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Posted by on in Camelid

I love my kids - they're both a joy and sometimes amazingly unaware of how some simple things work. "I'm hungry - what's for dinner?" they'll ask. And when their favorite food isn't served immediately, they seem exasperated about why it's taking so long and why we didn't know what they wanted. I'll try to explain how it takes planning and time to buy food, get it home, prepare it, etc. But they'll just say again, "I'm hungry!" Sigh.

Marketing is a lot like this to many farmers wanting to sell their animals. They decide some day that they want to start selling and expect immediate results. Just like having the meal you want, it takes time to decide what you're going to cook, make a list, go buy the ingredients, go over the recipe, prepare and cook the food, and then finally serve it up.

There are many steps and each is dependent on the previous, otherwise you don't have dinner! Marketing is the same. You'd think that concept would be self-evident but so often people expect results when they're missing important pieces of the "pipeline." For example, a farm might purchase an expensive magazine ad to promote a herdsire, include a link to their website, but just send visitors to their home page where there's no more information or direction as to what to do next. That's like buying your groceries and then never bringing them home. You go to the fridge and the food's not there. No wonder you can't make dinner.

Marketing is a string of logical steps and activities that move the customer forward from step to step all the way to the sale and beyond. It just doesn't happen. The clearer you signpost the path and encourage them on to the next step, the more likely they'll make it to the goal - theirs and yours!

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Posted by on in Camelid

It’s shearing time! All the beautiful fiber that we have waited a year in anticipation for will soon be in bags and ready for processing. We have found there are a few steps that can be done during shearing that will help lessen the amount of time spent skirting and cleaning later.  

Before the animal is sheared, take a few seconds to gently brush off any loose veggie matter and remove thistles or sticks.  Use this hands-on time to evaluate the blanket fiber for what end product you would like made from it. Make a note of any decisions you make, to use when you are preparing the fiber for processing.

Make sure the shearing area is clean to avoid adding things that you would only have to pick out later.  Keep the area free of hay or other veggie matter and clean up any stray fibers, poop, and toe nails from the previous animal.  

Skirt and sort the fiber as you collect it from the shearing area - this step will save so much time later! Most shearers will let you know what pieces are “firsts” (blanket fiber) as they are taking it off the animal. Remove any hairy or matted areas before putting the blanket into the designated bag, keeping in mind the type of fiber you would like in your yarn. The pieces you removed can be added into the bag of “seconds”.

“Seconds” (neck and leg fiber) can be collected by individual animal or in groups by similar color or softness, depending on your plans for processing. 

The lower leg fiber or “thirds” are usually too short or hairy to process and can be used as mulch or thrown away.

With only a few minutes spent on each fleece at shearing, and there is no need to skirt again. The bags are ready to go straight to the processor!

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Celebrity Artist Creates Legendary Herdsire Portraits for Charity

Artist Nicolosi is found in top contemporary art circles by creating his signature Pop Art portraits of many of today’s top luminaries in entertainment, sports, political and corporate arenas. Nicolosi creates paintings saturated with color using explosive, bold strokes. Dr. Eileen Guggenheim chose Nicolosi artwork to be in the New York Academy of Arts, and included Nicolosi on Guggenheim's list of the Top 100 Most Influential Artists in America.

Nicolosi has lent his vibrant talent to dozens of charities around the world raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for these very worthy causes.

He is now going to give his gift to our Alpaca Industry.

The first of the Legendary Herdsire Portraits will be unveiled and sold at auction at the AOA National Alpaca Auction on March, 18th.

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Posted by on in Camelid
Consider a Fashion Show/Auction for your Gala

I was recently asked to coordinate a Fashion Show / Auction for the TxOLAN event 2016.  It turned out to be entertaining and beneficial for their event as proceeds from the auction helped fund the organization for future events.  Beautiful pieces created by alpaca designers from our own industry were auctioned off and proceeds went to both the designer and the show.   A true Win-Win event.  

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Posted by on in Camelid

What to do with those bags of alpaca or llama fiber in the garage, barn, or spare bedroom? Something we all have considered at one time or another. Great news is that most can be made into something valuable.

Blankets (“firsts”) make soft yarns if the fiber feels soft and silky to the touch and there are very few straight hairs. Roving for hand‐spinning can also be made out of soft fiber. This applies to both breeds of alpaca and “silky” llama.

Neck and upper leg fiber (“seconds”) make durable core yarn for rugs. And if it is soft, and not hairy, it can be made into core yarn useful for chunky blankets, cowls, or vests.

If the fiber feels “scratchy” and/or has lots of hair, it can be made into core yarn for rugs. You would be amazed at how this “scratchy” fiber turns into beautiful rugs! This type of fiber can also be made into roving or batts for all kinds of felting projects – boot insoles, needle‐felted animals, cat beds, tea cozies, slippers, the list goes on. And since these types of items do not require uniform length or fineness in the fiber, it can be a fun and creative process of mixing colors and styles of fiber for eye‐catching products.

There are no rules for what has to be done with your fiber – choose things that you are going to enjoy working with or selling. For example, soft blankets do not have to made into yarn, they can be made into luxurious woven rugs, if that is what is exciting for you.

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