Last Wednesday (almost a week ago for goodness sake!), Bio-Secure Alpacas came to shear all the camelids. 22 alpacas and three llamas. It was a sight to witness I tell you!
The four twenty-something's worked with balletic precision and fluidity. It was rather amazing.
John is the master shearer and he worked as a team with a young apprentice. He did the main shearing, taking off the blanket (the best spinning fiber) and the neck and upper shoulders. He also shaped the tail and the leg fiber. Most of the leg fiber is left on the animals to protect them from biting insects.
The apprentice is responsible for holding the head of the animal while the master shearer does his thing. Fiona was very unhappy about the whole thing and spent most of the time screaming and spitting. It is disgusting stuff and smells like a mixture of fermented tobacco juice and rancid baby poo. These guys were stoic, believe me.
The other two crew members were responsible for trimming toes, giving shots, grinding teeth, and trimming up the fiber on the belly and sides.
Overlong teeth were ground with a masonry bit. This tool has a protective plate over the bit with the dentition of a camelid cut out of it. The plate protects the mouth while the bit grinds the teeth through the u shaped opening. It took seconds, so didn't appear to be over stressful. It stank like drilled teeth!
We had some llama drama with Igraine of course. She decided that she would get up when she was good and ready, which incidentally was when Will got out some alpaca feed.
The finished product, on the hoof, is nice and cool. They will be transported today to their digs down the road and be treated to lush green grass. That means Will and I have an afternoon of wrangling and shoving and cajoling to do to get them there. There are bags and bags of fiber to sort through as well. This year I did NOT save every scrap as second cuts.....all that short stuff went a big pile which was stuffed into feed bags and will be mixed with straw as warm bedding for the winter months. The shearers were impressed because they say that most people save every but and let it sit in dusty bags for years in their barns or basements....not I....we have not the room and apparently I have realized I can't possible spin or sell everything we have! They will enjoy the bedding too.
Oh and the sheep shearer comes tomorrow, so after moving the alpacas the sheep all have to be convinced they need to be in the barn, including the wayward lambs who have just been introduced to the main flock. I have to admit that I am looking forward to the relative silence of sheep shearing after the screaming chaos of alpaca shearing. We too appreciate David's company and catching up with him. Hopefully he will show up this evening for a few beers and we will start first thing tomorrow morning.