Saturday, July 10, 2010

Shearing Day #2 - 2010

That job is done.... Four of us spent the hottest, most humid day of the year on Wednesday working wool. It was unbelievably hot and uncomfortable. But it is done for another year. I was secretly hoping the shearers would cancel but they didn't. Kevin Ford, the blade shearer and Gwen Hinman, an electric shearer turned up early in the morning, trying to beat the heat. That didn't work because it was already hot.

All day long, The Farmer caught sheep, plucking the unshorn ones from amongst a sea of sheep in a wire hog panel pen. Some were easier to catch than others but one by one, the sheep took their turns having their wool coats clipped away.

You would think they would be lining up so they could cool down but most went with a fight, some more than others.

We set up just outside our fence under the temporary shade of a giant old maple tree. The white tents we take to the Farmers Markets helped shade the shearers from the sun. Every little bit helped.

On and on, they clipped and clipped. Gwen is remarkably quick and strong.

Conversation during sheep shearing is usually quite good and interesting. Not that day. It was too hot to talk. Each of us plodded along, sweat dripping, clothing soaked...... not a pretty sight. This ewe's face kind of says it all, "when will this heatwave be over?"

After a quick lunch, there were still more sheep to shear. One by one, the white sheep in the pen disappeared. When we got down to the black and brown sheep, the end was near, thank goodness. We always shear our colored sheep last so the white fleeces don't get contaminated with brown fibers. I was so hot and uncomfortable skirting (that means taking the messy bits off of the shorn fleeces) that I even forgot to take photos for you all. Luckily sanity stepped in and I remembered, oh yeah.... blog readers need to see this.

And so it is done for another year. The majority of the fleeces looked nice. There were some surprises - like this wacky polka dot fleece which unfortunately isn't much good for spinning.

There were some that were too felted or had breaks in them and I immediately turned them into mulch around the shrubs in the yard. They look odd (my mom would call it an unsightly mess) but wool mulch sure does work wonders keeping the moisture in and the weeds down. Breaks happen to fleeces because of stress to the animal. Sometimes the tips break because of weather damage. Sometimes you can tell where in the cycle of the wool a ewe lambed. All in all, we got a lot of very nice fleeces. Now I have to figure out what to do with them all.


Jennifer said...

Oh, I bet the sheep were happy to shed those heavy wool coats! And I can't believe you have a polka-dotted sheep!

Anonymous said...

That polka dot fleece looks interesting. Is it dotted all the way through? What breed is the sheep?
--Jeri patternwhisperer on rav

melissaknits said...

wool mulch is one of the reasons why I think I need sheep.
Missed the fleece sale today. Bummer! Got any mulch-like fleeces left? I'd buy a couple.

Jessica Marie said...

Well of course you should make the fleeces into wallpaper. Or spread them out and have a big, dirty picnic on them!

Anonymous said...

I think the yarn from the polka dot fleece would be interesting to knit with.

Anonymous said...

I like wool mulch too. :) I bet that is a sigh of relief having all those sheep shorn... I had around 80 at shearing time and still have yet to process anything.