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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What a lovely day for shearing!


Norman won't even look at me.

Don't even think about it, lady.

Did someone say 'grain'?

We'll think about forgiving you
if you bring on the grain twice a day until
June.
A month ago, April 4 sounded like a safe bet for a shearing date.  It sounded pretty good right up until two days before.  Unfortunately, in our area there are a dearth of shearers.  Never mind GOOD shearers.  My shearer, Joe, is terrific and popular.  (If I had a son, I would want a Joe.)  He also is based pretty far north of us, so when he puts together his schedule, we are on the very southest end and need to take what he has - he doesn't make the trip twice.  Melanie and I tag team and we include Kay's husband because he needs all the help he can get.  We are right in a row - Melanie first, then me, then Nick.  Joe has other clients south of us so he shears basically from sunrise to sunset.  He is awesomesauce.  As we checked the forecast, we started to get nervous.  Both Melanie and I usually have our sheep sheared outside.  After getting a confirmation that he was still coming, both of us scrambled to provide a sheltered spot (with electricity available) for Joe to work.  I also had to pen my up, spread a one-foot layer of straw and start upping the grain supply.

At 7:15A, I pulled up Melanie's driveway and saw a small pen with a tarp tied over.  It was packed full of tiny Shetlands!  I always forget how adorably small her sheep are.  We swept off the covered porch, ran an extension cord and waited for Joe.  Thanks to plummeting temps and heavy snow, he was running late and that is how the day progressed.  Having extra hands is sure great for getting a job done quickly.  We went through her nine sheep in good order, considering the weather - Melanie (wo)man-handling them up to the porch, Joe grabbing them and shearing them, me sweeping up between and packing fleece in bags.  We then inched down the road to my place where I was pretty much organized (shocking, isn't it?)  Mine were, let's say, slightly less accommodating - although Joe did say that the Fat Eel (aka Linden) was better-behaved than usual.  That may be because it was about 20 degrees and he was stunned that we were taking off his winter coat.  I think the biggest difference between our sheep is that hers couldn't wait to get away, while mine were in our pockets after they were shorn.  (Juno - the old gal - is very curious.  What's in that box?  What's that?  What are you doing?  Can I help you do it?)  Luckily, they are easily distracted by food.

By the time my three were done, the snow was over six inches and still coming down steadily.  We inched off to Nick's where we dealt with four alpacas, three sheep and an angora goat.  Melanie dropped me back at my place where I got a call from another neighbor who had one (wild) sheep to shear.  He came down and picked Joe up (Joe drives a skate on wheels - it would never had made it up the mountain).  I shoveled.  And shoveled.  And fed grain and apologized.

We woke up this morning to about eight inches of snow - more than the entire accumulation of winter - and single digit temperatures.  I shoved my feet in boots, put on my parka, and trotted (carefully) down to the barn to check on my nekkid sheep.  Everyone was cozied up and showing no signs of hypothermia. 

Now all we need is actual spring. 

12 comments:

  1. What a day you must have put in! But, the deed has been done and all came out well. Right?

    You're getting more snow than we are. We're supposed to get 4-6" more starting around 4-5 this afternoon and stopping early tomorrow morning. Ah, yes, spring in the north country.

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    1. Mama Pea - Yes, it was quite a day. Thank goodness for a capable (and caring) shearer and friends!

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  2. Poor babies. They all look stunned with disbelief. I expect they dream of ripping off your clothes and leaving YOU out in the snow. I would be careful if I were you.

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    1. Susan - OY! I hadn't thought about that. I guess I will be keeping the fence between me an my sheep until it warms up...

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  3. Wow, that's crazy! It's grow back or can you put in a heat lamp at night?

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    1. Nancy - Yes, this was really unexpected. They have shelter, warmed water and grain and hay, so they will be fine until it warms up to normal temps. Their wood grows fast!

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  4. We used to put coats on our sheep, and then we got smart and don't shear until mid May.

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    1. Tewshooz - I didn't realize until after I had first coated my Icelandics that you can't coat them. They felt like crazy! I'd much rather shear in May, but we are pretty limited to his schedule. There's another shearer around, but his name is Claude the Butcher. Nuff said.

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  5. poor sheep! we got a little too and it sure is cold. and there is a baseball game tonight!

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  6. I guess you have to do it when he can be there, but dang, I'll bet your babies thought you were coming unglued! LOL!

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  7. I had to chuckle at the difference between your sheep and Melanie's Shetlands!

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  8. Susan,

    Their NAKED!!! Poor little naked ones LOL.....
    Hopefully, it will warm up the next several days for you and the snow will melt off. Stay warm and dry!!

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