March 14, 2007
March came in like a lamb…and it's shearing time again!
Photo top: A ewe is seated and the shearing begins.
Middle photos: The process continues.
Bottom photo: "Tiny" and "165" show off their new spring coats!
I had been thinking about calling the sheep shearer, when I got a call that he would be in the area. Would that work for us? I said yes, and then made some quick phone calls to round up some help. It was a days’ notice but a small work party was able to come over for the evening shearing and supper. Everyone arrived on time, including Mr. B’s cousin from Alberta, who just happened to stop in for a visit. After supper, the shearer and his apprentice arrived. Within a couple hours, the ewes and rams were standing in bits of left over wool, wondering where their winter coats went. Fresh bedding was put in the lean-to of the barn and they had a cozy night. Little did they know that they would wake up to springs’ arrival in the morning!
There had been enough help in the shearing pens, to allow me to have time to sort and label every fleece as it came off the shearing floor. And what lovely fleeces they are. They are all in temporary storage now, and the next step will be to skirt (skirting removes the outer 3 or 4 inches around the fleece edges where most of the urine and feces has contaminated the wool), bag each fleece separately and weigh and label contents. When inventory is taken, each fleece will be destined for private sale to spinners or sent to the wool mill for further processing before being sold as yarn, roving or quilt batts.
I was wakened by a noise late that night. Thinking it was coyotes I got up and went to fire off a few warning shots. When I opened the door I was greeted by a gust of wind, strong and warm, blowing in from the south. It whistled through the trees and around the buildings. It was inevitable that by morning much of the snow would be melted and streams would be running.
It was a watery world in the morning. As the day progressed, the water built up and ran over some places in the road. Large ponds of water built up next to the bridges that channel the water through the farmyard and out to the main coulee that runs down to the river. I remembered that during another spring run-off, my brother had been here and had opened passages under the bridges to allow the water to move faster. So I went out and did some excavating. It worked and before long the waters level was going down and a rushing stream was winding its way to the valley below.
The wind and the sunshine have been here all week and it is amazing how quickly the ground is drying. There is some high ground in the sheeps' winter pasture but they didn’t have to go there, because the water channeled away so quickly. They have been scampering about like spring lambs (they still have another fifty or more days to go before lambing so they aren’t burdened with a heavy load yet). And as usual, some have turned quite pink in the sun, with no thick wool to cover them.