June 15th, 2009


Sheep shaving

New life experience for me today:  I sheared a sheep.

It's been a bit warm lately, and only going to get warmer, so we decided to try shearing them.  Instead of shearing them outside, where it's hot and there's biting flies all over, we decided to bring them in the house and shear them on the dog sofa.  There's a wooden floor, so any accidents are easily cleaned up and sheep actually don't have much of a smell, at least compared to dogs.  (Sheep smell like lanolin and their breath smells rather like fermented green tea.)  We cranked up the A/C and set up a fan, then set about luring the sheep onto the deck.

I got a pan full of sweet feed and added a bunch of molasses, so it was like the sheep equivalent of cheesecake.  The ewe, Gertrude, started to climb the steps, but backed off.  Our young ram, Oberon, climbed the steps without hesitation, and it took very little persuasion to get him into the house.  We led him to the dog sofa and my SO picked him up and laid him down on the cushions.  Oberon freaked out a bit at first, but he quickly relaxed.  My SO had been claiming for a long time that there was something wrong with the electric shears, but I had no problem at all, getting about halfway through the job before the guard fell off.  I set the thing aside to cool off and we set to work clipping his more sensitive regions with scissors.  After the shears had cooled down, I reassembled them and finished the job.  Oberon was extremely patient the whole time.  He seemed to understand what we were doing to him and that it was for his own good.

We then let Oberon get up on his own, but he didn't want to go outside.  He just stood there in front of the fan, enjoying the cool air.  I finally had to lure him outside with the pan of sheep candy, which I set down for him to finish outside.  He should feel a lot better now that all the wool has been removed.  The pile of wool was like a whole extra sheep!

It was much too late to try working on Gertrude, but I'm too exhausted from working on Oberon to try shearing another sheep anyway.    Unfortunately, Gertrude's the one who really needs shearing.  She's gonna be harder because she's never been as friendly as Oberon.

(Our sheep are named after Shakesperian characters.  Our first three sheep were Gertrude, Ophelia and Ramlet, and the twins born last year were Oberon and Titania.  We also briefly had a Suffolk sheep named Marcus Brutus.)