The time for shearing approaches and the alpacas find ever ingenious ways to stay cool. Went to feed them and found them all ‘chilling out’ in the internal shade of the stable. I had to step round some because they were so comfortable thank you very much. Breakfast eventually won out but it was touch and go.
The challenge with timing for shearing is the night time temperatures. It seems about right now I think and certainly daytime temperatures are on the edge of becoming a problem for heavily fleeced alpacas. When they get uncomfortable they will roll more in the dust and it all finds its way into the fleece and the shears. The colour change from tip to skin level can be remarkable. “So that is what colour you really are?”
The young ones, with the finest fleece, are also debris magnets. Any loose bits of bramble or gorse, or hay, or small twigs from tree brushing, all stick to the surface and are reluctant to fall off of their own accord. Quick de-debris before shearing helps. Preparation of the fleece from start to finish of the shearng process makes for better alpaca fibre to work with afterwards.
Sorting as we go fleece gets bagged as first, seconds and thirds – and reluctantly – rubbish (too dirty, too much vegetation, too short). Hard work but makes such a difference to the animals in terms of well being and is the harvest of the prime product from these amazing animals.