Down on the Farm

Before and after: wooly sheep on the left, shorn sheep on the right.

The rhythms of spring are arriving on the farm a little early this year, as daytime temps rose to the upper 50’s just the other day. A neighbor has already seen redwing blackbirds, and the chickadees are starting to sing their spring song of “Hey Sweetie” from the tips of the birch twigs.

Springtime means so many things on the homestead, and one of those is shearing time for the sheep. While wild sheep naturally shed their winter coat as spring arrives — rubbing it off on trees, rocks and bushes for the birds to snatch up and line their nests — the domestication process selected for sheep that kept their coats. This meant that people had to clip it off the sheep in springtime, which means more work but also a guarantee that the yield of precious fiber wouldn’t be lost on trees and rocks and bushes and bird nests.

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