Shearing day had arrived! It's a once a year event, and we're always glad for the sheep when it occurs before the heat of late spring arrives.
The timing this year was perfect: still cool out – frosty in the morning but with a nice springtime warmth by afternoon. We didn't yet have overheated sheep, panting away in the shade in their thick wool coats. I was grateful.
And so we set to work on Saturday morning, rounding up the flock and preparing a space in the barn.
Each of us has a job on shearing day.
Lupine made breakfast while Pete and I hustled about getting ready; and Sage had prepped lunch the night before so that he could quickly throw food in the oven when shearing was nearly done. Lupine also pre-labeled bags with the names of each member of the flock, while Pete, Sage, and I swept out the barn for cleaner shearing. A dry piece of plywood was placed on the floor, and a makeshift fence corridor was assembled with cattle panels and fencing, leading from the shearing room back to the pasture.
The shearer soon arrived, and everyone set to work. Even a neighbor friend who had come with her sheep (and a baby on her back) had a job to do, helping bag fleeces with Lupine.
I was grateful for her extra hands, because this is normally part of the job that I do, but this year things were different. With a broken arm, Pete's normal heavy-work role was exchanged for sweeping and guiding sheep back to pasture, leaving me to do the sheep wrangling/catching/moving.
Indeed, my job was the most physical of all (aside from shearing, of course!) – racing about in the hayed barn enclosure, catching wary sheep, then driving them backward, steering them to the waiting shearer and assembled team.
It's been two days and honestly, I'm still a little sore. But the satisfaction was real when I wrangled that last sheep in for shearing.
Lupine (aside from labeling bags and filling them with fleeces) appointed herself the bonus role of lamb guardian, which both mamas and babies certainly appreciated. This way they could stay together (or be more quickly reunited) when shearing was done.
Before we knew it we had nine bags, literally bursting with fiber. Black, brown, grey, white, and mottled – just waiting to be skirted, scoured, and spun.
I can hardly wait!
For the first time ever, this year we have a local fiber mill just a couple of towns over, opened by some friends last winter. I'm thrilled that I can load up my car with these fleeces (plus the dozen or so still on hand from last year's shearing) and have them worked into soft roving for handspinning and also some beautiful machine spun yarn.
I enjoy spinning but honestly am not a fan of preparing the fiber – scouring, carding, and making rolags – so I'm over the moon to hand this piece off to Kathryn at Ewetopia.
Today I think I'll take things slow – another epsom salt soak may be in order – and then, perhaps later in the week start prepping these fleeces for delivery.
Oh my, yes. A great deal of homegrown yarn will be heading my way soon.
Perhaps I'll dye a few skeins for you and put them up in my Etsy shop! That was my intention when we first got sheep those years ago. If there is interest, do let me know and I'll make sure to do so.
Happy Monday dear ones. Make it a beautiful week.