Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I ain't got no hair

The morning after the U2 concert, I had a surprise for my sister-in-law. Shortly before our trip, I received a postcard in the mail informing me of the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association National Show being held in Denver on the same weekend as the concert. Was that serendipity, or what? We just had to go!

We arrived at the National Western Complex early Sunday morning. At first, the great halls seemed almost empty, but as we wandered around and time passed, the activity picked up some. We saw tables of crafts, although not as much as I had hoped, pens of alpacas, both sheared and not, and several classes being judged.

I was interested to find that very few of the alpacas were outwardly friendly and many were reluctant to be led. Seems like Thelma and Louise aren't so unusual. Check out the following pictures of a couple leading a reluctant alpaca
into an elevator. We had to use the elevator too but we waited, expecting to see some droppings left behind. Nope, the floor was all clean. Matter of fact, I don't remember seeing droppings anywhere except in their pens.

Heck, imagine trying to get a reluctant horse into an elevator! It took them about 10 seconds. That's why the photos are so blurry.

Here are some of the handmade items. Isn't this coat lovely?
This horrible photo is of a cute little "felted" horse head belt buckle.

These felt scarfs had angora fibers added for an interesting design.
This lady was demonstrating how to "felt" a scarf. Unfortunately, we went to see something else and never went back to see her finished product.

Did you know there are 22 natural alpaca colors in shades of white, gray, brown and black?
Of course, the highlights for us were the alpacas themselves.
The next picture is a group being judged. You can see the judge parting the fleece, examining it for quality. 

Isn't he handsome? I sure hope he won. The way he looks like he's smiling, maybe he did.
This trio of Cria are hysterical looking, aren't they?

These guys were some of the friendliest around- and the funniest too!
 Isn't this a pretty ribbon? They were awarded beautiful trophies too but I missed getting a photo.
The holding pens were such a mixed bag of alpacas. Some were shaved and some weren't. Crias are the babies and there were many. Suris (dreadlocks) were mixed in with huacayas (fuzzy, teddy bear-like). My girls are huacayas (wa-kai-yas).

I even found two-way adjustable halters with side rings for my girls for $11 each from Stevens, a supplier of alpaca and llama products! In town, I could only get one way adjustable for 18.99 each. I also bought short six inch  "catch" leads that dangle from the halters so that they are easier to grab and a tandem lead so that I can lead them both with one lead rope. I got all that for the price of two halters at my local feed store. Score!

As we wandered around we were drawn to some strange screeching noises. Several teams were shearing alpacas. They had hog tied them and covered their spitting mouths with socks. Poor things! I don't know if it was a competition or just a service but they were fast! This guy charges $35 per animal. Not bad.
As fast as he sheared, someone was there gathering up all the fleece into three separate bags, the good saddle (back) and belly fleece, the seconds (legs and neck), and the not so good, guard hairs and stuff. Here is a website for some additional information on alpaca fleece. I'm not too sure what is what- just that you get three bags full- like the rhyme:
 Baa, baa black sheep,
have you any wool?
Yes, sir! yes, sir!
 three bags full.

While they were down, they got their toenails trimmed too.

 Here is the finished product. He sure did a nice job, huh?
I'm really nervous about getting my alpacas sheared but first, I need to find someone to do it, right?

I ain't got no hair - song: Space Oddity, artist: David Bowie, album: Space Oddity


Rising Rainbow said...

Did you fine someone there who might have a connection to someone who could sheer for you??

I never thought about what the three bags were for, but it makes sense.

There were llamas across the street from BG's facility. They were very friendly.

Dreaming said...

I'm going to have to put this on my calendar for next year. I'd love to see it all.
Thanks for the great reporting!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

OMG...That is so interesting.

Love the shot of the black and white one.

Mikey said...

I have learned so much that I didn't know about alpacas from this post. What a neat thing to go to. If they have something like this near here, I'm going to go. It's very interesting! I'd like to learn more. I had the chance to get some free from the rescue I got Jack the donkey from, but I turned it down because I really don't know the first thing about them, besides that if you get them riled they will spit.
Thanks for the post. Looking forward to seeing what you'll do with yours!

lytha said...

i can't get over how much they look like my sister's new dog, she just got a standard poodle. the faces are trimmed - or are they? the same way.

Leah Fry said...

Alpacas have toenails????

achieve1dream said...

Awesome!! That looks like so much fun!