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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Finally some caribbean sun !

I believe that is was Aristotle who said  "One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day;  -well in our case it is the lizards that give the illusion that summer has started .  This week they have been out  in force, basking in the bright sunshine and running up the walls.  They hibernate in the walls during the winter months occasionally somehow making their way into the house.  They are often seen running across the bedroom carpet and even on one occasion, on pulling back the sheets of his bed,  Jake  found one snuggled up there, taking a nap !

   As you can see they weren't the only one's soaking up the D3

The good weather seemed to coincide with the visit of a family from Costa Rica.  When they first enquired about the gite four weeks  ago, I thought it was someone having a  bit of a laugh, a joke or something.  I sat there and replied to their enquiry in two jumpers, listening to the rain against the velux and looking  at the meteor reading on my computer which read just 3° and wondered why anyone would want to leave this .............


and this ...
   to come to this  ..............
it was surely not because of these .........

I was right  -the answer was Cheese !!   Jean Jacques explained that he kept a herd of 200 cows and that his main income comes from milk production.  Over the last few years the costs involved in keeping them taking into account  the rising cost of feed and medication, compared to the income in milk sales was  making it more and more difficult to keep going and that he was looking for  another outlet for his milk. Costa Rican cheese apparently has very little favour, so most of the cheese they eat is imported and hence is a bit of a luxury.  He had booked himself a course at the local Agricultural college to learn how to make french cheese.  While here he sampled some of our mature white cheddar which really impressed him.  So if anyone knows of any Cheddar making course I am sure he would be interested.  While he spent his time on the course his family enjoyed the summer sun with temperatures  as high at 26 ° , here are the two girls aged 2 and 5 enjoying a chocolate cake. 


Every day we had endless conversations, with me replying  'si'  which is the only word  I know in Spanish.  I just hope I was not  saying 'yes' when I should have been saying 'no'. They left this morning taking the tropical sun with them and  leaving us with a cloudy outlook and a temperature of 8 degrees.  Standing at the door with their coats zipped upto the neck they  explaining they had packed the sun  in their suitcase - thanks !

All this good weather gave us a chance to look over the cria from last year and make some decisions for this years matings.  We don't  open fleeces that much here at Quelvehin,  if you're  not careful it can become a bit of an obsession and we feel it destroys the structure .There are very few shows in France so we don't think about it that much. Hence every now and again we come across something that is quite a nice surprise.  They say that a good stud will improve any female, although if you want the best then put him across the best, especially if you're paying good money.  So, with that in mind, I will just ask, what is best, to get a good result out of a Dam and Sire that you expect to get a good result out of, or to get a female cria that is a vast improvement on her mother and shows you just exactly what a sire is capable of.  Having seen what Columbus could do when given our best female - Fanny Ann or as she is affectionately known 'Princess Fanny' (as she absolutely refuses to eat unless she has her own personal bucket - no way she's eating with the riff raff),
 Izzam - second fleece ! s. Columbus
Almost two years ago now, we decided to see what he could do with one of our 'lesser' females who had been bought solely to put strong colour in the herd.  Meet  little Janine, almost a year old now.

 while I admit, it's not what I would call show quality, I have to say given the Dam,

I am very  impressed.   Anyway,  a pleasing result, a lovely female who just needs a nice male to put across and  I  think we  have just the one for the job !! 



Saturday, April 20, 2013

Photos Salbris

As promised here are a few photos of the show.  Sorry for the delay but I had to beg them from the four corners of Europe ,so thanks to Gary Sanders who managed to find a couple without someone holding up a brochure with his advert on the back and Ginny Cobb who managed to find one without her  on. Nobody, by the way, took one with me on - oh well I was only the  organisor what should I expect.
First of all a ring full of young white suri males.  A real pleasure to see given that normally we would expect no more than half a dozen in total throughout the entire show.  There were  nine in this class alone with a further 16 spread across both  sexes and the  full colour range, whites, beige, fawns and even black.

The total inscriptions for the show were 163 so this makes a staggering 15% of the entries suri's.  Nick Harrington Smith  was surprised and delighted to be able to judge so many in one class saying - ' one rarely see's so many suri's   entered  in an English show, let alone here in France'.  Given the world population of suri's being  just 5% of the total  Huacaya  population, thanks to the Spanish invasion of the 15th century,  it was truely a wonderful sight.
Next up is Izzam,  a Columbus boy,  who has a fleece to die for but unfortunately has just refused to grow on during the winter months, so I have to admit I had reservations about taking him and in the end my reservations  were justified when he was awarded a second to Ginny's Manot, because of his size, still the class numbered eight so he didn't do too bad despite his size - he'll be back - watch
this space !

                                    Here he is trying to look big - stand up straight lad !

