A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

May 1, 2007

Practice Makes Perfect

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Fiber, Alpacas, camelids, General — alpacalady @ 7:53 am

Zin’s FleeceHaving returned home from the Fiber Sorting Seminar it’s time to put my new knowledge into practice.  The fact that Ric is still new to shearing makes it a little bit of a challenge to completely achieve our goal of having the fiber come off the alpaca with as few second cuts as possible and sorting it into different grades and lengths.  But we did our best and we fully understand that for this year at least our shearing and fiber sorting will not be perfect.  Unless we keep practising though we will never improve our techniques, so we will grin and bear it and hopefully improve more with each alpaca we shear.

We only managed to get two alpacas sheared yesterday, but we noticed that they were a slightly damp on the outside of their fleece when we sheared them.  It was a little foggy early in the morning and as the sun was quick to come out following the fog we thought that the alpacas were dry enough to shear.  Just to be on the safe side though we have set the fleeces aside that we sheared and sorted to allow them to completely dry.  If we put them into plastic bags and then tie up the bags we stand a chance of the fleeces moulding and that would be the last thing we would want.

We have had some enquiries to the blog as to how to shear alpacas standing up.  This can be done and is how our previous shearer always sheared the alpacas, however he was a very experienced shearer and was not only able to shear the alpacas well but also keep an eye on the handlers and instruct them as to how to hold the alpacas during the shearing process.  If you want to learn how to shear an alpaca standing up the best way is to attend a shearing with an experienced shearer who uses that method and volunteer to help with the holding process.  There is nothing quite like hands on experience to educate yourself in something new. 

With the standing up method we would need at least three people and the shearer to safely shear an alpaca, the Pro-Tie  device we are using enables us to shear and collect the fiber with only the shearer (Ric) and two other people.  The device is working well for us and I feel it is helpful to Ric that the alpacas lie relatively still during the process.

While I was gone Ric and some kind volunteer helpers sheared 10 more alpacas so now I have lots of bags of fleece to sort in order to catch up.  As we have now sent our shearing blades in for sharpening I should have the opportunity to catch up.  I just wonder what state the fleece is in that is in those bags – oh well as I sort I just need to keep reminding myself that practice makes perfect!


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