Well, it’s been done; the sheep are all shorn and ready to face what we keep being warned is to be a “hotter than average” summer.
I feel the responsibility of the timing this event incredibly deeply. Too deeply, some would (and do) say but there are truly a lot of factors to take into consideration – yes, even when your flock numbers only eleven.
Firstly, it’s peak time for shearing so you need to book it in early. I contacted Shaun (truly our shearer’s name) back in July because I firmly believe you can never be too organised and I didn’t want to have to watch our ladies sweltering in the heat knowing that the buck (ram?) stops with me.
Consideration must also be given to lambing. While Shaun and his crew are happy to shear in-lamb ewes or ewes who are still feeding, you don’t want it to be too close to the happy event. This was a worry I had thought we’d dodged this year as we had planned to have a season off lambing but I came to this decision without any flock consultation. In the present absence of a Homestead ram, the girls simply lured next door’s lovely little Gottland ram over the fence and it appears he fulfilled his duties admirably. His visit was fleeting making it easy to pinpoint the happy day-ish and it also served to dish us out one of life’s big lessons in sheep husbandry: there’s some things we humans just can’t regulate (particularly if your neighbours are living the same kind of life).
But it’s the weather that plays the biggest part. Nothing is worse than watching your flock trying to deal with an unseasonably hot day with a years worth of wool on their backs or the thought of them shuddering, naked, through a late frost. That it then rained on the earmarked day, rendering shearing impossible, was just unfortunate but, because of what I like to think of as my enthusiastic early booking (and maybe that enthusiasm can translate as slightly scary and odd to some), I was quickly given another timeslot which was then changed to a couple of days earlier due to the weather forecast.
I’m sorry, what? In October? For real??
At the end of the day, shearing is just one of those things that has to be done. Apparently a sheep’s skin quickly thickens after being shorn (although I could find no evidence of Shaun’s reassuring words online) and besides, our girls (like all on The Homestead) sport a reassuring layer of insulation and as it turned out after all my handwringing, they didn’t seem to even register The Homestead disappearing under a blanket of the white stuff for a while.
As for the wool, this time it disappeared with Shaun – I have plans and dreams and visions of spinning and knitting and felting but right now time is in short supply. I did keep the dags though
Let’s hope the garlic appreciates it’s nutrient-dense mulch.
11 thoughts on “Sharing a Word on Shearing”
Fancy snow in October, what a worry it all was getting the sheep shorn, so glad it went off all right. Loved the picture of your blossom.
The weather is crazy at the moment. I think I am a little guilty of over thinking the whole shearing thing. Watching them amble around with snow on their shorn backs was a bit of a reality check😁 The tree puts on a good show
Hi, Did you get to feel smug because your flock was newly shorn whilst the sheep over the road were still sporting their winter coats?
Never smug when it comes to those guys; theyre “proper” farmers that do it for a living. Relief is more what I felt…and worry because of the forecast. And the folk over the back fence sheared about a month ago…life can be such a riddle 😁
Shaun the shearer is just too good to be true. 🙂 Nominative determinism at its best.
The snow must have come as quite a shock.
I know I labour the point slightly but that Shaun really is his given name (I checked) gives me great joy.
The snow? Just plain crazy.
Great way to use that unusable (for textiles) wool!!!
The gals look beautiful in the new white/black coats.
I always loved shearing season. As a kid it meant going around the communities with my Dad shearing and wrapping fleeces and packing them into the truck. Hard work but as a kid I felt it was valued.
The garlic mulching is a bit of an experiment; I like to use all our resources so it was difficult sending the fleeces off with the shearer. Time and room get to become an issue. Awesome to have had that opportunity as a kid!
Interesting post! Here in the central part of Illinois, USA, we are preparing for our first hard freeze of the season.
Thanks! Social media makes the world a small place but some of us still think Christmas in winter is plain weird 😂
I could handle a warm Christmas!!