A Fiber Farm Blog

Shearing Day 2019

Shearing Day

Tuesday, April 16th

7:30 am – 11:00 am

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 is our annual Shearing Day.  This is our “Harvest Day”….the day that we have worked toward for the past year.  This is the day that we truly see the results of all our hard work……how we have cared for the animal, sheltered them and fed them; protected them from stress, from predators, and in some cases even from Mother Nature.  We can see it all in the quality and quantity of their fiber.  This is also the day we can see the results of breeding decisions sometimes made years before.

DSC_0862

We welcome you to come and watch shearing.  Below is what you can expect on Shearing Day.

Shearing Day is a crazy busy day!  Jeff and I may not be able to spend as much time with  visitors as we would like, there is sometimes just too much to do.  So make yourself at home, visit with our other guests and alpaca families and enjoy learning about Shearing Day on an alpaca farm.  If you have questions and can’t get them answered on Tuesday, please feel free to send us an email or give us a call.  If you would like to talk further about alpacas or the farm, please call and schedule a time to visit when we can spend ample time with you.

We hire Brian Gnizak with Shear Relief LLC to shear our alpacas.  He will come with an additional 3 man team that will do all the handling of the animals and shearing.  We have used Brian and his team for the last 6 years and he is the BEST!  He requires that the animals be close and ready for shearing and that they be dry.  We do a lot of planning and working ahead of time to make sure that the animals are ready for him and that things are organized and ready to go as soon as his team arrives to set up.  Brian may shear several farms in one day so we do everything we can to make sure that his time at our farm runs smoothly and efficiently.  We never want to be the farm that puts him behind!

DSC_0860

We have 38 alpacas to shear this year.  Typically the alpacas are brought out for shearing from light to dark…….the whites first, the blacks and greys last.  In addition, we typically pull out any troublemakers and have them shorn first.  And yes, we do have a few troublemakers.  It is a relief to get the “troublemakers” out of the way, out of the barn, and out of everyone’s hair (no pun intended).

We will shear rain or shine. Unfortunately for guests, the alpacas, shearers and volunteers need to be in the dry, shaded barn. If we can find a safe place for you in the barn, we will get you a spot inside. But often times guests will hang out on the outskirts of the big barn to watch the action, so please come dressed for the weather. Have footwear that you can easily clean. You never know what you might step into at an alpaca farm!

DSC_0864
There is a lot going on in a small area! The alpacas will be brought back and forth to the shearing mats, identified if necessary, given deworming injections, toenails trimmed and possibly have their teeth trimmed as well. Once the shearing starts, fiber collectors will begin their work. When the shearing team is done with an alpaca, the animal will need to be taken back to safety and volunteers will be cleaning up the shearing area. Needless to say, visitors have to stay back from the activity for their safety. Children must stay with adults at all times.

DSC_0868

We will shear in the big barn with doors facing east.  As you come down the drive, you won’t be able to miss it.  The shearers will have their van pulled up to the door.  We will have gates open for you to get as close as possible.  Feel free to park in the grassy area to the south east of the barn.

DSC_0873

This is usually not the best time to see our typically quiet & docile alpacas.  They will sense that something is going on and be nervous and scared.  Depending on the weather up to shearing day, they may have been kept under cover in very close quarters for far too long.  They can become very stressed.  Some may spit, some may scream, some will fight the shearers and try to get away, while some will plop down and refuse to move on their own. Just keep in mind that whatever you see and however they act, they will not be hurt.  Not only do we want the fiber for processing, but it is necessary to remove it from the animal for their own comfort, health and well-being.  Alpaca fiber is very warm and they may not survive the summer months unless it is taken off.  Once an alpaca is shorn, they are as happy and content as they can be.

DSC_0892

There is nothing more satisfying than looking out into a pasture of shorn alpacas and know that not only are the animals comfortable and ready for summer, but you had a successful and efficient shearing day!

Shearing 2014_007

Please let us know if you have any questions about Shearing Day 2019 at kim@naturalfiberfarm.com.  We still have a lot to do in this upcoming week to prepare for shearing day so hopefully I can take some time out to update the blog a bit about our activities.

Hope to see you at Shearing Day 2019!

 

 

MOPACA Show

Come visit the MOPACA Show 3/30/19 & 3/31/19 at Hale Arena in Kansas City!

