We went to Nebraska last week hopeful that we would compete if nothing else. While we have certainly had our share of success stories at the Futurity over the years, there have also been many times when we have gone with animals we genuinely believed in only to have our you-know-whats handed to us. If most every other level IV and V show is like AAA ball then the Futurity is most definitely the Majors. Welcome to The Show kids, hope you’ve got thick skin. We’ve learned the hard way that where the placings of our animals at the Futurity are concerned that any presumption of success can be very, very dangerous. Why you’re feeling good about your breeding program today? Well, here: allow us to take you down a notch or ten…
So it was that the combined CCNF/TGF caravan arrived in Grand Island on the Thursday before the show, with my 14 year old son, Sam, riding shot gun in our truck the whole way from home. I have to say that even after all that took place last week, having our kids with us (Jen and Max came in by plane the following day) was maybe the best part of all. After years of leaving the boys at home with other family while Jen and I drove off into the alpaca show sunset, sometimes for as much as a week at a time, Sam and Max have been a part of the crew again since last fall and I think it’s been a much healthier family dynamic for all of us to say nothing of a lot of fun! Though I digress…
The whole reason we had elected to arrive early on Thursday was twofold. For one, after 48+ hours on the trailer it’s safe to say that the fleeces on our show critters weren’t exactly going to be setting the world on fire. Actually, after 3+ weeks without any rain at home, many of them didn’t even look all that great when we loaded them onto the trailers in Vermont. Secondly, after that much quality time on a trailer packed together, we wanted enough time before the showing actually started on Sunday for any stress related diarrhea to show itself so that we could snuff it out. Last year with only 10 days or so between the end of the NAAS and the Futurity, we had something incubate and rear it’s ugly little head just after arrival in Nebraska and Jen, Ryen, and Dave (the boys and I were off touring Gettysburg, PA with my pop) spent several days cornering the local Pepto-Bismol market and going through more exam gloves than a proctologist’s practice. This year having theoretically learned our lesson, we stalled back to back at the NAAS only with TGF and both of us started dosing the water of our show strings with Corid prophylactically. I’m saying this very quietly but we think it made a big difference.
After the Futurity Sale and the Quechua Benefit dinner and charity auction on Saturday night Sunday morning broke with the show finally scheduled to get under way. At the Futurity, the show leads off with the huge and very competitive Get of Sire classes. Though we have been in the hunt before in recent times (Archangel Gets finished 3rd and 6th in 2009 and 2010, a Ring of Fire group finished 3rd last year), this year we felt as though the combined CCNF/TGF group of juveniles of Snowmass Elite Legend (whom we both co own with Snowmass) kids had a legitimate shot. With a group made up of CCNF Elixir and his brothers TGF Snow Legend, and TGF Marauder (who was lent back to us by his new owners at A.L. Paca’s Farms) they did indeed win the huacaya Get-of-Sire class! TGF actually took 2nd place as well with their Get for Snowmass Subzero, so though it guaranteed absolutely nothing, the weekend was off to a really good start nonetheless. A note of thanks by the way to the good folks at Alpaca Culture — who were broadcasting much of the show live over the web — for allowing me to use the two YouTube clips below. Too bad the interviewee in the first one is such a goober!
We had only one black colored animal in our entire group of 60+ alpacas but if you’re only going to have one, we could have done a lot worse than Tanzania. With 5 banners already to her name and little left to prove, Tanzy was set to retire after the Futurity this year win or lose so for her to end her show career by winning her color championship at the most prestigious show in the country was undeniably a nice touch! Big props of course to her sire and dam, Cameron and Andean Silk: good job kids. That’s probably a breeding we’ll be repeating this year.
Though we held our own with the rest of our browns and fawns, placing the vast majority of the time (in fact of the 27 animals CCNF brought to Futurity only 3 were excused from their classes without a ribbon), with the exception of Tanzania’s little sister, Silken Fire, we would stay out of any 1st place finishes until we got into the whites and lights. Those being the color groups which have historically been our breeding program’s real strength anyway. In those lighter colors our young King of the Ladies son, Agamemnon, won his class as did Elite Legend daughter, Jesusa, and Precocious daughter, Flirtatious who would also go on to win the Reserve Championship in the white females. Then there was the small matter of Mr. Elixir. Though he was coming off of winning the Judge’s Choice award at the NAAS 2 weeks prior, the Futurity is a big jump up in competition. I was tasked with showing him this time around and I remember feeling my “resting” pulse rate increase markedly while judge Peter Kennedy was making his final decision in his initial class: enough so that Elixir, who is normally the calmest cube in the room, started to jump around on me a bit. He was definitely picking up on his handler’s tension! In the end The Little Big Man did it again though, winning his class, his Championship, and ultimately the Judge’s Choice as well! We were and to some extent are still numb at that result. To have one of our alpacas recognized with that award at that show means more to us than is easily articulated.
We had decided months ago that regardless of our show results in Nebraska, that we just didn’t want to put our alpacas (or our kids) through the stress of back to back shows just 4 days apart (see Bismol, Pepto). As a result, almost a week later we were at home having a relatively mellow weekend while many of our colleagues battled it out at the Mapaca Jubilee. In the future we might consider either switching up or even doing both shows if they ever got their acts together to space it out a bit more (how about 10 whole days in between guys?) though the dirty little secret is that there are probably political considerations on both sides of that equation that would prevent that. Just a hunch. For now we will spend a few more days admittedly basking in some of the resonant glow from the Futurity, though the real life of the farm of course beckons and amongst other things the shearing of 200+ alpacas starts just 8 days from now. Birthing season is already upon us and our true breeding season for our foundation herd is really just 3 or 4 weeks away as well. It’s all a little crazy but we love it! Welcome to Cas-Cad-Nac Farm 2012, 15 years and counting. Forward we go… Follow me on Twitter @CCNFalpacas