Step away from the fleece. Please, release the fleece!
Once again, another year has come and gone; shearing day arrived and is done! Andersons and Deardens hired professional shearers, Lacey and Asa, to release the fleece! Between the Andersons and Deardons, we had about 24 animals shorn (give or take). The gals, with the help of a half dozen of our fellow alpaca farmers and friends, gave haircuts to our two dozen in about 3 hours. We use a rope and pulley system to bring an animal down, shear it, and take care of several other details such as weighing, body-scoring, toe-nail clipping, and teeth trimming.
While some of the alpacas seem to welcome the annual opportunity to shed their heavy coats, not all do. Some animals are frightened by the noise and the process, a few are spitty. Disposable socks tucked over the nose of spitters helps keep it to themselves.
First, using electric shears, the “blanket” is removed from the alpaca’s torso. The shearer moves on to the “seconds” which is the less-valuable fleece from their legs and neck. The fiber is bagged up and set aside for skirting. Skirting, a different job for another day, is the task of sorting and grading fiber by color, quality, and staple length.
Now that we have our bags full of fleece, we have to make decisions about what to do with it. Our options include having it made into yarn or roving or send it to the cooperative where they make it into socks, gloves, scarves, hats, blankets, trivets, baskets, and so on. Of course we can sell raw fleece to spinners and felters. If anyone would like to request that we make the fleece of any particular animal into roving or yarn or to purchase raw fleece, please to contact us by May 21. I expect that, by then, we will have finished skirting and sent the fleece to be processed.
Enjoy the pictures!