Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Alpaca Yearbook Photo Nightmare

Sometimes you have to take care of business on your own... even if it does not go so well. Our shearing team didn't make the rounds this year, and so took it upon ourselves to shear our own animals. After shearing Ramble On Rose post mortem, we also had the equipment and a tiny bit of experience. We got 16 pounds of fiber, but the quality in each bag is not as high as if professionals had taken care of the job. 

We did learn a few valuable lessons:
1. Always use a sharp shearing tool. As soon as the blade was dull, it cuts zero hairs and annoys the animal.
2. Shearing the alpacas in the chute was less stressful than having them on the ground. There were no vocal protests, and they stood patiently for nearly an hour. Dark Star wanted to buck a few times and was mollified by some grain.
2a. Two people are needed to shear alpacas in the chute - one to shear, one to calm and hold the alpaca using the halter and leash. 
3. Shearing in the chute made it difficult to get to all the places. We had so secure the animals with belts under their bellies and two preferred to have their head between the stabilizers. We kept their halters on which prevented the heads from being sheared. Hence you see long swaths of fiber in awkward spots.
4. It's really difficult to shear an animal to make it look smooth. Hopefully next year my experience will help me do a better job.
5. We need to lay a tarp under the alpacas to assist with fiber collection. Picking up fiber off the dirt barn floor is not ideal.

Our number one priority this year was to make sure the animals were cooler in the heat. Next year, I'll do a little more reading before I get busy with the shears. Hopefully the fiber mill will still be able to use the fiber for something nice.
Dark Star half-shorn on Day 1. (More fiber off after getting sharper clippers Day 2.)

And let's take a moment to giggle about these hilarious hair cuts! I'm so glad they don't have to be published in their school yearbook And most fortunately, we didn't have to do any bison pulling...

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