From woolly and warm...
...to sheared and shivering.
We postponed our shearing after a snowfall which caked the sheep's backs with ice and snow. We got them thawed out using our lambing barn to warm them up and get the ice melted off. Today the shearers showed up at 7:00 and began to buzz off the wool. It was a cold day too. Just 10* for a high and a brisk northwest wind. I helped load sheep down the chute for a while in the morning and then charged back home to finish the after-shearing-dinner I had planned. Everyone came in at about 1:30 and chowed down on beef stew and biscuits. It sure did taste good after a cold day of outdoor work.
The sheep are feeling the cold, but it will also stimulate them to eat more and produce more wool. They will be in a more protected area with shelter belts and stockades and they will be allowed to go into the barn every night now. It's a good ritual for them since we will begin lambing in just a week or so and they will need to go into the barn each night so baby lambs aren't born outdoors in the frigid cold. I sure do hope the weather starts warming up as the lambs begin to come. If it stays cold, we'll be watching the ewes round the clock day and night.
Some of you might like to know why we shear now. Since we will begin lambing, it is important that the lambs are able to find their milk source. When the heavy wool is still on the ewes, it makes it more difficult for tiny lambs to find the teats, but when the ewes are sheared, it's a clear shot to the warm teats, and warm milk makes warm lambies. It is also much easier for the shearers to shear a ewe that is heavy with lamb(s) since they are less apt to fight the shearing process. The sheep just lie on their backs or sides and let the shearers manipulate them around without a fight.
Stats: 320 head sheared
8 bales of wool
1 bale of bellies
1 bale of pieces