Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Alpacas 101 - October 2008 Edition

Jeremy instructs participants in alpaca training and handling techniques

A alpaca enthusiast takes Napster for a walk

Brady gives our guests some practice with a reluctant alpaca

"Alpacas 101" went beautifully yesterday. The weather was great, and we had a wonderful group of people attend the class. We had one relatively new suri breeder from Mississippi and six other people at various stages in their research of the alpaca business. The group really loved the outdoor, hands-on portion of the class. They learned about trimming alpacas' toenails, as well as haltering and leading.

I had a terrible case of the "um"s yesterday. Those poor people. I must have uttered "um..." at least twice a minute. Annoying. I am haunted by visions of my high school speech teacher giving me a bad grade, and buzzing me with her buzzer named Beula all day. (She used to "buzz" us everytime we uttered "deadwood" words/sounds.) Now that I think of it, I should look her up and ask her to come to my next class...that would cure me. I was off my game a little, no surprise as I was distracted by some real estate rumblings, but more on that later.

The Alpaca 101 participants were quite forgiving of my foibles and a great time was had by all. We talked about fiber more at this class than at any Alpacas 101 class I can remember. Fitting that our next class will be a fiber class entitled, "Basics of Alpaca Fiber & Smart Skirting for Great Rewards". It will be geared to beginning to intermediate breeders and will take place at our farm in January 2009.

NY Alpaca Farmers

Check out this article about Alpaca Breeders in New York. Nice article. Props to the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Friday, October 24, 2008

We'll miss that big puppy!

Scamp 4 weeks
7 weeks
8 months old

I love livestock guard dogs! Love them. Guess that's why we have 6. After today we'll have only 5 because "Scamp" is going to his new home today at Serenity Farms. Look at how he has grown.

Scamp's new owner, Rochelle, also welcomed female alpacas Ivy By Knight, and Windy Cindy into her herd today. Both girls are blue ribbon winners. What can we say? Rochelle has good taste. We'll miss them all but are so glad they are going to such a great home.

BUSY getting ready for Alpacas 101 tomorrow.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Weekly Web Finds

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.
Two social networking sites:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Just a Little Protein

Why do bugs keep flying in my mouth?

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

Secrets That Sell Alpacas #3

We all know that you have to have business cards. Today we are also going to talk about what to do with them.

As an alpaca breeder you will need business cards that have your contact information, a tagline, and a picture of an alpaca. Remember that many people have never seen an alpaca and don't know what it is. A picture of one goes a long way in explanation with regards to your business. The vast majority of people will think they are cute (or funny looking) and this will peak their interest.

Your tagline should refect what sets you apart from others. Try to limit it to 7-8 words. Some great taglines are shorter. If it feels like too much of a mouthful, try to shorten it. If your market is mostly alpaca breeders, your tagline could talk about your herd specifically. Some examples of good taglines currently used by breeders are: "The Next Generation of Elite Alpacas", and "Leading the Way in Black and Grey". If you plan to market to mostly new breeders your tagline could focus more on the lifestyle. Examples include: "Living the dream..." and "Where Magic Happens". Our farm's tagline, "Fleecy Beaux and Belles for Your Portfolio" is appreciated by many alpaca breeders, but people who don't know about alpacas are confused by it. Many people who see it think I'm a photographer. Back to the drawing board for me!?

People get handed lots of business cards. They ditch most of them. Make yours special so that it stands apart from the rest. Consider having it printed on specialty paper. Using a different size card or a fold-over is another possibility to help make your card memorable. If possible, use both sides of the card, information on one side and a picture of an alpaca on back.

Now that you have your cards, hand them out! This may not come naturally to you, but all the best salesmen/women in the world are pros at handing out business cards. Always keep some in your wallet, purse, luggage. I keep a fleece sample in my car. This way when people ask me about the sign on my car, I can let them feel alpaca fleece as I tell them about these wonderful creatures. Then I leave them with a business card and ask them to visit my website. Give cards to people who sit next to you on business trips. Give them to your dentist, your child's teachers, the man who comes to repair your refrigerator, everyone you meet! Spread the word. I once sold several alpacas to a couple after their daughter had gotten my card when she gave me a pedicure. Good thing I gave her my card.

