Last Saturday we sheared the sheep, we had hoped to start at around 7.30am in the morning but a completely unexpected shower at 5am scuppered that plan. You can't shear the wool when it is damp because it won't flow over the cutters and storing damp wool is a bad idea.
It's only the ewes we shear. They need to be shorn to stop them getting too hot and to reduce the incidence of fly strike, caused by flies laying their eggs on the animals, which occurs during the summer months. The lambs are now between seven and nine weeks of age and although they are getting quite big they don't need shearing. The first job we have to do is to shed the lambs through a drafting gate to separate them from their mothers which creates a bit of a din as they call for each other.
The shearers then arrive and set up their equipment and off they go. Because they are paid per head, the quicker they work the more they earn - in wet weather they earn nothing so when conditions are right they really go for it. The shearers are incredibly skilled and can shear a ewe in less than a minute and a half. Two of the shearers we use shear all around the world for most of the year.
There was a nice cool breeze and not too much sun which, although not perfect barbeque weather, was perfect for shearing as it is so physically demanding. We finished at around 8.30 pm and by the time we had tidied up, folded up the hurdles, loaded the wool and got back to the yard it was about 9.00pm. On Sunday morning the ewes looked comfortable and cool.