One Sunday in mid-May, my choir friend Peggy approached me after church. She told me that they had started shearing their alpacas - a necessity for the hot summer months ahead. She had a pile of "seconds" (shorter fleece from the neck, belly, legs, etc.), she said, just piled up out in the yard where they had been shearing. And, since there was still so much cleanup and rebuilding work to be done, she wasn't going to have time to deal with any of it.
"Do you want it? Come get it."
I jumped at the chance. I've been working with needle felting, making earrings to sell at craft shows and a small animal or two (scroll down to my "I've never felted this way before" post from 12/27/11 for an example). The very next day I grabbed a box of black trash bags, jumped in the minivan, and headed north across the river.
The little town on the way to the farm looked like a totally different place - there were still blue tarps on roofs everywhere, but the snarls of debris were gone, buildings had been razed and removed, and telephone poles and electrical wires were back in place. When I got to the farm, the changes were impressive. No more huge piles of debris and brush, and there was even a logging truck onsite to log out some of the huge trees that had fallen. Peggy, Ben, and next-door-neighbor and choir friend Trish had been busy, indeed.
Peggy was out behind the farmhouse, with a lovely little brown alpaca tied to the fence for shearing. (The shearing room had been in one of the barns that had been hit by the tornado.)
I was duly introduced to Braillie, who has cataracts and can't see. And who didn't particularly want to be tied to that fence. While Peg and I were talking, she pulled her lead rope free and started to do the equivalent of an alpaca tip-toe away from us. Peg followed her, talked to her, and tried to lead her back to the fence.
Braillie did not... want... to go...
so... down she went!
(Still close enough to be tied, haHAA!)
Once Braillie was secured, Peg took me on a quick meet-and-greet.
Waiting on deck for shearing: miss Lacy.
She was making a soft little humming noise in her throat. :)
|Paca Butt! *snrk*|
This is Jester, one of the farm's "guard llamas". The little alpaca aren't able to protect themselves from predators, but the big bad llamas can take care of coyote and such.
Got a great look going, there - sortof alpaca-mullet-poodle ;)
Another guard llama. The llamas are much bigger, and they don't have the fluffy "bangs" on their foreheads like the alpaca do. Their fleece is nice - softer than wool - but not as soft as alpaca.
|"Dudes - check it out! We got PEOPLE lookin at us!"|
Once the herd saw us, it didn't take long for them to come investigate. Soon, we were surrounded by gentle, curious, newly-shorn (and silly-looking!) little faces.
|Beethoven and Auftershock|
(I still giggle when I look at this picture of Benny. Every. Single. Time.)
|Baby! So young, he doesn't have a name yet. <3|
Once we'd done the meet-and-greet, it was onward for the Business of the Day... the fleece pile!
We started stuffing it into bags, trying to roughly separate it by color.
|Going home with me.|
Bags of the stuff... and we barely made a dent in the pile!
(I did go back, one more time, after they had finished shearing all of the alpaca. Filled another bag with cream-color, a small bag of gray, and a huge bag of "grab it and stuff it in".)
So now... it's time to cogitate a bit, consider the workings of the world, and figure out what the next step might be. Hint: it might involve mesh lingerie bags, lots of hot water, Dawn dish soap, and a timer.
Oh yeah. I've got myself a project, here.