There is absolutely nothing cuter than a baby alpaca (cria), although puppies and kittens come close. We are expecting three new cria in late October and early November. If you're wanting to find a time to visit the farm this fall, mid November and through the Holidays will be great time to give us call to set one up. Just make sure your camera has fresh batteries!!
Thank you to all of you who came out to our Open House on National Alpaca Farm Days and stopped by our booth downtown during Waynesboro Market Days!. We enjoyed sharing our alpaca experiences with you. For those who haven't had the chance to see us yet this fall we still have a few more events listed below and of course, we always welcome visits to the farm. We just ask that you contact us first to make sure we're home!
Applefest at Silverbrook United Methodist Church, Lorton, VA - Saturday October 21, 10:00 to 2:00. This likely will be our only visit to Northern VA this fall so if you live in that area and are looking to purchase alpaca items for Christmas gifts this may be your only chance to do it in person and avoid shipping costs!
Waynesboro Holiday Pop-up Shops - tentatively scheduled for the weekends before and after Thanksgiving and the first weekend of December. Check back for more detailed information to come...
On Monday, June 5, CBS This Morning aired a piece that was inaccurate. Senator Jeff Flake's comments about alpacas with regard to tax reform were also inaccurate. We do not receive any tax breaks for raising alpacas, but we should be entitled to the same tax benefits and liabilities as other livestock owners. Here is our story, and we hope that you will contact us to discuss it further.
We both knew when we retired, we would live on a farm. Jay imagined having a cow or maybe some chickens. I dreamed of a Christmas tree farm! We stumbled upon alpacas when we visited a yarn vendor at a local craft fair in Virginia. She was selling alpaca yarn and had a picture of their very first cria (baby alpaca). We struck up a nice conversation and as we walked away, Jay said “THAT’S what we should do when we retire!” Before we left, we returned to her booth and asked more questions.
We took some time to learn all we could about the alpaca industry and in 2008, we purchased our first one! Because we did not own our own farm yet we chose to agist (board). Two years ago, I retired from the school system, and Jay retired from the US Army and we moved to our very own farm in PA last summer. Our herd moved about a month later. We currently have 15 alpacas, 2 llamas, 2 pigs and 5 chickens. Jay looked into the tax implications for us and ultimately was most comfortable listing us as a hobby farm.
Many alpaca owners do not depend on alpacas for a living. We depend on outside income such as pensions or other jobs.
Alpaca business owners receive NO “special alpaca tax benefit.” They have the same deductions as any other livestock or small business owner in America. We consider ourselves entrepreneurs. We send some fleece to coops to be included in larger runs, with the understanding that we are contributing to the goal of building a national alpaca fleece industry. Because our farm is so small, we don't have a lot to contribute, but we send what we can. We sell yarn and alpaca fleece to crafters. We sell alpaca garments to those who love them -- and that increases demand for an ultimate fleece industry. People are beginning to look for it.
If sheep and cows hadn't come to this country with European colonists, there would not be the current demand for wool and milk. If sheep and cows had come to this country in the last 30 years, the wool and dairy industries would be doing exactly what we're doing -- introducing people to wool and dairy products, and trying to build demand.
We are disappointed the CBS This Morning segment was not more reflective of a strong industry of farmers and entrepreneurs who are in this livestock industry as a true business.
Success in the show ring! Although the mission of our farm is to produce great yarn rather than necessarily win ribbons in the show ring, it is nice when the two come together. We had success at the Mid-Atlantic Alpaca Association's MAPACA Jubilee April 20-23 held at the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg, PA. Our 11-month old girl Layla took the blue ribbon in the small breeder halter competition and 2nd out of 11 in the regular halter competition coming in ahead of some larger and well established farms. Layla is the offspring of our elite herdsire Snowmass King Leonidus who is still producing finely fleeced, dense, and consistent progeny. Our junior herdsire Honeyboy Edward also held his own coming in 4th in a class of 9 very competitive alpaca breeders.
Plan a visit to our farm on just about any day of the week. We only ask that you call first to make sure we're home.
Shearing Day 2017. Although the sky threatened rain most of the day, we managed to keep our herd dry and have a successful Shearing Day on Monday, April 24. Matt Best of Best Shearing expertly and efficiently removed the fleece from our 15 alpacas and two llamas in less than 2 1/2 hours (that's between 8 & 9 minutes per animal!) providing us with about 104 lbs of fiber to be taken to the mill and turned into yarn. If you or someone you know loves to knit, stop by the farm to see, and more importantly, feel our alpaca yarn. And after you choose your yarn we'll take you out to the barn to meet the animal who produced it!
EPD stands for Estimated Progeny Difference - basically how likely a specific trait is to be passed on to offspring. Sugar Hollow's renowned herdsire Snowmass King Leonidus and our extremely fine fleeced dam Georgianna of Legacy's Conclusive are in the top 1% for 2016.
Georgie was number 86 out of 39,442 alpacas in average fiber diameter and 36 of 39,422 in standard deviation of average fiber diameter meaning that her fleece is not only fine but very consistent. This is what makes great yarn and also why 2 of our 3 herdsires are her sons Matoskah and Jumpin' Jack Flash. We are using both in our breeding program to continue to pass these traits on to future generations.
