One of the reasons we decided to get llamas on our farm was because they are supposed to be good livestock guardians. That was a good thing for our goats and sheep! Another reason was because llamas produce lovely fiber (fibre, for my Canadian readers....I wish we could all just spell things the same way...)
Of course, in order to obtain the lovely fiber, one must shear one's llamas. This is a good thing to do in any event, because llamas with heavy fur coats are very uncomfortable in the summer in Iowa, where temperatures often hit the high 80s (that's 30s in Celsius, for my Canadian readers....I wish we could all just use the same scale!)
When our shearer came to do our sheep, we were unable to catch two of our llamas for him to shear. In addition, he told us that he didn't do llamas very often, but that he'd been told that llamas are very prone to depression and that if you shear more than a barrel cut on them, they can die from depression. I had not heard this, but not having time to look it up when he was here, I agreed to just do a barrel cut for now. I subsequently looked it up and asked some fellow llama owners, and nobody had heard of this llama death-by-depression phenomenon, so I decided that even the ones we had sheared needed some more taken off for their own comfort in the heat of summer.
So, while my parents were visiting last month, we decided to shear llamas. I only have hand shears so that's what I used. I think that hand shears are quieter and hopefully less likely to distress the llamas. Some were more receptive than others. Here you can see the hand shears - they are very sharp, indeed! More than anything, I was worried about the llamas making sudden movements and my jabbing them by mistake. Fortunately, that didn't happen.
Rosco was very agreeable about the whole experience.
He has lovely caramel brown colored (coloured) fleece, and a wonderful disposition.
On the other end of the scale, we had Dolly. She was not in the least bit impressed with the proceedings. She wanted nothing to do with the shears and was only vaguely mollified with grain. We knew we had to get her sheared because her coat was so very heavy. Finally, we had to resort to trying to hobble her, so that she would lay down. We achieved this, but only briefly, because Kelly was holding her down while I was trying to shear, and with one immense surge of energy, she threw Kelly off, sending him flying, and I felt her start to move so I stepped back quickly with the shears, narrowly escaping stabbing her unintentionally.
After that, we had to keep her partially hobbled by having one foot roped and off the ground, upsetting her balance, and keeping her tied to a tree. (No llamas were harmed in the making of this blog!!)
This was not ideal at all, and for next year, Kelly is going to weld up a proper llama shearing stand like the ones we saw at the llama show we attended. I slowly worked down her body, taking off as much fleece in one piece as I could.
In the end, here is how she looked. I didn't get as much as I'd wanted to, but she is probably OK for the summer. Kelly calls it the "bumpy cut" and says that everybody in the barnyard wants the bumpy. It's hard not to have it look that way when you're a beginner with hand shears. My hand was aching so much by the end of it all. Good thing it's only once a year!
The rest of the llamas fell somewhere between the Rosco and Dolly attitude, but they all got sheared!
Just so the other animals don't feel left out, here's Willow with baby Onyx, who has gradually lightened to a dark chocolate brown, rather than the black that he was when he was born.
In my "spare time" I have completed this handspun yarn. I'm quite pleased with it! It's 2 ply merino, silk and an unknown wool blend. I love the colors (that's colours, for my Canadian readers...sigh...) and the touch is really bouncy. I am going to send it to a knitter friend to test it out in a "real life knitting situation" and we'll see how it goes. It's my 3rd yarn attempt since I got my Louet spinning wheel.
Have a great week, everyone!