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Naked Alpacas

Last week we had the first 2 of our 3 shearing days here at at the farm. Proceedings got under way on Thursday with the entire population of the CCNF Main Barn — virtually all of the 2015 birth class, our yearling males, and our spring show critters, male and female — getting trucked uphill to the Arena in smallish groups of 20 to 30 animals at a time. As always, we set up our über-competent shearer, Matt Best, in the middle of the Arena with two identical shearing stations so that all he had to worry about, was taking the fleeces off. All of the laying the animals down, fleece skirting, and cleanup, was handled by us and our staff. There is a running joke among those that work here, that one knows that it really is all-hands-on-deck, when even yours truly has to show up and actively participate in the daily 10-hour slog that our shearing days usually entail. Your faithful blogger doesn’t wish to find himself locked out of his own house, after all!*

Oh, the shame! CCNF Below Zero suffers the indignity of having gone first on Friday morning.

Oh, the shame! CCNF Below Zero suffers the indignity of having gone first on Friday morning.

Regardless, watching the fleece come off of the previous year’s crias is a particularly gratifying experience. After growing their fleeces all winter and having taken some of them to shows this spring, it’s always revealing to see the animals’ blankets come off and see them from the skin-side for the first time. This was especially true for some of the late fall crias, who were never shorn as little ones and whose outer blankets had thus become a tangle of hay chaff and seed heads from the particularly horrendous batch of straw bedding we took delivery of last year (needless to say, we’re finding a new supplier in 2016). Shearing day is often the first preview we get of what to expect from those animals in the year ahead. Fun stuff!

Having built up our confidence with juveniles and yearlings on Thursday (we are the best shearing crew ever!!!), Friday was perhaps a bit of a reality check.  We all had to work quite a bit harder, as we both waded into the population of our bred females who live full time at the Arena, as well as bringing up the working males from the Stud Barn. The take-down on a 70 lb. juvenile is rather different from the same operation on a 200 lb. Herdsire. Go figure. Though there was a bit more spitting, peeing, and screaming on Friday — how dare you touch my pregnant self!? — than the day before, it was all rather chill compared to the Exorcist-inspired acts we used to go through 10 years ago, when some 20 to 30% of our herd was still made up of animals directly imported from South America.  In the end, we sheared 73 animals on each day, leaving us with just 69 to shear when Matt returns for a 3rd and final day on Monday the 16th. The real question of course, is if we are sore after just a couple of days of those shenanigans, what do the shearing pros who do this for more than 3 months in a row feel like by the time July rolls around? Yikes. Cheers to them all!

Below is some footage from Thursday morning of the blanket being taken off of our young aspiring Herdsire (he just turned 11 months yesterday), Dreadnought, another of the exciting CCNF Elixir/Snowmass Matrix Majesty crosses. Enjoy…

Follow me on Twitter @CCNFalpacas

*This has never happened. Yet. Unless you count locking myself out of the house…

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