Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Sheep are Sheared





I tell ya what shearing sheep has to be one very hard job. I am amazed at how well our sheep shearer handles the animals. He just flips em over and turns em all such ways and they don't really get too out of control with kicking or carrying on. I know the secret is to get their heads bent back, which puts em off balance so they go down and over easier then keep em off their hooves. I even had a go at it a time or two but I haven't yet built up the experience to where I feel comfortable bending the girls around like that. I am afraid I am going to break em or hurt em to be honest.

I still have a long way to go and learn that much is obvious but my series of doors and pen setup in the barn worked extremely well for shearing too so that was an improvement.

My plan for shearing is to start learning to do it myself a little bit at a time so in a sense this was my first lesson. I know there are classes you can take but they didn't offer them this year locally. I certainly wouldn't want to take on 30 sheep like our professional guy did today. My thoughts are maybe to do two or three this next year and still hire this guy to come and do the rest.

To be honest right now sheep wool isn't really worth a damn anyway. If you are going to market or slaughter the sheep there isn't much point in shearing em ahead of time because you don't get enough for the wool to make it worth your while. Last year we had several local spinners buy all the wool we had but they got so much none of them want any this year. I read that raw wool works well for mulch but when I tried it the neighbor's dog came and rolled herself up in the wool like a huge burrito. She looked like a big round bale of wool with a dog's head sticking out of it when I found her and it took me an hour to get her out. So that ended the sheep wool mulch experiment let me tell ya. The outside dog does appreciate his wool filled dog house come Winter though that's for sure.

So now we have 30 big plastic bags full of wool and 30 very naked looking sheep. Of course as usual with shearing day tomorrow is forecast as a high only in the 30's, more snow and rain and a low somewhere around 18. It never fails last year the night after shearing it snowed 12 inches. I bet they will all be huddled up together tomorrow thinking we are trying to freeze em to death.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!



 




23 comments:

  1. They use wool at work as they have old spinning wheels and demonstrate how it was done years ago. I used to use natural wool when making flies for fishing.
    You will have to bring them all inside like the supervisors.

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    1. Sf- The sheep are all inside the barn or are able to go in and out as they please so they should be ok. Prolly still a bit cold though.

      My mother spins and cards her own wool. She will ship the raw wool off to get cleaned and dyed though even though she has done it herself too. She used it for batting and stuff depending on the quality and even knits she just rarely manages to finish a knitting project.

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  2. So where's the money? The meat? Wish I had a place for critters. Maybe if I trap or coon or two they might allow me to shear 'em. I've skinned coons but they hate those twenty-twos between the eyes. We too have funky weather on the way..wind and rain.

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    1. Stephen - So far the money has been at the market. Some go for slaughter some I am sure are going to other breeders. The price per pound has been steadily rising recently and the shearer guy today said it's because so many sold off their flocks the last few years.

      Eventually I believe the wool will become a money making endeavor as well but we are not there yet.

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    2. Oh I should add that the largest payoff if you look at meat prices v. savings comes with the ones we have slaughtered ourselves. Of course we wouldn't buy that much lamb at those prices so it isn't as good a deal as you can make the numbers work out too by using Femocrat government accounting :)

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  3. Wouldn't it be better to wait until its warmer to give them there yearly hair cut???

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    1. Rob - Well they still have a layer of wool left after shearing and they are inside or have shelter available. The real issue is it's best to get em sheared before they start lambing and more importantly when the shearer can get here and do it. It's a dying skill and those guys are usually booked up sometimes a year or more in advance.

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  4. Pioneer, I'd love to take all that wool of your hands. I just have learned to bit of spinning and would love to go through the whole process of cleaning and carding the wool. Yeah, I'm kinda dumb that way.
    What would you need per pound of wool to cover your costs+ shipping. I don't know if I could afford it but taking your wool to the local "farmers market" might give you a little payback.

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    1. MASR - Why I wills end ya some wool once we get it back from the cleaning place we send it. I will let ya know. Yes I might could sell some of it but there are not that many people who spin their own anymore either. Maybe we could try and sell some yarn? Hmmmm.

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    2. Not sure about your area but good wool goes for $8.00 a pound and up here in Idaho and that's the cheap stuff. Merino, and other high end wools go for quite a bit higher prices. Idaho has quite few sheep the basques raise as well as a few ranchers. Spinning wool has become very poular craft in the last few years and I doubt Idaho is on the cutting edge of any trend. Hey every dollar helps keep the homestead going so you might as well take advantage of it.

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    3. MASR - I am sure eventually we could find someone to buy it. I wouldn't say it is worthless but do you know how much raw wool it takes to make a pound? Wanna guess what the profit margin is after you pay someone to shear it, clean it, cleanse it etc.? 8 bucks a pound would be a loss I think at the small scale operation we are talking about. Right now it is really just a labor of love.

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  5. I know nothing about wool. Was wondering if it stored until the price increases or try for bartering with it??? I wish I was there so your mother could teach me. That would be pretty cool!

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    1. MB - Oh she would be all over teaching you how to spin. She does demos on it all the time. Alot of the wool we get she has turned into other things too. Like one particular sheep she has his (He is a whether) wool turned into batting for quilts. One of my girls puts out a very black wool so she never has it dyed etc.

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  6. Where I'm at there are a lot of spinners and weavers. I am a spinner too, it seems I have little time to dedicate to it though. In the days where everyone had to spin in order to have any type of textiles, there was usually one member of the family (quite frequently an aunt or sister that never married) that was the spinner and that was basically all she did. It is a time consuming job, that is why textiles were so precious. We're very spoiled today with the abundance of linens and clothing at our beck and call. In post SHTF, once the ready made textiles are all worn out, it will be a skill that will have it's uses.

    I store my fleeces wrapped in old sheets. Another note, that much wool could be felted and made into articles of clothing, hats, etc.

    Miss Violet

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    1. MV - I agree. The wool will be worth something in a grid down situation. There is a lady who is semi-local who turned an old cattle barn into a wool processing plant. I of course do not understand everything needed but the process for allt he different things does take up some space I guess. Mom get's the wool done in various stuff she needs for whatever projects she is doing from spinning, knitting, quilting etc.

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  7. It's a shame people won't buy the wool. It makes great clothing, especially cold weather clothing.

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    1. The wife of the shearer guy was wearing a sweater that looked commercially purchased that she had made herself from shearing to knitting.

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  8. Spinning and such would be so cool to learn. It is one of those lost arts that will be useful again one day soon.

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    1. JuGM - My mother teaches classes and does demos on it. She likes to try and get me to do bee keeping demos at the same time but I rarely take her up on it :)

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  9. PP,

    It's hard work getting those sheep down and sheering them. I heard wool wasn't bringing in much money. Prices were being cut dramatically.

    I bet they look so different after seeing them full of hair, and now their naked, lol

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    1. Sandy - Oh ya they look different and sooo much smaller. The dog who is usually kinda scared of the sheep is now looking at them more as equal sized prey or play toys lol.

      Ya there is little money in wool. Right now. I believe that is goign to change though.

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  10. When we had them I never attempted it myself that's for sure.:) A story.:)

    Farm Animals At Dixieland
    http://www.namsouth.com/viewtopic.php?t=3265&highlight=sheep
    When we were in Vietnam last time, wild dogs killed about 12 of my sheep including lambs I had just bought. Our third night back, they returned, I edged towards the barn with my 12 gauge and stood waiting for a clear shot at one of the two as they were amongst the sheep. They never even saw me. When I had a shot, I pulled the trigger, saw two "bodies" fall and thought I must have hit a sheep also, but lo and behold, by some miracle I had hit both dogs!

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