a preponderance of punctuation marks (reedrover) wrote,
a preponderance of punctuation marks

Overdue Shearing Report

Last Thursday was shearing day. Kevin Ford (a hand-shearer) came through on his regular February circuit. He sheared four sheep and seven goats, all of whom are much more streamlined now. Ok, well, not Crystal. She still looks like a rhino from the back end. She is definitely pregnant, and I would not be surprised if she has twins.

Due to the snow falling thick and fast, shearing was accomplished in the right stall of the barn. The four pregnant does were also in that stall, pressed up against the back wall in absolute bewilderment. Aerin spent most of her time sticking her nose into the business, until it was her turn to be sheared. I locked everyone up except for Loki, who is always easy to catch, and Summer, who wasn't being sheared.

Loki was first to be sheared. He squirmed and hollered and generally gave the impression of a three-year-old refusing to take a bath. After Loki, Kevin sheared the girls. Aerin screamed like her legs were being pulled off, and squirmed like a ferret. Goldie was the most tolerant-looking, though she grunted a bit when she was stuck in one position too long. Jessie was incredibly squirmy but almost completely silent. Sashimi lay like the dead for most of the shearing, with random and surprising squirms thrown in that almost lost her an eye and an ear. Crystal maintained some sort of affronted cat dignity. Crystal was the easiest to shear (with Sashimi next) because of the open lock structure of her hair -- the shears slid easily and the hair fell cleanly. With the hair off, I can definitely see that Crystal, Goldie and Jessie are pregnant. If we didn't have the sonogram on Sashimi, I wouldn't have been able to tell for sure. Sashimi just looks a little well-fed for February.

Jared was the last of the goats to be sheared. He was third loudest after the two kids, and was a rather poor sport about the whole thing. Comparatively speaking, of course. Jared is a really calm and patient buck who lets me grab him and manipulate his feet and face with relatively little protest. It was a very difficult shearing. He had 8 months of hair on him, and it was very thick and greasy, so Kevin really had to work to get the shears to even cut anything. Kevin ended up cutting a huge L-shaped wedge out of Jared's back that is mostly closed up but still oozing five days later. I think it's healing, but we are definitely keeping an eye on it for any signs of infection.

The four sheep were next in line. Kevin started with Jacob, who was reasonably well behaved for a first shearing. He cried a lot, but didn't squirm too much. Brain panicked when I grabbed her, and flew into the air. She leapt into the air and twisted at the same time, so ended up slamming my hand between her shoulder and the fence. The back of my hand is a pretty shade of green... still. She was fine for shearing though, and her first fleece is really lovely -- she is a CVM/Jacob cross, so really she is a black-and-white-cow-spotted Romeldale. Dot and Splotch sheared out just fine, and are back to being mostly black and grey.

It's amazing how much smaller Dot and Splotch are now that their fleeces are gone. They went from being easy-chair sized to being medium-dog sized. And they are much harder to catch now. Amusingly, Splotch ended up back on the Sancho side with Brain and Jacob, while Dot is over with Jared, Curley and Loki. Dot is discovering that we bring treats and scritchers, and is turning into a reasonable animal because of it.

OK -- to answer the most often asked question "Won't they be cold without their fleeces?"

No. Rumination is an exothermic reaction. Think about that pile of grass cuttings and how hot it gets when it is composting. That's about the same as what happens in the rumen. So the goats and sheep generate their own heat. We have to provide sufficient quantities of hay and fresh water allow the rumination process, and a sheltered spot out of the wind and snow so that they are not losing that heat instantly. There are no fewer than four animals in any of the three areas, so they can also huddle if they need to share warmth. (I can't picture anyone huddling with Sancho, but he didn't get sheared, so too bad.)

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