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Monday, April 14, 2014

Just J. Lo: Ordinary States of Being Among Alpaca

Just J. Lo: Ordinary States of Being Among Alpaca

Just J. Lo: Ordinary States of Being Among Alpaca

By Carla M Paton

As alpacas go, J. Lo (no relation) is an embarrassment; her round pin head is too small, her neck too short, and her spindly legs stick out like toothpicks from her Twinkie-shaped body. Her white spotted fleece has no crimp; it only puffs out like she stuck her tongue in an electric socket or perhaps was too long under the dryer at the beauty salon. She is the poster child of a bad hair day. She is also the only huacaya among blue-ribboned suris (huacaya and suris are the two breeds of domesticated alpaca, suris being the rarer of the two.) Given that she is not optimal for breeding stock, we brought her home thinking she might make a good "therapy animal" and yet the other morning, she jumped up with all four feet off the ground and charged at me in attack. I would have been alarmed if not for my bewildered amusement.

It almost does not seem possible (or sane) but within a few months, we have gone from owning zero alpacas to sixteen. We had been studying the alpaca breeding business for a few years, and had planned on purchasing a few eventually, but it did seem like once we made our decision to "go for it" and made our first purchase, everything came together to create and allow our fledgling business a rather stellar starter herd of which we never dreamed possible in such a short time. We had done our research and went to top local breeders and mentors, but many things occurred that were not in our control. We did and do feel a resonance around this endeavor and with the people whom we work.

Being in the technical field has enabled me to see the sharp contrast between mind and matter and to have firsthand experience with science as myth and religion. Perhaps this is also why I am so drawn to the land and animals. Starting each morning shoveling puppy, goat, horse, and alpaca poop keeps all in perspective. Further, I believe animals are one of the last groups to garner any status as conscious beings; being viewed as more matter than mind; they reveal a lacuna in a systems and wholeness interconnected attitude in our daily interactions with animals.

Animals are not just for individual therapy and healing but can also provide cultural healing in our alienated and cut-off-from-nature world. C. G. Jung talked about alienation from the natural world -- here is a means for healing -- just being with animals and not using them. Being with animals insists we stay in the moment, experience emotion more intensely, and they can challenge our thinking. If we slow down and pay attention, animals have much to teach us about ourselves and our world.

Copyright Carla M Paton, 2014

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Horizon in Every Direction: Engaging the Soul of the Great Plains and the Smoky Hill Trail

A Horizon in Every Direction: Engaging the Soul of the Great Plains and the Smoky Hill Trail
by Carla Paton

“It is here that our hearts are set,
In the expanse of the heavens.”

—Pawnee song

“It is no mere coincidence that our feelings about a place take on spiritual dimensions. An old rancher once told me he thought the lines in his hands had come directly up from the earth that the land had carved them there after so many years of work.”

—Gretel Ehrlich, “Landscape”

With the aging of my parents, now in their eighties, and our joint purchase of a large tract of ranch land on the Eastern Colorado Plains, I feel them, myself, and my children, three generations, coming full circle. The prairies and plains of Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado have been our home and homeland for many generations. In this series about our ranch home, I hope to share some of this area’s story, my family’s story, as well as insight into why this particular place exerts such a powerful claim on me and others. My intention is to illustrate that place can link us to our individual and collective depths, as well as provide healing and transformation with the Earth, within ourselves, and communities. To do this, I will explore the archetype and cohesion of place—its alchemical synthesis of land, myth, and history—by focusing on one specific area: the Smoky Hill Trail as it traverses time and the plains of Kansas and Colorado. My overall method is best reflected in the practice of terrapsychology that Chalquist (2012) developed for engaging the soul of place:

Terrapsychology is the deep study of our largely unconscious (because disregarded) connections to and interdependencies with the multileveled presence of our living Earth, including specific places, creatures, and materials. “Deep” because what links us to places and animals and the elements travels along bridges of symbol, metaphor, image, and even synchronicity and dream. Terrapsychology explores how the patterns, shapes, features, and motifs at play in the nonhuman world sculpt our ideas, our habits, our relationships, culture, and sense of self: freeway congestion in congested conversations, lake toxins in our darker moods, salt-choked fields and bitter relations, healing landscapes and regenerating hearts. We also study the reverse, the province of ecopsychology: the impacts of colonialism, nationalism, and other dissociative cultural constructs on the increasingly paved and gridded world around us. (pp. 1-2)

Engaging the soul of a place also tugs on our personal sense of home and an archetypal sense of innate yearning for a place of our own. In finding and making our home, it then becomes a sacred space. Since our desire for and sense of land and home are remarkably similar in all cultures throughout history, they also displays profound archetypal energy. This archetypal field is strongly felt not only in our designated home or sacred sense of place, but also in nature and within cultural groups. In addition, I will explore what a deep map of Place might look like when it includes the unconscious and an alchemical understanding of nature as it relates to psyche.

