At last! The sheep shearing post!
The sheep were sheared last Sunday afternoon. We took before, during, and after photographs. I finally got a chance to upload them today.
Here are a few “before” photos. Check out the wooly coats!
This photo (above) was taken about three weeks before they were sheared. You can see how fluffy and thick their fleeces are. And it’s a great photo of the adorable sheep in the sunshine.
Here are two close-up shots of Cinnamon’s dreadlocks (L) and handsome Tagine (R).
Then shearing day came. Ron got them all into the catch-pen–and the fun began. Spot was the first up because, well, she’s Spot. Here she is as Ron and our shearer get her into position. You can tell, of course, that it’s Spot because of the spot on her head.
Here she was right after she got shorn. I swear she looked a little embarrassed. And you can see Brownie (L), June Bug (middle), and Cinnamon’s big behind (R) in the background.
We kept all their fleeces separate in an attempt (mostly mine) to keep track of whose fleece was whose. Not sure if we know now. But Spot’s is marked: “X marks the spot”–or “spot marks the Spot.” Here’s her fleece in the bag.
While Spot was being sheared, the rest of the sheep were running around in circles like fish in a school. They were not thrilled to be in the catch-pen. Ron has a subdivider thing that allows them to be squished into an even smaller space. For some reason, they prefer to be in an enclosed space all together and they generally calm down the less they can move. But they had enough room to move in the catch-pen that they sometimes got in the way (argh). But mostly they ran around in circles, all pushing toward the middle, in a tight little moving circle.
Here they are, a sheep school of fish (that’s Cinnamon who is orange-brown in the far right, Tatanka right next to Cinnamon, little June Bug facing the camera, more social and curious Tagine (with horns) watching Spot getting sheared, and Brownie in the very front with her side to the camera):
I won’t include photos of every sheep getting sheared, but we did have a little extra excitement. Brownie and Cinnamon managed to push themselves out of the catch-pen. The door was bungee-cord shut in one place, but they were able to push themselves against the bottom half of the door and managed to get out. Argh!!! Cinnamon is a pretty big girl so when she’s motivated, well, they both got out.
In this photo, you can see Brownie and Cinnamon on the outside of the catch-pen looking in at Tatanka (unshorn), Spot (from behind), and Tagine (you can see his horns). Meanwhile, June Bug was getting sheared.
Given the unexpected excitement (oy!), we decided to shear all four sheep that were still in the catch-pen, and hope that we could nab Brownie and Cinnamon again. The sheep have a strong flock mentality so we were pretty sure we couldn’t get B&C if we tried chasing them around the meadow. Instead, we let the four sheared sheep out, and hoped that we could get them all to come up us with the bribery of corn.
Once we let them out, here are three of the sheared sheep conveniently alternating with unshorn girls Brownie and Cinnamon.
Fortunately, the corn trick worked. Here is Ron carrying Cinnamon (aka Corn Girl) back to the catch-pen after he grabbed her.
And here is Ron tricking the sheep with corn again. This time, he’s starting to nab sweet Brownie. I didn’t a shot of Ron carrying her, but he said she was definitely heavier than Cinnamon. She is pregnant!
And here is poor Brownie being sheared. They all had such funny looks on their faces. “What is happening to me???”
Finally, at last, all six sheep were sheared so we let them run around the big meadow again. Here they are down by the little pond, definitely looking a bit naked and pathetic in their newly-shorn state.
Meanwhile, our work (aka Ron’s work) has just begun. We now have six beautiful fleeces to process–or decide what to do with. Here they are laid out on the floor of the garage. I think they are (top row) Spot, Tagine, June Bug; (bottom row) Cinnamon, Tatanka, Brownie.
The next step in fleece processing is making sure that all the poop and poop bits (!) are off the fleeces. This is called “skirting.” You “skirt” the edges, making sure all the poop is snipped off. Sheep poop really isn’t that gross; it’s mostly grass and it doesn’t smell that bad. But I was nonetheless happy Ron did it. 🙂
Here’s a close-up of Cinnamon’s fleece. We had no idea, but she has tons of gray underhair. Consequently, the inner part of her fleece is gray and black (most of the other sheep are just black) and then the outer part of her fleece (the part exposed to the elements) is orange-brown. Doesn’t it look soft???
We haven’t quite decided what we’re going to do with the six fleeces. Processing them all ourselves is pretty labor intensive. We’re going to keep the fleeces and use the wool this year. We may sell them in some future years. But since this is our first sheep flock–and shearing cycle–I’m a little sentimental and want to make stuff with the wool.
I leave you with sweet Spot, looking a little naked and silly, but her same sweet self.