Monday, July 18, 2011

Sheep shearing

No, we don't have any particular reason for shearing in July. This is another one of those things that slipped through the cracks when I was writing my book. It was getting hot in May when I realized that I had not scheduled an appointment with the sheep shearer, so I called and scheduled, and this was the earliest he could shear our sheep. Thankfully no one melted in the nearly 100-degree heat we've had sporadically over the past two months.

As it turned out, I was not home for the shearing, which was tough for me. I was attending a meeting at the Illinois Farm Bureau, and everyone who was anyone in local foods was in attendance, from the lieutenant governor to local farmers' market managers. I reconsidered attending the meeting over and over in my head, but finally I convinced myself that everyone could handle shearing without me. I was right.

Last year, I suggested that we use Electronet to create lanes and simply "push" the sheep from their pasture to the barn. Basically, a couple of humans get behind them, and they do what comes naturally -- they run away from the humans. It was a brilliant idea. I wish I'd come up with it sooner. There were some years when it took us several hours to get the sheep into the barn. Getting a herding dog shortened the time quite a bit, but without formal training, his assistance has been limited. It only took 12 minutes this year to move the sheep from pasture to barn, which is a record. And they were just as easily moved back to the pasture again.


Now it's time to skirt and wash the fleeces and get them ready for taking to the mill where they'll be carded into roving for hand spinners or spun into yarn for knitters and crocheters.


Michelle said...

I watched a sheep shearing demo at the Calgary Stampede last week...they carry on the way my cats do when we're cutting their claws. :) The before and after pictures look like totally different critters!

Kathy ~ Cackles and Berries said...

Who does your shearing for you Deborah?

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Jim Davis from Odell.


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