Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cria Season 2015



Cria season has been a bit of a roller coaster this year. We lost one baby and we lost one dam - we miss them terribly but at the moment all is good and we are enjoying the sweet antics of all of our new additions.

Trooper joined us in July - pretty much on schedule, Quelle was amazing - no muss, no fuss, text book delivery and a great mother. It took him about 5 minutes to settle in and he's been running things (or at least, trying to) ever since

Velvet's baby was very late, had a birth defect and did not make it. RIP sweet girl.

Then the surprises really started. Anika delivered a healthy bouncing baby girl on Friday, 8/28 (three weeks early) and everything seemed to be going great, Saturday morning we found her down with a prolapsed uterus and lost her pretty quickly. Baby Joie de Vivre - Joy to her friends - has one of the strongest wills I've ever met and immediately began working on finding a surrogate mom. Saphira, a dam at Akasha Alpacas, our good friends and neighbors, has adopted her and with a few supplemental bottles each day, she is doing great. A nod to the other dams at Akasha as well, Joy is not shy about milk bar hopping and most of the moms have indulged her from time to time.

About an hour after we lost Anika, Dancer delivered her cria - again...way early - and this time it was a little scary. This baby looked like the preemie she was, only weighing 10.8 pounds at birth, and weak in her back legs. Most alpaca babies weigh between 15 and 20 pounds at birth. Until this baby, her mother had been my smallest baby - only weighing 13 pounds at birth, but she was strong, dancing and prancing the minute her feet hit the ground - thus her name, Tiny Dancer.. This was a different story - I was terrified we were going to lose her too. She did manage to stand with a little help and was able to nurse after a while, but I just could not imagine that she would ever be strong enough to make it on her own. I named her Dancer's Minuet - Minnie, of course - she was just the tiniest little thing! And she has been a joy and inspiration to us all - determined and focused - she weighed 15.7 pounds -at12 days, 20.2 pounds at 3 weeks.She runs and plays with the other cria and is just about the cutest thing ever! My heart just swells every time I look at her.

And then Friday, Sept 4, about 10 am, I was walking back to the house after having visited the babies and still expectant moms next door at Akasha. I heard a funny noise and looked up to see Layla coming toward me with her tail up, eyes bugged out, in obvious distress. Here we go again, another early baby - she was still a few days shy of eleven months. Well, I've shepherded more than a few maidens through their first birth but this was one for the books. Giving birth hurts, it really does - I know, I remember, but Layla was quite put out by the whole thing. I've had new moms have post partum blues, dementia, even had one catatonic for a few days, but I've never had one get angry about it. That is the only way I can describe Ms. Layla's attitude -- she was mad, just really mad -- and folks - mostly she was mad at me. L! I did what I could, gave her some banamine as soon as she passed her placenta, coo-ed, cajoled, tried to help her, held her head and scratched behind the ears, but she was having none of it - would not stand still for that baby to nurse. I finally gave up and thawed out the frozen cow colostrum I keep on hand for such eventualities, gave the cria a bottle or two and prayed for mom to settle down. Late afternoon I called the vet, scored a sedative, and she finally settled down about 7:30 and allowed her cria to nurse. Whew! They've worked things out between them, our Coleen is more beautiful with each passing day - fine and bright and crimpy with presence oozing from every pore - full of fun and BFF's with Minnie.

One more to go - check back in October - hopefully Earlah's delivery will be uneventful - she's an old hand, but this year all bets are off - the roller coaster is still on the track.

Joy w/

Joy w/"sis" Rita & "Mom" Roci

Coleen (standing)  & Minnie

Coleen (standing) & Minnie

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What I've learned from Alpaca Shows

As most of you know, I enjoy participating in Alpaca shows…I think I’ve learned a lot from both halter shows and fleece shows. I often hear other exhibitors express confusion or dismay over their placings - “Well, I thought he was a really nice boy…can’t figure out why we only got fourth place!” We’ve all had those moments. But I have come to realize that in the current development of the North American alpaca herd, the difference between first place and sixth place is becoming narrower and narrower.

