Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dey Tuk Er Cloz!!!!!!

Things are about to get a whole lot warmer around here, and just in the nick of time, the sheep shearer worked us into his schedule. Here's a before picture of my little flock of sheep, the morning of the Big Day.

I kept them locked in the barn overnight so they'd be completely dry when he arrived. The sheep stall is 16 x 24 feet, which is pretty large for a dozen sheep and makes it very hard to catch them, so I crowded them into one corner of the sheep stall with a moveable panel. This allowed just enough room for the sheep and the shearer and his equipment.

When he arrived, he plugged in his shears, put down a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood on the stall floor and got started. Here's the motor part of the shearers.

He grabs a sheep, lifts it off the ground, sets it down on its rear end, and runs the clippers in the same pattern every time, starting with the stomach, up one side of the sheep, across the head and face, under the chin, and back down the other side.

It takes him less than three minutes to shear one sheep. The wool ends up mostly in one big piece. As he finished a sheep, he let it up off the floor and it scrambled back to the flock, and he handed the fleece off to me. They get over the drama pretty quickly, especially if there's hay around to distract them.

I have a bunch of mesh laundry bags and the fleece is rolled up and stuffed into a bag and stacked to await processing. The bigger sheep have been through this and put up with it pretty well. This was the first shearing for the six little lambs and although they are much smaller, they are much less tame and did a lot more kicking and squirming, except for this little guy. He was very sick around Christmas, and I spent several weeks giving him shots and oral medicine, and lots and lots of treats to help him put weight back on. He's my little buddy now, and tame as can be. He's grown a lot since Christmas but I still can't keep myself from picking him up like a puppy. He doesn't seem to mind, and knows there's a handful of grain in my pocket at all times. He's rather spoiled. His name is Todd Helton but I call him Shrimp because he's pretty small.

It's always amazing how small they look once they've lost their wool. In fact, last year was my first experience with shearing and I was stunned at the difference.

Several of the sheep had gotten so wooly and scraggly that there's no way they could see much through the wool covering their eyes.

The black sheep had turned a rich dark chocolate color due to the sun fading their wool but when the shearer was finished with them they had returned to their jet black color. At least for a while. This little guy is Jorge Dela Rosa. He was by far the wooliest of the lambs. Not Anymore! Heh...

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