I couldn't resist putting up this next  one.  Some people come to win, other people come to compete and generally have a good time.  Ron and Judi  of La Grand Mere alpacas fall into the latter category.  They had no aspirations of winning anything, a single third would have been ample,  but  here is Judi getting first place (oh and yes Ginny again) with Elpenor or Elpie as he is affectionately known, out of Snowmass Sizlin Hot, in the Adult Male H brown class -  Judi your face was a picture - well done.

I suppose the main event of the day for us was Daniel.  Popham Daniel has been with us now for so long that I tend to forget he doesn't belong to us.  So when he was awarded Champion Black at the age of 82 months I couldn't help feel extremely proud of him and that somewhere along the way we must have had a hand in it.  The judge said that he had a fleece as fine as a crias, so we must have been feeding him something good. Here he is with his real Mum Felicia.

Finally I come to the Atlas Progeny class.  Once again, I had my doubts , all three of the progeny I had not seen in advance and although I was happy with them as individuals, all together I can not say they were similar, something that is essential for a progeny class. So here they are two  females  from La Grand Mere  (told you Silhouette was the best !) and little Electron, third in his class.


The best thing for me when we go down to the AD show is meeting up with all the other breeders not only across France but Europe, its lovely meeting up again with people who I now class as friends, hearing their news and talking alpaca all weekend without them  yawning or getting bored. People who say they don't do shows and that they are not into all that, are missing a great weekend - we have such good fun !!  - freezing together !! oh boy was it cold !



Monday, April 8, 2013

Concours International d'Alpaga -Salbris 2013

After the excitement of last  weekend, I find myself  coming back down to earth this week with a huge  bump, with  a  field full of uncollected beans (we know the sort!) a pile of ironing and   a house to reclaim from the dog who has ruled the roost over the last couple of weeks .  An  eerie calm  has descended over the house,  the only emails seem to be spam, the only phone calls are people wanting to sell me the latest Orange offer and once again my dining room table now has a place to sit down and eat.  - where have you all gone ? - I am lonely !!

For those of you that are not of the alpaca world, don't  think this  blog will be for you , so look away now before you get too bored.

I'd like to thank all of you that either emailed me directly, phoned or placed comments on face book saying how much you enjoyed the show and praising me for my achievements, and it is at this point that I would like to point out I did not do it all on my own  and that an organisor is only as good as her team . I would like to take this opportunity to thank that team personally so here goes :-

Firstly to Norman and Orla Priestley , who left their farm on the Wednesday to go down to Salbris and collect and set up all of the barriers - this was a huge task  that took them two days and I am truly grateful - many thanks - also to Orla who found herself alone checking in  people in on the Friday night. To Mickael De Prat who dealt with all the official DSV paperwork, arranged vets,  and without whom the Belgium's would not have been able to compete and for looking after all of our animals during the night and while we were enjoying our meal,  all work no play ....... Many thanks. To Ron Bourton for stewarding for the day,  first time ever, but hey what a pro. To Leah Duclaud  and Nigel Cobb  for doing such a great job as Pen Stewards and keeping the whole show ticking over - knew I had found the right people ! To Gillian Howard-Evieux   who came to my rescue the morning of the show when I found we had no translator.  As usual word perfect ! To Christelle Chipon who although unable to make the show due to commitments at home was a huge help with all the paperwork leading upto the event.  To Gaby Lion who did everything on site that I was unable to being so far from the venue and getting the microphone working 10minutes before the show (another panic). To Patricia Schumacher and Sylvie Sorlie for overseeing the show and staying behind  with Gaby  after we had all gone,  to do the final clear up, never a nice or glamorous job but nethertheless essential, - many, many thanks. To Gary and Felicia Sanders , without whom we would not have been able to compete ourselves and for looking after my stall.(you're starting to wonder what I did arn't you !) To Pascal Aubert,  who put up the spotlights and did all of the publicity - thank you, also to Catherine Aubert who sat all day in the cold recording the results - fantastic job, c'√©tait impeccable ! To Clare Faber  who arranged for Italian Television to come and do a programme on our show - incredible - great work ! To John Squire without whose help our brochure would not have happened and generally putting up with my panic attacks. To Nick Harrington Smith (should have mentioned him first really) for all  your help and advice over the last few months and giving us  your judgment on a very, very, cold day. And Lastly to my husband who has had to familiarize himself with both the ironing board, and cooker. and has had to spend far more time than usual doing my share of the animal jobs and listening to all of my worries and problems.

Many congratulations to Frederic Henry for Supreme Champion Huacaya  with Artemis for the second year running and to Leah Duclaud for Supreme Champion Suri with Vaughan de Grand Fouilleze.  The full results can be seen at www.alpaga-d√© . -  brochures are available from myself or the association.

If anyone could send me some photos of the day I will do a blog that is a little more interesting to everyone, unfortunately the Senior Partner did not take any, I am told it is my fault because I  forgot to take the camera - damn knew there was something else to organise !!  - him !