Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The More Things Change...

getting ready to shear
As most folks looked forward to a long weekend, a time of remembrance and/or some family time, we were headed to the barn.

The supplies were assembled, the ewes housed in the barn and the pink Gatorade was chilling as requested.
It was time to shear the sheep!

I’ve written about this a number of times in the past. I’ve covered it from a humorous standpoint and focused on what hard, hot work shearing sheep can be. 

 Here are the posts from


This year, I realized that despite the “sameness” of the routine, things have change a lot in the ten years that Blondie has been doing the shearing.

shearing 2005
The first picture I could find of her shearing after attending VA Tech’s shearing school as a teenager was this one from 2005.

Back in 2005, we were still finding our way as shepherds. The sheep flock was a mish-mash of breeds.  Some for meat and some for fiber and there was no consistency throughout the flock.  We had nothing of considerable size…and all the babies had names.

But, things change.

Augusta Co Fair
Blondie grew up. She met "the one" and got married.  Today, she and the hubs have a place of their own on the other side of Staunton.  They grow vegetables and she does some awesome baking. If you’ve visited the Staunton Farmers’ Market you may have met her.  If not, you can visit virtually. Check out Country Rhodes Produce and Bakery.

some of the ewes awaiting shearing

The sheep flock changed, too.  Long gone are the wool breed sheep. We’re running a flock of commercial Suffolks now, looking for good growth and excellent carcass quality instead of fiber. There are also far more animals than there were “back in the day”.

We (I) still name the breeders and the occasional bottle baby, but the approach to the flock is a little different, too.  I think we’re far better shepherds than we were…mostly due to learning things the hard way over the years.

But, despite the changes, much remains the same. 

It’s still Memorial Day, and we’re still wrestling sheep (okay, Blondie does the wrestling), and celebrating a job well done with some lunch and some pink Gatorade. 

This makes TEN years that she's done the shearing...and six that we've spent the "holiday" in the barn.  

The old adage is true..."the more things change...the more things stay the same."

Thanks, Blondie! 


  1. I take it we off our own sheep, too?
    Have you ever read Moving Up Country? City slickers buy a farm in Vermont on impulse and learn the hard way. It is hysterical. He wants to dispatch a chicken for dinner. He proudly wants to show his guests how it's correctly done. He takes a chicken by the head and swings it around a couple of times to stun it. Whereupon the head comes off and the body takes off running.
    So, to answer your question of the other day: I think you can write about offing your chix.
    How long does it take you to pluck those suckers?

    1. Nope...not the sheep. In order to sell lamb, the meat must be processed in a USDA inspected facility. (not our backyard) We will be taking a "field-trip" to Edinburg next week for that project. That, too, will need to be blogged.

      I think I've heard of Moving up Country...the story sounds familiar. I might have to take a trip to the library. LOL

      We have an electric plucker (yeah, we're really hi-tech) and it only takes about 30 seconds! Definitely gonna have to write a post.

  2. Shearing - always a good job done down on the farm.