In mid-winter, we shear the ewes that are going to lamb in March. When it goes well, we even shear before lambing starts! We do this for several reasons. Even though it seems early to shear, all goes better if the wool is off before the first lambs hit the ground. We raise our own bucks, which means that in order for them to be “of age”–at least some of them, by next winter, late winter/early spring is the time to be born. It is important for the ewes to be out of the wool for a couple of reasons. In cold weather, if the ewe is not cold, it doesn’t occur to her that her lambs might be cold and she should seek shelter. And when those lambs are looking for nourishment, it is helpful if tags of wool are not hanging down in strategic locations. Anyway, thanks to Cliff and Donna of Hoopes Shearing, we have spent two days shearing the early lambing ewes and the mature bucks. What did the bucks do wrong, you might ask? Well, then we don’t have to figure out how to get them staged for the main shearing in April (April, right Cliff and Donna?).
Often, well actually, always except for this year, it is pretty cold in mid-February and we feel guilty removing wool coats from the sheep while we are all wooled up in sweaters and long underwear. I don’t know if we have weather or climate change to thank, or blame, but this week, we had ideal shearing weather–not too cold, not too warm–Goldilocks Weather.
We do have a few lambs on the ground, due to errant buck lambs–born last March–you get the picture.
Sorry, but it was too dark in the shed to get shearing shots!
This must be the February thaw.
It follows the January thaw, except
not much snow fell between
Aquarius and Pisces.
How will we know Spring?
As storms pound the East Coast, and snow in Boston piles up, we watch our drifts melt away. We depend on snow for winter water for the sheep, and to bring summer moisture for everything. At Powder Flat, all our livestock are watering at reservoirs and wells.
It is only early February, but we do have lots of young animals around. We have had more than one litter of Livestock Guardian Dog puppies (hence the difference in sizes), a litter of Border collies, last summer’s colt crop, and–oh yes–one lamb. The little ones are fun, but soon we will have scores of lambs and calves on the ground, so this is the calm before the storm. Barring bad weather, which we have definitely not had, I consider the time between when the bucks go into the ewes in mid-December, and when the purebred lambs and the heifers’ calves start arriving in early March to be the lull. How can it be going by so fast? And why do I still feel so busy?