June 02, 2007

Alpaca National Conference

Chris & I went to the AOBA alpaca National Conference. AOBA stands for Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association. They held their annual conference this year in Louisville KY. It ran from May 16-20th. Alpacas as far as the eye can see.

Seminars & Classes

Chris and I have been to many auctions but this was our first show. We both signed up for early bird workshops on Wednesday.

My first class was Broomstick Lace taught by Jody Sharp. When I signed up for the class I was not sure if it was going to be crochet or knitting, I like lace so I thought lets try it.

I had never seen this technique before. You make broomstick lace by using a large fat knitting needle and a crochet hook. It is a form of crochet but I think you can do it if you are a knitter. This scarf that I started in class is the peacock eye version, because the circles kind of look like eyes. I think it looks cool. Once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty quickly. There are several tutorials online just google Broomstick Lace. It helps if someone can show you.

My second class of the day was Color Compliance checking taught by Connie Alexander. This class went into detail how the alpacas are color checked before the show so they are put in the correct group for competition. The tools you need are the AOBA show Division Handbook and an ARI fiber color chart. There are 8 color groups. There are lots of rules but if you go through the handbook line by line you will be able to figure out what group you alpaca belongs in.

Chris took the Neonatal Clinic that was all day long. Toni Cotton DVM taught this class. This class covered Female reproductive physiology, Breeding Recommendations, and Pregnancy. He learned a ton of stuff, most importantly what to do when things go wrong in birthing. I plan to take the class next year.

The rest of the classes through out the week we took together.
Here is the list of the ones we went to:

Raising Respectful alpacas - Marty McGee Bennett
Stress Caused Health Problems in Alpacas – Norm Evans DVM
Use of Ultrasound for Management of Pregnancy – Steve Hull PhD
Drawing Blood from an alpaca – Jeff Lakritz DVM
Steps in skirting an Alpaca Fleece – Andrea MacDonald
Practical Alpaca Pasture Management – Frank Rossi PhD
Managing Emergencies Before they Happen – Katherine Thompson

There was over 40 available classes to go to. Unfortunately several classes ran at the same time. I would say the seminars were the best and most valuable part of the whole conference.

The Auction

The auction took place on Friday late afternoon. There were a total of 86 alpacas being auctioned. 13 of those alpacas were donated by different farms with the money going towards AOBA. I have been to several auctions this year and I would have to say this was the most uncomfortable one. We only stayed through lot #64. First off there were no signs to tell you where the auction was at. Several of us were walking around the buildings trying to locate the auction. Once in side there were just rows of uncomfortable chairs. There were a few tables but those were reserved for the Farms whom donated alpacas to the auction.

The Gala

This was the biggest mystery of the whole conference. Chris and I bought tickets for it thinking it might be something grand and we would regret it if we missed it. The tickets were spendy so our expectations were very high. Once there we picked out a table and sat with a nice friendly couple. The tables all looked nice and the room was decorated in large objects going along with the theme of Alpacas around the world or something like that. There was a live band and I would say they were probably the best part of the whole thing. They started with an auction and they sold odds and ends. That was odd. Then they served us dinner in courses, starting with a delicious soup that unfortunately was cold. Then salad it was good. The main entrée was a big slab of steak with a potato pancake, & veggies. The steak was kind of disgusting at least my piece was. Then desert was a piece of cake. Oh and it was not an open bar even though the amount we paid for tickets should have more than covered an open bar. Then the dancing started. That was fun to watch for a little while. Chris and I called it a night and went back to our hotel. Overall the gala was a huge disappointment. The only reason why I am writing about it in this post is for the people that go looking up the conference next year and have no idea what goes on at the gala, they will have some idea before buying the tickets.

Louisville KY Restaurants

Joes’ Crab shack is right on the waterfront. We actually ate here twice. Both times good food and friendly service. The first night we ate here half way through the meal the disco balls on the ceiling started up and the lights turned down. The weight staff got up on the tables while YMCA played through the radio speakers. This of course brought me back to my roller skating days going around the rink motioning Y-M-C-A with my arms. The second time we went there it was lunch time and the weight staff did a version of at the Car wash while lined up between the tables. They have outdoor seating if you want to watch the river boats go by while enjoying your meal.

Along the river.

At night the bridge was lit up with purple lights and the city surrounds the river banks.

We also went to a place called The Pub, that was located in a down town night time area called 4th st Live. There are a few restaurants and shops and night time fun. This was an authentic British pub. The food was great. We ended up ordering appetizers and some drinks.

The Show

This is the first time we had been to a show, our first time seeing alpacas in competition. The shows took place over a couple of days. It was lots of fun to watch them compete. We both tried picking out which one would be the blue ribbon winner. After awhile I just started to note which alpacas I really liked and noted what farm they were coming from. Overall watching the shows was lots of fun and gave me a boost to think of trying to show some of my alpacas next year.

As the shows were wrapping up on Sunday there was a long line of alpacas waiting to be sheared. I don’t think these pour guys new what they were in line for.

The Loot

I could not very well go to a National Alpaca conference without bringing home some alpaca yarn. These two skeins are from the Royal Fiber Spinnery. They are both DK weight. The color on the top is Patiens and the one on the bottom is Garden Cosmos. I am thinking of making one of those chevron scarves from last minute knitted gifts. I might as well jump on that band wagon. We will see if these two colors will work for that pattern.

Since I live out in the middle of nowhere if I am on vacation and spot a book store I can not resist such temptation. I picked up Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter. This was on my Amazon wish list every since I saw Poshyarns sewn hats using the pattern from this book. I know we enable each other don’t we? I also picked up this Domino Knitting little handbook. I have been interested in learning how to do modular knitting and this book seemed easy to follow.

Well that wraps up the AOBA conference. We would definitely go again; the educational seminars are priceless if you are interested in learning more about the alpacas.

What is Going On?

Sorry my posting has been so spaced. There is a ton of stuff I want to write about unfortunately I am the busiest I have ever been. This is our first farm and I can tell you with the weather getting warmer there is a lot of work to be done. We are starting to build another shelter and hope to finish that within a few weekends. I also have started clearing out an old chain link dog kennel area that I am hoping to turn into a little garden for my own enjoyment of digging in the dirt. We have two transports of alpacas coming in that we purchased at the beginning of the year and they are ready to come to their new home. So lots going on and plenty to see, I will keep you posted.