Friday, May 8, 2009

Alpaca Shear Day

I'm going to sort of talk you through our shear day which was yesterday. The first thing we do is lay the alpaca down which takes a coordinated strength. The two guys (one in front & one in back) reach under the alpaca, grasp his legs, and in a lifting, pulling motion lay the 'paca down as gently as possible. Then both front and hind legs are hobbled and stretched out along a metal pole. You can see Celeste's legs above. After one side is sheared, the animal is gently rolled over.
Dave Binkowski and his daughter Katie both shear at the same time so that the entire shear takes less than 10 minutes and the animal isn't stressed too much.
Neighbor Dean. at Celeste's head, has removed her halter to trim the top notch and to have her teeth checked. Instead of teeth on top, alpacas have a hard palette so it's important that the bite is correct. Alpaca Barber Dave will use his Dremel tool to correct any imperfections and whack off fighting teeth if necessary.

While they are down is the excellent time to trim toe nails. Alpacas have two hard nails that sometimes grow screwy so Beth is shown here snipping away. I also give them injections while they are down. Yesterday they got Dectomax to prevent Menengeal Worm which in the deer world is called Brain Worm.

So while all this is going on, the shears are helping us sort the fleece as they remove it into Prime, Seconds, and Thirds (which becomes mulch for my flower garden). Persons (Billie and Gwen) are handy with plastic bags to collect this precious stuff as it comes off the animal. You can imagine how busy this all appears with 8 of us working around the animal.
The pictures on the right are before and after of 10 month old Mira. If you click on them, they get bigger. This was her first shear and the prime of her 6 inch long fleece weighed 3 pounds, 5 ounces. Her seconds weighed 2 pounds.
In spite of being extremely tired last night, I was wound and couldn't sleep so was still up at 3 a.m. weighing, measuring, and languishing in freshly shorn alpaca fleece.
☺ ☺ ☺ ☺ ☺ ☺ ☺

I am extremely fortunate to have such great friends who come and help me out. It is physically hard with all the ups and downs that we do, and. yes, dusty and dirty also.
So thanks, folks, for being my friends and making me the luckiest woman in the world.


HanamiGallery said...

awesome! my fiance and i went to shadow pines alpacas here in rhode island and helped with shear day. my job was collecting fleece and sweeping up the matts. man oh man was i tired after working on 20 alpacas. the shearer came from ohio and brought along a couple of helpers who laid down the animals. everyone was saying how we really missed out! hahahaha.

trh said...

I think I would have had to sleep in all that lovely fiber! Mira looks so funny without her coat - guess all freshly shorn animals do! Can't wait for that fiber to show up in your shop!

Michele / akkasha said...

Thanks for sharing the process. It is really interesting.

Though poor Mira looks sooo gangly without her fleece!

I can't wait to get my hands on some of the lovely fleece after it has gone off to be processed. Yum!

Zu said...

That looks like hard work! I imagine you're having a grand time with all that fibre. ;-)
She looks so funny all naked like that. LOL

woolies said...

congratulations on your Grand Champions! I watched shearing day at my friend's ranch about a month or so ago. It's wonderful how gentle everybody is with these animals.

PS I've now been playing with your virtual pet, dali llama. Uh Oh. addicted. want one.

Aimee said...

We sheared for the first time over here yesterday. It was quite exciting! I think we maybe could have waited a few more weeks, but we still got very nice fleece, especially benji's. Do you mind if I ask what a raw, complete, high quality huacaya fleece should theoretically be worth? I haven't the foggiest notion. All I know is it cost me $40 to get him sheared, so it better be at least that much!

Gwendolyn said...

It was a great day! Its fun to work together towards a common goal and learning the whole time. Hope I get to spend many more days with these alpacas and these great people! What a nice community of friends Maple has!