Shearing, Yet Again
My favorite part of farming are the cycles—the same thing happens every year, but each time, it happens a little differently. If you’ve read my entire blog (only recommended for extremely bored masochists), you’ll notice shearing happens at the end of March…every year.
This year snow was expected two days before shearing—serious snow, like 6-8 inches. Even if we put our our sheep in the three-sided barn before a snowstorm, the snow blows in, which equals wet sheep, which equals postponed shearing. Can’t shear wet sheep.
So this year, while I was out of town at a library conference, Melissa put up tarps all along the front of the barn. It was an incredible amount of work, and a great idea.
Shearing day was sunny, windy, and about 35-40 degrees. We had 15 people to help, and it went so smoothly, and our help was enthusiastic and experienced. At one point Melissa and I found ourselves both back at the house on errands, and we realized shearing was going on just fine without us. Next year we’re going to take in a movie, perhaps do some shopping.
Here are some sheep waiting to be shorn:
Here’s Bonnie ‘skirting’ a fleece, which means she’s picking out dried poop from the fleece. Few people would have the courage for this job, but she teaches high school, so very little frightens her.
Here’s the black underside of that beautiful brown fleece. (Sorry, spinners, I’m keeping this fleece for myself!)
Here’s Drew (the shearer) taking a break, and Alex (the girl) keeping the next contestant (the sheep) steady until Drew’s ready.
Here’s the puppy back at the house, stunned she wasn’t the center of attention that day. She said, “I could help, really.”
Then she said, “Am I not cuter than sheep? Forget those smelly things and focus on me. Look deep into my eyes. You are growing sleepy…”
The funniest part of the day happened when I didn’t have my camera, but it involves this hay bale.
You’ll need to use your imagination. About 10 sheep were left in this part of the barn, and someone went over to them, hoping to drive them into the shearing pen. When the sheep became alarmed and began running around the hay bale, the person backed off.
But the sheep kept running around the bale. Then, no longer afraid, they switched from running to walking around and around the bale. It looked like a sheep merry-go-round. Shearing action stopped as we all watched the sheep calmly going around and around the bale, not because they were afraid, but because they were having fun.
Well, okay, perhaps I’m anthropomorphizing here. Really, the funny show happened because each ewe was following the ewe in front of her, who was following the ewe in front of her, who was following the ewe in front of her… They are, after all, sheep….perhaps that’s why I love them—not because they act like cows or dogs or cats or horses, but because they act very much like themselves: sheep.