DeSoto Bend Alpacas and Fiber Services
Fort Calhoun, Nebraska

What is your role in the alpaca community?
Certified Sorter for alpaca and sheep’s wool fleece. Sorting involves going through a shorn fleece and separating out different areas by grade of fineness, and also differentiating on length and color. I also teach spinning classes and help out with some of the activities at another farm near here, Alpacas of the Heartland. In addition, I work full time at a medical center and hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. I’m not clinical – I do computer stuff. But it’s a good place, and I enjoy it. Sorting is mostly done in the evenings and weekends from spring through summer. Even after ‘skirting’ a fleece, there are usually two or three different fineness grades as the fiber transitions from mid-spine, to side to hip to shoulder. Neck fleece can be sorted, as well. The goal is to obtain consistent Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3 fiber. In this system, Grade 1 is < 20 microns; Grade 2 is 20-23 microns, and so on up through Grade 6 at over 32 microns. Length is important, as fiber can be processed in a ‘woolen’ method or ‘worsted’ method. I also provide an evaluation of the fleece – and note characteristics such as strength, cleanliness, brightness/luster, consistency, and any other notable factors.
The Certified Sorter designation comes from taking several classes and reviewing a couple of hundred fleeces with a mentor, and taking tests. About 10 years ago, Carrie Hull and Robin Kuhl started the Certified Sorter training classes. It has now transitioned to a “real” class certified by Cobleskill/SUNY. I started around 2012.

What makes your farm or business unique?
My focus is on the fiber, fleece and teaching people about the unique and valuable properties for every fleece. Not just the super fine ones!

What do you enjoy most about Alpaca Culture?
International, broad and inclusive perspective. More attention is paid to fleece/fiber and production of end products.

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