Millie

Millie is gorgeous in her fleece.

After we can see her pretty face.

I have been worried about Millie for a while because she is so nervous. She also had a bad infestation of mites on her ears when she came. Her ears are hairless in many places. The mites have cleared up with a coulpe of applications of cedarwood oil mix. Since she has been shorn I can see she also has a long area on her back that may have been mite infested so I have now been retreating her. I have also found a small area on Dolores’s back. Both Mille and Dolores have shown some negative charactistics. Dolores spits often and Millie is extremely nervous and excitable. I am wondering how much this could be related to the mites. If I am sick I can be grumpy and cross. It makes sense to me that an animal would also have ‘bad’ behaviour if they feel low due to health issues. Have you noticed negative traits in your alpacas that could be health related? I would love to hear your stories.

I love that we can see Millies’s pretty face and eyes now she has had a good fleececut.

Ida before and after

In full fleecey glory

And after.

She is trying her best to put a brave face on it.

Ida has been off with me ever since she has been shorn. We have shared some sweet moments in the last couple of months. The process of shearing is brutal. I am trying to build trust into my relationship with each of them but they are all annoyed with me. Even a week later. I will keep trying. Accepting that it will take time to rebuild the trust. I am left thinking I need to learn so much so I can shear them myself next year. I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with shearing yourself or how your animals react before/during/after shearing?

No longer virgins

We were virgins before today.
Now we are older and wiser.
We know that it can be painful.
The build up was eventful and full of set backs.
We tried to be prepared but we got caught off guard.
Things didn’t go smoothly but we got there.

We have nine naked alpacas and eighteen bags of fibre.

This is the story.

I was expecting Colin Ottery, master shearer, to come today at 5pm. I had been weather report watching for the past week. I was impressed he chose to come on the sunniest day.

Last night I had set up the hurdles and we had done a test run. They weren’t happy to come into the hurdle area but they did it. We did it. Safe to say I was relaxed about the whole business.

This morning I scrubed clean the garage floor. Cursing the chickens as I scrubbed. More for the times they came in to check out what was happening than the mess they’d made with their food and poo. I felt I had everything under control and ready to go.

The alpacas were in our open field. They only go in there occassionally and had spent the entire morning breaking into our garden area. We then have to shoo them back as they chase our chickens. When they weren’t doing that they were rolling in the potato field and annoying me by getting mucking.

I had a call from Colin at 2pm. He was early and would be with us in 45 minutes. I still wasn’t panicked.

Then I went outside. Susie had her face in the water and was making herself soaking wet (no good for shearing).  So I called Oren out to help and Jonas came out too. The alpacas knew something was happening and they refused to come into the pen.

We all got a little cross. I called my Mum, she was coming to help at 4pm anyway, and she came rushing over to help. We tried several times and finally we got Susie, Roger, Dolores and Ida into the pen before Mum arrived. They were all fine except Roger who was panicking alot and trying to barge the hurdles.

Colin turned up and very quickly we had all seven in the pen. Leander and Aragorn came in easily until they saw the others in the pen then Aragorn panicked. Colin had to physically bring him into the garage.

Leander and Aragorn confined to the garage fought bitterly. They were shorn first. They had their teeth done as well so no more fighting teeth.

To be honest I admire Colins skill and confidence in working witht he alpacas but I really found the whole method for shearing to be against how I want to work with them. I need to learn to do it myself. Either with electric shearers or by hand.

Each alpaca is stretched by rope attached to their feet. Colin uses a mat and turns them but often holds their ears. He also has a weighted bag to put over their necks. This could possibly calm them and certainly would stop them from thrashing.

I believe there is a better way to do this. I want to prove that there is. It will probably take longer but I want to create trust and mutual understanding between myself and my animals. That is what is important to me.

Their fibre is amazing. And they look like cria again. Tiny and tall with massive heads. Their before and after shots are coming next.

Hurdles

Hurdles are an essential piece of kit for alpaca keeping.
I had no idea how useful but over the last few months they have proved invaluable.
Some of these maybe obvious but always good to go over.

They are moveable.
They can block entrances/exits.
They make holding pens.
They act as doors.
They make temporary fencing.

Today I have set up my hurdles infront of our garage as a temporary holding pen.

Facing the garage – the alpacas will be in the hurdles while they wait to be shorn.
Looking out of the garage – the white rope (hopefully!) will hold back the main herd while the next alpaca queues up for their turn.

I will be uploading before and after shots later as well as some of the shearing process.

Wish us luck it is our first time.