Christmas presents come with pretty wrapping paper and frilly bows indicative of the great lengths we go to in order to decorate and disguise the gifts we’ve purchased for our loved ones. Then Christmas morning sees us staring longingly at all colorful packages waiting anxiously until we can open them up and see what’s inside.
Raising sheep is similar but different. These sweet little sheep insist on hiding themselves inside copious amounts of wool that just grows and grows, obscuring our view of their burgeoning baby bellies. Luckily we know what shears are and we know someone who knows how to use them.
Shearing sheep is not for the faint of heart. You have clippers that can sever a finger with ease, super soft skin that is full of wrinkles but hidden from view by all that wool, and a squirming body that really doesn’t want to be confined or contained. To top it all off, the magic happens just inches above the floor leading to lots of bending and stooping.
In the world of shepherds shearing day is the like Christmas and Spring Break all rolled into one. We get to see what’s under all that wool, feel the babies wiggling inside and handle copious amounts of fresh wool. The sheep are happy to lose all the heavy wool and get a little giddy about that just shaved feeling.
Since it’s February in Alaska, it’s still too cold for them to be outside without some wool. Their wool grows fast but we will have to keep them in the barn for a couple weeks while it grows out just a little. This also gives us the opportunity to keep eyes on them to evaluate the status of their pregnancies while we wait for the weather to warm.
While the newly naked sheep are lounging in the barn I get to look through their blankets of wool, skirting off the parts that are too dirty for spinning, and sorting out what we will be selling so I can get it listed. 80 pounds of wool takes up a lot of room in the house.