor centre and retail outlet including extensive shop area, coffee shop, restaurant and conference room.  The vendor established the Ashdown herd of llamas and alpacas in 1987 and from the Park has been pro-active in promoting the camelid industry in the UK for the last fifteen years.  In addition to breeding and selling good quality llamas and alpacas raised in a stress free and caring environment, by operating as a visitor attraction, the aim has been to educate the public about llamas and alpacas. (for further detail see http://www.llamapark.co.uk).  The local Planning Authority have recognised the site to be an important tourist venue indicating that it would give serious considerations to other uses ancillary to the tourist use and/or assisting the existing business, subject of course to Planning Permission.  The estate is set in undulating pasture and extends in all to about 32 acres.

ASHDOWN FARMHOUSE:

Ashdown Farmhouse is a detached Farmhouse built in 1997 being of brick and tile hung elevations under a tiled roof and benefitting from oil-fired central heating and double glazing.

The llama park is available for sale for £1.6million. If you would like to see more details, please click here.

 


Life in Godzone (aka Paradise) (aka New Zealand) by Robyn Anderson

Kia Ora everyone

Alan, thanks for asking me – you never cease to amaze me with your ideas for marketing, and for pulling the alpaca community together.  It’s lovely.

Why Alpacas?  My first encounter with an alpaca was around about 1986 in downtown Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand.  There were moves afoot to introduce these beautiful animals with the magnificent fleece into New Zealand .  There was a llama and an alpaca and we were invited by their handler to feel the fleece of both animals.  I preferred the llama fleece!  It felt softer.   In my defence I think those animals were very primitive compared to the magnificent fleece carriers we have here today.

This meeting with an alpaca was burned into my memory. 

Several years later I received an unexpected windfall of around $800 New Zealand dollars.  This was earmarked as my deposit for an alpaca.  I really still had no idea about caring for alpaca – but I knew I wanted one.  

Meanwhile my husband and I established an olive grove in the Awatere Valley in the South Island of New Zealand.  We still lived and worked in Wellington but commuted most weekends to work on our grove.  We had a taste of rural life and we loved it.  Our grove was only around 20 minutes from the nearest large town, and only 5 minutes from a small town.  The small town had an old fashioned general store, tea rooms and a public toilet.  This was handy as we had no facilities on our block.  I nicknamed the local phone box “my office”. 

We planted, weeded and tended over 6,000 olive trees.  We had picked out our house site and to complete our idyllic lifestyle we expected to have 2-3 alpaca grazing nearby. 

Things often don’t work out quite how we planned them!

Circumstances changed and we sold our grove.  That was quite a wrench for us, as, along with the land and our beautiful trees, we sold a little of ourselves and all of our dreams. 

Still the alpacas remained in the back of my mind. 

Finally it dawned on us!  We could breed alpacas.  This was now 2002.  There were quite a few alpacas in New Zealand now and more being imported.    We were living in Queensland in Australia for a few months at this time.  The sun must have been good for us as this was where the dream started to take shape.  We visited a couple of breeders around the area and attended one or two shows.  The breeders were very positive – and the alpacas were gorgeous.

We moved back to Wellington, New Zealand.  We visited a couple of breeders in our greater area and attended a couple of shows.  The breeders were very positive – and the alpacas were gorgeous!

We quickly realised our quarter acre suburban home was not going to be practical and began our search for a suitable property. 

We decided to go south rather than north and found a block of land in mid Canterbury.  It is right on the Canterbury plains with a view of the Southern Alps to the west and the Port Hills of Christchurch to the east.  We are around 40 minutes from the centre of Christchurch (when Christchurch had a centre, before the earthquake) in the heart of a traditional sheep and crop growing area but with dairy farming expanding rapidly, close to the small agricultural university town of Lincoln.  There is rapid urban expansion in the surrounding towns – they are getting closer to us. 

There is a handful of alpaca breeders in our vicinity however on the northern side of Christchurch there is a large group of lovely, enthusiastic breeders.  There are 10 – 12 shows held in the greater area over the spring / summer season where we can all meet and socialise together while showing our beautiful alpaca.   Some of the best alpaca in New Zealand are from Canterbury so the competition is pretty tough, and any ribbons received are prized.  Phil and I have convened our closest show for the last four years.  It used to be the first show of the season but more recently the National show on alternate years and the South Island Colourbration have taken that slot.  

We purchased our first alpaca via an online auction in 2003.  Snow Dream was 10 months pregnant at time of purchase and within six weeks had produced a female cria.  We were totally hooked by now.  How hard can this breeding business be??

