Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shearing day

Probably the biggest day in our farm calendar is the day we get the sheep sheared. There are only eleven adult sheep right now, so this shouldn't seem like such a huge event, but it is.

The main difficulty always seems to be lining up a sheep shearer. We had first called our regular shearer about three weeks ago, leaving a message on what we thought was his answer machine, only to have him call us back almost a week later, leaving a message for us to email him.

So we dutifully emailed him, once, twice, three times. When that didn't help, we called the first number again, only to have his spouse call us back, leaving a message saying that they had separated and were not "talking much any more," but that she would call him for us.

Finally he called us one evening saying that he was on vacation in the Virgin Islands and wouldn't be back until the end of this week. I took down his new number and said we'd call him at the end of the week, but started to make back-up plans.

We've known for a long time that one day there may not be any sheep shearers available in this part of Maine. It's always been in my mind that if we want to keep these sheep, I'll need to learn to shear. When sheep shearers take vacations in the Caribbean during shearing season, it suddenly seemed like that time might already be on us.

(What's the world coming to?)

So once again I began watching You-Tube videos about grinding blades and the best shearing positions, and I even experimented with our old Stewart Shearmaster machine on one ewe that had lost some fleece and needed a tidy-up.

Suffice it to say that Aimee was not impressed with the results.

But the very next evening a different shearer who had kept our number from a similar go-around last year called us to see if we had any new business for her, and we jumped at the chance to get the sheep sheared properly as soon as we could. Virgin Islands be blowed! Fly strike season was already on us. We needed to get those fleeces off those sheep right smartish.

So we made the earliest date with the new shearer, called "Edie, short for Edith," that we could, and I made my usual preparations in the barn.

We were impressed with Edie. Here she is at work with our big ram, Bentley:

And here's the finished effect with Quetzal. The poodle bob on her tail is the result of the protein deficiency mentioned in the last post, and will either fall off or blend in with the new fleece when it grows out.

Finally, here's a shot Aimee took from inside the barn looking out. Edie used a serious sheep shearing machine made in Australia, which also impressed us.

All in all, things went very well, and we were very relieved to have successfully gotten the sheep sheared for another year.

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