With this unusually hot weather we are having I noticed a few days ago the lambs were going backwards and not thriving. They were seeking deep shade very early in the mornings and panting in the hot stillness.

Ram Lambs Panting in the Shadows

Ram Lambs Panting in the Shadows

So I debated what to, start to feed them lamb nuts or shear them, I decided on shearing them.

Zwartbles Lamb Being Shorn

Zwartbles Lamb Being Shorn

I have found in the past that shearing my March born lambs in July has helped them put on more weight versus when not shorn mid summer. I discovered this quite by accident. Last year I was going away for a week for the first time in 5 years. I had someone who is not that sheep knowledgeable to look in at the sheep and count heads, but they would not have known what to look for as far as fly strike is concerned. So to hedge my bets I got the lambs all shorn before I left. By early September last year I noticed that the lambs were ahead of the themselves with weight gain and growth. So mid summer shearing had two benefits peace of mind while I was away, as well as additional growth.

Zwartbles Lambs in the Shade

Zwartbles Lambs in the Shade

The farmer who comes to shear for me is Andrew Forristal. He said he would be arriving about 9am while there was still some coolness in the air. So I went out before he came to bring in the lambs. First getting the ram lambs in who were already stretched out in the deep shade of the lime tree. As I approached I could smell the sweet lime blossom and hear the tree buzzing with pollinating bees. I shake the bucket of sheep nuts and up hop the small flock of boys.

Ram Lambs Galloping Out to Greet Me

Ram Lambs Galloping Out to Greet Me

I had to drive them up the lane way and into the yard.

Going Up the Laneway

Going Up the Lane Way

Next was the ewe lambs who also had the hoggets and some of the dry ewes with them.

Ewe Lambs & Hoggets Coming Out of Lime Tree Deep Shade

Ewe Lambs & Hoggets Coming Out of Lime Tree Deep Shade

Having the hoggets and a few dry ewes with the ewe lambs makes bringing them into the yard much easier. The older sheep know where they are going and trot right into the yard, so not much pushing of the sheep.

Little Wren Ready to Lead the Way

Little Wren & Aggee Ready to Lead the Way

The field that the ewe lambs and hoggets are coming out of has a very narrow white mettle gate.

Zwartbles Ewes Coming Out the Gate

Ewes Coming Out the Gate

There is always one sheep that makes life difficult for everyone else today it was Alice Capone.

Alice Capone Trying to Go Through the Gate

Alice Capone Trying to Go Through the Gate

Her cleverness at trying to go through the narrow bars of the gate means she closes the gate on everyone else who was behind her. So the following sheep have to put on their galloping breaks so as not to crashing into gate or Alice Capone’s backside.

Clever Ewe Lamb Closing the Gate

Clever Ewe Lamb Closing the Gate

Once the gate is sorted and all the ladies are up in the yard it’s time to get ready for Andrew’s arrival. We make a pen in the shadiest place in the yard so as to keep Andrew and lambs as cool as possible.

First Ewe Lamb to be Shorn

First Ewe Lamb to be Shorn

Zwartbles keep their long tails as this is part of the breed standard and when shearing them even the tip of their tail is trimmed.

The White Tip of the Zwartbles Tail Getting Shorn

The White Tip of the Zwartbles Tail Getting Shorn

A few of the lambs have a very short tight fleece which will not do for going down to the mill to get spun. I use these for mulching and weed suppressing around young trees. During this long dry hot summer the recently planted young trees still have moisture around them and what water we give them stays soaking in and not running off away from the young trees.

Zwartbles Surrounded By Her Shorn Fleece

A Ewe Lamb Surrounded By Her Shorn Fleece

"I feel Naked" Embarrassed Looking Lamb

“I feel Naked” Embarrassed Looking Lamb

Once shorn and released the lambs find security with shorn friends.

Shorn Zwartbles Lambs Sticking Together

Shorn Lambs Sticking Together

The differance between the sun bleached tips of the unshorn with the glossy silky black of the just shorn is a beautiful contrast of Zwartbles wool color.

Zwartbles Shorn & Unshorn Fleece Colors

Zwartbles Shorn & Unshorn Fleece Colors

The gate trouble maker has her turn under Andrew’s shearing hands.

Miss Alice Capone Getting Her Back Shorn

Miss Alice Capone Getting Her Back Shorn

The Fleeces Falling Away Around the Shearing Moccasin

The Fleece Falling Away Around the Shearing Moccasin

Alice Capone is the last one of the ewe lambs to have her fleece shorn away.

