Thursday, March 13, 2008

Shear Success

There are now "naked" sheep in every corner of the farm...or at least every corner of the winter pens. They look so different, it is hard to recognize them. That's why they have name tags as well as numbers in their ears. They don't even recognize each other, and spend a lot of time and energy going through their ritualized (but serious) head-butting to determine the social order. Is it the same? Or is the chaos of shearing enough to give some young upstart an edge over the established matriarch?

Shearing went very well. I would have to say that the two worst things were:

--The shearer showed up about a half hour earlier than he had told us he would. This is not uncommon, so although I was hoping for 11:00, I wasn't totally off guard to start earlier. On the other hand, this helped us keep from feeling like we were up against a deadline, and way better than having a big volunteer crew and audience assembled, then waiting...waiting...waiting.

--Since one of the regular members of the "shearing ring" (the several farms that coordinate shearing days, and help provide labor for one another) is no longer raising sheep, I dropped the ball on covering her usual responsibilities of supplying the traditional pop and cookies and chips for Dannie's mid-morning snack, so we asked a volunteer to run to the nearest gas station. Next year I'll plan ahead better for that little detail.

If I have to look that hard to find something to improve on next year, obviously it went VERY well.

The two best things were Mom and Dad showing up from Manhattan, KS, and my daughter showing up despite a heavy schedule of work and classes. Somehow none of these beloved people have ever been able to make it to a shearing day before this year!

We had lots of volunteers and visitors. Everyone pitched in and worked together well, and everyone had time to visit and make new friends, take pictures, or just sit and watch.

After a delicious lunch (prepared by one of my new housemates--with small children to tend, this was how she could best pitch in to help make the day a success. NEVER forget that the cook is one of the most important and influential members of a crew) served informally in the barn, several of us went to the next farm to watch their shearing and assist if needed. Their sheep are all "children" from my flock, so it's especially fun for me to see what my "kids" are producing. They are all fat and thriving...they have the good fortune to belong to a flock that is kept solely for wool, so they are never bred and are petted and spoiled.

Who, me? Take pictures? Too busy! Hopefully some of the many folks with cameras will send me some that I can post.

Yes, it's late, and I should be in bed. I WISH I was in bed. I'm exhausted...up late last night getting new gates installed in the barn, up early this morning with other preparations. But there is a ewe in labor, so I'm up...killing time, hoping that the next time I go out she'll be done. I'll keep you posted.

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