Thursday, July 26, 2007


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.


southern gal said...

and thanks for helping me feel as if i live there too!

what an adventure - good luck in the morning! cant wait to see the photos!

and where are all those fleeces going?

(do you spin too?) ;o

Marcy said...

A wonderful tale and some lovely photos. Thanks!

Scribbles & Bits said...

They are so cute!!!! And yes, you are very correct: showing up on time is a big deal to me, too! I could go off on quite a rant about this, but I'll spare you! ;-)

marit said...

Thanks for sharing! But why do you sheare sheep at this time of year? It seems late? Do you sheare the lambs later in the fall, or not until next year? Here we try to sheare in March and October/November( only last year our shearer didn't show up until almost Christmas...)

martha said...

Your writing makes me feel as if I am there with you. Thank you for sharing your life with me (and others). I grew up on a farm in Ohio with a border collie as a pet. Pal was forever trying to herd my siblings and me. My grandmother taught me how to embroider, my mother taught me to knit. Your writing helps me remember those long ago days

Willow said...

All those fleeces, all that yarn!
heheh, love that last photo! Those border collies meant business.

Anonymous said...

Wow. It tugs at my heart. I miss that life so much. Thanx for sharing.


Gammy aka Peggy said...

Sounds like a LOT of work. Sitting here vicariously and quite comfortly live on your wonderful farm. I love The Thorn Birds. Hopefully they will work as hard as Luke but not be anything like him. :)

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

'Fleece' on the move! Why do we ever question how much lamb meat or yarn costs, when we get a glimpse into the extraordinary work needed to get it from the sheep to a knitter and/or a diner!
Thanks for this insight into shepherding sheep!

Kathleen C. said...

Great photos!
Tomorrow I go to a local farm to watch a sheep shearing (only two of them) and get a lesson on how to "skirt, sort and prepare fleece".

knittingiris said...

Wow, wow, wow. Hard work, made only harder by the added job of taking pictures to share with us, and I'm assuming it's muggy and hot, too?
I agree on the "show up when you say you will." DH lives by that and is well known for it, as well as his fine craftsmanship, of course.

KnitNana said...

Oh my! Great shots...I can feel the anticipation as you wait for them to appear...
Now...I'm off to locate my copy of The Thorn Birds (I LOVED that book!)