I recently entered two white fleeces in a medium sized fleece show. I love both of these boys, they are the same age, both bright white, dense, crimpy, fine and sweet dispositions and I have always been hard pressed to pick which is the better of the two. They competed in halter classes but never at the same show – I just hate to have two animals competing against each other in a halter class – that’s just me, I just don’t like to do it. But there’s less pain with a fleece show because it all happens behind closed doors – there’s no agony while the judge makes her decision, there’s no room full of people looking on. But I am really glad I put these two fleeces in side by side as it were – I learned a valuable lesson.

One fleece placed 2nd out of eleven and one placed 6th. Same class – white yearling males. Would you like to know how many points divided them? Two…two points! Still…2 points – I really wanted to know what I had missed on Baloo – I thought they were closer than that. So I looked at their individual scores – that is the very best thing about fleece shows – it’s all there in black and white – what the judge saw, what he liked, what he didn’t like. And fleece scores are not predicated on comparison to the other entries in the class – fleeces are judged on what the industry holds as ideal. Sooo – fineness and handle…same score, length, half a point difference, micron, half a point difference the other way…so we’re even again. Color, same…they are both white with no color contamination. Character (that deals with the architecture of the fleece, crimp style, organization of the staples…that sort of thing) half a point but both good scores, density, same score. Absence of Guard Hair – same score, 8, Impurities and Stains – good, same. Weight – ah ha – here we go…1 ½ of those points was due to weight differential. Poor Baloo is a bit of a Pigpen and I had to skirt a lot of his tail feathers – beautiful fiber but oh so dirty! So, basically my original assessment of these boys was correct – they are both gorgeous and there is not much difference in their fleeces (huge difference in their personalities – Baloo is the class clown, Comanche is very dignified) but the weight score made the difference between 2nd place and sixth place.

So my advice to all exhibitors – take the time to go look at the animals that placed higher than yours…and be objective. And if you really can’t see why the judge placed that animal over yours, take the time to talk to the judge at the end of the show, or ask another experienced breeder to look at both animals and give you an opinion. And don’t quit showing that animal. If it placed you are probably correct to think it is show quality – we’ve done an excellent job here is the US over the past few years in improving the quality of the animals we are producing. I go to shows and my head wants to explode – there are so many gorgeous creatures there. And the difference between first and sixth is usually very hard to find. I wouldn’t have the job of alpaca judge for all the tea in China!

Click the picture below to see the score sheets!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

3 Things you never knew about Alpacas

We’ve talked a lot about alpacas in these blog posts, and we hope you have found them to be interesting and entertaining. We wanted to share a few more facts that we thought you’d find fun and worth reading! Even though I know a lot about alpacas, I still find there is more and more to learn everyday with these amazing creatures. Young or old, alpacas have a lot of love and fun to offer us and I think there is no better way to love them back than to learn more about what makes them so special.

The first interesting fact I’d like to share with you is that alpaca wool is actually water resistant! Alpaca fiber is similar to cotton which is why their fleece is light and airy when you wear it. Alpaca fibers are the perfect choice when you are looking to stay warm and dry!

Next up is that alpaca fibers come in a wide variety of different hues. Believe it or not, there are actually sixteen different tones that you can choose from! You can be sure there will be a color for everyone in the family!

Last but not least, alpacas come in two types: Suri and Huacaya. While the Suri has long twisted locks sort of like dreadlocks, the Huacaya has fleece that is crimped similar to a teddy bear. If you’ve ever wondered why some alpacas look so different, now you have your answer!

Alpacas are unique animals with so many interesting facts! We hope to share all of these facts with you along the way!

