Shear fun

Fewer things signal summer to me more than the sight of sheep being sheared and dipped. From my childhood on the Isle of Arran I remember the continual bleating and noise, the flies, the smell, the smooth oily surfaces and real team affair. I have only ever watched but it is a great event to see and one we got the chance to experience the other week. It was shearing time for the Bakers of Windshiel Farm organic sheep that graze our land.

Limbs flailing and missed patches - the signs of a expert shearer

It was an ideal day I'm told; dry, warmish but with a cooling breeze. The 'shearing rig' had been set up the evening before. The rig is a trailer with a narrow raised walkway to line up and present the sheep for grabbing by the shearers who then wrestle them down onto a fold out walkway where they do their clipping and nifty footwork around the immobilised sheep. Two sheep were sheared at time and while all were driven together into the pens, the young lads filtered the lambs from the ewes so that only the ewes were shorn. Dave and Joe were swift, averaging 200 - 250 sheep a day. But it had the feeling of a real extended family affair with Joe's wife, Laura, and five month old son helping out, young lads there to learn and everyone working as a team. My kids loved it too and spent long whiles just watching and touching the ewes and lambs.

The shearing rig

A family affair - mother and son, Sharon and Joe Baker, bring in the sheep

A day out for all ages

It's lonely up front - this ewe is the decoy locked into the front of the shearing rig to encourage the sheep behind to continue walking onto the rig. A long stand!

Rolling and bagging the shorn fleeces before to sending to the Wool Marketing Board

During the day I met a shearer who really knew what he was doing. Impressive to watch. Fast and efficient, clean clipping with no wastage. I took a few videos of him below.

Synchronised shearing - Joe and Dave show how it's properly done

You may know us a little by now. It hasn't all been about sheep over the past fortnight. In our search for more work, cost and stress we've found the ideal answer in a breeding pair of Oxford Sandy and Black pigs. They are coming from the Isle of Arran, bizarrely. It was complete coincidence but they are due to arrive at West Bastlebog early August. These young weaners below are examples of what we hope to produce with the sow shown in the background. More of that to come in future blogs. Ah, the fun and games ahead.

Don't come near us with those sheep shears!

Until next time. Oink.


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