What a fun and exciting day it was at Snow Diamond Alpacas when our alpacas got their annual "haircuts," and plastic bags were filled with pounds and pounds of luxurious fleece. Summertime temperatures in Steamboat Springs are comfortable but not if you're wearing 10 pounds of dense fiber! The animals seemed glad to give up their heavy winter coats.
Just ask Silhouette. Here she is one day before shearing and one day after:
She hardly looks like the same animal!
Here's how the transformation takes place:
Silhouette is held in place by ropes attached to her legs. Her rear legs are pulled back behind her and her front legs are pulled forward so that she is stretched out. Her head is held still by holding onto her ears. These restraints keep her immobile, which lessens the chance of injury. As Shearer Mike Swango works, a year's worth of growth is sheared off of Silhouette's mid-section, shoulders and rump and falls gently onto a plastic bag. The bag makes it easy to lift the fleece onto a skirting table for cleaning and preparation.
Austin holds the animal still as Mike works on some finishing touches. More touch-up will be done later with clippers or scissors.
Silhouette's gorgeous blanket fleece is on the
skirting table, cut side up, awaiting skirting. The plastic bag will be slipped out from under the fleece, allowing dirt and debris to fall through the holes in the skirting table surface. The blanket, or prime part of the
shear, is used to make the finest alpaca goods such as yarn, sweaters, coats and even wedding gowns! Fiber from the neck, legs and underside are "seconds" and are used for rugs, rope and other sturdy goods.