In late spring and early summer it's high time to get your sheep shorn.I'm afraid this year I left it almost too late! But then again, Klkenny still had a touch of snow last week; in June!
At first, the sheep don't seem to be too hot or look like they need a haircut but with the arrival of flies the thick winter fleece becomes a danger to the animals. Maggots easily infest a flock of sheep and that's trouble no farmer wants to deal with. We had a neighbor who offered his services. Mick always did his own and had experience. Shearing was done outside on the yard. The sheep have to be rounded up by an able dog first. Our Brandy had talent for this job. She clearly enjoyed nipping the sheep in their legs too while rounding them up and circling them all the time to keep them in check. Where she had learned it--we didn't know. It was in her blood, whereas later off spring of hers was useless.
The shearer holds a sheep between his legs while a second is needed to keep the struggling sheep still. Mostly they are not very cooperative in spite of the sense of relief afterwards.Zip, zip, zip and off flies the wool. To get the fleece in one piece is impossible. They must come from slaughtered sheep. In the olden days it was worth to collect the wool but at that time we were in the "business", prices were too low to bother. We still had to pick up the wool and stuff them into bags because the dogs would make a right mess and have way too much fun with it. Fertilizer bags are the bags of choice like for many other jobs, collecting windfall apples, even for sleighing down a hill which merely has a sprinkle of snow.
It's a smelly job. Sheep have a certain odor, their lanolin imbued wool does too and so do the men at work after a while. On a hot day, it can be quite overwhelming for the delicate nose of a city girl. After a while and typical hints from the shearers, drink is fetched. This type of work makes you hungry as well.
In the following years, when we had about 100 sheep we needed professional help if this social outing wasn't going to take all week.
I always felt sorry for the sheep afterwards when the weather was still on the chilly side. They looked like starved skeletons, naked and unappealing. But they usually frolicked shortly after the ordeal. After that they should receive a dip in a medicine infused bath to prevent the dreaded parasites. Which is an ordeal in itself.