Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sheep Shearing

Last Saturday, members of our fiber and yarn CSA (Community Support Agriculture) had the chance to help shear the sheep at Foxfire Fiber and Designs Springdelle Farm.

Obviously our "help" was limited -- the last thing we'd want to do is hurt the sheep.  Andy, the professional shearer, did the all the actual shearing, while we helped with sweeping, labeling, picking, and bagging.

We met at the farm at 0800 and met the lucky sheep.

Andy gave a quick lecture on the process: they'd take each sheep from the small pen, hold it on the board, clip its hooves, vaccinate and pill it, then shear the wool with razor-sharp electric clippers, starting at the belly (belly wool is composted), finishing by doing the rest in pretty much one piece.

 After shearing, the sheep would run down a chute into another pen where it could relax and have a snack.

Once the fleece was off the sheep, it was moved to the skirting table and literally thrown over it.  For a size perspective, the table is 8 feet long.

No trip to the farm is complete without a visit by Mistral, the bottle fed lamb who thinks she's a dog (or maybe even a human).  She came out to investigate what was happening and get some chin rubs.

But back to work. The last sheep done was this one with a darker face.  She has the most beautiful gray fleece.

Andy couldn't resist a bit of fun with this one.  Check out the mohawk!

Once we were done shearing, we checked on Crackerjack the llama and the pregnant ewes (lambs are expected starting in late April).  They all ran out of the barn when they saw us coming!

We can't wait till June to go back and see the new lambs.

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