This is the big day for the alpacas – haircut, pedicure and if necessary tooth trim! We shear our alpacas once a year in early summer. Whilst some of the herd enter the shearing area fairly calmly but cautiously, others resist and are positively rebellious! They lie down refusing to move, they kick, scream and sometimes spit – you never quite know what to expect!
We book our experienced alpaca shearers months ahead and pray that we have chosen/been allocated a date when the weather is at least dry if not sunny.
We were fortunate again this year as it was a beautiful day and a young lady called Lacey headed a team of 3 shearers to relieve our boys and girls of their coats – 27 in total.
The alpaca is laid down on its side and its legs are tethered and is stretched out. The shearer uses an electric clipper to first cut the blanket (main body) of the alpaca. When the first side is shorn it is turned over to shear the other side.
Lucy and her team skilfully remove the fleece from each animal. They also take the opportunity to cut toenails and check each animal’s teeth to ensure they do not overlap their upper palate.
The blanket is then rolled up and put into a paper sack and weighed. This is the best part of the fleece with the longest staple.
The shearers then go on to shear the neck and legs which is also bagged up and weighed.
Lucey and her team and our own helpers – John, Russell, Bob June and Ros worked really hard all day and did a brilliant job – so a big thank you from me and a big thank you from the boys and girls.
Having shed the heavy fleeces the herd fell much more comfortable.
The average fleece weighs between 2 – 4 kilos and I use it throughout the year for a variety of craft projects including spinning, dyeing and felting.
Whilst shearing cocoa (above) Lacey noticed that he had an injury in his nether region which had probably been caused by him having a disagreement with another male! Whenever any of my animals have sores or an injury I make up a fantastic herbal salve which is really effective in healing. It is also wonderful for humans too – including eczema, grazes, burns and nappy rash.
I grow a whole range of healing herbs and have a diploma in herbal medicine so whenever I can I use herbs for healing rather than over the counter prescriptions.
The salve I make for these sorts of conditions is:-
COMFREY AND CALENDULA SALVE – it is a fantastic combination and really easy to make at home.
If you would like to make some for your own first aid box here is the recipe:-
- 16oz olive oil
- 4oz fresh or 2oz dried comfrey leaves (Bocking 14)
- 4oz fresh or 2oz dried calendula flower heads
- 3oz beeswax pellets
- 3 vitamin E capsules of at least 400 units – this acts as a preservative.
Place the comfrey and calendula into a pyrex bowl and pour in the olive oil. Stir to combine. Make sure the oil covers the herbs.
Put some water in a pan and place your pyrex bowl in the pan. Heat the water to a light simmer and let the oil infuse in the gentle heat for 3 – 5 hours, adding water to the pan as necessary. This is called the double boiler method. After about 5 hours remove the bowl from the heat. With a fine mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth strain the herbs from the oil into another glass pyrex bowl.
Squeeze all the oil from the herbs.
Add the beeswax to the oil and put it back on the stove in the pan of water to melt the bees wax stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Add the contents of the vitamin E capsules and stir well to combine.
Pour into the containers of your choice, label and date. The salve has a shelf life of about 6 -12 months.
There are many ways to infuse oils – the above method being the quickest route, but my favourit way is The Folk or Simpler’s Method which relies upon the sun to naturally infuse the oil. Olive oil or Jojoba oils are my preferred carrier oils because they have a long shelf life and are suitable for a wide variety of applications.
SOLAR INFUSED OIL
If using fresh herbs, wilt them for 12 hours to remove most of the moisture – as too much moisture will cause your oil to go rancid. Chop the herbs into small pieces and crush with a mortar and pestle and put them into a quart size jar. If using dried herbs simply place them straight into the jar.
Pour oil into the jar making sure to cover the herbs by at least one inch and leave half an inch at the top of the jar so the herbs will have enough room to expand. If your herbs soak up all the oil, pour more on top to ensure that the herbs are covered at all times.
Stir well and cap the jar tightly.
Place the jar in a sunny and warm place and shake twice daily.
After about 6 weeks strain the herbs through a strainer lined with cheesecloth, making sure to squeeze out every last drop.
Pour into dark glass bottles label and date and store in a cool dark place.