Shearing Day

Kim being shorn

Ian did a great job shearing the sheep yesterday. I’m so grateful to have a reliable and experienced shearer.  He also trims their hooves.   The most sensitive part of the shearing is their bellies.  That’s where the shearing begins.

The shearer tucks the sheep’s head under his arm when shearing the belly as you can see in the picture of Kim above.  The older sheep, like Kim,  didn’t give Ian any trouble.

Asher’s beautiful mix of Cormo, Romney, and Blue Face Leicester wool always reminds me of cooling lava flowing from a volcano. 

Asher was next in line. On Friday he started limping. When Ian trimmed Asher’s hooves he found a small abscess.  Ian cut it,  allowing it to drain.  Asher will limp around for a few more days, but he has already begun to heal.

Constance’s, pure Romney wool you can see the lovely crimp on some of the grayer wool toward the bottom of the picture.

Constance gave Ian the hardest time. She kept kicking and squirming.  But Ian just kept at it until she settled down. I’m not surprised it was Constance who was trouble.  She is a dominant sheep.

Constance and Merricat

The sheep often don’t recognize each other after they are shorn.  Constance (who was the first to be shorn) and Merricat did some head-butting for a bit.  In the picture above Constance is smelling a hunk of shorn wool, no doubt recognizing the smell.  And Merricat is smelling Constance’s rear which is one of the ways they know other.

Biddy getting her hooves trimmed.

Sometimes when the sheep are being shorn they can look pretty strange, even as if they’re dead. But it’s just that they go dormant when they are on their backs.

Biddy lost a lot of weight over the winter.  She is the last of the Romneys we rescued in 2016 from a farmer who could no longer care for them.   I know she is old, but I don’t know how old.  She did look like she was having a hard time eating hay, but still has a good appetite.  I always made sure she got grain this winter, but now I will begin feeding it to her on a regular basis, at least until the grass comes up.

There’s a good chance that will fatten her up again.

Socks. Sometimes the sheep look like a bundle of wool and legs when they are being shorn.

Socks, along with Suzy is one of my original sheep. She is ten years old, is still in good health and is often at the gate baaing at me.  Her wool doesn’t grow as quickly anymore so I will continue shearing her only once a year. She is a Border Leicester and her wool mixed with Romney wool makes good yarn for knitting and crocheting.

Robin and Lori

Lori was shorn next.  Her Romney wool is long and beautiful this year.  The best it’s ever been. She’s a quiet and gentle sheep so I was surprised when she gave Ian a bit of a hard time.  She has a lot of lanolin in her wool, especially around her belly which makes it tougher to shear.  Ian said it was like shearing through oil.

After she was shorn she and Robin found each other and stayed together until it was Robin’s turn.

Issachar and his wool

Bleached brown on the outside from the sun, Issachar’s wool is black close to his skin.  I loved stuffing all the wool into the plastic bags, feeling the softness and warmth of it as well as getting my hand soft with its lanolin and breathing in the smell.

Robin hiding behind his mother Lori

Robin looks very different after shearing.  He has the lean body and long legs of a teenager.  And he jumped more than once as Ian tried to catch him to shear.

Ian said he appreciates how we have the sheep contained in a small area.  Sometimes he’ll go to a farm and the sheep are still out grazing and have to be herded into the barn.  But once the sheep see him they are less likely to come quietly if at all, even with the promise of grain.

Suzy still with her wool on.  That’s Constance, Lori, Kim, Socks,  Biddy, and Asher behind her.

Suzy was the last to be shorn.  She didn’t give Ian a bit of trouble.  But then Suzy is in many ways a wonderful sheep. Her wool is always long, soft, and clean.  She gave birth to Liam without any help or trouble and was an attentive mother.

She was so calm during shearing that Ian was able to sit down next to her (something he said he never does) to trim her hooves.

Ian trimming Suzy’s hooves

13 thoughts on “Shearing Day

  1. They certainly look very different now but all of them so cute. I loved how Robin hid behind his momma There sure is a lot of wool there; just amazing. Just love reading and seeing photos of all your animals. ♥️

    1. It feels so good to have them shorn Joanne. And since then it’s been warm here, so I’m sure they really appreciate not having those big wool coats. I never get tired of shearing and seeing the sheep in their different stages of wool and in their lives.

  2. I see what you mea about the black wool looking like lava and I can imagine how nice all that wool must feel. It’s quite a skill, I think, to shear a sheep and it must be back-breaking. You are going to have a lot of wool to sell!

    1. Yes there is so much. Now I’m concerned that some of it is too long. But it will work out one way or another. How the wool is always different keeps me creative about processing it.

  3. Love the shearing observations. I can confirm they are a little confused after shearing, but relieved. What I can tell from my sheep last year was a 5 minute long appalled baaahing at me, when the shearer was gone. All of them and they are normally very quiet. I guess with weather forecast in north of france I will call the shearer for end of may. Woolly greetings

    1. I always feel like they are relieved too Katrin. That’s really funny about the baaing. Mine always just seem glad to get out of the barn without complaint. 🙂 I’ve had mine shorn early in June in the past. But I would have shorn them late in October so it worked out. Good luck with your sheep.

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