Sheep Couture


Today Holly and I played wardrobe mistresses to a group of young ladies due to lamb in a couple of weeks.   Due to increased girth at late gestation, the gals were beginning  to look like sausages waddling around the pasture.   Even though they will instantly shed pounds with lambing within a few weeks, we went ahead and up-sized.

I’m often asked about the jackets.  Our sheep wear them to keep their wool clean.  The Cormo sheep (above center) have fine, dense fleeces.  Any contaminants such as seeds, hay,  grain pellets, barn-yard grit become deeply embedded in an uncoated fleece and processing does NOT remove it all.    The coats keep the fleeces snowy white and also provide protection from weather. 

Sheep coats require changes at least three times in the course of a year to accomodate wool growth and weight gain due to pregnancy.  Being as fastidious about sheep comfort as I am about wool cleanliness,  I drive myself a bit nutty making sure everyone is in proper coat size.  Since the sheep care not about the  condition of their  fleece, it’s really all up to me.


Holly with a flock in new frocks.


Note the white bumps on their backs.


For some of the gals, the next size up was just a little too blousy.  Rather than risk wardrobe malfunctions, we made some quick alterations using . . .


plastic Easter eggs and zip ties!

Sliding an egg under the coat on the sheep’s back just above the pelvis, we gathered the excess fabric around the egg.  A zip tie holds the fabric firmly around the egg, keeping the coat from drooping over the tail.  The plastic egg is light enough to sit on the sheep’s back fairly well centered without shifting.  After few minutes, a ewe seems to forget she has a plastic Easter egg tucked under her coat.  She goes about her business, however, she is very interested in the curious object on the back of her friend . . . .   

I learned this clever sizing trick from friend and fellow shepherd, Alice.

While on the subject of adjustments, elsewhere on the farm today –


Galveston supervised as Mike increased the spacing on the creep panel.   Our largest lambs were barely able to wriggle into the creep pen.   The rain has brought  them delicious, green pasture at last, so they won’t be needing the creep pen for much longer. 

The lambs couldn’t be happier.