The Big Shear

Monday was the big push to shear all adult cormos, including the bred ewes – and also the day of what I hope will be the last winter storm. A ripping nor'easter rolled in early Monday and pretty much socked it to us all day, dumping a good 8" of powder here in western Mass. Although we worked indoors and the sheep were all inside, it was not the ideal conditions for shearing day.

The good thing about Monday was the help. Since the storm forced school cancellation, we got lucky and scored a couple of high school students for the day, a real plus since Mike's cracked ribs are still on the mend. Holly and our intrepid friend, Caleb K. were also on hand. And then there was the bonus help – Adrian B. and her husband Mark, our new neighbors in Shelburne Falls,  also new to the shearing gig (but not at all new to the world of fiber). They arrived ready to roll up their sleeves and pitch in.

Holly,adrian shearing day
Holly showed Adrian the ropes.

Mike, mark
Mark and Mike talked sheep (I think).

Shearing scene
A break in the action, while this ewe receives a pedicure.

Barb pulling coats
Barb pulling sheep

One of my favorite things about shearing in late winter is checking tummies for lambs (though the udder is also a good indicator of whose carrying). My shearer Andy Rice stops so we can give this girl a pat down. Its easy to feel a lamb head or a lamb butt or hoof. If you push gently, the lamb floats away and then bumps right back. Sometimes you feel a little kick. I get so excited. For much of the year, lambing feels remote and far off, something that happens "later". The first kick from an unborn lamb tells me it's imminent and real. Love it.
Checking for lambies

And as harsh as late winter shearing may seem, it actually serves the very good purpose of giving a ewe a keen awareness of the real temperature – which will let her know she needs to keep her newborns warm.

In between helping me bag fleeces, Adrian took some great shots of the shearing. I'll try posting some of them tomorrow.

Feel the fleece

Tomorrow I announce the name for CVM ram lamb #1 and we start a new contest for naming TWO lambs for next week. 

copyright 2009. Barbara Parry. All rights reserved.