Do you know any interesting alpaca facts?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What You Should Know Before Raising Alpacas

Obviously, not everyone is cut out to start raising alpacas. They require a lot of love and care and there is a lot that most people don’t know to think about. Just like any creature that needs nurturing, you need to realize the difficulties involved in raising alpacas. They are wonderful creatures and amazing to have around, but no one wants to adopt a sweet animal only to realize they can’t properly take care of them. So, what are some of the points you should consider before raising alpacas? Let’s begin!

The first thing you need to do is speak quite frequently to people who own alpacas or alpaca farms. The best thing you can do to begin is to get as much advice as possible. You always see new parents wanting advice from their friends or family who are parents, and the same goes for alpacas. You should also know that you don’t necessarily get what you pay for. If you pay $50,000 for an alpaca, it doesn't mean you actually purchased an elite “animal”. Make sure you are actually doing your research! Also, it is important to note that alpaca shows are very subjective and often don’t actually reflect the real quality or value.

If you've ever had a pet in your life, you know the importance of having a good vet to work with. This doesn't change when you own alpacas. There are different things you have to do when owning an alpaca that you may not be aware of and vets who specialize in alpacas will help you understand everything that needs to be taken care of.

Are you interested in raising alpacas?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Which Wool?

With Pinterest on the rise, crafting and DIY projects are making a comeback. Among the many crafting options, knitting and crocheting aren’t just for grandmothers anymore! For all those sweater, hat and mitten projects for this cold winter, you may be wondering what type of wool yarn to buy and the difference between them – and why alpaca yarn is a great choice!

Lamb’s Wool: This is short length wool is sheared from lambs around seven months. It is softer and more elastic than regular wool and is also lightweight but warm.

Cashmere Wool: Sheared from a Cashmere goat, the wool has to be separated from the coarser hair making it more laborious than other wools, therefore resulting in expensive wool. The end result, however, is a very fine and soft wool.

Angora Wool: This wool is actually taken from a rabbit! The Angora rabbit is known for its long, silky, fluffy fur. However, it needs to be blended with other fibers because of the lack of elasticity.

Merino Wool: This is the most common and well-known type of wool. Taken from a Merino Sheep, it is durable and helps regulate moisture and insulation.

Alpaca Wool: Alpaca wool is increasingly becoming more popular. It is as soft as Cashmere and lighter than Lamb’s wool but extremely warm. Unlike other wools, alpaca wool also doesn’t pill and is extremely durable. Also unlike the Merino Wool and Angora Wool, it is extremely soft and doesn’t leave your skin feeling itchy. Alpaca wool is also water and fire resistant!

Friday, February 6, 2015

What you may not know about Alpacas

You already know that alpacas are adorable, and we’ve talked about the difference between them and llamas. Other than those tid-bits, how much more do you really know? This week I wanted to take some time to talk about some interesting things that you may not know about alpacas. As always, make sure to comment and let me know your favorite (as well as any other fun facts about alpacas that we don’t mention!).

First, let’s start out with one you many not have expected! Did you know that alpacas fiber is fire resistant?! This is just another reason that using fiber from alpacas to make clothes is a good idea! They meet the standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's rigid testing specifications as a Class 1 fiber for use in clothing and furnishings. So, while you’re feeling comfy and cozy in your alpaca sweater, you’ll also be free of fire (and hopefully you wouldn’t need to worry about that in the first place!). Make sure to enjoy that bonfire in your favorite alpaca wear!

Next up! Let’s talk about the history of alpacas a little! Alpacas have a very interesting history as they were domesticated by the Incas more than 6,000 years ago and raised for their amazing fleece! Naturally, because alpaca fibers are so durable and gorgeous, most of the fleece was reserved for the elite and Inca royalty! It is amazing that alpaca fiber was used do exquisitely!

Lastly, I want to mention how alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic which is very important to many people now a days! It makes a wonderful gift for this reason. Imagine how lovely it will be while wearing your favorite alpaca fleece gear and feeling warn but definitely not itchy! We all know that feeling, and personally, we could all benefit from making the switch to alpaca wool (especially our itchy skin!).

