I thought we would hit 100, but it was only 97. (I can just hear Mac in the background now saying, “Only 97?!!” incredulously.)
That’s Mac above with the hat and the gloves. He and his wife, Mary, have helped us for the past three years on shearing day. They are spinners. Mac works the ropes on shearing day like a man half his age. Mary weighs the fleeces and keeps me together. She and my beloved friend Ann are both very calming, which is helpful on shearing day. Great energy for the animals too.
How did we have 97 animals to shear? Not only did we have our own alpacas to shear, but we also had alpaca females who were visiting our farm for breeding, alpacas who board on our farm, neighbor alpacas who came over, and some alpacas owned by a friend from the next state who brought hers for shearing too.
The alpacas’ legs/ankles are placed in ropes and they are gently stretched out and laid down on mats for shearing. They are turned about and then lifted up and returned to the stalls with their friends. (See more pics from last year.)
While the alpacas don’t love shearing, it is a quick process that does not hurt them, and it is good for their overall health. Shearing allows us to harvest their fleece, and prepares them for the coming warm months, preventing heat stress. Some teeth and toenails were also trimmed while we had the alpacas as captive patients on Saturday.
In this stall some of the alpacas have already been shorn, others are waiting their turn. We go by color, starting with the whites, moving to darker colors, cleaning up between each color group, with the black alpacas being shorn last. This way the lighter fleeces do not become contaminated by darker fibers and vice versa.
These alpacas don’t want to come inside. The noise of the shears and all the commotion was scary to them. It usually took more than one person to round them up and herd them inside.
We were blessed with some of the best friends and helpers in the world on shearing day (not all are pictured here).
Our friend Joey helped us with alpaca shearing several years ago. Now he’s back, and this time he is married with a lovely wife and a beautiful baby! How wonderful to meet them. (I have no idea how he does this wearing shorts, but he does. Wow!)
A special shout out to Carmie, her sister, and her niece. We couldn’t have done it without you. I have a special post planned to show off Carmie’s enthusiasm and alpaca love later next week.
Thank you to Sarah Elhoffer and her fella, to Mary and Mac, Ann, Stan and Stephanie Mize, Bud and Daniel, Joey, Stephen Thompson, Sarah, Cody, Steve, and my kids for all your help. I hope I’m not leaving anyone out. It takes a big team, this one headed up by none other than shearer extraordinaire Mark Loffhagen. I cannot recommend Mark more highly or say enough good things about him.
Not only is Mark an excellent shearer, but he also makes the alpaca owner feel at ease. He takes over, makes the “boss” feel like everything is going to be fabulous. (He’s the only person who ever calls me “the boss” – can you tell I luv it?)And it always is! That’s the kind of guy I like to have shear for me every time.
You can visit Mark at his Alley-Pac website.
If any of you tried to follow my Tweets from @AlpacasLive, you know that I had technical problems and that failed. I was able to tweet some pictures from @AlpacaFarmgirl and you can see those on my AlpacaFarmgirl Tumblr site.
If only I had a tech crew…maybe next year…