Yesterday was shearing day at EyeDazzlerAlpacas! I had so much fun last year that I nagged and nagged Allie until she finally said YES, YOU CAN COME AND MAKE A NUISANCE OF YOURSELF AGAIN THIS YEAR!!! Actually, she was much nicer about it.
Honestly, we worked so hard that my hair follicles hurt, but it was a good hurt, kwim?
Here are the lovely ladies, browsing in their hay bin, not knowing what is to come.
Look at that baby. Too cute! Allie and Phil put name tags on them because, once they are shorn, it is hard to tell one from another. (Actually, they all look kind of stupid post-shearing, but please, don't tell the alpacas I said so, K?)
Here is the first visitor to Paul's Beauty Parlor. Paul is the shearer - he's from New Zealand. Looks like he's praying over this girl, doesn't it? Actually, I think that his back was hurting him, and he's trying to find a position that won't hurt. Poor guy. It must be difficult to do this all day, every day. I have back trouble - I understand.
This is the second packy of the day. I include this photo for my friend, Peggy - she bought the fleece off of this animal, Nellie. What beautiful fleece you have, Nellie! This year, Allie offerred the whole fleece off of certain animals for those who want to do their own processing. Allie will have most of the fleeces turned into roving, but a few animals were sold as complete fleeces. Should this interest you, contact Allie at her website. Wait until you see Micah's fleece - later.
Last year, a distraught animal, Kahlua, entered the barn, singing her head off. My friend and fellow alpaca cleaner, Dana, is a fantastic singer, so she sang to Kahlua, who calmed down immediately.
Well, this year, we knew right away when Kahlua entered the barn, because she was singing her head off, and Dana worked her magic once more. I think that Dana is getting better at singing "alpaca" because Kahlua was entranced.
Just so you know, Dana is not pasty white - it's the pesky flash on my camera. Darn thing.
Once again this year, Emma and Clara kept the place clean. It's hard to believe that all of these girls, Annabelle, Clara, Emma and Grace, were in a ballet recital just two weeks ago, wearing the girliest of girly ballet costumes and today, they are doing barn work. Life is truly grand.
Emma wore blisters onto her hands. Poor kid didn't have too much fun at cello lessons today.
Phil cuts toenails...
...on the alpaca who is in the waiting area of Paul's salon.
Ree's blog isn't the only one to feature cowboys!!! Mine features a genuine Colorado Cowboy. He talked about ropin' and heelin' and workin' calves and rodeos and I wanted to say, "I know exactly what you are talking about because I read Ree's Blog every day!" But, I don't think that he would have cared one way or the other. He also mentioned his wife, frequently, which made me think of Ree and how much she loves her husband.
Girl, it's long past time for a manicure!!!
Next, a little dentistry...
...then, a nice relaxing wait until the shearer finishes with the previous alpaca and is ready for her. Isn't Cowboy so gentle? I complimented him on his gentleness and he said that he surprised himself - that he's so used to being rough with barnyard animals, and he didn't know that he had it in him. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Paul travels the northern hemisphere in our warm months, and in our cold months, he shears in New Zealand. I guess he shears all year long. No wonder his back aches. The young fellow at the head is 17 year old Darcy, also from New Zealand and who is doing a great job. What a wonderful life experience for this lad!
Paul is an extremely gentle and knowledgeable shearer, but gosh, I wish he'd do a better job selecting his clothing. Gasp!
Here is a shot of the front half of the barn, where the shearing is taking place. There are two mats - while one alpaca is being shorn, another one is being readied for her turn, and is having her nails and teeth done. Grouped around the alpaca in the front, you see, in the brown shirt, young Darcy, the man in black is Steve, the "leg man," Annabelle is in green and she's doing "leg girl" duty, Paul in orange, and Allie on the far right.
The "leg man" and "leg girl" are responsible for getting the loops of rope around the alpaca's legs and are also responsible for letting the tension out of the ropes at the end of the job. My son, Sam, was going go do the leg man job this year, but he had a job interview so he had to decline the invitation. (He got the job!!! Yay!!!)
My darling, Grace, holding a day old alpaca. What this little guy must think of his world, eh? Less than 24 hours ago, a complete lifetime for him, he had to endure the rigors of being born.
Now, he has to watch his mama get tied up, and laid on the ground. He has to listen to the clippers (loud), my vacuum (loud), Paul's CD player (loud), Paul singing (loud), and people talking (not terribly loud) and it must all be very confusing for the little dear.
But, Oh My Gosh, what a cutie pie!
Oh wait little guy, it gets better!!! YOU get shorn, too!!! What must this baby be thinking? Something along the lines of, "What next???"
Then, today (the day after shearing), all he hears is the wind and the birds and the soft sounds of his mother. He must be very deeply confused.
Here you can see Micah, a proud male, getting ready for his turn at the spa. Cowboy is going to lift him (he's a BIG alpaca!) while Grace and Steve tie his legs.
I never did get a photo of him standing out in the field, darn it all. I kept forgetting. Well, just imagine how wonderful he looks, all fluffy and proud of himself. He doesn't look terribly dignified right now, but trust me, this guy is a Dude. He's a Rose Grey Dude. He's stunning.
Getting his teeth trimmed.
Relaxing with the Cowboy.
What do you think is going through the Cowboy's mind, right about now? Maybe he's contemplating the green splotches on his clothing? Maybe he's wondering if his wife will be thrilled by the green splotches? Do you know what the green splotches are? It is the way that the alpaca demonstrates his disdain for the day's events, and let me tell you something, it stinks beyond your wildest imaginings. Alpaca spit.
This "tough cowboy" expression never left his face. Not once.
Finally, it's Micah's turn! I had my camera ready. I really wanted to see him get shorn because, see, I am currently knitting with the yarn made from his last year's fleece, and it's to die for gorgeous, so I was anxious to see the preview, so to speak.
It kept coming, and coming...
...and coming, and coming....
..until, finally, his blanket is shorn! I think that now, he looks like a cat.
Oh! I forgot to tell you! Allie and Phil have branched out! They are not going to focus only on Alpacas any more. They are going raise PushMePullYous, too! How cool is THAT?
The back end of the barn is where the fleece sorting is taking place, with the sorter, Nancy, doing a bang-up job of it. Peggy is the official "scribe" - this is all part of a new shearing and fleece handling system known as "Certified Sorted." I'm just a helper girl, I don't know too much about the whole deal, but it's something relatively new in Alpaca Circles.
Anyway, Nancy went through each fleece in fine detail, grading it for fineness, length, color, and a bunch of other characteristics.
Margaret was the "fleece runner" - she carried the bins from the shearer to Nancy. I wish I could have gotten a better photo of her, but she was really FAST, and BUSY. See all of the bags, waiting to be sorted? Nancy didn't have to throw alpacas around, but she sure worked hard, and she and Peggy worked LONG, too.
I don't know. It's just a little hard for me to look at this guy (Micah) and think, "Studmuffin" - what do you think? *snort*
But, Studmuffin he is. He is lots heavier than are the girlie girls. Wait until you see them, they look like waifs.
Last year, we were able to look at the mountains through the barn door. This year, it was way too windy for the door to be open, but look at *my* view! This is the window in the area where Dana and I cleaned the alpacas, and I admired the view all day long! It took my mind off of the smell of the alpaca spit. Urgh.
Someone is feeling a little left out, today.
The minute mother and son were reunited... dinner!
Do you remember Bri from last year? She's all grown up, now. She looks like something straight from Doctor Seuss, don't you agree?