Naked Sheep, Baby Bumps, and a Lamb
by Callie B.
Last Sunday tufts of wool danced on the breeze, the dog barked worriedly, and a strange buzzing sound came from the barn. Since then the laundry room smells very much like a sheep, and a mysterious sort of snow that doesn’t melt is in the front yard. It’s shearing time again!
It is fascinating to watch the sheep being “unzipped” from their wooly coats; their appearance changes so much! In Bert’s case especially, it is most amusing. He went from handsome and distinguished to a scrawny little guy with a head that is too large for his body.
Dad fixed up a catch pen using the wooden panels he built for the trailer when we haul sheep. It had a folding gate and a door, which made it all go very smoothly, other then two sheep who absolutely refused to come in. Dad handled getting the sheep in and out, and Mom and I skirted the fleeces and bagged them in big paper leaf bags. This kind of skirting is just a very light once over, where we pull off any muddy, manure covered, or rough parts of the fleece before putting it away for later when it will be thoroughly gone over for small pieces of hay etc., then packed up and sent to a fiber mill.
The shearer, Mr. Gary Lawson, did a very nice job, and made us extremely happy with the announcement that the girls are all expecting lambs very soon. He said to be on the lookout for lambs within the next two weeks or so, perhaps sooner due to the stress of shearing.
Stress of shearing, ha! I’m pretty sure we are more stressed out then the expectant mama’s! We’ve been reading up on the lambing chapters in our sheep books, and of course they describe everything that can go wrong, in excruciating detail. With pictures.
Yesterday the first lamb was born. She is the cutest thing! Dad and I were headed down to the back pasture to cut cedars for fence post, and saw the mama and lamb way out in the far end of the barn pasture. We had to get them up to the barn because of coyotes and other dangers, but the mama was one of the Cheviots, Dad’s meat sheep who are very jumpy, and don’t like to be approached. Dad told me to go way out around and behind them on one side, and he went around the other side, and we slowly herded them up towards the barn. It went very well until the cows came charging up to see what that little wobbly white thing was. In the end Dad had to grab the lamb practically from under the cows hooves and make a dash for the sheep pen with poor mama following behind.
We read that if you pick a theme for each years lambs, it is easier to remember which year they were born. We chose the presidential election to be this year’s theme, and Dad named the lamb “Heidi” in honor of Ted Cruz’s wife.
The rest of the expectant mothers are looking very pudgy, especially Jemima.
The boys are very fat too, but I am reasonably sure they will not be having lambs.
Beatrice is a special favorite, we are excited to see what her lambs will look like.
I have been spinning with the roving from her fleece, and it is just a joy, so soft and silky, and it drafts beautifully!
We are on lamb watch, checking the sheep often, and I will be doing lots of fleece cleaning and spinning in the coming months. Keep an eye out for more updates as the lambs arrive, and pictures of what the fleeces and the yarn made from them look like coming soon!