Shearing Day at Gnomewood Farm

I spent this past Thursday at Gnomewood Farm near Covington, LA.  I went to help and to learn.  It was a great day!  I’m so glad I went because I probably would cry when I see the first one of ours post shearing if I hadn’t seen it first.   Our boys are due to be shorn either April 8th or 9th.

Here is part of the herd waiting for their turn.  There was a lot of humming going on that day.  One of the times they hum is when they’re nervous about something.

The alpaca in front is gorgeous.  He has the most beautiful grey fleece and an amazing coloring down the back of his neck.

The alpaca in front is gorgeous. He has the most beautiful grey fleece and an amazing coloring down the back of his neck.

"Let's blow this joint"

“Let’s blow this joint”

Paca600x400

They look so fat and fluffy with all that fleece.  Check out that sock over his nose & mouth.  Know what that’s for?  He’s a spitter.  🙂

"The Spitter"

“The Spitter”

He may be a spitter, but he’s gorgeous!  Oh, but look at him after being shorn.

TheSpitterAfter600x400

Elmer is the guy doing the shearing.  He’s from Iowa and travels all over to shear sheep, alpacas, and llamas.  He carries this corral or chute or whatever you want to call it.  It contains the animal while the shearing is being done.

ElmerShearing600x400

This is Zorro.  He was huge.

This is Zorro. He was huge with all his fleece.

He looked like a linebacker

He looked like a linebacker before Elmer did his magic.

Yikes!

Yikes!  What have you done to me?

All their white alpacas have blue eyes.  It’s called “BEW” for  “Blue Eyed White” and I still need to do some more research on it.  All my whites have brown eyes.  I just love these blue ones!

WhitePacaBefore600x400

Before shearing

After!!!

After!!!  That’s Noel behind the paca.  She is one of the owners of the farm.

A couple more pictures of magnificent alpacas.

Paca2resize

Paca3 600x400

The shearing process yields  2 different cuts of fleece.  This is the “blanket” being shorn.  The legs, neck, and belly are called “seconds” because the fiber is shorter and not as fine.  With 21 alpacas done that day, there was a lot of fleece collected.

Beautiful gray fleece

Beautiful gray fleece

I’m looking forward to seeing what we get from our boys.

SherylSigRedFinal2

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13 Comments

  1. farmquilter

     /  March 31, 2013

    I would cry too if I wasn’t ready for the way they look after being shorn!!! So skinny and scrawny looking…but their fleece is beautiful!

    Reply
  2. DONNA RUSSELL

     /  March 31, 2013

    Hi Sheryl,Alpacas are fun,aren’t they? I’ve had them for 15 years. My herd is dwindling, because I havent’ been breeding. And I have SO MUCH fleece now, that I will never be able to spin it all up! We also have sheep, and angora goats, and angora bunnies. BTW, how much does Elmer charge? I’m interested, because I’m on the eastern side of WA, and my DH and I shear alpacas, but we hire someone to do the sheep and goats. We use a table to do the alpacas on. The llamas we do standing, but I don’t save much of the leg/belly from them. It makes good felt, but, who’s got time for that? When we shear the alpacas, though, we put it into 3 lots. Blanket is #1, neck is #2, and l/b/tail (we call it blt) is #3. I really like the neck fiber (except right at the intersection of neck, and back–WAY too much junk!!!). It seems to have so much character. Does he charge different amounts for the alpacas and sheep? Just interested. There is a guy around here who charges $10/head, regardless of whether it is an intact alpaca, intact ram, or ewe…just 10 bucks per. Most of the sheep shearers around here, only charge $5. for a ewe, and $8 for a ram, but alpacas are $45 on up. Have you learned to spin yet? That’s a whole ‘nother world! And then there is weaving/knitting, because what do you do with all that yarn, once you have it? Fun stuff! Donna

    Donna Date: Sun, 31 Mar 2013 04:23:56 +0000 To: fuzzyacres1@msn.com

    Reply
    • Wow! $10 per head is unbelievable! The usual charge I’ve heard for our area is $25-$30 per head, depending on if they do toenails, teeth, etc.

      Elmer isn’t doing our herd. A guy from Missouri, Danny Smith, is doing ours. He shears Michelle’s herd every year and since he’s familiar with my boys we chose to use him. He goes all over also. I don’t have an email address for him. I’ll ask him when he comes if he goes to WA. I don’t even have a contact number for Elmer or know his last name. Sorry.

      I’ve got a wheel and a few drop spindles but I haven’t mastered spinning yet. I’m going to a 2 day fiber fest in Vicksburg at the end of next month and am taking some classes there.

      Reply
  3. Micki

     /  March 31, 2013

    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. What do you do with the fleece? Micki

    Reply
    • Hi Micki. You spin it into yarn, weave with it, knit/crochet with it, felt it for purses, applique patches, insoles for shoes. There’s a ton of stuff you can do with it. Alpaca is a luxury fiber. It’s as soft as cashmere and lighter than wool but warmer than wool.

      Reply
  4. too cute,also to bad they spit. Their faces look so innocent. Do they all spit or just that one. At least you know who to avoid. Dana

    Reply
  5. Mary Carter

     /  March 31, 2013

    I’m anxious to see the pics from your boys when the get sheared. They sure do look different. Does the sun bother them afterwards?

    Reply
    • I don’t think so, Mary but they have plenty of shade trees to get under and they can always come into their barn. It won’t take very long for their fleece to grow out enough to protect their skin.

      Reply
  6. Lisa

     /  April 1, 2013

    Bless their hearts, don’t you know they would get hot in summertime?
    I was also wandering about their skin getting blistered in the sun. All this is very interesting, I got a kick out of telling my daughter(18) about them spitting!
    Lisa in Alabama

    Reply
    • Hi Lisa. There are several alpaca farmers across the gulf coast so they tolerate our hot summers. They, of course need shade, plenty of drinking water, and they love lawn sprinklers and kiddie pools. You don’t dare go out in their field with a water hose when it’s hot or they will mob you to be the one getting sprayed on the under belly. We made sure our pond was fenced off from them because they will get in the water and only their heads will be visible.

      Reply
  7. Kay Aycock

     /  April 12, 2013

    Oh I just LOVE Alpacas!! My husband and I visited several farms with the intent of starting our own herd. Then the economy bottomed out and the rest is history. I still have it in my mind though. They were the sweetest animals. I haven’t encountered a “spitter” though!
    One lady showed us the yarn she had made and some things she had knitted with it. So soft and nice! Well this has gotten my mind spinning again!! ha! Kay in Texas

    Reply

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