Alpacas get day at the ‘spa’

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SUMNER – Thursday was Spa Day here as George and Kelly Affleck treated their alpacas to haircuts, nail clipping and teeth clipping. And if that wasn’t enough, the shearing was done by expert shearers from Peru, South America.

Manuel Ramos, who is the head shearer, comes to America every year for about 6 months. He is a veterinary technician on an alpaca farm in Peru. His helper, Victor Saca, has a farm with 300 alpacas in his herd.

Affleck heard about the pair from Claudia Ressler of the Royal River Alpaca Farm in Yarmouth. Ressler, who has 80 animals, borrowed the South Americans from a farm in Ohio last year and thought as long as they were in the country she should try to make them available to other farms in Maine.

Last year they sheared 120 alpacas and this year they will be doing 350 on 20 farms across the state.

Keep the Faith Farm on Labrador Farm Road in Sumner was a beehive of activity as relatives and friends from Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts came to enjoy the fellowship, breakfast breads and coffee while waiting for shearing.

Besides two Huacaya female alpacas and three Suri male alpacas, the Afflecks have two Cashmere goats arriving on Sunday. Kelly Affleck said they plan to blend the fleece from the three. The farm also has two Nigerian dwarf goats and a pair of Haflinger ponies.

When the shearers arrived, the party of onlookers moved into the 100-year-old barn where the five alpacas were waiting. They watched quietly as the shearers screwed eye-bolts into the floor to hold ropes that would keep the animals prone to insure their safety as the clippers went to work.

After Freddie, the first alpaca was led from the pen, he was stretched out with his back and front legs in slip knots. The two shearers worked together to quickly remove the fleece from the side first as it makes a higher quality fiber. Then the neck and legs were sheared.

Last, the toenails were clipped and Freddie was led back to the pen looking leaner with his fleece gone.

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