Sunday, October 26, 2008
A alpaca enthusiast takes Napster for a walk
Friday, October 24, 2008
8 months old
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Here are some interesting things I've found on the web this week:
- This family is living off the grid. They're moving to a farm with no electricity, no TV (I would die!), etc. All I can say is "WOW!"
- I think this is my favorite. Check out this post from Rooster Hill Farm on the AI Guy. This is about the guy who goes around artificially inseminating cows. You HAVE to see his car! One day there will be an AI guy for alpacas, but maybe not in my lifetime.
- American Farmland Trust: Saving the Land that Sustains Us. Website for your activist side.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Only recently have I had this problem. Twice in the last month, bugs have flown in my mouth while I have been entertaining visitors to the alpaca farm. Most recently, I was with a friend, and the bug was big. So I just swiped my hand through my mouth, removed the bug, and said, "Yuck! A bug was in my mouth." Gross, but I survived.
The first time, however, was a different story. Picture it: National Alpaca Farm Day. Open House. People milling around, learning about alpacas. Me, floating around, talking with people, sharing the joy of alpacas. la, la, la. Then I see a couple who have visited me before. This time they have brought other family members. They are really interested in the alpaca business. As I chat with them, intelligently discussing the unique and divine benefits of being an alpaca farmer - a bug flies into my mouth. Make that throat. I am stunned. I want to choke. It's wings are tickling my throat. My throat is dry and I cannot quite swallow it. But it's too far back to spit it out. I smile, and continue to converse with the lovely visitors, as though there is not an insect fluttering around in my throat trying to escape.
Finally, I clear my throat a couple of times, and...swallow. My visitors are none the wiser. I wonder how I became this person. And I like to think Jeff Probst would be proud.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Alpacas are ruminants and eat grass, hay, and alpaca feed. 7-8 alpacas can generally be put out to graze on one acre of pasture. They also eat a small amount of pellet type food daily. Alpacas need to be sheared once a year. In the summertime they need access to fresh water, shade, and air circulation to do well. With proper management alpacas can thrive in hot, humid climates. Currently, alpacas are being raised in all 50 states. To care for an alpaca it costs about as much as it does to raise a medium size dog, including medication and feed. Alpacas can be insured against theft and full mortality. Alpaca ownership has great tax advantages. They are considered to be the world's finest livestock investment. For more information on these lovely creatures, visit our farm website.
Friday, October 17, 2008
These cups are the greatest! Virtually indestructible, they keep drinks cold and the glass doesn't sweat, protecting my fine antique furniture. To celebrate the Texas Longhorns #1 ranking, I am giving away a set of 4 - 16oz. Tervis Tumblers. The winner can choose tumblers from either the Glitter category which includes Christmas, Mardi Gras, Springtime, or Multi (my cup above), or any available Collegiate teams. The contest will end at 11pm (EST) on Monday, October 20, 2008.
To enter, leave a comment telling me either: 1) why you agree that the Longhorns are the best college football team in the land (if you disagree - feel free to keep it to yourself, or 2) which cup you will choose if you win! Leaving a comment will earn you one entry. You can earn two additional entries by posting this giveaway on your own blog. Be sure to tell me if you do so. I look forward to checking out your blog. The winner will be chosen at random.
Please note that if you leave a comment and it doesn't show up right away - it will soon. I did get it so you don't need to comment twice. I moderate comments to fight spam so it may take an hour or so for it to show up on the blog.
Thanks to everyone who entered! Mannequin won. She chose the Christmas Glitter cups.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
1. Assess Your Female
When you purchase females, it is a good idea to ask the Seller about the female’s strengths and weaknesses. (Like people, alpacas have both.) This is a good starting point. If your female was born on your farm and you are new to alpacas, you may experience “barn blindness”. This can happen to long time breeders too so don’t feel bad. But when starting out, most of us think that all our alpacas are wonderful and we can be blind to their flaws. A more experienced alpaca breeder can help you determine the strengths and weaknesses of your little darling. Ask an alpaca friend, expert, or the herdsire’s owner to help you assess your girl.
