Mark Smullen, a member of the Machteld Faas Xander family, spent his Victoria Day long weekend differently than the majority of us. Mark and his wife, live on an alpaca farm. Last weekend, Mark, his wife and their friends, other alpaca farmers, embarked on shearing the alpacas.
There are 32 of the furry friends in total. Mark and his wife own 20 of the alpacas and the other 12 are being boarded on the farm for other farmers.
To shear the animals, two shearing tables are set up. There is a designated shearer who is accompanied by two or three others who manage the alpaca. The alpacas are secured with straps to ensure the safely of the animals and the humans. Some of them cause a fuss, spitting and thrashing or squealing, it can be frightening for them. To calm them, the people speak softly to them and sometimes uses a refreshing lavender spray.
Unlike sheep fleece, alpaca fleece contains no oils and is hypoallergenic. It is also much finer. After being sheared, the fleece is sorted according to quality, and then it is sent to a fiber mill where it is processed into yarn, or products such as socks, mittens, or gloves.
Everyone comes together for lunch and supper. Even though the work is hard, his friends and family make the time enjoyable and fun. Mark shares that although the sore backs and alpaca spit are unpleasant, the good company, the laughs, and the feeling of a job well done make it all worthwhile.