Category: Health

Shearing Day

On the morning on March 19, 14 alpacas and one llama prepared for their yearly shearing at Bradley County’s certified organic farm, Red Clay Farms.

Owned and operated by the Shaffer family, Ron, Cynthia, and Seth, Red Clay Farms in Cleveland, TN provides homes for rescue animals, but also provides fiber for yarn and organic food for the community.

Starting with a son’s desire for horses, this farm houses three horses, four great pyrenees guard dogs, cashmere goats, jacob sheep, chickens, 14 alpacas, and two cats.

“We decided we wanted to expand to a fiber farm sometime before 2008 and that’s where we got llamas because they can be guard animals for jacob sheep,” said Cynthia Shaffer, mother of the family. “We went through the rescue because at that time alpacas and llamas were very expensive.”

The family quickly found out that the going rate for llamas and alpacas range from five thousand to ten thousand dollars. However, after discovering Southeast Llama Rescue Association, they were able to find rescue alpacas at a more reasonable price ranging from one hundred to two hundred dollars.

“One day a big trailer pulls up and all these really wild critters come out,” said Seth Shaffer, son of the family. “So that’s how we really started getting rolling with the alpacas.”

The family not only saves money by purchasing rescue alpacas and llamas, but also provides a safe place for the animals to live and be protected.

“We do not sell our alpacas or llamas, we keep them here” said Cynthia. “This is their forever home.”

The majority of the alpacas on Red Clay Farms are Fiber Males with Suri or Huacaya fiber. The fiber from Suri alpacas provide more of a drape texture fitted for knitting and crocheting while the Huacaya alpacas have fiber with more fluff for thicker material.

Without shearing of their fiber, alpacas and llamas will overheat above eighty degrees and die. In prevention of overheating, every year around March, Jamie Jones Shearing comes prepared to rid the animals of their fiber.

Jones typically starts his shearing route at Red Clay Farms and works his way to Texas and further up north and the east coast for three months, travelling around fifteen hundred miles.

With an early and cold morning, Jones starts his season of shearing with the well equipped Shaffer family and the fifteen animals.

“I have been coming here for several years and Ron and Cynthia and Seth have done great since the beginning. They have a lot of experience and they already know what to do,” said Jones. “It’s a great stop. I’ve always enjoyed coming here, they work hard at it, and they make it easy for me.”

In preparation, the animals receive their dewormer shot, given every three months, as well as their CDNT shot, a tetanus vaccine given once a year, all administered by Cynthia.

Despite the distress and confusion of the alpacas and llamas coming out in spitting or loud screeches, the animals were shaved safely and quickly.

“Today was really smooth,” said Cynthia. “We sheared fifteen minutes per animal so we started out at about 6:30 this morning shearing and we were done by ten. So that was pretty good for fifteen animals.”

During the shearing, some people from the community gather to watch the event.

Collegedale local Sandra Twombly has been coming to watch the shearing for the past three years with her family.

“First time was curiosity to see how they do it and then the other two years I brought my grandson the second year, my daughter this year,” said Twombly. “It’s just interesting to watch them, watch them escape, some of them escape.”

At its core, the shearing of the animals is a necessity for the survival of the alpacas and llamas, but has turned into an exciting event for the community and the Shaffer family as well.

“It’s fun. It’s one of those experiences that it happens once a year and I enjoy more the physical aspect of it,” said Seth. “Getting to basically wrestle with the alpacas and having to grab them, put the halters on them, get them out into the shearing area and what not, it’s a very active morning so to speak.”

Each animal’s fiber is gathered and separated into two bags. Labeled by the animal’s name, bag one includes the longest and best fiber coming off of the body and neck while bag two holds the shorter, dirtier fiber used for smaller projects like wool dryer balls or added to the garden for organic matter.

With the fiber separated into sections, this helps the family clean the fiber and send the best to the mill to be spun into yarn and sold at local markets.

After all of the shearing, cleaning, and selling of fiber is completed, the family is able to continue their work on the farm tending to the animals and the community.

From creating organic produce like kale, lettuce, eggs, and more to creating yarn out of their animal’s fiber, Red Clay Farms provides rich resources for animals and people in east Tennessee.

