We spent this last Sunday with our annual alpaca shearing day. It was not with out its "edge of the seat" excitement for us as usual. One of our helpers, let the dogs "slip" past her, as she opened the gate, which is easy to do as they are so fast. She went after them, Lulu jumped in the back of her vehicle, but Dennis had to run down the road after Bear. I did not know anything about this(thankfully) until I saw our friend drive up with Lulu in her back seat. Sometimes I think those dogs are two rambunctious teenagers, and we are the aging "easy to pull the wool over our eyes" parents.!!!!
We ended up putting them in the two kennels(chain link) that we have over by the barn. Of course they dug out, and Bear dug out in record time.
The alpaca are laid out on their sides and legs secured outstretched, and the males, particularly, like to squeal when they are subdued this way. It has got to be a testosterone thing.
Bear thought that we were hurting them so being the good guardian he is, wanted to come to their rescue. Lulu followed suit, but it was harder for her to get out, since she has the Elizabethan collar. I always hate to lock up these Livestock guard dogs, as they always figure out a new way to escape. Next year we will have to hire a dog sitter when we shear. Dennis ended up having to keep Lulu on a leash with him, and Bear was patrolling about going from sheared/unsheared alpaca, making sure everyone was safe. Once no one was coming through the gate, everything was OK dog wise.
Here is a picture of my fleeces laid out on the basement floor.
This is Rock Star's fleece
The alpaca were still damp, as we had a quite ferocious storm here the day before, with rain and hail and also a tornado touch down not too far from here. I was oblivious to the weather, as I was with my Red Hat friends touring Celestial Seasonings tea plant in Boulder. The weather there was beautiful! When the fleeces are dry enough, I will skirt them,(pick out the undesirable things in the fleece, second cuts, fleece that is coarse or not the same color. You want the fleece as uniform as can be.) and then wash them.
This is players fleece, you can see I laid some lighter belly fiber on his blanket, this all needs to be skirted out, to get a uniform color, and texture.
Here are some pictures of the sheared alpacas. Alien looking aren't they?
We did not shear Sara Lee's baby, she is only 2 weeks old, but the saying is "if it is born, it is shorn" but I prefer to wait a bit with the little ones, and will hand shear her with my Fiskars. I still have not come up with a name for this little girl.
My two male alpacas, Prize is the white, and Player is the fawn.
They say that the difference between a good haircut and a bad one is two weeks, we will see. You can see the clipper marks, but that will fade in time. Our shearer was gentle, and no animals or humans lost any blood this shearing day, so we were all happy.
After they are all sheared and let out to pasture, they look like a bunch of popcorn popping all over the pasture as the alpaca jump and kick up there heels with the pure joy of being freed from their pounds, and pounds of fleece they have been growing all year. Just imagine a bunch of kids that have just heard the final bell of the school year, and are beginning their summer vacation! A spectacular sight indeed!
And here is Little Orphan Annie, saying "Whew, I am glad that I don't grow fleece!"