Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shearing 2009

My mess of lists to as I tried to get Shearing Day all planned out.....

As I answered my co-worker when she asked how shearing went, "It went great, but the night before was h.e.uh.c.double l......Yeah, I still wasn't over the trauma.

Shearing day went perfect. The weather was perfect, my dwindled down crew (which happens when you can't shear on the weekend) worked their tails off helping to keep things moving and even the sheep exhibited a rare spirit of cooperation, mostly.
My help arrived in coats, coveralls, sweaters and caps, but all but the non-essential layers were soon shed as the sun started warming everything up. There were several cases of sunburn in people and sheep alike.

Twenty one sheep were sheared and twenty one bags of wool are awaiting my attention in the garage. Just the normal nicks with no major incidents this year.

Nedra (left) and Mom picking through a fleece... fresh fleeces were piled up on the white tarp waiting their turn. Skirted fleeces are in the black bags in the back lining the fence. My crew are very organized! :-)

Fleeces look really nice, on a whole, and most were surprisingly clean. Nedra my dedicated skirter thought they were much cleaner than last year.

Tom & Larry, the shearer, and the Mighty Blue (who is getting a bit old and frail) He was the last sheep sheared.

My Dad and Tom (Nedra's husband) helped me shift the sheep in and out of the pens and off the shearing floor to the pasture. Nedra was in charge of the skirting table, and my Mom came up later and helped her. I spent my time shifting sheep, helping to skirt fleeces, labeling fleeces, trimming hooves/vaccinating the seven sheep I didn't get done, and generally just running on nerves.

Dad (in chair), Tom and Larry...not sure which little brown sheep that was, but it was near the end, we were all getting weary by then.

The first 'big deal' of the day is when I turned the ewes out of the barn and prayed they would run hard and fast down to the garage so I could pen them up. It went very smooth, and the big white sheep led the charge (they are so helpful that way...). I had constructed a wide catch pen, that I could reduce down once I got them penned up. Birdie and Rouen saw too late it was a trap and I was able to slam the gate just in time. To be fair Rouen was a little off her game that day.

Getting the white sheep seperated from the shetlands was a little tricky as Annalea in particular just won't move and will squish me in the corner if that is what it takes. It took awhile, but once that was done, things went very smooth.

All the moms and babies were left in their stalls and led (and I use that word loosely) down individually when it was their turn. Their babies were put in a small crate out of harms way and released as their moms came off the shearing floor. This year the lambs were less confused and found their mommies quickly. Some years, they refuse to believe this newly bald creature is their mommy and will run screaming around, with mom hot on their heels!

Eve and one of the boys wait for their moms.
After being sheared the sheep are generally more than happy to run in the right direction--anything, just get them out of there!

After shearing was over, my wonderful crew cleaned up the mess and helped me break down pens and stack panels. They even raked up and sacked all the wool bits from skirting, while I was in the house fixing a plate of food for the shearer to take with him. Then we all headed in the house for a late lunch and to collapse for a bit.

The days after shearing were mild, with a little rain, so the sheep had an easy adjustment period. There were a couple of shivery mornings, but nothing a little running around baa-ing for their grain wouldn't cure. It was nice to see the weather cooperate and the sheep have an easier time of it. I guess that is one perk of shearing later.

It is a great relief to have shearing behind me, now on to other tasks!

Newly bald Gracie (right) and her daughters Nancy (left) and Hope (in back)


Star said...

That does sound like a very busy day! and the sheep always look bemused to me when they have been shorn. I loved reading about your sheep again.
Lovely pictures too.
Blessings, Star

Nancy K. said...

I SO don't want to shear! I'm putting it off as long as possible this year. This will be the first time I've waited until after lambing but I just don't have the energy...

Congratulations on being DONE!!

Vicki Lane said...

Sounds like a satisfying, if exhausting day! Good for you and how nice to have all those good helpers!