Shearing Day 2015

Shearing was great! Caleb took the day off, and he set up fences and pens while I spun some yarn, (trying to get through a bit more of last year's before the avalanche!), and we got the alpacas separated out from the cattle. It took a bit – the alpacas are often all together, near the gate, but as soon as we'd open it the cows would just come running. They are so antsy after the winter of hay, and they can see the grass everywhere else – it's just not up quite enough yet to let them on it, and so they get pretty would up when we go anywhere near them. Getting the last few alpacas out of the pasture involved me faking the cows into thinking they were getting let out the far end of the pasture, and then Caleb sneaking behind their backs while they all glared and bellowed at me, setting up a corridor of plastic electric fence, and gently herding the pacas in there.

Our WWOOFer intern left on Monday, but we had 7 college students show up to help out with shearing, which was so wonderful. We had the afternoon slot on the shearer's schedule and he didn't arrive until just after 4 pm. Another shearer I had looked at had told me the 12 alpacas would take 4 hours, so I was a little worried we'd be parking the cars around the barn for light if it got dark! No worries, though – we were done by 6! The trick was assigning everyone jobs, and having enough people to keep things flowing smoothly. Caleb was in charge of hooking up the ropes on the pacas' feet and then tightening the pulley (you can see him running with the rope in one picture), I kept the bags for stuffing fleece into ready and labeled and prepped any medicine we needed, we had 2 girls bagging fleece as it came off the animals, and the others catching the next alpaca in line, and then walking the freshly-naked ones back to the pasture. Everything ran beautifully, the students were great, Kyle the shearer was awesome – he coached the girls on which fleece went in which bag as he cut – and he was so fast! Even our boys helped, bringing bags of fleece down from the barn to the house afterwards. We were fairly proud of the animals, too – Kyle said he'd never seen such clean animals, and he shears 3000 a year! He usually has to change the head on the clippers after 4-6 animals and he did all 12 on one blade. I think ours stay so nice because, with our constant rotation of pastures, they virtually never spend time in a dirt lot like so many do, and they only get hay over the winter, not year-round like the ones in dirt lots have to have.

Now I have 27 bags of fleece upstairs to try to find time to deal with – not counting the last few from last year! I finished up a large skein of a white and fawn sportweight yarn this morning, and I plan on making a bulky-weight white and fawn two-tone next, I have the white spun but not the fawn. I really like the two color 2-ply yarns – black and white, fawn and white, gray and white – and I'd really like to try colors that are very close to each other, like fawn and medium brown, medium and dark brown, or fawn and cream, hopefully getting a yarn that's more heather-toned when knitted up. These two-tones make great news caps, perfect for the tweed look.

And that's more alpaca life on the farm – really, the end of the exciting alpaca life here until fall when we hopefully have crias!

Comments

The Rae farm

What a wonderful account of something we in Northwest Florida never even think about. You folks make us proud to be related. Ted and Betty

Thanks so much! Thanks for

Thanks so much! Thanks for reading, and especially for commenting, it's so good to know someone's actually reading this :)

Shearer

Hi Amy,
I was curious as to who your shearer was this year?
I met a young lady in Tracy City who has a small herd and may need a shearer next year.

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