You won't be seeing this in 2007
Oh, there'll be bouncing baby lambs of course. In fact, if all goes well there may be as many as 50 of them racing around here by the end of April. What have I gotten us into?
What there won't be, though, are big woolly mamas, because The Plan this year is to shear the sheep before lambing season starts.
More below. . .
There are several reasons to do this, most of which will benefit us at least as much as they will the sheep. First of all, shearing them now will eliminate the need to "crotch" all of the pregnant ewes. Crotching—for those of you fortunate enough to not be familiar with the term—is where you snip off all the dirty wool around the tail and udder of a pregnant ewe so things are cleaner back there during the birth, and access to the milk bar is free and easy.
Picture me on my knees, holding a large pair of scissors (I don't trust myself with our large and loud electric shearer in those delicate areas) and staring at the woolly back end of an indignant sheep being held in place by Joe. When I've finished with that area, he flips her over onto her rump so she is resting against his legs in a sitting position. This leaves her legs free to kick the heck out of me if she feels like it.
We've never sheared this early before. Most years we don't get it done until late spring, and then it's usually during some record-breaking heatwave. I have to admit we're a little nervous, especially since the temperatures have been dropping into the single digits at night.
We manage to keep coming up with some really good rationalizations to reassure us—like the fact that the people down the road already have a pasture full of newborn lambs who appear to be just fine out in the cold, our sheep have a nice comfortable barn to cozy up in, etc., etc.
But this morning Joe pointed out the best reason of all to implement The Plan. "Anything is better than shearing when it's 95 degrees outside!" And I'm sure that even the sheep would agree with him.
There's only one small glitch. The shearer (who lives about 60 miles away) is supposed to arrive at 10am tomorrow, and the latest weather forecast has bumped the one inch of possible snow up to a 90% chance of 2 to 4 inches of accumulation.
I believe I've mentioned before that scheduling anything in advance around here is an extremely iffy proposition. So first thing in the morning we'll poke our heads outside and assess the situation.
Tonight there is nothing we can do but grill the lamb chops, check the last of the homegrown potatoes that are simmering on the stove, and heat up the haricots verts (from the garden by way of the freezer) and a hunk of crusty bread. I've been busy breaking in my fabulous new commercial bread pans, so as soon as the oven is hot enough, I'll put in the three rising loaves of Farmhouse White sandwich bread—at least one of which is earmarked for the shearer. Cross your fingers that he'll get it.
A year of Farm Photos ago:
1/31/06: Being Adorable Is Thirsty Work
1/30/06: So Do You Think Martha Is Pregnant?
1/29/06: The Latest Additon To My Collection
And WDB#19: Robin Knows Every Warm Spot On The Farm
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