Monday, August 4, 2008

Alpaca Auction!

Selling a valuable animal at auction can be both nerve-wracking as well as rewarding, and it's something I always have to remember to keep in perspective. Quality, registered alpacas have been worth huge sums of money since the first importations from South America in the early 90's, and we have enjoyed having them for their fiber, fun, tax benefits, and income (I quit teaching to stay at home with our son and raise alpacas). We have made money from nearly every alpaca we have ever purchased (unlike the stagnant stock market of the past 10 years or most other livestock).

We recently consigned three beautiful alpacas to the National Elite Auction in Leesburg, Virginia and combined work and some vacation into the same trip. (You'll hear more about that later, as well as the knitting that I got done along the way!). The National Elite is a very classy auction, but also expensive to participate in and if your alpaca doesn't bring the minimum sale price of $10,000 it can be a pretty big loss! The host farm does a wonderful job of displaying the fleeces, and they wine and dine the visitors and consignors in a huge barn which was air-conditioned for the event and it's associated free seminars on alpaca care, fleece, and marketing.

Auction day arrived, though I didn't sleep well the night before wondering IF our animals would sell, if they'd bring good prices, and who would buy them. Because of the animal's value and our ability to provide good after-sale support, I don't worry too much that they'll be well cared-for but I do get attached (these cuties do have very distinct personalities). Here they are right before sale time:

People often ask me what I think our animals will bring at auction, and I learned a long time ago not to reveal that publicly as there are always surprises! This time, I would have been spot on with my hopes and expectations, and we were thrilled that our three girls will all be going to good farms where their potential is appreciated.

Ember is going to Cameo Rose Farm in Ohio.
Darling Paisley was purchased by Seven Springs Farm in Virginia. Our champion girl, Starbright, will reside with our great friends at Chardon Alpaca Ranch in Ohio. (She sold in the top 10% of the auction!)

I was pretty proud of myself for abstaining from purchasing any thing this time, especially since I wasn't abstaining from the Dom Perignon which our friend Stu was generously sharing at the auction table! (Each buyer received a bottle). As always after a long trip away from the farm, I had to go visit "the babies", just to see them and of course to evaluate and dream of the next show or auction. We were all very happy to be home, sweet home.
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