Today was shearing day at Silk Creek Alpacas and even though it was a bit of work it was a lot of fun. It rained a bit but the sun came out often, and there was plenty of room in the barn to work.
It was hard to get good pictures because once we started the process it went by so quickly. Bil and Julia have a great shearer, "Fast" Eddie from Australia (or maybe New Zealand) and once he got started, we sheared 16 alpaca in about an hour and a half. That's fast....he can shear one in about five minutes.
Basically, to shear you need to lay the alpaca down on his/her side, tie up each hoof, and then hold on to the head while the shearer gets the fleece off. Then the fleece is gathered into two bags, the blanket (the good stuff) and the seconds (the not so good stuff). Then the alpaca gets untied and gets up and the day goes on.
The alpacas had a wide range of reactions. For some of them, including Brownie, this was their first shearing, and they did make some pretty sad little vocalizations (and some were louder than others....at one point Frank the alpaca was screaming in my ear!). Others tried to physically stop the process and Bil and Julia's sister had to wrestle them down the board to get tied out. Others just laid back and had a spa day. The process does stress them for several minutes but doesn't hurt them...and except for a few nicks (on the alpacas), a kick here and there (on us) and the joy of getting spat at (me!) no damage is done.
Brownie's fleece is gorgeous...her blanket weight a bit over a pound, according to our highly inaccurate postal scale.
Enjoy the pictures! First are pictures of the girls awaiting their turns.