Shearing The Sheep

Shearing Kim

Ian was here at 9am.   I had the barn all cleaned up from the sheep spending the night  in it.  I had my plastic bags to put the wool in and the extension cord hooked up and in place for Ian to plug his clipper in.

Kim was the first to be shorn.  She’s used to it and is smaller than the rest of the sheep.  She was a bit skinny without all her wool.  She’s getting older, so in the winter I’ll feed her some grain along with hay.

Merricat

Merricat was next.  I had her shorn in the fall and her wool is a nice length with a lovely crimp.  And so clean, there will be little skirting to do.

Constance

I was’t surprised that Constance gave Ian a hard time.  She wouldn’t stay still for him even when he finally got her on her back. Sheep usually go dormant when held in that position.  But Constance was trouble the whole time.

Constance and her wool

Ian says he understands, and was gentle with Constance thoughout the shearing.

Ian and Fate

Fate was outside the barn looking thought the fence the whole time.  I think she was more comfortable with the fence between her and the sheep.

Asher sniffing Issachar’s wool

Ian throws the “junk” wool off the mat.  This is the wool from the belly and top of the head.  It can’t be taken to the mill because it is shorter than the rest of the wool and very dirty.  Asher was hanging around while his twin was shorn.

“Nurse, give that sheep a gold star sticker,” Ian joked as he released Issachar. Issachar  was so calm and easy going about being shorn, it was as if he was enjoying it.

Asher

Asher and Issachar’s wool is long and soft.  And there is a lot of it. I will make yarn out of Issachar’s black wool and roving from Asher’s which is a bit lighter.

Notice how the wool closer to Asher’s body is darker.  That is because the wool on the top is bleached by the sun.

Jon and the sheep.

Ian is shearing Lori and Robin (in the photo with his wool on) was the last to be shorn.

Lori being shorn

Constance hung around Lori when she was being shorn.  Lori’s wool is short so I won’t be using it.  But I have her wool from the fall shearing.  From now on I will only shear her once a year.

Robin

Ian left Robin for last.  Because he is young, he still hops around a lot.  He ran halfway  up the wall when Ian first came into the barn.  But Ian outsmarted Robin and calmly got him onto the mat and on his back.

clipping Merricat’s hooves

Ian also clips all the sheep hooves and checks them to make sure they are healthy.

The sheep were happy to leave the barn and do some grazing, in their new coats,  when the shearing was done.

Switching My Sabbath

Ian and Asher

Saturday is my day off.  My Sabbath.  I don’t check my email or blog, I don’t go on-line at all.

But this morning Ian came to shear the sheep.  As always I recored the shearing with pictures and videos.  So I decide that this weekend, I’d take Sunday off instead of Saturday.

Over the years that Ian has been shearing for us, he has become a friend as well as our shearer.  He and Jon have regular chess games and he comes for dinner, sometime bringing a poem to read, sometimes pizza or ice cream, but always good conversation.

 

In From Grazing

When the animals come in from grazing they’re ready to relax in the shade of the pole barn.

Tomorrow after they are shorn I will let the sheep into the back pasture again.  I didn’t want them there because there are lots of tall plants that can get stuck in their wool.  I was trying to keep their wool as clean as possible the month before shearing.

Issachar and Asher’s wool still have some remnants of the the hay they ate over the winter, but it’s not as much as it would be if I had them shorn while still eating hay.  Their wool is the hardest to skirt, it’s thick and moist with lanolin, which is part of what makes it good for spinning and knitting.

After the sheep are shorn I will skirt their wool,  cleaning it of the large organic debris.  I have a few bags of wool from the fall shearing too, so even though I only have seven sheep now, I’ll have eleven bags of wool for the mill.

Getting Ready For Sheep Shearing On Saturday

Robin

When the rest of the sheep went back to the barn Robin was still grazing.  He bit off a dandelion in his last mouthful before I chased him out of the pasture.

There were so many little wildflowers where he was grazing, I was inspired to pick Jon a tiny bouquet.

