Wool. Everywhere. Part 2: Shearing Day (Continued)

Onward with the sheep shearing process…

A closeup of shearing. The ewes are left with a coat about a quarter to a half inch thick. After all that fleece, it doesnt look like much. But theyll be glad of the load off them since it’s summer.
In roustabout mode, Millie has grabbed, checked and is rolling a fleece for sending off to the wool market. The red you see on the wool is NOT blood. Its part of a marking system the farm uses to keep track of their flock.
Giant bag o’ wool.
Millie stomping down the wool in the bag. I did that a few times as well. Its a very strange feeling, like trying to squish a huge bag of marshmallows. And afterwords, my jeans were covered all the way up to my thighs in lanolin.
Millie waits with more twine and a labeled tag in her mouth while Phil, our Australian friend, smooshes down the last of the wool. Big bags get closed up, released from the metal framework and then stacked on one side of the barn.
Bags o’ wool, ready for transport to the Wool Board. All wool produced in the country is sold to a single, government run organization and prices paid are based on amount, quality (or grade) of wool, and current market price.
And the flock, looking a bit stunned and maybe even embarrassed, minus wool coats!
Whew! Take a break! Millie and Mist tell Phil there’s no room on the wool bags for him.
Dan sharpens his cutting blades during the break. To the right, and just barely in the picture, you can see the green steel framework from which equipment is suspended.
We might be taking a break, but the dogs never do! Meg patrolling the line of sheep.

The evening’s work stopped about 9:30 or 10:00 pm. It’s still light out, so visibility is just fine far into the night. But we break after 50 something sheep. Time for a cuppa in the kitchen and then a hot shower before bed. We’ll be at it again in the morning. The guys will shear 75 or 80 more sheep. Millie and I will roustabout. Phil and Charlie will work the other end, getting the sheep into place. (Hmmmm, where was Charlie in all those photos? I swear he was there and he was working!) We usually finish up by 1:30 pm, have lunch and then Dan and Bill will head out. Then the rest of us might walk the sheep back out to their pastures or run them through the pen/lineup/release routine again to administer medication, vitamins or markings. By 4pm we’re done too. The rest of the day is for reading, relaxing, and breaking out a few beers!

Here we are, in the morning before heading out for a day’s work. I think we were drinking coffee at this point. But you can be assured there was a fair intake of wine and beer after a hard day and a half of shearing!
Dan’s dog, Teabag (yes, that’s her name) in the shearing shed. This seems to be her job: sitting in the wheelbarrow full of refused wool and taking a nap.


  1. Hi Suzie:

    I am loving your tale of the sheep farm. We are heading to the UK on the 15th. We will be staying at the Goose Barn in Haltwhistle for 3 weeks. If you are not going home and want to visit we would love to see you. Probably best to reach us through David’s email at: davidross2243@comcast.net.



    • Would love to join you but Ill be heading back to the States on the 15th. Promised my dog (and those taking care of him) I’d be back. Hope to come visit all you ladies in the fall. Want to see those New England colors! And of course, all of you.


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