Indeeya, Koko & Jitterbug of Inca Dinca Do
Inca Dinca Do & SunHill Orchard booths, with Judy spinning away.
The start of the camelid parade.
Abby walking Koko & Indeeya. (Yes, Koko is sporting a stegasaurus cut for the fair!)
This little angel recognized Koko from her summer camp farm visit. She completely ignored all of us and just talked to the alpacas.
VHWSG alpaca to shawl all in one day! Such a lovely group.
The 148th Saanich Fair took place Sept 5-7 2015. This year’s theme was alpacas and llamas with a tagline of “Come take a spin at the fair!”. Got to love that – alpacas, llamas AND spinning? All at once? In public? Perfect!
I took 3 alpacas this year, (that is as many as I can fit in my little Transit Connect van). I chose Kokopelli because he did so well last year and gosh, he’s just so easy going; Jitterbug Perfume because even though she often lives up to her name, she is a super-cutie who shows potential; and Indeeya, one of my rescue greys.
Indeeya, was rescued from a farm up island where the owner, for what sounds like many reasons beyond her control, had let her herd suffer the effects of neglect for far too long. Indeeya had 2, possibly 3 years worth of fibre on her, matted, full of debris and amuck with mites. The pads of her feet were rotten, likely due to living in wet, unsanitary conditions and her poor toenails were so overgrown, they had twisted right around and were growing back into themselves. She was scared to death of people and had learned a myriad of avoidance techniques – maybe the main reason behind her neglected toenails.
I worked with her as gently as possible over the past 2 years, mostly out of necessity to address her many health issues. I got a halter on her at shearing time and once or twice around the farm but it was not until a month before the fair that I’d had a chance to assess her candidacy for the Saanich fair. My logic was twofold – I had donated her fleece to the Victoria Weavers and Spinners Guild for the alpaca to shawl demonstration and thought it would be nice for the public to be able to appreciate seeing the animal the fleece actually came from. Second, I figured being around a lot of people for the weekend, even if it just meant viewing them from inside the pen, might help her to gain some confidence.
On the first day of the fair, my friend Cathy and I, along with her niece Abby and friend Tae, took all 3 alpacas for several walks around the camelid enclosures, including the twice a day parade and attempts at the obstacle course. Now, the obstacle course is set up by Roche Cove Llamas, they have years of experience with the llama fair circuit and most of their animals are old pros at it. Llama farmers kind of snicker when we alpaca people attempt the obstacle course…for most of us, it’s rather like walking a cat. I was quite proud of Koko last year when he succeeded at about 80% of the course. Well! No one had anticipated my Indeeya!
Abby has worked with therapeutic horses and although she was just recently introduced to the idea of alpaca handling, she took to it like a professional in the circus. By the second day of the fair, Abby had Indeeya not only attempting every obstacle in the course, but successfully completing every single portion of it, including the jumps designed for 400 lb 6′ tall llamas! I was so very impressed with the 2 of them!
And then on top of this little miracle, the Victoria Weavers and Spinners Guild asked me, “Would you come down and do the honour of cutting the shawl off the loom?”. Of course! The women had spun and woven a beautiful huck lace shawl with a medium brown warp and Indeeya’s grey weft – absolutely gorgeous. I cut if off the loom and then they surprised the heck out of me by presenting me with the shawl! I was shocked and I admit I briefly (very briefly) thought about passing it on to any one of the many people who were instrumental in the formation of this lovely shawl. But I quickly realized – to have this shawl, made by this wonderful group of talented and wise friends from the fleece of this incredible animal I had spent the weekend forming a deep bond with…there are no words. The donation of the fleece was a simple pay-it-forward gesture and I certainly was not expecting anything in return. So very touched.
So yes, Saanich fair was a huge success. It was a weekend full of little miracles that so many people contributed towards. A big thank-you to Barb, who came to manage our booth all 3 days so that we could enjoy walking alpacas and chatting with visitors. A big thank-you also to Judy and Brenda, who came to sit and spin and help me chat with the public. Always a huge debt of gratitude to my friend and co-crazy alpaca lady Cathy. And an especially big thank-you to Abby for showing us all that it could be done.