Monday, May 10, 2010

Shearing Experiment

This Saturday (5/15) our professional shearer Dave Easter is coming to shear our alpacas as well as our friends at Oak Haven Alpacas on our farm from 8am to approx 1pm. Feel free to stop by and check it out! This will be our fourth year shearing with Dave; he does an awesome job and puts minimal stress on the alpacas.

Last year, Noah and I sheared the cria tips off of four of our own cria throughout the summer. With the first three, we used electric dog/horse clippers. Then we decided to purchase our own large shears. We sheared the last cria with these shears and it went well. We decided to experiment and try them on some bigger alpacas this year. We currently have 7 pregnant females, 3 maiden females, 1 herdsire, and 2 juvie boys residing on our farm. We decided to shear our 2 little juvie boys to see how it would go. We didn't want to mess with our pregnant girls because it takes us much longer to shear than Dave does and we didn't want to put extra stress on them. We also didn't want to shear our herdsire as he is a stud and needs to look good. As for our 3 maiden girls, one is a suri that we decided not to attempt because she is spastic and we have never seen a suri shorn before, one is going to Nationals and needs to be in full fleece, and one is our new girl that we didn't want to attempt shearing.

While Noah was setting up and getting ready, I snapped some full fleece pictures of the boys. Here they are with all their fuzz:
Noah set up a shearing area similar to how we will do it on Saturday. We put puzzle mats down and then Noah fashioned his own rope system to tie down and stretch out the alpacas. It is similar to the rope system our shearer uses, but his is fancy with a pulley system, which makes it more user friendly. We had scissors, nail clippers, plastic bags for fiber, brooms and of course the shears and oil. Here is what the set-up looked like (Riph is in the picture...his blanket is laying next to him...you can see that he sheared a pretty large blanket for such a little guy!).

As a side note...I usually wear jeans for shearing, but they are getting a little tight from my baby bump, so I sported my fleece pajama pants instead....unfortunately, they were like a fiber magnet! I will have to figure something else out for this Saturday! Here is what they looked like when we were done.We started with d'artagnan. We got him tied down and he behaved very well in the ropes. I held his head while Noah did the nails and shearing. Noah has a great memory and remembers each step in shearing. He started with the belly, then moved to the blanket, which he did a good job of getting off in one piece. Then he did the legs, neck and head/face. We did have a little accident and nicked one of Dar's thighs on the inside. It bled a little bit and we put liquid band-aid on it to close it up. We were both a little nervous after Dar got cut, but I think Noah did an awesome job for his first time shearing! The firsts and seconds got a little messy, but his blanket turned out great. In normally takes Dave about 10 minutes to shear each alpaca and it took us about 35-45 mins per alpaca (mostly because there were only 2 of us instead of a whole crew of people and we kept touching each boy up...especially on the legs and face to make sure they were all even). Here are some pics of Dar checking out his new haircut.

Next we did Riphaeus. Riph was much more difficult to work with. He screamed and spit and peed throughout the entire shearing. It was really pathetic how much he was carrying on. We got an even better blanket off of him, but it took us longer on his face and legs because his fiber was so thick. We kept having to even things out here and there. We did nick him with the shears a little bit too on the belly, although not quite as bad as Dar. We put liquid band-aid on it, but it was barely bleeding. It is so funny; once we put the sheared alpacas back in with their buddies...everyone runs up and sniffs them like the don't know who they are. When we put Riph back in with Dar and the other young ones, Dar chased Riph around orgalling and trying to mount him like he was a new hot girl! Silly boys. Here are both boys with their new do's.

All in all, I think Noah did an excellent job shearing for the first time! It took us longer than the professional and they aren't quite as perfect and we would like, but we saved money and have definitely seen worst professional jobs on others alpacas! We will at least be cria shearing our babies this summer and will probably be shearing our own juveniles next year again. It was quite a learning experience, a little stressful, but very empowering to know that we can do it ourselves!

1 comment:

WonderWhyGal said...

You're braver than I am. Good for both of you. Hey, if you need your fiber sorted for processing...I'm the gal to see. Great job!