Snow fell on the backs of 49 naked-looking ewes yesterday. It was not the best day to take off your thick wool coat, but aside from that, everything went smoothly. The flock was locked in the barn the night before to stay dry. Mary Lake drove over bad roads to get to us from Vermont, bringing her fancy new shearing machine. Matt and the animal team had a good crowding pen and catch system set up, so the sheep stayed calm and happy. Mary Lake has been shearing for us since her second year at it, when our flock totaled 7, and every year she’s done the job faster and more gracefully. The sheared ewes came off her board and went to Conor and Charlotte, who trimmed hooves, vaccinated them, and recorded their tag numbers.
There was a rotating cast of farmers – Alex, Aiden, and Ben – learning to catch sheep and move them through each step of the process, before releasing them to the outdoor corral, where they bleated and milled, trying to recognize one another. We have 4 ton-size totes of wool this year. Without it on their backs it’s possible to really see the ewes’ condition, which is good and pregnant. I can’t wait to start lambing in three weeks. Continue reading this Essex Farm Note.