So this year I decided I wanted to shear the sheep myself. Love my shearer but I wanted a bit more control over when I sheared so this was my solution. I purchased a pair of used shears from Premier1 and sharpened all my scissors (just in case) and began with my beloved Flo.
Now one thing that any shearer will tell you, the more spoiled and friendly a sheep is, the harder he/she is to shear. No lie. Flo wasn't about to dispel that belief either. Why on earth I thought she was a good ewe to start with, I've no idea. She bucked and jumped and rammed me a multitude of times and got a bit nicked up for her troubles. But I got'er done. Decided that what was working the best was to shear the nasty bits with the electric shears, because it doesn't matter if there are "second cuts" (spinners nightmare) and then finish up shearing the good bits with scissors since I'm fairly adept at that. The only issue is keeping scissors sharp when shearing wool with them and I have yet to master sharpening scissors. The other issue with scissors is the blisters that quickly develop on my fingers making it a tad painful.
I again made the mistake of choosing a feisty ewe, Anise, for my second attempt (part Shetland...nuff said). Same plan worked on her and I could feel my confidence growing. Until she jumped and knocked the shearers out of my hand, they landed head first on the concrete and the middle prongs on the comb broke. Dangit! Two sheep in and I've already busted the comb. Oh well, they still cut, just leave a mohawk of wool down the middle. I make do and finish up with the scissors again. Two down....I don't want to think about how many to go.
Next ewe, Jill, was a champ. I don't think she even flinched once so I thanked her by not cutting her at all...I think she was pretty appreciative :).
I ordered new combs and some more cutters and finished up all the pregnant ewes in no time. I'm getting much more comfortable with the shears and am developing a routine so I think this was a good decision despite my fear that I'd lost my mind after deciding to try this. Once I'd bought the shears I was pretty much locked in to doing it as they cost as much as the shearer would have charged me to shear most of the flock so budget demanded I follow through with my plan. I was happy that I was able to shear the girls just a couple of weeks before lambing started vs more than a month before or after. Now I can finish up the rest of the flock during my time off for lambing. Honestly I enjoy doing it, at least the ones that are cooperative. Now if I could just convince my back, arms and hands that we enjoy it...
Lambing began yesterday with triplets from Jill, 2 ewes and 1 ram lamb. Before lambing starts every year, you listen carefully for that lamb baa as you are walking towards the lambing paddock & shed. Honestly I didn't think we were quite there yet so yesterday when I got home from work and started walking out to feed the ewes, I wasn't really expecting to hear that sound. When I did, it stopped me in my tracks and immediately the eyes start scanning for lambs. Jill had gathered them around the big hay bale. It was drizzling and they were on the drier side all snuggled up and warm. I gathered them up to take them in to a jug so they could stay dry and warm and I could get some warm molasses water and some grain and hay to Jill. The 3 first timer ewes, Gladys, Glenys and Eleanor, all raced into the barn like a gaggle of teenage girls, you could almost hear them giggling as they hopped and tossed their heads with the excitement. Its always fun to watch the first timers with their curiosity about what is going on with new moms and then the shock sets in when its their turn and that strange pain begins. Then there is even more shock when they look back to see what has come from that pain....what the hell is THAT?! I think Bridget and I will always remember watching Sadie lamb in the pasture one year and jump back from her new lamb after he shook his head flinging birth fluids. Thankfully that maternal instinct kicks in pretty quickly...usually that is. I want to flog them when it doesn't which doesn't happen often (Evie, you hear that??).
So I'm hoping the remaining ewes decide to hold off for 1 more day (vacation starts) so I can be there for them if they need me. I'll also try to remember to take some pictures during shearing (totally forgot during the first round) so we can see some befores and afters!