Yes the time finally came for Albs and Bootsy to be rid of their fleece. We had been waiting quite a while for this to happen but unfortunately the shearer’s machine had to be sent to the workshop for an overhaul as it had recently sheared about 2000 sheep. Our friend Richie, who organised the shearer, called me the night before to tell me to get the boys ready in the pen the following morning as he was coming at 1 p.m.. So about 11 o’clock I headed into the pen with two bowls of food and as they were munching the gate closed behind them…
Bootsy is always sheared first as he is the ‘headcase’ of the pair. It takes two people to hold the alpaca down and one to do the shearing. The shearer was incredibly slick and fast getting each animal sheared in about 30 – 40 minutes.
It was so funny to see them when they ran out of the pen almost a third of the size that they had previously been. It must be quite a relief to the alpaca to be free of all of the fleece that had been so incredibly thick.
Albs also got his toe-nails clipped and both animals got a drench for worms and parasites…that was even less popular with them than the shearing itself!
And this is the incredible amount of fleece that came from the two alpacas. Soon after the afternoon’s activities I lay an old sheet on the ground and graded each animal’s fleece into three sections:
- No Way
- Fine and lovely
The no way fleece comes from the legs, tail and head and also fleece that contains guard hairs. Fleece that is cut too short to be able to be spun is also in this category.
Okay fleece is fleece that’s soft or just hasn’t got a lot of crimp.
Fine and lovely comes mainly from the saddle area and rump. It is very soft and has lots of crimp.
Once sorted the different grades are then put into old pillow cases, to reduce the possibility of mould, and placed somewhere dry ready to be carded.
This was a great day the results of which will keep me busy during the long winter nights!