Count Down to Shearing Day

Ewes, llama, foxfire fiber

Keeping dry – waiting for the shearer.

Our week got off to a funky start. In the northeast we celebrated spring's arrival with a touch of winter: four inches of snow that's gone slushy since the temperatures are now just above freezing. Because we plan to shear the balance of the flock on Friday, this gave me a headache.

Before the snow started at 9 Monday morning,  Mike and I scrambled to get four dozen sheep and two llamas under cover before their wool got soggy. The sheep were the easy part. A pan of grain was all we needed to get their full cooperation.

Moving two llamas was another story.

I expected Sol, our new guard llama, to be wary. He's been in the same paddock/barn since the day he arrived, back on December 21. Catching him was not so easy. But once Mike had a firm hold around his neck ("holy cow, is he strong!") and I snapped on the halter and lead, Sol acquiesced.

Llamas are naturally suspicious about changes in routine. It is to Sol's credit that with only mild hesitation he walked on lead across the road and into a new building. I don't think he wanted to be left behind by his lamb pals. With Mistral in the lead, they made a bee line for me and followed me right into the big barn. Mike brought up the rear with Sol. There was one anxious moment when Sol balked at the barn door.  But his desire to stay with his flock won out and he joined the lambs at the feeder full of grassy hay in their new pen. It was really fun, watching Sol and Crackerjack interact for the first time (adjacent pens). No spit-off, no aggression. Just two very curious llamas checking each other out.

Caitlyn (white llama pictured above) was a big pain in the keister. Catching her was not terrible (she listens well to command "stand" once cornered). But when it came to leading she was absolutely mulish (planted herself, refused to be lead or to follow the sheep). This all happened just before Mike arrived so I was working alone.

I quickly discovered it's not possible to be out in front of a group of sheep with a grain pan while holding onto a 600 lb. llama who's put on her parking brake. Making matters worse, I knew the school bus would come rumbling by the farm at any moment. I tethered Caitlyn to the gate post for a "time out". The flock happily crossed the road and followed me to the carriage barn – they'll do anything for grain. After a few sheep-less minutes Caitlyn deigned to be lead across the road. I guess she decided it wasn't much fun being alone, thinking about the flock having a nice snack without her.

I truly hope Sol ignores Caitlyn's poor behavior and chooses to emulate Crackerjack. Although we know Cracker is a one-of-a-kind dream guard llama, life would be much easier here if we had another llama more like him.

Anyway, that's how the week got started. We are busy boxing the last of the fleeces from our 2/28 shearing and getting ready for Friday. 

No lambs yet. I will let you know right away when that gets rolling! I love, love, love the apple name suggestions. Thanks so much.