Chalquist, C. (2012). “TI2: An Integrative Methodology for Coming Home to Place, Nature, Matter, and Earth”. Retrieved July 27, 2012, from,

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Big Welcome to GLR Atacama - 3 x Champion Grey!

The Futurity, Gray Female, Color Champion, 2009

The Futurity, Gray Female, Color Champion, 2009

Thanks to Linda Kondris and Pines Edge Suri Alpacas, we are beyond thrilled to welcome GLR Atacama to Bijou Alpacas!

GLR Atacama is a 3 time Champion, at the largest and most competitive shows, and comes from a pedigree loaded with champions on both sides of her lineage.

Her sire is Sierra Bonita's MacGyver's Synergy, a multi-champion herdsire.

Her dam, GLR Amelita was the 2004 AAA Futurity Grey Champion.

It doesn't stop there - Atacama has two full brothers, GLR Coyhaique and GLR Kolaqua, that are multi champions also. GLR Coyhaique was the 2007 Futurity and AOBA Nationals grey color champion. GLR KOlaqua was grey color champion at the 2008 MAPACA show as well as the 2008 and 2009 AOBA Nationals. Atacama sold for $25,000 at the AOBA auction, 2009.

Not only have Atacama's dam, sire and full siblings been champions at the nation's largest shows, Atacama went on to win 3 championships herself in 2009 at 3 of the most prestigious shows in the country. All as a juvenile!

GLR Atacama is also a grandaughter of the well known 4P Condor. It's no surprise that GLR Atacama has already produced outstanding offspring.

Atacama has developed into a strong gray foundation female. She easily delivers fast growing crias and she has a pleasant personality. Her fleece has maintained strong luster and continues to show lock after numerous shearings and her conformation is excellent with good balance, strong bone and a nice Suri head.

Take a look at her histogram, outstanding for a gray and at nearly 5 years of age!! She has produced dark silver gray when bred to gray and we can't wait to see her next cria from Silver Heat who is one of today's top gray studs.

Atacama is bred to PERUVIAN SILVER HEAT and due June 2014.

Silver Heat is the premier gray stud male having earned Futurity Dark Herdsire of the year in 2011. First ever gray to earn this prestigious title. Silver Heat had a great show career in 2006: Futurity Champion, GWAS Champion and 10 First Place Blues including AOBA Nationals.

This is an outstanding match and multiple champion Atacama X multiple champion Silver Heat is planned to produce an awesome cria. If you are breeding for the rare and sought after gray, Atacama's cria will add quality and prestige to your breeding program.

Atacama's price reflects not only her PHENOMENAL quality, but also our desire to keep her for one of our stellar foundation dams.

Again, most of all, a huge THANK YOU to Linda Kondris from Pines Edge Suri Alpacas for allowing us this amazing opportunity, the mentoring, and such an amazing start for our program!!


The Futurity, Gray Female, Color Champion, 2009
1st Place The Futurity
MAPACA, Gray Female, Color Champion, 2009
First Place, MAPACA
AOBA Nationals, Reserve Color Champion, 2009
1st Place, AOBA Nationals, 2009
MAPACA, Gray Female, Color Champion

MAPACA, Gray Female, Color Champion

AOBA Nationals, Reserve Color Champion, 1st 2009

AOBA Nationals, Reserve Color Champion, 1st 2009

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Our new Alpaca guard dogs - Great Pyrenees / Akbash Puppies!!

I was beginning to think it never would happen…finding just the right dogs at just the right time. We wanted puppies so we could socialize them with the alpacas and with the barn kittens without any issues. When I finally found “the ones,” it meant an impromptu trip and seven hours of driving to Trinidad, Colorado – almost to the New Mexico line!

They came from a litter of 10 and were the last spotted ones. Driving them home, I was listening to my favorite Elton John album, “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboys”. Well, we have a lot of dirt and Ken is certainly now a cowboy, so “Captain” and “Cowboy” they became.

Captain is very outgoing and after just two days has learned how to “shake”. Cowboy is still very shy, but he is coming around, and hey, it does feel good when those human things rub behind my ears. The puppies do love to chase the kitties, Silver and Peaches, but the kitties (who are more like cats these days) are learning it is all in play. Perhaps this weekend we’ll have some warmer weather and I can get a video of all of the fun.

Most importantly, Captain and Cowboy curl up at night with the momma and baby alpacas, and everyone, including us, sleep well at night knowing these little (much bigger by the day!) guys are soon to be our alpaca guardians as well as well-loved members of the family.

See you next time, with more barn buddy updates!

Carla & Ken Paton