As I sit here all dirty with lanolin, and crud that sticks to lanolin, I reflect on a crazy busy 2 days. Shearing time demands all hands on deck. My two teenaged son’s would rather be cruising You Tube, but with the daunting task of catching 16 sheep and their 15 lambs, their grudging help is required. Now complaining allowed.
We start by attracting the flock into a corral area with the promise of grain. The easy part. As they much away, we strategize our plan of action. The idea is to get them into one corner of the corral and slowly ease them along the back fence line and into a dead end area where we can block the opening with a section of picket fence. Sheep naturally follow fence lines, as long as they stay in their flock and not spooked. We get most in the first try and work methodically to move them, one by one up to the barn. An arduous task and the barn is not as close as I would like it. Sheep don’t lead well. Note to self….would be nice to have a four wheeler for easier transport.
So doing this, and getting the boys took about four hours. We got bucked, kicked, dragged and yes, the sons did complain. And so did the husband. I of course am not allowed to because all of this sheep business is my idea. But we did it and it is satisfying that this biannual task is once again done.
Today was the shearing. I am blessed with an awesome shearer- in talent and demeanor. Emily and her sweet redheaded daughter came mid day. My friend Hannah and her two redheaded kiddies came too. Quite fun watching little ones with flaming hair running around as the big folks get down to business.
Emily pulls out each sheep and my older son manages the barn door. As Emily briskly starts shearing, I ready the vaccines, Hanna’ s other daughter Morgan, fills out cards with each sheep’s name and readies a bag. After the sheep is sheared, Emily trims hooves. I gather the fleece put it in the waiting bag, I then administer the vaccine. Back in the stall for the sheep and Emily pulls out the next sheep. The process moved along without complications.
When all are sheared, Emily and daughter Lydia head out to the next county for another farm with waiting sheep. But I am not done. Hannah and I get back to the barn and start working on the 15 babies. The lambs will not be sheared for the first time until the Fall. Today the all need vaccines and need to be tagged. My flock is getting large enough, that I can’t keep everyone straight. Since I have a registered flock, it is important that I keep track of parentage. So Hannah stayed on to help me.
We closed ourselves in the stall and got to work. We caught lambs who I knew for sure. While Hannah held the little one, I gave the vaccination in the hip. Then I loaded the tag into the applicator, Morgan recorded the number with the name of the lamb and I pierced the ear between the two main veins and attached the tag. It is a quick process and we did not have anyone even call out or cry. Such brave little lambs.
The last part is to get the flock back to the pasture, not one at a time, but all at once. I gathered some grain, opened the stall, and called “Sheep, sheep!” All at once, they follow me baaing and bleating into the gate. Such a noise. So now they are contentedly grazing. I sit here covered from head to foot in barn dirt. A whirl pool tub is calling my name. I have a closet full of fleeces that will soon head to the mill to become yarn and roving sold at festivals and my Farm store on etsy. Now for that bath.