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Spring sheep shearing 2010

Our saga began on Friday night as we picked up a friend’s pickup truck complete with a rack/cage in the bed perfectly suited for sheep transportation. It had been raining all week, so we had kept our sheep in the barn for several days to stay dry. My dad arrived at the farm just in time to help me load my three Jacob ewes in the truck. We backed the truck into my barn to keep the ladies dry overnight.

8am rolled around very quickly, and we gingerly drove the sheep over to Hillside Jacobs in Sparta, Michigan where we were going to shear my sheep, Gary’s sheep (Hillside), and one of Gary’s brother’s flock of Columbia sheep.

Setup was relatively simple. The professional shearer needed a 6′ x 6′ footprint, and myself and a few other guys worked to keep the sheep flowing around him. On one side, one of Gary’s brothers helped get the unshorn sheep from the paddock. The shearer took about 4 minutes per sheep, and when done, I grabbed the freshly shorn sheep, brought it over to get a quick vaccination shot (tetanus and a few others), and then returned her to the paddock.

Click here to see a video of my ewe Cecelia getting sheared

Once the fleece was off the sheep, it was carried over to a skirting table where two ladies (Gary’s wife and sister) worked hard to remove the bad or soiled wool and categorize the wool quality. The wool was bagged in individually marked bags so that hand-spinners could know what sheep their wool came from. Wool from the stomach area as well as the rear is usually discarded. Jacob wool is highly prized by hand-spinners for its natural two-tone color and generally good quality.

The shearer worked from around 9am until nearly 5pm without an extended break. Many spectators joined the fun over the course of the day. The Columbia sheep, over 200 pounds, were certainly a huge task when compared to the Jacobs or Shetlands that Gary and I had. It was a busy day, but filled with great learning experiences.

A late lunch was had by those remaining, and we drove our newly naked ladies home to their warm barn.

Lambs are soon to be on the way!

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