This is a fun one that I just didn’t post at the time. In July we visited Oregon and while there, helped my in-laws shear their two alpacas. Sal and Pepe had been growing their coats for over a year, so as my title suggests, the day ended with ginormous piles of alpaca fiber. Enough to make any spinner drool. I was SO excited to not only see this process happen, but help with it.
Here’s Sal and Pepe, getting a little nervous about being herded into a smaller pen. The goats were curious as well…what was about to happen to their fearless pair of leaders?
We started with shots of sedative from the local vet. The previous shearing was sans sedative, and according to R., Sal and Pepe do not take kindly to shearing while sober. Pepe really fought the sedative this time, but eventually even he nodded off. We laid each in turn on the shearing table, restrained their legs against errant kicks, and got to work. None of us have much shearing experience but thanks to a few youtube tutorials the night before, I think we did a pretty solid job.
Underneath all that fiber was a very petite pair of alpacas!
I worked at skirting for most of the afternoon. The place I send fiber for processing, like most mills, charges a steep fee if they have to skirt your fiber for you. I wasn’t sure how clean was “clean enough” so I just kept clipping. Even after all the waste – due to skirting and perhaps inexpert clipping on our part – there was nearly 7 pounds of fiber per alpaca.
The next morning I walked into UPS holding these bags and they helped me smush them up and ship them off to Mill Creek Fiber Works. I like a little bit of wool mixed in with my alpaca, so Sal is mixed with 30% merino and Pepe with 30% pygora. The mill owner, Kate, is awesome. She rushed the order and got it to me in Ohio in time for our move to Mexico.
Including everything – shipping, wool additions, blending – the final roving cost works out to about $21/lb. Not cheap, but still less than half of what it costs to buy alpaca roving retail. Of course, I am not the one paying for the care of these alpacas either…if I were it might make the DIY cost equal to retail. I’m very thankful to have in-laws who raise alpacas and don’t have need for the fiber…as if I needed any more proof that I married the right person.
And now for the picture I promised – monstrous piles: