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I thought about adding this to the working dogs thread, but since it's kind of long, figured maybe it would be better to give it its own thread. I needed to shear some hair sheep that weren't shedding out, so here's the story in pictures:

 

The tools of the trade (I find a stand helpful for not killing my back):

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Twist knows we're going to get sheep:

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But the sheep don't know it yet--they're resting peacefully in the shade under the quail hutch:

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She's off....

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And here they come (the round bale feeder is there just because there's a Dominique hen nesting in it at the moment)!

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The intended victims. Note that the white wether doesn't need much in the way of shearing--that's because a few days ago when I was working Chris out in the field, I noticed I could pull a lot of his wool off, so made Chris lie there and hold the sheep to me while I "plucked" him. What's left is what I couldn't pluck off, and so I'll shear it.:

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Continued....

 

J.

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The flock tends to go past the round pen and down toward the gate that leads to the area where I let them out to graze, so Twist has to head them off in the tall grass:

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Twist flanking around to bring them back to the gate:

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Flanking to the heads to turn them in to the gate:

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Last one in:

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Pushing them to the fence to hold them for me:

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Our first "volunteer" (with a bunch of hangers on--actually it was easier to move the one sheep to the stand if I had Twist push them all along with me):

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To be continued....

 

J.

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Love these, Julie, and thanks for posting. I think it's interesting to see all of the tools of the trade, not just the dogs!

 

I am looking forward to the next group!

 

Karrin

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This particular Clun Forest mule is a Nosey Nellie. She had actually climbed up on the stand with her front feet, but got back down before I could grab the camera and get her picture:

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Twist hard at work, lol! Her real task is to keep the sheep on the fence and near where I'm working so the sheep on the stand doesn't get panicky, but also to keep them off me so that they don't actually interfere with what I'm doing. She knows this task and will shift herself as needed to get it done without me having to tell her.

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The finished product:

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Pushing the sheep into a tight group so I can grab the next sheep:

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I've finished shearing sheep and Twist has pushed them toward the gate:

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But wait--I can't get to the gate thanks to the sheep pushing against it, so Twist must flank around and push them off the gate for me:

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Continued....

 

J.

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Good bye sheep!

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Although there was a potential for dust, keeping things quiet is what I want so the less sheep movement (= less dust to eat), the better. I, however, was sweating plenty by the time I was done!

 

J.

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Nice shots, Julie, even though my computer is being a bit sluggish and I can only see about half the pics!

A

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VERY cool, Julie! Thanks for shearing, uh, I mean, sharing!

 

(I love the Nosey Nellie!)

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Nice series Julie--thanks for showing some work--though I'm not sure I'd call this "real" since Twist wasn't doing the actual job (of shearing) herself..... :rolleyes:

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Oh Julie,

I'v missed being on the bords and this is the first thing I see. Thank you very much, I'm impressed with Twist. And of course your longevity in the shearing department. :rolleyes:

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Andrea??? Is that YOU??? YAY!! Hi. :D

 

Julie - very nice! Good thing you finished before the rain came in - I'm starting to worry about getting home already. Miss flail-thyself-around looks quite pleased with herself. :rolleyes:

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I'm impressed with the shearing job. No one's allowed here on the farm until these ewes are grown out a little. In future I'll be shearing twice a year to avoid the felting that happens over the winter with some of these mixed-wool sheep (hair genetics mixed in).

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How do you get them up on the stand? Just lift them? Do they tolerate being lifted? Do they get up on their own? Once they're up there, do they just stand still (I see their heads are tied in, but what about the other half)?

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Great pics Julie, and I love your little ewe, you can send her down to Texas if you want ;-) I really like your stand too. It looks like my hair sheep aren't going to turn loose of their coats any time soon, so I may have to shear them again, or at least help them along. I think I may attemt to make a stand like yours out of wood, I think it would be fairly simple eh? Doing them on the ground, even tied, is sure hard on the back ;-( so having them raised up a bit, sure looks more appealing. I'm not even going to post what my Karakuls looked like after I got done with them :rolleyes:

 

Betty

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Nice series Julie--thanks for showing some work--though I'm not sure I'd call this "real" since Twist wasn't doing the actual job (of shearing) herself..... :rolleyes:

If I could teach the dogs to shear I'd really be set (the kind of "shearing they'd do probably wouldn't make me--or the sheep--very happy)! :D

 

J.

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Oh Julie,

I'v missed being on the bords and this is the first thing I see. Thank you very much, I'm impressed with Twist. And of course your longevity in the shearing department. :rolleyes:

Hey Andrea,

It's great to see you back! Not much longevity here--the shearer came at the end of April and did the wool flock for me. I just had the two (and a half) hair sheep to do, though that was plenty, especially since the heavens opened just about the time I got everything put away.

 

J.

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How do you get them up on the stand? Just lift them? Do they tolerate being lifted? Do they get up on their own? Once they're up there, do they just stand still (I see their heads are tied in, but what about the other half)?

The answer is: It depends. Some of my older karakul ewes were trained by their former owner to lead on a halter and will step up on the stand because the previous owner hand sheared, but that doesn't include the hair sheep. Usually what I do is put a halter on them and then lead (well, as much as one can lead a non-halter-broke sheep, which is why I use Twist to push the whole flock in that direction) them to the stand. Then I tie the lead to the upright and lift their front legs on. Once the front legs are on, I lift the back legs, and then quickly secure their heads. The side rail helps encourage them to stay on (there are actually two side rails, but I can't shear on the side with a rail, so I just switch the rail from one side to the other as I finish shearing one side). If they step off with one leg, they will generally just put it back on the stand. Well, all except the crazy collared ewe (the one Laura refers to as "She who flails about," who I finally ended up snubbing to a post and finishing that way). Sheep who are not used to the stand might fight a bit, but usually since their heads are secured, they give up pretty quickly and just stand there. The ewe in the picture was very well behaved.

 

J.

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Great pics! What do you do with the fleece?

Hair sheep fleeces aren't really good for anything because of the hair mixed in with the wool, so I just left it sitting out there in the round pen. I gave all my tunis fleeces from the spring shearing to a friend's mom, who is learning to spin, etc. The karakul fleeces went in the trash because I didn't shear last fall, and with their long staple length, if you don't shear twice a year you can end up with badly felted fleeces, which aren't good for anything. In the past I have sent fleeces off to a carding mill to be turned into roving (strips of washed and carded wool, which can be used for spinning or felting). I'll probably take some time this summer and hand wash and card some of the fleeces I saved from last year.

 

J.

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Great pics Julie, and I love your little ewe, you can send her down to Texas if you want ;-) I really like your stand too. It looks like my hair sheep aren't going to turn loose of their coats any time soon, so I may have to shear them again, or at least help them along. I think I may attemt to make a stand like yours out of wood, I think it would be fairly simple eh? Doing them on the ground, even tied, is sure hard on the back ;-( so having them raised up a bit, sure looks more appealing. I'm not even going to post what my Karakuls looked like after I got done with them :rolleyes:

 

Betty

I think you get a neater clip using electric shears vs. hand shears, which may be the difference in how mine look. Hand shearing definitely leaves them a little rougher looking. I like the stand because it really does keep me from breaking my back. I'm just not that good shearing the "real" way to not use a stand. If I could have afforded one, I would have gotten the type that collapses down to ground level so you can easily put the sheep on and then crank it up to full height, but I bought mind at the very end of the last day of a sheepdog trial when the folks at Sydell didn't want to take it back with them and so gave me a good deal. I'm disappointed at the amount of rust, etc., after just two or three years when it's stored inside. If you make one of wood, try some sort of ramp for the sheep to walk up if you don't want to have to do the lifting thing (trust me, those ewes are fat and not so easy to lift, even one half at a time)!

 

As it turns out, I ended up taking the "flailing ewe" off the stand to finish her because she was fighting like mad on the stand and if a foot or two went off, she'd just let it/them hang there, so I was trying to shear her without cutting me or her and holding her up there with my free arm and one leg--the atmosphere was turning a bit blue at that point! Good thing I don't have to shear the whole flock! (Although I am going to bite the bullet and shear the karakuls in the fall.)

 

J.

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Robin,

I'm done with the stand, so you're welcome to take it back with you this weekend. I might even offer my shearing services, though I'm running out of sharp combs and cutters.

 

J.

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I have a bunch of cutters, got a good deal and bought a slew of them. Might have to borrow that stand though!

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