It’s time to get those woolly winter coats off and start growing those summer fleeces! Our shearer is Aimee Leòn from Flying Ewe Shearing and she was great! Very knowledgeable about all kinds of sheep, she works solely with small flocks like mine. We had a great time talking while she worked, and she pointed out a few things that I didn’t know. That’s no surprise… I learn something new any time I talk to someone with more sheep experience than me (which is pretty much anyone with any sheep experience).
Winifred’s fleece came off pretty well; I was expecting most of the fleece today to be tossed in the discard pile. The winter fleeces are not expected to be nearly as nice as the summer ones, when the sheep have been out in the pasture, where they stay relatively clean. The ones shorn today were all a bit matted and tattered, since the sheep spent a lot of the winter in the barn or walking through snow, not to mention snuggling up with their lambs for the last month.
In preparation for shearing, the ewes were all brought inside without their lambs, and while they bleated a bit for their babes, they seemed pretty patient. The lambs, on the other hand, were yelling for their moms the entire time! Here are Dany, Raphaela, and Belle waiting their turn. It looks like Raphaela didn’t like waiting for her haircut, so she began scratching her wool off in the past couple days, which is what you see hanging down from her neck.
The ladies are usually so dignified, I can’t imagine what Dany’s thinking as she’s sitting spread-eagle on the shearing floor!
The wool we keep from the winter cut is not really suitable for yarn, as the fibers are shorter and not as strong as those at the end of summer, but it should be usable for felting projects.
Along with their haircuts, everyone got a pedicure, even Cornelius, who was a little rambunctious. Aimee’s assistant Yolanda helped keep him still while his hooves got a trim.
For comparison, here’s a picture of Dany before she was sheared. As a yearling, she probably had the nicest wool of all our ewes.
And here is Dany afterwards… it was hard to get a good shot since the sheep were all very hungry (we don’t let them eat for 12 hours prior to shearing, to avoid them making a stinky mess while the shearer is working).
It didn’t take long for Winnie to gather up her lambs post-shearing and find a place to relax in the shade!