All summer we have been trying to get the alpaca sheerer to come. Our date back in early July had to be cancelled as it rained overnight making their fleeces wet by morning. Since the machinery is all electric this was a non starter and our ready cornered alpacas had to be freed again. It was August before we could organise a return as there are so few specialists available to do the job, in fact our sheerer claims to be one of just three in England. This time we were taking no chances and Nick set about moving the three wise men of Coffee, Toffee and Caramel indoors after the feed run the day before to ensure the forecast rain or any morning dew would not hinder proceedings again.
The alpaca can be quite strong willed and throw a nasty spit when asked to do something they don’t fancy, although when they feel they are not in charge they can be quite gentle. I remember only too well how surprised we were last year when they were sheered seeing how competently the sheerer handled them; not a spit in sight. With this in mind Farmer Nick was going for the no nonsense approach to moving them to his shed and it paid off.
They seemed instantly content in their overnight home delving into the ample supply of fresh hay, which had just been delivered ready for the winter ahead, and chatting away to us with their baby like cooing.
It was an early start at 7.30am the following morning for the shearer but non-the-less a few of our guests came down to watch the expert at work.
One by one Coffee, Toffee and Caramel were brought out and laid down without so much as a murmur or hint of a struggle. To be safe they had their legs strapped and a bean bag laid across their necks. Alpaca are rather like a giraffe in their movement and swing their necks round to stand up; take this facility away and they have no balance. Rest assured the animals are not hurt at all in doing this, however it does provide a rare opportunity to stroke them close up which the children delighted in doing.
It takes no more than 5 minutes per animal to remove their thick soft fleeces, file their teeth and trim their nails. Any beautician would be proud of his speed!
Afterwards the alpaca looked a shadow of their former selves and acted accordingly as their manner softened visibly with losing their protective layer; either that or the light airy feel improved their temper!
With all three loaded into the stock trailer, Farmer Nick fed them a delicious necessary worming mix and drove them back to their field. It rained overnight with Hurricane Bertha passing through Cornwall but by morning all had cleared and they were happy to come down and greet us all on the feed run. there after the sun shone and they flourished in the warmth without their winter coats.
If anyone wants a bag of alpaca wool I have three beautiful coats bagged up free to a good home. I really wish I knew a local spinner who could take it on.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.
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