Last year our sheep, for whatever reason, decided they didn’t wanna get sheared. “Nope. Not gonna do it. Not even if you tempt us with grain. Sure we’re hot under all this wool. But we ain’t gonna come down. You call us by rattling the grain can and saying, ‘Sheep sheep sheep’, but we’re gonna show you whose boss.” So last summer the sheep sweltered and sweat underneath all their wool.
I didn’t like it. It wasn’t good for them. If they’d gotten soaking wet and fallen, they wouldn’t have been able to get up. I fretted about them all through the winter, but they made it through just fine. Sadly, three of them died of old age during this time, and I hated to lose them. Life on a farm. It’s to be expected, even if it makes me sad.
This year, we got lucky. Norm went to feed the Puakea and Pikake, our livestock guardian dogs, and happened to catch all three sheep in the barn. Quickly, he closed the door, and they couldn’t get out. Yay! Now all they had to do was to dry out.
Eddie Dunham, our shearer, was due to come over two weeks later. The sheep were getting restless and I wanted them to be able to get some sunshine in the corral just outside the barn. But suddenly the weather turned bitterly cold, and we had a couple of weeks of snow and ice, with temperatures in the teens. There was no way we could shear; going from a warm wooly coat to relatively bare skin would not have been good for them. So we had to wait.
Finally though, the weather turned almost balmy, and Eddie came over on a Friday afternoon, and we began.
This is Eddie. Eddie is from Australia. I could listen to Eddie talk all day long. Eddie has been shearing sheep for a long time, and he’s very fast.
Eddie goes to Australia for several months during out autumn to do even more shearing. He has sheared sheep with as much wool as Shrek. Eddie says it’s more common than you think to see sheep looking like that. Shrek happened to be the one who got the attention.
Eddie begins by shearing Titus, one of our Jacobs; Paul is a gorgeous sheep, and he has four rather wicked-looking horns. But Eddie is not scared. He just grabs a horn and begins.
Paul and Pat watch nervously.
Eddie spends a lot of time in this position. I am amazed his back is still so strong. When he’s in Australia, he shears hundreds of sheep in one day.
Paul and Pat continue to watch nervously. You can see why they need to be sheared.
Eddie has sheared Titus’ belly, and is now working on his legs. The idea is to get the fleece off all in one piece without nicking the sheep. If our sheep had worn coats, or had only a year’s worth of fleece, I would be saving it to spin. But underneath all this matted fleece, sheep sweat. Yes indeed. Did you know that? And that makes a fleece less than desirable. Much less.
The fleece next to Titus’ skin is actually quite beautiful. Jacobs are my favorite breed of sheep. They are named for the story of Jacob in the Bible. It’s an interesting read.
Eddie is now working up towards the center back of the fleece.
He grabs one of Titus’ horns to keep him still.
Ummmm… Eddie… mo betta watch out wea stay da horn, yeah?
Whew. Notting bad wen happen.
Nolemana holds Titus’ horn so that Eddie can shear the other end. Don’t wanna mess with those horns!
Pau! Eddie lets Titus get up, and there he is, about 25 pounds lighter, and much prettier.
What a handsome boy!
Mocha, the pygmy goat, moseys into the barn and moseys right back out again.
Eddie got hot; off came his sweatshirt, and he grabbed Paul by his horns and laid him down on his back. Paul is a two-horned Jacob.
Imagine spending almost an entire day in this position. No, not the sheep. Eddie, you silly! But he does it, day after day.
Eddie doesn’t like to nick the sheep. Any sheep. But because his fleece was so heavy, it’s hard not to nick Paul a couple of times. And what does Eddie to to fix it? No laff, eh! Super Glue! Yep. He carries it in his back pocket, and if he nicks a sheep, out comes the tube and the glue gets dabbed on the nick, effectively suturing the small cut. Amazing.
Outside, Pikake and Puakea have one major kine beef. They are not playing; it’s serious. Try look da fangs! They’re both spayed, but every Spring, we have these “I’m da boss of you!” beefs.
