Shearing Day!

Lyle gets a shave, originally uploaded by Tapsalteerie Farm.

At loooonnnngggg last we finally had worked out a time for the shearer to come this past Saturday. All the sheep (Lyle pictured above) were greatly appreciative, even if there was a great deal of baahing and general confusion among the lambs who were unable to figure out which Mama was which without all their wool.

Unfortunately the bulk of our wool is pretty much trash this year. Too much felting in the tips for the most part. We do have about 8 fleeces that we’ll be keeping (the Cotswolds and the lambs) and I kept Lyle’s because I want to play with dyeing, and his wool, while exceptionally long, isn’t particularly matted.

It was a very long, very tiring day! Jim had worked the night before and stayed up until 3pm helping out. Unfortunately I was unable to find a sympathetic supervisor at his work, so he did have to go in as usual.

For the record, it’s exceedingly difficult to plan for a shearer to come. The weather has to be nearly perfect and several major and minor stars have to align… we’ve never had more than a day’s notice before shearing and we’re too afraid to reschedule for fear it’ll take months to do! This shearer didn’t even call to tell us he was on his way. We called to see if the conditions were ok and found out he was about 45 mins away!! EEK! The sheep weren’t up and nothing was really ready, so we busted our tails to get everything in order.

By far the funniest moment was when the shearer pulled up. Jonathon (the shearer) drives a red pickup truck. He has shocking white hair and a very long white beard. The boys were out playing when he pulled up and all of a sudden I saw the two of them get that elated gleam in their eye.

So my two boys, who most of the time are quite shy around new people, came running up to Jonathon’s open window and immediately started into explaining why they wanted new bicycles (their old ones are broken) with their hands clasped together and their faces angelic in their request/begging.

I immediately understood what had happened and no matter how much I’ve tried to dissuade them from the idea, the boys are convinced that Santa shears sheep in the “off season”.

Interestingly, they were exceedingly good for the entire shearing.

Anyway. The sheep were less than cooperative. M lost both her shoes and did a Hollywood stunt-person style fall/roll at one point. Actually I think she lost her shoes more than once… I lost mine once, but recovered quickly!

Jim was blessed among men in that he was able to catch Keegan not once, not twice, but three times… a feat that has never been matched. This is impressive because I’m fairly certain that it’s been 3 years since he’s been shorn… he’s that wily and simply impossible to catch.

Anyway. So now I have a paddock full of naked sheep. They look like they feel better, although a couple of the lighter colored ones did appear to get a tad bit sunburned that first day… but it’s all getting better. I’m amazed at how different some of the sheepies look! Harriet is barely recognizable and a couple of the musket/moorit ewes are no longer fawny brown but more of a creamy white… which is weird. I can’t wait to see the wool grow in. I’m seriously contemplating jackets for the sheep to keep their fleeces cleaner. We’ve had a horrible time with VM this year and it’s just annoying to deal with. Besides I think a couple of our black sheep would have truly incredible fleeces if they didn’t get so much sun-bleaching.

Anyway (again). Our friend Melinda was able to bring her four over and they had a shear too… their wool turned out lovely (I can brag, they used to be our sheep 🙂 before Melinda took them to start her flock).

Julie and Kaedence came by as well, so it was a regular social day on top of a work day too! By the time it was over we were nearly ready to start evening chores and because of Jim’s work snafu I ended up milking solo (my first time!) which turned out great, but Maisie did try to act up a little but we did ok.

I was so exhausted that I barely remember my head hitting the pillow and I think I’m still getting over it all. The almost sun-burn isn’t helping either!

Be sure to click on the flickr link in the side column to view the pics. For some reason I’m not able to post pics to my blog anymore, so just click over there to see shots of a few of the fleeces and some of the shorn sheep!

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