Once a year our quirky alpaca are sheared. We have one of the few expert shearers in England come to us and he is in high demand covering all the country and Europe too. They don’t call him the alpaca whisperer for nothing. He has a way with these funny beasts that will make your heart melt. While Farmer Nick risks being spat and kicked, Colin the shearer has them practically kissing him with affection!
Preparing for shearing
We had moved the alpaca from their favoured field down by the river up to the winter chicken enclosure with the usual ‘stand well back and hope with a big stick in hand just in case’ technique. Here they munched happily on hay overnight and most importantly kept their coats nice and dry for the morning.
For the previous 2 mornings Farmer Nick had warned the guests the shearer was coming at 8am and that they would need to be down at his shed bright and early to catch the action. Well an 8am start isn’t everyone’s idea of holiday fun, but surprisingly we had one of the biggest turnouts ever to watch the action. I had to ensure all the pre-farm checks were complete ahead of this as we knew it would run straight into the morning feed run while Nick helped the shearer set up in his shed. Thankfully it was a beautiful morning and it was no hardship being up early.
The alpaca whisperer in action
By 8am Colin was ready for his first alpaca and the guests all assembled to watch. Toffee was out first, except he just sat down in the chicken coop doorway and had to be carried into Nick’s shed!
In no time at all the ’50 shades of Grey’ style restraints had Toffee stretched out and Colin was good to go. He did spend a little time filling our guests in about the restraints and reassuring them it didn’t hurt or feel uncomfortable, this was a comfort to our curious guests. Parents and children alike were mesmerized by Colin’s quick and thorough work.
The legs and head take a little longer but our Alpaca whisperer makes it all look easy. It is a good opportunity for the children to come forward and stroke the alpaca and his trusty assistant clips the hooves then too. There is a little souvenir piece of fleece for everyone.
Toffee went out as he came in, being carried! Caramel is the friendlier of the two and walked in no problem. Our Alpaca whisperer showed his skill on Caramel who really relished the attention. Even the older children came to stroke him just free standing with Colin. I was so mesmerized I managed not to take a photo and am now kicking myself.
Farmer Nick may be some way off becoming an alpaca whisper; however he did successfully move the pair back into the stock trailer and over the river into their summer field next to the rabbits to enjoy the rest of the summer without their heavy coats. This means they are on the morning feed run route and in with a chance of some cornflakes from the children.
What happens to the Fleece
The guests certainly had a tale or two to take home with them and a good chunk of fleece. The rest will go to Kaye, our local crafting friend who makes rugs and these gorgeous mini alpaca to sell at the local craft fairs. This one is our souvenir from last year’s fleece; a remarkable likeness to Caramel don’t you think?
“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.