The Spring Harvest--April 2012
Not much of a winter this year. I am going to have left-over kerosene that the greenhouse didn’t need. The fire ants are already figuring out that the winter was short, warm, and damp. At least I don’t fret over the dandelions out here on the ranch. Actually, I kind of admire the fact that they are early risers, up and at ‘em.
Our ranch is the “early riser” for the most intense season in the alpaca world, the shearing season. Yup, like the wave of bluebonnets will start in South Texas and move north, the nations alpaca shearing starts right here, at the first of April, and moves north into Canada by July. I have heard that grain farmers will harvest 20 hours a day, long into the night, when the crops are coming in. We aren’t quite that furious, but shearing days are noisy, dusty celebrations that are a year in the making. It’s like opening a present every time the shearer makes the first few rows and the glorious fleece reveals the shine and softness just underneath the crust of accumulated Texas dust. We usually have to coax the workers to get back to their jobs because it is so eye-catching just to see these blankets of fleece roll off. On a particularly fine alpaca, the New Zealander that does our shearing will yell, in his kiwi accent, “This one is [bleep]! May as well give this one to the shearer!”. He shears thousands of alpacas a year, so that is a major compliment.
The alpacas seem to like it, too. Oh, the first time at shearing they are kind of scared with all these humans crowded around, but they feel so cool afterwards. Usually the first one shorn and returned to the pen gets the “Hey, dude, look what they did to you!” attitude from the others, but before long they have all gone from puffy Ewoks to stick animals. So much fiber on such a tiny frame!
Here is the important part. If you want to see alpacas in full fleece, we are having a FARM OPEN HOUSE on SATURDAY, MARCH 24th, from 10 AM to 5 PM! Yes, that’s right! You can hug them all you want at their full fluffiness. We shear March 30th and 31st if you want to get dirty! But mark your calendar for MARCH 24th.