9:00 am – 5:00 pm Saturday 3/30

9:00 am – noon Sunday 3/31

This is one of our favorite shows of the year and it is right here in Kansas City!  You will find other vendors like us that sell products made from alpaca fiber as well as vendors with products useful to those who raise them.

Stop by our booth and look at all the yarns and rovings that we produce from our alpacas’ fiber.  We also have plush animals, dryer balls, socks, hats, gloves and hand made soaps.  We have some great products to fill those Easter baskets this year!

MOPACA Booth 1

MOPACA Booth 2

MOPACA Booth 4

MOPACA Booth 3

MOPACA Closeup Bunny

MOPACA Closeup Kittens

MOPACA Closeup Hats

MOPACA Closeup Dryer Balls

MOPACA Overhead Booths

Watch members of the local fiber guilds demonstrate spinning, weaving and other fiber arts.

MOPACA Overhead Guild

Sit and watch the show rings as alpacas are judged and placement and ribbons are awarded.

MOPACA Overhead Show Ring

And of course, see all the beautiful alpacas.

MOPACA OverheadAlpaca

I love this show because you can learn so much all in one spot.  You can talk to breeders about what it takes to succeed in the show ring, visit with the vendors and learn more about what they do.  You can watch the spinners and weavers to see first hand how to turn fiber into fabulous products.  And even, maybe find an alpaca farm in your area that you can visit at another time.

Admission is free.  Kids are welcome.  There is plenty of room for strollers.  Please stop by our booth and say hi!  We would love to see you!

 

Spring Events

We are starting to plan for our Spring Events and we are so excited!  By this time in the year, it has been several months since we have been out with our yarns, rovings, socks, farm plush and hand made soaps.  We enjoy visiting with fiber folks, neighbors and friends and showing off our new items and colorways.

We also have Shearing Day scheduled.  This is our Harvest Day……the day we really get to put our hands into that gorgeous fiber and make processing plans for the year.

We will be sending out more information for these events as it gets closer to time, but for now…..

MOPACA – March 30 – April 1st

Hale Arena, Kansas City, MO – Saturday, 9:00 am – 5:00pm , Sunday, 9:00am – noon

Bring the family!  See vendors that sell alpaca items, demonstrations in spinning, weaving and other fiber arts and of course, alpacas!  Free Admission.  For more information:  https://mopaca.org/Visitors

 

Shearing at Parsons’ Prairie Farm – Tuesday April 16th

7:00 am – approximately noon

We have 40 alpacas that will be shorn the morning of the 16th.  This is truly something to see!  For more information visit our website – www.naturalfiberfarm.com

2nd Annual Best of Missouri Life Market Fair – April 27th & April 28th

Powell Gardens, 1609 NW US Highway 50, Kingsville, MO

This will be our first time at this even and we are so excited.  Just the 2nd year for the show!

Be Mine

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Introducing new “Be Mine” Roving.  You can find it on Etsy @ https://www.etsy.com/shop/parsonsprairie.  It is 55% Alpaca/40% Wool/5% Nylon.  Perfect for sock yarn or any of your projects where you want the softness of alpaca, the memory of wool and the strength of nylon.  The alpaca comes from Sgt. Pepper.

Be Mine Roving 1

Be Mine Roving 2

Be Mine Roving 4

Be Mine Roving 3

 

The weather in our area since the first of the year has been crazy!  Rain, snow, ice, high winds and brutally cold temps seem to have taken over.  We have had a few nicer days in between so it hasn’t been all bad, but it has definitely been a wintery start to the year.

Snow Blogpost 2

Snow Blogpost 1

Snow Blogpost 3

We always get asked how the animals are doing when the weather is extreme like this.  The alpacas are in almost full fleece and don’t have an issue with the cold at all.  They typically don’t have a problem with snow, but seem to prefer not to have to walk through it and won’t even try to graze with snow on the ground.  They don’t seem to like the wind.  They spend much of a cold, blustery winter day tucked away in their barns.  But if the sun is out and some grass is peaking through the snow, they will venture out no matter the temperature.

Bella stays safe and warm in the barn with the female alpacas.  Jeff worked this fall moving extra hay in the barns to keep some of the cold out.  It is amazing how warm it stays in the barn with all the animals in it.  Bella has re-arranged a bale or two of hay and made her bed tucked away in the corner of the barn.

The chickens stay close to the barns and roost in the rafters at night.  I’m sure it is plenty warm up there for them.  The cats live in the hay barn.  They have tunnels in between the hay bales and they are probably the warmest of all!