Another way to have your alpaca assessed is by entering her in an AOBA sanctioned alpaca show. Halter shows are a great way to meet other breeders. Watching the show will help you learn about the best alpacas in your area. Listening to the judges discuss their placements will teach you more about what makes an exceptional alpaca. Consider both fleece and conformation. Ask to look at the Champion and Reserve Champion alpaca’s fleeces as they exit the ring. This can teach you a lot about what the alpaca industry is breeding towards.
For assessing fleece, nothing is better than an AOBA Fleece Show. You will have to skirt your fleece beforehand. Some shows allow you to mail in your fleece. This is one way to get a judge’s opinion of your alpaca’s fleece without the extra expense of hotels, transportation, and missed days of work. Your alpaca will receive a scorecard with various scores on different aspects of her fleece. While winning ribbons is great, even if you do not win, you will receive feedback from the judge that will be valuable as you prepare to breed your female. Now you have assessed your female....click here to continue reading.
For more articles like this, click here.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
- Luxurious Fiber
- They look like big teddy bears
- Once pregnant, the girls spit at the boys (helpful and humorous)
- No need to bathe them - EVER
- Great fertilizer
- Over 95% of the time they birth unassisted
- They potty in a community poop pile
- Tax advantages
- Those big, beautiful eyes
- They hum
Thursday, October 9, 2008
This darling gal made it her New Year's Resolution to use her crockpot every day this year. Visit her site for lots of great meal ideas that will save you time and money. Plus she's giving away 5 FREE crockpots. A Year of CrockPotting: Happy Crocktober! Brand new eLume Give Away.
When planning your alpaca farm, you will need to plan for at least 4 groups of animals eventually. A group for younger (weanling - yearling) males, a group for mature males, and two groups for females. Having the ability to separate your females into two groups helps when it comes time for weaning and managing different body scores, birthing patterns, and personalities. If you start with all females, you can house your alpaca herd in one group. Just be prepared that as the herd grows, one day you will need at least four groups.
Several times a year we re-evaluate each group and move some animals around. Today I did just that in preparation for the Autumn "Fruit Basket Turnover" as I like to call it. All the female alpacas that are due in 2008 will go in one group. The females due in the Spring of 2009 will make up another group. We will also separate the girls who will need to be bred this Fall. I have a "special" group of 5 girls that are to be bred to Shawnee. He is a younger herdsire just starting out his breeding career. We will consider "field breeding" him with these girls for about a week. More on that once he arrives from Ohio. (This is not a usual practice for us. Almost all breedings we do are "hand breedings" where we put the male and the female together, watch the breeding, and record what occurs. But with his inexperience, we think Shawnee needs a more naturalistic approach to get him past his first time jitters!) We will also have a group of younger males and our herdsire group.
I will go over the groups again with regards to personalities before we actually move any animals. Alpacas have sweet, somewhat sensitive temperaments. Some alpacas are pretty tough and don't seem to mind where they go. Some alpacas are very sensitive and need to be with alpaca "buddies" or herdmates they have known for a while. The lovely Antigia, pictured here with daughter Juliette, is one of our more sensitive girls. When we wean her cria (baby alpaca), she will really miss her. Antigia will come to the fence and cry for her for several days. (not all alpacas do this) We will want to make sure that when we move Antigia and her baby away from each other, she has some friends in her group to help her with the transition. Alpacas are very social animals and they exhibit emotions just like people do. We have decided to put Antigia in a group with other girls who will birth when she does next year. This way she can stay with the same group of animals for the long term. Paying attention to each animal's individual needs pays you back tenfold with regard to that animal's production.
Key Tax Changes in theEmergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
On Oct. 3, President Bush signed into law the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (the “Act”). Most of us have referred to this legislation as the “Bailout” package. The final bill
contains items that impact small business and individuals other than assistance to large financial institutions. We just received a synopsis of the key elements and the following may be of interest to AOBA (Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association) members.
- Emergency economic stabilization related tax measures consist of a three-year extension for home mortgage debt forgiveness relief.
- Bank customers will receive $250,000 in Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. protection per depositor through Dec. 31, 2009, a temporary increase from the current $100,000.
