William in center, Darcy to left and Biak at right—
corralled for shearing those heavy winter coats


First up: Mr. Darcy. Frank, Ann, Marty, Eric and Boaz at work.


Marty giving Darcy his “do” with help from Eric and, holding the line, Boaz


William is next, and calmer with Boaz sitting gently on his neck

Darcy checking on Biak


Darcy kisses for Eric

Thinner, cooler

Yesterday was alpaca shearing day!
It’s a festive day on the farm—
for humans,
and, when it’s done,
for alpacas too.
They will be much cooler
without their thick fleeces
come those sizzling days of summer.
But getting it off is no fun for them.
Marty and Eric,
shearers extraordinare,
brought Marty’s son Boaz with them
this year. Boaz is four
and already learning about caring
with animals. He helps set
and release the ropes. Then,
once Marty has skilfully
sheared one side of the alpaca,
and flipped him to his second side,
Boaz takes his place,
gently sitting on the animal’s neck,
to calm him.
Boaz seems to recognize at some level
the privilege of his position
and takes the opportunity to tentatively,
wiggle his tiny finger
into the thick hair atop the alpaca’s head.

Darcy, the ungelded one,
is most energized through this process—
spitting at and swift-kicking us as we comb him
before the shearing,
checking on Biak
as he is laid down,
then, when all are shorn,
first confronting Eric,
before exchanging kisses.
Biak—He Who Will Not Be Touched—
is most violated
by the ordeal, whimpering
the entire time anyone is being sheared.
He’s last
and once finished,
stands up calmly, quiet now.
William, the oldest, is most laid-back.
He and Darcy take turns rolling in hay
and then the three
take to the pasture,
their silky fleece
soon to warm
someone else.