Sunday, 17 November 2013


Training for the Huon Show (in the rain)
HELLO!!!! Well, had a bit of a break from blogging as we worked really hard to bring two reluctant 'show team' candidates into line, and taught them (eventually) to walk beautifully on a halter! So I will start at the beginning - grab a drink and relax if you are in for this long haul...

Mercedes (R) looking at Tegan who is in the trailer.
We had decided, after much debate, to take Adlin (12mth male), Tegan (11mth female), Melony (11mth female), Mercedes 28 mth female) and Astrid (44mth female) to the Tasmanian Huon Show.  This is the last show of the season, and a one-day show.  So, even though we would travel four hours to get there, we thought it would be a nice, small show to start with.  Show team decided, they were then separated to another paddock out of view of the main herd and the boys, so we could focus on getting a somewhat reluctant Astrid to bend her knees and actually walk on a halter.  Astrid had obviously not been halter-trained for a time, and was very defiant (flopping to the floor, playing dead, locking all four knees etc, etc). Her behaviour management plan was all about consistency, small steps and lots of praise LOL!  By the end of the week, I had her walking by my side in a suitable fashion, and walking with Hubby in an OK fashion. The big test was walking all five down the road, (and a car went past!) for a kilometer and all the way back - what a huge success!!
Melony (L) and Tegan waiting for the others to be loaded
Then we had a call to say that we were invited to stay overnight at Warncliffe Alpaca Farm (specialising in black Alpacas) by Alison Brolsma (who incidentally is Head of the Tasmanian Region of Australian Alpaca Association)! Well, nervous but committed, we accepted her kind invitation to stay (and pen our team at their Q-Alpaca site), and after the little man had gone to bed on Friday afternoon (being baby-sat by his big sister), we packed the 'pacas into the trailer and off we went!

After two hours of travelling, we stopped and took the 'pacas out for 'toilet' at Oatlands.  We grabbed a coffee each and after making sure the 'pacas had had the opportunity for a drink, we continued on our way to Hobart.  Huon valley lies south of Hobart and is Australia's southern-most town. We arrived at Warncliffe and treated to the sight of sixty amazing black alpacas having their dinner.  Alison was still assisting the set-up of the show, so we were assisted by her husband, penned our pacas and finally went inside to enjoy a glass (or few) of wine.
'Toilet stop' at Oatlands
I have to get used to Alpaca etiquette (after all, I haven't done this before), so I had a lot to learn from Alison.  People are reluctant to pass judgement on your Alpacas (even when Adlin's head looked like an afro from his journey), and after a long discussion on our business goals (ummmm...still figuring those out), and a talk about the difficulties of regional committee meetings and people in general (yes, I can kind of relate there), we went to bed somewhat scared and frightened that we had entered too early into this game.

The next morning after NO sleep and listening to Hubby snore (and then tell me he slept terribly??!), I was just glad to see that Tegan hadn't jumped ship, and shamed me by entering into a quick love affair with one of the males.  We were told to be ready to leave by 7am, but by 6.30am we were ready to go.  The drive into Huon Valley is just beautiful, and took us about fifteen minutes before we hit the show grounds.

I has asked to be placed next to Lori's pens, but we had been placed at the end (furthermost away from the ring and right next to where the cow-wash was taking place by enthusiastic pubescents, so subsequently there was soap and cow poo everywhere)...we didn't have a sign (everyone else had one!!) so I spent a couple of hectic minutes trying to source hay (everyone had a bale delivered to their pen already), water that didn't have soap in it and our sign.  Yes, I did have that fleeting moment of 'Let's go HOME', but then I saw Lori struggling with her nine 'pacas and got involved.  Lori soon helped us source the hay, the sign and Hubby had found clean water.  Talk about hectic!!

I was a bundle of nerves trying to find out 'pacas on the program (oh, I forgot to mention that when I completed the paperwork and re-checked their colours on the chart - they were ALL a different colour from their pedigrees!!! Arghhhhh!!!!! They obviously had to be listed by their pedigree, but I was worried that the vet (and committee) would get seriously annoyed when they would have to re-juggle EVERY one of my 'pacas into a different class...) when Hubby went off to find coffees.  Of course, as soon as he had disappeared, the vet rocked up to do the checks!!!