Over the next few months we purchased another eight females and they became the foundation of our existing herd.  For the first couple of years we had … boy cria after boy cria.  We were a little discouraged!

In the meantime we settled into our area.  We each found jobs nearby and made some fabulous new friends.  We continued developing our property to suit us, and put our own stamp on it.  We were originally attracted to it because of the beautiful established trees.  And of course Phil loved the sheds!  We have made substantial alterations to the existing house, resown the paddocks and replaced most of the fencing.  As you will all know there is always something to be done on a farm no matter what size it is.

Our beautiful alpaca herd has grown.  We stopped having only boy cria, and now enjoy a healthy mix of girl/boy cria.   At one point our herd numbered around 110 but we currently have approximately 70 alpaca on farm at the moment although we are expecting another 20 cria within the next two months.   We have gone from being ‘townies’ knowing absolutely nothing about livestock, to become semi ‘rural folk’ who now know a little more about livestock.

We have had a few heartbreaks along the way, and some big lessons to learn, but the experience has been so rich on so many levels.  We have made some great friendships with fellow alpaca breeders.  We have met such interesting and lovely people from the other side of the world because we have alpacas.  We have made online friendships with so many more folk because of the alpacas. 

We have it all.  We have the most delightful lifestyle.  It isn’t perfect in any way, but it is fantastic.  We wake in the morning and the view from our room is the serene and gracious alpaca grazing close by.  In the evening if we have had a trying day we can stand by the fence and the tranquil alpaca will remind us of what is really important.  We have remembered how to enjoy our life…. That’s why.

 

Robyn and her husband Phil have farmed alpacas now for almost 10 years.  They are the owners of Awatere Alpaca Stud www.awatere.co.nz on the outskirts of Christchurch New Zealand, and they are actively involved in their industry.  They have convened the alpaca section of the Ellesmere A&P for the last four years, and Robyn is the current editor of the NZ Alpaca magazine, and the Southern Region representative on the Alpaca Association NZ National Council. They are passionate about alpaca and passionate about alpaca ‘fibre of the gods’.  They breed for fabulous fibre, gentle temperament and physical soundness.


Knapper Alpakka, Norway – Starting Right, Moving Forward

Starting Right

Alpacas are not new to Norway with the first imports of breeding alpacas done in 2004, but haven’t been very well known to the public until the last few years. Llamas have a longer history in our country and quite a few use llamas in the trekking businesses. But the Norwegian market is changing, both for the alpacas and for people’s interests in general. This benefits us as we are working on building a new industry in a country with long handicraft traditions. We feel Norway deserves the alpaca, and that the alpaca is perfect for our small and hilly country.

Our Situation

Just a few years back, there was slow progress in the buildup of alpaca breeders in our country. Some enthusiasts stuck with it, though, and continued pushing alpacas to the market. These pioneers are still in the business and together with a number of new enthusiasts are in it for the long run. At the start of 2009 there were some fifteen alpaca owners in Norway, but we now have about 70. No one had much more than ten to fifteen alpacas in 2009, but now we have several with 20, 30, 40 and more. We don’t have exact numbers, but we think there were between 100 and 150 alpacas in total in 2009, but more important imports were underway, and we now have about 600 alpacas. Imports have come from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Chile and Sweden.

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The focus at the year of the founding association meeting in 2009 was the number of alpacas, and it still is. We need more of them to create an industry. Some have looked abroad. Some are working on the government issues, imports and financial support. We have a working association, which is important when starting up a new industry as we have.

Efforts to Start Right

Imports

There have been quite a few imports in the last few years and they have all focused on bringing good alpacas into Norway as a foundation for organized breeding.  So too have been the focus of the last imports of our own farm, Knapper Alpakka. At first we thought about just having a few alpacas as one species of animal of many on our small farm, but we changed our mind and started building a quality breeding farm.

We will never be a quality breeder if we don’t focus on quality animals as the core of our herd. This prompted important imports from Australia that arrived in 2009 and 2010, with alpacas of high quality and with good bloodlines. Later we imported more alpacas from Chile to strengthen our focus on colour in particular, and to personally experience how alpacas live in their native habitat (we called it “a pilgrimage”). There will be more imports, but these imports had alpacas that will be the pioneering mothers and fathers and the core of quality alpacas. They have produced some excellent offspring so far and we have high hopes for them in the future.

Additionally, the new national herd now got good males. Their bloodlines comprise of show winners from their respective countries, and one has won a series of titles himself in Australia. This improves our chances of building a breeding basis for all breeders as the owners of these new males will not limit the males to be used to only their own herd. A stud service market has been established.

