Last Saturday Tito and I had the opportunity to be part of the annual shearing day at Alpaca Acres. Our friends, Anne and Dan, invited us and a bunch of their friends to come help out on this busy day, taking their herd from this:
We were so impressed by this process. The alpaca stand against a table which rotates so they’re lying down – and instantly the alpaca ‘pit crew’ gets to work. Not one second is wasted while the alpaca is being worked on. The actual shearing is done by Dan. Dan is careful, methodical and gentle with his shearing.
The others are trimming the legs, carting away the fleece for sorting and even trimming the toenails. Throughout the process other people always have their hands on the alpacas body, supporting them, petting them, comforting them, even talking to them. Everything we saw was marked by their consideration and love for their herd.
Many hands take part in sorting the enormous amount of fleece per animal. The strands that are coarse, knotted or too short are removed. The ‘first’ and ‘second’ shearings are separated by length and quality. Being newbies at this, the sorting table was where Tito and I started out.
Afterwards you have a handsome alpaca, straight from the spa!
Look at this handsome fellow, I was wondering what his fleece looked like so Annie brought it out –
Beautiful fluffy grey and white. He comes variegated!
This is Sandy, the alpaca that I bought a sweaters worth from once. Some of her fleece went to my pen-pal in Boston :) This is her before picture.
The thickness of Sandy’s fleece.
Another view of the thickness, mid shear.
Her fleece being carted off for sorting
Annie and Paula – sorting fleece is so awesome – you just want to bury your face in it!
And Sandy’s after photo – half the size she was :)
Isn’t that crazy? Here she is again:
Thank you Annie and Dan for letting us be part your shearing day! We have a whole new appreciation for where yarn comes from :)
Speaking of where yarn comes from, next weekend I’ll be taking my first spinning class at the Purple Purl – stay tuned!