Saturday, March 25, 2006

Shearing day

Yesterday was one of those days when you go to bed knowing that you did an honest day's work. After catching 15 sheep in the morning, we went to a farm about six miles away to pick up four yearlings that we sold to a lady last year. She only wanted them for pets, so we agreed to have them sheared every year in exchange for their wool.

The shearer arrived at 4:00, and we got to work. Last year, we had an assembly line set up where one person brought sheep to the shearer, then when they were sheared, one person would give them dewormer, one person would vaccinate, one person would trim their hooves, and someone would return them to the pasture. Another person had the job of bagging up the fleeces. Last year, we had help. Mike's parents and his niece were here, and we were all very busy! This year, Margaret was sick, and we had no extra help, so we decided to simply get the task of shearing done. Mike brought the sheep to the shearer and returned them to the stall, while Katherine rolled up the fleeces, and stuffed them into the garbage bags that I was holding. Today we will trim hooves and deworm before letting the sheep back into the pasture.

In the photo, Mike is about to pick up Majik, who has just been sheared, and yes, that huge amount of fleece belonged to her! She is one of our biggest wool producers, and her fiber is very long, which is great for spinning into bulky yarn. Katherine spun her wool from two years ago and used part of it to knit a scarf for herself.

We also got a huge surprise yesterday. When the shearer (who has raised sheep for years) flipped over one of the yearling ewes to clip her chest, he said, "Oh, this one's really pregnant!" The surprise is that we were not going to breed yearlings again after all the lambing problems we had last year with yearling ewes. I wrote on my calendar that Monet jumped the fence five months ago, so any lambs born this week would be his, even though we never saw him mate anyone. I didn't think a ram would go to the trouble of jumping a four-foot fence TWICE if there wasn't a ewe in heat. Guess I was right. We'll have to keep an eye on her, although it's not as easy to know when a sheep is going to lamb as it is to know when a goat is going to kid. I just hope she doesn't have any trouble.

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