Transporting Alpacas

My husband, Jim Cocking, used to be a serious alpaca transporter. That is probably how we got to be such good friends. Jim hauled many an alpaca for me and my alpaca friends.

The life of a transporter is truly an adventure fraught with challenges of all sorts. I could listen to him tell stories about his transporting days for hours on end. (I think I will turn on a tape recorder next time so that I can write them down for you. They are fascinating!)

I ran across a post on the Myths of Transporting on Crystal Springs Alpacas’ website. It talks about a lot of the extra care good alpaca transporters use when hauling our precious paca babies. The author writes a lot about Jim’s transport business and tells a few of Jim’s stories. Read more here.

I know when we go to pick up our 30 new alpacas in Montana, I will be super glad I have Jim at the wheel!

National Alpaca Farm Days

This weekend alpaca farms across America will be hosting National Alpaca Farm Days on their alpaca farms. Our farm, Fairhope Alpacas, in beautiful Fairhope, Alabama will be open to the public on Saturday & Sunday, September 24 & 25th both days from 1-5 pm.
To find a farm near you, visit the National Alpaca Farm Days website and check out their farm locator. Go see an alpaca breeder near you this weekend to learn more about these magical creatures!
And if you do go see some pacas, come back and tell us about it in the comments section.

What’s Up with the CIABA – Unskirted Fleece Event?

I have gotten over a dozen emails from CIABA about their unskirted fleece event. It sounded intriguing but I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what it was all about or why I should participate. I had some questions, and I thought some of you might too so I contacted Robin Alpert of CIABA and she was kind enough to enlighten me about this exciting new event!

AlpacaFarmgirl: Is this event the same as the AOBA new Cottage Fiber Show going to be? The guidelines/rules made it look like it was….but then if you don’t have to be an AOBA member or have the alpaca’s ARI…then it seems like no. So that confused me.

Robin of CIABA: Our event is not an AOBA event.  AOBA put out their new cottage classes after CIABA sent them a complete outline with rationale for our event.  You do not have to be a member of either organization to participate nor does the animal need to be registered.

AFG: What is the purpose of this show for exhibitors? Do they win anything? Are there prizes? I see that they will get evaluations…Are there different classes/divisions like a real show or is this mainly for people to send in and get a judges’ opinion on their fleece for end product use?

CIABA: The purpose of the event is to educate alpaca owners about their fiber and give them a place to sell their fleece.   We did divide fleeces into classes for clerical purposes, but fleeces will not be competing against each other.  They will be competing with a standard.  The prize is the information they will receive about their fleece and the chance to sell it.

AFG: What is the purpose of this show – for CIABA? What is their goal? Short term and long term?

CIABA: The purpose of CIABA has been and probably will be to educate alpaca owners about their fiber, introduce them to venues for adding value to their fleece, and helping owners to connect with manufacturers.  We are a nonprofit organization and try to keep costs low enough for people to be able to participate.

AFG: I love what CIABA is doing, and I would really love to help you get your message out there. I don’t think people across the country really understand what this is all about. Some alpaca breeders have had the benefit of hearing people talk about your mission, but there are a LOT of them who haven’t heard the word yet.

CIABA: This event is introducing a totally new way to think about alpaca fleece.  People are bound to be confused.  That is why we loosened the instruction for presenting the fleece.  We want people to learn what they are producing so they can make better breeding decisions.  CIABA wants to be the place people go to find out what is going on in the world of natural product manufacturing.  We started CIABA to help the whole industry.  Our “staff” is all volunteer.  People have put aside their personal interests for the good of the whole industry.  None of us expects to personally profit from the organization any more than all the other members.  I think that’s what makes it work so well.

AFG: One more thing. So for people who send in their fiber, what happens to the fleece after it is judged? I think I saw somewhere there was a discount for processing…? Also you said that you were trying to help them sell? Will there be people buying fleece there?

CIABA: There will be people there who are interested in buying fleece if the person wants to sell it.  Otherwise, the sorted, graded fleece will be sent back to the owner.  The best use part is to let people know what they can do with their fleece — what products are best made from it.  The participating mills area giving a coupon for 5% off on processing.

AFG: So CIABA is trying to give alpaca breeders another way of looking at their fiber. Send your fiber in, UNSKIRTED, (saving you the work & worry if you are new & nervous about how to do it), and their judges will evaluate your fiber and tell you all about it. From the perspective of the fiber industry. Forget the ribbons and the hoop-la of the traditional showring. This is a real-world, livestock production, “how are you going to make the best end-product” perspective.

Thank you, Robin, for answering my questions, and for all the hard work you do for our alpaca industry.

I love it! It is very practical, and a much needed point of view. And I love these ladies who give their time and tons of hours volunteering to CIABA for the love of our industry and alpaca fiber. If you have more questions please ask them below and Robin or Val will answer them. Find out more about the CIABA Unskirted Fleece Event. Entry Forms are here, and I strongly recommend that you consider joining CIABA. Visit their website http://www.ciaba.org