Each year we brace ourselves for shearing the sheep - I'm not talking a lot of sheep, generally less than 15. In previous years it has gone something like this......late January finally get round to organising the shearer to come, on the day build a make-shift pen arrangement out of spare gates and twine, spend two hours chasing sheep around the paddock with stress levels rising because they are just so crazy stupid that we can't pen them, get Derek the shearer (aged in his late 70's) to help when he shows up, finally get most of them penned and drag/carry the last remaining sheep who refused to budge from her spot on the steep bank amongst the pine trees. Then, in the fading light, Derek gets to work and we make plans for how we can make the whole experience easier and less stressful for the next year.
Well, what a difference there was this year! We are much earlier for a start, we were aiming for December so we're not too far out. What made the biggest difference was the brand-spanking-new-almost-finished stockyards that my clever farmer-husband built. There were still a few spare gates and twine involved but the majority of it was there and with some clever shepherding the sheep were penned in just under an hour. We used a different shearer this year whose gear was all set up on the back of a trailer, which I might add slotted seamlessly into the race built in the yards - perfect design! It took less than two hours to shear our 20 and my neighbour's two pets. And instead of feeling stressed and exhausted and needing to take three hungry and exhausted children back to the house, I lazed around in the paddock in the glorious sun and snapped away with my camera while the farm kids watched and played - not one request for food, it was that absorbing! I think we've cracked this shearing gig, only a few minor adjustments needed for next year - your presence and some gates on the yards please and thank you farmer-husband xx
Photos from top to bottom:
1. The most unflattering 'before' shot
2. A ewe getting her haircut
3. A lamb's turn - feisty wee things they all were
4. The first sheep shorn - looking very embarrassed and feeling rather naked
5. The flock feeling a lot cooler, a bit lighter, and filling their tummies again