The older ewes, all with lambs to feed, prioritize feeding their young over growing a new fleece : they’re always last to be sheared – usually in mid-late July. It varies, depending on how good a ewe is at converting grass into growth.
Queenie’s first in line for anything, whether that be for the ram – or for shearing. Today was a fine one for shearing, so I took shearing tools and dosing bottles with me up to the hill grazing – along with the morning ration of sheepnuts.
The health condition I’ve developed in recent years makes it hard for me to cope with extended sessions of heavy physical work, and as the problem is centred on the nervous system – and the spinal cord in particular, I’ve given up on the conventional round-up and shearing a fank-full of sheep.
Now, I just quietly and (relatively) gently ‘nab’ a sheep whist he or she is pre-occupied with sheep nuts, and get on with it. Wherever that might be. One sheep a day – weather permitting. It really is so much easier for me and for the sheep – though it does mean we’re limited to around 15-20 ewes and a similar number of their hogs to shear, each year (the ewes in July, the hogs a month to six weeks earlier).
So, this morning, Queenie was first of the ewes to be sheared this year. She’s eight years old, so by now she’s an old hand at this sort of thing. She was a very good girl: no struggles, no baaing or bleating, she stayed calm and quiet right from the start … and when I’d finished, she just lay there, on her fleece, perfectly relaxed … I had to give her repeated nudges and encouragement to get up.
It took a couple of tries, flailing her legs around to set herself right, but once up she looked back at me, bleated softly, then walked quietly off to catch up with the others.
What would we do without Queenie to set a good example!