Well, tomorrow is Shearing Day 2013. Weather be damned (we’re supposed to have a snow storm), we will shear. It’s kind of a nerve wracking day for me. It’s a ‘ proof is in the pudding’ kind of experience. It’s when you find out for sure how much of a shepherd you are. It’s all in the fiber. If they were under stress for any reason, it all shows in the wool. Under stress can mean too hot, too wet, too much of a parasite load, too many years old, all the ‘toos’. Then of course, there are the sheep who knock their covers off and get covered in vegetable matter, very often making the wool useless for small production. In large production senarios they treat the fiber with chemicals to dissolve the vegetable matter. We don’t do that.
Anyway, tomorrow’s the big day and we are all looking forward to it. I love my shearer, Aaron Loux, a gentle soul, who really knows how to work with my animals. BTW, shearing is an art. The fleece must come off the animal in one even cut, getting the longest staple possible. The spinning machines like it that way. Once the fleece comes off the sheep, we ‘skirt’ it, which means pulling off the dirty unuseable stuff. Then we bag it, for a trip to the mill or to sell to handspinners. At the end of the day, everyone is ‘all tidied up’ and ready for lambing season. But that’s another story.