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Monthly Archives: June 2014

And we’re back!

June was a busy month!

Sabu got her new Summer ‘do –

Sabu 'Do

She was humiliated with the bows, but she’s sooooo much cooler now. A little razor burn has been bothering her, but today she’s doing much better. She looks so small! I need to get a new harness in a smaller size – I had no idea her fluff added so much to her girth!

Revy developed a new strange habit –

Revy blanketAs if mauling anything made of rubber wasn’t bad enough, Revy found this (unfinished) blanket and has been dragging it around, chortling softly. He drags it into the kitchen, lays on it for a few seconds, drags it under the table, into his basket, etc. etc. etc. I have no idea what he’s thinking, but it’s strange to watch. I think he needs to get out more…

I ripped out half the carpet in Towanda and am thrilled with the results – you can read all about it over at Travels with Towanda. Awana and I have designated July RV Renovation Month.

The last alpaca was sheared on Thursday and it feels like I’ve been running ever since. Mo got a call from a woman who needs her five alpacas sheared and it looks like we’ll be taking our little show on the road.

Mom’s neighborhood yard sale is the second weekend in July and I hope to get pictures this time – it’s always a hoot.

July is shaping up to be a very busy month.

In news relevant to this blog, the narc (hereinafter referred to as Captain Bligh) is living the Good Life, sailing up to Canada with friends, where he will pick up his boat and spend a few weeks sailing around and having a wonderful time. How is that fair? Shouldn’t he be covered with boils or something?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with my life right now, but it just doesn’t seem fair that he’s going on as if I never existed, all the lies he told me being proven by his very actions (I needed to give him more money, more time, more support for his hobbies.)

Maybe he’ll be lost at sea…

 

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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Cats, Crazy, Dogs, I totally Rock!, RV Living

 

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Alpaca Shearing is Over for 2014!

The last alpaca, very inappropriately named Rainbow Glow, was sheared last night. She was not a happy camper, as evidenced by the following –

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAShe led Dave and Mo on a merry dance but Dave finally got his arms around her neck. Here she’s pushing him up against the wall, screaming at the top of her lungs at the indignity of it all.

She wasn’t the loudest, or the fiercest, or the biggest spitter or fighter and she was sheared at last, number 91, in spite of her protests.

Regular blogging will resume next week. Lots of irons in the fire, lots to talk about.

 
 

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Adventures on the Farm

This is Fancy Pants before her spa treatment:

Fancy Pants 1And this is After:

Fancy Pants 2Quite a difference, yes? I am continually amazed at how different the same animal looks once you cut all their hair off – one brown boy from yesterday is totally black under all that hair! Don’t think I got a picture of him, but if Awana did I’ll post it another day.

Here’s my view of the shearing operation when the alpaca is almost finished –

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAFrom left to right, Dave is trimming toenails, Awana is holding the head while Mo trims the topknot to make him look snazzy. This is a moment when I can stop and take a breath before the dismount operation. I really should find an extra body to take some video.

This shot will give you an idea of how much hair the alpaca grows in just one year:

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThis is Lucky, who has one dark spot in an otherwise white coat. The fleece is ~4″ long, not the longest of those we’ve sheared so far, and not the shortest – some of the older females only have 1.5″ of hair, all of their extra calories going to nursing babies instead of growing a long, lush fleece.

So. The shearing continues. 65 done 30+/- left to go, including “Glowie,” who will be last as she is a total nightmare but they won’t say exactly why…

 
 

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Alpaca Shearing

Can’t come to the blog right now, I’m shearing alpacas.

Didn’t expect to read that here, did you? I think I’ve mentioned before that I have some rather…odd…hobbies and now I can add “alpaca shearing” to my resume.

Why in the world would I be shearing alpacas? So happy you asked. The shearer charges $25 per head to come out and shear alpacas. If you have a large herd this quickly becomes a big chunk of change and alpaca ranchers start looking for ways to do it themselves on a more reasonable schedule. The animals must be confined in a catch pen and you need to have enough people to catch, restrain and release the shorn animals as well as people to collect and sort the fleece as it comes off the animal. Crazy as it probably sounds to you, hand spinners will pay $4.00 per ounce for clean, crimpy alpaca fleece. I won’t go into the details here, but if you have clean animals with long, crimpy fleece, you can make a few bucks if you can get it to your target audience. More on that on Starting Over Designs when this madness is concluded.

So. Shearing alpacas. How, you might be wondering, does one shear an alpaca? First of all, it requires at least three people – one to wield the shears, one to hold the head and one to manage the rest of the straps. The alpaca is walked quietly into the barn and positioned next to a special shearing table. A belly strap is then secured to both alpaca and table, the table is gently rotated to the horizontal position and the alpaca’s legs are secured using special straps, holding the legs out fore and aft to ensure the skin is stretched taut for ease of shearing and preventing cutting the animal. Shearing commences, starting with the belly and over to the spine, then hip, back leg, shoulder, front leg and neck. Scissors are used on the head and then the animal is turned over to do the other side. Easy-peasy.

Unless…you have a young, feisty boy who has never been sheared before. Maybe he hasn’t even spent time inside the barn. You then have a Dali-esque rodeo, the alpaca’s neck going every which way while his feet kick out in four directions at once. You can’t even imagine how freaky they look if you haven’t seen it. Strapping down this type of alpaca is an exercise in patience and perseverance. Generally speaking, once tied down they will lie quietly. Mostly.

Then there’s the big alpaca who knows he’s strong enough to resist the efforts of one person. He’s stronger than two people. He’s just as strong as three people and there is no fucking way he’s getting onto that table and where are the females, anyway? He was promised a female if he went into the barn and ain’t no fucking way anything else is gonna happen until he gets his female! He is not, however, stronger than four determined people and ends up strapped down like the rest.

The pregnant females have to be handled carefully because it turns out alpacas are quite delicate when preggers and can spontaneously abort if they get too stressed. Great. They spend a maximum of 20 minutes on the table and the shearing isn’t pretty – on, sheared, off.

As if those weren’t enough reasons to call me crazy for getting involved with this little project, there are the screamers. Oh, my! You know that sound your cat makes when you step on its tail? Take that sound, push it up an octave, turn the volume up to 117 and make each cry last 15 seconds. Punctuate screams with foul green slime projectiles and you have Mae West and Satin Doll. OMG. Those two screamed the entire time they were on the table and spit in all directions. We put a sock on their noses to contain the nasty mess, and they spent every ounce of energy they could trying to get the socks off. I think they would have made less noise if we’d actually eviscerated them. Their fleece is nice, but if they were mine they would be on the next trailer to the auction based solely on their attitudes! Here’s a little sample so you get the idea –

The girls were considerably more shrill than this, but that’s the basic sound.

All this to say I’ve been busy. Working full time. Trying to exercise Sabu enough that she doesn’t lose her mind. Shearing alpacas every spare moment. Not doing dishes or vacuuming, obviously.

27 down, 70 to go. Not even kidding. Posting will likely be sporadic until the end of the month.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Alpacas, Crazy, Farm Life, Fiber Arts

 

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