Sunday, April 15, 2012

Minnesota Alpaca Expo

We're having a good show.  Our newest boy did it again... Snowmass Winter Solstice takes the Color Championship with Judge Jude Anderson having nothing but great things to say about him.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Since it’s been such a warm season – we needed a little Winter Dreams!!

Snowmass Alpacas, in Idaho, is, by many accounts, the most highly regarded North American alpaca breeder.  We’ve been dreaming of some Snowmass Genetics for quite a while so with their annual auction, we added Snowmass Winter Dreams to our barn.  Even better yet, she came with her son, Snowmass Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice is an 8 month old male who will join our show string this spring with a debut at the Spring Bling show in a few weeks.  We are hopeful that he will also join our herdsire row – The Chiefs of Tiskilwa – in a few years.  Naming his kids will be kind of fun – I can already see an “Inti Raymi”  or “Intihuatana” – the Incan Festival of the Sun celebrated on the Solstice at Sacsayhuaman every year in late June!!  Winter Solstice is a son of Snowmass Elite Legend, the 2011 Futurity Light Herdsire of the Year. 

To make the purchase even better, Winter Dreams is rebred to Snowmass Best Man, the 2011 Futurity Reserve Light Herdsire of the Year for a cria due this summer.  We’d be happy if she has another boy, but “TFA Peruvian Best Man’s Maid of Honor” has a nice ring to it.  Best Man was in the auction and didn’t sell for $125,000, but did sell for something more than that after auction – he’s moving to Europe, so we’ll have one of his last American kids.  

Now if we could just get this winter over with so we can see the “Winters” pronking in the Tiskilwa Summer Pastures!! 

Midwest Select Alpaca Auction

We have two girls practicing their runway walk for the Midwest Select Alpaca Auction in Wisconsin on May 12.  We'll be entering TFA Peruvian Sharon - a Highlander daughter bred to Right of Way.  We also have TFA Amalyra - also bred to Right of Way.  More to follow:

Spring Shows 2012

Show season is almost upon us.  We will start the year at the Spring Bling Alpacafest in Appleton, WI on March 17th.  We love this show, which is held in an ice skating rink.  We will debut a whole new show sting with several Knight Rider kids, some Highlander kids, some Quest kids, and of course Winter Solstice - our newest purchase.

We then have a bit of a break until the Minnesota Alpaca Show in Owatanna MN on 4/15.  Hmmm 4/15... I don't think we'll have the accountant handlers at that show, so we'll add a few more alpacas to assure that those who do get to attend the show have to work just a bit harder.

We'll have at least some of the string at the Futurity show 4/21... but since it's right after tax season, some of us may sneak off to go sailing in the Caribean instead???????

Next will be the Great Midwest Alpaca Fest in Madison WI on 4/28.  We've attended this show for many many years and have finally worked our way up to the main floor stalling.  This show will also have our favorite Austrailian Judge.... well, favorite who still lives there full time (hear that Jude??)... Mr. Peter Kennedy.  I can't wait for him to evaluate the Knight Rider kids.  His farm in Victoria AU focuses exclusively on BLACK alpacas.

Then comes the BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR - the Interstate 80 Alpacafest in Princeton, IL.  It's a fun, relaxed show, but last year 3 animals who won championships at this great little show also went on to win Championships at the National Show in Denver just a few weeks later.  Oh... did I mention that this show is organized by Tiskilwa Farms and Apple Tree Acres?  Sponsorships are still open... so, as we say in Chicago... register early and register often!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Employee

When we started TFA in 2000, we had a part time helper.  A few years into it, Chad went full time to make sure we were providing all the necessary care for the animals and the property.  As the herd grew, we added part-time help to at least have weekend chore coverage so Chad could have a day off.  This summer we realized we really needed to add another full time hand to the farm.  With an ad in the local paper we quickly realized just how bad the unemployment is in our area.  We had more responses than we ever imagined.  It was properly advertised as a farm labor job and we had women show up for their “interview” with Chad in high heels and guys in ties?????  In the end we hired the guy who was best for us – welcome Matt!!  He has been a true self-starter and is learning every day.  We certainly had enough cria born this fall to get him indoctrinated into newborn alpaca care.  Chad is enjoying the flexibility of focusing on the parts of alpaca farming he is best suited for…. and maybe a few more days off.

Winter Prep in the barns / new waterers

While alpacas are from the Cooolddd high altitude of the Andes and should be able to handle the weather in Illinois, there is much work that goes into preparing the farm for the long dreaded winter. 

During the warm weather, we send some of the boys to “summer camp” in a pasture far from the main barns.  They frolic there on good grass and work in public relations as people drive down the more traveled road in our “middle of nowhere” location.  For the summer they have a shed to get out of the weather and are brought fresh water and feed every day (boy can they run to the gate when they hear the Gator coming)!  When the leaves start falling, the boys move back to closer digs where their water won’t freeze.  That means several other groups of animal need to be moved to accommodate them.  This fall we extended our automatic water system to reach all of the pens near the barns.  A common question with water systems is whether to put them in the barn, or out in the pasture.  We generally put them about 15 feet outside the barn doors to encourage the animals to go outside for a drink and maybe even do some other business outside to make barn cleanup a bit easier.  While most of the animals have access to the automatic system, we still need to prepare heaters for other waterers.  We also use “curtains” in the main barn to block wind and keep the core of the barn warmer for the animals.  This fall we also added some “wind stops” to the eaves between the old barn and the lean too’s.  We’re hoping they also double as “bird stops” in the summer. 

 With the barns prepared and the animals moved… bring it on Mother Nature!!  Well maybe not too much!

Margaret Hunting

Those of you who know our farm manager, Chad, know that he is an avid deer hunter.  From setting up feed lots and cameras in summer, to bow season, to shotgun season, to driving around with blood on the tailgate of the “Chadillac”, hunting is his passion (other than alpacas of course).  Well a little over a year ago, his early high school girlfriend showed up in his life again.  Margaret now travels with us for most shows and is a huge help to TFA at shows.  Recently we planted many small evergreen trees around the farm, but there has been a deer that has been destroying them one by one.  As shotgun season approached, we jokingly suggested Chad to get the buck off the farm instead of going to his usual haunts.  Fortunately he had seen some deer in our west pasture so he spent the Saturday morning of season sitting in the wilderness area of our farm we call “walnut grove”.  But, it wasn’t just Chad…. Margaret was sitting at his side wearing an orange cap and holding her own gun!  As Chad whispered to her about the doe coming into the creek bed, she whispered back that there was a buck coming across the road as she aimed and….  Bang… killed him dead!!  For now the pines are safe and we can worry less about meniga worm…. But don’t go anywhere Chad…. There’s always next year!!