Tuesday, March 31, 2009

We Bring You This News Flash...There Be Naked Sheep at Sheep Thrills!

Yesterday, I received a call from our wonderful shearer, Penney. she was in the area and would it be possible to stop by tomorrow (Tuesday) to shear my sheep? I immediately said, "Yes!"! Penney had been stuck in Idaho during some nasty snowstorms but had made it home to southern Arizona with herself and some sheep she was transporting in tow. Now she was making a loop doing shearing jobs up in northern Arizona, hoping she could fit us in as she came through our area.
Penney is about the best shearer around these parts having not only shorn since she was 9, but was raised on a sheep ranch. She knows her stuff. I consider it a blessing that I have found someone who really cares about what she's doing. She shears fiber animals for a living, not just as a side business. And you can tell that from the quality of her work and the way she treats the sheep.
So, I shuffled things aside and got ready for shearing today. She was a bit late arriving, but got right to work, shearing Skittles first. When Skit saw Penney, he immediately started to gently baa in his deep voice. He doesn't do that for just anyone. He loves Penny and just stares at her with this smitten look on his face and makes goo-goo eyes at her all the while she wisks off his fleece. Penney could hang Skit up-side-down for all he cares, just as long as it's her doing it.
We only have nine sheep now. Penney took her time, setting each one on his or her bum then caressed each one giving each a peck on the nose. You can tell she really loves her work. Not only shearing, Penney also checks their teeth and hooves, trimming feet if needed. Then the shearing begins. Last year she didn't nick any of the 16 sheep we had. This year Amanda's fleece was so dense that she did receive a nick as well as when Penney was trimming her feet, Amanda jerked causing Penney to cut a dew claw too short and it bled. We put blood-stop powder on it to control the bleeding and the shearing continued. that was the only sheep who sustained any sort of "trauma".
It was a long day. After shearing we came inside the house to get out of the wind. Even though we set up in the barn, the wind kept changing directions and was very cold. Naturally, over coffee and tea we talked "sheep".
Marilyn, our friend and farm-sitter, had come earlier to witness the shearing of a couple of sheep and to pick out a fleece for herself. It turned out she picked Ole's fleece. As the day progressed Marilyn joined right in helping where she could by sweeping off the 4 x 8 sheet of plywood Penney was shearing on, or raking up the tags and skirtings (the mostly unusable parts of the fleece that are better off composted) as well as helping move the sheep in and out when needed. As she got ready to go home, Marilyn asked if she could buy Ole's fleece from me and how much it was. I gave her a hug and said "Happy Birthday" and "Thank you for all your help today". I knew that she had celebrated a birthday last week. Since my HHWB (the DH) had to be at work today, Marilyn's help, even with the few sheep I have, was very welcomed. I was grateful for her staying and she found the whole process mesmerizing. After I hugged her I noticed she had tears in her eyes. She just couldn't believe I would let her have Ole's fleece. I just wanted her to know that her help was very welcomed by both Penney and I. Many hands make light work.
So now I have naked sheep. They look so small compared to the puffballs on toothpicks they usually look like before shearing. I find myself relieved. It's done for another year. We can get on with other things now...like playing with all those beautiful fleeces. :)

And yes, Ole...it will grow back. And yes, Ole...you are still the cutest one and I love you, too... Just remember to stay in the barn tonight, Ole. It's still cold at night and I think you're going to need to buddy-up with the others for added warmth.
...and no, Ole...you can not come into the house with me...
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Sharrie said...

You do a great job of describing shearing day in a small flock. Your shearer sounds wonderful. Great luck for you and your sheep. I feel the same way that you do about so much of what you described. Thanks for sharing.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I don't blame Marilyn for being touched. You are such a kind and generous person (I have the orchids and fiber samples to prove it!), and we are lucky to count you as our friend! Hope the sheepies stayed warm last night. The ewes and lambs are out today even though it is wet and windy. I kept them in yesterday, and they were about to go stir-crazy. Those lambies need to stretch their legs (see video on today's post) and the mamas want something green to nibble on!

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

If she was in Idaho she wasnt that far from me, does she come up this way to shear or was she visiting? If she comes this way to shear I wonder if she would make a short detour into northern Nevada next year??? I would pay her well!

Sharon said...

I'm so jealous - we need a Penney! We are sans a shearer this year and our boys are total sausages. I'm starting to think I may have to do it. Reality says it would kill my back.