Last Few Shearing Strokes Down Alice Capone

Last Few Shearing Strokes Down Alice Capone

The hoggets and dry ewes who were shorn at the beginning of May already have the sun bleached tips on their fleece.

Unshorn Hoggets with Shorn Ewe Lambs

Unshorn Hoggets with Shorn Ewe Lambs

When all the lambs have been shorn it’s time to return them to the field. They are more than ready to gallop out the yard, back tracking from where they had come from this morning.

Wagtail & Alice Capone Leading the Race Out of the Yard

Wagtail & Alice Capone Leading the Race Out of the Yard

A Shorn Zwartbles Ewe Lamb Straggler Leaving the Yard

A Happy Shorn Ewe Lamb Trotting Out the Gate

It is so much easier to bring them out to the field then up to the yard.

Ladies Returned to the Field

Ladies Returned to the Field

Now we are only left with the ram lambs to shear.

Zwartbles Ram Lambs Penned & Ready For Shearing

Zwartbles Ram Lambs Penned & Ready For Shearing

First Lamb Started 20 More to Go

First Lamb Started, 20 More to Go

When the first lamb has been shorn they always seem embarrassed when returning to the flock of full fleeces cousins.

Please Don't Take a Photo, I Feel Naked

Please Don’t Take a Photo, I Feel Naked

A sibling comforts his shorn brother.

A Brother Comforts His Shorn Sibling

A Brother Comforts His Shorn Sibling

When shearing a ram or ram lamb’s belly it has to be done very carefully as you don’t want to shear off a very important part of his anatomy.

Placing Your Hand Around the Important Bit

Placing Your fingers Near the Important Bit

When you get to the belly strokes you use your thumb to keep the important bits away from the cutting blades of the shears.

The Thumb Keeps Important Bit Away From Cutting Blades

The Thumb Keeps Important Bit Away From Cutting Blades

The bag of Zwartbles lambs wool is filling up.

Bag of Zwartbles Lambs Wool

Bag of Zwartbles Lambs Wool

I love the black silky almost marbled effect on the backs of the shorn lambs. So shiny almost looking like oil slicks.

Zwartbles Wool Contrast Shorn v Unshorn

Zwartbles Wool Contrast Shorn v Unshorn

The sun pushes the cool shadows back against the buildings as the day goes on.

Hot Sun Shearing

Hot Sun Shearing

As it gets warmer and warmer I can see the shorn lambs are feeling much easier then the ones that still need shearing.

Shorn & Enjoying a Chew of Cud

Shorn & Enjoying a Chew of Cud

Some lambs still are afraid and try to find a place to escape the shearing but end up only getting into the shearing trailer for a good view of what will be happening to them soon.

Trying to Escape

Trying to Escape

Apollo gets his fleece shorn before smiling Aloysius.

Shorn Apollo & Aloysius in Full Fleece

Shorn Apollo & Aloysius in Full Fleece

Finally it is Aloysius’s turn to get his hot fleece sheared off his hot and panting body.

Aloysius Getting Sheared

Aloysius Getting Sheared

This is Awkward

This Looks Awkward

Aloysius Still Smiling

Aloysius is Still Smiling

Soon Andrew is down to the final lamb to shear.

The Last Lamb to Shear

The Last Lamb to Shear

Zwartbles Wool Contrast

Zwartbles Wool Contrast

Finally done the lambs are let out into the field happy to feel a bit of air and less full fleeced.

Shorn Zwartbles Ram Lambs Released

Shorn Ram Lambs Released

I walk up to the top gate to let them out into the bigger field I call to the boys and they come charging up the hill towards me.

Charge of the Zwartbles Ram Lambs

Charge of the Zwartbles Ram Lambs

They gallop past me through the gate, down the field looking like they are feeling full of life and much cooler even in the mid day sun.

Like a Black Beaded Necklace the Lambs Gallop in a Line Across the Field

Like a Black Beaded Necklace the Lambs Gallop in a Line Across the Field

I am left to clean up the scrappy bits of unmillable wool which will mulch the next young tree we plant.

Daggs, Tags & Unspinable Wool

Daggs, Tags & Unspinable Wool

The lambs wool will be joining all the other Pure Irish Zwartbles wool going to the mill to be spun into beautiful Pure Irish yarn and woven into blankets and travel rugs.

100% Real Wool, Zwartbles Ireland Blanket, Yarn & Travel Rug

100% Real Wool, Zwartbles Ireland Blanket, Yarn & Travel Rug

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