Sunday, May 10, 2009

Busy Alpaca Month

May is always a busy time around the alpaca ranch! First weekend is always the Great Western Alpaca Show.. one of the biggest shows in the country and in Denver, so being local of course we would go. We should feel great about the results because we took six alpacas, and brought home 5 ribbons. In that big of show that is not a failure. But we had high hopes for two of the boys to do fabulously and they did not do as well as we would have liked.... Oh well, each judge has her preferences, next show will be a different judge, different day, different weather..... All those things effect your placing.

At the end of the month is the national convention, this year to be in Cleveland. I've been trying to talk Mike into going because it is an opportunity to meet and reacquaint ourselves with people that we have been networking with. But time and money are at a premium right now, so not sure if we will be doing that.

Between the two is shearing. We are doing our own shearing this year. With 90 alpacas to shear, this is going to be an adventure! We started last Friday. The people boarding with us are supposed to be here to help but had a family emergency, so Mike and I got started by ourselves. We were told the first few would take an hour each, and indeed, that is about what they are taking. We got through the first guy, Roadie, and although he looks pretty ragged, we got the fleece off!
We got half way through the second guy and the shears broke a gear. Poor Phoenix looked pretty funny! Oh the humility!

Phoenix before we goofed him up!

Last spring we sheared a couple babies that had been born over the summer, and before we could get the shears to work right, we had to replace some parts. When we ordered them, the girl through in a few "extra parts" she recommended having around. Well one of those parts was the broken gear, so Mike had us up and running again by the next morning.

Saturday we finished up Phoenix, things were working ok, sheared Ramon Jr. but the shears seemed to be not working very well and it was a struggle. Then a neighboring alpaca friend showed up to help for a couple hours. A third person really helps a lot. While Ron was there we sheared Escudero, and then stopped for lunch. Escudero was the toughest yet.. Hey isn't this supposed to be getting easier instead of harder? Mike is constantly having to adjust the shears to try to get them to cut well. When we stopped for lunch, he took the opportunity to sharpen a few blades.
Just as we were getting going after lunch a couple of other friends showed up who wanted to learn about alpaca shearing, so we started in on Scoundrel, but the cutters just would not cut. After an hour we were only about 1/2 done. Mike's frustration level was over the top. At this point the $1000+ we would have had to pay to hire a professional shearer is looking cheap! Oh well, we will get through, we will learn a lot!, and we will get better. In a couple years we will laugh at our naivity.

In the meantime we have decided to buy new shears, the ones we were using were ebay - used shears. Perhaps shears are one of those items you should not buy used! I'll follow up with the success story when we finish this chore. Only 84.5 alpacas left to go!

Other than alpacas, we have gotten fishing a couple times (it hasn't been real good yet this year), I traveled for work this week to Iowa, and tomorrow we get our bees. Watch the bee blog for news on that event.

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