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Early start to main shear - Tactical Ninja

Sep. 14th, 2013

04:47 pm - Early start to main shear

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Today was the first shearing day of the season - 21 polwarths that were suffering from lice that they seem to have picked up through the fence from a flock shipped into the neighbours. This was less gross than it sounds. Sheep lice don't go on people, and once you get the wool off it's only one treatment and they're good for 12 weeks.

Also, this client has a shed! OMG!*


80s fringe sheep are suspicious of my motives



Well, it was supposed to be a picture of what the view looks like when I lay the half-shorn sheep down for the long blow, but this sheep (affectionately known as Snuffly) decided to stick her head in it just as I took the pic, so it looks more like a MySpace Sheep Selfie.



My, what a well-shorn shoulder that sheep has! *cough* Never mind her neck.

Polwarths are really hard to shear well, because they're covered in wrinkles and have really dense wool and soft skin. I try not to be too embarrassed about it. They didn't seem to be suffering from their weird haircuts anyway..




Also, it was a beautiful day out under the Orongorongos. And the sheep kept licking me while I was shearing them so I advised their owner to get a salt lick for them. I am glad they don't have sandpaper tongues like cows do.

*Normally I shear in the open using my cabled electric handpiece, usually in yards in varying states of decrepitude, with the likelihood of shade being about 50/50. Working in a shed with a proper shearing plant and a spring loaded pen door with separate shearing area is the lap of luxury.

Comments:

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From:pennywren
Date:September 14th, 2013 08:00 am (UTC)
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Cute sheep :) I've spun polwarth before, it's lovely! :)
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From:tatjna
Date:September 14th, 2013 09:54 pm (UTC)
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They really do have lovely soft fleeces, and she's bred them in some amazing colours too - from black through spotted and a sort of bluish moorit type colour, through to pure white. Some are even spotted. ;-)

They have a nice temperament too. They're hard to keep around here because they don't like to get wet feet, but I can see why she persists with them.
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From:pennywren
Date:September 15th, 2013 07:36 am (UTC)
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The stuff I spun was blue, but I suspect it wasn't natural ;-)
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From:tatjna
Date:September 14th, 2013 09:54 pm (UTC)
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It's not quite there yet, most of my work is done from late October through to mid December. But from here on in there's likely to be more sheep thrown in with the usual dreck.

As an added bonus, most of them have names! ;-)
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From:forestgreenivy
Date:September 15th, 2013 08:08 pm (UTC)
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Awwww. The sheep selfie is adorable. She's super cute.
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From:tatjna
Date:September 15th, 2013 08:12 pm (UTC)
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She really is, and she was very interested in what I was doing, too. ;-)
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From:t_c_da
Date:September 16th, 2013 05:17 am (UTC)
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this client has a shed!

So this is a new client for you, then?
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From:tatjna
Date:September 16th, 2013 05:38 am (UTC)
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No, I've been shearing her sheep for 5 years. I know this because the day I first did her sheep was the day before my first date with Dr Wheel. She built the shed in the second year - the reason it gets a mention is because it's so unusual for me to be shearing indoors in a real shed.
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From:spotsofcolour
Date:September 16th, 2013 11:43 am (UTC)
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I've always been fairly ambivalent towards sheep, but the fact that they were given you lickies whilst you were shearing them makes them seem really cute to me somehow. What does a salt lick do?

I love that you can shear sheep, it's such an impressive skill.

(I also love the way their fleece flops over their eyes in that first picture. They look like total stoner-sheep.)
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From:tatjna
Date:September 16th, 2013 08:20 pm (UTC)
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You wait till I post pics of the English Leicesters! They don't just have floppy fringes, they also look like dreadlocks. ;-)

The salt lick provides trace minerals that the soil may be lacking. In New Zealand we're short of selenium and copper in most places, and deficiency in these can cause health problems. Most animals like salt, so putting a block of salt with minerals in it in the paddock means they can get these minerals at will - and if they don't need it, they tend not to touch it so it's very friendly way of dosing them.

When they start licking the sweat off the shearer, it's a fairly good sign they could do with a salt lick, eh? ;-)
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From:pundigrion
Date:September 18th, 2013 01:49 pm (UTC)
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Awwww lickies! Okay, okay I know it is just for the salt, but I figure if they are licking you then they can't be that fussed about being sheared at least.

Love the sheep selfie, too funny!

Polwarth fleece is great stuff. Oh so bouncy and soft! I do have some feelings on keeping livestock unsuitable to your terrain though...there are several chicken breeds I passed up when looking for the last batch because they would not be suitable without a lot of winter intervention.
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From:tatjna
Date:September 18th, 2013 08:50 pm (UTC)
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I agree. My preference is to stick with mongrel-bred animals that do well locally and selectively breed for the traits you want. Mostly because vigor is a trait I want, but also because associated health problems = animal suffering and I'm not keen on that.

This client looks after her sheep very well, but it's a difficult breed on wet country and she has to work hard to keep them healthy.
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From:pundigrion
Date:September 20th, 2013 08:37 pm (UTC)
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I hear ya. I'm okay with pure-breds mostly because I need to know if they will be hardy enough, though I wouldn't mind crosses either. On the bright side, I don't think chickens are nearly as inbred unless you are going with show stock!

Ah yes, I know you can work with breeds that aren't well-adapted for your land, but it just seems like so much extra work and bother to me. Same with keeping fish actually. Much easier to simply choose species that like your local pH than to try and mess with it (particularly trying to keep your water softer, doable, but a pain!) Plants too, which is why I don't have blueberries...
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