Night Shearing

The shepherd who sold us our five border cheviots was so kind as to hook us up with her sheep shearing guy.  He was coming out on Saturday to work her flock, so we tacked onto his agenda since he would be in the area anyway.  A bit like the cable guy, there was no real time frame given, just a “sometime in the afternoon” and “I’ll call you when he’s on the way” and so Alston and I spent Saturday hanging around the farm while Will attended a seminar on growing produce.

Will caught the sheep in the shed on Friday morning, so the girls had been sequestered for quite a long time.

The good news is that Big Bertha appears to have her sight back.  Otherwise, everyone seemed restless to get back to the pasture and its just starting to grow grass.

By the time Shearer was finished with the shepherd’s flock, it was already six o’clock.  Add in a bit of getting lost on the way here (this is where not having cell service in the area truly sucks) and he arrived around seven.  That being said, we couldn’t possibly be annoyed with the guy – he was as nice as could be and endured Alston’s chants of “sheep get haircut!” and my curious on looking.

My original plan was to play paparazzi during the shearing, but it was so dark Will ended up holding two flashlights so there was light enough for the Shearer to work.  Here’s the only shot I took, so I apologize for the low quality.

It probably took him around 8 minutes per sheep, if even.  It was amazing to watch how easily he could catch an ewe, lift her into a squatting position so she sat on her rump and get right to shaving her underside (careful not to injury her udders), then work down her legs and tail, and move onto the prime wool of her back and sides.  It was clear it took a lot of strength to hold the girls still, but he did so without any flailing or cries for help on their part.  I was completely in awe.  As he worked, he talked about how teams of shearers will shear the large flocks in New Zealand, shaving up to 250 sheep in a single day.

Based on their udders, the Shearer thinks two ewes may be pregnant.  Will had a keen eye on all of their bellies and thinks it may be as many as three.  The Shearer did warn that it’s especially hard to tell with young ewes until much closer to their due dates, so we’ll have to wait and see.

The next day, I took some shots of our newly pruned ewes.  To me they look like lambs, although Will remarked that they remind him of deer.

The wool filled five tall kitchen trash bags to the brim.  Now it’s off to the mill to be turned into yarn.


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