The Straw that Broke the Camelid’s Back by Val Newell of The Green Alpaca
It was a rather simple day, daily chores, and a visit to a friend’s alpaca farm, all carefully planned. On the ride to the farm, in the quietness, I thought about the emails I had been receiving in my inbox… with a heavy heart.
One of the emails said, “Alpaca Herd for sale, all offers considered.” The email went on to explain that the owners had a small herd of alpacas that were deeply loved, but they were losing their house due to being laid off. They were desperately seeking a loving home for their charge. It was truly heart breaking. I have received many emails that sound very familiar. I thought about another email I had received where in the proud new owners of an alpaca selling for over $600,000 were boasting of their new herdsire. I thought to myself, there is something wrong here, and I felt unsettled, and rather agitated.
As I got to my friends farm, we had a great visit, talked a little about the future of the industry and then I was told, that there is a restaurant in Somewhere USA that is featuring “alpaca” on the menu. My heart sank, cementing my deep resentment that something just wasn’t right with this industry. Later that night, a person called me about an alpaca who was in a dog pen alone, and humming constantly. Apparently a single male alpaca had been sold as a “pet”… and banished to a solitary life in a 6×8 chain link dog pen. That, my friend was the final straw, the straw that broke the Camelid’s back.
At that point I started searching the internet for new ideas, something that would turn the alpaca industry around, a “cottage” type industry to honor, and value, so that our alpacas would not be left to these sad fates.
I researched about starting a new industry. I actually went and registered the domain name CIABA.ORG. aka Cottage Industry Alpaca Breeders Association. At this point I didn’t have a clue how to actually let people know of the organization, but I had a plan, and more passion for change than you can hold in one earth!
In my searches I met a wonderful woman with true vision for the future of alpacas and the industry. She was inspiring, and gave me even more strength for change.
I knew I needed help to get the Cottage Industry Alpaca Breeders Association going, so I started writing on all the alpaca forums about change, about honoring all alpacas, about another choice … The most amazing thing is that there were so many other people out there thinking along the same line! All across the country and even the world, one visionary after another chimed in, another offered to compile ideas, and then another took the ball and started the whole thing rolling! We formed an open communication forum calling it Brainstorming, and we built our website. Many talented and forward thinking people have added to a wonderful grassroots organization! We are proud to announce, CIABA as the national Cottage Industry Alpaca Breeders Association. We will also be establishing an alpaca rescue organization within the fold. This organization is filled with enthusiasm and positive momentum for change!
Our Mission Statement:
To honor and promote those North American alpacas that do not fit the typical show ring criteria. Silky, fine uniform fiber or fiber that is variegated or unique. To educate the public about areas of fiber, fiber arts, end products and animal husbandry.
To promote the growth of the alpaca fiber industry and to educate the consumer about why alpaca fiber is unique and was once called “Fiber of the Gods.” To promote the industry as a viable and sustainable fiber and farming industry for all economic levels and to have all who hold to these high standards prosper.
Our Code of Ethics:
1 – To honor both the North American commercial and cottage markets of alpacas and alpaca products
2 – To treat alpacas with respect and care for them in a manner that is happy, healthy and stress free
3 – To utilize alpacas only for fiber or breeding stock – but not for an end product of meat
4 – To treat any other breeding, regardless of size, breeding direction, commercial or cottage with respect and honor and a sense of community
5 – To respect other Alpaca International, National and Local affiliates for the commercial industry even if only breeding on the cottage side
6 – To cooperate with other breeders on knowledge, health care, fiber knowledge and events for the betterment of all alpacas
We believe that by honoring all alpacas, our industry will continue to flourish; we invite you to consider joining CIABA… www.ciaba.org
Alpaca Farmgirl’s comments:
This sounds like a much needed organization. There is not much money to be made in a commercial fiber market when compared to a cottage fiber market, and we already have a cottage industry. Why not organize it, and capitalize on the animals we already have? Love it, Val! You’re my hero!
What do the rest of you think? Please leave us your comments below.