We have been tremendously busy this summer (if you can even refer to it as that) so you will have to excuse the lack of video posts. Although we haven't been posting we certainly have been capturing tons of great footage, it is just a matter of getting the time to sit down and edit them all together.
This video was taken yesterday and sums up what the first month of Summer felt like for us - Cold, Wet, and Busy just like the Hummingbirds themselves!
A few days ago the Chickens started hatching in the incubator and we now have 13 little chicks! There are some Silkies and the rest are Rhode Island Reds. We have had chickens for the last year and a half and absolutely love having Fresh Eggs each morning. Our neighbors, friends and family have also enjoyed the extras! You really can't beat the taste, I don't think we will ever go back to grocery store bought eggs.
We hope you all had a wonderful weekend and a great Mother's Day! It was nice to finally see the sun, for the last 6 days New England has been grey and dreary, very tough on the motivation.
The early arrival hummingbirds were happy to see the sun as well and were a bit more active on the feeders, last night after the family came over for MDay dinner we managed to capture some great footage. It is also nice to compare this time of year to later in August when the hummingbird population has quadrupled and there is a lot more competition around the feeders.
Here is a quick 3 min clip of some of the footage we got last night, enjoy the sneak peak!
NOTE: If you notice a stutter on playback, pause the video and let it buffer completely. If you have an older computer, it also helps to turn HD OFF in the top right corner.
As you might have already known 2009 has been declared The International Year of Natural Fibers by the United Nations to help promote the production of textiles using Natural Fibers. They sent out an email blast this morning releasing all their marketing supplies ranging from the video embedded above to brochures and posters.
If you run a Natural Fiber business, farm, or run events these are great marketing collateral you can share with your community to help promote the International Year.
It was a gorgeous day out and the Girls and their cria were enjoying having a nice relaxing afternoon. We got some decent shots and figured it would be a good time to upload them as we haven't posted a new video in a few months.
Enjoy! More Videos to come!
Note: If video studders on playback, hit Pause and let the video buffer for a while or try deactiving HD in the Top Right Corner.
Over the weekend we spent some time getting our Vegetable and Herb garden ready for the quickly approaching growing season. The garden is roughly 45ft x 20ft, with a total area of 800 sq ft usable planting area (minusing the edging and pathways). This will be our 3rd year keeping a fairly decent sized garden, considering it is more a hobby for us than anything else and we are really excited about it.
Hopefully in the next 4 weeks we will be able to start transplanting some hardy seedlings, we will certainly keep you all posted on our little side project!
A friend of ours pointed out that there are some wonderful videos on YouTube that help explain in plain english the most important aspects of gardening, here is a great example:
Basic Gardening: How and Why you should all Compost - You can find a ton more videos here - http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=gardening&search=tag
Both Chris and I also run the New England Alpaca Fiber Pool - a service provider for alpaca farms across the United States to gain access to commercial sized manufacturers and maximize the value of their raw fiber by turning it into finished products for re-sale. We have been a part of the business for 7 years and officially took over 5 years ago.
Each month we post a NEAFP Note, our Newsletter, with U.S. Alpaca Industry news, specials, as well as other information and resources to help Alpaca Farms succeed.
This past month we posted a positive article about the current state of the U.S. Alpaca Fiber Industry in our current economic situaion and I wanted to pass it along to Localharvest as I believe a lot of the sentiment expressed in the article holds true for many of the Farms and Businesses in our industry.
Here is the Article in it's entirety, provided by www.NEAFP.com:
U.S. Alpaca Industry - Ready to Pounce
by Sean Riley - New England Alpaca Fiber Pool
With the current economy turned upside down, we have noticed a wave of hysteria throughout the Alpaca Industry with many breeders asking other peers in the industry how they are weathering the storm? Many are focusing on the negative news we read each day, and worrying themselves into believing that things will never get better, that this is the beginning of the end.
I understand how people can feel this way, and get their hopes down about the future but I challenge you all to focus in on the positive aspects of the current economic dilemma the world finds itself in. Sure there is a lot of uncertainty out there, but history shows that people under great pressure have great ideas, and some of the world's biggest and strongest brands were born in historic economic downturns. IBM, General Electric, Proctor and Gamble, and FedEx are all great examples of companies who were started in economic downturns and were able to not only weather the storm, but become staples in our country and across the world to this day.
