Ron Mackintosh  – 14th  May 2021

14 May 2021     British Alpaca Society     BAS Board

As I write this blog the 86th edition of the Alpaca Magazine is going to print to be mailed out to you shortly. This is the 24th edition of the magazine I have been responsible for since joining the BAS board in 2015.

It has been both fascinating, challenging and only possible through the brilliant work of our editor Liz Mason who does all the hard work in sourcing and writing articles. Liz is the third editor I have worked with and I think she has made a great contribution in getting the magazine to where it is with a broad range of articles that reflect the breadth and depth of the alpaca community in the UK today.

Liz and I, along with Duncan and now Elaine, work together to plan the current year’s magazine editions and the features we would like to see in the various issues. Then as we get to a couple of months before publication we have an in-depth call or Zoom meeting to go through all the content Liz has managed to source and articles that still need writing. It is always a challenge to work out where we can source interesting articles and after a lot of discussion, by the end of that meeting, we usually have a plan and know where we think they will come from. We are so grateful to all the alpaca owners and other contributors who send Liz the articles, or are willing to do interviews etc, so Liz can work on writing and editing the magazine to get it ready to go to the studio where Jo Legg does the design and turns the articles, pictures and adverts into the edition you all see. I proofread the edition and share it with my board colleagues before we finally approve it to go to print. It is a great team effort and I am really proud of what we produce for you every two months.

The way the magazine is produced went through a major change about 6 years ago when Nigel Beckwith of Herts Alpacas and a then board member rethought the whole way the magazine was funded and after a lot of work and negotiation brought in Evegate, now Kelsey, to produce and publish the magazine. Nigel agreed a new concept for BAS where the publisher would produce and edit the magazine at no charge to the society in return for receiving the advertising revenue from selling advertising space in the magazine. Previously BAS paid quite a bit of money each year to get the magazine to you. This change has resulted in the magazine we have today and want to say a big thank you to Nigel conceiving and negotiating that deal with Evegate.

Apart from my BAS activities of working on the Magazine, a board meeting, and a TB meeting with DEFRA/APHA, my time over the last couple of months has been spent on the normal activities for our alpaca herd. I have been preparing the fields for Spring, getting ready to shear 130 alpacas, doing pre-birthing husbandry, planning this year’s matings and helping Linda with alpaca sales and supporting our customers with any health or husbandry issues, as well as trying to understand our EBV data and thinking or how to use it in our breeding programme.

My biggest worry has been grass, or lack of it, caused by the unusual cold and dry spring so I was not able to get fertiliser on the ground when it was too wet, and then not spreading it until I could see rain on the way!  Eventually I was able to fertilize and spread 3 tonnes of fertilizer pellets a couple of weeks ago just before we got some rain and at last our fields have greened up and the grass is growing strongly.

Can’t wait for birthing to begin and new life to start while feeling optimistic now we have been vaccinated and it looks like life is beginning to return to a new normal with alpaca shows this Autumn.