We got a phone call the other night from Kevin Ford, a local sheep shearer. Kevin has helped us out with our sheep for several years. He's a blade shearer (no electricity, talk about carpal tunnel) and he shows up when he says he will. The second point is more important than the first. (Note to anyone starting a business -- show up when you say you are going to. You will succeed.) "Did we still have sheep?" Yes. "How many?" Not sure. "Do you want me to shear them?: Yes. We'll figure out how many there are when you shear them.
Tentative plans were made. The Farmer suggested he bring an apprentice or a friend. Long story short, tomorrow at 7:30 a.m., two shearers are arriving, trying to beat the heat. The second shearer is using electric clippers. Tonight, neighboring farmers were coaxed into helping to build a temporary shelter to shade the shearers and the sheep. We'll see how it holds up - it only needs to last a day and at least one hundred sheep.
So, where are the sheep? Good question. At this time of year, they are all over the place in borrowed fields grazing overgrown grass. The grass slows down about now and it is always The Farmer's biggest scramble to keep the sheep fed.
This morning we had three separate flocks of sheep - one here at our house consisting of about 30 ewes and a couple lambs. The second flock - all lambs - is about five miles from here. They don't need to be shorn so we won't worry about them right now. The third flock - in excess of 100 ewes and a few rams is way, way, way, up the hill from our farmhouse on a neighbor's hillside. They have been working their way up the hill for a few weeks, grazing the overgrown grass and looking mighty cute. But these guys need to have their winter coats removed.
The next challenge was how to get them into our backyard. Nessie, our young Border Collie, definitely wouldn't have what it takes to move 100 plus sheep that far. Enter Becky Peterson, shepherd extraordinaire. Becky lives across town and has five dogs. The Farmer called her and she agreed. This morning, Becky and her dogs arrived. They were up for the challenge. Look hard in the photo below - there are a bunch of sheep on the right in the shade - Becky and her dogs and The Farmer are scoping out the situation.
Here they are.
Time to move:
Hitting the road:
At this point, I am running down the road, hopping in the truck and trying to beat the sheep to the gate they are supposed to go into at our farm. I drive like a maniac..... I get back, open the gate, and then wait for the photo op.....
No, sorry, didn't happen. They took a left turn at the hayfield and had a bit of a snack.
It took all those two dogs could do to move those sheep off that tasty grass. But they did it!
Tonight, they are captured, awaiting shearing. We'll see what tomorrow brings. I feel like I'm living amongst the pages of The Thorn Birds.
BOOK PARTY - MAY 5-6
to celebrate the publication of my new book
CRAFTING A PATTERNED HOME.
Our colorful 1751 farmhouse will be open to the public. On view will be many of the projects that are featured in Crafting A Pattern Home along with many other things I have made over the years.
This event will be a celebration of the handmade. I hope the day will inspire you to add some pattern and color to your home.
The event is FREE. Books will be available along with some other things I have made. For more information and directions, see the EVENTBRITE PAGE HERE. Although tickets are not mandatory, it will help me get a count to know what to expect. Hope to see you here in western Massachusetts in May.