When is our Shearing Season?

We shear our sheep each year in the early Spring. It is like Christmas 'unwrapping' our sheep. Their fleeces are so fun to watch change over the years. Black sheep go silver and gray; some sheep have cinnamon/auburn tips, white fleeces may have cream colored tips, others have blonde. The color changes on the tips of the locks are so pretty and unique to each sheep. 

I like the sun-kissed look of the locks. To me they represent a healthy sheep who spends time as a sheep should- grazing a big pasture and napping in the sunshine. Listening to me read them detective novels, feeding them treats and being generous with hugs and smooches. I absolutely adore the sheep and working with their wool is as good for my soul as the sheep are. 

Shearing day puts me in a perpetual whirl at least 3 weeks before we even have an actual shearing day confirmed. To be honest, I start fussing about shearing right after Christmas. Bet you are surprised right? ha! I always make lists and plan to be so prepared- ahead of time. I ALWAYS forget something. 

If the weather is supposed to be rainy we have to plan our activities to keep the sheep dry for shearing. This year it is supposed to rain all week so we will have to lock the sheep up for around 4 days. Extra bedding, hay and they'll be set. Hopefully they will all behave so we have no escapees this year. There are always 1 or 2 Shetlands who sneak out and won't come back in. We end up shearing them ourselves a different day. Stinkers! 

We shear 54 sheep so having good help is key to a smooth shearing day. My hubby Jim and I are the main crew, along with help from our friends. Our day starts out early, out and about around 6 a.m. to get the sheep squooshed into pens. Then we bring out all the supplies for the day. We go through a LOT of fleece bags! Shearer Ryan is usually here around 7:30 a.m. then away we go. We get about half way done around noon so we break for lunch. Back at it around 1 and if all goes smoothly we are done, fleeces all over the fiber palace downstairs and the sheep back where they belong by around 6 that evening. 

Ryan leaves about 1/2 inch of wool on the sheep but they still look so bare. The wool closest to their skin has so much lanolin! It doesn't take long for the wool to floof up again, usually a day or two. The sheep don't recognize each other at first so there is a lot of fussing til they find each other. 

Our sheep's fleeces range from a few pounds all the way to 18 pounds. When they take that first step off the shearing floor they look so puzzled and surprised. Almost like they forget how to walk! Then they get their shots, feet trimmed and off they go. Usually with a giant, gleeful jump! 

It takes a day or two to get the sheep settled down again and for us to recover. Then I label each fleece with the sheep's name and set them on shelves in the fiber palace (aka basement).