It is that time of year again when our larger than life, somewhat scary alpaca need shearing. There are only 7 fully qualified alpaca shearers in the country and only one we have found in Cornwall. Booking him means planning in advance. However there is one thing that will prevent the job happening and that is a wet coat. Typically it was raining the week the shearer was booked in and the forecast was for it to continue right up to the day he was due. We were caught out the same way last year and ended up having to rebook so we took matters into our own hands this year and decided to take the troublesome twosome, Toffee and Caramel, into Nick’s shed to dry off for 48 hours before their beauty treatments.
Catching the alpaca coincided with a poorly pig so Nick had radioed me to come and take over the morning feed run while he rang the vet and dashed off for antibiotics. He returned just as we were finishing up by the rabbits which were also where he had allegedly caught the alpaca ready to load them with the guests into the stock trailer, except they had jumped his temporary fence and were happily grazing their field!
Nick just beamed at me in front of all the guests, enormous syringe in one hand and bucket of feed in the other, I knew what was coming next and felt stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea! Reluctantly I took the bucket of feed as sticking the needle in the rear end of a pig felt even more dangerous than having my ass head butted by the alpaca!
I have just one motto with scary animals, look the boss and act confident. I waved Nick and his giant syringe off and boldly entered the alpaca field. I could almost feel them laughing at me as I shook the bucket of feed and called them over. I watched their ears go and saw the exchange of looks and mentally covered my ass from the anticipated boof as I strode purposefully towards the reassembled temporary enclosure shaking the bucket. I wish I had a video to share as I managed a text book farming manoeuvre trapping the daft pair once again!
Nick and Alistair (our eldest son) soon had them from my enclosure into the trailer and off to the shed. Apparently jabbing the pig was also a success, she was feeling properly poorly and hadn’t the will to argue.
Over in the shed the alpaca just cooed at us and we hoped their coats would dry in time.
Colin the shearer arrived on time at 8.30am, we had already warned the guests in case they wanted an early start to come and watch. Several took us up on our offer so he had quite an audience. His skill at handling the animals made me feel quite ashamed of my own apprehension; they were like giant pussy cats for him. In no time they were lying on his mat strapped down and they coats coming off in swift movements.
All the time Colin talked the guests through what he was doing and how he was restraining them, it was fascinating for us all.
There was a quick pedicure and dental check up while they were lying there and in no time they were eyeing each other up, a shadow of their former selves.
I thought moving them into the stock trailer to take them back over the road to their field could have been tricky but I think they were so pleased to be leaving the confines of Farmer Nick’s shed with his bad taste in music they walked straight up the ramp and in without a murmur. We all watched as Farmer Nick released them.
Back in the field their delight at being free once again and without their heavy winter coats showed. They are the most awkward looking animals and not at all graceful, but still they rolled, ran and jumped for joy, it was both comical and wonderful to watch.
We are left with 4 bags of whitish fawn fleece which will now go to a good home with a local cottage crafter and if we are lucky we will have a beautiful naturally spun soft rug in return. As for the Pig, the jab in the rear end did the trick and she was well on the road to recovery by the following morning.
“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.