If you sell things on E-Bay, enclose your card when you mail your items. Enclose business cards when you pay bills. You never know when the person who processes those bills needs some alpacas or knows someone who does! Have your local feed store or veterinarian display some of your cards. Usually you will have to provide the card holder, but they are often happy to let you promote your farm. When you have a prospect who decides not to purchase alpacas, give them two business cards. Ask them to please give those cards to two people they know who might be interested in alpacas. Spread the word, people!
I challenge you to give out 2 business cards today. Leave me comments on how you gave them out, who you gave them to, etc. If you don't already have your business cards, tell 2 people about alpacas (or your chosen business if it's not alpacas.)
Secrets that Sell Alpacas Tip #3: Get Your Business Card OUT there. It doesn't do you much good in your wallet.
Read Secrets that Sell Alpacas #2: Have an Internet Presence
Read Secrets that Sell Alpacas #1: Participate in the Farm & Ranch Guide

Sunday, October 19, 2008


"Friendship is the bread of the heart" ~Mary Russell Mitford

Saturday, October 18, 2008

What IS an Alpaca Anyway?

A few of our alpacas (lft. to rt.)Siege, Minette, Portia, Caesar, and Tapioka.

Alpacas are members of the camelid family. The alpaca is a fiber-bearing, domesticated animal, considered to be livestock. They are very gentle animals. Alpacas have large, expressive eyes and are easy to care for. They are easy on the environment because they do not pull grass out by the roots and their soft, padded feet don’t harm the ground. Alpacas grow to be about 3 feet high at the withers and 4.5 feet high on the top of the head. Adult alpacas weigh about 150 lbs. on average. Pregnant females (dams) bear only one offspring per year. The gestation period is between 11-12 months. A baby alpaca is called a cria, which means creation in Spanish. Crias weigh between 12-20 lbs. at birth. Alpacas produce between 2-10 lbs. of fiber a year. They come in 22 specified colors with many shades in between, more than any other fiber-bearing animal.

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

Tervis Tumbler Giveaway

This is my cup. I start each and every day with diet coke in my insulated cup. The colorful sequins put a song in my heart, a little pep in my step. Occasionally I will borrow my son's cup which has the Mardi Gras colored confetti. (He is a nut about Mardi Gras. More on that in February!) But I use this cup EVERY DAY.

So what has me changing cups this weekend?

The Texas Longhorns, that's what!
My dear, sweet Mamma gave me these cups a couple of years ago for my birthday. Just because I'm only dragging them out when Texas becomes ranked #1 in both the AP and Coaches' Polls doesn't mean I'm a fair weather fan. In fact, I am a UT grad who has, in the past, named alpacas "Vin-Sanity" (after Vince Young for those of you who don't follow football, he's a football player) and "Major Applewhite". Get ready for a little "Colt" to be pronking around in the fields this Fall.

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 for your responses! I'm excited to see who wins. Good luck everyone!

Thanks to everyone who entered! Mannequin won. She chose the Christmas Glitter cups.
I used the random integer service to choose the winner. Thanks again! Keep visiting our site. More giveaways coming soon.

Don't Look at Me - I Didn't Do It!

When I was on my walk this morning, I came upon this site. Hmm. What's wrong with this picture? (Note: Luminescence sees nothing wrong as he gobbles his breakfast.)

Dillon looks back, as if to say, "Well, would you look at that."
Oopsie Daisy!
(that leg had been giving us trouble, rusted screw/bolt whatever)
"We did NOT do that!"

"Uh, Miss Katy, this will not affect our daily eating schedule, will it?"

Nope. We'll just prop it up. With kids and critters - It's always somethin'!

Morning Nature Walk

Every morning I walk my house dogs (beagle and collie). Why? Because every time I have a pen where I could possibly put them outside, I put alpacas in it. This morning I took some nature photos so you might join me. The sun was just coming up so it was still rather dark.There a two little birds at the top of the weathervane (the M is for Morton Buildings)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Which Sire to Hire?

