Shearing Sheep

June 28, 2010

Saturday The Farmer and I did a long put-off chore.  I kept putting it off because I kept hoping I could find someone else to do it!  Shearing sheep is hard work, and I know I’ll pay for it with at least 2 or 3 days of mega-pain levels.  (Thoracic chronic nerve pain doesn’t take kindly to such activity!)

But no one wants to come out back of beyond to shear 3 little Shetland sheep.  So after getting some new blades in the mail last Thursday, the first free day was Saturday and that was D-(IHTDT) Day!  (That translates as Dang! I Hate To Do This Day!)

So although they looked nice with their fluffy wool. . .

Shetland sheep resting

Coconut, the flock matriarch

It was time for it to come off.

The ewes all have different colored wool.  Coconut has white wool, and Papaya has what’s called shaela wool in Shetland sheep circles.  Shaela wool is sometimes described as “black frost” and that’s exactly what she has.

black Shetland sheep ewe

Papaya

Our third ewe has musket colored wool, which is a light sort of brown.

sheep with light brown wool

Valrhona

However pretty they looked, they also looked HOT when the temperatures are in the high 90s (F.) around here.  So it was high time to lose the wool coat.

We didn’t try to save it, though Valrhona had some especially gorgeous wool.  We just aren’t that adept at shearing, and there are too many second cuts. 

Part of the problem is that shearing machine is heavy at 3 1/2 pounds.  That may not sound like much but when it’s shaking in your hands and you’re holding tight, and the machine gets hot, and you’re moving it through some thick wool for about 3 hours while bent over the sheep… trust me, it’s heavy and hard to handle.

I never meant to buy a shearing machine in the first place.  I called the company to order clippers, but let the guy talk me into shears and have regretted it ever since.  Besides being heavy to work with, it is also very easy to cut the sheep when using shears.  Which is another reason it takes us so long!  I don’t trust myself to go zipping through that wool without also zipping through some skin!

At any rate, the job is done for this year.  They are now grazing in relative comfort, even though it’s hot outside!

black wooled ewe

Near Naked Sheep

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2 sheep

Grazing in the cool of the evening.

It did help that Papaya and Valrhona held still to be sheared, almost as if they were just so relieved to get that wool off they didn’t care if we handled them.  Our usual ultra-friendly ewe, Coconut, was a different matter however.  She squirmed around and ended up with a couple of cuts because of that.  The Farmer was using scissors to clip some wool off her back legs, and she had to stop twice to pee on him.

That’s life on the farm!

Oh, and if you’re wondering what happened to the pictures of the actual shearing… well, it’s hard to hold a camera, sheep and shearing machine all at the same time!

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