Shear joy

Island alpacas get their summer haircuts.

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The 47 alpacas at Island Alpaca Co. of Martha’s Vineyard got their winter fleece sheared off on Saturday. From 10 am to 4 pm, Islanders came out on the beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon to see the process unfold. “We’ve been so lucky!” Island Alpaca owner Barbara Ronchetti said. “It’s been 12 years of no rain for shearing day.” Ronchetti explained that this time of year is perfect for shearing; their fleece has been growing for a year, which kept them warm in the winter, and now they will be cool for the summer.

Barn manager Eric DeWitt held each alpaca to comfort them while they were sheared. He said that the way he held them mimics the way their mother holds them as babies, and helps calm them down. Island Alpaca staff members Nicola Blake and Courtney Fitzgerald were in charge of “skirting the fleece,” a sorting process to find the best-quality fleece from the trimmings. The fibers are then used to make the products sold in the gift shop. One by one, the not-so-furry alpacas joined their friends and visitors in the sun.