"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Monday, 16 December 2013

Shorn - part 2

(Someone - I do not know who - pulled the plug on my modem - so I have been "without" internet the entire weekend LOL  Guess that's one way to save some bandwidth...)

En route to Helderstoom Alpacas to get Miranda and Kris sheared RMan and I were filled with trepidation - especially as we had never seen any animal sheared before - and we did not know what to expect with Miranda and Kris. We found the farm without too much of a problem, and unloaded both Kris and Miranda into a holding pen.

We needn't have feared.  The owners and staff were very welcoming, very friendly, and very accomodating of two complete novices.  In no time at all the Helderstroom Alpacas shearing team jumped right into it.  Apparently, the two ladies have won awards for their shearing capabilities.  Just as well we were told that, because there was another alpaca being sheared when we got there - she had given birth to her cria two weeks previously.  As they were shearing her stomach area, she got cut - apparently it is uncommon to shear alpacas so soon after birthing, exactly because that can happen.  The stomach skin is loose and gets caught by the shears.  Shame - she had to go to the vet for 2 - 3 stitches before they could compelte the shearing.

It also caused us to step back - and hope that all went smoothly with our two...

Chris was chosen to go first and it took 5 of them to get Kris onto his knees.
Awww - look at that cute haltered head sticking
out - it's only his third shearing ever...
 Once they had him down, they had to secure his front and back legs...
Securing the front legs...
 ... and protect his private parts.  Alpaca's can kick - and kick hard.  Be aware of that and never stand too close to an alpaca - whether it is on it's feet, or whether it is lying down on it's side.
Then the back legs were secured.  Notice how
they cover his pirvate parts - modesty rules ;)
They proceed with the shearing by removing the longer stomach hair - that is not kept for spinning / felting, and is discarded.
The stomach fleece was first, and Alison, the
farm owner put that hair in the rubbish bag
Then they started on the side fleece
I wish that pictures could share sound and not just visuals.  Kris was making this high pitched squeal - especially when they sheared the fleece on his legs. Someone commented that apparently it is ticklish - bless him.  Must've felt like a medieval torture especially as each alpaca took approximately 45 mintutes to shear.
It looks cruel, doensn't it, but the restraints aren't
hard - they use the same cord as is used in
bungy jumps
 It was so ticklish that he managed to get his hind legs out of the restraints.
Holding his feet to ensure that he can't
escape the restraints again
 Then, the side and back hair was attacked.
Wow - that is thick.  He must've taken strain on
those hot days that we had in the preceeding
three weeks
Kris' hair was 145mm long - apparently that is l-o-n-g :)  We asked why he is classified as light fawn, because his fleece looks white.  Ah, all was revealed...
145mm thick!
 ... the fleece on his back is definitely fawn coloured beneath that mass of coat.
Here Kris is lying on his stomach - now he can see
what is happening - but that didn't make him any
quieter...!  Typical male LOL
Happy, Kris was not - definitely not while it was happening.
Almost finished Kris
 And, especially not when they sheared his legs...!
Miranda chatting to a buddy.
That has given me an idea - I'm going
to securely attach a mirror to her stable
wall - perhaps that will encourage her to :
a) not be so lonely for another female
b) enter the stable more eagerly
Whilst they were finishing off Kris, I went to check on Miranda in the  holding pen - and found her humming to "another" alpaca she had spied.  Damn - we have got to try and get her a female companion - I think she is pining for another female big time!
Miranda - getting the brush and
leaf blowing session
She got a good brush down by the experts, and then had a leaf blowing session to remove the last of the debris in her coat.  Any debris in the coat causes the blades to go blunt, and at over R1000.00 / blade, it's definitely worthwhile giving that little bit of extra attention prior to the shearing.
She seemed less of a hassle to get down on the
ground - perhaps as it is her 7th shearing she knows
what is in store...?
Miranda's fleece was only 50mm long - and much less of it that Kris.
They really stretch them out don't they - but
they have to, in order to retrain those legs...
She doesn't look so comfortable, does she?  I can't imagine that it is all that pleasant, especially with a cria inside her stomach.
A flip over and then it's the turn of the other side
Then it was time to turn her over, and do the other side.

Kris, in the meantime, was in the stall next to her.  He could hear her but he couldn't ssee her...
His High and Mightyness in all his shorn glory.
Seeing how small he is has also helped RMan and
I - he is not such a strong, powerful nor
intimidating creature without all that fleece :) 
 ... so he went looking.  And found her over the interleading gate.
"Hey - where's my buddy...?"
They leave the bonnet in place - I think it's to
help with the flies, but Alpaca's are also very

sensitive in the neck / head area, and the fleece
on top of the head is minimal.  So - the bonnet
remains :)
Thankfully, both of them were sheared with no harm befalling them.

Putting them in the horsebox to take them home, they certainly took up far less space - in fact, they looked lost in that immense cavity.

Before - a much more intimidaing
looking alpaca.
Afterwards - hmmm, we've got
your measure now Kris :)

There is not much visible difference in Miranda, but Kris - he's a different kettle of fish.  He's actually quite whimp-ish looking.  RMan said he looks like a lollipop - with his bonnet in place, and those scrawny little legs and body.
Yes, he still has a powerful kick, but his bulk is far less intimidating!


African Bliss said...

Poor kids, I wonder if they ever get used to the shearing, anyways they must feel fresher and lighter. I bet they were really happy to get home.

Mum said...

Oh, poor little boy and girl. What an ordeal.
Love from Mum

Harry Flashman said...

That does seem pretty traumatic. I feel sorry for them but as you say, it doesn't hurt them and they will be better off for it. They aren't as beautiful though, after they are sheared, are they?

Dani said...

African Bliss - Actually, they didn't forgive us for s couple of days, but that's OK - we did it for them and they will appreciate it in the heat of Feb / Mar :)

Dani said...

Mum - It was LOL

Dani said...

Harry - Isn't that true of all of us - clothed is often infinitely better than naked... ;)

Rogan said...

Thanks for "spinning" the amusing alpaca tale, and Harry's comments re. the boere and rooinekke nearly split my sides! In all fairness to Harry, how else do you learn?

Looking 4-ward to more tales of Rietkuil soon,
all the best

Dani said...

Rogan - LOL - exactly! ;) Sharing is caring...

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

I can't believe how much fleece you got! That's amazing...no doubt they are both much more comfortable now...

Miranda's color is so pretty...:-)

Dani said...

Lindsey - I can't wait to get felting the fleece...

Yes, I love her brown colour too :) But I guess being darker she probably feels the heat more. Clever girl, in the heat of the day she is safely esconced beneath the pergola.

Leigh said...

Great photos, Dani! Those fleeces look gorgeous. From my experience, no creature likes, shearing, hoof trimming, vaccinations, or otherwise being made to do things! I know they must feel much more comfortable now.

Dani said...

Leigh - Thanks. Wish I had a slightly better camera than my basic Kodak so that I could do close-ups...

Yeah, shearing, "nail" trimming, vaccinations, etc - I think we dread them as much as the alpaca's do... LOL They certainly seem happier - poor things.