Island Alpaca Annual Shearing Day & 10th Anniversary Celebration!

Island Alpaca
Photo: By Island Alpaca

Photo Caption: Staff member and volunteer, Lizzy Kass and volunteer, Ethan Howard pause for a smile while handling an alpaca.

Island Alpaca Co. celebrated the farm's 10th anniversary on island!---This family-friendly day represented one of the real highlights of the year on the farm!

Professional alpaca handlers and shearers, Matt Best of Newport, New Hampshire was back again this year, shearing the fleecy winter coats off their herd of 52 alpaca, averaging 7-1/2 minutes per shearing and over 8-1/2 pounds of fleece per alpaca! Josepha Shu of Boston was the lucky winner of the "Guess the Weight of Fleece Harvest" winning an Island Alpaca online store gift certificate.  Every bit of the harvest of over 445 pounds of fiber will be made into luxurious yarns and beautiful alpaca products, both hand made and from their fiber cooperative in Fall River, MA. Teddy Louie was the lucky winner of the entry ticket drawing, winning an alpaca throw!

Island Alpaca Staff and on and off-island volunteers participated : Anna Marie D'Addarie - spinning demonstrations, creating alpaca yarn. Eric DeWitt, Barn manager, Dr. Cheryl DeWitt - healthcare, Nicola Blake, Courtney Fitzgerald and David M. Hannon - prepping/skirting fleece once shorn, Oliver Danielson and Caleb Hannon - hosting/feeding/clean-up, Simone and Eve Brewer - fleece bagging and weighing, Alpaca wranglers - Jack Calderella of Lexington, MA, Sam Hannon, of Boston, MA, Neil Hartery of Westford, MA, Ethan Howard of Falmouth, MA and Charles Ronchetti of Lexington, MA. Rosmarie Jost - gift shop, Lizzy Kass of North Kingstown, RI - alpaca sorting, Daisy Moreau - Admissions and Gift Shop, Jeanever Moreau-food prep for humans, Olivia Rogers, Admissions,  Tain Peck - bagging fleece, and finally Mom-Luise Ronchetti of Lexington, MA - the overseer!
Kudos to all, they could not have done it with out you!!!

The Fleece to Product Journey

Each spring, the alpacas are sheared for their fleece. The animals are handled in a loving and humane manner by our professional alpaca handlers and shearers with all safety protocols as a priority.

The highest-quality fleece ‘blanket’ (from the torso of the alpaca) was 'skirted' (the process of removing sections of the fleece that are dirty or coarse), sorted, bagged and taken to the mill to be made into yarn specific to each animal. That yarn is sold by the skein, or given to local knitters and weavers who make beautifully hand-crafted items that are sold in our farm store.

The remainder of the fleece will be brought to their alpaca-fiber cooperative in Fall River, MA.This year's harvest yielded over 350 pounds, half of which will go to the fiber cooperative. In return, the Fiber Coop provides hats, shawls, scarves, gloves, socks and many other quality products that Island Alpaca also sells in their farm store. Barn Manager Eric DeWitt explained that alpaca fiber Performance Socks are a "must-have."

Each alpaca will produce five to ten pounds of fleece depending on their size, age and density. Alpaca fiber comes in a spectrum of over 20 shades which is more variation then any other fiber-producing livestock. Although they are prized for their natural colors, alpaca fiber also dyes well. Alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic and warmer than sheep’s wool because of its structure. The hollow interior of the hair follicle holds air inside, making it a better insulator. Not only is alpaca fiber warm, it is extremely soft, without the "itch-factor" often associated with wool.

 Photos from last year’s shearing can be found on Island Alpaca's website at "photo galleries" and on Youtube at "Island Alpaca Shearing".

Learn more about Island Alpacas here.