You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘alpaca’ tag.

Why? Because some days just call for alpacas. Nothing else will do.

IMG_7872

Denver, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “The Llama is a woolly sort of fleecy hairy goat, with an indolent expression and an undulating throat; like an unsuccessful literary man.” — Hilaire Beloc

Daily gratitudes:
Joy’s graduation
Talks with Nina
That Kelsea’s team did well today
Art Buchwald’s baked potato
Storm clouds

This happy little fellow was at last year’s Alpaca Show. It’s almost Stock Show time, and Kelsea and I are trying to decide if we want to go early and see the llamas and alpacas, or if we want to go later and see the hogs or goats.  Or maybe we’ll just have to go twice.

Alpaca worm

Denver, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. From now on you’ll be traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be. The key is to allow yourself to make the journey.”  —  Meg Cabot

Daily gratitudes:
Random kisses from a mini-schnauzer on the shuttle
How dogs like to sit on top of each other in the front seat of cars
Skinny mocha
Kelsea’s poem
Jen, for introducing me to Anna Maria Island

The Great Western Alpaca Show was today, and it was … great.  It was also yesterday and is also tomorrow, in case you’re in the area and feel a need to make friends with a fuzz-face.

Held in Denver’s National Western Stock Show complex, the event presents over 1400 alpacas in agility, fancy-dress (aka, costume), fiber, and all-around alpaca fabulousness judging.  I don’t think we saw all 1400 alpacas, but I must say that we came pretty darn close.  I know there was only one stall hall that we regretfully passed up.

This is a big year for alpacas and us.  Devotees may recall the brilliant obstacle course for alpacas, which held our rapt attention at the National Western Stock Show in January.  Others may remember that this humble blog made Freshly Pressed with the posting about Alpacas and Auctions back in February.  The beasties are playing a more prominent role in my life this year, and I have decided to add owning a pair to the oft-updated life list of things yet to be done.

We arrived around noon and made our way directly to the stalls.  Do not pass go, and do not take your alpacas upstairs.

And there they were!

One of the first unusual things we noticed was a family of three attempting to put a long sleeve man’s shirt on a small alpaca.  Let me reassure you that this is not an easy task.  Perhaps the alpaca did not like that particular plaid.  I thought that they might be trying to keep the little guy warm, but I discovered otherwise, as we’ll see later.

Moving down the rows, we encountered Kira, whose real name is GlennaLee.  Kira owns and shows several alpacas, who live up in Granby.  She lives in Indiana, so they have a long-distance relationship.  Kira introduced us to A Whole Lotta Socks, a 16-month old Huacaya (who has extremely small llama balls, we were told), and Lightning, a 7-month old Suri.  She was a very welcoming owner, as we found most alpaca ranchers to be.  She gave us some insights around alpaca fibers, and how the crimping of the fine fiber close to their skin is the most strictly judged, and how alpacas with blue “chips” in their eyes tend towards blindness.  She also let both Kelsea and I walk the guys around a bit. I took Lightning.

Kelsea took Socks. 

It was wonderful.  I find that I am an excellent alpaca shaman.  Here, Lightning and I are discussing a distant alpaca who was wearing a gypsy scarf.

Moving along, we encountered several alpacas who seemed to be in a zen state,

and others who were proudly showing off their awards.

We witnessed first hand a spitting alpaca – boy, does that spit fly.  According to Kira, a female alpaca will spit if a male is attempting to mount her and she’s either already pregnant or just extremely unwilling.  (Remember that, girls.) These two were swirling around in a battle for dominance that bordered on domestic violence. 

And everyone was watching.

That’s the thing about alpacas. 

They are fascinated by everything. 

They look. 

And look. 

And look.

And chew the railing.

And sometimes, they snuggle.

We stopped in at the alpaca boutique for a little browsing. 

Alpaca fibers make amazingly soft and warm outerwear.  Kelsea and I were speculating on creating a line of Alpaca fiber lingerie, since the fiber feels so good next to your skin, but we decided that might wind up being a little … messy.

Some poor unfortunates found themselves shorn in order to have their fiber judged.  You could totally feel their sense of shame amongst all the other fluffy alpacas.  They looked like my beloved former cat Mammal when we would get her shaved for summer since she got so matted.  Like little rats.  Except with long necks.

We got a bit lost.  I’ve been in this place every year for at least 25 years, but it felt very different from when the Stock Show is running.  It was obviously empty, but if felt curious, as if it was waiting for something big.  Really quite odd.

After watching some costumed beasts, including our little plaid-shirted alpaca friend emerge from the tunnel like athletes exiting the field, we found ourselves back in the show arena, which was literally a four-ring circus. We saw Kira in one ring with one of her silver alpacas – she’s the lady in the dark shirt at the bottom of the following image. 

But we just fell in love with the alpaca dress-up show ring.  Each well-clad animal had its complementary handler, and each handler had written a little scenario for the judges, describing their get-ups, that the announcer read as the pair entered the ring. 

There was a huge creative assortment. 

Captain Jack Sparrow:

Santa:

Phantom of the Opera:

Rock Stars (both the boy and the alpaca had guitars):

Farmers:

Nymphs:

Oompa-Loompas:

Rabbits (with magician):

Scarecrows (although this alpaca lost his straw-stuffed pants before the conclusion of the judging):

Raggedy Anne and Andy:

And perfectly matched Good Ole’ Boys (the alpaca even had little boots on), who won the blue ribbon in their class.