Meet the Storytellers

Blake Davis 

Blake Davis is a Senior Communication Major at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is passionate about creating and telling stories through a video camera. For over 6 years, he has been improving his craft in videography. He also loves playing Spikeball and is a collegiate National Champion. He can be reached at rlp233@mocs.utc.edu

 

Abigail Frazier

Abigail Frazier is a senior majoring in Communication and Sociology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is passionate about journalism and works as the news editor for The University Echo. Frazier can be contacted at twg146@mocs.utc.edu.

 

Bailey Frizzell

Bailey Frizzell is a student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and plans to graduate in May 2019 with a degree in Communication and a minor in Spanish. She is passionate about telling stories through photography, and hopes to pursue a career in photojournalism after graduation. She can be contacted at kdv822@mocs.utc.edu.

 

Cassie Whittaker 

Cassie Whittaker is a graduating senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in Communication and a minor in Spanish. She plans on pursuing a social marketing career in the private sector and is experienced in writing and presenting marketing plans. Her interests include volunteering and hiking around the city of Chattanooga which drives her toward a career that helps other people. Contact me for opportunity in these fields at qss692@mocs.utc.edu.

Jay’s Story

Jay Shin, 20, is from Cleveland, Tennessee. Even with Cerebral Palsy, he lives a normal
life with an amazing support system. He was raised by his mom, Soonja Shin, and two sisters, Yoori Shin and Meeri Shin. He attends Cleveland State Community College where he studies Mechatronics. He also attends Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church in Collegedale where he has a great community around him. Cerebral Palsy affects Jay physically and some mentally, but he doesn’t let his disability define him.

 

Meet the Storytellers

Marielle Echavez

Marielle Echavez is a junior pursuing a degree in Communication and a minor in Psychology. She manages her own branch of custom apparel on campus. She has a passion for videography and being creative. She plans to pursue video production post-graduation. Contact her at wcb788@mocs.utc.edu.

Skater Dad

Since his freshman year at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Trent Comeaux, a junior Exercise Science major from Red Bank, has been pouring into young boys’ lives at the Chattanooga Skate Park.

The Chattanooga skate community “has got a bad rep,” according to Comeaux. “It’s looked at as this vandalizing, rebellious, careless community of people who just don’t care about anything else but themselves, and it’s really the exact opposite.”

From his involvement with the university as a member of the BYX fraternity to time spent with a community of Young Life leaders, Comeaux’s days are always busy. However, he always takes time out of his day to skate with his “lil homies” or the younger kids that hang at the skatepark.

One fourteen year old boy in particular, Camden Parcell, has become an extremely close friend of Comeaux’s. “When I first met Camden, my only goal was to just love him,” he said.

From the skate competition that started the relationship to a daily outing to the nearby Wendy’s, their friendship grew into a much closer bond.

“I see Trent as almost like a father figure to me. He does so much for me and will probably always be there for me,” shared Camden.

Even though, according to Comeaux, the skate park in Chattanooga portrays a negative idea of what this community is like, the relationships between Comeaux and his “lil homies” shows the complete opposite. Instead, this community allows life giving and meaningful relationships to grow through something as simple as a skateboard.

 

Meet the Storytellers

Cassie Whittaker

Cassie Whittaker is a graduating senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in Communication and a minor in Spanish. She plans on pursuing a social marketing career in the private sector and is experienced in writing and presenting marketing plans. Her interests include volunteering and hiking around the city of Chattanooga which drives her toward a career that helps other people. Contact me for opportunity in these fields at qss692@mocs.utc.edu.

 

Abigail Frazier

Abigail Frazier is a senior majoring in Communication and Sociology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is passionate about journalism and works as the news editor for The University Echo. Frazier can be contacted at twg146@mocs.utc.edu.

 

Blake Davis

Blake Davis is a Senior Communication Major at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is passionate about creating and telling stories through a video camera. For over 6 years, he has been improving his craft in videography. He also loves playing Spikeball and is a collegiate National Champion. He can be reached at rlp233@mocs.utc.edu.

 

Bailey Frizzell

Bailey Frizzell is a student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and plans to graduate in May 2019 with a degree in Communication and a minor in Spanish. She is passionate about telling stories through photography, and hopes to pursue a career in photojournalism after graduation. She can be contacted at kdv822@mocs.utc.edu.

 

 

Abomination to Advocation

Reverend Alaina Cobb has experienced hate from a young age due to her identity. After seeing what the culture she was raised in looked like, she knew she had to do something. Her activism grows from her experiences growing up, but mostly from her children, fueling her to fight for others and their ability to be “fully human.”  As a mother, as a reverend, and as a fighter, Alaina Cobb is changing the world around her.