As a new breeder, I usually selected males for my open females based on how attractive they were. My idea was to choose a male that I would like my cria to look like. Often the sire’s owners would make suggestions, but I was never clear exactly WHY they were suggesting that particular male. Back then, all alpacas were lovely and if the male had a few ribbons, a few nice cria on the ground, and the price was reasonable – then it seemed like a good choice. Today, with more experience under my belt, breeding decisions require more thought. Let’s look at some of the steps to take when choosing a herdsire.

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 here to continue reading.

For more articles like this, click here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ten Reasons to LOVE Alpacas!

  1. Luxurious Fiber

  2. They look like big teddy bears

  3. Once pregnant, the girls spit at the boys (helpful and humorous)

  4. No need to bathe them - EVER

  5. Great fertilizer

  6. Over 95% of the time they birth unassisted

  7. They potty in a community poop pile

  8. Tax advantages

  9. Those big, beautiful eyes

  10. They hum

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Alpaca Farm in Fall

Favorite Drop Spindles

If you are looking for a drop spindle, check out
BONNE's ABODE: Favorite Drop Spindles
You can buy a great product and support a good cause all at the same time!

Keep Cooking by CrockPotting: Happy Crocktober! Brand new eLume Give Away.

I have been meaning to tell you about this incredible website. How do you have a successful career, operate a farm smoothly, and keep the husband and children happy? I have no idea, but cooking with the crockpot can help!

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.

Fruit Basket Turn-Over

People often ask me how I determine which alpaca goes into which group. We break the larger herd up into smaller groups for several reasons. We like to have animals of the same sex and age together for feeding and management purposes. We might have one group with show animals in it that we try to keep out of the mud. Sometimes we will have a "skinny" group with animals who could use feed that is richer in nutrients. It is easier to catch animals for various reasons if they are in smaller groups, and this system aids in pasture rotation.

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 that May Affect Alpaca Breeders

This was shared with its members by AOBA (the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association). Passed on with love from AFG.

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.

  1. Emergency economic stabilization related tax measures consist of a three-year extension for home mortgage debt forgiveness relief.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
    also modified),
  • 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

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Looking for a New Farm

Steve and the kids explore Tennessee

I cannot tell you how much I love my farm. I adore our location. We live in the cutest town in the world. If you have never been to Fairhope, Alabama you must plan a trip! It is the greatest place to visit, and to live and raise a family. It used to be the best place to have a farm, but times they are a changin'. Since everyone is discovering how adorable it is, the farmers are getting squeezed out by suburbia. I try not to be resentful of this occurance. I do enjoy the Super Wal-mart that is down the street from me.

Another contributing factor to our current restlessness is the fact that I am running out of room to grow the alpaca herd. With only 10 acres, single family homes beginning to dot my fenceline, and big alpaca plans, last year we had to start looking for a new farm. Since moving a farm with 50+ alpacas, several dogs and cats, and four children will be quite an undertaking, I thought I would record the journey in my blog.
I had to do some serious soul searching about how big of a farm I really wanted. Okay, I suffer from bigger is better -itis. I'm an American, it's in the blood. So I worked up a business plan for the next 5, 10, and 15 years. I determined that I would like to have the ability to have 150 alpacas on the farm. Once I picked hubby up off the floor, we started to discuss location. At first I insisted that since I was the President of the Deep South Alpaca Connection, I had to live in the states we served. Since my husband was voting for West Virginia (I am severely allergic to winters that cold), and I began to realize my attachment to DSAC could be considered a bit unhealthy, I knew I'd better compromise. We found a gorgeous piece of property in Crossville, Tennessee. Seemed like a good compromise on locations so we took some time during Spring Break to drive up there to look around.
Heaven on Earth. This is one of the views that enticed us to consider this piece of land.Gorgeous views. But can you see how steep this is? This stunning piece of land was on the side of a mountain! We could barely walk it, much less drive a tractor over it. Alpacas are used to mountains, but the severe grade was an insurmountable obstacle for the humans involved.

