Today was a strange old day. Today, for starters is my birthday. Yes I turned 45 years young today.
Today was the first time that I sheared an alpaca. His name is Forge Pucara a lovely white wether.
I started off this morning at a chicken farm owned by Ivan and Jill. They have twenty or so alpacas who look after their free range chickens. Initially I was sorting and skirting fleeces as the shearing team went about their work. When I say shearing team I mean Tim of Inca doing the shearing and Ivan and some friends doing the rest, dealing with the alpacas, collecting fleece etc etc.
At about 1230hrs it was my big moment. Under the guiding hand and eye of the master I commenced shearing my first alpaca. Forge Pucara seemed, to me at least, to sense that a beginner was stepping up to the plate. He was superb, we met eye to eye, he was of course helpless, being tied down but looking deep into his big brown eyes I sensed his vulnerability, he looked as if he was about to trust me. I held his gaze, it was a bit of a moment people.
I can not tell you how apprehensive I was. Well actually I can I was very, very apprehensive, I was nervous, I was afraid I would slice poor old Pucara to bits.
I started shearing.....................there was no blood. Pucara remained calm, amazingly calm. At that moment I loved that little chap more than I can possibly say. He was an absolute star, I could have..........in fact I would have kissed him but it might have been construed as being a little mamby pambyish. My machismo stopped me, I wish it hadn't.
Anyway good old Pucara, newly sheared and with a very strange looking tail (I don't think tails are going to be my strong point) wandered off in the good old alpaca way, i.e. I have completely forgotten what just happened.
We then retreated to Incaland for a pie and more alpacas to shear. My next victim was Inca Angelica a beautiful fawn female. This time I cracked open my brand new shearing equipment. I was to shear side by side with the master. Oh yes another step forward on the shearing learning curve. I felt more confident, I felt less likely to slice Angelica to pieces, I felt better, I could feel her body under the shearing equipment, I felt that I was becoming a shearer.
It was quicker, the tail was much much better and altogether she looked as though she had been sheared by someone who kind of knew what he was doing. I was proud of what I had done to Angelica. I will never forget Pucara or Angelica. they will always be special to me. I know that probably sounds tragically naff but it's the truth, they will.
And do you know what readers, my stomach did not get in the way. No, not one bit and actually having short stubby legs probably helped a great deal.
One way or another I am on the road to being a fully fledged alpaca shearer and that feels great.
Bring it on!