Snow Blogpost 5

There are always things that need to be done on the farm, so we have concentrated more so far this year on projects we can do inside.  Since we both have full time jobs outside of the farm, we have to get as much done in our spare time as possible.  Here is a little of what we have been working on when the weather outside is awful.

Dyeing fiber…..

Snow Blogpost 10

Snow Blogpost 8

Snow Blogpost 7

Spinning Colorway Samples

Snow Blogpost 9

Loading up Etsy with our new yarns and rovings…..

Snow Blogpost 13

Doing a physical inventory of our products and preparing merchandise orders for the spring sales season…..

Snow Blogpost 11

Snow Blogpost 6

Keeping the driveway and pathways to the barns safe and clear of snow…..

Snow Blogpost 4

Even with the weather, this is an exciting time of year.  It’s a great time to get caught up on indoor projects, planning for the new year and watching that fiber grow!

Shearing Day 2018

Shearing Day

Saturday, April 21st

7:30 am – 11:00 am

Saturday, April 21, 2018 is our annual Shearing Day.  This is our “Harvest Day”….the day that we have worked toward for the past year.  This is the day that we truly see the results of all our hard work……how we have cared for the animal, sheltered them and fed them; protected them from stress, from predators, and in some cases even from Mother Nature.  We can see it all in the quality and quantity of their fiber.  This is also the day we can see the results of breeding decisions sometimes made years before.

DSC_0862

We welcome you to come and watch shearing.  Below is what you can expect on Shearing Day?

Shearing Day is a crazy busy day!  Jeff and I may not be able to welcome visitors individually, there is sometimes just too much to do.  So make yourself at home, visit with our other guests and alpaca families and enjoy learning about Shearing Day on an alpaca farm.  If you have questions and can’t get them answered on Saturday, please feel free to send us an email or give us a call.  If you would like to talk further about alpacas or the farm, please call and schedule a time to visit when we can spend ample time with you.

We hire Brian Gnizak with Shear Relief LLC to shear our alpacas.  He will come with an additional 3 man team that will do all the handling of the animals and shearing.  We have used Brian and his team for the last 5 years and he is the BEST!  He requires that the animals be close and ready for shearing and that they be dry.  We do a lot of planning and working ahead of time to make sure that the animals are ready for him and that things are organized and ready to go as soon as his team arrives to set up.  Brian may shear several farms in one day so we do everything we can to make sure that his time at our farm runs smoothly and efficiently.  We never want to be the farm that puts him behind!

DSC_0860

We have 44 alpacas to shear this year……from 3 separate families.  Typically the alpacas are brought out for shearing from light to dark…….the whites first, the blacks and greys last.  Since we have 3 families involved, our shearing may differ just a bit.  We want to make sure that each of the families has the opportunity to work with their own animals so depending on everyone’s schedule, they may go in a little different order.  In addition, we typically pull out any troublemakers and have them shorn first.  And yes, we do have a few troublemakers.  It is a relief to get the “troublemakers” out of the way, out of the barn, and out of everyone’s hair (no pun intended).

We will shear rain or shine. Unfortunately for guests, the alpacas, shearers and volunteers need to be in the dry, shaded barn. If we can find a safe place for you in the barn, we will get you a spot inside. But often times guests will hang out on the outskirts of the big barn to watch the action, so please come dressed for the weather. Have footwear that you can easily clean. You never know what you might step into at an alpaca farm!

DSC_0864
There is a lot going on in a small area! The alpacas will be brought back and forth to the shearing mats, identified if necessary, given deworming injections, toenails trimmed and possibly have their teeth trimmed as well. Once the shearing starts, fiber collectors will begin their work. When the shearing team is done with an alpaca, the animal will need to be taken back to safety and volunteers will be cleaning up the shearing area. Needless to say, visitors have to stay back from the activity for their safety. Children must stay with adults at all times.

DSC_0868

We will shear in the big barn with doors facing east.  As you come down the drive, you won’t be able to miss it.  The shearers will have their van pulled up to the door.  We will have gates open for you to get as close as possible.  Feel free to park in the grassy area to the south east of the barn.

