Sheep Shearing

April. Did I miss it?

Where does the time go?  We always hear folks ask that.  If I didn't have so many notes all over the calender for April 2013 I'd swear something happened to that whole month.  Like a whirl wind, come and poof...gone!
Shearing Day over 100 visitors
Fact is April is a very busy time for us.  When April appears we have usually just finished shearing all of our sheep and wool is everywhere.  We always hope our Shearing Day event will reduce the numbers of fleeces we have to deal with as folks in attendance buy them right off the sheep.  We do have fewer but we still face what seems like a mountain of wool!
 Yes, I must admit, the quantity of fleeces can be overwhelming and it takes me longer then it should getting round to sorting through them deciding which will go for yarn, roving or which will be kept to sell as raw wool. Several of them will be too full of vegetation, some matted, or not the quality you'd want to sell to someone in any form.  So, what to do with each bag of wool?  As I have them stored under a shed roof for now it's a BIG task that smacks me in the face each and every time I walk out the front door of our house.  Guess I should have picked a better place to put them?  Maybe if I didn't have to see them they'd disappear like April.  
Mi Sueno


Yes, April is also a BIG month for lambing.  In the fall we put the ram in the pasture with the ewes for 60 days.  That's much longer then most farms would leave the ram with the ewes but our primary ram, Mi Sueno, has my husband speaking for him...get my drift?  The primary downside of leaving Mi Sueno in with the 28 girls longer could be that our lambing might take longer.  Mi Sueno is not a romancer, he's a, he's a, how should I put it?  Wham bam kind of ram?  How do we really know that...lambing was DONE in less then 30 days.

Anyway, basically 149 days from 1st exposure to the ram you start preparing for the possibility of lambs.  Over time you learn tell tale signs and you get used to your girls.
Soon Please!
March 29th was the 1st possible day, no lambs.  March 30th, nothing.  Then on April 1st the lambing began with one ewe and twins.  Within a few hours the lambs take on personalities and we're able to assure them the nursery will be full very shortly. 





As the days progressed we were gathering sometimes 6-8 lambs per day.  Mind you, were a small operation! Each lamb happily greats the new one(s).  Each mom is different, some very protective, others experienced and calm others know they have a responsibility and they'll give off their lamb specific bleat to let the wee one know where they are but other then producing milk and feeding it they're kind of like..."What?  I'm over here!"  Regardless, It's an amazing process to behold.  I am sure some would accuse me of being too imaginative with this whole process.  Maybe I am to some degree but mostly I'd disagree.  Each of these animals is unique, with personalities and feelings.
This year we were blessed with 37 beautiful lambs and only one didn't make it.  Sad fact, they say 10% loss isn't unreasonable. So, as farming goes we'd have to chalk it up to a very good year even with the loss. For those that follow us on Facebook you know about our loss, it was a very tough day.  After 6.5 hours of hard labor she gave birth to the biggest lamb we've ever had on our farm.  A real beauty!  We checked the mom for milk and made sure they had bonded and a few other aftercare protocols.  They were both exhausted!  He didn't make it through the night.  You beat yourself up, what could I have done, what didn't I do/see...this the hardest part about farming to me.  We face a lot of life and death realities around here.  From the raccoon eating our chickens to the lamb that struggles to be born only to pass before his romp through the green pastures.  We often cry but mostly we carry a heaviness for awhile.  Then we find ourselves standing on the fence line watching 36 lambs jump and play without a care in the world.  They gather in a bunch, all of them, and like a swarm of bees they run, kicking up their heels, happy to be alive!

That's where April went!


Triplets

These harsh realities of nature are not easy yet we know we are in a close relationship with Mother Nature and knowing her we feel grounded. 



Nature reaches out to us with welcoming arms, and bids us enjoy her beauty; but we dread her silence and rush into the crowded cities, there to huddle like sheep fleeing from a ferocious wolf.   Kahlil Gibran

Shearing Day 2011






Spring is the busiest time of year on our farm. The sheep have once again grown into another full fleece. It is time to "shear". Shearing Day, February 26th this year, is the one day of the year we open the farm to guests. We have adults and children alike "flocking" the grounds. Some come to buy fleeces right off the sheep, getting to choose color, hand, or maybe just connection with the individual sheep the fleece came from. Others come because they have never seen such a thing. We hire a professional shearer. He comes prepared for the onslaught of questions and onlookers. Last year and returning this year, the Emerson Waldorf 3rd grade class will be guests of the day. Emerson Waldorf makes farming and gardening and textiles (knitting/crochet) part of the 3rd grade curriculum; boys and girls alike! They buy a fleece, take it back with them, wash, card, and spin it! It is beautiful to see these kids so enthusiastic and curious. If your not familiar with the school I encourage you to visit their web site. Whether you have children or not the site, in particular the slide show, is worth seeing. We begin the day early and finish bent over most of the time! The work from here is far from done. I'll be challenged with bags and bags of wool that must be sorted and processed. Some of the wool will be spun into yarn, some processed into roving so folks can spin or felt. Some wool is processed for our ever popular Eco-Friendly Wool Dryer Balls. Some fleeces will remain "raw fleece" for purchase as they are. Each year we learn so much from our sheep. Do you know how susceptible the wool is to nutrition and environment? That's one reason we are so proud when our wool wins ribbons or receives compliments! We had a very sick ewe last year. We almost lost her but with lots of attention she pulled thru. What happened though is something called wool "break" and the follicles literally "break" off. One mere illustration of the influence health has on the wool.
Shearing Day on the farm is certainly a big event and something we must plan for. Probably our biggest time on the farm is lambing. Our ewe's will soon deliver many wee ones.




From shearing day until June, it's pretty much non stop. Lambs everywhere! Feeling sorry for us? You shouldn't. As busy as it is I will continue to say it's my favorite time on the farm. As I've mentioned in previous blogs...as a spring day comes to a close, you'll often find me sitting in a lawn chair, in the middle of the pasture in awe of the the MOST cuteness anyone could imagine. As so, again on the farm....I get lost in all it's glory!