Beach trip pictures

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Farm Update

Fancy Fiber Farm is going through some changes. Personal lives being what they are we have decided to sell all of the breeding animals, but are still attempting to get the mill up and going. We are very, close. I will post another update when it has come online.

We are attending the Clark County Fair end of this week and all of next week.. If you are in the area, we would love for you to stop by.

If you are interested in any of the breeding animals, they are going cheap. Make us an offer, we will probably take it.

We will still be in the business, focusing on fiber animals for the mill. However, we will have a lot of property and would be most interested in agisting animals for you as well. Let us know how we can help you out.

Hopefully in a few days will have some good news to report.

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After sending off three of our alpacas that were sold yesterday, we come to find out that we very easily could have lost the sale to another breeder, who also happens to be the transporter. They offered to transport the alpacas for free if these people would buy from them instead of us. This isn’t a post to bash them for their sales technique, because they have a¬†competitive¬†advantage that I can’t provide right now. I have no issue with them using it on leads that they generate themselves. It just seems a little un-ethical to me to use your transport business to generate sales leads from your other customers.

I sometimes wonder if I am cut out to be a businessman because I would never even consider doing that to another breeder and maybe worse, I wouldn’t expect it to be done to me. When I am working with someone to provide a service, I expect they are going to provide that service, not attempt to steal my sale because they can provide that service. There are any number of other practices out there that can be done to steal a sale that I haven’t thought of, I’m sure. Is it unethical to try and sell your animals to a buyer using any means possible?

Fancy Fiber Farm does have a new policy though from this experience. The buyers do not get to contact the transporters before sale of the alpacas is complete, period. Even if that means it takes longer for the animals to get delivered. We will work with the transporters to get the best schedule, but the specifics of the customer with the transporter, not a chance.

What other types of sales practices should I be wary of? Talk back to me, please.

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Facebook new privacy settings

For an alpaca blog I sure do spend a lot of time on technical subjects, but I feel that is where I can provide the most benefit sometimes. I try to gear my technical posts to things that will benefit the alpaca breeder though. This post was inspired by a recent string of posts I saw on Facebook saying that Facebook was implementing changes the would allow the search engines access to your private posts unless you change a setting, and that Facebook was being sneaky in making this change.

Before the new privacy settings were implemented, anything that could be viewed by people not on your friend list was available to be indexed by the search engines. If you have ever looked up your name on Google, you probably know this already. If you haven’t, you should see what’s out there on you sometime. You may be surprised. But I digress. One of the new settings, the one being, lets say mentioned, in the posts will, when checked continue to allow the search engines the same access they had previously. Unchecking the box removes that access and provides additional privacy for your account. A good thing, mostly.

Work with me here when I say you may have reason to leave this box checked. You are an alpaca breeder. You are selling your alpacas t through your website. People find your website by searching for it. Search engines rank your site based on links referencing it, among many other things. You have your website listed in your personal settings on facebook, if you don’t now, you will shortly after reading this, right? Blocking the search engines from seeing you public information also blocks them from seeing that link to your website from one of the largest sites on the internet.

I shouldn’t even discuss the part about Facebook keeping it quiet about the change, but here I go anyway. Facebook widely advertised the changes to the new privacy settings. This one in particular may not have been called out, but since doing nothing changed nothing from what it was in the past, was there a need to bring attention to it? Keeping the search engines from seeing public information does not keep people from searching and seeing that same information on Facebook. It doesn’t make it less visible. The other privacy settings are where you need to spend some time and make sure you are only sharing what you think you are sharing. This is very important because Facebook has set your new default settings, if you didn’t change them when prompted, to share just about everything with everyone. You should also be aware that just because you aren’t posting everything, your friend might be, so your comments may be visible further than you expect.

And make sure your website link is viewable by Everyone. You want people to find your alpacas.

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Some Free tools or sites that I find useful

As a technical person during my day job I constantly come up with crazy ideas how to include technology in the alpaca business. Most of these aren’t feasible to implement due to the cost, or just how stupid they really are when I think them through. I do however try new things that I can do for free all the time. Every once in a while something useful comes along. This post I will talk about some of the cool things I am currently using.

