Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Alpaca chaos


This is what happens when the trimmer head breaks!

There are still 7 alpaca left to shear. I had my nephew come out to help me shear. I have a few days off work and figured I could get them all done in three days. We left the five volunteers in the barn lot so the rest would be easy to catch.  We started with another white one, they are the most vocal and not my favorite color so I figured practicing on them was good for everyone else.  We snagged one without too much trouble and got him into our shearing area and up against the panel.  We finally laid him on the ground and tied his back feet up.  It went much faster after that.  It took me 2.25 hours to shear him!  This is a dramatic improvement over Saturday's three hour time, to be exact a 25% improvement.  Pretty good, we also managed to save the saddle portion of this alpaca in a gunny sack.  Unfortunately for the alpaca it came at a cost.  I cut him four times with the electric shears.  The bleeding stopped right away and they were all superficial but it still stung.  Plus, when I trimmed his toes I made one bleed pretty good.  Their toes are way overgrown.  I don't think the place we got them from did anything with them last year.  So we are playing 2 year catchup.  The shears worked better as I changed the top cutting blade.  We took a break and went inside for lunch.  I had to put Zeke on the run at this time as he had been harassing the alpaca against my strict instructions.  After being chased off the alpaca he had cornered the boy sheep in the ram pasture.  He was not complying with the leave animals alone unless instructed policy.  He spent the entire afternoon on the run watching us but unable to terrorize anyone. 

 

Alpaca #3, it's easier when they are tied down.

Volunteer number three was the last white boy.  He was not so easy to hold onto.  We finally managed to get him over to the shearing tarp but could not hold him still.  He just would not comply. This one we tied both his front and back feet to opposite rails of the corral.  Heath then held his head while I sheared.  I saved the saddle area in a wool bag and then finished him up in two hours!  This is a 9% improvement over the previous best time and a 33% improvement over our starting time on Saturday.  I managed to only cut him 3 times.  He let me know by trying to kick me every time I knicked him!  The previous one just laid there and took it.  I also did not draw any blood while trimming the toes.  I use the trimmers to dig out all the dirt and crap out of the center of the claws so I can see where the frog is growing in the hollow space so I don't cut it with the toenail clippers.  It takes a little longer but I am happy not cutting their feet.  I could have done better on time if I had changed out the clipper blades.  I was cutting too long with a dull blade. 


He's untied and refusing to stand so I can finish his feet.

It was time for some color, we only have two brown alpaca left to shear.  We snagged the all brown one and once I put the halter on him he dropped to his haunches and refused to move!  We had to drag him toward the tarp.  Once in a while he would explode from a sitting position and jump in the air with all four feet.  Looked like a bucking bronco who ended up laying on the ground when it was all over.  We spread him out and tied the front and back legs. I had accidently overtightened one of the blade set screws.  The video said to tighten them.  I stripped the screw out on one side.  I changed to a full set of new blades, top and bottom.  It worked amazingly.  I was a shearing fool, the only problem was the comb would not stay on the shears because one side was not holding pressure.  It was 4:30 pm our time so I called premier supplies to order the new part.  Nope, they close at 5:30 pm CST.  I did find the part I needed in the owners manual and should be able to get them to ship it ASAP.  I also need some more blades.  The super smooth part on the brown alpaca in the picture is done with a ceramic cutting blade.  The stainless steel are not as sharp, but you can get them resharpened.  The ceramic blades are disposable and cost more.  I had to quit shearing less than half way through.  We did get his toenails clipped before letting him back in with the volunteer herd.  I saved half the saddle.  My back was starting to kill me.  I now have to have a shearing table!  Unfortunately, I will not be buying one at a price tag of $1500.  Annmarie found me the plans for one online and I can build it for around $200.  It is made out of black iron threaded pipe and a full sheet of 3/4 inch plywood.  Plus some canvas for the belly strap.  I am totally going to do this!  Tomorrow night I will make myself a parts list so I can start purchasing the needed material.  No more bending over!  The bad part is I still need to trim teeth.   This is the worst part of alpaca care.  I am saving it so my buddy Rob can help!  He loves handling the animals.  Tomorrow will be work on irrigation day.  I have not tested the main irrigation pump yet.