On Friday afternoon, we started shearing our sheep. I've shorn the sheep just enough to know that it makes more sense to hire somebody who knows what he's doing. Our shearer, Derrick Adamache, has been shearing since the early 1980's. He definitely knows what he's doing!
Sheep shearing is an intense time. It involves bringing all of the sheep into a corral the night before they're shorn. We set up a sorting system to sort the lambs off of their mothers and to bring the sheep into the shearing pen as quietly as possible. We bring Derrick 8-10 ewes at a time. It takes him about 20 minutes to shear the pen.
Our wool is nothing special, but we still sell it to offset some of the cost of shearing. We're learning how to skirt our fleeces (which involves removing the less desirable wool) and to sort our fleeces by quality. We then bag it. We'll ship it to a woolen mill in New Mexico in the next month. The wool is only worth about 60-70 cents per pound. We all need to wear more wool!
While the ewes are being shorn, we put the lambs through a footbath to help cure the feet problems we have. Because they are separated from their mothers, they are quite vocal. It's a pretty loud process!
This year, we had a great crew! Our interns, Courtney and Julie, helped the entire day. Our girls, Emma and Lara, also helped, as did our friend Roger. It's hard work, but it's incredibly enjoyable when it's done with friends. I guess I like the process of working together with people I enjoy to accomplish a large task! Shearing also marks the passage from spring (and lambing season) to summer (and irrigation season) - it's one of the milestones of every year!