The ewes and their lambs were put in the pen outside the barn overnight without food or water as per the shearer's demands. This makes shearing so much easier for two reasons, The sheep are not full and uncomfortable and they do not poop and pee as they are sheared. But it was so hot, I felt sorry for them. I put them in the barn in the morning where it was a bit cooler. The shearer was to show up somewhere after lunch.
The rams were put in the barn the night before. Travis and a friend, Pete, helped herd them inside. They were in a small enough pen that they could not bash each other, which rams tend to do.
The shearers showed up at 2:30. We were ready for them. Two missionaries from the Mormon church were there to help. It was just a matter of keeping the area clean and bringing and taking sheep to and from the shearers. Things went fairly smoothly except when one sheep ran amok and pulled the plug on the shearer. The other small incident was when Karin Llama was being shorn outside. She was haltered to the post, but the clip did not get fastened securely and she jerked free, knocking the shearer down and the shears from his hand. Fortunately, no one was injured and the shears were fine as well. She was the last to do.
The rams were in fair to good condition, depending on the breed. The Blue Faced Leicester ram has been strictly on pasture and hay and is way too thin. I will have to separate him and feed him grain. This breed does not perform well on a forage based operation here and needs to go to a new home where it is warmer in the winter and they can eat all the grain they want. The Babydolls were in excellent condition as was the Dorper, but little Thor, the Icelandic/Shetland is very tiny. I was going to use him to breed Red, the Icelandic ewe, but he is too small. Unfortunately, his fate is likely to be dog food unless he can go to a home where some one wants to get started with small sheep.
The ewes were in good condition, with the exception of the Merino/Cotswold who was a little thin. The sheep were all dewormed a month previously, so that is likely not the problem, especially since she is the only thinner ewe. She does have a single ram lamb who is very large and she would benefit from him being weaned, which will take place in August.
The wool from the sheep is in fair to good condition. The Babydolls, being the small sheep, have the most hay in the wool down the middle of their backs and that wool will be discarded for garden compost. There was not time to skirt the fleece, which is to lay it out and remove manure tags and dirty unuseable wool. I will do that over the next week. The fleeces will be put in suint baths, that is a fermentation bath, which removes the worst poop and lanolin or wool grease from the fleece naturally. Then the fleece will be well rinsed until the water runs clear and dried in the sun on racks at which time it will be offered for sale by the pound or ounce, depending on the quality, how much vegetative matter is in the wool and the breed of the sheep. After all, the Fat Ewe Farm began as a fibre farm, and the wool is the whole reason it exists. The Angora goats should have been shorn in March, so their fibre is matted and mostly useless. Sad. I do have shears and will make another strong attempt to learn to use them to avoid that happening again. The Angora goats will need to be shorn again in Septetmber so I will have my chance then. There are only 2 of them, thank goodness. They produce mohair.
I have not done too much with the wool on my own yet, other than picked a few fleeces, meaning removing the majority of the hay and other matter. The Shetland that was rooed this spring had extremely clean fleece and little needed to be done. Rooing is hand combing wool from the sheep with no tools. The ancient breeds all rood, but it is a trait that is lost in most breeds today.
Shearing day is a bit stressful. I was tired after the ordeal and it was unbearably hot. I showered, took a very short nap, something I seldom do, and finished watering and doing chores as it was getting dark. It was cooler but the mosquitos were already out and chewing on me. Whew! I am glad that day is done.