Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Shearing

Saturday dawned crisp and cold but sunny... the perfect day for spring shearing.  Shearers Joe and Melvin arrived and quickly set up shop.  We brought the yearlings over from the graveyard field while the bred ewes and wethers spent the night before in the barn, ensuring that their longer, thicker wool would be dry and easy to shear.  Our family and friends that pitched in to help are becoming quite experienced, almost a well-oiled machine once we get rolling.  There are stories told, memories shared, tears, hugs as well as laughter.  Sheep are caught, thrown for the shearer, belly and britch gathered when thrown to the side, sheep collected as they jump up from the mat, fleeces bundled, mats swept... then on to the next.  The shepherdess/s give CD+T vaccinations and a dose of garlick to each sheep on their way back to the pasture.  The bred ewes go out the side door, back into the barn paddock; the yearlings back in the pen awaiting their return to the graveyard field.  Granddaughter/great-niece, Harley, arrives to provide even more entertainment, moments of comic relief, games of tag, rock collecting, worry over the sheeps getting their shots and of course, more hugs and more kisses.  As the work continues...there are snacks, water, juice and Mom contributes cupcakes and cookies.  Wool fumes are heavy in the barn, and as we make our way through the 54 sheep each fleece is ogled and exclaimed over.  The excitement over a new crop of lovely fleece builds as the morning goes on. 

Finally, we are finished and the sheep head quickly to the feeders.  It is much more comfortable to be sheared with an empty belly so they have not eaten in nearly 12 hours.  They are now rewarded with feeders full of hay.  The yearling ewe, Maebh, has been moved in with the grown-ups so that we can keep an eye on her; she could lamb at any time.  Everyone heads home, except for one who remains to help the Shepherdess/s a little longer... there are yearlings to move, temporary fences to take down, and so on, and so on...

The scene in the pasture is quite different on Sunday morning with temperatures in the low 20's and snow on the ground.  The pasture and the feeders are completely empty... not a sheep to be seen anywhere.  No sheep... that is until we open the barn door and there they are... all those nekkid sheep huddled in the barn.  Not to worry... in a few days their wool will have grown and they will, once again, be oblivious to the snow, wind, rain and pretty much whatever Mother Nature throws at them.  That is the way with sheep.


  1. What a great post! I can only imagine a long and tiring day for all, but so much family fun and laughter too! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. How different they look with their hair cuts. I was wondering how Maebh was doing. I hope you post when she becomes a mom. What a rewarding life you live.

  3. O dear! I'm a little bit afraid of sharing my sheep, it is always VERY exciting! We share our sheep normally in May. You made good work, I do not see any wound!

  4. Thanks for posting this. Interesting to me, as I don't have sheep, but would like to.

  5. Fabulous post and great pics. When we shear sheep it is an all day event. Long, hard day but totally worth it at the end. I always have people ask if the sheep are cold after they are sheared and I always answer, they still are wearing wool, it's jsut a little shorter now.

  6. I would have love to have been a part of that. I don't even recognize those nekkid sheep anymore. You should get a video next time : )