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Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy, Cool, coated Sheep!

This year we choose to hire a shearer to come to our place instead of doing the sheep ourselves.  Why?  Because it took us about an hour to do EACH sheep!  It is hot, buggy, sweaty, hard work and this year we had TWELVE of them to do. My shepherd mentor Karen highly recommended the shearer she uses from Wisconsin.  We weren't sure what to expect.
I didn't get too many photos because we were BUSY the entire time.  While David was shearing, Will was wrangling the next sheep in line and making sure no one escaped.  Meanwhile, I was prepping sheep coats, readying the dewormer, getting bags ready for fleece and labels for the bags.  After the shearing (which goes amazingly fast when you know what you are doing and have loads of experience), David rolled up the fleece and Will bagged it before grabbing the next sheep.  David also helped me with the coats and gave me a couple of good sheep handling tips (he is also a shepherd as well as shearer extraordinaire).  The sheep above is Chunk- she was the first sheep to be grabbed much to her dismay.
Doesn't she look excited?
I also had ready a handy can of antibiotic spray  for any cuts or nasty scrapes the sheep may have got.  I didn't need it. This guy is GOOD.  We were very lucky to be able to get him to come this far east.  After he tore down he hung out with us for awhile having a beer and telling us stories of shearing in Scotland and New Zealand.  We sent him away with some of our maple syrup and a dozen boiled eggs and felt enriched by the whole experience.  This is a Link to read about him in Grit magazine.
...and this is his handiwork.  Miss Fancy looks AWESOME!
This year we decided to try coating some of the sheep.  The suits are from  the Rocky Sheep Suit Company and are made of a lightweight durable lightweight nylon that won't crush or felt fine fleeced animals. As a bonus, Rocky is also a very nice fella to do business with!
I decided to coat nine of the twelve sheep.  The three that were not coated are Fancy, Cameo and Fallon.  They all have extremely dense coats and get very little VM in them.  Fallon is also cantankerous and I wasn't sure she endure it well!  Someone also told me that sheep that have never been coated don't deal with the coats well but everyone seems fine with them which thrills me to no end...
Gaia and the other yearlings are modeling a size C, while her mother and the rest of the "mature" ewes are wearing a size D.
Finally, here is Chunk sporting her new "do" and her sheep suit.  Some of them are a wee bit baggy so have been taken in with the ever so handy zip tie until their fleeces help fill them out.  


  1. I need to have a look at Grit. I was a carrier for it during the 70's. I'll put up some photos of my rabbitry later tonight.

  2. Very Impressive! I think i have seen pics of this shearer before on a blog somewhere? The sheep look fabulous with their new wool cuts and coats! It's always great to hear a good shearing story, and you have one with a great and happy ending. Shew.

  3. I love the coats! I've never tried them but I am thinking about it in future. It will be interesting to see if you find positive differences from using them. Others have told me that they have had felting problems under coats. I just think I'll have to try a few and see how it goes!

  4. Claire- we did have one sheep coated from last year...wee Zanzibar. Her fleece was awesome and I didn't have to pick hardly a thing out of the fleece that was covered. I too wondered about the felting, but all was well under there! I think the key is to get the "sheep suit Lite" fabric. I've had a few issues actually keeping the suits on a few of the sheep and wished I would have adapted things before I put them on instead of the trial and error I'm working on currently, but now I know... :)

  5. Your profile doesn't list an email address so I am posting to answer your question. My red Satin Angora doe kindled 3 days late-so don't give up on your doe just yet. I also had one kindle 5 days late but she delivered a dead and deformed baby. I think was lucky I didn't lose the doe. I didn't rebred her. If your doe does kindle I bet she will have a small litter. What do you do as a wildlife ecologist? We have enjoyed many of the Michigan nature preserves, parks and such.