Monday, May 30, 2011

Silly little clippies

Here's our 2011 wool clip, drying a little in black bin bags in the 85 degree F sunshine this Memorial Day afternoon.

Nine fat fleeces. There's another bunch like this upstairs in the barn. We'll go to the mill soon, to exchange this for spun yarn again. We're almost out.

Down to t'mill, lad, as they say in Yorkshire.

We were pretty lucky to get our shearer to come out this morning. He was expecting that the day's work had been called off due to a heavy thundershower last night. But I heard the rain start and so wrenched myself out of bed and put the sheep in the barn within a few minutes.

They were just damp, not wet, by the morning and the last of them to be sheared weren't even that.

When the shearer comes each sheep loses about ten to fifteen pounds of weight of fleece and dung tags each, in one swell foop, and I'm sure it's a lot easier to stay cool.

I can imagine some dieters just gaga at the idea of losing fifteen pounds in a day, but the sheep don't like it much. Our shearer is an old pro, though, and knows all the right moves: the right muscle to push to make a sheep stretch out a leg or the right way to hold the head to make a nice fold-free curve of shoulder for the shears. It must take lots of practice. He's a little older than me and has been shearing since the sixth grade. That's about age twelve, for you Brits.

Forty years a shearer.

I told him if he could just keep it up until I retire, then I'd learn myself. I'd have the time to do it, at least, if not the suppleness of joints.

In other news, poor Poppy lost her twin male lambs. They went off to our buddy John Mac's place, to graze his grass and save hm from mowing lawns, and eventually become his and Nancy's winter dinners.

Such is the way of all male lambs, since like many young males of the species, they aren't good for very much else, but Poppy isn't one for tradition.

She's most upset about it, and has been bleating for them all afternoon.

I was pretty tired, though, after being up at three in the morning, so I was able to take a nap anyway, despite the bereft sheep mother bleating outside the window.

What a miserable heartless lamb-stealing bar steward I am! Napping during a mother's moment of grief. Yet the more I do this stuff, the less I think about it.

We were actually a little surprised at all the fuss, because she didn't much care for them when they first showed up, and we had to bring one of them into the house to warm up because she wouldn't lick it like a proper sheep mother.

Last bit of news is that I managed to find us a new lawn mower for five bucks at a yard sale.

Here it is. Looks brand new.

The guy said it wouldn't run, and that was why it was for sale, but I guessed it just needed a carb cleaning and some fresh gas. It looked too new to be completely out of action already.

In the end, the carb was fine, no sediment or resin, although stripping it for cleaning probably ensured a good start because all the old gas would be drained out of the float bowl as a result, allowing the new gas to flow in. I also blew out the jet with compressed air for good measure.

All I had to do then was to weld some cracks on the pressed metal blade housing near the wheel mount holes. The previous owner had tried to shore up the wonky wheel mount with a bit of license plate, but welding did the job properly.

Then I cut the front lawn with our new five-dollar mower.

It cuts just like a brand new, hundred and ninety dollar mower.

Either this mower, or the larger one I found last fall, has to go over to the Bale House for the occupant to use over there. I've been looking out for one since the grass began to grow again.

I don't care which mower goes. I just care that the grass is cut in that clearing where Aimee and I had our first "dates" all those years ago, clearing land for a house.

If you take the trouble to cut down a lot of trees like that, the last thing you want is for them to grow back.

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