Sheep shearing. My favourite day of the farming year. It s also one of the most tiring but it is such an exciting day and, with Boo being a bit older, it is the first we have fully taken part in.
It began the night before as I prepared bread rolls (barm cakes if you’re from hear us) for the bacon butties for ten I had planned. Not to mention the lemon drizzle and chocolate Victoria sponge.
In the morning, Mr Clip arrived at 9am. The sheep were ready.
Boo was ready-complete with toast squirrelled in her pocket….
So the began to set up.
It is basically a ramp which the sheep get sent up, a gangway in which the shearers lift up to let the sheep through and a raised platform where the shearing takes place complete with harnesses which save the shearer’s backs.
It is back breaking work, make no mistake of that but, after the set up, the first sheep went in, and out in just over a minute.
We had a lot of help. Two sending the sheep up the ramp (one worming them as they went up), two sending them off the platform and then bagging the wool. Hubster was walking round looking like a Ghost Buster with a special pour-on medicine which prevents blowfly (a hideous thing where flies lay eggs under the sheep’s tail and maggots hatch there-it is disgusting, I won’t go into any further detail but, if you want to know more about it, click here).
Boo and I had the very important job of opening the gate to let the sheared sheep out-oh and providing refreshments. I had planned on counting the number of times Hubster shouted at me for not opening the gate quick enough/opening it too soon but, after my tally reached 33 I lost count.
We were just over half way when we stopped for lunch. It had gone relatively hitch free until some of the sheared sheep chewed through string holding up fencing and headed into the farm yard. Three of us herded them back in and everyone felt much better after something to eat-including Boo who was flagging a bit.
Just before we were about to start again, we noticed a ewe walking down the farm drive to the road. A chase ensued to try and block it but we couldn’t get there fast enough and we saw it turn right and head up the road. It was found in a neighbour’s garden but it was so funny watching it run back down the drive.
Fun over, the hard work continued. To be honest, the second half didn’t seem to take as long as the first and even Hubster relaxed a little…
Soon all the ewes were done and it was the turn of the rams and my favourite, Minty, who was having his first ever shear.
He was a bit frightened, bless him but I think you will agree it was worth it and, he looked so handsome all shorn.
It all ended about 2pm.
Boo did so well. Granted, we had sang a few versus of Old MacDonald and Baa Baa Blacksheep. Minnie fell into sheep poo and she ate far too much cake but she didn’t cry at all and, I think she quite liked the show.
We sheared nearly 200 animals today.
The price we get for the wool doesn’t even cover the cost of the shearing but it has to be done or the sheep would get fly strike and other parasitic diseases.
In its crude form, the wool is dirty and needs a lot doing to it to be used in carpets and clothing but it seems unfair that something that was once part of a farmer’s livelihood is now just a by-product.
To get a fairer price, wool has to be marketed better and, thanks to initiatives like Campaign For Wool, it is and Wool Week is now an annual occurrence.
Next time you put a woollen hat on your baby or pull on a woolly jumper, don’t forget the farmer who toiled all day to bring you your wool and the farmer’s wife who got shouted at for ‘taking photos of sheep instead of concentrating on opening the gate’.
*Please note the lovely woollen jumper photo was kindly donated to me by Joanne at Mummy2Five Blog who can knit a lot better than I can.
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