Saturday, February 12, 2011

shearing day

In preparation for going to the farm this morning to observe our favorite sheep getting their spring haircuts, we read a few books about shearing and the wonderful yarn, sweaters and suits that come from their lovely wool. Pelle's New Suit is a standard from our spring book basket, which I pulled out a few weeks early. Haircuts for the Woolseys is an out-of-print Tomie DePaola favorite, discovered a few years ago at our local used bookstore.

This morning dawned clear, if windy, and we headed out to visit our sheepy friends and admire their newly-shorn selves.

Elizabeth couldn't resist threading her fingers through their wool and exclaiming how different it feels from the roving that we felt and spin.

The sheared sheep stuck out like a sore thumb amongst his wooly friends. It continually amazes me how thick the wool grows close to their bodies. I wonder how long it takes for them to look like normal sheep again instead of looking like they have badly snipped crafter's foam stuck to their bodies.

In the storeroom just beside the sheep pen, you could find bags of fleeces, waiting to be washed and carded for someone's crafting desires. I love how each bag is labeled with the sheep's name. So personal, like finding a carton of milk with the cow's name stickered to the side of the carton.

We also spent several minutes watching the chickens strut around their pen. Even though the last few days have been warmer, they still had to push ice out of the way to drink from their tub.

By the time I noticed them again, they had left the pen and were wandering through the yard. Clearly, these are free range chickens!

While Paulie, Elizabeth and I were visiting the chickens, Paul, Philip and Finn disappeared. Suddenly Finn comes running down the lane, "Mama! Mama!! You need to see this!!!"

Finn had been in the furtherest barn admiring two little ten-day-old lambs.

They looked so soft and downy. I could have just scooped one up and held him the rest of the day, but the mamas weren't having anyone get too close. I loved the way those ewes eyed us suspiciously and moved closer to their babies when we neared the fence. Mama's instinct is certainly a powerful one.

Behind the fence just outside of the lambing barn, we found a few llamas. Llamas are funny little creatures. They were so curious about us, but I think our rambunctious brood concerned them. They kept darting back and forth along the fence, watching us.

Elizabeth took a few minutes to write about the experience while she was there. She's started journalling with 2 friends and they trade journals every few days so she's rarely seen without a journal in hand these days.

The farmer came along to feed the llamas while we were there. He explained to Philip that the llamas are kept with the sheep for protection. Llamas do a wonderful job of keeping the dogs and coyotes away from the sheep. He said that slow movement and soft talking will win the llamas trust and they would let us approach without darting away.

As we were walking back toward the shearing barn, I couldn't help but notice this lovely scene. What a picturesque hill covered with sheep and evergreens with a bright blue winter sky in the background.

I consider myself lucky to have access to several beautiful, sustainable farms, with well-treated animals, nearby to introduce my family to the wonder of nature and farm life.

On our way out, Finn began dragging (and whining) from the long morning. Paulie scooped him up onto his back and carried him as far as he could. He's a good llama of a big brother.


  1. What a wonderful experience! It was a perfect day here for it too.

  2. totally with you. It was wonderful. Our trip out there, along with the rest of our full day I'm going to sleep well--pics on my blog will look very similar tomorrow! & agreed, thank goodness for our local farms!

  3. I couldn't help but smile about Elizabeth trading journals with friends... it's like old school blogging :)
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful day!

  4. "badly snipped crafter's foam"! Ha! That's such an accurate statement, and SO funny!


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