When the flock is small, there is not so much incentive for the shearer to come and often the job is put of and put off until he can secure something else in the area or the cost becomes astronomical and the farmer cannot pay it. I bought shears last year with the intention of learning to shear my sheep, even if I had to do it one at a time. Unfortunately, the blades do not come sharpened and I don't know of anyone other than a shearer who can sharpen them. As I am writing this, Vermillion college has a sheep component in their agriculture studies, and they just may have knowlege of a shearer or sharpener. They are only an hour away.
The ewes must be sheared at least a month before delivery or they are too uncomfortable and could have problems if they are carrying multiple lambs. They are due to start lambing in April and possibly not finish until the end of May, so shearing should have taken place now. The shearer had lined up two other jobs and both canceled so he canceled my booking. Waiting until the lambs are born is fine too, except that it is getting pretty warm out.
The wool again this year will not be valuable due to being contminated with too much hay. I have tried many feeder styles and nothing seems to work well enough. I have another feeder being built right now, delivered in two days if all goes well. It will be the 6th or 7th model I am trying. I have spoken about coating the sheep for the winter, or rather for the 7 months they are fed hay here. That requires a coat change almost monthly to accommodate the growth of new wool so it does not felt on the animals. In other words, it is a lot of work and who wants to go out in the mid of winter at 40 below and change coats on sheep anyhow? But, if I am to be any kind of a fibre farm, there in lies the problem - dirty wool doesn't sell.
The tight wooled sheep have fared best of all and the long wooled the worst, with the greedy long wooled sheep in the worst possible mess of all. The vegetative matter goes all the way through to the skin of those sheep and can only be used for insulating dog houses or compost. The cost to have the sheep sheared is $550 and that is expensive insulation!
I am also buying a chipper shredder tomorrow to shred the alfalfa for the new feeder. It will hopefully accomplish two things: take care of the waste of all the alfalfa stems, which is 2/3rds of the bale at $100 per bale wasted, and also help to keep the alfalfa out of the wool, because it is the hardest to remove.
So, my poor wooly fat ewes are pregnant and hot and have to stay that way for another month or two. The rams, well, they don't have to worry about babies and feeling too big, so they might be good ones for me to start shearing. Let's see….