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.


The snow never arrived.

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!)


The fleece came from that now-naked black sheep.

Here’s Drew (the shearer) taking a break, and Alex (the girl) keeping the next contestant (the sheep) steady until Drew’s ready.

There isn’t a bathroom in the barn, hence the foot traffic between barn and house.

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.

10 thoughts on “

  1. Oh,oh,oh, I can so imagine a group of sheep doing the merry-go-round thing! So funny! Also bet you’re so very happy the shearing is done now that it is snowing in this part of the country! Of course the sheep are probably looking really pathetic, all naked, cold and wet. I had a couple of sheep a few years ago, and no matter when they were sheared, it always turned cold and wet for at least a day or two afterwards. Gotta love them sheep critters!

  2. I feel silly about the merry-go-round because I actually thought the sheep were just doing it because it was fun.

    Melissa had to gently remind me…”They’re sheep. They follow each other. They’re following each other around the bale.”

    Still, what if they were having fun, regardless of their motivation? 🙂

  3. Ha! An new tongue twister.

    My other favorite is a necklace I own made out of Swedish horseshoe nails…. I can trip our niece up with this one every time.

  4. Good morning! Just thought I’d mention my lovely morning. When the dogs and cats started demanding attention WAY too early for a Saturday, I mumbled to my husband, “I’ll do them tomorrow morning, if you do them today.” That meant that he was on animal detail, and I got to sleep in or do whatever I chose. So, after stumbling my way back to bed after that first-of-the-morning-requirement trip to the loo, I saw my copy of ‘Hit by a Farm’ lying on the floor. (I mean ‘neatly placed in the bookshelf next to the bed’.) I picked it up and started reading it again – from the back, this time. What a fun way to kill an hour and a half luxuriating in bed! Now, the demands of the day have gotten the better of me, and, as soon as I update our own blog, I’ll be out and about to the tend to the rest of the animals and the rest of the disaster that is our home and 40 acres. But, just thought I’d share the great start to my day! Hope you’ve all had as equally a terrific start to your weekend!

  5. Sorry..that was my deletion, above.

    4/10/08

    Well, in case the sheep were disappointed last time, tonight’s supposed to SNOW again!

    Pondering: Do sheep get blue lips?

    (Hey…there’s a good kid’s book title!)

  6. Catherine, love your new book ” The Compassionate Carnivore” I work in the bookstore south of you and we have up a display, been getting lots of looks and sales. The wife and I are Veggies but I’d eat meat just to support farms that support their animals. thanks.

  7. bookboy,

    That’s great news. And I’m relieved there are a few vegetarians out there who like the book, ‘get’ what I’m trying to do, and aren’t furious at me for still eating meat.

    Thanks!

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