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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Please let us know if you have any questions about Shearing Day 2018 at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!