Spring is SUPPOSED to be here which means shearing of the sheep here on the farm. We have had some crazy weather lately which means it has played havoc on our shearing schedule. Brandie likes to set aside a full week to shear the sheep so that there is no rush, take time, don’t stress ourselves or the sheep out. 5-10 a day is good. If you want to stop or something comes up you can. We took this stance after watching a commercial shearer butcher a bunch of animals by trying to do too many in a short amount of time. They really didn’t care if they took chunks of flesh off as it was not their animals. we do our darnedest to not nick any animals. Unfortunately sometimes it happens. Out of 35 animals only 3 were nicked and we felt worse than the sheep who really didn’t even notice. The nick is dressed immediately and doctored.
We have several reasons for shearing when we do. We like to do it before lambing. We lamb later than many other farmers we know. We have reasons for that too. Having a shown back end allows for less complications during delivery, less mess for bugs and possible infections. Having a shorn underbelly/udder makes it easier for lambs to find the teats. We have seen lambs trying to nurse on longer wool on the underbelly with little success. Lastly, we do it so the mothers experience the cooler temps. We lamb later so that it is warmer when they give birth, but also without all that fiber on the body to insulate them, moms have no idea it is getting colder or sometimes raining. The lambs have little wool in comparison, and not as much fat built up. So it the mothers are cold, they seek shelter in one of the barns taking the lambs with them. We have heard stories about ewes who allowed their babies to freeze to death because they just weren’t aware how cold it was.
We also like to shear as close to The Greencastle Fiber Event. We have a booth here and sell our raw fleeces and products we make from our wool. This year the Fiber Event is Friday April 13th, and Saturday April 14th. Come out and see us. If you are into fiber arts and anything fiber related, then this may be the event for you.
We have a wide variety and diverse group of friends and followers. This year we invited some of them to come and observe how we shear the sheep. Some students from the local university came out, as well as one of the most critical people we could think of. She is a vegan by choice, and was a strong opponent to wool as a whole. After seeing how much care we took with the sheep, we didn’t change her mind, but she has a better insight. All of her knowledge came from the completely inaccurate PETA videos. She admitted it wasn’t what she was expecting but still wouldn’t wear wool. Baby steps…baby steps. From adamantly opposed to, “OK, it isn’t what I thought and not everyone is like that (PETA video)”.
Because of the weather we were not able to get everyone shorn. A few sheep who were not pregnant, so no lambing issues. We also still have to shear the alpacas.
Here are a few pictures from when we were shearing. We do not to the manual type or Australian shearing we use a stand. We believe it is easier on us and the sheep. We also use clippers. Similar to what a barber would use, but heavier duty, and thicker. Brandie had to do most of the shearing as I was on the injured list from not using safety equipment properly. While on the stand they get medical inspection, check pregnancy, hooves examined and trimmed if necessary, annual shot, and wormed. If any issues are found they are treated and documented. You could say the sheep get spa day during shearing. They get a hair trim, nails done, special treats to eat, massage, and wellness check.