Mr. Cotswold was quite eager for his haircut.
Okay, not exactly. He was, in fact, quite eager to get out of the pen.
He tried hiding in the corner. The 74-year-old sheep shearer went in for the take-down.
It went swimmingly.
Or really, not so much…..
Actually, not at all.
So 52 got involved.
And the big guy went down for the count. What we didn’t realize at this point was that this was the easy one…… The ram was already in the pen, being kept separated from the girls. We’d find out soon just how hard the ewes were going to be to catch.
But we were still in dreamland that getting them on the ground was the hard part and I was watching a shearing for the first time.
He’s been shearing sheep for 50 years, but he’d never sheared a Cotswold before. Cotwolds aren’t common in these parts.
Back in the day, he used to shear 3000 sheep a year. Last year, he only sheared 300. Sheep aren’t so common in these parts anymore at all.
He said he used to be able to shear 12 sheep an hour. I think he sheared about two an hour for us (five total) but that time did include hoof-trimming and chasing sheep around the yard.
Cotswolds have an enormous amount of wool. Soft, lovely wool.
Check out the ringlets.
When Mr. Cotswold was all nakey, he got a pedicure. (Sheep are sheared once a year and hooves are usually trimmed at the same time, often along with other business such as giving shots.)
Doesn’t he look like he’s enjoying that?
And here he is, bald!
What a difference.
Remember when he looked like this?
Then it was time to get the girls, one at a time. That’s when we found out we’d made a big giganto mistake by not penning them all up to start with.
We managed to grab the Jacob girls in the next two rounds. It involved a lot of chasing them around the yard, but at least they have “handles” to grab onto to stop them.
Doesn’t she look thrilled?
It was just as amazing watching the Jacob “coat” come off as the Cotwold.
Like the Cotswolds, the Jacobs look a lot smaller when they’re naked.
But now we had to get those Cotwold girls–and they have no handles! We ran around the yard like complete idiots while working to herd them behind the goat house. It was the only workable location to trap them in with the otherwise wide open goat yard at their disposal.
I’d have some excellent photos for you of this process, but I was involved. (Hard to take pictures when you’re wrestling 200 pounds of sheep into submission.) The shearer stood at the back of the goat house, blocking the narrow path between the rear of the goat house and the fence with that pallet you can see resting against the fence in the photo above. 52 and I herded the sheep around the other side of the goat house. Once we got them trapped to where the only place to go was to run into that narrow path between the goat house and the fence, 52 ran back around to the other side. I grabbed hold of a Cotswold by the long, lovely ringlets while the shearer held the pallet in place till 52 got back around there to grab the sheep. Then all three of us held on while we pushed and shoved and ordered the sheep into the pen.
Well, the ordering didn’t help much. It was mostly the pushing and shoving. And by the way, have you ever tried to get a sheep to walk somewhere it doesn’t want to go? Two hundred pounds don’t move very easily when they are planting their hooves into the mud.
Oh yeah, it was muddy, did I mention that? I was covered from head to toe by the time it was over. It was like a mud wrestling match. With sheep.
In the bad news category, one ewe’s hooves were cut too deep and there was a lot of bleeding. In other bad news, he was several minutes into shearing one of the Cotswold ewes when we heard this: “I ain’t never cut off a tit before.” GREAT. (And there was even more bleeding then.) Thousands of sheep over 50 years, and it happens to our sheep. She’s okay now (and it wasn’t quite as bad as all that), but he did damage her teat and we may have to bottle-feed any lambs beyond a single at a time from her because she may only be able to nurse one. We have a year before they’ll need sheared again, time to think about whether we want to learn to shear ourselves next time.
But in the end, they were all naked and we had five piles of this.
(To be continued tomorrow!)