Friday, 11 January 2013

Sheep shearing

Let me start by saying we are novices at this farming business - neither of us or our parents were brought up on a farm so it's difficult to explain what forces drew us here, there's just something in my makeup. Perhaps I'm channelling my great-great grandparents, they were all farmers and pioneers. Although the last four and a half years have not been easy, right here is where I've been the most grounded and happy, and our dreams for the future involve "real" farming, the kind you can make a living from. 

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


  1. That was fun to see, what an adventure you are having and in such a beautiful place. Will you be knitting up any of that wonderful wool? I'm here from yarn along, pleased to meet you! I believe I'm your first follower , welcome to blogging and yarn along! Oh, I am in california and my name is Lori :)

  2. Hi Lori and nice to meet you too, yay for being my first follower! I'm really keen to learn to spin my own yarn but I have no idea if the sheep produce a suitable fleece - I have kept a bit of wool so I'll ask around to see it will spin up ok. :)