Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What to see... at Bybee!

Yes, I'm back! My writer's block may be thawing slightly (plus my computer has been fixed to nearly peak performance), and I have much more written in store for tomorrow with a recap of 2009. I couldn't resist a quick mention of my stop today at Bybee Pottery (Bybee/Waco, KY) while on my way to pick up our son at church camp in Eastern Kentucky.
I've always loved Kentucky's Bybee pottery pieces for their simplicity and traditional, somewhat primitive appearance. I hadn't realized that the Pottery celebrated 200 years in operation this year, with the same location used throughout to make their hand-thrown pottery with local clay.
If you visit, it's best to arrive early when shelves are stocked on "either Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Monday and Thursday". Call the week before you visit for best shopping days. Serious shoppers arrive before their opening time of 8 AM. Tours are encouraged, and I enjoyed taking a few minutes to meander through the place.
While I was meandering around, the phone rang. I heard the owner say, "No thanks," and then mutter, "We don't need no web page, if people haven't found us in 200 years they're not gonna!" So, no web link here, but you can call ahead at (859)369-5350. Yep, I did leave with a small haul- a baking dish, 8 cereal/dessert bowls, and 4 ramekins... for $21.00, can't beat it AND it's LOCAL (gotta love that!).

P.S. Photos are from my iphone, could be worse! Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Alpaca Heaven- Peru!

If you want to learn more about alpacas, or to see a LOT in one place (even more than AOBA Nationals!), go to Peru! That's what took me there the first time, in 2000, when I went with Paul and about 25 other alpaca breeders to see the International Alpaca Fiesta in Arequipa, visit the famous Accoyo Ranch near Macusani, and to have personal instruction from world-renowned judge, Dr. Julio Sumar. As it turned out, I found myself even more captivated by the people and culture there which is what truly led me back, to volunteer with Quechua Benefit and to ultimately adopt our daughter.
Most of the country's alpacas (somewhere between 2 and 3 MILLION) are located in the high-altitude areas of Southern Peru, the altiplano. I was mesmerized on that first trip by the huge herds we'd see along the road and sometimes even IN the road. It is fascinating to observe the sparse vegetation on which the alpacas and llamas thrive there when we try so hard in the United States to optimize their nutrition (and ultimately overfeed, "the American way!").
On this working trip we had very little leisure time to observe alpacas except from a distance while driving, though our team did spend one night at Pacomarca and an afternoon at Accoyo. Pacomarca is a private ranch owned by Grupo Inca, one of the large fiber companies in Peru. Their breeding operation, overseen by our friend Dr. Renzo Morante, DVM, is very progressive in their use of artificial insemination, embryo transfer, and EPD's (Expected Progeny Differences, a statistical analysis of breeding results, in a nutshell). Pacomarca has a beautiful facility for teaching and examining the animals, set up somewhat like one of the luxurious thoroughbred breeding farms close to us in Central Kentucky! It was brightly lit with natural light, and had lush sod which accentuated the beauty of their high-quality studs. We had a short time to look at several, and all of us were very impressed with the depth of quality in Pacomarca's herd!
We also had the special opportunity of visiting the Accoyo Ranch near Macusani, which feels like driving to the moon! There was one spot where we had to get out of the van so the driver could move rocks and get through a narrow spot, and it was spitting snow. Once we arrived at Accoyo (at nearly 16,000 feet altitude!), the telltale rock formations around the stone corrals stood out to accent the group of white suris inside (nealy all of Accoyo's alpacas are white). This black "wasi" (magical unshorn suri) is included with the herd structly for good luck. Since few of us breed suris, we were anxious to get our hands on some huacayas. There were many spectacular animals for us to check out, and we felt very welcomed by Elena and Guadalupe Barreda, daughters of Accoyo's founder, the late Don Julio Barreda. The Barreda women are now running the ranch. Our friend Marcus, who has been in Peru for over 8 weeks overseeing the construction of Quechua Benefit's new orphanage, Casa Chapi, joined us for the day and although he had been very ill that morning he felt good enough to fulfill one of his dreams... to shear an alpaca at Accoyo! It was fun to experience this with him as just the right animal was selected and he hooked up his shears to a truck battery. The staple length on this gorgeous 5 year old male was around 9-10 inches after 14 months growth, and we all put money into a pool to guess the total fleece weight. I guessed the closest to the 21 pounds, estimating 21 pounds 5 ounces.
I later tried to engage Mike Safley in a conversation about the effect of environment on fleece growth and fineness, but we got sidetracked and I hope to continue that conversation with him another time! All I can say is, we have some phenomenal genetics in our herd at Seldom Scene Farm, many full Accoyos that excel in the show ring for us, and none have ever sheared close to that weight.
The workers at Accoyo seemed apprehensive about Marcus with his electric shears at first, but he did an outstanding job and they appeared satisfied! Although this alpaca looks a fraction of it's orginal size, we were pleased to see it in very good body condition.
After the Barreda family graciously fed us, our team's doctors examined and treated several of the workers at Accoyo, and we left vitamins and parasite medicine for them. It was an awesome day, and we all felt very fortunate for such a great day with alpacas in Peru!
Yes, we did eat alpaca on our trip-it's a healthy red meat and can be prepared many different ways. Here, alpaca pizza that we had in Cuzco!
Alpacas are certainly important in many areas of Peru, and they have enhanced my own life in countless ways and led me to great friends and global adventures which I will never forget!
Pin It Now!