It’s that defining moment when we finally see the fruits of our labor in a tangible way:
|Doug with his buddy, Stormy Crawford.|
- What is the fleece really like?
- Is there enough luster?
- Did that breeding create an improvement in the fleece?
- What does it feel like if you close your eyes?
- How much does the bag weigh?
There’s a lot of preparation and planning that goes into an alpaca shearing day:
- make arrangements with the shearing crew (this can happen as early as November!)
- line up our volunteers
- inventory and order supplies—bags, cards, vaccines, Sevin dust, syringes and needles, name tags
- take “glamour shots” of the alpacas—they will never look exactly like this again
- get the equipment ready—sharpen toenail trimmers, test the scale, set up tables
- set up the ranch-wide chute through which the pasture groups will travel to and from the barn
|AWH Silvano's Gunpowder & Lead gets his "glamour shot".|
|Sculpting a topknot...|
We start early and go like crazy. Although the 4-man team from BioSecure Alpaca Shearing does all the “heavy” work, we have to keep them supplied with the next alpaca so that we don’t slow them down! There are always minor instructions to give:
- “This one is a show fleece”;
- “Stop shearing this neck at the jaw line”;
- and decisions to make:
- “Yes, trim those fighting teeth”;
- “Put this alpaca in the lineup ahead of that one because her owner has arrived”
|High luster meets a sure and steady hand.|
Fleece up my nose, in my shoes, in my ears, and in every itchy place you didn’t think it could go. Then at last, the much-anticipated shower.
|John demonstrates how he makes his first cut of the blanket, not overlapping passes with the |
blades in order to avoid short "second cuts".
|Miracle gives me an unsure look as the shearers stretch|
her out on the mat.
We’re finished for another year—but reallyjust beginning.
Many decisions and projects await us:
- Which fleeces will I prep for fleece shows or spin-offs?
- Which special fleeces do I want to spin myself?
- Which fleeces should we send to the mill to be made into batts, roving and yarn?
- Which fleeces will we hold out for sales “as is”?
- Will we do any dyeing?
- Where is that list of enthusiasts who bought fleeces last year??
- What to do with the coarser fleece?
|Molly and Lucy arm-wrestle for toenail trimmings|
at the end of the day.
Cindy Harris & Doug Fieg ~ Alpacas at Windy Hill ~ www.alpacalink.com
firstname.lastname@example.org ~ (805) 907-5162