Monday, 24 June 2013

The Sheeps' Big Day

At last the day has arrived.   All the ewes who were losing their wool in great clumps have been shorn.   How much better they must feel for their hair cut.

They are docile creatures and seem able to put up with any indignity providing they are all kept together.   The lambs - who are not shorn in their first year - hung about in the yard waiting for their mums, getting down awkward little places and then making a fuss to get out, calling repeatedly.  The mums made not a sound.  I couldn't help feeling that a short break from their offspring was appreciated.

First both sheep and lambs had their feet treated - hooves clipped, any sore places treated and then sprayed with a soothing antibiotic.
Then both sheep and lambs were drenched for worm and injected with penicillin against infection from the feet.  Finally all of them (after the ewes had been shorn) were sprayed down the middle of their backs against flies.

Nobody seemed keen to go back into the pasture - they were happy to stay in the yard until one went - then they all went - like sheep.

The wool these days is pretty worthless - farmers get only a pittance for it, particularly since carpets  contain much less wool than they used to - for that was where most Swaledale wool went.  Time was when a tenant farmer would pay his year's rent with his wool crop.  These days it would be lucky to buy him a meal out.

The chap shearing made me laugh.   His grandson, who was helping, had only passed his driving test a week ago and had saved up and bought himself a car.   After only two days he landed up in a hedge bottom.   Luckily no-one was hurt and it could have been much worse.   Also, hopefully, it has taught him a valuable lesson.  But his grandfather told me that when he was young his father had had a saying, which was, "God castrates young men slowly and painfully."   Food for thought there, I think.


Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

Shame about the wool...what do you do with yours these days?

angryparsnip said...

I think the sheep much feel so much better now.

cheers, parsnip

Heather said...

I can't understand why good fleece is not more appreciated or of greater value. Hopefully the trend for English wool will return one day and farmers will get a better return. I couldn't help noticing how caringly the young man in your photo held the sheep's head - or was I just imagining it?

Cloudia said...

What an eternal scene, well sheers all of us in time...then back into the green pasture...


John Gray said...

Love the conversational way you describe the day....
And love the arms on that shearer

crafty cat corner said...

I find it sad that the wool isn't used. knitters often can't afford pure wool it's so expensive so they go for synthetic.
I know I'm a moaner these days but it didn't used to be like this did it? I remember always knitting in pure wool and it didn't cost a fortune.
Love the pictures.

Hildred said...

Oh my, what a lot of memories you have stirred up, Pat. We used to have a fine Australian shearer who came to Canada to do the rounds of sheep farms, as well as local shearers.

I was always on hand, with tea or tying fleeces, so that I could pick the best fleeces for spinning.

It was always a very exciting day with the great wool sacks and small children stamping down the fleeces, - we have it all recorded, but unfortunately on movie film.

Price be damned, I try always to use pure wool, knowing the dismal price the farmer ends up with.

Em Parkinson said...

Such a shame about the wool prices. I think someone on the other side of Dartmoor fills duvets with it and sells them to John Lewis at vast expense but it's rather a niche market!

mrsnesbitt said...

Must feel so much better after a good trim - I know he feeling well!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I suppose the trouble with pure wool these days for knitting is that it doesn't sit kindly in the washing machine, so most folk go for a nylon mix. Sad but it is the way of the world, isn't it?
John - I will tell the shearer about how you fancy his arms next time I see him! (he is married with two children - does that maka a difference?)
Thanks for the visit everyone.

izzy said...

I am so glad your sheep are docile! mine never were and so I just stuck with goats- Cashmere crosses...not easy for spinning but lovely felting!