Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sheep herder

Well, this morning was an adventure!

Jonathan, David and I hopped in the car after doing chores and headed to the neighbor north of us to help him with his sheep. There was a professional sheep shearer coming at eight o'clock to shear his 75 head of sheep.

We pulled in the driveway a little early even though we drove slowly on the way there. Mr. Pozarnsky (our neighbor) had all the sheep sorted into his various small barns and had 35 of the black-faced sheep waiting in the barn where the shearing was going to be done. When Mr. Gietzen (the shearer) came we helped him unload his equipment and set it up in the barn. He had a chute with a spring loaded door where the sheep would be let out of and a wool packer and few other odds and ends along with his electric shearer.

We started the process by herding the mass of sheep towards the opening of the chute and a few of them willingly entered but most of them dashed past us as they were driven into the corner. David hopped over the short divider wall and chased the few sheep in the chute down to the other end to be sheared. When we tried again to get a few more into the chute, the pressure of 20 sheep pushing against each other forced the small door on the end of barn to give way and six sheep got out before I could get the door to close again. Propping the door shut (it wouldn't stay because the latch had broke) I helped clear the sheep away from the corner and Jonathan helped Mr. Pozarnsky corner and pen up the runaway sheep. Meanwhile, David herded the animals that were in the chute down to the other end as Mr. Gietzen finished up all the ones that he could reach. We left the ones that escaped outside until there was fewer in the main pen and then chased them in again. Even in the short time they were outside some frost had formed on their wool but I guess that was okay. The wool is supposed to be as clean and dry as possible.

After the pen of black-faced sheep was done, I helped herd a pen black-faced ewe lambs in to be sheared. The young ones were eager to follow each other and that made the job of chasing them down the chute a little easier. Some of the older ewes had to be either picked up or shoved the whole way down the chute in order to get them to move. After the young black-faced sheep were done, we herded a bunch of adult white-faced sheep into the barn. The wool is finer on the white-faced sheep so the wool had to be kept separate. These sheep were much easier to herd around and we didn't have to do much but stand behind them and keep the line moving.

Mr. Gietzen was really fast at shearing and could get a sheep done in about 2 minutes and not nick them at all with the cutter. He does it a lot and according to his website he has sheared sheep all around the world!

After the older white-faced sheep had been sheared we brought in the white faced lambs and he sheared them. When each different group had been sheared, they were herded into the different pens and barns that they had come from to keep warm.

After the sheep were sheared I thought they reminded me of peeled potatoes!

When the wool was cut off the sheep, Jonathan took it and stuffed it into the hydraulic packer machine and it compressed the fleeces of about thirty sheep into one big burlap bag. Mr. Pozarnsky keeps the wool until later in the year and then brings it to Bismark and sells it there.

Fun day!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well that was sure a busy day for you guys. Not like the boring yesterday mentioned in your last blog.

You did a great job describing the day.

Then the calf being born topped the day off pretty well I would say.

Gp B