Soooo, my inevitable "first baby of the year!" post is a bit ... Belated ... To say the least. There are a few reasons for this. One is less-than-pleasant, but it's the reality of farming: our first couple of cria this year didn't quite make it (one I believe was overcooked, another one under, both likely due to the extreme and horrible winter we had this year).
The other reason is, inevitably, that we have been freaking busy.
... But! ... We have had some cria. We are now up to four (all in the same paddock, for some odd reason). One is black and one is white and both are lovely, but not likely to make the 'blog, because, well -- if you're looking for alpaca at Howling Hill Farm, chances are, you're looking for some more unique colors than just black and white.
Luckily, we have those, too.
The first -- first healthy cria of the year, and first cria by his sire, our Harlequin boy Sparks Fly -- is an Appaloosa. So far, he's looking pretty darned good.
The second is ... Well, she's the one standing behind him in the picture. (They were born one day apart, and are pretty much inseparable.)
So ... She's stunning, right? ... But what exactly ... Is she?
Every time I pair up two alpacas, I have a very good, very specific idea of what I am breeding for. This includes not only the qualities I am looking for -- breed type, conformation, fleece -- but also coloring -- because we are a color program, in the end.
Generally, I'm happy if I get something fairly close to what I was breeding for.
Sometimes, I get EXACTLY that ... And then some.
Oh, wow, is this girl the "and then some."
I've always wanted a solid grey alpaca, since before I even got into alpacas in late 2013. I saw a picture of a male named Patagonia's Neruda, and I thought, "Okay, yes. I want THAT."
Nearly five years later, I still hadn't found THAT. Turns out THAT is pretty rare.
When this one was born, I realized: my "on a hunch" breeding decision paid off, and I had finally managed to MAKE "that." She also has the full leg coverage and bone substance that we are breeding for, THE BEST head I have produced yet, and what looks to be an absolutely phenomenal fleece so far. Added bonus: she is the first of her sire's offspring to have inherited his ice blue eyes. I have never seen eyes like that on any other solid grey, so I believe she may be the only one of her kind in the world.
This girl represents even more than a step forward in our breeding program, though; she is even more than the result of a breeding choice that paid off. I believe that she represents another key to a genetic puzzle that I've been -- so far only casually -- exploring for a few years now. A full 'blog post on this is coming soon (well .. Soon-ish), but suffice it to say, my so-far "experimental only" Roan Grey alpaca program may just be getting revisited soon.
So yes. 2018 does have some cria in it so far. The rock star gal is the only one who has a name as of yet: Howling Hill Dark and Stormy McDaniels. (Special thanks to Farmer Colleen for that one.)
K writes this stuff, for some reason that has yet to become apparent.