As soon as the snow melts there is so much to do on a farm. One of the big things that need to be done (big for me anyway) is to get the shearing done. It is very hard to find a sheep shearers. Shearing is a lot of hard work and the sheep shearers are a dying breed. I just happen to have found someone who will come to my place and shear my furry friends for me.
I don’t have a many to shear compared to most, but there is enough that I can’t do this job by myself. My first furry friend to join me on my farm was my alpaca named Ernie. When Ernie came to live with me he hadn’t been sheared in over 2 years so he
really needed it done. I got him in the winter so I waited until spring when it warmed up. Alpaca’s don’t handle the cold very well. They appreciate that warm coat. Finally, I decided it was warm enough to get him sheared but I didn’t know who to call so I thought it can’t be too hard, I can do this myself. So I took out my hair cutting scissors and went to work. Two hours later I sent my husband a picture of Ernie. He looked like an overgrown poodle. I had started at the front of him and kept rolling the fiber back until it was on his rear end. This is the picture I sent it to my husband. Needless to say, this is the long way to do this. Although Ernie was pretty excited to get all of that fiber off and he was not as big and intimidating as I thought he was. He was all fluff!
Since then I have acquired other furry friends. And like any farm, I can’t keep them all! That is probably my
hardest thing….I want them all to stay. But my husband has set limits since I can’t seem to.
Here on our farm, I have of course my alpaca Ernie, another alpaca named Skeeter, a Merino sheep Reno, an Icelandic sheep Icy, and an Angora goat name Lacey. The Icelandic and the Angora need to be sheared in the spring and again in the fall. In the spring I have the shearers come and shear them, and in the fall I take out the scissors and give them the haircut my self.
The sheep are the easiest for Bill, my shearer, to do. He sets them up on the tail end so that he can have control of them. While they don’t look like they are enjoying sitting like this, they are not in pain or discomfort. He starts with
the belly and works his way up to the neck. Then he adjusts them and works towards the side and the back.
The Merino is the hardest to shear. She is wrinkly and has loose skin that hangs down under her neck. Bill
is very careful not to cut her when he is shearing. I really like the Icelandic when he shears her. The wool on her seems to fall right off. She is easier for him to shear because her skin is not wrinkled up and loose like the Merino. She reminds me more of a goat than a sheep. The Angora is fairly easy for him to shear also.
We usually shear the alpacas first. They are the hardest to shear. Ernie will kiosk (sits down on the ground with his with his feet tucked tightly underneath him) as soon as I put the halter on him. We usually have to pick him up and carry him to the tarp. There we lay him on his side, shear him, and then roll him over to do the other side. He is fairly easy to shear. Skeeter, on the other hand, is the hard one for us to shear. He is broke to lead but is not happy when we go to shear him. I lead him over and immediately he starts throwing a tantrum and making all kinds of noise to complain. When we lay him on his side his drama begins. He still makes all kinds of noises and shows his protest to the situation by spitting at us. Although when he is finished he gets up and seems a lot happier and a lot cooler.
After shearing, we gather up the wool or fiber. We separate the good out for me to spin. Then we separate the rest. I use this for felting and then anything that is full of debris or vegetable matter we throw away.
Join me later when I will wash the fiber and process it so that I can spin it or felt it. I will tell you more about each of the animals.
Until then I hope you enjoy my post and pictures. Please feel free to share this post. I would love to have you comment below.