We had 5 helpers this year and everything went great! Mark and Dee help out every year and are so incredible to do so. Thanks, Mark and Dee!
If you aren't familiar with our shearing, I'll give you the 500 foot level here. We first halter the alpaca and bring them to our backyard. There, we blow out their fleece with a leaf blower. It's pretty funny, because most of the alpacas LOVE this part! I guess it might be because they are wearing an incredibly dense fleece, huh? Next, we bring them over onto some rubberish mats that are super comfy. We put their front and back lets into a slip knot on a pulley rope system. They are then stretched out so they lay flat on the mat. Some people think this is cruel when they see the pictures. It really isn't. We even have one alpaca that begins to fall asleep every year! We have a couple of alpacas who panic, but most of the alpacas are chill about it. Most alpaca owners use this rope system both for the safety of the alpacas, as well as the holders. It holds the alpaca still while the shearer runs the extra sharp blades down their body to remove the fleece. We don't want to cut the animal or the shearer! It really works well and the alpaca is down and up in usually under 5 - 10 minutes.
The picture above shows my daughter wrapping the barrel fleece (the fleece that runs from the side of their belly up and over the back, and down to the opposite side of the belly) in a shower curtain. This is the prime fleece and we wrap it to keep it as close as possible to how it came off of the animal. It makes it easier to process that way. We also bag the neck fleece and any other fleece that is really soft. These are what we call the 2nds of the fleece. Last, we take any decent belly and leg fleece and put it in a bag. These are the roughest pieces of fleece and what we call the 3rds. This fleece is usually used for rug yarn or for stuffing projects.
Sorry that I don't have more pictures of the process. We didn't have an official photographer present and we really needed everyone helping out with the shearing process, so these are all of the pictures we got of the shearing this year. Mark Pettit helped us out one year with his photography skills and we just haven't had great pictures since!
I hope you enjoyed learning about the process. We'd love to have you join and help us out next year!