Meet the Storytellers

Allie Schrenker

Allie Schrenker is a committed athlete majoring in Communication and Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with plans to graduate in May 2019. She is an international rugby player and an editor for UTC’s literary journal. She is currently pursuing a career in photojournalism and can be reached at kcb325@mocs.utc.edu.

 

Samantha Sargent

Samantha Sargent is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Originally from Memphis, TN, she came to Chattanooga to study Communication and Sociology. Sargent wishes to use this degree to pursue a career in digital media. Contact her at xcq518@mocs.utc.edu.

Princess Petrus

Princess Petrus is a junior at UT Chattanooga studying Communication and Spanish. She enjoys photojournalism and uses her skill to convey social problems through visual images. Petrus has a passion for learning other people’s stories and aims to connect with those around her. Contact her at rkt446@mocs.utc.

 

Katie Raabe

Katie Raabe is a Communication major and International Studies minor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga planning to graduate in May 2019. With a focus in Creative Writing, Katie is passionate about people and telling their stories in expressive and visual forms. Contact her at hfr546@mocs.utc.edu.

 

 

A.K.A. Kaos

 

Captain of the Chattanooga Roller Girls Kadi Rogers, also known as Quads of Kaos, is confident, competitive, and determined to go further. She’s played many sports in her life, but none have come close to the passion she has for derby. From cross training in the gym to attending every practice, Kaos spends hours every week dedicated to the sport and improving her game. Derby isn’t your everyday kind of sport, but the tight-nit community and safe space it offers to be yourself made it an easy choice for Kaos to stay and learn. With her sparkly blue lipstick and badass attitude, Kaos is ready to rock your world.

 

Meet The Storytellers

Allie Schrenker

Allie Schrenker is a committed athlete majoring in Communication and Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with plans to graduate in May 2019. She is an international rugby player and an editor for UTC’s literary journal. She is currently pursuing a career in photojournalism and can be reached at kcb325@mocs.utc.edu.

 

Life as a Single Mother

Every morning, Alexa McDonald makes coffee while she prepares her sons breakfast.
November 21, 2018 (photo by Princess Petrus)

Alexa McDonald is a 24-year-old girl who is known for her striking beauty, big red hair, and elaborate makeup. She is the front desk supervisor at the Chattanooga DoubleTree downtown and has been residing in the Chattanooga area for about two years now. She is a mother to a one-year old son named Silas James Patrick McDonald, born on September 27, 2017.

Alexa McDonald applies her makeup as her son reaches for her attention.
November 21, 2018 (photo by Princess Petrus)

Unfortunately, Silas’s father was addicted to opioids and had extreme temperamental issues that led to aggression and violence. McDonald made the choice to raise Silas on her own–knowing it would be difficult–but the best choice for them both.

Alexa McDonald assists her coworker with a guest’s reservation.
October 11, 2018 (photo by Princess Petrus)

McDonald has been working hard at her full-time job moving towards her goal of becoming a General Manager. She has been in the hotel industry for almost five years and only plans to move up. Through this journey, her mother has been an important asset in regard to childcare of Silas. With McDonald’s mother being retired, she helps create a more flexible schedule for work and schooling.

Alexa McDonald coddles her son after bumping his head on the hardwood floor.
November 21, 2018 (photo by Princess Petrus)

In 2015, McDonald earned her associate degree in business and financing at Horry Georgetown Technical College in Conway, South Carolina. To add to her credentials, she plans to go back to school this Spring to continue her education at UTC.

Alexa McDonald straps her one year old son in a baby carrier before leaving her house.
November 21, 2018 (photo by Princess Petrus)

 

Princess Petrus, a Communications junior at UTC, has a passion for hospitality and enjoys photojournalism. She currently works at the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Chattanooga, and plans to become a flight attendant upon graduating. Her degree as well as her minor in Spanish will allow her to better interact with others across the world.

 

 

 

Living with Mental Illness

Stacey Hurst, a 26-year-old living with paranoid schizophrenia, tells her story.


About the Storyteller

JacobBabb
Jacob Babb

Living with Mental Illness was created by Jacob Babb. This multi-media piece was made in COMM 4750, Photojournalism 2, during the Spring 2017 semester. Jacob Babb is a communication major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. According to Babb, his “main focus in the field, and passion, is photography and videography, with the goal to have my photos and films known the world over one day.”

Copyright 2017, Jacob Babb, all rights reserved.