Silbury’s Diary 04-07-11
There’s lots going on at Old King Street Farm at the moment. Some things make me happy – nice visitors, llama trekking, good weather and the chance to mooch with my herd. Other things concern me, and there have been dark rumours going around the farm that the LLAMA SHEARER is back in town.
This makes me VERY unhappy. I have a healthy disregard for the doctor when she arrives, but the shearer? He does such mean things. I understand Doc has to stick pins in us from time to time to prevent us getting sick – just about stays within the bounds of acceptability, but the SHEARER? NO. Not for me. Three years ago our people PROMISED me I would never be sheared again (disgraced myself – screamed for ten minutes and wet myself) and I believed them. Well, all I can say is, when the shearer comes back they’ll have a job catching me.
I think our people do understand and they have decided they will see if grooming me with a better brush is sufficient. Yes it is, Yes it is, YES IT IS.
(Silbury continues his Diary) 07-07-11
I say a lot of things about our two-legs, but really they are the kindest and best people a llama could wish to have. They are now so well trained that they remembered their PROMISE to me three years ago. They promised that I would never be sheared again as I’d been so distressed when the nasty shearer visited. That was the occasion when I screamed, howled and wet myself, just so they could have my lovely fleece. I mean, it makes sense to shear the others – Avebury’s coat is immense and has a huge quantity of fibre in it, but I’m different. I’m an altogether finer animal – less heavily-boned, small quantity of fine fibre, supremely handsome – in fact more catwalk than cakewalk.
Ten llamas were sheared at Old King Street Farm this week – just the young ‘uns and I had exemptions. La-Di-di – I’m so happeee.
The gang were herded into the yard overnight as the shearer was turning up early in the morning. Very first thing our people went to collect the new stud llama - Pharaoh - from his field and he was tied up just out of range. As he is a stud llama it’s important to look at his gnashers. We can all have sharp little ‘fighting teeth’ but they are only used by grumpy ol’ llamas who’ve never had the snip. Pharaoh’s teeth had already been trimmed so all was well. Then he had his feet checked – all ok again. What is being looked for here is length of toenails to make sure they don’t curl over. All our feet are in good shape as we have a lot of hard standing to keep out feet in tip top condition. Then the shearing. Deep Breath…..
It’s a two man job shearing a llama – assistant Jamie does the mean bit of restraining us by holding our ears as shearer Ben uses his whirring clippers to trim the llama within an inch of his life. The entire coat comes off. Start at one side and shear back the coat in lines so large sections come off together. Neck, other side, legs and then all the neat trimming – under the belly and around the tail. Now, Pharaoh is a llama I wouldn’t mind lobbing a few fruity ones at when I get the chance, but he looked so much smaller when sheared (great fleece apparently) and he was a bit shy as he was walked briskly off and back to his field. I didn’t have the heart to take a pop at him so I simply broadsided him.
Next, the girls were sheared – Long Meg, Maes Howe and Hetty Pegler. They were then escorted back to their field with my lucky un-sheared niece Marden. Straight to the top of the hill to reassert their authority, so no harm done there.
And then the rest of the boys. Ringsbury, Avebury, Croft Ambrey, Brodgar, Stanton Drew and Stenness. Let’s go back to Avebury as he has the very best of coats. There is so much fibre on him. It really is the kindest thing for a llama to shear him when he has a large amount of fleece. Now everyone knows that Avebury has the keenest interest in all things foodie – first to the manger, raiding the hay store, and his special trick – leaning through the wires to the grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence ploy to get more grub. Well, this means he has a permanent notch in his chest. Shearer Ben saw to that. No longer does Avebury need to employ the comb over technique to hide his bald spot – no, with the ‘number 4’ Shearer Ben gave him there’s no bald spot to hide.
Avebury stood like a good fellow. It’s easier for the lower-ranking llamas to cope with the ordeal. Whenever there is anything strange or unusual going on around the farm, it’s the leaders who get perturbed for their charges. (This is why I hate it so much). In the three years since the gang were last sheared Brodgar has taken on more responsibilities on the farm – he has to shoulder the task of looking after younger chaps as they are trained to trek – and it was Brod who was the most distressed this shearing, and he had a bit of a howl. (Nothing like me of course – I practically shouted the barn down three years ago – Ah, happy days).
Anyway, back to Avebury. Lots of coat came off him and as you can see in the pictures on the right. He stood well and allowed his ears to be held so he wouldn’t move around too much. As the fleece came off our female person collected it and stuffed it into sacks. Very keen on llama fleece she is – I’ve been told the fleeces are going to be processed through a drum carder before spinning and weaving this year. A very nice person called Mary told a group of two-legs all about it last week on the farm.
Sorry. Avebury. His consistent dark brown coat was sheared and he was trimmed neatly before being released. It’s not right to laugh when somebody comes back from the barber with a haircut that doesn’t suit, but I couldn’t help myself. Avebury’s ear tufts make him look like he has bunches in his hair and his four pop socks and sometime bare midriff mean unkind people call him Britney when he’s not looking.
Another year, another shearing and after a day or two all will settle down on the farm. Brodgar is taking Croft Ambrey and Stanton Drew (with his new pipe-cleaner neck) out for a lovely llama trek today and I’m quite jealous. The shearer / dentist / podiatrist left and all is well on the farm.
Next week Maes Howe and Long Meg will visit Pharaoh and mate with him and I’m sure they will tell you all about that pretty soon.
More news from Golden Valley Llamas soon.