The Life Of Wool Continues…..

Shearing is supposed to be done on a spring-like day; March is technically a spring month and therefore a month that I try to book one of the few available shearers in the state.

Last weekend, however, was not a spring feeling day. My crew of 5 helpers, myself and the shearer did our best to stay warm all while completing our tasks. Jim Martin handled each sheep; moving them up the ramp to the shearer. At one point I looked over, and saw him riding one of my big rams up the ramp; not on purpose mind you, but intervention quickly took place before the ram decided to leap off of the platform with Jim on his back. Bear in mind that Jim probably weighs half the amount of most of my sheep, so the fact that it only happened once was miraculous.

Aaron and Alex Pape, twin brothers who help out on weekends, together managed to trim each of the sheep’s hooves. The twins are both 6’ tall and had no problem handling each of the sheep that came down the ramp to the manicure station; as the pair could easily keep up with the shearer. I gave them both a 5 minute tutorial on animal nail care and clipping and then left them to the task. At one point, I looked over the wall and on a seemingly cold day, they both had sweat on their brows.

My task was to move the fleece, or raw wool, from the shearer to the skirting table where Annie and Samantha (my two artists in residence apprentices) helped skirt the wool; removing the less desirable wool from that which will get sent to the spinner for processing into yarn. The undesirable wool will be used later in the spring for mulching pathways and areas in order to block out weeds.

After shearing, it’s back to normal

The sheep seemed displeased with the idea of having their jackets removed from their bodies. However, today they seem to be back to their normal selves, hanging out in the barn in groups of 6 or so, chewing their cuds and basking in the sun that comes through the south facing windows of the lounging area. Lambing will begin soon and with it a change of pace, noise, and hopefully a change in weather pattern to go along with it.

Next, a trip to the Geen Mountain Spinnery in Vermont with my three bags full of wool to be turned into yarn for all to enjoy.