Monday, 22 August 2011

The shearing

It was very late this year but we finally got the shearing done.

PieDog was thrilled to do the job he was born to do, namely rounding the sheep up and getting them into their pen. He was a joy to work with but we need to do a bit more training on the part when he is supposed to come out of the pen. He sat gleefully, waiting for the sheep to join him and studiously ignored my windmill arm actions and cries of "GET OUT OF THE PEN, PIE, OUT NOW".

It is always a faff rounding up the sheep but we got there. Eventually.

The shearer turned up fairly late at night. He has been busy shearing all over Scotland but it was worth the wait as he is a superb shearer and very couthy with the sheep.

We set up at the side of the field; a wooden board for the shearer to stand on, the shearing gubbins and big battery for power, wool handler to wrap the fleece, The Farmer on standby incase of emergency.

My sheep are enormous. Wensleydale are long legged, long necked, bulky sheep. They are not easy to clip as their skin is soft and papery plus they have masses of wool everywhere. (some breeds of sheep have no wool on their legs or heads and are easier to clip).

The shearer clipped the wool from the first two sheep but the third, a massive hogget, deftly kicked the man quite firmly on the ankle.
"Oh, there was no need to do that" he said quietly.
So the hogget kicked him again and brought the poor man down.

The Farmer switched the shearing machine off immediately as the blade snaked wildly over sheep and shearer. We helped the shearer to his feet and he steadied the big hogget. I noticed that the backside of his trousers had been ripped during the fall.
"That was very uncouth" the shearer said to the hogget.
The hogget eyed the shearer with the look of a teenager who was having his first shave.

'Uncouth' finished me off.

I nipped round the side of the sheep trailer and had a silent weep of laughing, made worse as it would have been impolite to laugh. I tried to look solemn when I came back to roll the fleece.

"Why are you laughing, Mum?" asked Rosie, undiplomatically. She was standing on the other side of the gate with her little brother and my friend, Pandora; a wool spinner extrordinaire. I had promised Pandora the best fleece as she creates the most amazing yarns.

"I had a midge in my eye", I lied. Well, sort of lied as the midges were out in force and we were all being bitten.

The rest of the shearing went without incident apart from having to take the tractor round for lighting. We were all a bit miffed when it became noticably dark around half past nine. Mutters about the impending winter were bandied about and we all tried not to think about the change in the season.

We finished up, loaded the shearers equipment into his truck, carefully stored the newly shorn and still warm fleeces into a safe place and returned the sheep to their field. They looked completely different and it was hard to tell them apart.

The entire shearing had been done very quietly. The shearer's clippers almost silent, unlike our outmoded and outdated ones which sound like an angry swarm of hornets. The sheep were silent and the very evening itself held its breath. Everything was still apart from the clippers and shearer's muscly arm.
We had all been able to converse normally during this shearing.

Not uncouth at all.

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