While other major companies were focusing on how bad things were in their respective industries, these companies were busy dreaming up new products and solving the problems of tomorrow, which proved to be exactly what the American People were looking for and that is how they succeeded in such dire times.
The "bubble" isn't bursting, it is simply changing shape and direction and the businesses/farms that recognize this shift the fastest and execute on it are the ones that will be the most successful. I'd argue that because of this current economic situation, the U.S. Alpaca Fiber Industry is poised for tremendous growth, and here's why:
As more and more consumers realize the true power they have in their purchasing habits, the demand for clothing and accessories made from Natural Fibers in the United States will continue to grow. Rob Long, an alpaca owner from Missouri was recently quoted as saying that "Alpaca is Nature's Goretex." and we couldn't agree more. There are not many natural fibers available today that can go toe to toe with Alpaca, and as brand awareness for U.S. Alpaca grows, we will be busy keeping up with the demand rather than debating about a bubble.
Natural Resources and Labor Costs were never factored into a manufacturer's accounting balance sheet, and because of this they weren't properly figured in to the equation when figuring out a product's true cost. This caused Labor and Natural Resources across the globe to be taken advantage of. The abundance of Cheap Oil fueled clothing manufacturers to turn to synthetics, because they were cheaper and easier to produce. Now that more and more consumers are becoming conscious of the back story behind the products they purchase, more are looking for Guilt Free products that have positive stories behind them, and would rather support local businesses and purchase Made in America than a faceless corporation who exploits people and resources across the globe.
With current technologies, it has never been easier or cheaper to run your own grass roots marketing campaign and get your animals, brand, back story and products to the general public. People want to hear about how you fell in love with these animals and their fleece and others want to know who they are supporting when they buy from you. Small farms no longer have to depend on large organizations to help build awareness and demand for their animals and products. Blogs, Online Video, and Community Networking will go a lot further for your farm than generic commercials and magazine ads and all that is needed to succeed with these mediums is passion about what you do.
Every economy, every industry, every business will have it's Ups and Downs but instead of getting caught up in the day to day negatives, I challenge you to focus on the positive, and the massive potential that will arise in this economic shift back to the basics. When the dust settles, and the general consumer's mentality has shifted, how will you be poised to meet these new demands and succeed? The fact is, we can't change the events that are happening today, but we can certainly shape the events of tomorrow so put your energy and your resources towards making your own luck.
We were spoiled with a beautiful weekend and silly us, we expected it to stay like that! For a second there, I forgot we live in New England. As the saying goes, "If you don't like the Weather, just wait a minute." Unfortunately that holds true the other way around, if you are enjoying the Weather, know that it can vanish in just a minute.
After looking at the U.S. forecast it looks like a lot of you are getting Rain Today, whenever it is gloomy around here I always watch some of our Farm Videos from Summer to cheer me up - here is a small collection of our Hummingbird Videos we shot last year - can't wait until they come back!
Sit back and enjoy the Weather. Since a very young age I can remember being an avid Weather lover, always mesmerized by the sheer force of Mother Nature. Luckily living in New England we are able to experience a wide spectrum of what Mother Nature has to offer, as the old saying goes - "Don't like the Weather? Just wait a minute."
We have been embracing the use of online video to market and advertise our farm for a little over a year now and we have learned a tremendous amount in that short time period. When we first set out to publish online video of our Farm, Vimeo.com was just becoming popular and it was a perfect fit. Not only do we host our Alpaca Videos there, but we also take part in their very active community, and we actually now moderate their HD Weather Channel.
If you, like us, love Weather in all it's forms, I encourage you take a few moments and check out our Weather Chanel, we have over 100 videos ranging from Time Lapses to violent Lightning Storms. The majority of the videos are in High Definition, and we are always looking to add more so don't hesitate to send in your submissions.
You can get a quick glimpse into the channel by looking at the widget embedded below, or you can head directly to The HD Weather Channel on Vimeo to see each video in it's full glory.
