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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shearing Day

John and Denise of Ideuma Creek Alpacas had asked us if we would like to be part of their "shearing" day. They had over 80 alpacas to be done (2 of them ours) and could use an extra set of hands. They were trying a new group of shearers - 4 guys from Ohio - when we got to the farm at approx. 9AM things were already in full progress.  There was Denise, John, Denise's Mom, 2 friends of Denise, us and the four guys from Ohio.  John showed us what to do - we had to move the fiber out of the way of the shearers as they were shearing the alpacas then bag it into 3 separate bags - blanket, seconds and thirds.  There was also a bag for a sample of the fiber for analysis.  Not as easy as it sounds - there is a whole system to it.

When they bring the alpaca in they have to unfortunately restrain it by laying it on its side on a mat and then roping its legs so that it can't get hurt or hurt anyone.  At this point the shearers look at the teeth and toenails and if they need to be clipped they do that.  Then they proceed to shear the fiber - first comes the "blanket" - the most valuable part - which is the back and side areas; then comes the belly and neck area which is the "seconds" and finally the legs which is the "thirds".

This whole process takes about 15 minutes per alpaca.  I related this scene to a child going to a barber for the first time - although a child is not restrained - some children will scream and throw a temper tantrum while others will quietly sit there.  The same went for the alpacas - your heart would just go out for the ones that were screaming, crying and spitting.   As frantic as it seemed - as soon as the alpaca was released and got up it was happily out grazing in the field.

We were there for the whole day - leaving around 5PM. We left exhausted yet happy that we were part of the experience.  Hopefully we will be able to help them again next year.

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