A big Thanks to the crew of Mariacher Shearing Service- they got to our place in the middle of no where, set up their stations, had our herd taken care of and were back on the road to the next job in less then 2 and a half hours. It was a whirlwind, an education and an experience. We look forward to seeing them again next year.
First, they set up two stations, with mats and ropes, to expedite the whole process. While one station was being used to shear, the other station would be used to clip nails, file teeth and give shots. This allowed for a quick back and forth between the two stations, keeping us all busy with work to do.
Here are the alpacas, before shearing, watching the setup. They could tell something was going on, and kept a bit of a distance from everything, while staying pretty well together, because that’s what herd animal behavior is like.
We corralled them together and into the addition, for easy access to each animal as we needed them. They didn’t really care for it, because they know this as “Shot Time” but they didn’t give us any trouble.
Then, one at a time, two crew members would grab an alpaca and secure them to the mat with the rope system. They were tightened, to keep the animal from kicking anyone or hurting itself. Then shots were administered, nails were clipped and teeth were filed down with a Dremel. Once that was taken care of, the main shearer would get to work.
First, he would shave off the blanket (the main torso fiber) and push it off for MrGillis to bag. Once that was off, I would take the bag and label it with the name of the alpaca and “blanket”.
After that, the shearer would shave the seconds, which is the neck, shoulder and clean rump area. We would bag that separately and label once again. Then he would shave off the thirds, the dirtier rump area and legs, and we bagged that. We didn’t bother separating by animal or even color, as we are going to clean it, card it and turn it into dryer balls.
While he was finishing up with one alpaca, two of the crew members would be grabbing the next and starting the process all over again with the next. They continually switched off like that until all seven were clean shaven, health checked and completely taken care of.
They found one small cyst on Maddie, and a couple small cysts on Starr, which they popped, drained and treated with Blu Kote, but otherwise they were deemed happy, healthy and much smaller looking. Maddie also has a bit of a swollen mammary gland, which we may look into having taken care of. Its been like that since she had Storm, long before we took over her care. Expressing it could cause more problems, but leaving it be could be troublesome as well. The shearer told us that if we didn’t plan on breeding her (which we don’t) then sometimes its best to let it do its own thing.
It was a lot of running around, a lot of learning, and a little bit of “oh jeez” because of how badly Storm took to it. I am happy that we had such an experienced crew willing to work with us, as the first time doing anything like this can be a bit overwhelming. Honestly, my biggest fear was not being able to tell some of them apart after their trims, but I was wrong, they all still have the same personalities.
Until next time, have wicked good day!