Sunday, June 16, 2013

Shearing Day

I had locked up the sheep in the awful rain on Thursday, anticipating shearing on Saturday, but Friday brought some sun and I let the hungry beasts out to graze.   There was something in the hay that I was forking down to them while they were locked in that upset my lungs.  I didn't realize what I was breathing and why I was feeling poorly until a ray of sunshine through the slats of the upper hay mow illustrated what was floating in the air.  It would   clog up anyone's airways.    The sheep were thrilled to get out, and I set about my usual routine of critters, dinner, then chores, then moving things around in the barn to make room for Jim the shearer to work.  I had been calling around for hired help, which costs a fortune but is worth every penny.  Still I was worried.  My barn needs to be cleaned out and the hay pack is high.  A Hobbit would do fine herding sheep in there, but not big tall farmboys.  I had vaccines and syringes delivered and picked up wormer and bags.  I thought I would sit down for a while at ten then go out and lock up the sheep.   Found out about my friend dying then spent a fitful night grieving for everyone's loss....and never went out to lock up the sheep.  Woke with a start and ran out into the mist to find sheep everywhere - and quite wet.  It doesn't have to rain to get sheep wet.  They can walk through wet grass and get soaked that way, or stand in the morning mist.  Chased them in and wondered what to do.  Should I call Jim, who is coming from Ithaca, 80 miles away, and cancel?   Mia was coming from New Jersey, and what about the boys, who needed the $$ I offered them?  I decided to let it go and hope for the best.  Randy and Loren came early as I asked them to do and we scraped and raked a whole lot of hay and poop to get the floor ready for Jim. They corraled a bunch of sheep close to the shearing floor just as Jim pulled up.  Jim is so easy-going and does his best in the worst of circumstances, but shearing wet sheep is something all shearers hate.  Most will flatly refuse to do it.    I got a good scolding, even yelled at a little, but he soldiered on.  Most of the sheep were dry, but three or four were good and wet.  I did 180 hooves, hoisting each one up between my knees for clipping while Loren straddled them and held their heads.  I gave them shots, Loren wormed them, and they were away to lunch on thick green grass in their summer haircuts.  Most of the sheep are FAT.   A couple of old girls are a little bony, but that's to be expected at their age and with the young ones pushing them away from the food.  We sheared Lilly for the first time in two years, who was looking a little weary of the whole business.  Four big fat black sheep, the Merino cross 200 pounders, escaped the herders and shot out the windows of the barn.  After doing 45 animals the guys were reluctant to go out and find them.  I was a little disappointed, but Jim was looking forward to going home and hopping on his tractor at that point so I didn't push it.  Don't know when I'll get them done.  They have lovely jet black wool which will burn reddish tips in the sun.  I would love to get coats on them.   We visited with Sharon, my friend from school, and Dimitries, former student, and hiked up to the pond.   We soaked up some sun and took a break.  Sharon played with kittens and gave my goat baby his bottle.  She and Dimitries left for home and we tidied up a bit.  I have a lot more work to do out there, including finding a place to put the mountain of fleeces.  Would love to get to work on washing and dyeing them, but my wool washing machine is broken.  Have to shop for a used machine.  There's always something.     Mia and I took Matt out for Father's Day dinner at Frank and Betsey's in New Berlin.  Gosh, they put out a hefty plate of food.  I had grilled salmon piled high with salsa and marinated Utican greens and squash.   I downed a glass of Zinfandel to celebrate a successful day of shearing.  Home to chores.   I grabbed one little goat and Mia held her while I got a nice bag of mohair off her.    I'm hoping Matt R. will do the same for me today, but it is Father's Day and I won't push it.  I could work on animals every day, all day, but it is not the same for him.  

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