Eddie is almost pau with Paul.
Paul may only have two horns, but this looks pretty scary!
All pau! Pat is now looking a bit more nervous.
This is Paul’s fleece showing the side closest to his skin. Nani, yeah?
The two llamas and Latte, our other pygmy goat, just take it easy outside.
And down goes Pat.
Pat is a Shetland sheep, and he also has horns. Whoever said shearing was easy?
Our furnace had quit working that morning, and it was still chilly enough to have it on. We had a guy working on it while the sheep were getting sheared, so Nolemana decided he’d zip up to the house to check on him. Only one problem: in his haste to turn around, he got his front wheel stuck in the ditch next to the road, and the mud made it impossible to get out by himself. Front wheel drive. Oops.
Now Pat is all sheared. I know he’s gotta feel a lot better than before!
The sheep venture out into the corral and sunlight for the first time in weeks!
But what’s this? The llamas don’t know what to think! These are not the same sheep they’re used to!
Llamas are extremely curious critters, and they came running down the hill at full speed to see what was in their corral! The goats didn’t recognize the sheep either!!
It was the funniest thing to watch! Rayado and Como Se simply had no idea who the sheep were!
Paul thinks he’s a llama; ever since he was little he preferred to stay with the boys. I don’t know if it’s because they’re spotted like he is, but he’s never with the sheep. But when he ran over to say hello to his buddies, they took off!
The llamas venture a little closer.
Norm waits for the tow truck. I tell Eddie, “Eh, I’ve been taking a lot of photos of your ‘okole… how about if I take a photo of your face?” Eddie smiles and and says, “I’m a shearer… my butt is my face!”
This is Eddie. Eddie is a sheep shearer from Australia with a winning smile. I could listen to him talk all day long. He will be back in June to shear the llamas. Thanks, Eddie. You’re the best!
so cause was 2 yrs worth wool you not keeping it…. wot about da llamas? dea stuff so soft too you goin keep dat one?
Wow they are so much prettier now! And healthy I am sure. I always wanted to watcha sheep shearing. They are fascinating to me.
I bet that man has so many stories, uit would be lile reaidng a book live!…..OMG how much fun! Let’s trade lives for a few days! (:
Very interesting. How did an island girl end up on a sheep farm? Did you ever trying spinning with the wool? I know it’s not the prime cuts but I thought with cleaning you could do something with the wool.
So do you card the wool and make your own yarn or do you sell the wool. How much does wool go for these days. I know on the Navajo Rez, shearing is a whole family affair and most them carded, spun & dyed themselves kine.
I carded & spun wool one time. Grandma kept hitting me on the side of the leg & laughing & rolling her eyes at me. We had fun.
I love animal stories of all kinds – mo’ bettah if dey get pitchas too. T’anks, Moki – I needed a smile break from today’s work!
Those sheep look so clean and beautiful after being shorn! Loved da photos, Moki.
Wow! Eddie did a great job! What a cool post and great photos!
This is the most UNREAL post that I’ve read in… a long time! Sheap shearing? At first I thought you was just messing around with the post-title. And den I start reading and see pikchah numbah 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…. (!!!!!) Now I like one farm wit goats, sheeps, llamas and of course, plenny dogs. Give us more animal tales Moki!!!
I found an old MANUAL sheep shearing machine a few years back at an old farm sale in White’s Creek Tennessee. It was on a tripod stand with a hand crank.
It had to have been a two man operation with one doing the cranking and one doing the shearing.It was dated 1902 and looked like it must have been a hugh chore back in the old days.
I sold it to an antique mall with some more things that I found for 200.00
Wish I had kept in now as you just dont see one .
Love your news reel. I got to help with shearing day this years spring with Eddie at bide a wee farm in Newberg Oregon. He still has that smile. Angela farm helper and handspinner.
Dat was sooo interesting!! And so funny at the end when the llamas didn’t recognize the sheep!!! Me too . . . I no even recognize um, they look so different.