Last Saturday I was just back from walking the dogs and was sitting down for a cuppa when the phone rang. It was 7am so I grabbed it hoping it would be Guy our shearer. Happily it was, he said he’d be with us at 9.30 and to bring the sheep down and into the shed.
Still in my wellies I ran upstairs to tell Adrian. We’d been waiting a couple of weeks for a shearing slot, the weather was perfect, it had been hot and dry for a few weeks and the sheep were feeling the heat. It was due to rain that afternoon so to say I was relieved was an understatement! It was Adrian’s lie-in so when I bounded into the bedroom he was still asleep. As I gabbled on about organising the sheep and hurdle arrangements I had the impression I was talking to a bear just out of hibernation. No matter I said, already halfway down the stairs again, I’d make a start on my own. Off I whizzed with a handful of bailer twine and my ‘farm handbag’ – an empty lick-bucket full of sheep things – sheep nuts, a can of ‘Protego’ spray, hoof clippers, tick remover and lots of other bits and bobs.
Within a short while I had set up a large pen in the orchard, standing back to admire it I remembered I’d better go off up the hill and get the little darlings.
By the time I got back with the gang, Adrian was up and about and was able to shut the gate behind us in the nick of time. Sheep have an uncanny knack of knowing when something is up, and can be good at making a break for it if you’re not quick enough to shut the gate behind them.
Phew! We both said. Now for a cup of tea and some breakfast before shearing started. Shearing is hard, physical work for all involved, mostly for the shearer obviously, but also for the helpers (ie myself and Adrian). We would be organising the flock, passing the shearer sheep and keeping everything calm.
When the shearer arrived bang on 9.30, he backed his van right up to the shed, got his blades and oil ready and I got the first sheep. Within a few minutes he’d already sheared our woolly girl, Star. While Guy worked away like clockwork through the flock, Adrian and I passed him sheep and made sure the rest of them didn’t get in his way and that everything remained calm.
Guy is a great shearer, he mainly shears small flocks and is well used to Ryelands and their tricky wool. He also shears Merinos in Australia and if you can shear a Merino you can shear just about anything.
Half way through the morning, Ymogen our smallest flock member, started to get biffy. She was particularly targeting Yogi who was getting a bit miffed by it all. Sometimes after sheep have been sheared they don’t recognize each other. There’s a lot of bottom sniffing, and sometimes biffing. As Ymogen was starting to disrupt the other sheep we decided to bundle her out and all was calm again.
Within a couple of hours, 18 sheep were sheared with just Vera to go. Vera however would be sheared on another day, by me. Because of her sensitive skin she reacts badly to a close shave so I’ll be clipping her with hand shears and giving her a slightly longer hair cut.
Once Guy had gone off to his next job, we checked the flock for nicks and scratches, all was looking good so we let them out again and off they trotted back up the hill.