Here for the Shear

It’s the time of year when northern alpacas transform from cute fluffy cartoons into absolutely ridiculous looking swamp donkeys. And we couldn’t be more excited! It’s our first alpaca shearing on the Honeywwoofer Homestead so we hired a professional shearer to come show us the ropes. Alpacas don’t shed their fiber so although it keeps them warm during the winter, it is too hot to wear in the summer. Like humans, alpacas are susceptible to heat stroke. We were actually a bit worried about that this week when it felt like 40 degrees outside with the humidex, so we gave them frequent hose downs (our favorite “chore”).

The primary use of our alpacas is not their fiber- it’s their high quality manure. They also help guard our gardens- they scream at anything new that comes near their pasture, strategically fenced alongside our veggie crops. We, and visitors to the farm, also value their entertainment. So while I will not be personally spinning any alpaca yarn, we will be selling their raw fiber to other crafters. I plan to try my hand at making some drier balls though since I love the wool ones I already use. Anything that is left will be used for insultation in the new barns we are planning, or as mulch for our fruit trees. Alpacas are a gift that keeps on giving!

We hope to eventually expand our herd, but alpacas are not the easiest thing to come by in Nova Scotia. Our plans to breed Nikko and K-Lee have not been panning out. When we had the vet out for their annual vaccinations/physical it was discovered that K-Lee may actually be experiencing some lower back pain. This would explain why she has never been bred before (she is turning 8 this year), and why she doesn’t like when Nikko gets his nose too far up her tail. We started treating her with some anti-inflammatory pain killers and have noticed that her demeanor has become more gentle. It would be miraculous if this changed her attitude towards breeding at this point, and because we don’t know if her back issues are due to trauma or genetics- she is not a good candidate anyways. We just want her to live her best life- but we would also really like to find another female of breeding age for Nikko to do the wild thing with. With a bigger herd we would consider sending their fiber to a mill for spinning. Like any saleable product, the further down the processing line you can get it, the more value it holds.

We are really thankful to Craig, our shearer, because they don’t actually look like swamp donkeys at all. He was very patient and attentive and taught us some things in the process.

So after our first successful shearing- it is now time for a long shower.

Keep calm and get a haircut ya donkey!

2 thoughts on “Here for the Shear

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