Thursday, July 25, 2019

Australia bound...New Adventures for Fiberton Acres...part dos...

So where did I leave off....

Hitting the road in my sort-of-converted van!

Well...let me back up a little.

After my split, I had decided to begin a whole new career. As you are well aware of if you follow my blog or social media (or Etsy shop), I am an avid yarn crafter and love working with animals.  About 5 years ago or so, I met an alpaca shearer who I was quite impressed with at a shearing day and I caught the bug.  I asked to help out whenever he came through the area.  It was fascinating work, and it dovetailed so well into my passions for travel, animal husbandry and fiber arts. And it was a physical challenge that I loved.

And in 2018, I was invited to be the worker for Shorn Shearing on all of the California and Arizona loops of the shearing season. It was an eye opening experience, and I was excited to begin learning to actually shear.  I sheared my sheep at the time, and then those of a friend with a small herd.  I was slow and it kicked my butt, but I loved it.

Shearing Champ, my wether ram...very slowly...

Then I got the invite of a lifetime for a girl who wanted nothing more than to see the world and do this work.  Working with the shearer at the largest recorded alpaca farm in the Australia.

Me?!  Could I do it?  Could I keep up and work with 150 lb alpacas all day long for close to 4 weeks straight?  I knew I could, or at least I knew I was stubborn enough to do everything I could to make it happen.  There was no f'ing way I would let this opportunity pass me up.

So that is when I quit my day job, made the difficult decision to find loving homes for my animals, and made some tearful goodbyes to family and friends.

I took a train from Paso Robles down to LAX and then boarded my 15 hr Virgin Australia flight to Sydney one late October evening.  Is there a word that means scared/excited/self-doubting/eager/proud all wrapped into one?  Because that was me. (Scexselfdoeagpro...? No...that sounds like something weird you'd find in an unsavory location online...hmmm....don't google that. lol)

Soon enough I found myself on a new continent for the first time in my life.  I got into a car on the wrong side, and drove down the wrong side of the streets, which was both exciting and terrifying after sleep deprivation.

A cool alley in Cooks Hill, New South Wales
Merino sheep sculpture/building!

I spent my time there getting to do some sight seeing, as well as working the hardest I had ever done.  I liken it to running a marathon (which I have only done a full marathon once) question what you're doing (and why) over the course of it many times, but you feel an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment at the end.  My hands were swollen to the point where I had to cut several rings off and I was exhausted but I grew quite a bit stronger, both mentally and physically.

My first day...and first view of a truly full shearing shed. Soon to be much cooler alpacas!

After cutting my first ring off...

And after the first week and an empty shearing shed!

Our biggest day!  113 alpacas sheared! 
I also proved to myself and those in the shearing shed that I could do it. (I was the first female worker they have had in there in that capacity...) And I made some awesome new friends.

It was bittersweet heading "home"... I knew I was going back to the uncertainty of my new a packed up van ready for new travels but to places I was still unsure of.  I was also excited to see my friends and family back in the states and recount some of the of the crazy (to me) animals I saw, and the lovely beaches I relaxed on and the great food and show off my new muscles.

Beach in Terrigal, NSW

Just a normal sized lizard to Australians...

And a 'small' spider...

At the zoo...these are like seagulls over there!

Sydney Opera House

Blowhole rock feature in Kiama, NSW

A koala at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney

So was then I hit the road...

More soon!


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