It's feels wonderful to get this job done for the year. Both for the alpacas and us. All of the alpacas are looking "skinny", but feeling very comfortable.
Some of the girls & cria
Dave Easter is our shearer that we hire. Here is a pic of Dave shearing and Gary holding the cria's head. We like to shear the newborn cria's fleece as next years fleece that she will produce will not have "cria's tips". Not to get to technical, but when the cria is born it is exposed to amniotic fluid, which can help the fleece later hold onto debris. Shearing helps keep the cria cool during the summer. If we have cria's born after our shearer has been here, then we do not get them sheared. We are expecting a few more babies, late summer and early fall. They will need to keep their fleece to help stay warm for the winter. If we sheared them that late they would not have adequate time to grow it back in.
This year's cria is shorn
We had lots of help from some of our "shareholders" that opted to come out and get involved. They did a great job and I know they left at the end of the day feeling tired and sore, but with an appreciation of where their yarn is coming from.
For all of you alpaca lovers, we will be doing our annual shearing of the alpacas. We still have some yarn lovers and spinners shares available for the 2011 season. Maybe you missed this when I first talked about it on the blog. Here is the quote from an earlier post here.
And a special offer for all of you spinners, knitters and weavers, as we are going to offer you something exciting for next years Alpaca fiber harvest. We are now a CSA Alpaca Ranch. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Our fiber CSA will allow you to own a share of our alpaca herd and receive yarn and/or roving from our herd as if you owned the alpacas yourself. When you purchase a share of our 2011 fiber harvest, you will not only receive a selection of fiber or yarns, you will also be invited to participate in the life on the ranch. You can come out for Ranch Workdays during the year (actually working is optional, of course!), and attend special events held here at the ranch. There will be more information and what other benefits you will receive with your CSA purchase next weekend during the open house. Of course there will be a limited amount of shares to be sold so everyone will receive a lot of fiber and yarn. Once the shares are all sold, you can be placed on a waiting list for the following year. So come on out and visit the alpacas and see where your yarns and fibers will be coming from.
I process all of the rovings myself as I have a small commercial carding machine. So that saves on the costs of sending it out to another processor, which means more fiber for your money.
My Carding Machine
Handspun Alpaca Yarns
So come and join us and learn all about Alpaca ranching, while reaping the benefits of North American Grown Alpaca Fiber and Yarns. Here is a link to my online store to purchase the few shares that are left for this years harvest.
Gary & I have been very busy here at the ranch since the weather has broke. From fixing fences, to building new pens. I also worked the Arts & Craft show last weekend. I haven't had much time to put up a blog post.
We have some new chicks that have arrived. We like to have chickens free range in the pastures with the alpacas. It is part of our "worming" program for the alpacas. They also help eat all of the flies and other bugs that "bother" both us and the alpacas. The best benefit is that their eggs taste wonderful. We have a high demand for the free-range eggs that we sell.
Below is a picture of one of the pens that we built for the buckling (baby male goat) that was born here this spring. His neighbors are the male alpacas. His "daddy" will soon be in a pen next door to him. He has grown and loves eating all of the grass in the pen.
Alpaca Shearing is scheduled for Saturday June 18th.
Anyone that is interested in helping out, please contact me, either email, a post or give me a call. We have jobs from helping to hold the alpaca's head during shearing to picking up the fiber and bagging it. Last year it took us 6 hours to shear our herd. During shearing we also trim nails, remove fighting teeth, do their annual vaccinations and worming if needed. This is a great way to get "hands on" experience with alpacas and to feel their wonderful fiber on the hoof before it is processed.