After a fall that felt particularly chaotic, one would think that things would chill out around here as the days grow increasingly shorter and we stare down the winter solstice. We had after all gone through (in no particular order): a double show in Syracuse, a weekend auction in Oregon, Jen spending days on end in our fleece room fulfilling a large order for pre-graded fiber (a big shout out to our amazing partner in the VT Fiber Mill & Studio, Deb Bratton, for coming and lending a hand, BTW), with all of that interspersed with the tail end of our breeding and birthing season, to say nothing of the never ending daily paper chase my better half deals with from an operation with 270+ alpacas and 4 full-time employees. While the intense pressures of deadlines have receded for the most part, there has been and is yet much more work to be done as we enter the so called off-season.
Our amazing staff here spent much of late October and early November putting our outer pastures to bed, both taking down the temporary fencing that we use to subdivide them into paddocks off of the Arena at the top of the farm, spreading 6 to 8 months worth of composted manure and bedding back onto many of those same fields, and repairing and reseeding the myriad roll holes and loafing areas the herd had created farm-wide throughout the grazing season. As part of that same operation, we also erect a seasonal dry lot around the Arena that still allows the feed groups at that barn (roughly 70% of whom are made up of dam/cria pairs by this time of the year) to get outside and get some much needed sunshine, yet minimizes the risks of soft tissue injuries and broken bones on an otherwise steep and icy/snowy mountainside.
Though we stopped breeding our own proprietary females on 10/31 for 2017 births (hot rumor du jour: we’re moving that date back even further to at least 10/15 next year), there is yet some action to be had for the Herdsire-wannabes of CCNF. Seems an alpaca pimp never really rests, we just bundle up in heavy jackets and throttle back a touch. Oh, the joys and perks of facilitating off-season alpaca sex! As it turns out, this is my second year running what I refer to as our fall/winter instructional league. As with last year, some of the fellas here need to work on their, technique shall we say, and fortunately for them, there are always enough open females in the herd that we can use as willing partners, as some of the younger or late-blooming boys try to prove that they are indeed worthy of sticking around. It never ceases to amaze me that a mature male who normally behaves like a world-class asshat with his male peers — as in orgling and mounting anyone and everyone they deem beneath them in the pecking order — is then cowed into a Ferdinand-The-Bull-like silence when introduced to a pen of open, receptive females. For such occasions, I have a recording on my phone of one of our our former Herdsires orgling. That usually gets the idea across and helps get the rookies into the right mindset. Every now and then technology serves a very practical purpose, particularly when the only other alternative would be me trying to imitate an alpaca orgle. Been there, done that…and it’s not pretty.
As for more office-related fall and and winter shenanigans, there is the small matter of updating our sales and Herdsire listings as well, something which also happily falls to yours truly, once all of the aforementioned sexy stuff has been taken care of. While we didn’t cry and moan a whole lot (what our friends in the Commonwealth nations refer to as whinging) when the bottom fell out of the US alpaca market circa 2010, conversely we also don’t tend to howl at the moon much when business has been good either because, A. I find it all a bit tacky and, B. as someone who is superstitious to a fault, I am always wary of applying the infamous jinx. That said, 2016 has been a modestly successful one where animal sales were concerned. One of the byproducts of that all, being that our sales listings have been rather thin of late, with some animals never even making it onto a public listing before they were sold. Many, many thanks as always to our various clients, some new, some repeat — which are arguably the best kind as they have worked with us before and have decided that we were worthy of their hard-earned money yet again — that put their trust in us and our breeding program. As we approach our 20th anniversary in 2017, this is obviously not our first rodeo and we are all too cognizant that the fates can be rather fickle though where sales are concerned, so pinch of salt and all of that. Anyway, you can expect both the aforementioned online Herdsire pages to be freshened up (thinking of you and your peers Mr. Dreadnaught) in the weeks and months ahead, as well as the appearance of some friendly new faces on our online sales listings.
I hope that everyone reading this here in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving and may you all, here or elsewhere, have a festive and joyous Holiday season in the weeks ahead. More from me to follow soon…we’re just getting warmed up.
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” -Pablo Picasso
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