Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Day at the Spa

The alpaca spa, that is. Saturday was shearing day at my friend Patty's alpaca farm. Since I've always wanted to see the process, I headed on out there. I also grabbed my camera and snapped some shots to share with you.

Here's a close up of one of my favorite animals. Her name is Brown Sugar and if there were cover girl alpacas, she would be a super model.
Isn't she cute!

I've seen sheep being sheared but have always been a bit curious about the alpaca shearing process since they're much larger animals. I discovered that a shearing table is used. It has a tilting top that moves from vertical to horizontal. The alpaca to be sheared is led to stand next to the table in it's vertical position and with the help of several strong people (some of these animals can weigh a couple hundred lbs), some of them holding the animal in place and the others pulling the table top into a horizontal position and strapping the animals legs down so it can't move. It all happens in an instant.

This photo is of Netta strapped down on the table. She was a little nervous about everything so Patty is stroking her head to keep her calm.

One side of the animal is now available to be sheared and all the fiber is immediately sorted into 1sts, 2nds, 3rds and waste. Then, to shear the other side, the animal is flipped over while on the table--it was amazing to watch!

The shot on the right is of the fiber coming off Brown Sugar. Patty's husband Dick does a masterful job with the shears. Look close and you can see the crimp--yes, Huacaya alpacas do have crimp (at least these very happy critters).

And, at this alpaca spa, they have full service--not only shearing, but a clipper is used to trim the ends off their tail and top knot. Also their weight is recorded, toenails are clipped, they're given their shots, tested to see if they're pregnant and, if they have an overbite, even their teeth are ground.

So, here's the before and after shot of Brown Sugar.

Bet she feels cooler!


At 3:26 PM, Blogger Joanne said...

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At 3:30 PM, Blogger jenknits said...

Wow, that brown sugar is a sweetie!

At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Kerry said...

I MUST get the name of her stylist! What a fun day!

At 12:12 AM, Blogger Melanie said...

Those eyelashes just kill me. What a difference in the before and after photos! Who could imagine that Brown Sugar's neck would be so slender? Did you score any fiber?

At 7:49 AM, Blogger CarolineF said...

Why do they always look like they're smiling, I wonder? I agree with Melanie, what caught my attention was that skinny neck!


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