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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Guest blogger: Bringing home the sheep

Hello Dear Readers,

Phelan has invited me to guest-blog today. She wanted me to write about something I have mastered as a result of homesteading for the past 3 years. Well, I don't believe that I've created enough mastery in any one aspect of rural living, so I'll tell you about the newest additions to our humble pile o'caliche.

One of the online communities I belong to, as a result of living frugally, Freecycle, has provided us with some great finds, the latest being 8 grown Karakul sheep. The owner was able to deliver only 4 to begin with (we only joke about having to download them from the internet), and we are still waiting on the other 4.

shepherdess

The sheep were huge in their wooliness, and we acted as soon as we could to relieve them of their overcoats. We naively opted for the hand shears, picked up at an old-style ranch supply store near the airport in Austin, and we opened up our copy of Barnyard in Your Backyard to the proper page one fine evening.

We'd done a little reading about shearing competitions, so we thought that we'd be done long before dark. Two hours later, I finally had to go check on our son, who was sitting in the dark in his play area, and I also had to run an extension cord from the well house to the garage and plug in DH's old desk lamp so we could finish the job.

anthonyTastingWool

[BTW, our son was not actually in the dark; he was sitting in his play tent shaking his new battery-powered maraca that lights up with various colors when shaken. Did I mention that he's just turned 1? He's my smart little cookie!]

skelterVSwool

We finally got a good rhythm going with the shears, but still had to trade off, as they were physically hard to use. At one point, some sort of bee was tormenting us, and I finally zapped it with some OFF! The temperature didn't come down much from the daytime, so we were still sweating (no, not perspiring nor glowing--SWEATING like horses running from an F5 tornado) at 9:30 when we were satisfied with our first shear job.

Of course, when the professional shearers from Johnson City came out (on Labor Day, what great guys), they said it looked like we went at it with a pair of scissors. Well, compared to what their set-up was capable of, I guess he did look pretty scruffy. We even left one little dread behind his left ear for character.

This part of my story does come with some sad news, however. Just before the Labor day weekend, we noticed that one of the males was not with the herd, so DH went looking for him. The carcass was in the back corner, near where the large garden will be next year. It appeared to be the work of coyotes, or possibly the neighbors' dogs (they took several goats from the place next door last year). Not much we could do at that point, but to haul it up on one of our burn piles and let the vultures have their way with it. When the county lifts the burn ban, we'll toss what we have in the freezer (a whole other story I've included elsewhere) onto there and say our goodbyes.

Well, friends of Phelan, I hope you've found my story entertaining. The Beatles concert on PBS is over (my son was watching it during his bedtime boycott), so I need to get everyone to bed.

Yours in critter-wrangling,
Marina



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Thank you Marina!

Drop on over to Tales of a Texas FarmWife and see what else she has been up to.

We have all started out as a neophyte, do you have a story to tell? Have you mastered a skill, or just pretty darn good at it, then teach me. e-mail me at eirennaigh @ juno dot com and I will post your story, pictures and links. Please keep it on the subject of do-it-yourself type projects such as {my hobbies} learning to cook, making crafts { I make chainmaille} dealing with livestock/pets, building your own home/fencing/barn/chicken tractor... you get the picture.

1 comment:

PARLANCHEQ said...

Wow! Guess I am just too much of a city girl to even fathom being able to sheer sheep! Roughing it for me means having to change the kitty litter box! ;) (Sorry about the one who died.)

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