We finished off the afternoon browsing the product stalls, buying a hat, and two pairs of amazingly soft fingerless gloves.  We’ve both wanted fingerless gloves for years.

Toys were adorable.

Children’s clothes were brilliantly colored.

Some weavers are extremely ingeneous, such as the woman who creates fantastically soft and stylish  hats with whimsical faces on the back of them, which I thought were awesome.  Her name is Shannon Dumais, and she’s from Las Cruces, New Mexico – please check her out at www.Pleasing AlpacaFashions.com.

Our last stop was the first annual Denver Fiber Fiesta.  We passed through the hallways with care.

With our fingers raptured by the softness of woven wool, our minds amazed at the intricate, delicate complexities of crochetings and our eyes filled with the gentle rainbow hues of yarn, we took leave of our fuzz-friends.

We stopped only briefly to be amused by this particular image on the outside of the Exhibit Hall, which struck my slightly sick sense of humor.

It was a perfectly charming day.

No, I did not buy an alpaca at auction.  However…

This weekend the Boulder County Fairgrounds hosted the Alpaca Expo.  You may remember from our trip to the Stock Show this year how enamoured Kelsea and I were with the alpacas. Well, even though Kelsea chose to go to the Mall on Saturday, I decided to fly solo to see the critters. 

Empty Corrals at the Boulder County Fairgrounds

O. M. G.

Hello!

There is (almost) nothing I have found that makes me smile more than alpacas.  While the Expo was fairly small, I spent almost three hours there, just hangin’ with my alpaca peeps.  I made friends with several of the ranchers there to exhibit and I learned a lot of little tidbits.

But mostly, I just kind of hung on the railings of the little corrals and basked in the glow of the beasts.  I don’t know what it is about them, but they have amazingly soothing energy.  They are calm, expressive, curious, and gentle.  Kind of like me, but with more hair and bigger eyes.

Adorable Alpaca

I had such a wonderful time that Kelsea and I went back on Sunday.  And as an extra-added bonus, we went to an antique auction that was being held next door.  If you check out my Life List of Things Yet To Be Done (in Lists), you will see that buying something at auction was one of my life goals.  Well, not only did I buy something at auction, I bought somethingS at auction – namely, two pocket knives, a sword, a miscellaneous box of vintage hats, purses and gloves and an amazing piece of folk art – a flying pig, who told me his name was Homer. 

Homer In Profile

Homer From Above

My auction number was 339 and I was flapping my little card along with the other pros, aka, Pierre, George, Tommy and a lady whose shop we had visited in Cheyenne last Labor Day.  Anyway, the whole thing was AWESOME!  And here’s a sampling of the things that I – wisely, in my opinion – didn’t bid on.

Miscellaneous Brasses - I would have bid on this if we'd been there when it was up

Random Auction Items

Creepy Decapitated Doll Heads

Victorian Baby Shoes

Strange Vintage Glassware

As for the alpacas, well, as I said, we learned a lot.  And here are a few things we learned that I’ll bet you probably didn’t know either:

Alpacas are very social creatures.  You can’t have just one.

Just Saying Hello From Behind the Neighboring Curtain

Alpacas only have bottom teeth until they are about three years old, at which point they are ready to breed and get their fighting teeth.

Clinton Showing Off His Alpacas Bottom Teeth

 When they get bored, they chew things.

Dishevelled Beastie Eating the Rail

Alpacas’ adorable “Hmmmm” humming noise means they are stressed.  Or hungry.  But I guess being hungry can make you feel stressed.

Her Close-Up

Like many animals, they like to groom each other, and can often find leftovers in their Alpaca buddies.

I Love Eating My Friends Fur

The Suri is the most dominant type of Alpaca, although it is the least common type outside of South America.

Nancy Showing Off Champagne the Suri Alpaca

But there are also some interesting Vicuna-Alpaca mixes (and all alpacas (and llamas) are part of the camel family).

Alpaca-Vicunas

Alpacas chew their cud in a figure-eight shape.  And when they swallow a lump of cud (what’s that called?), they immediately bring up another one.  If you watch their throats, you can see the one coming down and the other coming up.

Cud-Chewing Cutie-Pie

Alpacas sit on all four legs, but when it’s very cold, they raise their hindquarters slightly off the ground to increase their warmth.

Seated Alpaca

Alpacas are raised for their fiber and for breeding – several people were weaving and spinning at the event.

Dyed Alpaca Yarn

Spinning

 

They don’t always like being touched on the head because their mothers generally nudged them on their heads to discipline them.  They prefer being touched on the neck.

Intertwined Alpaca Necks

And when a randy male alpaca tried to mount Perfection, he was decidedly put in his place by her spitting most firmly in his face after escaping his lascivious clutches.  She is a feisty little beauty.  No one can mount Perfection.

Perfection

Most importantly of all, they give amazingly awesome angel baby kisses.  Storm the big white alpaca kissed me several times.  (No tongue.) I felt truly privileged.

Storm the Kissing Alpaca

So it was a lovely weekend.  I even tried out Zydeco dancing on Friday night.  Not well, mind you, but it was new and fun and great exercise, so I think I’ll try it again.  And since the auctions happen once a month, we’ll definitely be back.  It will be THE place to furnish the new house!

Have a happy week!

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