DIXON — From city girl to alpaca rancher, Charlene Schmid has come a long way.
“I always wanted to have a Montessori school with alpacas as part of the school, and then I realized I could have alpacas without the parents,” she said.
Schmid had bought one alpaca from Ahh . . . Sweet Alpacas and was boarding it there when she sold her Davis home in September and bought five acres in Vacaville.
Then she got three more alpacas.
“It’s wonderful on the ranch,” she said. “I love coming home every day to sit out with alpacas – and a glass of wine.”
Schmid brought a couple of her alpacas to the Dixon Fairgrounds for the California Classic Alpaca and Fiber Show, but admits she doesn’t know much about the show world.
“I just want really good yarn,” she said.
The mother discovered her love of alpaca fiber when she was making baby blankets for her daughter.
“Fourteen years ago, I first used alpaca yarn and never used anything else since,” she said.
Once her alpacas are sheared and the fiber is processed at the mill, she’ll return home with her own supply of yarn to make into scarves.
“Alpacas give back world-class fiber,” said Sheila Cooney-Scroggins, of Colusa Riverside Alpacas. “It’s warmer than wool – if not warmer . . .”
“The best wool doesn’t even compare to alpaca fiber,” she said.
Cooney-Scroggins mostly breeds and sells alpacas. She’s a member of the California Alpaca Owners Association, which brought the ninth annual show to Dixon.
“Shows are kind of a necessity if you want to sell a breeding stud or breedings,” she said.
She was pinning her hopes on Prophecy’s River Phoenix, a 6-month-old male, who will show with the white-colored alpacas Sunday. She said his mother and father had excellent fiber.
“I’m hopeful for the little guy,” she said.
Alpacas at the show are grouped by gender, age and color. Bruce Nelson of Ahh . . . Sweet Alpacas said alpacas come in 22 natural colors. The alpacas are judged on conformation but mostly fiber.
“Fleece is judged on fineness, density and character,” Nelson said. “They are not judged on behavior, it’s not a performance . . . ”
Nelson had already found success with his 10-month-old Valiant of Ahh…Sweet Alpacas who emerged as the champion of his color Saturday.
“(The judge said) he was the complete package – a big-boned, solid boy with excellent fleece,” Nelson said.
Considered the top black male at the show, Valiant surprisingly came from a grey sire and a white dame.
“I got a black boy, and I couldn’t be happier . . . I’m thrilled. He’s a very nice boy,” Nelson said.
The California Classic Alpaca and Fiber Show continues from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Dixon Fairgrounds, 655 S. First St.
Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.