Thursday, June 12, 2008
Annual Shearing Day
The girls at their new digs. This is their version of "Don't Take My Picture!" Kay on left, Bliss in center, Murphy on right.
Since Bliss wouldn't cooperate and show us her lovely coloring, we had Dana catch and hold her for us. The 'funny' lighting is because they're standing in between the sun and the shadow of a tree. Click on the pic for a larger version.
Shearing day is a bit of a double-edged sword: it's fun but it's hard work. At Foothill Alpacas where our animals are agisted, we use a table for shearing. To shear an animal, you need:
1 green guy (so called because he holds the head and gets covered in green slime when the 'pacas get upset)
1 toe nail clipper who also helps get the animal onto the table
2 fiber collectors - one for prime and another for neck/leg
2 people to catch - one of those two also blows out the animal
and at least 2 extra people.
The shearer is the boss. Everyone else is there to help him/her in any way they can. The fiber collectors also put the names/dates on the bags and, if desired, pull the fiber sample that gets shipped off for micron testing. The catch people also blow out the animal's fleece (while it's still on the animal) to get rid of any hay bits and dirt. While this does disturb the lock structure, if you're shipping the fleece straight off to processing, it doesn't matter. In fact, the shearer will appreciate it because shearing with all that excess dirt dulls the blades really fast.
The two extra people are in case someone gets hurt. We had 2 shearing days at Foothill this year and had injuries on the first one. That left us a bit short-handed so we made sure we had enough help on the second day.
The FUN part of shearing day is gawking at the 'pacas after their shorn. They always look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book! My favorite books are Dr. Seuss books!
Here's the "after":