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

Southern Hay Option is Highly Digestible, Costs Peanuts

Peanut Hay from Johnny Lee

What is this Peanut Hay? It looks like Edward Scissorhands has been at the shrubbery again! We got some for the alpacas last week. They do love it. But exactly what is it and why feed it to your alpacas? (or horses for that matter). For the straight skinny click here: The Horse: Southern Hay Option is Highly Digestible, Costs Peanuts

Posted using ShareThis
Alpacas generally require between 12-14% protein in their hay. (I am told peanut hay has between 14-18% protein.) Too much protein in the alpacas' diet can cause fiber blow out (this is where the fiber coarsens up significantly). However, expectant moms and lactating females will often thrive on the higher protein hay. We aren't as concerned with this group's fiber becoming more coarse because it coarsens with age and production anyway. This is our first experience with the peanut hay. We are mixing it with local alecia bermuda for most of the animals. The females who are expecting soon and those who are lactating are getting a higher percentage of the peanut hay. We'll let you know how it works out. Share your hay thoughts with us!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Technorati Profile

Giving Back

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back. ~ Maya Angelou

Join us in helping hurricane victims. Here's a link to help Hurricane Ike survivors.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Are You Happy?

Several of the bloggers I read have been pondering happiness this week. At Friday Night Playdate, Susan's son got her thinking about it. At Notes from the Trenches, Chris wonders, "Is This a Mid-Life Crisis?" With my background as a Psychologist, I find these issues riveting. What makes us happy? or not?

Our circumstances do play a role in our happiness. But the way we view life is one of the biggest pieces in determining happiness. As humans, we have a tendency to be expecting/hoping/waiting for the next thing to make us happy. For example, "When I get that raise next month, then I will be happy", or "When we go to Bermuda, then I will be happy."

Personally, I have grown into my happiness. As I have gotten older I have become happier. I am more accepting of others' flaws, a bit more laid back, and I am more comfortable with who I am every year. (Though I would like to be thinner, much thinner.) How did I become happy? I was a very mixed up, directionless young lady until my mid-twenties. Three things turned me around, helped me get my life on a purposeful track. The support of my husband. He believed in me beyond anything I had ever known. The birth of my first child: Yea, I know this is a magical event for everyone on the planet, but it had a special significance for me. It told me who I would become. When I became a mother, it was like bells and a light show went off. I knew what I was supposed to do with my life: be a mother, and more broadly, a nurturer. Ok, I admit I didn't know at the time that this would translate into farming, but it did. That brings me to the third thing that has made my life the happy one it is today. Discovering alpacas. These creatures were a perfect fit for me. I was able to take my earth shattering calling to be a mother, and channel that energy towards a business with lovely, fabulous animals I can nurture. The fact that the alpacas have babies every year is what keeps me from having 15 children of my own. I can sublimate that urge and enjoy the alpaca babies. (They go through way fewer diapers and don't talk back so it works pretty well for me.)
Career choice and satisfaction with that choice affect our happiness significantly. Before I was an alpaca breeder, I had a sadistic boss who made my daily life challenging. Today I have trials and disappointments to be sure, but I find myself reveling in the day so much more as I operate my own business. Things are not always rosy and I can never get everything done. I don't spend much time on guilt. I don't get bogged down in worrying if I'm a good enough mother, just because I don't think it helps. We do the best we can, try to keep communication lines open, pray, and occasionally pull out the old psychology tricks. (That doesn't work, it just gives me a false sense of power over these little people who are growing and changing at an alarming pace.) Being there, being present, for the kids is what I think benefits them the most. (In psychology we would call it "providing a holding environment". There's your 2 cent psych term of the day) And I think the farm and the alpacas help with that. It keeps us grounded. Nothing like birth and death to keep things real.

Often, we find happy lives when we step back and look at ourselves, but we may not feel happy on a daily basis. Don't settle for that. Take the time to "stop and smell the roses". Make a point to enjoy yourself in the moment. Stop and remind yourself of the people and things you love and why. Renew your commitment to love and take care of yourself. And if you aren't happy in your career choice, rethink it. Life's too short. Find your bliss!
I would love to hear your comments on happiness!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wall Street Journal - Investing in Alpacas

Check out this Wall Street Journal about people finding alternate investments when the traditional stock market goes South. When Stocks Tank, Some Investors Stampede to Alpacas and Turn to Drink! I remember after 911 feeling very secure with our investment in alpacas. They just ate grass, gestated, and kept growing our herd without a care about the stock market. Lots of people invested in alpacas then. I expect we will see the same with this economic downturn.

