It's warm, the bugs are buzzing, and the sheep are BAAAAA-ing! It's time to shear! What an adventure that was! I took a course through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension on how to shear a sheep. With a lot of guidance from a very patient expert, I proudly sheared my first sheep, and watched as 20 other beginners did the same. It was a very large, 160 lb. beautiful yearling with thick brown wool. Her legs seemed longer than mine!! She emerged with barely a nick (though some others weren't so lucky!) and I emerged with a sore body, and the courage to go home and try it on my own!
This is Ramona, my momma sheep, with her full coat. I sheared more than 7.5 lb. of wool off of her!
I asked Gramp if I could use his old electric shears, he let me borrow them along with hand clippers. It took me about two weeks to finally say "Okay, Okay, It's time!!!" I had Andy and my very brave friend Paula help. I delegated tasks immediately and we went to work.
The first step of shearing a sheep is to flip them onto their rump so they're sitting like a teddy bear using my legs as a support for their back. In this position, they are fairly comfortable as long as my feet are in the right place. Then you clear the wool from their belly and hind legs. This wool is discarded as it is usually the dirtiest wool on the sheep.
After the belly and hind legs are cleared... well, that was as far as I could get using the conventional method that I learned at the course. There is a lot of maneuvering that needed to be done that was really easy when I had the expert to show me how to move into position, but that I couldn't get just right while on my own. So Andy (he's so good to me!) held the sheep in position while Paula kept the clean wool from falling on the ground as I sheared the rest of the body.
Once the sheep realized what we were doing, they loved it! After their new (very fashionable might I add) haircuts, they were put out on pasture. Well, they do look a little silly, but they feel much better. I now have about 20 pounds of beautiful white wool to process into yarn that will be the sweaters, socks, mittens and hats that keep us warm for years to come! I will take the course again next year and will shear these girls again, hopefully the right way! Until then, they're making a fashion statement that I'm proud of!