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Hasta la vista, wool! or Shearing the early lambers

16 Feb
Jamie shearing

Jamie shearing

When I told folks that we were shearing sheep, the usual reaction was, “Whoa! Isn’t it a little early?”

It’s  true that most of the sheep are shorn in late April (if all goes well), right before they lamb. Since we raise our own rams, we have two farm flocks of ewes–one Rambouillet and one Hampshire. These ewes lamb mostly in March. It helps a lot if they can be shorn before lambing. If a ewe feels a chill, she will take her lambs to seek shelter. If her belly is bare, it is easier for the lambs to find her nipples and get a first good meal of colostrum.

Shearing is always risky if the weather can turn cold. In 1984, a quarter of a million sheep in Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas died after a long and severe April storm. A few days wool growth offers some protection. Our shearer, Cliff Hoopes of Hoopes Sheep Shearing, came with his shearer Jamie and nephew Kyle, wool handler. Cliff and Jamie used course blades, which leave some extra wool on the sheep.

We were blessed with several days of warmish weather, and got through with a good shearing. Thank you, Cliff and crew!

Meghan and Oscar bringing up the unshorn ewes

Meghan and Oscar bringing up the unshorn ewes

whiteface ewes waiting for the blade

whiteface ewes waiting for the blade

blackface ewes waiting for the blade

blackface ewes waiting for the blade

Seamus on the job

Seamus on the job

Oscar at the chute

Oscar at the chute

Time ropes the escaped wooly ewe

Time ropes the escaped wooly ewe

It's not easy!

It’s not easy!

Back to the woolies

Back to the woolies

Siobhan and Raelyn capture the ewe

Siobhan and Raelyn capture the ewe

Siobhan:  they went that-a-way

Siobhan: they went that-a-way

Siobhan, Maeve and Raelyn taking a break

Siobhan, Maeve and Raelyn taking a break

The bucks were shorn too. (The red powder is their working clothes.)

The bucks were shorn too. (The red powder is their working clothes.)

The Hoopes Shearing Crew and the Ladder Ranch Crew

The Hoopes Shearing Crew and the Ladder Ranch Crew

 

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