Alpacas are usually sheared in May or June around here, to give them plenty of time to grow back enough fur for the winter. Last year, I think mine were sheared in July, and I felt sorry for them all during the long, cold, rainy fall. Not that they seemed to care much; they just lay down, close their eyes, and let it all wash over them. It was only a few weeks ago that they suddenly appeared, to my eyes, to be getting really fluffy.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Which means it was time for me to figure out how we are going to shear them. There was a man on Craigslist advertising that he sheared sheep, so I decided to ask if he also sheared alpacas. Lucky for me he said yes, he has experience with alpacas. The next question was; do you have experience with wild alpacas that flee like rabbits from the very approach of mankind, who have never been haltered nor herded, and who live in a rather large enclosure?
His response had a tinge of amusement. He wrote, yes, I have sheared "wild" alpacas before. Since I have a catch pen, he seems to to think it won't be too difficult to shove them up against a wall, get a halter on them and tie them close. He'll shear each alpaca for $40, and throw in a hoof-trim, too, no extra cost. But he wants a $30 travel/set up fee, because he lives kind of far away. So, all in all, I'll get three fleeces and three trimmed alpacas for $150.
I doubt that's going to represent any kind of profit. I've been thinking about moving the alpacas on to another loving home. I'm just too dreadfully practical. What do they provide? When we got them, Rowan was heavy into fiber arts, knitting up a storm and constantly begging me to buy her yarn. Instead, we got alpacas and a drop spindle. She did learn to spin, sort of, and she did process some of the suri fleece that alpaca lady very generously gave us along with the alpacas, but it seems not to have turned into any kind of lasting passion. No spinning or carding or even knitting has been going on for a while, now. And the alpacas, while certainly decorative, I'll give them that, are taking up rather a lot of space on a very small farm.
Rowan is upset at the prospect of losing them, so I made her a deal. Let's see you process one fleece as far as you can. Really do your best to turn it into something like roving (that's a long piece of soft, fluffy, ready-to-spin fiber). Then let's see how much we can sell it for. If we can make back the $150 shearing see, we'll keep them. I don't care about trying to make up for all their food and hay; for now, just the shearing fee is good.
But if we can't even make that back, well, I think it's time to say goodbye.