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Stirling Ridge Alpacas

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Shearing Day 5/28/2011

Next up! while a shorn animal smiles in the background.

Next up! while a shorn animal smiles in the background.

We just completed our shearing for our 19 animals and an additional 2 from friends of ours. This is a big day to get ready for, cleaning pens, cleaning fleeces from a winter's worth of junk in the barn and in the fleece!

This year we used Wade Kuhl to shear the animals. He was very pleasant to work with. He has an efficient system of a long bar that holds the ties for the alpaca's feet with a gymnastic mat to cushion the animal on the floor and the knees of everyone working on the animal being shorn.

To help pull the animals down on the mat, Caleb and his muscle power was invaluable, and he learned his job quickly. He would also hold the head down as Wade sheared and helped turn the animals to the other side once one side was completely shorn.

As the fleeces came off the animals, our daughter, Jessie, and another great helper, Amy, put the fleece in the appropriate baskets: blanket, neck, or legs and belly. Those baskets were then weighed and recorded (taking out the weight of the basket of course!) This is valuable information and it surprises me that more people don't do this. What would a 3 lb. blanket of 20 micron fleece tell you compared to a 3 lb. blanket of 30 micron?? It's important information! Be sure to get it!

After this, each basket was sorted and graded by Robyn Kuhl, a certified sorter and co-organizer of NAAFP (North American Alpaca Fiber Producers). As Robyn inspected the fleece, she let me know what she was seeing for staple length, primary to secondary ratio, brightness, crimps per inch, uniformity, and the grade of the fleece. I then wrote down each of her comments on a sorting record for that animal. Again super valuable information for me as a fleece producer or for a buyer of the fleece or animal. Useable fleece for the NAAFP cooperative was then taken back to the collection site in Sandpoint, Idaho, by Robyn to be used by the cooperative for making socks, hats, duvets, rovings, and yarn.

We save ALL the fleece, even the coarse legs and belly. This can be made into beautiful and durable rugs. Even some of the very short cuts we collect. Makes stuffing for dog beds or warm bedding for bunnies.

A fun day, a long day, a tiring day! It all went very smoothly because of the excellent shearer, sorter, and helpers. Thank you all! Until next year!
Wade shears, Caleb holds, Jessie gathers fleece

Wade shears, Caleb holds, Jessie gathers fleece

Completing the shearing with just the tail left

Completing the shearing with just the tail left

A bit of tooth trimming while we're at it

A bit of tooth trimming while we're at it

Grading fleece to be taken for the NAAFP co-op

Grading fleece to be taken for the NAAFP co-op