We sheared our ewe flock on Saturday, bringing the bred and unbred ewes together for the event. As usual, we sheared in the Sheep Barn, where eighteen friends and volunteers worked from 9:45 a.m. until about 5 p.m., harvesting the fiber that our ewes have been growing for the past 362 days. A big THANK YOU to Addison, Ashlie, Berkley, Britt, Emilly, Jacob, Jolyn, Josh, Marcy, Mason, Melissa, Neal, Riley, Sadie, Seth, Shanna, Sophie, and Terry! We could not have done it without each and every one of you!
The biggest concern this year was the weather, since I knew I had nowhere to dry fifty-one fleeces if they got wet due to the week’s weather. Thankfully, most of the wool dried on the sheep before shearing, so we ended up with only about a dozen damp fleeces. They are currently spread out and drying all over the basement floor — it’s hard to walk between them because they take up so much space!
Many of our new helpers — and many of the pros — were fascinated to watch the wool come off, since the apparent color of the sheep can be misleading. A white fleece may appear gray where it’s not protected by the coat (neck, head, and belly). And a colored ewe such as Molly (in some of the photos below) can look very different once she is sheared. Even through a coat, the sun can bleach the outer 1/4″ or so of a dark fleece. Once these girls are sheared, you can see how very dark they are underneath! It isn’t unusual during shearing to see every eye trained on the shearing floor, waiting for the unveiling — particularly when there’s a dramatic color difference between the apparent color of the outer wool the color beneath.
Now that Winter Shearing has passed for another year, I am left with the residual work of washing and mending (as needed) fifty-one coats, skirting the fleeces, and cleaning up the house and barn after the influx of so many people and so much activity. As I begin to shift focus to that work, I’ll leave you with some photos from Saturday. Enjoy!