Thursday, July 03, 2008


Every summer, we have the sheep sheared. It is probably the longest farming day of the year. The day starts early and lasts until every animal has their wooly coat removed. We just made the appointment with the shearers Kevin Ford and Bruce Clement. They are coming on July 14th. By then, everything has to be in order. I can feel the tension building as The Farmer hopes for good, dry weather and tries to erect some kind of temporary, wacky shade shelter that has to last only one day.

As you know, the sheep have been up the road on our neighbor’s hill for weeks now. The fields surrounding our farmhouse have been looking rather neglected because the animals haven’t been around to graze. Honestly, how much can 30 grazing chickens do – nothing compared to 200 sheep.

And so in preparation for shearing and for some much needed mowing, we moved the sheep down the hill to our place yesterday afternoon in the heat of the day. The Farmer made sure the sheep were good and hungry so they wouldn’t mind being moved from their most recent home.

Here they are peacefully hanging out before the move. They knew something was up because I was there along with the two dogs.

Here’s the group bunching up – you can see The Farmer and Nessie on the far side.

After a few false starts and wrong turns, they found the road we wanted them to be on and off they went.

We knew they would stop at our neighbor Joanne's hay field - that green grass is simply irresistable. It was a rather long stop for some snacks.

I waited patiently down at the shed, hoping I could move them in the right direction. It's pretty hard for one woman to control 200 sheep. I stopped them from going back up the road which was key.

They found our garden and front yard more alluring than the field we wanted them to be in. After some nibbles on the grapevines and lollipop hydrangeas.......

Then they went where they were supposed to and The Farmer fenced them in with the temporary electric fences.

It surely feels nice to have them back here - they look so splendid in full coat grazing the overgrown pasture.

Otherwise around here, we're trying to duck all the rain and thunder and lightening. I am terrified of my computer being zapped by lightening so it seems to be off more than on. The rain has made the planting of the sunflower field very slow. It is too wet to get on. Some of the seed has germinated but the large part of it hasn't even been planted. I fear we won't have as many flowers as usual. Haying has also proved difficult - too much rain daily that it makes cutting impossible. We'll see if it dries out soon..... Then we will madly plant it and hope for the best.

And so, as most Americans celebrate the 4th of July, we will be too - only we'll be fitting in a picnic in between raindrops and farm chores. Hope you enjoy the long weekend!


Kelley Hart said...

Those are some gorgeous sheep! Sounds like you have it all under control. Wish you could send some of that rain our way--very dry here in California.
Happy 4th!

Patricia said...

what will you do with the fleece?


Jessica Marie said...

This post reminded me why I love your blog so much. I'm also curious about what will happen to the fleece.

At a fair the other day I saw a sheep being shorn and it was standing quite still on a platform. This was confusing because when I've seen it done on TV, it's like a little wrestling match with unwilling sheep. Can you shed any light on what I've seen?

Virginia Lyons, Able Oaks Dairy Goats said...

Ah, you have lovely pastures. So many sheep! Next year, you might consider hosting a shearing day in which farmers with small herds of sheep, alpacas, and/or llamas can bring their animals for shearing. You can get listed for free on the Livestock Shearers Directory. I host small breeders every year, and it helps to cover at least some of my shearing expenses for my alpacas and llamas. Plus I get some free help! :))

Laura said...

Oh, I love all of your stories and pictures but today's is my favorite to date!

A very happy 4th to you too. Do sheep mind fireworks?

Maymomvt said...

I like watching your sheep travel. Some day I'd like to watch it in person!

Leslie said...

You know, I just love reading your blog and am always excited when my "Google Reader" shows a new installment! Your sheep are so beautiful and, as a girl raised in Rhode Island, I dream about "coming home" some day and having my own mini farm. In spite of all the sweat and hard work involved, there's just something about that life that draws me in. Thanks so much for "giving me my fix" until that day comes for me. In the meantime, whatcha gonna do with all that fleece? Inquiring knitter minds wanna know..... :)

Lori Gayle said...

Don't those sheep know they are risking life and limb stampeding behind the truck? Good thing nobody was driving it!

Leslie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie said...

es, what does the Farmer do with all that fleece?

Insofar as dial up goes -- I live in New Salem, dial up only land unless you're on the common. Have you looked into an "air card"?? I have a Sprint Novatel and it's almost as good as the T-1 line I enjoy at work. I also see Verizon advertising them now. They're not just for laptops although that's how they're marketed. I use mine on my desktop, hanging from a curtain rod so it can "see" the horizon. The "cell phone for my computer" gets 5 bars and downloads information between 800 and 900 Kbs - not shabby! You may want to look at this as a bona-fide business expense if there's any cell phone reception at the Farm.

Sprint offers a 30-day trial period which is why I went with them instead of Verizon. hope this helps.
-Leslieileen (ravelry name)

SNOWBIRD said...

Loved the pictures of the sheep! I know 200 sheep to be shorn has got to be a huge task, but look at the end product. Will be some great yarn somewhere with all that wool!
Happy 4th to all!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I so enjoy the photos of your sheep! Especially the darker ones... they're gorgeous! Edward feels there must be sheepdog somewhere in his background!

ColorJoy LynnH said...

I always love your stories about moving sheep. It seems so impossible to do (dogs are amazing helpers, clearly), and so different from my city life 30 blocks from the state capitol building. My lot would not hold 200 sheep even if the house were removed.

Thanks for sharing your lifestyle with us. The sheep and chickens are fascinating. My mom grew up on a small family farm and it's interesting to have a peek into some parts of how it goes.

LynnH in Lansing, MI