First order of business was to get the barn cleaned up and light in there for the shearers. After we did this, Marty had us get the guys penned up so that we could easily get to them. While we were doing this Marty and his helper set up. What they did was lay out 2 tarps and then set up anchors. Once they had this all set up they were ready to start. We grabbed our first guy and brought him to the shearers who were standing on one of the tarps. What they proceed to do then is take the leg straps attached to the anchors and attached them to the alpacas legs. Once they have done this, the straps are attached to a pulley and you run in the opposite direction until the alpaca is only able to lie down and they lock the pulley. Thwill make the alpaca not be able to move so that the shearer can safely shear them without them jumping around and hurting themselves. The blades on the shears are very sharp and one slip could really hurt them. Better safe than sorry. After they have the alpaca down, they will shear the main part of the body, called the blanket. We found out in a hurry this all takes more than a couple of people to keep things running smoothly. We had one person helping get the alpacas tied down for shearing and then getting the prepared bags ready to grab the fiber as it come off of the animal. The shearer will alert you that the blanket is off and you will put that in your bag marked with the animals name and blanket. This bag is then set aside and you will then grab the bag marked for Neck. The shearer will then alert you the neck is ready to be put into the bag. Once that is done, all the rest of the clippings go into the 2nds and 3rds bag. While they are doing this, we proceeded to grab our next alpaca that would need to be sheared. He was then kept on deck until his turn came up to get sheared. Once the first alpaca was done, he was let up and put outside and the shearers moved to the second tarp. We brought the second alpaca to this tarp and they started the procedure all over again. While they were working on the second alpaca, another person was picking up all the fiber that was still left from the first alpaca and putting that into the bag. I was the runner and kind of run in between all the stations. I helped grab the next guy up to be sheared, and once that was done, proceeded to help the person picking up the remaining fiber and putting it into the 2nds and 3rds bag. From the time we started until we were done, it felt like a whirlwind. Very quick.
A little explanation about the different fiber that I talked about. Yarn that you would most recognize as being used to make clothing items such as scarves, hats and mittens would come from the blanket. Sometimes neck fiber can be as long and as nice as the body, but, other times, it’s too short and needs to be woven separately. This year I’m planning on having all my neck pieces woven together into tweed that I will use to make items that would not touch your skin, such as bags and slippers. The 2nds and 3rds are then used in such ways as nesting material for birds, turned into felting for such items as dryer balls, cat toys, boot inserts and many other items.
Our shearer did an excellent job and walked us through every step of the way. He’s from Integrity Shearing and his name is Marty. If you have alpacas and want someone that has experience, give him a call, you won’t be disappointed.
This year’s shearing was a learning experience and we loved every minute of it. We are extremely thankful for our neighbors who stepped in to help when we realized that my husband and I were not going to be able to accomplish this on our own.
Feel free to ask any questions and please continue to check back for more stories and updates on our guys.
May God’s Grace and Peace be with you…