Shearing Day - Part II
This past Thursday was our first shearing day here on our little farm. We have agisted our alpacas for about 2 years so we are familiar with the whole shearing process, and our shearer has sheared our alpacas in the past, but everything is different when it’s being done on your farm for the first time! This is still our first year having the alpacas here, so everything is a new experience.
Everything went surprisingly well. On Monday the weather forecast was calling for rain for a few days, so late that night we had to lock the alpacas into the barn. With a run in shed, that means putting up tarps! Dan had just finished making a gate which we’d thankfully hung up on Sunday; now we had a way to enter and exit the barn easily. So one stall had the gate and the other three had tarps. Even though my 5 boys had 6 stalls and are wimpy about rain, they really dislike being locked in the barn for days! I got spit on more than once (thanks Guinness). But my reward for green slime on my face and in my hair was dry animals on shearing day. Dry, clean fleece is imperative for shearing a usable product.
I had enticed the boys into the pen with pellets before everyone arrived. Funny how they fall for this every time! They were all humming quite loudly watching us while we set up mats and extension cords, bags for gathering and separating the fleeces, and flattened cardboard boxes to kneel on.
We decided to shear our boys from darkest to lightest in color, because our fussiest boys are the darkest. Our shearer is extraordinarily kind to the alpacas; we wouldn’t have it any other way. Still, I’m sure the alpacas are a bit frightened even though it’s ‘all over with’ quickly. Julio, being bay black, was the first. Our tough alpha male screeched like the dickens the entire time! When he was done we scooted him out to the pasture, where he stood up on the dirt pile near the fence to watch his herd mates. Guinness, then Coty, then Arlo, were next and all accepted their fate quietly, albeit reluctantly. Bo Jangles was last, and we went through several rags cleaning up his mouth from all the spit.
The alpacas sniffed each other for hours afterwards, as if they were all different alpacas. And they stayed out in the far pasture all day. It was a sunny, cool day with a strong wind and I know they were cold. When they saw us in the evening they did come running in to the barn without being called. They all ate their pellets in record time, and dashed off back into the pasture. Yikes boys! We weren’t going to lock you up in the barn again! A few minutes later, in the dusk and growing darkness, all the boys began to pronk around the pasture, led by little Arlo. It was a glorious sight.
My fluffy, teddy bear-like alpacas now look like Dr. Seuss characters, or aliens!