DSC_0873

This is usually not the best time to see our typically quiet & docile alpacas.  They will sense that something is going on and be nervous and scared.  Depending on the weather up to shearing day, they may have been kept under cover in very close quarters for far too long.  They can become very stressed.  Some may spit, some may scream, some will fight the shearers and try to get away, while some will plop down and refuse to move on their own. Just keep in mind that whatever you see and however they act, they will not be hurt.  Not only do we want the fiber for processing, but it is necessary to remove it from the animal for their own comfort, health and well-being.  Alpaca fiber is very warm and they may not survive the summer months unless it is taken off.  Once an alpaca is shorn, they are as happy and content as they can be.

DSC_0892

There is nothing more satisfying that looking out into a pasture of shorn alpacas and know that not only are the animals comfortable and ready for summer, but you had a successful and efficient shearing day!

Shearing 2014_007

Please let us know if you have any questions about Shearing Day 2018 at kim@naturalfiberfarm.com.  We still have a lot to do in this upcoming week to prepare for shearing day so hopefully I can take some time out to update the blog a bit about our activities.

Hope to see you at Shearing Day 2018!

Next Up:  What to do with all the fiber!

Shearing 2014_029

Early Spring on the Farm

daffodil

We are preparing for spring on the farm and it is a crazy, busy time!  It was an unusual winter here……..warm and dry, with only a couple of inches of snow all winter.  We finally got some rain this past week and are anticipating more this week.  Hopefully we are coming out of this dry spell.  With so much going on around here, I will try my best to keep you updated.

Garden

I got my spring garden planted last week.  Jeff had the garden all tilled and generously spread with alpaca poop.  I planted turnips, beets, spinach, lettuce, onions, carrots and tons of radishes.  There is nothing better than fresh radishes, right out of the garden!  As I was planting, I kept my eye on a slow-moving rain storm coming from the southwest.  Usually my timing isn’t that great, but this year I was able to get that garden in right before the rain kicked in.  We received some badly needed moisture.  My garden and I were thankful!

Strawberry Patch

We have had Strawberry Patch issues over the last few years.  We have tried several different ways to grow strawberries and it seems like we just end up with a big, unruly, out of control weed patch (and, if we were lucky, maybe a couple of ripe strawberries that weren’t rotten, mashed or had been stepped on).  I had strawberries at our first house and it didn’t seem that hard, but here, I don’t know, it has just been a mess.  True, we have had a couple of bad years, no rain at all one spring, then the next, so much rain that what berries we had rotted before we could get to them.  I have had a plan to build a “better” strawberry patch so we are going to give it a try this year.  Last week, Jeff tilled up an area for my patch and placed concrete blocks around for edging.  We ended up with an area of about 2 feet by 20 feet.  It’s not the prettiest thing, but I’m hoping it will be functional.   It is a little early here to purchase strawberries so I am watching for sales and will hopefully have them planted in a few weeks.  My hope is that with my new patch, 1) the strawberries will be controlled and kept within the blocks and, 2) I will be able to weed and pick strawberries without having to walk through the patch itself.  We will see how it works out.  If I can finally get a successful, easy to maintain patch going, we will probably build another one and get it started next year.  I will keep you posted!

Strawberry Patch

Orchard

I am very excited to announce that we will be starting a small orchard on our property.  We have purchased 10 fruit trees that are packaged so that they are good for our location and good for cross pollination.  They should be delivered by the end of this week and we are expecting 3 apple trees, 2 peach trees, 2 pear trees, 2 plum trees and 1 cherry tree.  Since we have a very busy weekend ahead of us, we decided to go ahead and start preparing the holes this past Sunday.  It took a lot of time preparing 10 holes on Sunday afternoon so we were glad that part of the job is out of the way.  We are expecting more rain this week, so also didn’t want to take the chance that it would be too wet to dig.  We want to get the trees in the ground as quickly as possible once they arrive.

MOPACA Show

I am preparing for the MOPACA show this weekend.  The show will be at Hale Arena in Kansas City this weekend and will have lots of alpacas, vendors, fiber and some great competition in the show ring.  We will be one of the vendors and since this is one of the bigger shows we do and with it pretty much being our first show of the year, there is lots of prep work to be done.  I will be setting up for the show on Friday and the show and vendor booths will be open both Saturday and Sunday.

This is just a bit of what we have accomplished the past week and what we have in the works for the farm this year.  Next week, I will update you on how the spring garden is doing, if I’ve found any strawberry plants, the progress of our little Orchard and the MOPACA Show in Kansas City.   Until then, enjoy some other pictures of Early Spring on the Farm!