Running an alpaca ranch and an entrepreneurial enterprise without a road map can be daunting. But, there are times when I have flashes of understanding why I do what I do. I had such an experience recently while skirting the remainder of our 2016 clip.
As I have written before, skirting is not my favorite activity. Skirting is the process of preparing the fiber for milling by removing vegetation, shaking out dirt and discarding fibers that are of inconsistent length, color or texture. Typically about 1/4 to 1/3 of the alpaca blanket (the prime fibers that cover the alpacas back and sides) end up discarded. The rest is now ready to go to the mill to be processed into batts that we will use in our felting. This process usually takes about 30 minutes per blanket. It is dark and lonely work. Often hard to find anyone to help me. Oh Lee, where are you?
While it is not my favorite process, I find the color, touch and handle of the fibers exciting. It’s why we are in this business, for love of the fleece. Today, accompanied by our barn cats Scampy and Pretty Boy, and with frequent visits from Atticus and members of the alpaca herd, I happily dug into the bags of raw and dusty fibers with my usual excitement. We have some fibers that are really fine, shiny and long. My exuberance over the fiber of two particular alpacas caused me to even shout out loud. WOW! If there were oscars for best fibers, these two boys would tie for first place.
Woodstock, our young dark brown alpaca who was mauled by a predator about this time last year, takes the Oscar this year for best fiber. I wish you could touch this great fiber through your computer. It has an incredible sheen, a rich dark brown, and crimp you can see from several feet away. That’s what I am holding in my hand.
Danito, another young male alpaca who is named after Danita our wonderful ranch hand (but that’s another story), has fabulously shiny, white crimpy fiber that is uniform in length, strong, and soft, soft, soft.
These fibers are going to be made into special items. Mmmm, jackets, coats, shawls? Which ever they deserve to be labeled with the animal’s names and pictures. Which ever garments are chosen, they will be special. Thank you Danito and Woodstock.