We are very excited to announce the addition of two brand new Jr. Herdsires to our alpaca herd, Black Tiger, and Asteroid's Kryptonite. We can't wait to get their genetics into our herd, stay tuned for more updates.
Here is the story of our trip:
Right after the holidays we made a trip to Ohio. Before Thanksgiving I had purchased a young male alpaca with the hopes of adding him to our herd sire row. I am always on the look out for up and coming males that can add to my breeding program and when I saw Asteroid's Kryptonite listing from Starling Farm, he immediately caught my eye. After looking at his fiber samples, and pedigree I made the decision to purchase him.
We planned our trip right after Christmas as our window of opportunity to travel was very limited. Chris has a very aggressive travel schedule and we are also expecting our first grand daughter the beginning of February. With our fingers crossed we decided to leave on Dec. 27, 08. I have to say we couldn't of picked a better weekend weather wise, it was clear and mild. It was almost hard to believe that the week prior, New York and Ohio had a snow storm each that dropped 12 inches. Fate was on our side!
On the way we also made a stop at Spirit Wind Alpaca Farm and had a wonderful visit with Karen and Jerry. If time had not been pressing us I could of stayed for hours talking alpacas and fiber. We finished the rest of our journey that day arriving in Ohio at 7:00 pm and the temperature was 67 degrees (unheard of for the time of year).
The plan was to pick up Kryptonite at 8:00 the following morning. We were also transporting another alpaca "Just Sam" for Cyndee Thompson in New Hampshire. Just prior to arriving at the farm my nerves started racing and I began questioning my decision. I asked myself, Were my expectations too high? and Was I going to be disappointed? Having never seen the animal first hand, there is always that gut feeling that you missed something in the photos and fiber samples. It would have been very disappointing to travel all that distance to be let down, but I have to say all those questions quickly disappeared the minute I laid eyes on him. It was love at first sight and he was more than I expected him to be. It was so great to meet his owner in person, Jackie Kraft. We had talked so many times through email or on the phone and now I had the opportunity to meet her in person and put a face with the name and voice.
We loaded up the "boys" and had a brief visit before packing up ourselves and heading back towards home. We had one more stop to make and that was at Humalot Alpaca Farm. Brenda and Jim were only an hour away from Jackie Craft and I didn't want to miss the chance to meet them and some of their alpacas. I had called her the day before and told her we would be in the area and if possible to stop in. Being a holiday weekend you just never know what peoples plans are. They warmly welcomed us with a tour of their farm and alpacas, finished off with a great cup of coffee. We enjoyed our visit so much and their alpacas we bought one more. Humalot Black Tiger. Tiger is just over a year old, is true black, with a fine, yet dense beautifully crimped fiber which is very hard to find in black so I'm happy to add him to our herd sire lineup. In this one trip across half the country and back we managed to add some great genetics to our existing herd and are excited about future breedings.
The trip was so much fun but a little too rushed for my liking. We left here on my birthday, Sat. morning at 4:30am, stopped at three alpaca farms, spanning over 1400 miles and still managed to arrive at our farm by 10pm Sunday. Birthday's don't get much better than that!!! I wonder how I can top it next year.
Now that the dust has settled a bit after Christmas I wanted to take a quick moment and post a video of the newest addition to our farm. In another life I bred show quality Golden Retrievers, I retired from the business a little over 10 years ago but our phone still rings periodically of people looking for Golden puppies. The word of mouth and referrals I get are unbelievable, and can be accredited to solid customer support before and after the sale, but that is another blog post in itself.
Our youngest daugther was in love with Ellie, one of our house dogs who passed away a little over a year ago. She still talks about her often, and we decided that this Christmas we would buy her a new dog. Here is a quick video we shot on Christmas day.
We are happy to announce we will be set up as a vendor, along with bringing some Alpacas, Donkeys, and miniature baby doll sheep.
If you are in the Westport, MA area this upcoming Saturday be sure to swing through The Grange on Main Rd (930 Main Rd. Westport, MA 02790). We will be there all day selling our finished products and giving information on our animals and the alpaca lifestyle.