Yesterday was "shear day" I get so excited for this annual event that I can hardly sleep the night before. I so look forward to getting my hands into those bags of fleece, yet I worry about the alpacas stressing while they are being sheared. We lay them on mats on the ground on their side and stretch their legs out. Their legs are tethered to hobbles which are attached to a pole running beside the prone alpaca. A pulley system allows the legs to be stretched out or quickly released. After our shearers clip one side, a team of 3 or 4 gently flip the 'paca to do the other side. While the shearing is going on a team of friends collect the fiber into firsts (prime), seconds, and thirds (which I trash). While they are down, a good friend like Beth will trim their topnotches to keep the hair out of their eyes. Husband Smitty will trim their toe nails, and Dave, the shearer, will check their teeth. Dave uses a rotorary type dremel tool to even up their bottom teeth if they need it and he will nip off any sharp "fighting teeth" with trimmers if they are dangerously sharp. Alpacas do not have top teeth but rather a hard plate for chewing.
I guess that I'm getting carried away telling about this process but it's a big event on the farm. We did ten alpacas at friend Nancy's and twelve here in the afternoon. We are very fortunate to have about ten friends show up to help us.
Now about the picture on top. Doesn't he look like a walking Q-Tip? We gave Orion a fancy show cut because he will be going to a show in September, but Pollux got the standard. We haven't told Pollux yet but he will become a "fiber boy" when he is closer to two years old. He's not quite breeding material.
I have cleaned Orion's fleece shown in the picture and need to get at least one more done today. I like to pick through them out on the deck so that the trash can just fall through. More on fleece cleaning later.