Shearing Sheep

Yarn starts here!

Our shearer, Andy Rice, arrived yesterday for the first rite of new year: the de-fleecing of the pregnant ewes, rams and wethers. I'm behind in all areas but wanted to share a few moments from the day.

Llama, ewes, shearing day, foxfire fiber

Crackerjack and ewes in the holding pen. He is now stationed with the mothers where he will serve as lamb nanny when lambs begin arriving in three weeks. The ewes find his presence calming, reassuring.

Sheep waiting for shearer. foxfire fiber

Cognac, a moorit ewe, waits her turn in the holding pen. (BTW), The girls were all very well behaved. The boys were a mighty hand full!)

A shearer's pack of wool combs.The more teeth, the finer the fiber. Andy used 9 tooth combs on the Cormos yesterday. They're scary looking but are designed to ride parallel to the sheep's body. A separate piece (called the cutter) rests on top of the comb and does the actual clipping.

Sheep shearer's combs.foxfire fiber

Shearing Cognac.

Shearing moorit ewe, foxfire fiber

Perfectly relaxed.

Sheep shorn.foxfire fiber

She was one of the last sheep of the day, so Andy gave a a special hair cut.

Sheep's haircut. foxfire fiber

I'm still exhausted from yesterday and all I did was sweep the boards, skirt fleece and prepare lunch for 8.

I'm grateful for so many things that went right:

Andy's careful handling of my critters and for recruiting his sons Jacob and Gibby to wrangle sheep, Holly's expertise in taking sheep coats off (you should see my laundry pile) and matching the shorn sheep up with the correct size frock size. Mike did just about everything else that needed to be done – from tending to the sheep afterwards, caring for the rest of the flock and chipping ice and slush from the door yard. Caleb was our bagger and scribbler of notes from the day.

It was the most active I've been in the barn since last June. Feeling tired after a long day's work is a good tired. Easing back into the rhythm of normal farm routines as the year kicks in is deeply gratifying. The sheep look great this morning, basking like lizards in the morning sun streaming through the barn windows.

And those fleeces  . . . . I promise more photos once I catch up on everything else.