Helen Kendall Smith
Well, in between getting ready for shearing and early mating, the skirting does not happen by itself.
some folk do it immediately and send it off to the mills, others store it – it depends on timing and storage facilities.
we were a bit busy last year and in between halter training I am “getting on it” slowly.
here we do it all – hand spinning and off to the mill to be turned into yarn and sell the odd few that are not best fleeces for the other two!
A skirting table is a must so that the dirt and detritus can drop through to the floor –
which of course has to be cleaned up when the second cuts and vegetable matter (VM) fall through.
Fleeces are very large when spread out – mine is seven foot by 3.5 foot
I have looked like a haystack for a good while now and only another 20 fleeces to go with another nearly 40 due shortly.
I cannot seem to get my average for sorting a fleece out properly to less than 2.5 hours per fleece and more than twice that for a cria “haystack” fleece.
The fleece has to be laid shorn side down – in other words the fleece open to the elements is upside.
Then you need to mark on paper which fleece it is which year and what you want from it.
is it going to be hand spun? or off to the mill? or for felting? of for making cushions? or sold as is? or just rubbish for the bin?
To give you a quick basic idea – you need to remove the second cuts – the short pieces where the shearer goes back a second time.
Remove the rough hair from the legs, head, neck, belly etc and any other fleece that is not good. A good shake of the fleece usually throws out the second cuts and the portions you want to remove. helps with the dirt too.
Any fleece on the neck that is as good as the blanket (main body) then put them together.
any other useable fleece is second cut but remove guard hair and detritus too.
no doubt I will be lynched for the above but it is only my opinion and we only use the best here!
necks and legs we do not use – what you put in is what you get out – simples !
down the centre line you need to remove any really stuck in matter and the crows nest at the back of the neck.
then when the fleece is down to size and looking marketable – start removing vegetable matter.
when finished this side – turn over and do the other then do it again!
bag it up, mark it up and keep going.
when you have 20kg of one colour or to be mixed eg browns or grey, you have enough for the bigger mills.
Perhaps I am skirting within an inch of its life and too picky.
this is not how to prepare a show fleece and obviously if you are selling the fleece on its own – sell the lot!
no – one cannot be too picky (excuse the pun) because the mills send the fleeces back if there is too much “rubbish” left in them. onwards and upwards!
well we have had many visitors lately… and some old friends too.
good friends are so important don’t you think?
max has been a lifelong friend of our flat coat retriever and many will recall their “first kiss”
well max is a little older now and he walks when she runs… sound familiar?
he’s definitely still handsome though!
well we have been manic clearing the barns.
every straw is reused for ponies and ditto all hay.
the floors have to be immaculate when the Alpaca are gently laid down for shearing and
muggins here has to pick out the hay that remains in the shorn fleece –
skirting and clearing of debris takes time. Barns ready first. the before….
ha ha. the third shop is tescos in cirencester with empty shelves. yes, i managed to escape for some essentials this week only to find no one to help – nothing I wanted there and thank goodness for Sainsburys – I mean how difficult is it for Tescos to stock a can opener?
well the weanlings are doing really well and a couple will be released for sale shortly. well – we cannot keep them all – much as we would love to.
wish my bum was as cute!
well it looks like the situation is set to continue. poor folks really affected by floods rather than just wet ground. Few realise that this means that grass cannot be grazed for months. couch grass and buttercups just does not suffice!
lets get this sorted as best we can please!
wow – busy busy and blue sky gone again
with endless wet clay fields gloop gloop.
lots of visitors and well behaved cria, a tree down in the river and getting barns ready for shearing.
we recycle everything including the winter barn straw out to pony people who use deep litter – nothing wasted here.
well some of you will recall that we have “unbirthdays” here where we go backwards. we have revamped the blog so I have updated you all now too. Do take a look at the Alpaca Events page with Jackie Llewelyn Bowen in front of our product range!
Unfortunately I could not avoid this birthday but my Mum made a fantastic cake – wow Mum thanks!
with some of the Alpaca from the past six years of breeding and Muscovy and all edible!
Even the cria from 2014 could not wait to see how famous they were!!
well shearing is ahead in May and we are hoping for decent weather.
In 2009 we had to go out and buy coats in a hurry as this is what happened then…
“4th to 10th: The unsettled theme continued, with low pressure dominant, bringing windy conditions and frequent outbreaks or longer spells of rain. A set of fronts progressed southwards during the night of the 4th, but southern England stayed largely dry and clear with –1.0 °C recorded at Benson (Oxfordshire). Outbreaks of rain continued on the 5th, with strong gusty south-westerly winds, although bright or sunny spells developed further south.”
yes – that did read -1 degrees on 4th May 2009 … here’s what we did!
off to the start!
lets hope for better weather in May this year.
and again – these boys are so well behaved for their “selfies”