That's all the economic advice I can spare today...

Knitting Scarf with Alpaca

My friend, Maxine, who is an extraorinary knitter, is knitting this precious potato chip scarf with the alpaca yarn she bought from Stephanie at our Open House last weekend. Isn't it cute? Maxine says it is super easy. She even started one and brought it by for my eleven-year-old to work on. How sweet is that? We are so blessed! Thanks Maxine for being so incredibly talented and thoughtful! Maxine and I just started working on a secret project that will incorporate our alpaca yarn, humor, whimsy, and alpacas into a an adorable product everyone will want to take home with them. They should be ready in time for our Holiday Open House.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More from Farm Day...

On Lori's blog! Check it out. She has the funniest picture of (alpacas) Roxsanne and Lorraine gossipping.

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.

Secrets that Sell Alpacas - #2

The Internet now plays an essential role in helping potential buyers find information about alpacas and in locating alpacas to purchase. A 2008 survey by the Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association asked new alpaca breeders the following question: "When you were considering your FIRST PURCHASE of alpacas, which Internet sources did you use to locate alpacas for sale?" 84% said individual farm websites.

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

The Doe - Walker Story

"Hi, I live down the street."
"Nice to meet you short stuff."
"So, what are you, like a horse?"
"No, I'm an alpaca, kinda like a goat with a long neck."
"Mom, can I have one?"
"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. "
"Excellent. Don't be a stranger Champ!"

Monday, September 29, 2008

National Alpaca Farm Day - Sunday

Mac and Mary, the MVP's of Farm Days. Their spinning demos were a big hit!

Farm visitors shopping for alpaca products
The guys talk alpacas

This weekend we had well over 100 people join us to learn more about alpacas, and to buy alpaca yarn and products. It was a really fun weekend. Our dedicated spinning friends, Mac and Mary taught several people how to spin alpaca fiber into yarn. I think the kid's corner was also a success. Thanks to all who visited, and thanks to all who helped us pull it off! What a great industry, full of great people.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

National Alpaca Farm Day - Saturday

Spinning Demonstrations with Mac and Mary
photo: Cheryl Bowen

Saturday's Open House was a big success. With around 70 people in attendance, we had a great day introducing visitors to the world of alpacas. Interestingly, at 2:20pm, the last person left. No one else showed up, though we were open til 3pm. It was so quiet, you could've herd a pellet drop (an alpaca food pellet of course. Don't get me started on how my kids, who normally love bathroom humor, have reprimanded me for putting the word "POOP" into the alpaca word search for kids...). Oh yeah, the Auburn game started at 2:30pm. Life in the SEC... don't you just love it?

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?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Today's the Big Day!

Today's a big day for the Alpaca Farm. It's the beginning of National Alpaca Farm Days! We expect many people to come visit our alpacas this weekend. We have 3 other local alpaca farms joining us for the event for the first time. Thanks to Humming Star Alpacas, Gulf Breeze Alpacas, and Ed! With the Artist gone, I couldn't have done this without you! The weather is supposed to be lovely. Will post pictures tonight.

Today is also a huge day for the Artist! His monument will be dedicated today on the beach at Normandy, in France. The Utah Beach Museum actually has a webcam so you can watch the dedication, and see the monument. At the moment, it is covered with a big white sheet that is blowing mightily, telling us how windy it is there. An except from the Artist in his last email,"This place has been crazy. I have been coming in to the museum at 8am every day and working all day helping with preparations for todays dedication. The French have been as wonderful as their countyside is beautiful. The Navy Seabees have been building the stages and color gaurds have been rehearsing. The speech I am supposed to give has been swirling around in my head every night while I try to sleep...." So exciting!

Sometimes you hear that the French don't like Americans. The Artist reports that in Normandy, the French love Americans. They are grateful to us, and fly American flags. (At other times of the year too, not just when the monument is being installed) The French have worked diligently to have this monument installed. An American film company is doing a documentary on the making of the monument. I will keep you updated when you can see that on the History channel.

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