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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Alpaca Shearing Day

Today was alpaca shearing day Mary Martin's. As you may recall, Mary helped at Thistle Cove Farm on sheep shearing day back in early April and, when I found out she was shearing alpacas, she graciously allowed me to visit and take photos.

In the photo above, Mike, carefully, shears while his daughter...whose name I neglected to write down and apologize to her for my error... at the head and Alice, on his body, help steady the alpaca while Joyce stands ready to capture the fleece. In the left background, two other alpacas watch the proceedings and wonder how they can manage to escape such a dreadful, embarrassing ordeal.

It was a great day but, then, any day spent in the company of like-minded people, with animals...and fiber animals at that! a great day. At times the skies spit a little rain but the alpacas were perfect gentlemen and the worst behavior we saw all day was a whole lot of crying, moaning and groaning going on. You see, the gents were SO unhappy at the undignified manor in which they were sheared...feet tied at either end and then stretched, somewhat reminiscent of long ago days and the medieval practice of putting folks on the rack. Truly, it wasn't as bad as it looked but the way the boys were carrying on, one would have thought they were being tortured.

Miss Innie, at 97 the oldest person watching, said, "just like a man, can't stand much of anything!" We all laughed, partly because it was funny and partly because it's a bit true. Miss Innie still drives, does yard work, cooks and all those other things that keep one going strong. She fully expects to make 100 and there's no doubt she will and be as much an inspiration then as she is now!

Mike, stretched full the length of the alpaca, steadies the animal while Mary prepares to release the leg ties.

There are two types of alpacas, Huacaya and Suri. and both are members of the camilid family and Mary has both types. More than eighty percent of alpacas are huacaya with full, beautiful fleeces. Suri alpacas have the lustrous, pencil type fiber hanging in dreadlocks, making them similar to each other yet still different. Both are incredibly beautiful with lovely fleeces that hand spinners adore.

This photo shows how well Mike is shearing the "blanket", the most desirable portion of the fleece. It also shows how delicate, yet well muscled and tiny, is the alpaca.
Mike, shearing, while Mary watches as Alice steadies the animal and daughter gently holds the head and neck.
Mike, Mary and daughter turning the animal so it can be sheared on the other side.
Oh dear. One alpaca has been sheared, another is on the shearing floor and these three fellows watch in trepiditation. They must be commended, however, as no spitting was seen, at all, during the day. No humming was heard either but plenty of moaning, groaning and general wringing of hands, so to speak, as mentioned earlier.

Mary, and one of her beloved boys. If you want to know the character of a person, watch them around animals. If the animals are calm, gentle, serene you know it's, generally, due to the calm, gentle, serene treatment given by their human. Although the gents were distressed at such "terrible treatment", they bore it well and, throughout the day, were steadfastly calm, gentle and serene.
This little beauty reminds me of a 1950's sci-fi movie made somewhere in New Mexico. Like sheep, alpacas do better, much better, when they are kept in excellent health. Keeping them in excellent health includes shearing, appropriate meds and vaccinations and pedicures. It's much easier and less costly to keep them healthy as opposed to getting them well. It's also much easier on the human as the wear, tear and stress can be overwhelming, on both, during an illness.

It was a beautiful day, filled with laughter, fun, teachers and students, in the company of like-minded people who enjoyed themselves and each other. It was one of those days we'll talk about for a long, long time.

Blessings ~ friends ~ alpacas ~ a great shearer ~ good helpers ~ laughter ~ a meal shared ~


  1. Shearing Alpacas is interesting, will you get any of the fleece?

    I am most impressed by Miss Innie, I want to be like her! She truly does not look her age and wow! she is driving and making wise cracks about men too....have you considered a blog post about her? Inquiring minds want to know.

  2. Hi Kathy - yes, Mary has saved some of Mingo's fleece for me. He's a beautiful chocolate alpaca. We're planning a dye day here at the farm and will use wool and alpaca.
    I do want to blog about Miss Innie. Alpaca shearing was my first meeting of her and am looking forward to meeting her again and again. She's an incredible woman...full of wisdom, sass and love of God.

  3. I've never seen an alpaca being sheared, but I must tell you that there is a prominent character in my first novel called Wally Bennett, an ex-shearer!

  4. This was a visual joy to experience via your blog!

  5. Hi, Love your Blog! I'm ashamed of my "WannaBe" farmgirl thing I got going on when I read about your lovely real hardworking farm life!:D just a little side note...I replied to your post, through E-mail, It didn't have your E-mail address, but I'm not sure if it will get to you, I have a little giveaway Item for you...If you get the chance, please E-mail me with your shipping address and I would love to get it out to you! Thank-you for stopping by My blog, I am Honored, that you come by to vistit! :D Christine

  6. Love seeing the alpaca shearing... the boys don't look any the worse for wear. You better keep any eye on that chocolate alpaca when I'm around!

  7. I really enjoyed this post. I would love to have a couple of Alpacas around our farm. I especially enjoy the last picture of that tiny, sheared animal!

  8. I really enjoyed this post. I would love to have a couple of Alpacas around our farm. I especially enjoy the last picture of that tiny, sheared animal!

  9. I'm imagining what beautiful items will be made out of alpaca's fibers.

  10. Thanks for stopping by, I am enjoying checking out your blog too. Love the alpacas they are so beautiful! Love that last pic, reminds me of my dog when he gets a bath lol!

  11. That has got to be the coolest thing-
    no pun intended :)

    it's like me getting a super short haircut...which I just did :) and I love it!!

    great pictures....

    We had thought of getting a few, but one thing at a time I suppose...

  12. Wow, I just love seeing a farm in action.
    Thank you for stopping by my Trailer Trash Blog, and wanting to send a quilt to Bella, that is just so sweet of you.My e-mail address is, I can e-mail contact information. Thank you, amy

  13. Wow - great post! Very, interesting!!!


  14. HI David - the Bennett's came to the USA from Wales; you never know, perhaps Wally and I are related "wink wink".

    Hi Marie - thank you muchly for visiting and please, come back.

    Hi Christine - you're always welcome at Thistle Cove Farm; even wannabe farmgirls need to hang out somewhere!

    Hi Leslie - that chocolate fleece is as great as it looks, yummy!

    Hi Farmchick - please consider gelded males; they'll produce lovely fleece without the hormones -smile.

    Hi Carol - lovey AND warm items, close to the throat and luscious!

    Hi Ali - thanks for visiting and please return.

    Hi Anne Marie - thanks for visiting and please return. Like I told Farmchick, please consider gelded males as they are just as wonderful but cost much, much less than females.

    Hi Amy - I'll send you a PM.

    Hi Steve - thanks for visiting, please come back. I enjoy your blog, you have useful and great info.

  15. wow, how interesting but i would be a wreck worrying about the animals if they were in any kind of distress but that is just me..they are such beautiful creatures even without their

  16. How did I miss this post, hmmm? I love alpacas! What a great experience to be a part of their shearing day, too. Such soft dense flece. sigh.

    And um...I did catch that little barb pointed at New Mexico. lol!

    I just had my sheep, angora goat and my llamas sheared today. The llamas looked alot like that last fella. But I sure do love how regal, elegant and small they look with their long naked necks. :)

    New Mexico


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