Monday, September 02, 2013

Shearing the Ewes + Back to School

Busy week last week - but really what week isn't. Julia started school on Wednesday - her freshman year of high school. Hard for me to believe! It was bittersweet seeing her get on the bus. I was, I admit, a bit relieved that we will be getting back to a schedule considering the amount of work I have to do in the next couple months. She did okay but I think it is going to take her a couple weeks to feel comfortable and not get lost in the big hallways.

On Wednesday, The Farmer moved the sheep closer to home. They are now grazing the hayfield right next to our little barn - all in preparation for shearing. I was able to get these two Instagram photos after the sun was gone - hence the grainy photos. They look so fluffy and peaceful, don't they? You can follow me on Instagram by clicking here (I think). My name on Instagram is kristinnicholas if that link doesn't work. 

Last Thursday, Kevin Ford and Gwen Hinman arrived to shear the rest of the ewe flock. It was a very busy day. Two shearers means twice as fast wool sorting and bagging. The day went well and at the end, they had sheared 158 ewes. 

Kevin uses old-fashioned blade shears. Gwen uses an electric shearing machine. The result is the same but Gwen usually shears 1/3 more sheep than Kevin. They charge by the animal so Gwen's check is always bigger. 

If you know Kevin, the money isn't why he shears. He is one with the animals, the wool, the people he shears for. We always have such interesting conversations on shearing day - especially while we are breaking for lunch.

When you take the wool off the ewes, it is easier to see their condition. Amazingly, most of them were in good shape, if a little fat. Considering the way the fields look that they have been grazing, that was good news. (To me, it just looks like piles of weeds!) They must be getting the right nutrition from the plants. 

It is breeding season so it was good to see the ewes in such fine form. After several years of assorted locations for shearing, we have finally found the right place - just next to our little barn which houses the lamb stand. We had some gravel put down to level the space and we shear inside the mobile sheep handling unit. It stays nice and cool under the trees even on wickedly hot days.

At the end of the day, Kevin did us a huge favor and sheared Winston. Winston had major mats on his tail, neck and back but it's not like we can take him to the groomer. I was afraid he wouldn't let Kevin clip him. I held him down (he loves me) and Kevin worked away. 

Quite a pile of dog hair was left. Winston looks a lot younger and puppy-like now. What a beautiful boy. Kevin wouldn't take any money for cutting the dog - only the leftover half of the peach and blueberry crisp I made for dessert. Thank you Kevin!


Anonymous said...

I love the photos of the nekkid sheep. :)And dog shearing is very interesting! He looks a lot cooler too! I do enjoy your blog, and check every day for news. Thanks for writing so often! samm@ravelry

Dianne@sheepdreams said...

We clipped our Pyr about a month ago, for the same reasons. There has been a noticeable increase in his energy level and appetite! I'd heard plenty about how Pyr's aren't supposed to be clipped, but decided his comfort was more important (and it seems to be growing back just fine). Can't imagine dealing with such a large flock!! You and Mark deserve a gold star!

Sarah V. said...

It's so interesting to see the shearing process! I knew there were differences between the two types of shearing, but I had no idea the time needed for each was so different. Very neat! Thanks for sharing :)

Robin T said...

I love reading your posts and looking at all the pictures. Thank you so much for sharing part of your daily life with us !

Auntie Shan said...

;-] Now Winston can blend in around the Sheep in his new "Disguise"... -- Just hope it grows back in time for snow!

And don't worry about Julia. She'll do fine. She'll probably have the place GPS'd in no time!

Anonymous said...

Winston! You look mahvelous! And so don't (as we used to say where I grew up) the sheep! You guys work so hard...happy fall. Ann from Maine

Sandie Poe said...

We love keeping up with your farm life and fiber interests. My hubby just loves Winston, too. You see the best in life. Thank God & you from Florida

Anonymous said...

I used to shear my Yorkie every Spring---I live in Iowa, and she couldn't take the heat and humidity. I used some electric clippers that were made to use on humans with the guard in place. She would spend a few minutes looking for her hair, and after that, she seemed to love being nekkid. By fall, her hair would have grown back, and it would be healthy and thick. I loved to pet her right after I cut her hair---she felt like a baby seal or a piece of velvet.

Marlaine said...

I love hearing about the sheep shearing and Winston looks so handsome! Thanks for sharing your life with us!

Claire said...

Julia will be fine. She'll team up with other kids and know the school like the back of her hand soon.

The sheep look amazing. I love to see shorn sheep in the fields around where I live in England.

My landlady used to borrow my large sewing shears to 'clip' her very curly, dog with. He used to look like a little lamb afterwards. :)

Jean Moss said...

We need Kevin to come and clip our two Maine Coons... Winston is gorgeous x