Archive for the ‘shearing’ Category

Yesterday, I received a call from our wonderful shearer, Penney. she was in the area and would it be possible to stop by tomorrow (Tuesday) to shear my sheep? I immediately said, “Yes!”! Penney had been stuck in Idaho during some nasty snowstorms but had made it home to southern Arizona with herself and some sheep she was transporting in tow. Now she was making a loop doing shearing jobs up in northern Arizona, hoping she could fit us in as she came through our area.
Penney is about the best shearer around these parts having not only shorn since she was 9, but was raised on a sheep ranch. She knows her stuff. I consider it a blessing that I have found someone who really cares about what she’s doing. She shears fiber animals for a living, not just as a side business. And you can tell that from the quality of her work and the way she treats the sheep.
So, I shuffled things aside and got ready for shearing today. She was a bit late arriving, but got right to work, shearing Skittles first. When Skit saw Penney, he immediately started to gently baa in his deep voice. He doesn’t do that for just anyone. He loves Penny and just stares at her with this smitten look on his face and makes goo-goo eyes at her all the while she wisks off his fleece. Penney could hang Skit up-side-down for all he cares, just as long as it’s her doing it.
We only have nine sheep now. Penney took her time, setting each one on his or her bum then caressed each one giving each a peck on the nose. You can tell she really loves her work. Not only shearing, Penney also checks their teeth and hooves, trimming feet if needed. Then the shearing begins. Last year she didn’t nick any of the 16 sheep we had. This year Amanda’s fleece was so dense that she did receive a nick as well as when Penney was trimming her feet, Amanda jerked causing Penney to cut a dew claw too short and it bled. We put blood-stop powder on it to control the bleeding and the shearing continued. that was the only sheep who sustained any sort of “trauma”.
It was a long day. After shearing we came inside the house to get out of the wind. Even though we set up in the barn, the wind kept changing directions and was very cold. Naturally, over coffee and tea we talked “sheep”.
Marilyn, our friend and farm-sitter, had come earlier to witness the shearing of a couple of sheep and to pick out a fleece for herself. It turned out she picked Ole’s fleece. As the day progressed Marilyn joined right in helping where she could by sweeping off the 4 x 8 sheet of plywood Penney was shearing on, or raking up the tags and skirtings (the mostly unusable parts of the fleece that are better off composted) as well as helping move the sheep in and out when needed. As she got ready to go home, Marilyn asked if she could buy Ole’s fleece from me and how much it was. I gave her a hug and said “Happy Birthday” and “Thank you for all your help today”. I knew that she had celebrated a birthday last week. Since my HHWB (the DH) had to be at work today, Marilyn’s help, even with the few sheep I have, was very welcomed. I was grateful for her staying and she found the whole process mesmerizing. After I hugged her I noticed she had tears in her eyes. She just couldn’t believe I would let her have Ole’s fleece. I just wanted her to know that her help was very welcomed by both Penney and I. Many hands make light work.
So now I have naked sheep. They look so small compared to the puffballs on toothpicks they usually look like before shearing. I find myself relieved. It’s done for another year. We can get on with other things now…like playing with all those beautiful fleeces. 🙂

And yes, Ole…it will grow back. And yes, Ole…you are still the cutest one and I love you, too… Just remember to stay in the barn tonight, Ole. It’s still cold at night and I think you’re going to need to buddy-up with the others for added warmth.
…and no, Ole…you can not come into the house with me…

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Nekked Sheep!

Yesterday was shearing day here at Sheep Thrills Farm! The shearer we found through Katie at Rockin-A-Ranch in Taylor, Arizona, is a gem! A good shearer is worth their weight in gold and Penny was more than we could have ever hoped for.

This is a picture of Penny and her daughter, Emily (aka “Ducky”). If any of you feel you’ve met Penny before dig out your DVD of Dirty Jobs, Season 1…Penny is the person who taught Mike Rowe to shear alpacas! We had a great day with her and her daughter. She was supposed to spend the night here before moving on to her next job but after a phone call home had to change her plans and head out for her brother’s place. She’s just started learning to spin. We had an evening of spinning and fibers planned but that will have to wait for her next trip through.
I can’t say enough about how professional and gentle to the sheep Penny was. The day went smoothly without major incident. It was long and we were all tired, but most of the fleeces came off smoothly with a minimal of second cuts. (Even though I have a couple of sheep who seem to have a spot of very, very dense fleece on their backs – to Penny’s credit she didn’t say anything until I mentioned it was tough going. Then we both laughed as she admitted some Shetlands were like that and were indeed a pain in the…)
Amanda: “Pssst! Hey, Everyone! Who IS that person who just walked into the barn with that motor and clippers? I think we may be in trouble here. Maybe we should take it on the lamb…”
Skittles was the first one in. He was all the gentleman we have come to know him to be. Penny thought he was awesome!
Here she’s finishing up with The Big Guy. She was so gentle with him. And he was very respectful of her. That impressed me. Skit doesn’t mess around with people he doesn’t care for. It was very apparent these two had a “thing” for each other. 🙂
Above is Ole after his first haircut. As I recall, all the wethers were making a raucous about this whole affair. Ole would bleat, then his brother would chime in and get both Shaun and Colin going as well. The rest of the sheep were really quiet, but not those four.

Shaun was next after Sven. What a beautiful fleece Shaun has! It’s a deep reddish moorit with just a few shiny silver hairs now and then that added almost a glint of silver to the fleece. This is one fleece I’m keeping for me! In the picture above, that’s not white on Shaun. It’s the reflection from the flash. Yes, Shaun’s fleece was that lustrous!

Colin’s turn. You can’t see in the photo, but he’s gotten way more iset, or frosty, in his fleece this year.
Above is Amanda, freshly shorn and fat with lambs. Penny said she felt at least two, with the possibility of more. we noticed that Amanda is definitely starting to “bag up”, an indication of lambing soon. She’s scheduled to lamb around the 15th of April – IF she doesn’t explode first! She had two huge ram lambs last year. I keep whispering in her ear, “Girls this year, Amanda. Only girls.”
And here are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in their pen after the indignation of having their wool removed. And they let us know it all afternoon too. How dare we throw them on their bums and run that vibrating scissors over their bodies! Don’t we know how warm that kept them?
As a matter of fact, we do! It’s either being shorn, Boys…or being eaten. Which would you rather we do, eh?
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