We started shearing, but it has been really dreary, cold, and rainy. We took a couple of days off to let the sheep dry and now it’s sprinkling again…
The weather just doesn’t want to cooperate this year. Sunday was glorious, warm, and full of sunshine – the perfect day to shear. We got a couple of rams done that day. We typically only shear a few sheep per day as we only do this once a year and like to go easy on our backs! It’s also difficult to shear a damp fleece on a cold day – the lanolin is thick and stiff. The shears work a lot better on dry fleece with warm lanolin; the fleece practically peels right off like using a hot knife through butter.
We also combine shearing with hoof trimming, vaccinations, and any other treatments or health checks that need to be done. It’s like an annual physical, a haircut, and a manicure all-in-one! Hence, it can take a little bit for each sheep to get done. We also have to factor in catching them as we don’t have a great handling system. Finally, there is the skirting of the wool, some picking, and then packing each fleece into its individual bag. We also can’t forget to sweep the shearing floor in between sheep!
Speaking of shearing floors. We were lucky this year as we got an upgrade on our shearing floor! We have graduated from an old tarp to rubber stall mats, which has been glorious! There is way less slipping, no bunching of tarp, and it’s easier to sweep off. The sheep are also more familiar with walking on rubber stall mats than they are on plywood or tarps. At some point we hope to be able to invest in more stall mats for the rest of the barn alley-way.
Tip/Trick For Cutting Rubber Stall Mats
We were always adverse to cutting stall mats (seemed so impossibly hard) to make a custom fit for a stall or walkway, so we often left gaps where a mat wouldn’t fit. When we went to install the new shearing floor, we had an epiphany. We had recently purchased an oscillating tool for another project and decided to give it a go cutting a stall mat. The drywall blade worked like a dream cutting rubber stall mats! It’s quick and efficient once you learn how to tilt the blade the correct way.