We have timed it perfectly this year and booked the shearer in for the half term week on a lovely sunny day. Farmer Ted came to help out with the feed run for the guests so Nick could help Paul, our local shearer, set up his equipment. He had brought the sheep in with the children the previous day so they were all ready in the deer shelter with a good stock of hay to munch on while Paul set up his kit.
The arm strength needed for this job is incredible, a fully grown ewe is really heavy and to tackle one, turn her over and hang on to her one handed takes some strength; to do this on a whole flock is enough to challenge any top gym work out! Add to this the skill required to shear a squirming sheep and you begin to see why it is a job for a professional.
Paul has been shearing for years and quite the expert although he has many other skills besides shearing; he is also our local butcher, and builds polytunnels for arable farming. Living and working in Cornwall Paul is typical of many successful work men having more than one string to their bow to keep a steady income running all year round.
Farmer Nick decided that while the sheep were all captured it was a perfect opportunity to worm and treat them all for fleas and mites. Once Paul had finished with them it was over to Nick for an injection and dosing behind the ear. The lambs escape being sheared in their first year but are still susceptible to the hazards of the outdoors so they were all treated by Nick along with their Mothers.
Paul worked away for two hours in the heat barely stopping for a breath. We alerted the guests and Farmer Ted lost his audience at the deer field as everyone crowded round to see a craftsman at work.
However it wouldn’t be a Coombe Mill feed run if there wasn’t a job for the children too. We still had Rambo the Ram to catch and lead over to the field. He has been living in the nursery for the past couple of weeks for a foot infection which has taken three vet prescriptions to cure! Anyway Nick went in with some of the older children and chased him round the field before Rambo cornered himself and they were able to rope his horns. With the children on one side and Nick on the other they led him over to the Deer shed.
He was tied up outside to wait his turn and after a few tugs on the rope conceded that the lush patch of grass in front of him would suffice!
Back in the field the sheep all looked ready for summer and free of their winter layers, I hope we are finished with the cold weather now or they are going to be running for their field shelter.
All that remains is to find a weaver to donate our pile of Jacobs’s fleeces now lining the deer shelter floor!
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.
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