We had our sheep shorn last weekend. Their fleece is heavy and our days are getting warmer so it was time. We raise two breeds of sheep- texel and katahdin. The katahdin are hair sheep, they don't have wool. They have coats similar to dogs. The texels are the only ones that get shorn. Beatrice is one of our texels. We put them up the night before in close quarters to keep them warm so their lanolin will flow. It makes the job easier for both the shearer and the sheep. When we first got sheep, I thought we would shear them ourselves. We purchased a how-to DVD and realized how absolutely backbreaking it looked so we decided to have a professional come do it for us. Two years ago, our sheep met up with a skunk a few days before the shearer arrived. All of our wool that year went into the garden!
The shearer usually does 80-100 sheep in a day. Can you imagine? You need to be strong, flexible and have a very good back to do this.
He's got a set pattern that he follows, and uses his elbows and knees to restrain her as he's working. He starts with the belly wool and discards it as it's inferior for spinning. The sheep are surprisingly calm during their ordeal.
Her fleece stays together in one piece. It weighs almost 7 pounds. Her wool locks are very springy with good crimp. I learned this from some local spinners. I, alas, don't spin or knit. My fleece will go with me to the farmer's market when it opens next month.
She's much happier without her winter coat and is due to lamb any day now. She's very sweet, loves to be scratched and likes to smell my face. She's my favorite, can you tell?
Beatrice finally had her lamb, a little ewe. Isn't she cute?