Adlin was re-classed from white to light fawn, Astrid from white to light fawn and Melony was questioned as Roan!!  Then everyone and his dog was over to give an opinion, and then they all turned to me for the final decision! So, I agreed with Adlin and Astrid, but opted to keep Melony as Medium Fawn (if judge threw her out she would go into Roan/grey class after).  Everyone done and dusted, the Vet moves on and then Hubby appears with the coffee.

We are then called into a pre-show meeting to discuss the classes and who has been moved where, and who isn't coming.  At this point I realise that every pen is full, and this is bigger than the Launceston and Hobart Shows.  I grab Lori to question her, and she tells me that this is the largest turn out of the year as most studs had taken their animals to the mainland national shows whilst the Launceston and Hobart shows were taking place.  Lori comes over to gush over my team (thankfully!!! As they look pretty bad against these other amazing animals - and I was sure Lori was just being nice and supportive), but she did mention that due to the 'lightness' colour of my team - there were LOTS of animals to compete with in those classes.  Oh well, I wasn't out for ribbons, just a 'go' at showing our own.  Hubby at this stage is green, he is so nervous about showing having never done it before, and although Lori offers, he wont take her Suri's and have a practice.
With Lori's Suri - Lightening
So, I am first up with Lori's Suri's, she has two in most classes and just as before - her beautiful animals take first and second place positions, including Supreme Champion.  She is so very happy, and I am so happy for her.  Showing Loris' increased my confidence, and Hubby watching said it looked easier than he had imagined.  He would be showing Tegan at the same time as I was showing Melony, so he felt a bit better that we would both be in the ring together.

Ron Reid was the AAA Judge, he is based in Western Australia, but has travelled and judged Alpacas in Australia, New Zealand and around the world.  Ron has qualified as an International Alpaca Judge in 2004 after attending the International Alpaca Judging School in Peru.  Oh knees were knocking!!!! This wasn't going to be a show to muck around in!

Of course, we were up straight we had Tegan and Melony lined up respectively (I don't remember getting them or getting back to the ring with them) and in we went.  Hubby did an outstanding job with Tegan, who reared a couple of times and didn't want her fleece plucked out by a strange man with glasses but wanted to inspect the handler's jacket beside her.  Hubby kept her under control beautifully (and this is what I am really sorry about - there are no photos of Hubby as he had the camera!).  Melony was inspected next, and she was an angel (well of course, that is why she is discreetly my favourite and we have kisses when no-one is looking).  The results were then in, and imagine my surprise when the judge places a 2ND PLACE RIBBON on Melony's back and shakes my hand!!!!!! I was so shocked! There were nine other alpacas there! Anyway, before I know it we are walking around and I am listening carefully to the judge's comments - Melony has superfine fleece, good coverage and consistency but lacked the density that the 1st place 'paca had.  We were released and congratulated, with Lori doing big whoops of joy and I had to stay with Melony for the Champion Judgement.  Once that was over, we were straight back to the pen to grab Adlin who was up next.

Melony, back in again for champion selection
Adlin was up against some fierce competition in the Junior Male section.  There were thirteen beautiful animals in his class.  Adlin wasn't as well behaved as Melony, but imagine my surprise when the judge places a 3rd place ribbon on Adlin's back!!!!! I am just astonished! The three of us circle our 'pacas whilst the judge says that the Adlin was close to 2nd place but his density was the only 'flaw'!! I just couldn't believe it! Once outside, we are now getting a lot of attention from the other breeders who previously had been polite but now wanted to know all about our stud.  I left Hubby to the questions as I had to grab Mercedes for the next round.
Adlin - 3rd place
Mercedes was in the Adult Female section and had six others in her class.  She was very nervous, but stuffed her head under my armpit at times as if it were better she just didn't look.  By then, I was just a beaming beacon with a 2nd and 3rd ribbon unexpectedly won, and then...the judge places a 3rd place ribbon on Mercedes!!!!This is truly unbelievable! I am now in so much shock and excitement (in a state actually) that I MISS what the Judge says about Mercedes Arghhhhhhhh!!!! Oh well...
Judge taking samples for consistency from Mercede's fleece
It is now 1pm, and I am exhausted! They finally call for an hours lunch break, and we are able to finally sit down and discuss what has happened.  Hubby says that many of the other breeders have been asking where we are, what stock we have, how many etc.  Then a lady asks me for a business card because she wants to contact me to purchase fleece from our 'amazing' alpacas.  Hubby says that another person asked him for the same, that the other lady loves the lighter coloured animals.  Then there are lots of children who really want to touch the 'pacas but the other breeders have disappeared, so they are clamouring around our pen! Tegan didn't win a ribbon, but she is by far the friendliest alpaca on the planet and subsequently has been elected as our advertisement aplaca by kindly having her photo taken with thousands of little ones, and enduring cuddles and sticky kisses all day!

