Some Elk Valley residents had a date with a shearer this week, with Bill, Ben, Bob and Basil the alpacas getting their summer ‘do for ‘22.
The four alpacas belong to Sandra Barrett, who uses their warm and light fibre for felting, and creating beautiful clothing, garments and pieces of art.
Barrett was on hand to listen to her four alpacas protest their haircut, and said that she’d be getting to work to process their fibre – brown, white and grey – to sell at her store in Fernie and to use in her own creations.
“I need to wash it and card it first,” said Barrett. Carding is the process where fibres are disentangled and made easier to use in projects. “I’ll sell some as it is, and the rest I’ll use as needed to make felt or incorporate into other work.”
The stylists (shearers) for the day were Rod Allan and Manon Goyette of RNM Shearing, who travel around Western Canada visiting small farms to do their work.
Barrett’s farm in Hosmer is one of some 500-plus farms they’ll visit, and their journey through the Elk Valley a few kilometres of the 50,000 km Allan and Goyette will travel this year.
For the Hosmer alpacas, Allan said they were reasonably well-behaved for their annual haircut. Allan and Goyette have been shearing the four for years now. Barrett has had alpacas since 2005.
“(These alpacas) are all intact males, so they’ve got a lot of hormones going,” said Allan. Shearing them required both Allan and Goyette to hold them down to get to work, despite Bill, Ben, Bob and Basil’s age.
“They’re just a tough animal. They used to be a lot tougher,” he joked. “There used to be a lot more swearing.”
For the four alpacas, they were pleased to be released into their field of dandelions and green grass to show off their new haircuts.
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