Island Alpaca Shearing Day, 2017
Island Alpaca Co. also celebrated the farm's 10th anniversary on island!---This family-friendly day represented one of the real highlights of the year on the farm!
|Matt Best, Shearer Extraordinare!|
|Courtney and David, capturing fleece for skirting|
Professional alpaca handlers and shearers, Matt Best of Newport, New Hampshire was back again this year, shearing the fleecy winter coats off their herd of 52 alpaca, averaging 7-1/2 minutes per shearing and over 8-1/2 pounds of fleece per alpaca! Josepha Shu of Boston was the lucky winner of the "Guess the Weight of Fleece Harvest" winning an Island Alpaca online store gift certificate. Every bit of the harvest of over 445 pounds of fiber will be made into luxurious yarns and beautiful alpaca products, both hand made and from their fiber cooperative in Fall River, MA. Teddy Louie was the lucky winner of the entry ticket drawing, winning an alpaca throw!
|Eric and Cheryl DeWitt, Nicola Blake celebrate.|
|Annamarie shows her skills at the wheel!|
|Caleb and Oliver aim high!|
|Annamarie spinning alpaca yarn as visitors observe!|
|Neil sweeps while Nicola and Courtney skirt|
|Lizzy and Ethan calm an alpaca in queue.|
|Eric, Charlie, Lizzy and Ethan ready and alpaca for shearing!|
|Triton ready to go!|
|Shearers clipping Silver Angel, Charlie, Jack and Sam getting ready for fleece.|
|Oliver keeping the alpaca fed!|
|Boondocker showing off his new coiff!|
|"Big Boys" on their way home to their pastures!|
|"Big Boys" back home!|
|Girls settling back in!|
|Revelation, Atticus and Hunter cool and calm.|
|Showing off their new Do's!|
Many thanks to the photographers, David Hannon, Lizzy Kass and Eric Dewitt.
THE FLEECE TO PRODUCT JOURNEY
Each spring, the alpacas are sheared for their fleece. The animals are handled in a loving and humane manner by our professional alpaca handlers and shearers with all safety protocols as a priority.
The highest-quality fleece ‘blanket’ (from the torso of the alpaca) was 'skirted' (the process of removing sections of the fleece that are dirty or coarse), sorted, bagged and taken to the mill to be made into yarn specific to each animal. That yarn is sold by the skein, or given to local knitters and weavers who make beautifully hand-crafted items that are sold in our farm store.
The remainder of the fleece will be brought to their alpaca-fiber cooperative in Fall River, MA.This year's harvest yielded over 350 pounds, half of which will go to the fiber cooperative. In return, the Fiber Coop provides hats, shawls, scarves, gloves, socks and many other quality products that Island Alpaca also sells in their farm store. Barn Manager Eric DeWitt explained that alpaca fiber Performance Socks are a "must-have."
Each alpaca will produce five to ten pounds of fleece depending on their size, age and density. Alpaca fiber comes in a spectrum of over 20 shades which is more variation then any other fiber-producing livestock. Although they are prized for their natural colors, alpaca fiber also dyes well. Alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic and warmer than sheep’s wool because of its structure. The hollow interior of the hair follicle holds air inside, making it a better insulator. Not only is alpaca fiber warm, it is extremely soft, without the "itch-factor" often associated with wool.