Shear anxiety: alpacas resent annual haircut
On a patch of rolling farmland in Dubois County, the hills are alive with the sound of -- clippers.
It’s shearing season at Happy Hummers farm, the residence of 18 wooly Alpacas.
Farm owner Wayne Daunhauer says May is the best time to shear off the animals’ thick coat of fleece, before it gets too hot.
“They’re carrying about 8-10 pounds of fleece, depending on the animal,” Daunhauer said.
On most days, these animals are calm, but today, the Alpacas’ cortisol levels are a bit elevated.
“They don’t seem to get stressed a lot,” Daunhauer's fiancée, Becky Hedinger, said. "In fact, they're often used as therapy animals because they have a calming effect on people."
Hedinger wipes a droplet of sweat off her brow.
"That last one was a struggle, but most of the time they're not hard to handle," she said.
Better Alpacas than cows, she says, which is what they raised previously.
“The cattle were really hard to handle," Hedinger said.
They purchased their first alpacas six years ago, when Daunhauer retired.
"The alpacas are just so much easier," Hedinger said. "They're smaller. The only part I don't like is the shearing.”
But thankfully, she says, it only happens once a year.