Saturday, February 01, 2014


From woolly and warm... 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


  1. Yay! I hope for safe deliveries and mama love in the weeks to come.

  2. I would love to visit you sometime and learn more about raising sheep. They are an enigma to me. Thank you for explaining why shearing happens so early. I've always wondered. I know about cows, but sheep are certainly a different animal.

  3. Thanks for explaining all this! I look forward to photos of your lambs.

  4. Beautiful pictures, Jody! I have wondered about the timing and it totally makes sense.

  5. I watched a sheep shearing once and it was fascinating. In our area, though, the sheep have it easy no matter what time of year they are sheared!

  6. G'day Gumbo Lily. Fabulous photos. I love the first one. Take care. Liz...

  7. I was sure I posted here yesterday Jody, but must have dreamed it ;) It looks like you're in for a cold and busy time ahead, thinking of you and praying for the weather to be milder. x

  8. Wow, it sure sounds interesting...would love to see it
    in action....just love your photos!
    ...stew and biscuits...yummmmmm!!!!

  9. Shearing always fascinates me. My grandfather kept sheep and the shearers came in the spring with hand shears (albeit huge clippers) and even then they were speedy. Now electricity makes all the difference. It sure looks like back breaking work. I hope you have warmer weather for the new Moms and the lambs.

  10. I love this time of year on your ranch -- I love all the sheepy activity, the shearing tales and the watching for lambs. I hope you don't have to stay up watching night after night for freezing babies! May they all be born warm and safe.

  11. Ah, now the nursing aspect makes lots of sense. Poor little sheepies though -- Brrrrr! I can't wait for the lambies to start arriving!

  12. Jody, a thoroughly enjoyable post, thank you! I'll shear, God willing, in April and try and sell the fleeces. Each year, I'm afraid I'll lose a few to stress/old age but, thus far, it's been all good.

  13. Especially love the first shot of the sheep coming in heavy with wool and snow-covered.

    I was taking pictures at my friend's farm today - he has twin and triplet lambs. So cute!

  14. Brrrrr, I'm feeling cold just reading about the poor sheepies being sheared. Bub has gone shearing a couple of times for friends of ours. He loves helping out. They usually sheer them in late summer here. Maybe they do it again in the late winter too?



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