Luna, one of the herd at Island Alpaca, waits her turn to be sheared. Photos by Ralph Stewart
With buzzing clippers and gentle words, Jozi and Matt Best sheared the alpaca herd at Barbara Ronchetti's farm last Friday. It was the first shearing day at Island Alpaca, the new farm off of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs. Many curious passers-by have wondered about the alpaca, and last week's shearing and open house gave many an opportunity for a closer look at these gentle creatures.
(left) With their new looks, the alpaca were ready to greet the public at an open house last Sunday. Ally and Naomi Cook offer treats.
The annual shearing can be an anxious time for alpaca. It does not hurt, of course, to remove the fleece, but too much handling can cause undue stress on the animal. Jozi and Matt worked with such efficiency that the people who were helping (Ms. Ronchetti's friends and family) had to work to keep up. Jozi held the animal's head while Matt carefully removed the fleece from the body. The body fleece, called the blanket, is the best fiber. Next, the legs and neck are sheared. This fiber is kept separate from the blanket. Although still good, the legs and neck give a slightly lesser quality fiber. Each animal yields approximately five pounds of fleece.
For more information on Island Alpaca, visit www.islandalpaca.com or call 508-693-5554. Open houses are scheduled throughout the summer. Check the Directory of Information in The Times.