Saturday, September 15, 2007

Breeding a maiden

Our girl Dahlia out of Dolores and Coyo Destini has been hanging around the boys gate a lot. At 15 months, full size, we figure she is probably ready to breed. So we bring Skye in. She is not interested in him. He is not interested in her. We separate them from the rest of the herd and still nothing. She is looking to get out; he is eating hay.

We decided to see if it was just the chemistry between the two of them and brought in Thunder. He got excited immediately, started orgling and trying to mount. This upset Skye tremendously and he kept trying to get Thunder away from "his girl."

Dahlia was not running away and looked more and more like she was ready to go down. So we took Thunder out and sure enough, Skye was finally worked up enough that he began orgling, mounted her, she went down and they bred nicely for 15 minutes. Skye is a gentle guy and without encouragement he is very respectful of the female but manly enough when threatened by another male to respect his territory.

While all this was going on, little Prince William who is just a week older than three months, decides that he wants some action too. While we had Skye on a lead among all the girls, we noticed that Evie was acting very attentive. She put her head between Skye's front legs. Clearly she was interested. Where she is only 13 months, we figured she wasn't ready but it looks like we were wrong. Next thing we knew, William was mounting Evie, she went down and he made lots of efforts to breed-including orgling. He wasn't quite in position and it was clear that nothing was really happening but it certainly looks like Miss Evie is more than ready and William will likely be an early maturing male. We have often left the males with the females for a few more months but we will have to be sure to wean him quite early!

Want to read past posts or see the animals? Click here: Maine's Bellemont Farm Alpacas.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Fleece! Glorious Fleece!

This is the year for expanding what we do with fleece. In the past, have sold some raw at Common Ground Fair, at Open Farm Day and to a local yarn shop, The Irish Ewe for $45.00 per pound to handspinners. They love alpaca.

I had a friend of mine spin some that I had hand carded--which is lots of fun and just as in the story of Tom Sawyer and the fence, if you are sitting with friends doing it, everyone wants a turn and lots get done.

This year, I sent two fleeces from Mystique and Echo to Nancy Williams of NEWAIM Fiber Mill. She blended the two into a dark brown and sent back 17 gloriously soft skeins. I love to touch them! This cost a total of $86.00 or about $5.00 per skein or about $0.20 per yard or 2 oz. I can't describe how utterly luxurious this feels. So if you want beautiful yarn from your own animals, I recommend Nancy highly--it took about three months but she had said six so it felt like it was relatively fast.

I also sent fiber to Claudia Raessler of Fiber Pieces. She is working out a collection system to have fiber commercially processed and returned as finished yarns. The yarns are generally merino blends and some dyed and they are beautiful as well. With names like Sebago Blue and Spruce they evoke the best of Maine and that is just what they are.

Claudia's process for collection and processing works by paying up front for a minimum of 10 lbs of fiber to be processed. This cost $200. In exchange, you can get back yarn, cash or a combination. I chose the combination, 22 skeins (varying but approximately 200 yards or 5 oz) and $180 in cash. Essentially, the yarn is free and everything I sell is profit. I can't wait to get a display set up for National Alpaca Open Farm Days September 29 and 30. Hope to see you there or at a farm near you.

Our friends Amy and Jim Grant of Good Kharma Farm are now the proud owners of a new commercial-sized mill. Back when Jim owned Blackbear Graphics, we traded some of our Shaker View Furniture chairs with them. We didn't order as much logo wear to work off our chairs, after National Alpaca Open Farm Day, we will be sending them the balance of our 2007 clip. I can't wait to see it come back!

Want to read past posts or see the animals? Click here: Maine's Bellemont Farm Alpacas


Breeding Decisions

We have several breeding decisions to make in the next few weeks. It is great this year to have a few more options, which comes as the herd matures and we know more people in the business. Mt. Brook Farm has bred to our lovely Don's Bellemont Skye and we also bred Dolores to him. That will give us two babies on the ground next Spring. We think we will breed Dahlia to him as well. She has incredible brightness, good density and a wonderful hand--but she is not as fine as we would like. Skye should make a nice match with his also bright, fine fleece with a very nice hand.

Puella just has a handsome boy out of Sugar Ray. We are going to try her with Dalia's Domingo, our herdsire we co-own with Graceland Farm Alpacas.

Because we now have a breeding trade with Mt. Brook, we want to use their Guillermo for Andromeda. We are very excited to see what her pairing with Yopanqui's Kokopelli produces. Guillermo is out of Mt. Brook's champion Lima who is a Snowmass Legacy Lustroso son. Lima has shown that he can consistently stamp his fine and dense fleece on his cria so we are hoping that Guillermo can do the same. He is white, and Andromeda is white so that should give us white... but who knows?

There is a long wait but it is fun to make these decisions to see what comes.

Want to read past posts or see the animals? Click here: Maine's Bellemont Farm Alpacas.