Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shearing Season / Cria Watch: Day 14

It is a very sunny day today, too bad it is only in the 40s out, and too bad there is no cria yet today!

We are anxiously awaiting Bella's first cria, she is a maiden, and it is the first cria birth for us as well, which is why we are slightly nervous.  Our other dam, Bosox, has already had three cria, so we probably won't pay quite as much attention to her this summer when she is due.  We have been checking on Bella once or twice a day since the April 4th.  Each day she looks at us like we are crazy people!  Oh well!  One of these days we'll go out and there will be a baby!

Spring is here, and with spring comes shearing!  Brian will have four alpacas to shear next month:  Bella, Bosox, Lars, and (hopefully) Bella's cria.  We plan on cria shearing Bella's cria in May. 

Now that we have this fiber . . . what do we do with it?  We'll first we sort it into classes:  1st cuts (prime, blanket fiber), 2nd cuts (neck and some leg fiber), and waste/garbage. 

Once it is sorted, we skirt the prime blanket fiber (1st) to get all the vegetable matter and 2nd/short cuts out.

Once your fiber is skirted, you have options: 
  • You can show the blanket at a fleece show.
  • You can sell the fiber in its raw state.
  • You can send the fiber to a mill to be processed into carded fiber, roving, or yarn.
  • You can process the fiber yourself.
We show some of the blankets.  We have shown Bella's fleece both this year and last year.  We plan on using our 2nd cuts when felting soap, and we plan to process our prime fiber into fiber batts, roving, and eventually spin into yarn.

We plan on doing all the processing ourselves.  It is a huge and daunting task.  Getting fiber processed can be spendy, especially when, like us, you only have a few pounds of fiber to get processed.  Our farm currently produces less than five pounds of quality fiber a year (fiber that we would want processed into yarn), and at this point it makes more sense for us to process the fiber ourselves, even if it seems to take forever!  (The other fiber that our animals produce is great for felting and other uses, but we wouldn't use it for yarn.)

As we go through the process, we'll be posting on what we are doing and how well it is going.  Look for posts on washing fiber, carding fiber, felting soap, making roving, and maybe even shearing the alpacas and skirting fiber.

Hopefully we'll post about a new cria soon too!

Have a great Sunday!

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