Posts Tagged ‘alpaca fiber’

Prep for Shearing Alpacas

April 5, 2011

If I had time I would be looking for my photo cord, but the truth is I just don’t. The alpacas are happily letting themselves in and out of the barn in the morning, but the boys didn’t want to stay out or use their three-sided shed last night, so today I had to do door duty for them. Last night was freezing cold but it is 10-15 degrees warmer in the barn this time of year and there is no wind chill. Yesterday we had gusts up to 40 mph but in the afternoon the wind stopped.

Tom and I were watching the news and I said, “What was that?” What it was, was no wind. It’s slated to start again later today. No matter really. The alpacas only mind it when it is cold and when it is warm the suri fleece lifts and they are air-conditioned. We should hit the sunny mid-60s later. The grass has greened up very nicely and with any luck we will get to open the new field this afternoon. They will have access to one of our little half-way house barns as well as the main barn for wind protection and shade and the new field has something else they have not been able to get near–up to this point: It has trees.

Oh, I almost forgot about the shearing in the title. We shear on Friday–how did I ever wind up with shearing on a Friday??? I think this means I have no helpers at all. I hope the shearer brings help. I am trying to concentrate on getting bags and labels and the CDT shots about half of the herd needs ready. We will also give vitamins and weigh both alpaca and fleece I am nervous. Last year’s shearers weren’t so wonderful. Read down in my blog history if you want to know how awful it was.

I feel as though I am going in for a new hairdo myself. I wonder if the shearer does people too. If he does a good job, I’ll ask. Oh, and if you’re in the vicinity come on by and I’ll put you to work.

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Shearing Alpacas 101–past midnight

April 12, 2010

Ain’t life fun? Sometimes maybe not, but if it works out in the end???

We sheared alpacas Saturday night, or was it Sunday morning. Two days later we are all bleary-eyed except Tom, and maybe the shearers. The alpacas and I are still dazed.

Friday I picked hay, straw and all manner of stuff out of 26 fleeces. Saturday I did fine tuning picking. We had our helpers in place and we waited for the shearers to arrive in the afternoon as planned. 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6p.m.–our volunteers started to leave. We sent our ranch helper home at 6:30 since she has a family and we fed our alpacas hay, which they promptly absorbed into their fleece by rolling and rolling and they spread it everywhere–so much for all of our work, and we don’t know yet what we will be able to salvage to show or sell.

People who know me from twitter are aware that I began dissolving sometime between 8 and 8:30. I called our alpaca shearing central and she tracked them down. It seems the farm/ranch before us had 46 alpacas instead of 23, so it took a little longer than planned. Our shearers arrived at approximately 9:10 p.m.! Only Tom and I were left–he was 9/10 asleep and I was a total basket case. The shearers wanted to get the shearing done. Somehow it was done, but I’m afraid to even look at the fleece and two days later I haven’t even entered it all into the record. Near the end Tom was reporting post-shearing weights that were higher than pre-shearing weights.

We did not get to give the post-shearing vitamins we had ready–no one to do that job was left. It was all we could do to identify who was being sheared and label the bags. So much for being prepared. People, please let the shearers know how many alpacas you have–the real number including any from neighboring ranches that you might have for them to do. There is no way to plan for something like this. We knew we would be later in the day, but we never planned for shearing past one a.m. The alpacas all screamed–it was past their bedtime and a couple were so groggy I was afraid they would never recover. …and we try so hard to keep stress to a minimum.

Still, they are shorn and it is done for a year. I’ll report on the fleece in my next blog.

The shearers were good and there were no nicks or cuts, but I suspect it will be next week before we know what the true effects of this nocturnal nightmare will be. Personally, I am trying to schedule time to be downright ill. Not a very good experience for our first shearing.

No pictures, sorry. No pre-shearing, full fleece photos for our website. Now excuse me, I’m going to faint. I’ll let you know if we have any fleece from our prize alpacas in a few days. The good news is that we are all still here.

