Sunday, March 20, 2011

Naked sheep!

  Saturday afternoon was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shinning, there was a warm breeze blowing and the birds were singing- it was a perfect day for shearing sheep!

I went to Farmers' market as usual, but I left a little bit early so that I could get home and prepare for shearing. I got home just as my sister Marie pulled into the driveway - she came to help with shearing, as she does every year. Wayne, my shearer, even arrived ahead of schedule.

 I always worry what condition the sheep will be in under all that fleece after the long, cold winter; a full coat of fleece can make the sheep appear much heavier than they actually are. I have nightmares that they are emaciated under their winter wardrobe. Why are you laughing? Oh, that's right, you've met me. OK, so it isn't very likely....but I still worry.

 We have this whole shearing process down to a fine science. Marie is the official sheep wrangler; she goes into the pen where the ewes are all waiting and basically tries to grab whoever is closest as they all run, and jump, and crash into her trying to avoid being caught...notice I said, "Tries to grab?" While this is all going on I do my part by quietly standing around getting vaccinations is a very fair arrangement. Marie then drags the sheep out of the pen...and sometimes Wayne helps her..or we both just laugh at her antics, then she hands the sheep over to Wayne, he then proceeds to shear. All the while I am dutifully filling syringes and waiting until each sheep is shorn to administer shots and dewormer if needed. It is exhausting for me!
We had an extra helper this year, our friend Mary came down from Cedar Falls to help and learn about sheep. I don't know how, but she got out without me getting any pictures of her.
Ashumet was the first victim. She was very cooperative considering it was her first shearing, and yes, she looked quite healthy under her fleece. I was able to relax a little.
Little Laurel was next..again, no skinny sheepies here!
Oh. My.
As fat as a tick!
 In my defense, she is an 'easy keeper'. I fed NO grain all winter, and only three pounds of hay, per ewe, per day. One flake per ewe-really! She may have been eating someone else's share...or everyone else's share.

OK, here she is in an upright position. She's  not THAT bad.

 Cassie was also NOT the biggest loser.

Here's Cassie standing up...
 Either I am going to have more multiple births than normal, or I will be starting a fat farm next month.
All joking aside, it is difficult to walk the fine line between making sure that the ewes are getting enough nutrition during their pregnancies, and making sure that they don't get overweight. Fat ewes can have a lot of difficulty with lambing so I honestly do try to not let them get fat...sometimes they have their own agenda.

The rams looked like they were in great condition, and much more proportionate......sort of..

 ...rams heads look ginormous once the fleece is away from their face and horns.
Especially with certain camera angles.

 The most exciting part of shearing-besides seeing the ewes' pregnant bellies- is seeing the clean underside of freshly shorn fleece!

It is also nice to see the sheeps' more vibrant colors that were hidden under the sun-bleached tips of fleece all winter. I like a colorful pasture!

I am so glad that the weather was accommodating for the work that we had to do yesterday, because there was a lot of ....
THIS today.
Now I get to fondle all these bags of fleece!
PS-You must have all missed my last post about free roosters, because, curiously, nobody has contacted me to take them....I don't's like you are afraid of being Chicken Mathed or something. Don't you trust me? Hmmmmm...very strange.


Christine said...

I don't suppose your shearer would want to come to Indiana. He does a MUCH better job giving haircuts than I do. :)

That first ram shot made me laugh out loud. Do they even recognize each other afterwards?

Mary Ann said...

What a wonderful post! I do not know about sheep, but have always admired them. Your shearer appeared to do a great job, and oh, the beautiful fleeces!
Thanks for the great pictures.

The Little Red Hen said...

gorgeous fleece and sheep!!

Michelle said...

I love your colorful sheep and gorgeous, crimpy fleeces!

Ginny said...

Beautiful fleeces, makes me want to pull out the wheel!!

Spinners End Farm said...


While I fail at chicken hen math, I am quite adept at counting to one with roosters. Saves a lot of trouble at our farm! :)

Linda said...

The shorn (sheared?) sheep look so cute and comfortable. Thanks for sharing a fun story. You probably need to rest up from your vigorous workout however!

Kelly said...

Love the crimp Corinne. I'm having a bit of a time getting my shearer to call me back!!!
We missed your smiling face this weekend.

Karen Anne said...

I think you definitely have to keep Gonzo. I think Gonzo looooves you :-)

Lisa said...

Beautiful fleece. Whose should I buy this year? Whenever I'm knitting with your yarn I find myself referring to it as the name of the sheep it came from...for
example, I'm knitting Halley.

Also - I. cannot. wait. until. lambing.

Nancy K. said...

you should be very proud of those fleeces...

...and very ashamed of those FAT sheep!

(said the lady who thought Dream was going to have triplets, last year, and she wasn't even pregnant!)


Karen Anne said...

The lamb watch thing doesn't appear to work on Firefox any more. It does work on Internet Explorer.

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