Saturday, April 4, 2009

(slightly delayed) scenes from shearing

Well, Mr. Weekend Farmer, today is your lucky day. The painters are just finishing up in the office, my LSH and two older sons are on their way to DC, and my youngest is playing quietly for the moment.* Which taken all together means: I have a quiet moment to blog about our shearing day, exactly one week later. Who says I'm not behind?

Despite rain in the early hours of the morning, we were blessed with a pretty dry and temperate day. We had gotten the sheep in the barn the night before, and so everyone was nice and dry and in place. This is the first year in a long while that we have not had a ram on the farm; makes it much easier when we don't have to worry about segregation in the barn, and everyone can just be in one big group.

The shearing process itself went more smoothly than ever. Primo would catch and halter the next victim, my LSH would remove the sheep coat, and then we would wait until Hoyt Emmons, the shearer, finished with his current sheep.


As soon as the fleece was off, the sheep was moved to the side by my LSH, while my mom and I gathered the fleece and put it on the skirting table. While the esteemed members of the ISPSPP** removed the worst of the yuck that accumulates on a sheep, my LSH and I gave dewormer medication to and trimmed the hooves of the freshly-shorn sheep.

Nate camera 3-09 004

Meanwhile, Primo would be catching the next sheep, and so on and so forth... When we lifted our heads 90 minutes later, we were on the last sheep, and we had accumulated an impressive pile of bagged fleeces.

Nate camera 3-09 011

As previously mentioned, we deliberately kept a lid on the invites this year because I was in no position to pull off the barn-raising/meet-and-greet/reunion-ish event that it historically resembles. Last year we had over 40 people milling around that morning. This year it took my LSH and I an embarassingly long time to figure out that it had gone so much more quickly because there were so many fewer people there. Shocking, isn't it? It also helped that we only had nine sheep to shear, none were rams (who put up more of a fight on the shearing board), and fewer lambs to holler while their moms were being sheared.

Most importantly, the older boys are getting big and strong enough to lend a helpful hand, and the youngest boy can amuse himself on a pile of dirt for 90 minutes. Many of the photos are thanks to Secondo and his new-to-him camera; he and my mom are the ones responsible for making sure there were pictures of the event, and they did a great job.


* OK, true confession: he's playing on the Wii. But did I mention that he's being quiet?

** International Society of Professional Sheep Poop Pickers.


  1. Gary and I usually are the only two allowed in the barn while we shear.
    If someone brings sheep via trailer, which sometimes happens, but usually to others in the loop, we put them to work.
    We work better with fewer people also. This year, since our shearer brought his son to also shear, I had a friend help sweep up.
    I skirt the fleeces my way.
    The down side is I don't have the "OHHH warm fresh fleece for sale," frenzy which moves fiber.
    Trade offs.

  2. Thanks!! Looks great. The fleece looks amazing.

    We had our day yesterday and we managed was a long and fun day. Thanks for teaching us about sheep....this has been quite a journey : ).