- The 2008 Act boosts Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemption amounts for individuals for 2008, and also provides that for 2008, personal nonrefundable credits may offset AMT and regular tax. Additionally, the 2008 Act also liberalizes the AMT refundable
credit amount rules.
More than 30 tax breaks that either expired at the end
of 2007 or are soon to expire have been extended by the 2008 Act. For example,
all of the following individual tax breaks are retroactively revived to apply
for the 2008 tax year and are extended to apply to the 2009 tax year as well:
- the election to deduct state and local general sales tax
- the above line deduction for higher education expenses
- the above line deduction for educator expenses
- the ability of taxpayers age 70 1/2; or older to make nontaxable IRA transfers to eligible charities
- the research credit (which is
- the 15-year write-off for qualified leasehold improvements and
qualified restaurant property (which is also liberalized)
- enhanced deductions for certain charitable contributions (which is also liberalized for
- and the expensing option for qualified environmental remediation
New tax relief measures include:
- relaxed write-off rules for film and TV productions
- quick 5-year depreciation for many types of farm
- modified rules for the penalty on understatement of a taxpayer's
liability by a tax return preparer
- mental health parity rules
- liberalized rules for the refundable child tax credit
AOBA (and Alpaca Farmgirl!) do not offer tax advice and this information is just a brief overview of portions of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. You should consult your tax advisor for specific details on how the new act might affect you and your farm or ranch. If you would like a referral to an accountant who is familiar with alpaca related tax issues, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
It sure was pretty, but it was back to the drawing board. On the way home we happened to spend the night in the up and coming city of Chattanooga...
(to be continued)
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Posted using ShareThis
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Join us in helping hurricane victims. Here's a link to help Hurricane Ike survivors.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
That's all the economic advice I can spare today...
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Also, a picture of Doe and Walker graced the front page of the Foley Onlooker today. It was accompanied by a positive piece on alpacas. Sadly, they are not online.
In order to sell alpacas, you must have a web presence. This can be done in a number of ways. You can reserve a domain name and develop your own individual farm website. This is a great way to go if you have the time/money/inclination to do so. But if you are just starting out, and you want a quick and easy way to get on the internet with your farm, there are a several options. The granddaddy of them all is AlpacaNation. 75% of respondents said that they visited AlpacaNation to look for alpacas for purchase. AlpacaNation offers an easy, affordable way to list your farm with a description of it, pictures, and you can list your alpacas for sale. I highly recommend this avenue as affordable, easy, and adequate for your first couple of years of selling. Check it out, but I must warn you: It is very addicting. Say goodbye to your loved ones as you will be spending hours on this site. AlpacaStreet is another option for listing your farm and animals for sale. The newer and slightly less sophisticated AlpacaStreet is a growing entity. It has lots of add-ons, spreadsheets, and bulletin board features which should increase their traffic over time. Alpacaficionado is yet another place where your alpacas can be offered for sale. I'm not sure if it is enough to be your main web presence, but they have a lot to offer with content and advertising.
Another possible way to have a web presence is through your local AOBA affiliate. For example, our regional affiliate, The Deep South Alpaca Connection, has a terrific website where it's members can list their animals and tell visitors about their farm. Being a part of the website is included in DSAC's membership dues, which are only $60. This is a great value.
The main thing is to get started with some type of web address where people can find you, a picture of an alpaca or two, and your contact information. Have fun, and share with us your experiences getting your farm on the internet!
*Visit Alpaca Livestock Company, a division of AOBA, for more information in participating in the Farm and Ranch Guide mentioned in Secrets that Sell Alpacas - #1.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
"So, what are you, like a horse?"
"No, I'm an alpaca, kinda like a goat with a long neck."
"I gotta go have a nap. Later my parents and I will discuss the how the world's finest livestock investment can help me save money for college. "
Monday, September 29, 2008
The guys talk alpacas
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Kids love Doe, reigning alpaca PR Queen
above photo: Keith Stewart
Zachary, age 6, learns to spin
Sorry I didn't get these up last night as promised. Fell asleep watching "America's Toughest Jobs" with my son. Who knew bull fighters made that kind of money?