Fall Fest Show for Owners and Alpacas

November 13, 2009

Before I continue entering info on our herd into openherd, I thought I would select a few unposed photos of the show process. Tom and I learned a lot about driving with alpacas–check on them every 100 miles or so. It’s good for them to stop bouncing, there is ample opportunity to make certain they are eating and that there is plenty of clean water. As an added bonus, the driver gets to make a pit stop and the gasoline and coffee levels are topped off.

Tom spreads bedding

Tom spreads the cardboard bedding at Fall Fest

The show venue provides a bedding material, which needs to be de-lumped and spread to withing six or so inches of the edge of the stall. We joined in with Fox Run Suri Alpacas and rented two stalls since they only had one alpaca they were showing and we didn’t need our boy Cantu mating with both of our nearly-ready-to breed girls on this occasion.

Tom and Don Llewellyn spread out the alpaca mats

Tom and Don spread out the alpaca mats

Alpaca mats are loosely woven stall-sized coverings that keep undesirable liquid (yes, that’s exactly what I mean) away from your beautiful show animals. Having them also means you don’t need excess hay or straw and you can easily remove beans from the area. Remember to bring hay and that you have clean water. We often buy, or bring water that the alpacas are accustomed to drinking and we bring hay from home since changing hay can cause digestive troubles.

The alpacas are under enough stress without adding to it.

The alpacas are under enough stress without adding to it.

Keeping the fleece clean at home and on the road means that it will have the luster and cleanliness needed to show it off to its best advantage. It’s not so much the bits of hay that are on top, as Cantu is showing as it is ground in nastiness that judges (quite rightly) hate to touch. The white alpaca, Fox Run’s Solaris by Apocalypse and our dark brown boy Fox Run’s Cantu by Nomar took home blue ribbons in the Spinoff as well as in Halter judging.

Solaris, who is for sale and can also be seen on Fox Run’s website and on Alpacanation also snagged the Judges Choice ribbon.

CIMG1566Seven ribbons for four alpacas isn’t very discouraging at all. I guess we’ll be doing more shows.

Alpacas are for Spinning

October 31, 2009

May I add spinning and carding to the list of things I do?

Those of you who follow me on twitter, facebook and here probably know I am “simplifying” my life by moving to a ranch in Oklahoma, but it seems for everything I pack, I find thing new I need. I think I’m stockpiling for the future because I figure I may run out of things to do–or as I suggested in an earlier post–I just may be a hoarder.

My latest addition is a Louet spinning wheel. Linda Gardner or Blue Moon Ranch had a few people come over to spin. There were cookies and tea, four wheels, a drop spindle, six people and a lot of fleece. As the lone suri breeder (everyone else was spinning huacaya or merino sheep), I brought some of Madrigal’s cria fleece that the Coarse Broads had labeled as hand spin after skirting it. Madrigal is a pretty multi with plenty of luster and fineness,  but not the best lock in the world… In other words, a spinner’s dream.

thegroup (Large)

At Blue Moon Ranch amid spinning wheels

There were four wheels present and I tried my hand at all of them. To everyone’s amazement, I could spin almost right from the start on all but one of the wheels and I think the problem there was that I was getting a bit tired. My biggest problem was going slowly enough and taking the yarn up on the spindle on a regular basis to keep from getting too much twist in the yarn.

theyarn (Large)

Some of the yarn I made

As you can see, there is plenty of twist. I found the single treadle Louet to be the easiest spinning wheel to learn on and–oddly enough, it was for sale. So I did what any good hoarder would do, I snatched it up and will pick it up on Monday. That gives the seller time to remove the yarn she was spinning. She will oil it up and have it ready to go. So now I have an additional career and an additional reason why I raise alpacas. For additional information about Linda’s alpacas check out bluemoonranch.net Her alpacacam is great for eavesdropping on alpacas and a boon for those without alpacas out the window.

Did you know you can spin suri without even carding it? My friend tazzieval from twitter tells me she uses a regular pet comb to straighten hers enough for spinning. I suspect I’m some way from being quite that confident.

kathleen2 (Large)

Spinning on the Louet

As you can see from the photo of me at the Louet, spinning is serious work and, yes, that is actual yarn. If I can do it, you can do it. By the way, in Utah’s dry climate static electricity means the fleece sticks everywhere. I recommend not wearing dark colors when spinning light colored yarn. 🙂