King Leonidus was number 152 out 21,089 in average fiber diameter meaning that even as he ages he is still able to produce very fine offspring. He also carries a trait that is not able to be measured by fiber analysis - Density. Even with his fine fleece it is difficult to reach in and get to his skin (as Kathy can attest whenever she has to give him a shot) because of the amount of fleece he packs into each square millimeter of space. He is continuing to pass these traits to his offspring as you can see on our farm in his daughter Layla. He will continue to have a role in our breeding program for the foreseeable future.
October 28, 2016
This past week we added two gray females to our herd along with a trio of kitties to help police our barn. Gwenhwyfar Macdhui (yes, that is the correct spelling) and Heather Nikos, both from Thistledown Alpacas in Manakin Sabot, VA, will help us diversify not only our genetics, but also color. We can now add gray yarn to our stock of white, beige, fawn, brown, and black. Our three new feline friends – Doc, Watson, & Minnie Pearl (she’s the gray one) – will soon be put to work making sure that our occasional field mouse visitor will understand the feed is for the alpacas, llamas, and pigs and NOT for them. When not busy at work they’ll have a big time socializing with the herd and playing in the hay. We’re sure they’ll provide much entertainment for many years to come!
August 8, 2016
Well it took 7 1/2 years and two retirements, but we finally have all of our herd plus two guard llamas on our very own farm. We gained a lot of knowledge from our mentors while boarding our animals at Bear Garden Farm and Double 8 Alpaca Ranch, but the time has finally come to put all that learning to the test. The herd is adjusting well to their new surroundings and we have our first “herd health” day under our belts with nary a spit. (Well, maybe a little spit). We’re looking forward to our first farm event – an Open House on Saturday, September 3. If you’re in the Waynesboro, PA area that weekend, stop by and check us out!
July 5, 2016
To those who asked me over the years, – “how long are you going to stay in the Army Band” my answer was always – “until I find something I’d rather do”. That finally happened a short time ago and so it was time for me to move on. I’ve had a truly blessed career. I’m retiring as the Concert Band Percussion Group Leader – the goal I had set for myself nearly 30 years ago when I walked through the front door as the band’s newest percussionist. It wouldn’t have happened without a lot of help from many different people, first and foremost my family: Thank you to…
… my wife Kathy, who has been my rock, for all of her support through the years, for her incredible wisdom and sound advice, and for her nearly limitless patience and enduring love.
… my son Jeff, and daughter, Julia for making parenting easy. They are two of the best kids you could ever want. They enabled me to spend most of my problem-solving energies at work, instead of at home. I am so very proud of who they have become and all that they have accomplished.
… my parents, who suggested that I take drum lessons when I was 7 years old and made me stick with it when I wanted to quit. They paid for the private lessons and attended countless concerts over the years (must be in the hundreds!) and I am eternally indebted to them
… the command team - COL Holtan and Command Sergeant Major Dan Smith. Two individuals who care deeply – not just about the Band – but about the individual members who make up the Band and want each one to be as successful as possible. You don’t write personalized handwritten birthday cards unless you truly and deeply care.
… those who helped me get off to a good start in Pershing’s Own when I arrived in October of 1986. SGM Mike Johnston was the best mentor a new member of the Ceremonial Band percussion section could have. He made coming to work fun, but knew how to be serious when it was time to perform. He along with Robert White, and Myles Overton were a great section in which to start out and they showed me the ropes for the first quarter of my career.
… the members of the Concert Band percussion section who mentored me when I made the switch to Concert Band in 1994 – SGM Bill Messerschmidt, Bill Richards, Gary Swiderski, and Terry Heilman. We were a section of Pennsylvania boys – except for Gary. They taught me a lot about musicianship and being a section player. Watching them play was like a free private lesson every day. It was a great way to be introduced to the Concert Band.
… SGM Tim Huesgen who was my partner in the leadership of the Concert Band percussion section for 10 years. Even on the worst day when things were going wrong Tim would have that one off-the-cuff comment that would crack me up. We made a good team and had a lot of fun. On trips I could always count on him to have researched the best restaurants and attractions.
… the various Concert Band Element Leaders over the past several years. SGM Debbie McGarity, SGM Chuck Seipp, SGM Rick Parrell, SGM Don Palmire and now SGM Jerry Amoury. They were always happy to give advice and guidance when I asked, and even sometimes when I didn’t. They helped shape who I became as a leader and their impact on me was substantial.
… the EO Team – Primary EO Leader was not a position I sought, but I was blessed to have had the opportunity, and to work with and get to know such dedicated and caring people. You do great work. Thank you for your efforts to make TUSAB a better place
… the current Concert Band percussion section – I’ve enjoyed performing with you for the past 15 years. We’ve had some challenges, but have also done some great things and had some great times! As my replacement, Kris Keeton is a great addition and immediately makes the section better by his presence. I expect more great things.
… Jen Lissak and POFA, for their help with the retirement luncheon!
There are many things I will miss:
Finally, as with most retirees, I have to offer a bit of advice as I walk out the door. We are all extremely fortunate to be a part of this organization. Although there are things we’re required to do that we don’t really enjoy, for the most part we are making a living doing what we love. For musicians that is getting to be a very rare thing. Never take it for granted!
Thank you for a great career!- Jay