deza: (Pacaface)
We spent Saturday up at the farm for shearing. Not only were we there, but [livejournal.com profile] lyneidas's brother Karl came along, too.

So, what's involved in shearing?
First, you lure in your unsuspecting alpaca. You have to grab quick, as they are sneaky little buggers who don't particularly like being held.
Step two, you strap the alpaca to the shearing table. The table rotates, so you strap the animal to the table, then tilt it onto it's side. Once you have a properly positioned alpaca, you bring out the shears. Keep in mind, these shears are incredibly sharp, so you have to move quickly to avoid them at times. You also have to make sure the alpaca doesn't struggle, or else they will get nicked.
The shearing itself can be surprisingly fast once you hit your groove. Scott, the experienced shearer, can do an entire animal in about 20 minutes as long as he has someone gathering the fleece, holding the animal's head and neck still, and has help turning the animal halfway through (you don't unstrap them, you just roll them over on their bellies. You can't roll them on their backs, as that can cause uterine torsion and miscarriage in the pregnant females).
While you've got the animal on the table is also to perfect time to trim toenails and give any needed shots.

After shearing, the animal looks significantly smaller, and for a reason--Angel there lost about 8 pounds of fleece. Cleo lost 4 pounds that we weighed, but we didn't weigh the stuff that she peed on when we strapped her to the table. Angel managed to break the table at the end of her haircut, pulling the pully that had her front legs strapped down right off the metal support. Scott jury-rigged a repair, which Cleo destroyed before we even got her all the way on the table. The final fix, which lasted through Cleo and three other alpacas, involved lots and lots of duct tape. Such is the power of silvery sticky goodness.

So, what were the kids doing while we were playing with the sharp stuff? Well, they helped scoop poop, and swept up around the shearing table, and chased the alpacas around, and played with the farm kids and generally ahd a grand old time.

Since no trip out to the farm is complete without visiting the facts of life, meet Illianyi and Vinnie. Aren't they a cute couple? Unfortunately, this was the first time for both of them, so neither one was entirely sure what they were supposed to be doing. Vinnie does get points for making the effort, and hopefully the more experienced girls in the next pen were able to give the pair some advice overnight.

By the end of the day, we were exhausted. So were the alpacas.
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