Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Alpaca shearing

The past two weeks have been really busy, and I didn't get a chance to post. Sunday the 10th was just a fantastic day for my husband and I: we went Alpaca shearing. Well the actual shearing was done by a professional (I wouldn't trust my clumsy husband with a sharp razor around those sweet animals), who did a great job shearing and teaching us all sorts of things about the alpacas. He was a very interesting man, who had an interesting life, but managed to keep a certain balance between a career in finances and consulting, and shearing and owning a sheep farm.

The alpacas each have their own character, and each one reacted differently to the shearing process. Some were absolutely petrified and froze, others fought with all they had, others became a nervous wreck and started barfing, as other angrier would start spitting at anybody who dared come close to them. For the nervous, the timid, the angry, there was this wonderful lady that would calm them down, massaging their neck, talking to them and reassuring them, putting a towel over their head so they wouldn't see what was happening and freak out. My husband and I called her "The Alpaca Whisperer".

There were quite a few volunteers (at least five of them teachers), and everybody was full of enthusiasm. There were both knitters (or crocheters) and non-knitters, a weaver, and some alpaca owners. Everybody pitched in and completed the tasks assigned with equal effort and enthusiasm. My husband and I got to clean the alpacas, and we couldn't believe what a messy little alpaca California Girl was (more on that shortly). I also got to sort the fleece (so amazingly soft), trim the hair on their paws and head (some pretty funky but stylish alpacas run around Brantford now), and herd them as well. My husband specialized in leg-holding for a while, after helping me clean California Girl for half an hour. As you can see (click on the pic to enlarge), she had hay, dried grass, and mud all over herself. She must have had quite a party earlier that week. To add to that, after we finished cleaning her, we took a break and had lunch, and came back to .... California Girl rolling in the hay again. What could we do but laugh.

Despite being messy, California Girl's fleece has an amazing texture, and variety of colour. I just can't wait to see the finish product! And speaking of finished product.... here's the CG herself after a little trim. She was actually pretty good on the table for a first timer. She put up a respectable fight (afterall, one must at least pretend not to like it, but it must be quite a relief to get rid of that heavy coat), but then quickly relaxed in the gentle arms of the Alpaca Whisperer.


Jane said...

That sounds like it was really interesting and instructive! I would be really interested to see the final product as well. Is it to be fiber for spinning or actual yarn?

KBlicious said...

omg, you must know how envious i am!!!! i have met not one, but TWO alpaca farmers in the last 6 months and managed to lose touch with both of them! (all the more appreciative i will be when i have my own alpaca (giggle)) it looks like you guys had a wonderful day with those lovely creatures! :)