Shearing day is so exciting… since it happens only once per year, there is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into the day.
We’ve learned that the best way to prepare fleece is actually by preparing the pasture and their living areas first. A week or so ahead of time, we started raking loose hay, limiting access to the dirt piles that they love to roll around in… and then finally by hand picking “stuff” from their fleece.
Fuzzy Butt Alpacas from Berea, KY is the company we use for shearing. Don & his crew take such good care of the animals. We started the day with our pure white girl, Emily. Large mats are laid out in the shearing area, and a series of ropes and pulleys are attached to the barn posts. This allows them to keep the alpaca stable and calm.
Starting with the “first” or the “blanket” area of the alpaca, the entire section is taken as a whole. Fleece is shorn and classified immediately as “firsts,” “seconds,” or “thirds.” Each of these has a specific use – but it is important not to mix them. You can see one of Don’s team members holding a large plastic bag below. (Each animal has 3 bags.)
We had all of the alpacas waiting in a temporary corral for easy access. As soon as they were finished, they were sent back to the field. This is Jewel in the corral, semi-patiently waiting her turn.
In addition to shearing, we also trimmed toenails and administered shots.
The next step is skirting, and then sending to the mill for them to make yarn. It will still be a few months before the finished product is available, but I’m so excited to offer yarn from our beautiful herd!