Finally it is Astrid's turn, and I am hoping that I don't have to drag her through the (now) throngs of people, kids and helium balloons all the way to the ring.  She is very reluctant, so I have one hand under her chin on her halter, the other on her backside (and yes, I suffered twelve kicks along the way - but I am trained to stand close to a kicker so the velocity was minimal as was the pain).  Astrid is not happy in the ring, and with her fringe in her eyes she looks like she certainly does not belong in her Senior Female section, with five others in her class.  The judge comes and I struggle to show Astrid's teeth, she drops to the floor several times before the marshal tells me to get her into a headlock and hold her ear (and WOW did THAT work!).  The Judge was very quick in his decision and placed a 1st PLACE RIBBON on Astrid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel light-headed and a little faint as I try to drag a reluctant PRIZE alpaca around the ring again, she is giving nasty kicks all over and looks pretty evil but all I can see is that blue ribbon on her back and it is all worth it!  I have to wait until the other classes in the section are judged, and then I have to go back in with Astrid for the Championship judgement (of the section).  Astrid is NOT happy, and I have to do the ear-hold again to prevent her from dropping.  Then lo and behold, after the Champion was selected...the Judge places the RESERVE CHAMPION ribbon on Astrid!!!! I am just buoyant!!!!! I have no idea what the judge says about Astrid, I don't care that she is kicking and carrying on like a chop...she is the Reserve Champion Senior Female!!!!!!!
I am squished by Hubby, Lori and congratulated by so many people as I drag Astrid back to the pen.  I am ecstatic and jubilant and having trouble remembering that the Alpacas have won the ribbons - not me LOL!!! I am just amazed that we have five alpacas and all but one (who is instead enjoying celebrity status and covered in bits of sticky fairy floss) have won ribbons.  I am really glad that is is over...and Hubby and I get to watch the stud classes to see who we are going to request for possible stud hire from the winners.

I am shocked to see that it is already 4.30pm, and after Supreme Champion has been selected (Champion Alpaca overall - Toffeemont Chico - who wouldn't you know is Merlin's Grandson and Merlin is Adlin's sire!!!) it is time to pack up, load the team into the trailer and get home.

Incidentally, the breeders who befriended us where VERY impressed to hear that we had Eclipse as our stud male.  I had been secretly worried about how Eclipse's progeny would compare to Merlin's (Tegan, Melony and Adlin) and obviously we are going to find out in a couple of months...but I was comforted in the favourable comments that these breeders made about him as he hasn't been shown for a number of years but they all remember him! So the day ended with a four hour drive home, some hungry and tired but...oh so GOOD alpacas being returned to their paddock with buckets of lovely food and their halters FINALLY removed.  A bottle of wine shared with many re-enactments of alpacas kicking, lunging and generally misbehaving for a captive audience of 16y old son and 19y.old daughter before a quick shower and a good night's sleep :)
Tegan - modelling our success at our first show :D


  1. Clapping wildly !!! Congrats , reading this gave me a big smile. how wonderful . I know how hectic showing can be (not with Pacas but showing animals in general) That must have been such a thrill for you. I remember months ago when you weren't sure about it all , now look :)))

  2. Congratulations Lisa and great story telling. So exciting to do so well when other breeders have no expectations of you already...great way to get noticed!

  3. Ahh! Many, many congratulations - what a wonderful introduction to showing!

  4. Well done, what a great read. Your excitement is oozing out of the screen here Lisa! Well done to you and hubby for the taking the bull by the horns - or the alpaca by the ear - and getting into the ring. Huon today -tomorrow the world! Shirley & Robbie

  5. Congratulations! Wow, what a post, really enjoyed it! We have a couple with us at the moment from your part of the world; Brooke is from Tasmania and Mitch from Australia...I'm going to show them your blog as they will know the places you talk about and they love alpacas...well now that they have met some! Maybe one day, they'll drop by and meet you prize-winning herd!