The whether-or-not depended on the weather and as we’d ‘enjoyed’ le temps pourri (rotten weather) since some super days back in March, I thought the sheep would be glad to hold onto their outdoor coats. Their summer-wear, like our own, was left safely in a suitcase in the attic.
The other aspect of my apprehension is the risk of cutting the sheep. One must avoid the temptation to push wool away, which can tent the skin leaving it vulnerable to the next ‘blow’ of the shears but rather pull the skin towards oneself, so flattening it out.
I’m better once I get started but the bad weather played to my procrastination. I’ve checked my notes and I sheared in May (2009) then early June (2010) then mid to late June last year and this year is was mid July when la météo confidently announced a string of hot days coming up.
There’s another issue, which is that of flystrike, where a (certain type of fly) lays it’s eggs on a sheep, whose maggots then start burrowing into the poor beast.
All done in a day and not a single nick, I think I might just be getting the hang of this.
We have had an almighty time sheering our own flock. It spend a good four months raining on and off, and it is bad for the sheep to sheer them if they are wet. You can cut the sheep and get fly strike. The other worry is that the rain actually breaks down some of the wool coat which produces a smell that flies are attracted to.
Unfortunately that meant we got one case of fly strike this year - luckily easily cured.
A second problem we have with sheering is that Hebrideans are notoriously canny sheep. A Breed that is very hardy but also sensitive if anything out of the usual is happening. They go into the pen like good sheep every day except when the sheering is done.
It is very interesting to read about someone else sheering their flock. We have a friend that comes round every year to do it - maybe not the cheapest way, but he can do it in a few minutes of effortless work, whereas we don't have enough practice.