Saturday, March 14, 2009

Shearing day!

I have been deliberating for the last month or so as to whether I was going to have the shearer come out to do my sheep this year, or if I would be brave enough to hand shear them myself, since I only have 15 to shear. Thursday I decided to break down and call the shearer to at least see what his schedule was looking like. As it turned out, he would be available on Saturday morning. So I checked the forecast to see if the weather would be conducive to shearing. It was going to be dry and sunny and continue with warm dry conditions all week long, which would be perfect for my nekked sheep so that wouldn't get too cold......of course that made the decision for me, so I weenied out of the idea of hand-shearing and had the shearer come out!

Shearing is always fun, but it is also nerve-wracking. I worry what the fleeces will look like, I worry that maybe the sheep won't be in top condition under all that fleece (it is difficult to tell how fat or thin some of the ewes are when they are carrying a full year's fleece), I worry about nicks from the clippers...I just pretty much worry about everything. But, as much as I worry, it is such a thrill to see that beautiful clean fleece peel away as the clippers slide through all that fluff, and to see the results of a year's hard work after keeping the sheep clean and properly fed to produce that wonderful fleece.Ande also worried and kept a watchful eye on his sheepie friends....from a safe distance outside of the barn, of course. Little did he know what was in store for him!

Fluffy goodness.
I was thrilled to see that all of the fleeces were in excellent shape, only a couple of the girls had started with the rise so there was not a great deal of grease to contend with (which makes for a happy shearer).

People have asked me, "What the heck are you talking about when you refer to the "Ag" pattern with some of your sheep?". This photo is a good example of what happens with that. The white part is actually the part that was growing close to the skin and the dark ends were the sheep's original color, this shows how the fleece changed and lightened through the year. Now that the dark has been sheared off this ewe will stay the lighter color. This is why I don't like that genetic pattern to pop up in my spotted sheep. With the Ag gene, a lamb will be born as a pretty spotted, or solid, or patterned, colorful baby and then as they get older all the pretties go away and they end up a very light grey (if they are black based), or a very light brown ( Musket if they are brown based). Not that there is anything wrong with Ag sheep, one of my fav ewes is Ag and she has some of my nicest fleece, I just don't like my patterns and spots to fade.

Same fleece, just upside down now...I just wanted to show it again to taunt Garrett with it's crimpiness.

This is some solid black fleece with sun-bleached tips.
After shearing, CDT vaccinations and hoof trimmings were done (and fleece samples gathered), I had the opportunity to check conditions of all of the sheep and evaluate the bred ewes to see how far along they looked. I was so happy to see that, despite the very harsh winter that we had here, everyone looked great. No skinny sheep here! I always forget how much smaller they look once they have been sheared....and how many more can fit around a feeder now.
Below is Sage....nope, not preggo, not anywhere near the boys...just a big pig.
I also always forget how ginormous the sheep's heads look without all that fleece! Here are a couple of my wethers to demonstrate the look.

Dillon...or..ET phone home (for sale BTW).


Diego and Dillon.

After we got all of the sheep finished and returned them each to their respective pastures, it was time to turn our attention to Ande. My shearer will NOT shear llamas. This was something that I would have to contend with on my own......or with the help of my unsuspecting, ever-helpful sister, Marie. By past experience, (see previous post about Mama Llama) this was something that would have to be accomplished far away from the watchful eye of Mama Llama. Once all of the sheep had been removed from the barn, we distracted Mama with some breakfast and lured a very gullible Ande into the barn and closed all of the doors. We decided that it would be best if I would be the one to hold onto Ande while Marie did the actual cutting of the fiber. Marie is not known for her discipline skills and if Ande decided to try to kick or wiggle away I thought it best to have someone in more of a position of authority to handle the situation, clearly Marie was not the best choice for this....she is the cookie lady to the animals, they love her, but they laugh at her meager attempts at sternness.

Now, I didn't buy any hand shears, because, after all, I decided to have the shearer do the sheep for me...but in retrospect, I should have purchased some for Ande's haircut. I should have, but sadly, I didn't and when Marie started using the scissors that I provided it was a bit like using a butter knife. Finally Gary came to the rescue with a sharp pair of scissors from his office and saved the day...or the fleece...or Marie's hands...well, whatever, all of that stuff.
I never said that it was pretty, but we got it done! Mama Llama will have to wait for another day, when I am more ready to do battle.....and I am wearing a wetsuit.

"Did you see what they did to me, Edrea?"

" Look at this, Aleena, I told that shearer only A LITTLE off the top and now look at me!"

"I know, Fiona, he said that I had some grease in my fleece and that's why I have these little clumps everywhere, I can't go out like this!"

"Daddy, it was terrible, that shearer set me on my bum, and ran those noisy clippers all over and then mom and Auntie Marie gave me shots. I expect that from mom, but et tu, Auntie Ree?".


Rayna said...


Sharrie said...

They all look wonderful. It is such a good feeling when they are all "defrocked".

Shula said...

LOL mine were sheared the other day too. I also forget how small they are after they are sheared. You have some lovely looking sheep :)

Claire MW said...

I can't believe you're going to Abi tomorrow too! I am so excited to meet you! That will be great! I am very envious of your fleeces too...our shearing day is later this month, but I'm taking fleeces to Abi that I bought from someone else. It's a learning day for me! Kelly says I have to promise not to come home with a Shetland sheep. Grumble...

Crosswinds Farm said...

Rayna, Oh you are being silly, I have seen some of your sheep, and you have nothing to be jealous about!

Yes, Sharrie it is such a relief to see that they are all healthy under that fleece.

Thanks Shula!

Silly Claire, Kelly said not to bring home "A" Shetland in one...maybe if you bring two home that would be ok? Can't wait to meet you!

Kara said...

LOL Clarie, it is just a matter of time, you will end up with Shetland sheep!

Corinne your sheep look great, beautiful fleece. You are so right about how big their heads look. It always cracks me up!

Unknown said...

The before and after photos of sheep fascinate me - with all the fleece they look like they're walking on toothpicks! After, I can see they really have shapely legs.

Ande may look funny now, but he has gorgeous eyes! And his spitting Mama has an absolutely beautiful face.

And Claire - just give it up, honey, and be sure to take the hot new livestock trailer with you!!!


Michelle said...

I LOVED the way this post ended - how sweet!

Becky Utecht said...

Beautiful fleeces and beautiful sheep Corrine! Your shearer did a great job! Several of mine were in the rise on their back ends at shearing.

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