Cary before. . .
Cary during. . .
More photos and story below. . .
And Cary after. . .
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
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