Sloppy Joes, buns, chips, apples, Little Debbie’s, bottled water, coffee, grooming tools, halters, leads, bags, labels, broom, dust pan, garbage cans, and helpers! I think I have everything ready for shearing day the next day. The shearers are to arrive sometime between 11am and 1pm so we plan to spend the morning cleaning alpacas. I can relax … until … I get home about 7pm and there is a call from the shearers that they will be arriving at 7am!
My 16 year old daughter Abby usually keeps us organized on shearing day, but she is on medical status at school, and can’t miss more school without a doctor’s excuse. So be it. She will go to school post-shearing day and be unexcused. We need her help!
Three of our grandchildren also stay home from school for “family business”. Their mother, my stepdaughter, feels helping with shearing day is as much an education as a day at school. How right she is!
Friends arrive to help. My 21 year old son Aaron drags himself out of bed.
We will shear light colored alpacas first, then medium and dark colors to try and limit different colored fiber getting mixed together.
Some of us will clean alpacas with several different types of grooming tools, picking out hay, straw, and burrs the best we can, and as much as each alpaca will tolerate. It is much easier to clean fiber while it is still on the animal than after it has been sheared off.
Someone will halter the alpacas, they will go into a holding pen, and await their turns.
A team of four strong and young men come from ShearingAlpaca.com. They are very experienced at handling the alpacas, laying them down on a mat, and restraining their legs to be shorn.
The head shearer on the shearing crew will shear the blanket first. The blanket is considered to be the prime fiber. Another shears the neck, the belly, the legs.
Topknots, tails, toes, and teeth get trimmed. Some toenail trimming will get done throughout the year too, but always at shearing time when alpacas are still, and it is super easy to do.
And there is lots of fiber to gather. The blanket fiber is laid on a flat plastic sheet to be carefully rolled in the sheet. This way it can later be unrolled the same way it came off the alpaca and skirted. Skirting is the process of removing coarse or dirty fiber away from the blanket.
And of course, there is always time for my children to check text messages!
Until they see they are having their pictures taken!
Llamas are twice the size of an alpaca and according to our shearers, the “take down” is much more fun!
Our llama, Silver Beauty, has her own ideas about getting a hair cut.
She is down, and the shearers discuss what they might have done differently!
The cleaning up is done. Grandson Keandre’ and son Aaron take a break.
It is Sam’s turn to be shorn.
One of the shearers and Sam take a break!
SHEARING IS FINISHED
The shearers finished 24 alpacas and one llama in about three hours. The shearers were paid, the fiber was loaded in the trailer, tools were put away, the floor was swept, and our alpacas were all a little bit lighter. And cooler!
The sloppy joes were ready but it was only 10am! We loaded up and headed to another alpaca farm nearby to help with shearing there. Finally, with another herd shorn, we sat in the sunshine and enjoyed some lunch!