Being Part of the Equation

Hi, I am Ruby and I am 12.  Our family owns a farm, an alpaca farm.

See I don’t just live on a farm I am a part of it, a BIG part of it. My mom grew up being a part of her family’s business:  selling trailers.  She helped at trailer shows and even helped selling one. She was a big part of their business, and that’s what my mom wants it to be like for me and my sister.

We are a huge part of this farm.  When there is a decision to be made on the farm we are both included. My sister and I do a lot on this farm from showing to helping at sales events and offsite events.

Show time is my favourite time. I love the get in the ring with our herd.

Show time is my favourite time. I love the get in the ring with our herd.

My favourite part is anything to do with showing.  I LOVE alpaca shows!  Just being in the show ring is awesome. It all starts with training.  I do most of our training and I have my own way to work with the cria when I train (just more or less taking it slow) and so far its worked.

It helps the farm out a lot to have a barn full of trained animals.  A trained animal has a good temperament and that is a huge priority on our farm.  It also helps with transportation and selling.

On the big day, the day of the alpaca show, my mom, sister and I are exhibitors.  In the show ring you are expected to show your animal in every single best way you can, from making sure it stands upright and tall, to making sure there is no spit or hay in its fleece. But you can’t forget about yourself  You have to show confidence and that you can handle that animal and should be showing that animal.

When we transport our alpacas, I handle them and make sure they have everything they need to make the trip comfortable.

When we transport our alpacas, I handle them and make sure they have everything they need to make the trip comfortable.

I also help with the traveling part of it.  Just because the grownups drive doesn’t mean they are the only ones who play a role. My sister and I make sure there is enough water for the whole trip and hay and pellets. And when we stop anywhere I am the first one to get out and check on the alpacas.

Off Site Events

Just recently my best friend Rachel and I did at craft sale at Batawa Ski Hill.  We were in charge of our booth and selling both our farm products (alpaca nesting ornaments for birds) and another farm’s products (alpaca socks & insoles). We teamed up and sold a lot of products.

When you play an active role you learn a thing or two along the way.  Some key things we both learned from that experience is don’t sit down at your booth or your booth looks closed.  And interact with people.  Get them interested in the product and the animals because you never know who might buy or get into the alpaca industry, and the more people the better!

I love to take pictures of our farm, our travels and our animals.  This helps out the farm by having pictures ready to go for our website, displays, greeting cards (that we sell) and Mom’s magazine articles.  I have won photography contests doing something I love to do and helped our farm with marketing at the same time.

It’s time for decisions. In our farm both my sister and I are involved in farm decisions and help with research. I will never forget how we decided which studs to bid on for the Alpaca Ontario on-line auction. My mom and dad picked four males that where the most impressive, then we needed to decide on the order we would bid on those males, from our least favourite to the top male. So they needed my decision.  I instantly thought about the male’s strengths and how those strengths would make up for a female’s weaknesses.  Which was the top male in fleece?  And what animal has done well in shows?. So we talked over all my opinions on the males and then we made the decision.  But overall I had my say in the matter and I was again a part of the farm.

It’s finally happening.  After 11 months a cria is on the way.  We all need to be down at barn, but sometimes it’s just you and you have to take care of it. On September 2 one of the most terrifying things happened.  One of our females delivered a premature cria and I was home alone.

I just came home from golfing and I went down to the barn and there was a cria lying flat on the ground in the summer heat.  At first I thought it was dead.  I walked up to it and it was breathing but having a hard time. So I called my friends and neighbours Rachel and Jordan and we cleaned its airways and made sure it stayed in the shade.

My parents eventually came home.   We determined it was a little girl – pure white.  She had a rough time and I had to help in many ways during the first 2 days, even holding her head up when she couldn’t.  In the end she survived, but my mom said if it wasn’t there to help here she might not have survived.

It's a dirty job but we all have to do it!

It’s a dirty job but we all have to do it!

At the beginning of this alpaca adventure I never thought I would be such a BIG part of this farm. But it turns out I’m part of every idea of this farm.  Every step we take in this farm, I’m a part of that step.  I’m a big part of the equation and no matter how old I get, I will always be a part of our farm.

When I train I try to mix a little work with a little fun.

When I train I try to mix a little work with a little fun.

Originally published in the March 2012 issue of Camelid Quarterly.  A special thanks to the editor for their permission to reprint.