Ha! Well, we here at Black Magic Alpaca Ranch have been very, very busy lately. All about shearing in a bit but first... After Wyatt, myself, Cameron and Codi worked for two days straight stuffing cds- ta-da! Their second edition printing of The Rosebuds cd is officially finished! Last weekend my children had a huge gig they have been working towards all year. In front of about 500 people from all over the country at our cousin's BMW motorcycle rally. Check out his website here: http://www.rawhyde-offroad.com/ for a really cool idea. Jim and Steph are great people, and now they have a cutie patootie little girl in their family! It was a great time, and here are some pictures:
They did great! They played along with the help of their teacher's 50's band (who just happened to be able to fill with a little Celtic music) since two of their band mates bailed out at the last minute...... ARGH don't get me started. Anyone else out there think personal responsibility and committment have gone into the toilet? A show of hands - - - I thought so, I couldn't possibly be the only one out there who is seeing this disturbing trend. Nuff said.
The kids both play multiple instruments. In this gig they got to shine! Cameron played the guitar (his usual instrument for the band) and the Irish whistle. Codi got to play her flute as well as her Irish whistle. They got to sell some of their cds and had a good time.
Now, on to shearing! We shear our alpacas once a year, and in some circles of our industry, shearing day is known as "Hell Day"- and for good reason! We have 17 alpacas and two llamas right now. We also had two alpacas and two llamas that came up here for shearing. Last year we had two separate days because we had so many, but this year we did it in one.
It is hard, grueling work shearing. We start at about 8:30 am, and it isn't over till about 5 pm. It helps if you have a good shearer, and we do. Brett and A.J. work together when they come up, and we are so glad to have them. It is great when your shearer is also a friend, and has a great sense of humor! You can't get through the day without a good laugh or ten. Brett is a great guy and we love him. You also need baggers, sorters, herders and servers. And someone who can keep my head from exploding. Enter Cathy, my veteran helper, Vickie, and Darlene- Brett's grandma. With help from the kids Jonathon, Austin, Cameron, Codi and Matt as well- we have a good team.
Thanks guys, we couldn't do it without you!!
So, here's how it's done. The night before, I make out 3x5 cards with all the paca's names, and "P" for prime fleece, and "L & N" for leg and neck fleece, or what we call seconds. I also draw up syringes with worming medicine, and their annual vaccinations according to their weight and age. Imminently due pregnant females, or those in their first or last 30 days of pregnancy do not get anything. Too risky. Everything gets documented in their files later.
Brett and Aj work together to lay the alpaca gently down on it's side, then stretch them out and tie one front and one back leg. One person takes the head down and hold the head and neck while AJ takes the middle. You really need to hold their heads well, because with those long necks they can get the leverage to really cause some chaos! I don't have any wrestling matches on film this year, but sometimes getting the really scared and larger males down can be challenging to say the least. Then Brett shears off the 'trash fleece' around the tail, butt, tummy and chest, and then takes off the blanket on that side as seen in the photo above of my Hally-Boo.
That is quickly gathered and then the leg and neck fleece comes off. With that bagged the paca is flipped and the whole process is repeated.
While they are down, I trim teeth, use my alpaca hairstyling skills (shown below on Arwen) to trim up their topknots, and generally check them over physically.
Everyone gets their hands on the preggo's bellys for a quick feel of a foot, or elbow and we are careful to be quick and gentle to minimize stress.
Llamas like my Angie shown above, are shorn standing- unless they really fight it. They are really too big to take down. Angie is a really good girl :))
Lastly I give their injections, one more kiss and they are up and back to their pens!
Here are a couple of before and after shots: