Shearing Day!

Back in April at Breezy Hill we had shearing day!  With our herd of about 40 alpacas, it was quite a project to get them all rounded up to the shearing shed and then trimmed up for summer.  Fortunately, we had great shearers (from Shear Perfection Farm, in Windsor, PA), who do good work quickly, and some wonderful volunteers who helped with restraining the alpacas and collecting the fleece.  Many hands make light work, or so they say.

alpacas

The alpacas mosey up toward the shearing area.

alpacas

The alpacas are not good at waiting single file.

There are a few different ways to restrain an alpaca during the shearing process, and none of them, done properly, cause the alpaca any pain.  On the contrary, the restraint prevents them from injuring themselves or the shearers, and makes the process go much more quickly.  It’s really better for everyone involved!   The method preferred by our shearer is called Australian Restrained shearing.  The alpaca is restrained between two “anchor points” and laid out on a mat, with its front legs bound together in one direction, and the back legs bound in the other.  This gives the shearer great access to the alpaca’s body and prevents any struggling that might result in bruises or worse.

shearing

“Oh, hello there.  I’m about to look so fresh!”

During the shearing, the alpaca gets turned over just once, which is nice for the animal and the shearer.  The shearing happens in specific sections: the blanket (back, sides, and belly), the neck, and the legs and haunches.  The blanket provides the best-quality fleece by far, but the other sections work well for felting, especially, and can become fiber for rugs and baskets and the like.  Depending on the size of the alpaca, and the density of the fleece, the fleece from one animal can weigh anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds!

Don’t tell the animals, but after shearing they can look a little silly.  You’d never know it by the end of the winter, before the shearing, but they have little noodle necks!

How does such a noodle neck hold up the head??? It’s a mystery.

Needless to say, we now have mountains of high quality fleece to clean and get to work on.  Before too long, we’ll have roving to dye (or not – the natural colors are beautiful too) and spin into incredible yarn or use in felting projects.

This fluffy cloud of roving (with a hint of filament for shimmer) . . .

. . . can become some of our beautiful hand-spun yarn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We take a lot of pleasure in working with our animals to produce unique fiber products truly from scratch.  It’s incredible to look at the alpaca, then look at the yarn we’ve created from its fleece – the transformation is definitely a testament to the quality of our herd’s fleece and to Heather’s creativity when it comes to dyeing and spinning the fleece into yarn!  Stop by the boutique when you visit the farm, and see how beautiful alpaca fleece products can be!