Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Guess what I did!

Hey! Who is this?? What a cutie! Let's follow him and see where he takes us...
Let's see...we have lambs, sheep, a tool box, and a tire. What could these be for?

Sheep surgery?

Nope! it's shearing time!

Last Thursday my cousin William phones and asked if I could come and help shear his sheep. He's never done it before, I've never done it before, and last year when he was in Iraq his wife Natalie did it standing with kitchen scissors because she couldn't get them to sit. (Trust me - I laughed to tears hearing her tell about it!)

"Just pop them on their butts and then they're paralyzed and you can shear them" his brother said.

"Lie the sheep on it's side and then proceed to shear" the internets said.

"Right." we said. "And exactly how to do you "pop" a 300-pound meat sheep onto it's butt?" It's not easy. And once it's there, it is indeed paralyzed, and the it slowly starts to tip over until you're holding 300 pounds of sheep that's kind of melted onto your legs and as soon as it's feet hit the ground again your time is UP and that sheep is running away!

As we learned...there's a distinct learning curve to this whole sheep-shearing business. The first one looked like it had gotten into a fight with a lawn mower. (btw - anyone recognize the breed?)

We and the sheepies did survive the day, though I regret to admit that we sustained fewer injuries than the sheep. It wasn't easy, despite what the professional shearers make it look like.

It took us all of three hours to shear four sheep. I spent most of the day holding feet or hugging the head to keep it from running away while William wielded the Shears of Death. By the last one, though, it was looking pretty good, and William was feeling cocky enough to leave a mohawk on the head of the final sheep (She really did deserve it - she put up a fight, and dragged Natalie partway across the field. This sheep has attitude.)

Finally we skirted and packed up the wool. Lovely, crimpy stuff. One of them was so fine it felt like nice Cormo, one was very coarse, and the other two were in between.

The fleeces barely fit into the garbage bags I brought!

Afterwards, we rested for a while. William and Natalie's five kids were running around the whole time, helping, hindering, and using my camera . I think the kids really enjoyed it!

As for the adults?

We're SO GLAD this only happens once a year.

Have you ever sheared a sheep? Ever watched it? Have any advice for next time around? And what are you supposed to put on sheep-cuts? Anything?


Alwen said...

Wo0t! I am in awe.

Every so often the DH suggests getting sheep so I wouldn't have to push-mow the path and around the firepit on our 12 acres, but I say hoof paring, feeding, deworming, shearing, and he gets quiet.

Jody said...

I do have some advice if you are shearing sheep. Keep them off their feed a day before shearing. It's alot easier on their bodies and digestive systems. Learned that the hard way :-)