The sheep go into the barn the night before, off feed and water. With the Icelandic's huge rumen, shearing on a full stomach makes them incredibly uncomfortable (think about bending over to tie your shoes after a huge Thanksgiving meal). The shearing station remains clean as well. Our shearer David Kier arrived, followed by a number of friends, some who helped and others that watched. We had 12 people here, so it was a great help, and shearing went so smoothly. Two friends captured the reluctant sheep, Randy my husband brought them out to David, who sheared. He is so calm and gentle with the sheep. He takes his time with our small flock, yet each sheep is finished in under 3 minutes.
The sheep barely realize what has happened. David skirts out the belly wool as he shears. I scoop up the warm fleeces as he finishes,as another friend shoos the sheep out of the barn, and another sweeps the board clean, and the whole process begins again. As he shears, I quickly lay out the previous fleece on a skirting table. The wool is fragrant, full of lanolin and life. I love the smell. Second cuts fall out, I pull out any contaminated parts, then push each beautiful fleece into a separate box, labeled with the date and the name of the sheep. These fleeces go into the Wool House, and will be fully skirted this winter. Then I'm ready for the next fleece. The day goes by too quickly.
We are finished! I prepared a big meal for post shearing. I made the mousaka recipe from the October issue of Saveur. It was everything I hoped for. Also some fresh bread, corn from the garden, and a nice Syrah. Then, apple pie with apples from our orchard and coffee. It was a fun and relaxing meal, full of laughter and sheep talk. David has has many years of sheep experience, which he graciously (and modestly) shares. I so enjoy him, his grace and vast wisdom. A good shearer is priceless!