Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The "Old Folks" Still Got It

some of  "the girls" waiting for shearing 2015 to begin

I have to admit, every year I approach shearing day with a fair amount trepidation.

And, not without warrant, I might add.  The combination of hard physical labor, sharp objects and unpredictable animals is a perfect breeding ground for disaster. Mutton-busting sounds amusing, but honestly, wrestling with frightened prey animals is not only NOT fun, it can be dangerous.

shearing day tools

Years ago when we had the woolly sheep, the shearing process was a huge ordeal. (yes, most sheep ARE woolly...but, some are bred for wool and some are bred for meat)  The entire family got involved, it took the entire day, and by the end, everyone…including the sheep…was in a bad mood. As we still had all the smelly wool to contend with.
shearing Kate the Cotswold - 2002

One time it was not a family affair and the Boss and Blondie decided to clip a few sheep out while Toughchick and I were in town.  We arrived home to hot and grumpy people (and sheep) and the Boss trying to explain the bloody clipper marks in his arm. If you look closely, you can still see the little triangular scars more than ten years later.
scars remain

 Fortunately, that was a one-time occurrence!

Over the years we have gotten far better at the entire event, but there is always the possibility for trouble. But, we've managed to keep damages to a minimum.

Mama and Blondie
shearing team
Since 2008, shearing day has been a mother-daughter bonding experience.  Blondie and I made a tradition out of our Memorial Day shearing and I didn’t consider how different this year would be without her, until the other evening.

“I’m really sorry I’m going to miss our annual thing.”  Her voice had an odd little catch in it.

“What annual thing?”  (I’m sorry, honey, but the memory really  is the first thing to go!)

“Our shearing day.”

Oh, yeah…that. 

You can read about our past shearing "adventures" HERE. (there are links to the past five years, I think) This year, Blondie is six months pregnant and shearing the sheep was simply out of the question.

Suddenly the realization that the experience would be very strange this year hit me.  The worry over the Boss’ somewhat problematic back set in.  (all that bending and “mutton-bustin’” wouldn’t help matters).  Oddly enough, despite all the teamwork around here, the Boss and I had never even attempted this particular job together. 

Unbeknownst to me, the Boss was also more than a little concerned about the whole ordeal as well. 
getting ready

But, the job had to be done, so…we kept kept our concerns to ourselves and got on with the job at hand.

ready to start
By tying the sheep off and not laying them down, the Boss saved himself (and his back) the physical torture of wrestling the sheep while clipping them.  The end result is not quite as pretty and requires a little trimming up afterward, but the main thing is to get the wool off the sheep so they can be cooler during the heat of the summer…and we did that.

first blow

clippers close-up

half finished job

a little trimming

first sheep finished
waiting her turn

the last one

With the exception of the next to last sheep (who totally and utterly freaked out...but, we got her done anyway), they all behaved fairly nicely. We got their hooves clipped and the de-wormer administered and turned everyone back out into the lush green grass.  No serious injuries to humans or sheep…that definitely counts as a win!
all done and back out in the field

Yep, the old folks still got it!

I must admit, there was more than a little Ibuprofen administered around here last night and the heating pad saw some action. 

…and we will all be glad for Blondie to resume her duties next Spring.

                      (even if it does mean Grandpa might have to babysit!)


  1. Yaaaaaaaay!!!! GO TEAM OLDIES!
    Actually, I cut husband's hair. Should I tie him up next time?
    :) m & jb

    1. That sounds like a highly personal matter to me. ;)


  2. good post. Shearing is a lot of work. You can definitely find muscles that haven't been used for while.

  3. There is nothing in the entire farming world half as exhausting as clipping reluctant sheep, so well done - bask in the glory of it all being over.