Shearing Logistics - Post III

Saturday morning Jayde and I were out shortly after 6 am to move sheep.

The rams could access a small piece of pasture from their paddock and this would mean they would be next to the sheep who will be returning to pasture. They were gathered and moved in to the paddock and I shut the gate to keep them there. That way they don’t share a fence line with the females (in particular the unbred ewe lambs who are mixed in with the group).

Next we collected the ewes who were shorn last night and the guard dogs who needed to go with them. We moved them back out to pasture. Then we came back to the group still being held in the shearing shed. We split this group in half. Keeping half of them in for the day and letting half of them out to eat. This meant putting a bale of hay in an adjoining paddock and moving them there to keep them seperate so that later on I didn’t have to sort them from the shorn ewes who would be released throughout the day. The ones eating would be brought in later, for shearing on Sunday. This was doable because it was sunny outside. If it were raining again we'd have to keep all remaining animals in.

Back in the shearing shed we moved panels to adjust to the now much smaller flock and pushed a handful of ewes into a small pen at the entrance of the race. Sheep were ready to go and Jayde and I went in for breakfast.

Afterward I was hauling a few supplies such as coffee perk, water and snacks up to the shed. Shearing school participants began arriving shortly before 8am. Then we were off and shearing for another day. The pace was considerably slower since people were here to learn how to shear so were not as proficient as the professionals. There was a lot of effort and sweat expended throughout the day.   

Sheep in the race while 1st shearing demonstration is given
Jayde was my work dog for today and for some reason she preferred to ring the group and I had trouble convincing her to push on them to move them forward. The ewes are also tired and hungry. In tighter quarters and working a sizeable group of sheep it is indeed a different type of work for the dogs.

Lunch was catered both Saturday and Sunday which was a sweet, sweet blessing. I didn’t have to do too much except rearrange my dining/living room to set up an extra table and gather enough chairs.

At the end of the day I had a chance to shear a ewe myself. I confess, I actually like doing it. There is a knack to holding sheep for ease of shearing and I was sure that if I got that figured out I could do this.

We worked until about 5 pm and everyone went their seperate ways for much needed rest.

Before stopping for supper Jayde and I were back outdoors to move sheep around again. The sheep who were out eating for the day were moved out of the way so the shorn sheep could pass through the paddock without mixing in with the others. The shorn sheep were gathered and taken out to pasture to join yesterdays group. When we returned from pasture we collected the eating group (the sheep to be sheared on Sunday) and moved them into the shearing shed for the night.

Shortly after that it was off to feed guard dogs and tuck in the ewes on pasture. Then some clean up of coffee and supplies and finally off to walk the stock dogs who patiently waited (well... played, dug holes and ran about) in the dog yard all day. 

Sunday morning there was no need to move sheep, however the cows walked through a gate and had to be moved out of the way. Sunday was basically a repeat of Saturday. The pace was a little quicker though and with only 115 sheep remaining we finished up mid afternoon. Once again at the end of the day I stepped in to shear another ewe. It took me about ten minutes to do so.

I used Cajun today and the work load was pretty light. When Cajun showed an inclination to do something about the ewes in the race by standing on his back legs and reaching over to top knot the last ewe I lifted him up and put him up on their backs. I have not yet taught my Kelpies to back and I don’t know a lot about it, but when I set Cajun up there he was quite relaxed with it. He kept reaching down to top knot the ewe beneath him. Our race wasn’t packed tight enough though, and when I encouraged him to walk forward he had to adjust too much to moving sheep and could not easily step along the backs. I didn’t want to overdo it and lifted him down to the ground. He wanted back up again so we repeated this a couple times and then I walked him away. I was happy as a clam with my dog.

After shearing was complete, there was all the take down and clean up (which we were still doing today). It was around 5:00 when the shearers were finally off to their next destination. Cajun and I moved the final group of sheep out to pasture and then brought the rams back to the barn paddock. Since the cows were now nearby we moved them in with the rams until we get the pasture gate they walked through fixed. The trailer load of wool bags was backed into the Quonset to keep it under cover overnight. We headed to the house, enjoyed some left overs for supper and before dark it was back out to take care of guard dogs and tuck up sheep for the night.