Shear Joy!Island Alpaca Eighth Annual Island Alpaca Shearing Day Event was once again a HUGE success!
This past Saturday, April 26 marked the Island Alpaca's Annual Shearing Day Event which was well attended, once again with the good fortune of a terrific, sunny day! Islanders and off-island visitors alike came to watch and explore the full process of harvesting the fleece from the herd and witness the start of the fleece to fiber transition, shearing 70 alpaca for the farms annual harvest. The weight of the fleece for Island Alpaca Co. alpacas harvest is soon to be determined.
Each alpaca fleece is bagged and separated by individual alpaca name. Half of the harvest, will be transported to Fall River, MA where Island Alpaca fleeces are washed and sorted, and used for making hats, gloves, scarves and socks and boot/shoe insoles. The other half of the harvest, the prime blanket section of the fleece, is transported to Southern New Hampshire where they will be processed into yarn for sale at their gift shop on island and online, and for knitters who make products for the local farmers markets and gift shop.
The alpaca were thrilled with the work to remove their winter coat. The expert team: Matt Best from New Hampshire, and his assistant Nate Trojanski from Connecticut. The shearers and the crew of helping hands, were hard at work for nearly 8 hours, working efficiently averaging less than seven minutes per animal. Assisting were Island Alpaca volunteers, friends, family members and staff: Simone Brewer, Nicola Blake, Susan Currier, Barbara Dutton, Alexander Figueroa, Andrea Figaratto, David Hannon, Ethan Howard, Riley Kadis, Rizwan Malik, Andrew Mclean, Jake Martin, Ashleigh Plante, Charlie and Luise Ronchetti and Phoenix Russell.
Island Alpaca Shearing Day Raffle winners were Allana and Mike Kelly of Newton, MA winning one of our newest alpaca throws, and Staci MacDonald of North Attleboro, an Island Alpaca gift certificate, congratulations!
Shearing Fun Facts: Alpacas are shorn just once a year in the Spring. Each alpaca produces between 2 to 12 pounds of fiber depending on age, genetics, environment and nutrition. Island Alpaca shear the alpaca stretched out on a thick, padded mat on the ground. tying the front legs together and the back legs together. This method allows the shearer to work faster and get a more even cut, it is less stressful for the alpaca this way. Shearing time varies greatly by the expertise of the shearer, but generally 10 minutes per animal is standard. Alpacas are shorn with the same clippers that are used for sheep. Blades have to be sharpened and oiled often. Because alpacas don't have natural lanolin oils like sheep, the clippers need to be oiled more frequently.
Many thanks to The Martha's Vineyard Times; Angela Prout, reporter and Michael Cummo, photographer for writing such a great piece "A Good Hair Day" about our Shearing Day and featuring us on the Calendar Section cover... We all loved it--what fabulous photos!! Please find a link to their story here!
Visit hope you can visit us soon to see the new coifs on the paca! In our farm store at 1 Head of the Pond Road, in Oak Bluffs you will see the end result of this great process. Find beautiful roving, yarns, and locally produced garments from these wonderful animals that graze in their pastures! We are open every day from 10 am to 4 pm, rain or shine. (10 to 5 after May 22, 2015). 508-693-5554, or visit our site, www.islandalpaca.com.