Unity- Mother’s Day doubles as hair-cut day here at this alpaca farm, but these animals got more than just a trim.
“Today is our biggest day of the year. This is our harvest day, where we have taken a year to care for the animals and care for their diet and make sure they eat the right things and grow the best fiber possible so we can utilize that fiber for all sorts of different things,” said Corry Pratt, co-owner of the Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm.
Once a year right before summer, the alpacas are shaved down so that they can survive the upcoming warm weather. The fibers often weigh as much as ten pounds! But removing the fluffy coat is no east feat.
“The alpacas are actually shorn by a professional shearer, so he’s someone who does this for a living. And they’re actually restrained, they’re tied down with ropes, so that way the animals are safe. The fiber is captured, it gets weighed, and then it goes into a sorting area where we prepare it to get ready to be shipped out and we send our fiber to artisans all over who make everything from yarn, socks, coats, hats, mittens, everything,” said Robin Fowler Pratt, co-owner of the Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm.
But the time in-between shearing is not wasted. Year to year, the fiber is weighed and analyzed to see how improvements can be made.
“When we look at our product, just like you would with vegetables or anything else your growing, you want to make sure each year you’re doing what you can to yield the highest quality product. So each year we actually measure the weight of all the different parts of the animal’s fiber, and we send the fiber in for analysis to compare the quality of the fiber itself. And then that way we’re able to make changes around food or diet or stress or whatever we need to do so that we’re continuing to get the finest, longest fiber possible,” said Fowler Pratt.
The farm has made a tradition of holding the annual shearing on mothers day, and invites families to come in and watch. The farm is also open throughout the year for visitors to see the alpacas, shop in the store, and even learn to spin or knit alpaca-fiber yarn. More information about that can be found HERE.