Michele and I had spent the day before getting ready for shearing, based on what we had seen at Sharon's. We had bags and tags and pins and ID pouches. The first cut is the "blanket". It is the most valuable of the fleece. It goes into a bag with the animal's name on it. The "seconds" go into a separate bag - those are the other parts of the fleece that aren't quite as good for wool. Each bag must be clearly identified so that if fleece testing is done, it is done for the correct animal.
The process is intense, and there is no time for picture taking. The alpaca is brought from the holding pen and 3 people help get it onto the table. Legs are gently strapped to the table and so it begins. The shearer is shearing the whole body while 2 others hold the legs. Then the owner / owner's delegates trim the legs and the top knot. It is important to get out of the shearer's way! Someone else collects the fleece and bags it. Then the teeth are checked, and if necessary trimmed down. This is also the time that nails are trimmed and shots can be given. The whole process at Alpacas at Mud and Eighth took about 10 minutes. We were averaging about 12. I was so grateful that we had been to the open house and so knew basically what to do. We weren't an embarrassment, anyway. We had brought another competent woman, Jamie, to learn the ropes with us in hopes that next year she'll help us again. Between the 3 of us we managed to make the legs and topknots look modestly presentable.
Once the shearing is done, the alpaca is lowered to the ground and escorted away - they seem so happy to be free of the fleece that they drop to the ground and roll.
This is Karen, the shearer, with Johnny. It was his first shearing - he is only 11 months.
After the shearing, the whole group has lunch together and Karen and her gang are off to their next appointment.
She has a great facebook page - she is Shearing Ontario.
Our herd done, I had to go back to work. It was a relief to have it over with - I had been pretty nervous about it. But now we can make plans for how to do a good job at our farm next year.