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Alpaca Farm Life during the Quarantine

Just over a week ago, the alpacas and llamas were sheared. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, farm activities continue almost as normal. I say almost as normal because adjustments have been made as necessary to keep the farm running like it should. For example, just picking up meds at the University of Tennessee vet clinic, although very doable, obviously takes longer due to the extra precautions taken. I am very thankful, though, that necessary vet care is still available and my herd is well cared for.

The annual shearing took place just as planned, but there were some changes in this year’s process. First, the shearing team consisted of only two members versus the normal four member team usually sent. Second, I didn’t ask anyone to volunteer due to Covid-19. Although a small team this year, this was one of the smoothest shearing days I’ve ever experienced.

The shearer I’ve used for the past several years, moved on to other projects. However, I am so happy with the two-man team sent by Shearing Alpaca. Caleb and Kuno were amazing! We started shearing at 7:45 and were done by 1:45. 35 alpacas and llamas were sheared during that time.

My alpacas were handled with such wonderful care and the shearing was some of the best I’ve seen over the last 15 years or so. This is the first year Caleb has led a shearing team on his own (although he’s been involved in shearing since he was 15 years old and has handled nearly 25,000 alpacas over the course of his career). Kuno was responsible for getting the alpacas to the mat and he was very careful with them. I can honestly say, I was completely happy with how he treated my animals. He also did all the toenail and teeth trimming, and even helped me roll up the prime fiber. My mom helped by marking and organizing all the bags of fiber. Even without any outside volunteers, we were able to work through the herd very efficiently.

This was the first shearing for my two babies, Valentine and Bandit. They were very calm during the process. Although I have been working on training the young ones for the past several weeks, I would say Caleb and Kuno’s handling had much to do with how the babies behaved. And now, these babies are just so adorable with their new hair cuts!

The only kink in this year’s shearing was that temperatures dropped into the upper 30’s the next two nights. Fortunately, the days were nice and sunny in the 50s and 60s. Everyone spent the days enjoying the sun in the pasture and the nights closed up in the barn, which stayed in the 50’s throughout the night. Alpacas and llamas were all warm and cozy when I would go to the barn early in the morning.

Even with the Covid-19 restrictions this year, this was one of the best shearing events in my farming experience.  I certainly hope Caleb and Kuno come back next year!

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