I’ll put the sheep in the barn Friday night.  This way if it rains or there is a lot of dew, their wool won’t be wet for shearing on Saturday morning.

Sheep through the window in Jon’s study.

Sheep Shearing Saturday

Constance, Kim and Asher.  With Lulu behind them

Our shearer, Ian, will come on Saturday morning to shear the sheep.  There are only seven of them now, the smallest flock I’ve had in years.

I’ll need big bags for Asher and Issacar’s wool,  it’s been growing for a whole year.  I don’t know if Lori’s wool is long enough.  I had her shorn in the fall and it’s slow growing.

But I will shear all of them and we will begin again.

My Flock Of Seven Sheep

Asher

I thought I’d introduce my new flock for anyone who doesn’t know them.  And since it’s recently a new flock after the death of Suzy and Socks, I hope those of you who already know them will enjoy seeing their portraits.

Asher (above) is Issachar’s twin. They are a mix of Como, Blueface Leicester and Romeny.  They are six years old.

Issachar

It’s not always easy to tell Asher and Issachar apart.  Issachar has a white flash high up on his nose and his wool is a bit darker.  They were both bottle fed so they are very friendly.  They are big wethers (castrated male sheep) and are kind.  They often break up the head butting that can go on.

I feel like since almost all of my older sheep are gone, that Asher and Issachar have taken over as the leaders of the flock.

Merricat

Merricat is a Romney and came to the farm in 2020 along with her sister Constance, they are five years old.  My former shearer Liz gave me all the sheep I have now except Kim.  She has lovely white wool that I have dyed in the past.

But this year I’ll be going to a new mill since The Vermont Fiber Mill closed.  The new mill doesn’t dye wool, so I may try dying some myself.  Or I’ll just sell it in it’s natural colors.

Constance

Constance is also a Romney.  I think she would like to be the leader of the flock.  She’ll eat from the donkey’s feeder even after they chase her away.  She is always butting heads with the other sheep.  And when she feels like it, she will put her head down and butt Zip chasing him out  of the barnyard.  She has even made Fate move from where she is standing.  But she never has to butt Fate, she just looks at her.

It’s supposed to be the other way around. The sheep aren’t  supposed to move the Border Collie, but Fate has never been a typical Border Collie

Lori

Lori is a Romney too. She came to the farm with Merricat and Constance, but grew up with Asher and Issachar on Liz’s farm.    When we got her we didn’t know she was pregnant.  Since we don’t have a ram on the farm, we had a great surprise that spring when we found a little black lamb in the barnyard.

Robin

Robin is Lori’s lamb.  Although now he is a 3 year old wether.  He is sweet and bit shy.  But he will put his face right in mine and when he does I always feel like he is asking a question I don’t know how to answer.

Kim

Kim is the only sheep I still have from my original flock.  She is a 10 years old Karakul. She is the only animal on the farm that is afraid of Zinnia.  It’s because she is easily startled and when Zinnia runs Kim runs which makes Zinnia run even more.

In the next week or two, I will have all the sheep shorn and they will all look a bit different. Maybe I’ll take more portraits of them so you can see what they look like without their wool on.

Kim, My Oldest Sheep

Kim is now my oldest sheep.  She’s around 11 years old.  She isn’t showing any signs of aging and I still think of her as a young sheep even though it’s not true.

She is a Karakul, which are hardy and adaptable desert sheep, originally from Central Asia.  Their wool is great for felting, I often mix Kim’s wool with Merricat’s who also has white wool.  But I may make it into roving this year.

Kim has always been the only Karakul in the flock and all the sheep she grew up with on the farm have died.  But aside from being skittish especially around Zinnia, she continues to adjust to the changes that go on around her.

It took years, but Kim will eat treats out of my hand.  She’ll even nose her way between the other sheep to get them.

She is one of the sheep I didn’t shear in the fall so her fleece, which is straight without a crimp, will probably be five or six inches long.

Ian, will come in a couple of weeks to sheer all the sheep. I’ll bring their wool to the new mill by the end of May and hopefully get it back in the fall.

Full Moon Fiber Art