Sunday, February 11, 2007

Farm Photo 2/11/07: Cary's First Woolcut

Scenes From Sheep Shearing Day 2007

Cary before. . .

Cary during. . .

More photos and story below. . .

And Cary after. . .

Ta Dah!

Don't know who Cary is? Meet her in A Tiny Tail For Mother's Day.

Don't worry, it'll grow back. But don't get too attached to that snow white wool. Less than 48 hours after being sheared she jumped right back into her recurring role as. . . Dirty Cary. My kid cannot stay clean.

Despite a few frigid nights, I'm still very happy that we decided to shear the sheep before lambing season started. So far our little experiment is working out well, and I think we made the right choice. The first three or four days after the sheep are shorn are the most critical, and fortunately it stayed dry and didn't get too cold (freezing rain is the worst). Our shearer also used a different cutting comb than he does during warmer months, so more wool was left on the sheep. And it's already starting to grow back.

It's really helpful to be able to look at my three dozen (!) pregnant ewes' bodies without all that wool on them, and the books were right—the sheep know to head for shelter to keep their shorn bodies warm. While they normally love to sleep out under the stars in the farmyard, the last few nights when I checked on them, everyone was tucked into the barn—including Dan with his winter fluff (not because he's a wimp, but because he's guarding his sheep of course).

This will become even more important when there are bouncing baby lambs all over the place (starting next month!). Super woolly mothers might not think to come in from the cold because they don't really notice it (especially those with woolly faces like Snugglebunny), but a shorn sheep will feel that arctic blast and lead her much-less-insulated baby to the barn.

Many of you have asked me about the shorn fleeces. Because we raise meat sheep (as opposed to wool sheep), the fleeces that come off our sheep when they are shorn aren't the kind desired by handspinners. Our sheep are mostly Suffolks, and that breed is known for having wool that is coarse and short (and even shorter this time since we sheared five months earlier than usual)--not usually desirable qualities for spinning.

Add to that the fact that our sheep regularly tromp through the woods and brambles and do not wear little cloth coats to keep their coats clean, and let's just say that Cary isn't the only dirty one. . . (though I did of course save Baby's First Fleece).

Oh, and then there were the bright red blotches of raddle marker on the backs of all the ewes. . . (This paste-like stuff was spread on Studly Do-Right Jefferson's chest last fall so we would be able to tell when each of the ewes had been bred—very helpful since I never would have guessed how, um, efficient Studly Jeff was at his One And Only Job. I just had no idea the girls were going to be permanently marked.)

I'm still catching up with your comments, and I thank you for your patience (and for taking the time to write). I did have a chance to answer the Cary and sheep shearing questions on February 7th's farm photo—click here and scroll down to the end of the comments section if you'd like to read them.

A year of Farm Photos ago:
2/11/06: Fortunately For Dan That's Not Fat, It's Fluff
2/10/06: In This Spot. . . A Miracle Has Occurred!
2/9/06: Same Scene, New View
2/8/06: There's Something About A Sunrise
And WCB#36: Decisions, Decisions

© 2007, the well coiffed foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.


  1. awwww, hurry up!!!1! i can't WAIT to see cary's lovely new 'do!!!

  2. I really love your blog - what an inspiration!

  3. I am all teary eyed, because Cary looks so trusting. I hope you let her see that nothing bad was going to happen before you sheared her.
    She really is so pretty. Her black looks blacker, her fleece fleecier.

  4. Oh, Baby Girl! Such a good girl!!

  5. You're so cruel!
    Not to Cary...
    TO US! ;)

    Her smiling photo has been my iMac's background photo since you posted it. Yup, mu husband's mug was replaced by a lovable lamb!

  6. She is absolutely lovely ... maybe most because of the trusting hopefulness in her eyes and body language to the "shearer"... as Judith said ... teary eyed + and full of love for those fourlegged!

  7. Hello Susan

    I've been reading your blog and I LOVE it! I am a farm animal vet in the swiss mountains and a big-time sheep lover. Your pics make my day - how lovely to look at wet animals when being dry and comyfy in front of the computer :-)

  8. I can't wait to see how Cary looks! We here at Farm Aid love your blog so much, we've blogged about it. Please check it out and keep the fantastic stories and photos coming.

  9. I can't wait to see Cary's new do. I am sure she will get used to it. She will certainly feel sassy with her new look! Wonder what the "boys" will say???

  10. Cary gets a new hair-do! Can't wait to see the end result.

  11. Ooooh! How cute! Can't wait to see the final pix...I'm sure you had a few teed-off sheep.

  12. I'm going to join in the teariness - Cary's trusting look and body language just broke my heart, even though I knew she was fine.