The Norwegian Alpaca Association

Founding Meeting

Establishing a forum for the alpaca breeders, especially in a small alpaca country like Norway, is very important, and all breeders felt it important that we got off to a good start with the association. In the fall of 2009 we had our founding meeting in the Norwegian Alpaca Association. Some small changes to the governing body were made, but nothing controversial and all that came to the meeting left it with a sense of how important it is to just get it going.

Committees

The founding meeting of the association also saw the establishment of several important committees. Most notably we established the website-, registry-, and the first show committee.

Moving Forward

Shows

Even if we have a small number of alpaca breeders and alpacas, we felt we needed to have a show where we could show off our alpacas and our association and its members.  The show committee found a partner in Villmarksmessen (directly translates to “wilderness fair”), which is an annual fair for people interested in outdoor activities. This fair would also have a dog show where we could show our alpacas in between dog showing sessions. We got the venue for free, and considering the tens of thousands of visitors it was perfect!

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The first show had international judge Rob Bettinson, and it was an interesting, fun and learning experience for both alpaca breeders and the public. We have since had more shows and we have always had internationally renowned judges. We are at the fair for five days every time and we all get numerous requests for information and talk almost continuously through the days we are there, and we hope many learned that an alpaca is not a llama! The event has gotten coverage on TV and in newspapers, in addition to the numerous blogs, websites, social media interactions, and more.

It is top quality PR and the execution plan for running the shows is refined every year. We are very pleased with our own results as a breeder with several Champion winners at the shows in various colour classes.

The next show is in April, and we will be at the show between the 4th and the 7th, with the actual show with judging happens on the 6th (Saturday). We think we have a good show team this year as well, and no matter what the results are we will first and foremost aim for a good presentation of our alpacas!

Quality Focus

Although an alpaca industry needs alpaca enthusiasts of all kinds, from top quality breeders to the groups of people who just want to enjoy a quality life with their alpacas and have a cottage venue, we need a focus on quality at the core of the national herd. We as a breeder have high focus on quality as the core of our breeding decisions, and we see more and more people wanting to focus on breeding top quality alpacas as well.

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While the most requests for alpacas are still from those only wanting a couple of pets we see more requests from people who want to start a quality breeder farm. This is exciting and bodes well for our industry.

We are still a small alpaca country but hope to be able to jump ahead by selecting good alpacas early and need not use twenty years on breeding like the pioneering countries and breeders have done elsewhere, but take advantage of the work already done and start right. We feel we have a good basis for our breeding in our present herd here at Knapper Alpakka, but also realize that we have lots to do still. Shows are a great way to verify your own impressions of your own alpacas, avoid “barn blindness”, and learn something new about your herd.

We did great at last year’s show, winning three out of the possible five Champion titles, so we learned we are doing some things right and some things need adjustments. The judge also gave us a walkthrough of our suri male, which was very interesting for us. We hope more will get suris in Norway and that we can soon have suri classes in the shows.

Cooperation’s

To build an industry we need products and build a market, and many breeders have already started work on both. Some produce their own products on their own and others have formed cooperatives. Yet others import alpaca products. By getting the products “out there” and marketing alpaca qualities we build a demand for alpaca fleece. Many have come to us and said they like the alpaca because they seek the alpaca qualities, and look forward to seeing products made from the national herd. Product development is core to the success of our industry, and seeing how much alpaca products Norway import from the alpaca country of Peru we think we have a great market to supply.

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The Association and Its Members

The Norwegian Alpaca Association has some important tasks at hand and has already started. Some of these tasks have to do with making it easier for alpaca enthusiasts to start their work. The government has some limitations set on alpaca movements between our country and others, and there is very little financial support such as other livestock industries receive. We still believe we have a suitable team to work on these and other tasks for present and future alpaca breeders, and look forward to seeing the results, but we are all in it for the long run.

About the author

Rolf and his wife Nina moved into the countryside of Norway in 2007 after a career as IT consultants and project managers in Oslo. Today they are importers and breeders of a herd of quality alpacas in a small place called Vaaler about 150km North East of Oslo, and their farm is called Knapper Alpakka. They both consider themselves alpaca enthusiasts, and are eager users of IT in their alpaca business to combine both interests. Their IT knowledge has also led to helping others and the Norwegian Alpaca Association with websites. They have run four imports to Norway to date. You can get in touch with Rolf through their web site at http://www.alpakka.org/ or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/knapperalpakka