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Shearing day!


  12:18:38 am, by Karen   , 486 words  
Categories: Journal

Shearing day!

Today (October 11, ignore date above) was shearing day. We had 3 lambs and 6 ewes, plus a wether to do, and I'm considering whether or not to shear the two rams. I usually don't but one ram has such nice wool it might be worth it. We are not shearing two of the lambs and two other ewes that are going to butcher next month as I want the pelts long. One lamb is a black grey and the other a black mouflon and the pelts from them should be lovely. Two of the 3 lambs sheared are also going to butcher but I wanted their wool which is white. Well, my back gave out after 3 lambs and 4 ewes. Erg. I ate my supper sitting against an ice pack. We've refined our old method of restraint which was basically my husband Ken holding them as still as possible. His back notified him a while ago that it would not accept that kind of abuse anymore, so we had to find another method. Now we have a t-post driven firmly into the ground near the fence. Then we halter each sheep and tie them up very short to the post, with their nose slightly elevated, so they can't get their head down and shift into 4WD. Ken still holds a horn now and then, or uses a knee to keep them in place, and some of them are more squirrelly and put up a struggle, but they can't get away. I still have to bend over to shear though.

Everyone looked good under their wool, which was nice to see. The wool is so interesting in how it varies between individuals. Some had much denser fleece with more lanolin, some had super lofty wool with less lanolin. Some have straight fleece and others corkscrew. One ewe has this incredible fleece like someone gave her a spiral perm. One of the white lambs has fleece so fine that the tips all along her back have unfortunately felted together in clumps and will have to be skirted out before it's sent off to the mill.

As I was shearing one of the freezer lambs, I realized I was looking down at an incredible set of shoulders. You could have put a dinner plate down on them and it wouldn't have wobbled a bit. And she has a nice wide back end too. Oh well. Selling breed stock wasn't in the cards this year, so she's going to go to Camp Kenmore next month. She'll make lovely roasts I guess. Actually, I was pleased with all the lambs we sheared, as far as their conformation goes. One of them is the ram lamb we're keeping, who is feeling his oats and was following each ewe around in the hopes of seeing a little action. Poor guy will just have to wait until next Fall.

I took some photos pre-shearing. Here are a few:

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Sharing ideas from our small farm in NH, where we raise Icelandic sheep and assorted poultry. We are members of ISBONA (Icelandic Sheep Breeders of North America) and the CLRC (Canadian Livestock Records Corporation). We also participate in the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (NH54). Contact us at karen [at] birchtreefarm [dot] com. Please also visit the farm website at Birchtree Farm.
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