  13. If you kept her fleece seperate, I'll bet you could raffle or sell it on eBay to raise money for a nice animal related cause?

    Or. maybe somebody could spin it into yarn, and someone would knit some scarves?


  14. She looks like she's in good hands, but still, bet she's glad it's over. So now what will you do with the fleece from the flock?

  15. I too am eagerly awaiting Cary's new appearance. She's so adorable!

  16. I love your sheep shearer's hands. These seasoned farmers so full of many stories. I lived beside a cow farmer for years. Jack taught my 3 sons a no nonsense respect for life.His big paws held a gentle pat on the head or a good swat off a fence for breaking forsythia!
    Miss Cary trusts those experienced hands.I think she senses that gentle pat on the head!

  17. Waiting...waiting...waiting...

  18. I love your blog and Cary is sooo adorable-thanks for sharing

  19. ack! I can't take the suspense! What does she look like? LOL

  20. Oh, what a GOOD Cary! She does look so relaxed and cooperative, reclining helpfully!

    Was shearing her really that easy? Tell us the truth!


  21. another k-bird2/13/2007 9:22 PM

    i stumbled on your site looking for real, usable tips to make my homemade italian (pugliese-esque) bread better. my bread is pretty good, but i'm kind of a "one-trick pony" so i'm trying to figure out real french bread. you have some good hints i will try. and on further reading, i see you are a unique free spirit. thanks for sharing...i'll be reading more

  22. Susan---can't wait, can't wait. Show cutie pies after haircut!

  23. What a cliff-hanger! Happy Valentine's Day, Farmgirl! I hope everyone on the farm is in good spirits today, especially the now not-so-wooly Cary. :)

  24. You've got a lovely blog!! It was a wonderful read!! Would love to come back to your blog for more each time!!Cheers!!Jessica

  25. What an impatient bunch we humans are! Pretty soon we will be milling about your ankles, headbutting you to hurry up with the hay...oh, I mean pictures! laughs

    Cary's look in the fist picture says it all: patience people! More cute will arrive soon.

    (and I say this as the computer geek who does Susan's tech support from afar)

  26. Look at Cary, all nekkid - reminds me of my cat, Wylie:

  27. Isnt suffolk wool the preferred variety for matress stuffing as it is particularly springy?

  28. susan - I made the best -so-far scone recipe based on yours. I could eat these forever -you have to try them!

  29. I think Cary approves of her new "do" Of course, if it gets too cold she will probably be knocking at your door asking to come in.

    If the wool is not good for spinning - what do you do with the wool?

  30. I can FEEL how it would be to pick her up for hugging.

  31. She looks relaxed as if getting the works at a salon. It's got to feel good to loose an extra few pounds.

    Her being all naked really accentuates how small she is. I can't wait to see all of the others. Hope they cooperated like Cary seemed to.

  32. AWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!! she's still loverly

    Have you ever seen the Pixar mini-cartoon "bounding"? Oh, see it, see it!!! It's wonderful, it's about a sheered sheep.

  33. NEKKID CARY! She looks like HEY! where'd my clothes go? MAAAAA!

  34. Susan, thank you for showing those cool pictures. Were they all as cooperative as Cary?

  35. Cary is so beautiful! I amy be imagining things, but I swear her face is blacker, cleaner, and glowing.........she has an aura that the other sheep don't seem to have.
    Raffle, raffle! Yes! My cat Domino would love to sleep on that wool - remember the photo you had of the cats sleeping on the pillowcase of wool?

  36. There's realy nothing wrong with Suffolk wool. It's a downy breed. It doesn't have the luster of finer breeds but it is great for outer wear as it wears well. It is a little coarser but not that bad. It is good for rugs and other types of hard wearing fabric. The suffolk I have spun does not felt easily, but is extremely warm. It was a chore to spin as you say the sheep did not wear coats and it had a lot of vegetable matter. But if cleaned up thoroughly (tediously) it makes a beautiful yarn. Especially if you spin bulky. Love the pics. I was concerned about the weather on the shorn sheep, but you make a lot of sense about them feeling the cold and having their babies inside the barn. Makes it easier for the shepard also. Good luck in lambing, and get some sleep. Lisa

  37. Very interesting. I really had no idea how they'd look without fur. Skinnier than I might have imagined. But cute, in kind of a farmish way.

  38. I think she looks so adorable--and stylish!!!!

  39. Suffolk wool doesn't felt, so it makes good quilt batting.

    People ask "what is the best kind of wool?" and the answer is the question "for what?" :-)

  40. Awww - I love how Cary is looking around wondering where the heck did my wool go? Too cute.
    Great blog as usual and you always bring a smile to my face.

  41. How did I miss this post????

    It's like I missed Cary's first day waiting for the school bus!



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