Alpacas have a rich and interesting history that spans back many amazing years!

Do you have a fun and interesting alpaca fact to share with us? We’d love to hear them!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Do You "Speak Alpaca"?

At Que Sera Alpaca Farm, we love having visitors, and one weekend one of our "regulars," Susan who is a spinner and weaver, brought a friend with her to meet the alpacas. As we were walking out to the Mom’s Pen to look at the babies, I heard her comment to her friend, “You are going to love this. Anne speaks alpaca.”

We laughed, and I admitted that I do feel like part of the herd. But I was curious as to why she felt that way. Susan proceeded to describe a previous visit. It was a day the ranch was not open to the public, and I had allowed several of the females out of their pens to "mow" the grass around the parking lot. I was herding the girls back to their pasture when Susan arrived.

I quickly realized that a few alpacas were missing, discovering then that one of the barn doors was open just a crack. It happened to be a part of the barn where we keep the alfalfa. Alfalfa is a real treat for alpacas, and at Que Sera Farm we use it primarily to entice them from one area to another. When I opened the door all the way, sure enough...I had found my missing girls.

I shooed them all out. "Everybody out of the pool,” I said, and they dutifully--and somewhat sheepishly--filed out and headed back to where they belonged. Susan thought it was all quite marvelous and her friend looked somewhat amazed.

The fact is that alpacas are extremely intelligent and are not difficult to train. All you have to do is convince them that there IS a good reason for them to do what you want them to do and that they can trust you not to get them into trouble. Piece of cake!

Meet the babies (we call them cria) laugh with the Jr. Varsity boys as they work out their new plays. Visit our fiber processing area ... and of course there's Broonie, our kissing alpaca! You'll love meeting sweet Broonie. Call ANNE: 505-310-3369 to arrange an appointment.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bota and Nev’s Excellent Alpaca Adventure!

Our gorgeous Kubota and his buddy Neville will be leaving us September 27th to begin their journey to their new home in New Hampshire. We are very excited for them…their new owner, Kitt Hollister, has a veterinary degree and seems to be just our kinda gal. She is deeply concerned about the health and wellbeing of her animals (and everyone else’s as well, methinks) and has just been a pleasure to work with. She actually purchased the boys in June, but opted to board them here until the weather improved and made things more conducive to safe travel across our very large country. We hate to see them go, but are very pleased they will have a safe and productive life at Kitt’s Howling Hill Farm. Bota is an exceptional young male – an appaloosa with amazing consistency throughout his fleece, wonderful fineness, density, conformation and coverage and we can’t wait to see his offspring.

Congratulations to Kitt and Bon Voyage to our sweet little boys.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Raising Alpacas at Que Sera Alpaca

Raising Alpacas at Que Sera Alpaca

Raising Alpacas at Que Sera Alpaca

Not long ago, driving past a field of alpacas in the United States would have been a jaw-dropper. But it is becoming more and more common to see these exotic creatures in the fields of small farmers all over the United States. So what is it about alpacas that is making them a popular livestock choice?

Originally bred in South America, alpacas are raised for their fiber, which is warmer than wool by weight, softer and more comfortable than cashmere and is surprisingly strong for a luxury fiber! An adult alpaca can produce 8 to 10 pounds every year. Unlike sheep's wool, however, processing alpaca fiber is quite expensive . This is one of the reasons we also breed alpacas, and also because we are passionate about breeding the very finest animals.

There are two types of alpaca, the most common being the Huacaya. These alpacas look very fluffy because their fiber is crimped. I tend to think of them as chia pets! The other type, the Suri, has smoother, twisted locks – like ringlets – that is lustrous and very silky.

