We’re almost ready to roll for shearing on Tuesday. The preparations have disrupted the usual peaceful pace and hence kind of sets us up for the upcoming busy season.
One of the bigger jobs to ready for shearing is sorting the sheep. I started the sort while walking the flock home by dropping the ewes with lambs out of the bunch as the flock travelled, much like one would drift ewes during lambing. Only two sets got through with the main flock and were sorted later. Once the flock was moved ahead and corralled we returned to bring the ewes with lambs up and set them in an adjacent paddock.
With the lambs out of the way, BJ and Coyote Mic were pulled off the couch for the job of moving the flock the next day, which they were absolutely thrilled with. With me and the dogs working the sheep in the alleyway and keeping them flowing, Allen ran the sort gate. We sorted the rams from the ewes, and lighter weight, old-crop lambs (born 2016) were sorted into a second group. A handful of butcher wethers were sorted and set with the rams as well as the dogging wethers. This places all the males together. Cull ewes were placed with the old crop lambs - none of these animals will be shorn since they will be sold. At the end of sorting we’re left with four groups, the males, the ewes, the not to be shorn, and the mommas (pre-sorted).
We have all groups within reasonable vicinity of the yard. Possibility of rain is in the forecast so this way we’re ready to move everyone to an indoor space if needed. With all the sheep nearby all the guardian dogs are also here and each figuring out their turf and who can go where.
With the sheep sorting done, we get the shearing floor ready, make adjustments to the raceway to join the shearers unit, bring in a flat bed wagon to hold the backlog of fleeces that inevitably occurs, find panels for a skirting table, collect brooms and baskets and so on. Away from the shearing building there is help to line up, a house to tidy and food to prepare. All while keeping our eye on the sky in case rain shows up and we have to move sheep in an instant. I’ll have a full day again tomorrow and then Tuesday we roll.
Shearing is when the shepherd gets a look at the ewes and finds out for sure how they’re doing after a long winter. I’m a bit apprehensive this year because while the ewes look good, they don’t look to be in tip top shape. It’s just something in the way they look; one gets a feeling about such things when you’re so familiar with a flock.
There have been no new lambs for a few days now, so our early lambing has wrapped up. Also, Tuesday will be full day, so I beg your pardon in advance - I may not get a blog post up on the same day.