Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shear Relief.

What a whirlwind of excitement this past week has been.

You are well aware the sheep made it home safely last week and I am sorry to report that I didn’t make a cake like I said I would here. I made these sheep cookies instead!
They were a big hit, but J is holding me to my promise so there will be cake. Eventually.

The sheep were able to rest for one day before the shearing crew arrived. The crew of three men arrived bright and early on Thursday at 6am. They were set up and started shearing by 7am and didn’t stop until 6pm. They did this for two days.

This is their setup. Pretty nifty, eh?
You are probably thinking, how hard can it be to shear sheep? Well, I can say it’s truly a skill. For one – shearers need to know how to properly get a sheep to the ground and in sheep shearing position. They obviously don’t want to cut the sheep with the shears but must hold them in a position that prevents the sheep from breaking loose or getting cut. On top of this they have to be fast. These guys are good at all of the above.

They were able to get through hundreds of sheep in just two days!

The head guy on our sheep shearing team has won several awards for his speedy shearing skills and it shear shows! ;) 
This is how it all goes down.

The sheep are brought in from the field in bunches of about 50. They are pushed into smaller groups averaging 20 and those 20 are pushed into the shoot. As they come through the shoot J vaccinates them. Not all sheep ranchers vaccinate at shearing time, but this the way Pop has always done it and it's effective.
I have to take a second and give kudos to my husband because this was his first year shearing and he rocked it!
This was J at the end of day one. Yes, that is dirt on his face and windblown hair.
Nothing but hottness at our place.
Of course we wouldn’t have been able to have such success without our awesome help, but I don’t even think a doctor could vaccinate 1,000+ people in two days considering these sheep aren’t just standing waiting patiently for their vaccination. They are trying to run from you the entire time.

Once they are vaccinated they are marked with a chalk pen – this was Morgan’s job. We mark them so we know they have gotten their vaccination and are ready to be sheared.
After they are marked they are pushed up the shoot and get in line for their cut. The sheep line the inside of the trailer and the shearer gets a sheep (through the doors in the trailer) when he is ready.  
He shears them then sends them on their merry, wool-less way.
The wool is then “skirted then compacted into bales with this neat machine. 
Before we knew it there was a field of naked sheep and a truck loaded with wool bales. 
Another reason for all the excitement was the arrival of our senior, Morgan. This kid is nothing short of amazing.

Morgan is a part of The Senior Field Studies program at his high school. This program allows seniors to participate in direct field studies in urban, rural and wilderness settings while earning credits. Morgan has been on a 2 week backpacking trip and leaves for a whitewater rafting trip a few days after he arrives home from being at our ranch for a week. We were lucky enough to partake in this program through our membership with the Colorado Farm Bureau.

On his first day here Morgan jumped right in and helped with shearing. He was great help - J and the crew were happy to have him. The “city” in him was nowhere to be found.  

Aside from being a huge help with shearing he introduced me to some new tunes (this kid has some great taste in music) and he made us laugh. A lot. 

Morgan has such a great personality and his mood is infectious. He’s the type of kid you want to be around as much as possible because he makes you feel good and he makes you smile. We truly enjoyed having him with us.

I’ll admit I got a teary eyed when I said good-bye.

He says he’ll be back to visit and I believe he will…even if it is just to see the animals! ;)
I was able to get in on the action too! The first time I asked if I could help I was told no. They said it was because there was too much dust flying around. Are you kidding me?! I hung my shoulders, found a sac and started picking up trash. Pathetic (I know), but I was bound and determined to contribute somehow! I came back and the guys must have felt bad for me (like the kid that was picked last in dodgeball) because when I asked a second time and J told me to, "Jump in!"
Here's to another season of (shear) success!

You can read more about shearing here.


Farmchick said...

Holy cow! I mean sheep! That is a lot of sheep! Glad it all went well.

Cat said...

What a fasinating process! Love how you got into the spirit in the kitchen...your sheep cookies are great! {couldn't help but notice you have a "black" sheep mixed up in there ;))

xx Cat brideblu

A Rancher's Wife said...

@ Farmchick - some days I wish we had one cow around to change things up a bit! ;)
@ Cat - I was hoping someone would notice! They were yummy!

TV's Take said...

That's great! Congrats on a successful season. Your joke was shear genius :-) Have a great weekend

A Rancher's Wife said...

@ TV's Take - Glad someone liked my joke! ;)

Katie said...

I LOVE the photos and story of sheep shearing! Great they let you "in" on it finally too. And those cookies are amazing.
Happy Easter.

Cecilia said...

I thought I should introduce myself before commenting. I went to school with your hubby, he was actually in my older brothers class. I just came across your blog and love reading about your sheep. We used to live in a house on the route of the sheep walk and I remember them wandering down into our yard to munch on our grass.
Anyway, I wanted to ask what happens to the wool? Do you sell it or do anything with it yourselves?

A Rancher's Wife said...

Cecilia - Yes, I know who you are! I stumbled upon your blog via Leslie's and am good friends with Jen! :) Thanks for stopping by. We actually sell the wool which I wrote about here: I would like to eventually use some of it to do something with...just not sure what yet.