In March of 2016, we brought home a quartet of Llamas and Alpacas with the intention to turn the llamas into pack llamas and to spin both their wool and the alpaca fiber. (No, I don’t know how to spin. Yet.) Well, long story short, we had the llamas evaluated for packing and the male has a turned knee, and wouldn’t be fit for it, while the female basically too small to carry anything of note. (Do your research BEFORE you bring the animals home, folks.) So scratch that plan.
LUCKILY (for them) it turns out that Sequoia (the lady llama) and Arthur (one of the gelded alpacas) are an excellent team of herd guardians. Look up llama and alpaca alarm calls on YouTube- trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
Another thing we learned from the eval (a huge thanks to Char with Safe Haven Llama & Alpaca Sanctuary for all the helpful info!) was that their coats were all too overgrown to be any good for fiber that year. Unfortunately, due to the untimely demise of the clippers we were supposed to use, and having to save up to buy new ones- they aren’t cheap, folks! – the two llamas won’t have any wool for us this coming year, either.
We started clipping in July, as soon as we could work up the resolve to do it. I’m not proud- I really didn’t want to deal with it, but when they started standing in the spray of the hose every time we filled the water trough, we had to do something. We clipped Arthur first, since he was the easiest catch, with a combination of hand shears and sewing scissors because we couldn’t afford to by nice electric shears at that time. I DO NOT recommend using hand shears folks (or scissor for that matter). I’m no expert- obviously- but it took so long, my hands literally bled. But didn’t he look so handsome after? Well… maybe just shorter haired? It was a terrible haircut, really, but at least he was a lot cooler. It was hilarious. The goats followed him around for hours trying figure out where all his hair went.
Sunny went next, but not before we had the chance to order electric clippers. We bought these from Valley Vet Supply for around $340. They did a MUCH cleaner job than my sewing scissors. Although, I did nick him once in the shoulder. Poor guy. 😦
We did Sunny pretty late in the season, and by that time, we figured it would be safer to leave the two llamas until next year (which, incidentally, is this year. Hurray.) so no fiber from them until 2018. We have a muzzle for Magic and calm paste for crazy Sequoia, and the goal to have everyone done mid-May. (Emphasis on the goal part.)
If I’m being honest, the camelids are a little more work and a little less gain than we bargained for. The main function they currently provide is making sure my hay doesn’t last through the winter, but I can’t really complain. Sequoia and Arthur have been doing a great job defending our little herd of goatlings from serious predators like coyotes, large owls and hawks, as well as foxes, passing deer, random strangers, and the occasional barn cat. They were also very helpful tattle tales when the pigs got loose last summer. 🙂