Sunday, May 1, 2011

shearers...start your clippers!!!

Poor little unsuspecting Monkey, just hanging out in the glorious afternoon sunshine filling his bellys with the first green grass of the season. Little did he know that he'd be stripped down, or should I say clipped down 'nekkid' in less that 24 hours!

After Dakota (our llama) arrived, my husband as well as the farmer I get hay from told me I should go get to know the people just down the road from us, the people with sheep, a llama and an alpaca and likely shears! Instead I didn't. I just used the kids' school scissors to shear Dakota, reasoning that I'm not generally one to force myself on people and figuring that I could manage quite well with the scissors. And I did until the fiber herd increased from 1 to 6! I'd never have won any awards for beauty; shearing with scissors, but I got it done and Dakota was much cooler! I knew that when the alpacas arrived I'd need to do something different, like purchase a set of shears and ask (oh the dreaded word!) for help. I prepared myself all winter and since I didn't formerly know this couple I decided to write a letter explaining who I was, where I was and wondered if they'd mind showing me the ropes. Time passed and I figured they were too busy or had no interest, the letter was never received or what have you because I hadn't heard from them, but just last week I had a voicemail from them and much to my delight were willing to help! I called back yesterday and we chatted a bit and was told they could stop in this afternoon and we could go from there. It was set.

Today arrived and so did my neighbors, shears in hand and willingness to show and guide me. We chatted in the driveway for a while, getting to know each other and all 4 of the Nubian "guardgoats" walked up to them and demanded they be pet and loved on before any shearing was to be done. Fortunately the "guardgoats" are super friendly which renders them completely useless as "guardgoats." But I digress.

Andrew went out to the pasture caught Monkey and brought him to us. Jan, (pronounced Yan, my neighbor) and Monkey sized each other up and decided neither on was a threat and got comfortable around each other then we all headed to the barn. I had special concerns about shearing Monkey due to his having a wobbly hind end because of and a severe bout with the meningeal worm at the previous farm. I expressed this to Jan when talking to him on the phone and asked how he shears. Most of the shearing I've seen done had been to have a couple strong able bodied men on one side of the alpaca reach over and flip them to their side, and strap down legs, for Monkeys sake I was relieved to hear him say that he stands and works with the animal instead of traumatizing them. Monkey was a doll, he stood and was so well behaved and Jan was patient and took his time! I couldn't have been more relieved. I stood watching, learning, taking mental notes, and pictures. (And forming this post in my head.)

After a while standing Monkey cushed, (laid down) and we were able to get to his legs. Lots of alpacas are sensitive about their legs and male alpacas can be especially sensitive, so that; along with his wobbly issue was a valid concern. Additionally Monkey is the one with a sort of eczema skin issue on his legs. It doesn't seem to bother him, but it looks just awful. And just so you know I'm not forcing monkey to lay there, I'm just attempting to keep him calm and petting his neck and shoulders.
I'm not sure why, but I like the above picture of me. Sorry, had to throw that in there.
When it was all over and Monkey was let back out into the pasture the other alpacas went running up to him and pushed him around a bit; I think it was because of his skinny little pencil neck, which is so ridiculously small it makes me laugh, but it was more likely because the rest of the herd didn't recognize him. That is until they smelled his butt, I'm so thankful we as humans do not have to do that to recognize friends and family! Can you imagine?!

So there you have it, Monkey nekkid! All winter long I've been telling him that I couldn't wait to get him nekkid so that I could wear the fleece and now that it's here I can hardly wait to get it
spun and knit into a sweater! Yes, I'm going to attempt to make a sweater for me out of Monkey! I think I'm just a bit too excited about this!

Next up was George and my attempt at putting to use what I'd just observed...

Jan oiled the clippers, made the first pass, and handed the clippers to me! I took them, took a deep breath and stepped up to the plate, or rather the alpaca.

I was glad I'd had some practice clipping cows this past summer, it made this seem easier than what it might have had I not had a tiny bit of practice. (Funny how a shirt can feel soooo comfortable on and at the same time look sooooo awful! Yikes!) I did what he'd shown me to do and I had a blast doing it. I'm totally ready to buy my own shears and finish up the rest of them! We only did two today because of time, blades getting dull, and the whole teaching me how to do it thing, but I was fine with that. I've got a pretty good grasp on how to do it and I think with the exception of Dakota (the spitter) and Jonathen, (the kicker) I'll be able to do the others without too much help. I could be wrong of course...
And there you have it, my first attempt at alpaca shearing with clippers and a great mentoring neighbor. Thank you Jan, Vicki and Ron for your help! I really appreciate it! Now to get it into a finished product...


  1. FYI, we didn't clip his legs because the blades were getting dull and George had had enough! He needed a break, so instead of stressing him out we sent him out and he was much happier after.

  2. So funny to look at! :-) I need to do something similar - find someone to help me figure out how to sheer my angora bunny. It has to be similar to an alpaca right? Poor thing is all matted up and needs to start fresh.


So what's the view from your world about that? I'd enjoy hearing it.