We had an awesome day at shearing today, and have bags and bags of beautiful fiber to show for our effort.
The day started pretty early with Mary Berry arriving and helping us halter all the boys. Ted and Emma were also a big help. Keely showed up right on time with the trailer, and we shoehorned all the animals in, nine in all. We headed up the road to A and A Alpacas, owned by Amy and Arlen McCroskey, and home to over 120 alpacas. The weather couldn't have been more beautiful, especially after a couple of days of rain, cold and wind. Today turned out to be frankly, spectacular.
Amy runs a smooth operation, with folks handling the critical jobs who have done it for years - it's like watching ballet or a Swiss watch working. The key is to watch for the little tasks that need doing and then making yourself useful... all the while, staying out of the way of the guys pulling the ropes or the ladies gathering up the fiber.
We kept the line moving - one alpaca after another - and Mark Loffhagan, professional alpaca shearer, worked steadily and smoothly between two stations. One alpaca was sheared while the next one was prepped behind him. Then he would turn and begin shearing the next animal. Mark's helper would trim teeth if needed and other helpers trimmed toenails while the animals were restrained - easier on everyone!
After a lovely lunch break, we went back at it, shearing the llamas last, since the pulleys had to be repositioned to accomodate their larger size. You'd have been proud - Gideon was a very good boy. He never spit or fussed once he was strapped down. He did fidgit quite a bit as he waited for his turn. We got his toenails trimmed while he was down and avoided feeling the wrath of his finely honed kicking skill.
Of course, as usual, the boys look really silly without their regal fiber coats. They are just a collection of sproingy pipe cleaner toys. But the new fiber will begin growing right away, and soon they'll regain their dignity.
I'm every grateful for Mary's help today, and for Keely making room for us in her trailer. It was great fun to play with alpacas and with great friends! And of course, many thanks to Amy McCroskey and Mark Loffhagan, for all they do for us.
The video I posted here is "Part I" of Mark shearing an alpaca. At the end you can hear me say to one of the helpers, "Am I in the way?" and he nodded, "yes." So I moved and resumed my video from another position. Part II, and a bunch of still photos are in my flicker set called, "Shearing 2009." Find it here.
Now, we have some skirtin' to do, my friends.