I still lay awake some nights thinking WHY? But it appears that we are, and probably will be, alpaca farmers for a very long time. And I still don't know why. But here I sit with my spinning wheel to my right and mite salve to my left and I'm somewhere in the middle. I generally don't have to deal with the animals. And this is okay with me because then I'd be laying awake far more nights wondering why. However, there are a few times out of the year I need to be present; for example, when Paul Bunyan goes to work and an alpaca dies on my shift, in my arms, I need to be present. Or, for example, when Paul Bunyan leaves the farm to visit with members of the Mothership, and fences fail and alpacas are heading down the mountain to find greener pastures. Or twice a year when I'm called upon to wrestle an alpaca on toe nail clipping day. Or there was this one time at band camp when Jumping Jack sliced open his foot on the snow plow blade and Paul Bunyan decided to start soaking it and shooting his ass up with penicillin on New Year's Eve...after we'd had a few too many. Those were all memorable nights I needed to be present.
But then there is shearing day. And shearing day is always the first Monday morning in May. And shearing day is the day I bake scones before 7. And shearing day is the day I scoop the kids off to school as fast as I can. And shearing day is the day that I have labels labeled the night before to put on plastic bags for fiber. And shearing day is the day I look forward to THE MOST on the farm. It's somehow about me.
But thankfully we had the Simsbury crew up to help this year to help us out. Many hands make light work.
These are Paul Bunyan's high school buddies who miraculously left Connecticut at 4 a.m. and miraculously survived a harrowing drive North in record time to arrive just before any shearing began. Here we have Scott and Matt in the back row and Meagan and Brian in the front row. And you know who the half naked guy is. We all had to talk him into putting at least a towel on for the picture. You can see how Matt is leaning away from his naked ass. And do you see how Meagan has her eyes closed in the photo? She was mumbling something under her breath about Scott's dirty-ass hand on her shoulder. I think I heard something like, "get your dirty stinkin' alpaca spit/shit hand off my shoulder".
All I can say is that car must have STANK on the way home. Oh, and thanks guys for lending your hands, and feet, and elbows, and good eyes, and f-bombs, and laughter to this annual event.
But back to the action at hand. We really love our shearer who drives two hours from Jay, N.Y. to help us out. He had two other farms to hit before heading home last night!
I can't even tell you who this alpaca is. When they get all their hairs cut, I can't tell them apart! Kinda like the twins. And when they get pushed back out to pasture they sniff each other up and down, as if they're trying to figure it out too.
Jim is really good with the trimmers. I only noticed a few nicks on his own thumb.
Paul Bunyan is trying to figure out how he can do this without having to hire someone.
Well, the beautiful thing about shearing day is that everyone gets trimmed up nice and close.
They love to scratch their backs on the fence and roll around in the grass after their "blankets" are shed. Paul Bunyan does the same thing when I shave his back.
"Hey, You're lookin' pretty good. How you doin?"
I'd like to introduce you to a few of our rookies. These were the four first timers we had this year:
This is Earl. Matt (see above) had a pretty strong bond with Earl- which may have something to do with the fact that his nuts haven't dropped yet. I don't know though. Earl is small for his age but I think he has strong promise, especially with regards to his fiber...not necessarily his future breeding prowess. Especially if he has no nuts.
This is Sprinter (aka Cronus' REVENGE). Cronus was the alpaca no one liked who somehow snuck in a surprise offspring into the herd before passing away last summer. Sprinter is a joyful spirit and will add a lovely dark brown to the fiber colors being offered this year.
This sweet girl is Stars and Stripes. She'll be entering the show ring this fall for us. She is a beautiful girl with gorgeous fiber, which (I, ME) will enter into a fiber competition this fall. I particularly loved being able to see her stripes shine when her neck hair came off. She's going to be a contender!!
And last, but not least, is Lightning- born in a lightning storm. Her fiber is DIRTY and will unfortunately have to be sent off to be cleaned at the cleaners. Someone needs to talk to the management because this fiber processing girl can't deal with that kind of dirt. Lightning is a sweet heart and may be becoming one of my silent favorites. Her soft cria fleece will be a real treat to spin when it comes back to me clean.
And so now my fiber work begins. But also, too, the planning for 2011 Alpacapalooza. Supposedly someone is hiring bands and vendors. And Paul Bunyan is thinking about cutting a few trees for parking spaces and tent sites. Oh, that reminds me, I should reserve a few party tents. I hope you'll be able to get a ticket. I have a suspicion they'll set out fast. But I'll keep you posted.