One of the most appealing things about alpacas is their demeanor. They can be shy but, are not aggressive toward humans (though the males will sometimes fight one another for dominance). Another part of their appeal is how quiet they are. Soft food pads enable them to walk very quietly in pastures, which makes them not only peaceful creatures but also very easy on the environment. They don’t tear up the pastures the way sheep and goats do.

Their normal speech consists of an easy humming sound but they can screech a bit if they are mad. And they have a very effective “alarm” cry which is loud and unmistakable. When I hear that I go see what’s got them riled up. Some people claim they actually have "calming power" over humans and I find them very therapeutic!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fleece Sorting Notes July 30 - August 1, 2012


Jacinta - Blanket, 5/6/09 - Pete Connelly or Mike Morgan, not sure - Que Sera 2.5 lbs Medium Brown Female Above average density, not much brightness, fairly flat crimp style but there is bundling. Grade 4 - probably about a 27 micron. 2" - 3" taple. This fleece had a poor handle although it was consistent. It was very dry and very dusty.

Jacinta - Neck, 5-6-09 - Pete or Mike - Que Sera 1.5 lbs. Medium Brown Female. Grade 4 but mostly too short to process

Jacinta - Neck 5-12-10 - Mike Morgan, I think - Que Sera Medium Brown Female Very similar to '09 fleece.

Jacinta - Blanket, 5-5-11 - Cody Fifield - Que Sera - 2.3 lbs Medium Brown Female Grade 4 - about a 28. 2" - 4" staple - a little longer than '09 fleece. also has better handle, not so dry and dusty. better brightness, good density - well above average and pretty fair architecture. A lot went to rug - primaries seemed stronger and fleece was really badly shorn - staple cut in half in lots of places and huge wads to chewed up noiles. thanks Cody.

Jacinta - Neck, 5-5-11 - Cody Fifield - Que Sera 1.4 lbs. Medium Brown Female - chopped to hell and gone - nothing salvageable.

Jacinta - Blanket, 5-17-12 - Pete Connelly - Que Sera 2.1 lbs - Very dry, short staple, primaries more prevalent. Great rug fiber.

Jacinta - Neck, 5-17-12 - Pete Connelly - Que Sera .8 lbs Medium Brown Female Had better handle than 2012 blanket (?!?) but was seriously short - most went to rug, some to trash


River Jordan - Blanket, 5-17-12 Pete Connelly - Que Sera 4.8 lbs. Medium Brown pregnant female 4" - 5" staple - Very dense - at least a 4, maybe a 4.5, nice handle. Not terribly bright - below average. WR2 and lots of it - can't wait to spin it! Pulled samples for spin offs 2 small grey spots within the blanket. Maybe 10% to WL2 and small section of WL3. Nice fleece - like this girl

River Jordan - Blanket, 4-23-11, Ric Metcalf - Que Sera 4.7 lbs. Medium Brown Female longer staple than 2012 fleece but nothing longer than 5" - horrifying amount of second cuts. Better brightness, good architecture. Fleece seems better nourished - not so dry with vey nice hand. Maybe being pregnant really hurt her 2012 fleece. Again mostly WR2


River Jordan - Blanket, 5-10-10, Mike Morgan, I think - Que Sera 2.4 lbs. Medium Brown Female - cria fleece - skirted for show. Fleece show score 69.5 - inconsistent crimp style, too much VM, may have hurt her handle score. average density, super staple length 4" - 5" in about 8 mos. growth - Yummy. WR 1 - 18 - 19 micron.

River Jordan - Neck, 4-23-11, Ric Metcalf - Que Sera 1.4 lbs. Medium Brown Female OMG second cuts are so bad I want to cry! WR and WL 1, some WL2. most is unusable.

Jacqueline - Neck, 5-17-12, Pete Connelly - Que Sera 1.1 lbs Dark Brown Female - 12 year old female with 8 offspring. 2" staple, no character, good density, average brightness. 26-27 micron WL4 but most is too short to process into yarn. It was also very dirty and rather chopped up.