Sue Blacker on Harvesting Wool…
WOVEMBER readers will remember that we heard from Sue Blacker on Growing Wool earlier in the month! She returns today, to share some insights on shearing wool in Winter. Keen-eyed WOVEMBER readers might remember that while we were talking about Growing Wool, Deb Robson pointed out that some sheep require shearing twice per year? In that post Deb refers to a Border Leicester, however in this post, Sue describes the second shear of her Gotlands, who also have a long coat!
3rd August, 2011 – The imperfect world of the shepherd
Sheep have had a great year and are still doing so but these last few humid days mean the risk of the dreaded flystrike. Big Jupiter the yearling ram duly obliged, but quick observation (rubbing on the fence, flies around) meant scarcely a mark and he is fine now.
I debated treating all the flock as a preventative option, given that there are more than 3 months until they are next sheared, but instead have opted for crutching.
17th January, 2012 – Happy New Year!
Gideon the shearer and I delayed this event, which is normally before Christmas, because the weather was horribly wet. Sheep are fine with cold but much less happy with wet, particularly when shorn. So I feed them extra rations and give them access to shelter anyway, but the wet and wind were a bit much.
We seem to have struck lucky as it has scarcely rained since we did it.
Here’s Harry watching Gideon arriving. The sheep stay indoors for around 24 hours before shearing to ensure they are dry and are not fed then either, as shearing on full bellies can be very stressful.
Besides, they can eat all day afterwards.
Here’s Harry and some of the others hoping I might feed them.
We take the opportunity to do pedicures at the same time. See how the sheep’s just sitting there, not restrained, and leaning against Gideon’s legs – he is wearing sheepskin overshoes to avoid slipping and/or treading on the odd leg. See also the shearing blade neatly set out (Gideon is a perfectionist!).
And here are some of the ewes with their new hair-cuts. We only shear the Gotlands as they have long wool and need shearing twice a year to get a good coat off, so the Blue-faced Leciester ladies and gentleman escaped with just a quick trim around the backside – you can see the three ladies on the right of the picture and the four Gotlands in the middle.
Lastly, here is Harry again – in the centre with a mouthful of hay, along with David the Gotland ram to the right, Jupiter the Blue-faced Leicester ram in the foreground (not shorn) and Duncan the wether in the foreground, also eating.
All content © Sue Blacker of The Natural Fibre Company, and used with her kind permission. All content also originally published on Sue Blacker’s own blog, which can be found here.