I always look forward to shearing day. That is the day I get to see the fleeces up close. I get to see the result of all the care and feeding. I also can evaluate the condition of the sheep and make some breeding decisions. Of course it helps to have an expert shearer. And Emily is certainly that.
Of course there is some prep time involved, namely catching the sheep. Each farmer needs to come up with a plan of action that takes into account your set up and even the personality of your sheep, not to mention who you have on hand to help with the task. I am armed with a can do husband and one willing teenage son. What we do is get them into a smaller space-a paddock that borders their pasture. Then the 3 of us, along with a fence panel, herd them into yet a smaller area and lock them in there using the fence panel. Now the choreography of this dance takes a bit of practice. But the three of us are seasoned enough that we can do this pretty effectively, not always the case in the beginning, however. One by one, we catch and lead the sheep to the barn; ewes and wethers in one stall, rams in another.
We set up our skirting table, gather bags and marking pens as well as inoculation material, and a camera. Sheep need to be off feed for at least 8-12 hours and kept dry so the fleeces will be able to be stored and sheep won’t have to be sheared on a full stomach and all the problems that go with that.
Emily arrived with shearing equipment and daughter in tow. And quickly shearing commenced…after first letting little Lydia gets to visit with some resident angora bunnies. Emily is a competitive shearer, but speed is not the highest concern. The sheep‘s comfort is the 1st consideration.
The fleeces are gathered and bagged to be saved either for hand spinning or the mill to be made into yarn, roving, or felt.
Afterwards sheep look a bit naked and certainly smaller. They check each other out as if meeting for the first time.
Well…in the evening, after munching on a noon meal…teenage son and I distribute everybody to where they will live for the next six weeks, which is breeding time. Old Rosie will be housed by the barn with the yearling ewes. Three of the four rams will be in the field behind the woodshed. And the chosen ram, who is Wally…heads to the large pond pasture
with the breeding ewes and the wethers. So quite an exciting time.