Sunday 15 July 2012

Clipping (shearing) season 2012

Just incase some of you aren't aware it has been somewhat unseasonal this summer, yes, I know we live on an island which throws a variety of weather our way but........... not rain ALL the time. It would seem it has become a permanent feature, that wet stuff in what ever form it fancies. There has been wet, piss wet, very wet, wetter than wet then the wets we daren't mention in case children are listening, sometimes there has been the not so wets or even just the damp wetness. It is quite safe to say though that in a 24 hour period there has indeed been some form of wetness. Unless that is you live in the Western Isles of Scotland, now those poor souls are suffering a drought and yet they live in an area I always believed was a wet one - nowt like the idiosyncrasies of the good ol' British weather is there?

All this wetness has been causing grief, those that work outdoors, tend to stock are sick to the back teeth of wearing wellies and waterproofs day in day out. Stock are also getting sick of being wet all the time. The grass is growing BUT it also needs harvesting, again a problem when ground is waterlogged. Sheep need clipping, their coats need removing, a job which is preferable to do when the fleece is dry, packing it into wool sheets when wet will encourage it to mould and the price received for the product will be less should the product be damaged.
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The good news is sheep have been queuing up
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Blackies and Cheviots have been waiting patiently for their annual haircut. Probably held in fields for longer than usual waiting for a break in the weather to allow them to be housed dry or dryish.
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Patience pays off and clipping commences.

It has to be said that the season has been a slow one, desperation has lead to sheep being clipped wet, many have been clipped damp and there are many, many more still waiting to get clipped. Here we are in the middle of July and Shep is 1,000 sheep behind on last year, they're still out there, they are still carrying their full fleeces, it just hasn't been possible to attend to their needs yet. Organisation has gone out of the window this year, whoever gets sheep housed first seems to be the ones who get their sheep shorn.
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Quite arty I think - 'washing lines' full of fleeces, that's the way forward, dry the wool off the sheeps back!
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Unfortunately a great deal of room is needed to hang a few fleeces up and some fleeces such as those off a cheviot or texel tend not to hold their shape like these fleeces off a blackie and are not suitable for hanging off a line, they just fall to pieces which is a tad inconvenient of them on a year such as this. Shep is mightly relieved that she doesn't clip the number of sheep she used to do, planning and organisation is a nightmare as it is with out the added complication of a good few thousand to clip. But regardless, we are getting there, it may be a long shearing season but they will all get done eventually.


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