Lambing, Shearing, Clearing

What a day we had yesterday. Even this morning, we are still exhausted, and that’s with Valerie coming over to help. We are just absolutely wiped out.

DSC04164 DSC04159 We started the day with the first lamb of the season. We went out in the morning to let the chickens out, and Frank came back in to grab the camera — we have a lamb! Maria is a first time mama, a leadersheep from EJ Brennan, bred to Sue. She had this little badger-face ram lamb all claimed and cleaned up. I was worried, though, that she was so wooly, and neither she nor the lamb seemed to have figured out the business end of nursing. I crutched her, got the lamb to suckle, and put them both in the trailer to bond.

DSC04174 DSC04176Then the shearing started. I had her done first, of course. What a gorgeous fleece she has! We got quite the assembly line going. As Bruce did one sheep, we’d have another caught and ready, then Valerie would give a shot to the newly shorn sheep, and Frank drenched with garlic. We bagged and labeled the fleece and swept the tarp for the next. It worked well, but sheep wrangling is sure hard work.

Two of the ewes (Kaytla and Fiona) weren’t really ready to be shorn, and got quite a few cuts when he tried to get under the undercoat, sadly. A couple (Naomi and someone else) were also really matted. I think I am going to shear this fall this year, and then wait a little longer to shear next spring. I’ve heard from lots of Icelandic sheep breeders that it really is better that way, and the fleeces are more valuable that way. We are going to send all of this crop off to a mill to get turned into roving, I think. I tried to skirt pretty heavily as I rolled them up, but need to go over each one once more before shipping. (Must find the time to do that. I still have fleeces from last spring that I haven’t done!)

We let Bruce convince us not to shear the llamas this year. Lots of people shear them every other year, and we have no way to restrain them. We need to build a shute, and get harnesses, or find the ones we had two years ago.

He also talked to us about his used milking equipment that he has for sale. I’m going to make an appointment to look at it soon. He’s got a set-up for 11 ewes, with ramps, etc. I was looking at the stuff from the Majors, which is where he got his originally. They haven’t managed to answer my emails, even, which isn’t a good sign. I was thinking of just getting a two-unit set-up this year, but if the price is right, I’ll just get his whole set-up. He milked 44 sheep in about an hour, he said.

DSC04197 After shearing was done, it was almost 5, and we felt like in a just world, we’d be able to retire to the gazebo with a glass of wine, and call it a good day. But with the horses coming in a week, and land to clear and sheds to build, we only took a break for food, and went back outside for a couple hours more work, clearing. I did manage to convince Frank to buy the framing lumber, at least. The ground is just too wet, muddy, and still somewhat snow-covered there to get the logs to the sawmill still. So we’ll get the lumber when we go to town for Puppy Kindergarten this morning. I managed to back the truck up over there for one load of firewood out, but it left huge, deep ruts there. Ick.

Oh. We’ve decided, too, that I will go get the horses myself, and leave Frank here for lambing and continued building and clearing. He’ll miss the day of training we bought and paid for, but I’ll do that myself. I feel better about it all this way. I know when I get back, he’ll have some place secure set up to put the horses in, and our newly kidnapped horses will feel okay that way. He promises me that I won’t be able to get lost, and it is a day’s drive in each direction. With lambing season having begun, he and Valerie can hold down the fort here, and we won’t leave her with all these first-time mamas to handle on her own. It’s just better all around this way.

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