Google Chrome: I have been using Chrome since it was released to public beta. It wasn’t ever a terrible browser, but it has some short-commings that made it not be my primary browser, until this week. Google released extensions for Chrome that provide functionality that Firefox has had for quite some time. I don’t like Firefox personally though. I have had bad luck with it crashing and being slow and confusing when I tried it in the past, so that has been hard to get over and get me to try it again recently. I have been a Microsoft Internet Explorer user for years, despite it not supporter standards 100 percent. Every web developer codes their site to work with it, and I don’t surf to very many sites I am not familiar with. I have other precautions in place when I am doing unsafe surfing, but that is for another time. In order for Chrome to finally win my default browser choice I had to go to the developer beta version that supports extensions, but what an awesome product. It integrates my gmail, twitter, and wave updates into the browser. I finally have ad blocking support and there are tons more that I haven’t tried. All of those, great as they are still aren’t what pushed me over the edge though. The one killer extension was Internet Explorer in a Chrome tab. This allows me to use Chrome for everything, but when there is a site that has features not supported or that I want to print with customized header and footer, which sadly Chrome still doesn’t support customizing for some reason, I just open the site in the IE tab and we are good to go. I highly recommend Chrome now. The speed gain I have from using it is also incredible. Most pages load in about half the time, but I am sure much of that is differences in how it loads pages and my slow satellite connection. I can go into details, but most people reading this won’t really care, just know that Chrome is a much faster, smarter browser than IE.

Facebook: I have talked about Facebook before, but I feel it needs mention again. It has allowed me to keep in touch with people in a way I never dreamed of before. I have my blog posts show up there. I get product updated over there for customers to see, which in turn gets them listed in the search engines again. I have been adding little features to Facebook that make it easier on me to keep updated too, like an RSS feed of my products, updates when my blog is updated, and a direct feed to Twitter. I have been using the page to advertise events that we will be attending or having on the farm. Keeping interest going in our progress on getting the mill going. Posting pictures and video of the farm. All to keep people informed, entertained, and maybe even educated. If you aren’t on Facebook yet, I think you are missing an opportunity to keep in touch. If you are on Facebook, I hope you will consider becoming a fan of Fancy Fiber Farm.

Twitter: If you have never used Twitter, it doesn’t make much sense. It took me a very long time to start using it myself because I just didn’t get it. First, why do I care what some celebrity is doing? Second, who cares what I am doing? Well, what I have discovered is that I still don’t care what the celebrities are doing, I do care what other alpaca farms are doing, and other businesses that affect the alpaca industry. People do want to know what Fancy Fiber Farm is doing, as well. When I described Twitter to Kim, she said, “So it is like my wall on Facebook?” Yes, that is basically what it is, but viewable and searchable by anyone on the internet, and people that follow you get updates however they choose to receive them. You can also send direct messages to someone, and resend their tweets. To my surprise, I have made some of the best contacts using Twitter and fully intend to continue using it. I have used software to link my Twitter and Facebook pages so the updates get published automatically. There is good and bad in that, but I think the good out weighs the bad.

Networked Blogs: this is an application for Facebook that simply posts my blog updates on the Fancy Fiber Farm Facebook page. This just saves me some time when I post a new entry.

SocialRSS: another application for Facebook that pulls our new products into the Fancy Fiber Farm Facebook page.

Seesmic Desktop: this is a very cool tool for managing Facebook and Twitter in one interface. I probably won’t be using it much any more though because the Google Chrome extensions have this in the browser now.

Alpaca Social: a site build by alpaca people for alpaca people, they say. It is like Facebook or MySpace but dedicated to the alpaca industry. Not the greatest interface, but functional. Look me up and add me as a friend.

Cattlegrower: just started here this week. I know. The name doesn’t seem alpaca related, but the support several species of animal including alpaca and llama. It is another Facebook/MySpace type site. It is another place to market my animals, products and services.

Openherd: I haven’t taken the time to fully explore the offering on this site, but they do allow me to post information about my animals. I don’t know how long it will remain free, either.

Google Wave: I have this, but I haven’t figured out how it fits with my business needs. I need more people using it for one thing to see it really in action. I have a couple of invites if you want to test it out, let me know. I will get to you as soon as I can.

Statcounter: A free website counter and stat collector. It really works well and in the background to let you know what is going on with your website.

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Cold weather and water

So, it’s that time of year already. Again, I wasn’t prepared for it and didn’t really expect it to be here so soon. The freezing cold weather has arrived. We are scrambling to keep the alpacas water fresh and not frozen. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves this summer with the new automatic water dispensers in the fields! The end to our constant buckets of water nightmare! Now the only problem with them is I couldn’t afford the heated version and we have frozen water. Of course since they have a much smaller bowl, the water in the freezes even quicker that in the buckets too! Right now we are back to the bucket method and changing water like 6 times a day just to be sure they have water and it hasn’t frozen too quickly. We are working on getting the heaters installed in a couple buckets too, that should help, but boy it just sneaked up on me this year. I figured January, maybe we would get this cold.

What does everybody else do in the freezing area to keep the animals water fresh and not frozen? Expensive heated water troughs? Many trips to the barn to keep the water refreshed? In tank heaters? Some combination of all of the above?

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