Rick and Terry Simpson
HC 79 Box 52-E
Romney, WV 26757
(304) 822-3494

On March 10, we went over to the Ciszewskis to learn how to halter train our animals. The alpacas were so scared! I felt sorry for them, but I know they have to be taught to walk and stand while on a lead. If we can teach them well enough, we'll take them to the MAPACA 2001 Jubilee alpaca show in Harrisburg at the end of April.

The bank is still giving us the runaround, so we went to Farm Credit to see if they'll loan us the money. They wanted to put a lien against our house, so we referred them to the Farm Service Administration, who guarantees up to 90% of agricultural loans. Meanwhile, we went ahead and cashed in some bonds so we could at least make a partial payment on the animals. We're ask them to take a note - essentially loaning us part of the money themselves - so we can buy the animals outright. They'll stay on the breeder's farm until we pay for them in full, but at least we'll have ownership. It will cost us more in vet bills and whatever other charges the breeder has, but it will be worth it.

We're getting a lot of advice that says we shouldn't get a male animal now because we're on too tight a budget. The two bred females, the yearling female, and the weanling female seem to be an "approved" combination, though. We'll ask our breeders if they are willing to NOT sell us Shiloh, although it breaks my heart to do that. He is a beautiful animal and will be a great herdsire. Our advisors tell us we can get lots of breeding done for the cost of a herdsire, and diversify our bloodlines at the same time. It makes sense, both in terms of finances and herd development, but it's still heartbreaking!

View one - after five weeks of clearing the land

Here are pictures of the land as it looks five weeks after we started clearing. Click on the image to see a larger version of the same thing.

View two - after five weeks of clearing the land

Today, April 17, 2001, we signed the sales contract, and now we own two bred female alpacas (Sobata and Sarai) . We are financing the purchase of two maidens, one of whom is a yearling (Rebekah) and the other of whom is a weanling (Sheba). Getting signed up for the insurance and the alpaca registry and all that seems to be a lot of paperwork. From what I understand, though, all the paper and photos and so on are intended to protect the national herd, so I suppose it's all worthwhile.

There's a question in my mind about how we are supposed to know what we're breeding for if there are no breed standards, but apparently everyone else knows exactly what we're breeding for, so we'll just have to figure it out, I guess.

So that's where we are today, April 17, 2001. As we progress toward building our farm and our herd, we'll post our adventures here, in the hope that someone else will learn from us how to raise alpacas "on a shoestring" budget. We seem to be one of the first few alpaca owners to be doing so.

April 23-24: We started shearing the alpacas at Almost Heaven today. We got Katahdin and Sobata (Katahdin is the Ciszewski's herdsire, and Sobata is one of our alpacas), Zachary, the Ciszewski's gelding. and half of our Sarai all sheared. Sarai panicked, so we sedated her, and then she couldn't stand on her own two feet. We couldn't hold her up, so we had to quit and we'll finish her up after the MAPACA show.

April 26-29 was the big MAPACA (Mid-Atlantic 'PACA Association) Jubilee 2001 alpaca show in Harrisburg, PA. It was held in a huge barn, part of the Farm and Agriculture complex, and "huge" is a real understatement! We went with two of our new animals, Sheba and Rebekah. Our "sponsor," Bob Ciszewski, brought two of his animals, Solomon and Elijah. All the alpacas traveled in Bob's alpaca trailer, and when we got to the show, we put Rebekah, Sheba, and Elijah in one pen because they're still little 'pacas, and put Solomon in a pen by himself. He wasn't really alone, though, because right across the fence from him were a few more alpacas brought by someone else.

It was a great show. There were 210 farms represented, with over 940 animals, from 4-week-old crias to 2+ year-old adults. Sheba took a third place in her class, and Solomon took a fourth, but neither of the other two placed. It was lots of fun, and we had a chance to get closer to the animals because we had to walk them twice a day for about 20 minutes at a time. As soon as they came out of the show-ring, we had them sheared, so we took home bags of fleece and considerably less bulky alpacas!

Here are a few images taken at MAPACA. As usual, click on the thumbnail to see a larger image.

The junior obstacle course
The Obstacle Course
Part of the MAPACA Barn
More of the MAPACA Barn
More MAPACA Barn
Elijah and Rebekah
Elijah and Rebekah
Bob Ciszewski and Solomon with 4th place ribbon
Bob and Solomon
Rick and Eli
Rick and Eli
Terry and Sheba
Terry and Sheba
Third Place
Taking Third Place

On April 30, we finished up the rest of the shearing at Almost Heaven. Actually, we still have Camilla and the two llamas to shear, but Camilla is due to "criate" any moment now, and we don't want to stress her out with the shearing process. The llamas are going to wait until the Ciszewski sons can do the shearing, because they're both big guys (and so are the llamas!)

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