After bringing home our latest additions to the farm family, I set out to shear them (or finish shearing in Hamlet’s case). I wasn’t planning to do this until late fall, but the previous owner assured me that they needed to be de-fleeced as soon as possible. Yikes!
My pre-goat purchase reading had told me that they don’t much enjoy electric shears, and since I didn’t really have time to cozy up to these goats, I figured I’d try to make it as easy as possible for them. So, not having access to real shears (it was a Sunday), I bought a pair of kitchen scissors from my local Target. In retrospect, the goats probably could have a waited a few days for me to get real shears…but oh well.
Here are some pre-shearing photos:
Hubby and I put Ivan’s halter on him, tied him to a post in the barn and I set to work. Did I mention I had NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING? Because it’s true. I found myself apologizing to this poor goat for my lack of shearing skills. Many, many times.
I remember reading that when you shear an animal, you need to be careful to cut each lock only once so that you get the maximum staple length and eliminate small stray bits of fiber. WAY easier said than done! The fiber I sheared is all kinds of crazy lengths; I was constantly shearing locks a second time – it’s kind of hard to avoid doing it with scissors, though. Everything is all tangled together and you’re trying to figure out what’s wool and what’s flesh so you don’t nick the poor beast – all while going quickly. After I was done, I had to go back and even it all out so I wouldn’t have a mess of lengths next time.
Ivan, by the way, was a total CHAMP. For the most part, he stood there calmly while I hacked his coat to bits. The whole process took about 1.5 hrs, which would win me no shearing competitions. And I did manage to cut the poor guy once – I felt AWFUL, I still do – I apologized to this goat PROFUSELY. He didn’t even flinch when it happened, so I didn’t notice it until I went back to even things out. It was about a 1cm cut and the bleeding had stopped by the time I noticed it. Poor guy!
Hamlet, meanwhile, was standing there watching us the entire time. We tried to block him in the outside portion of their pen, but he kept bleating and insisted on being in the room with Ivan, so we let him back in. He just stood and watched. He’d creep up behind me slowly, while I tried to both ignore him and brace myself for getting head-butted. But all he did was stand there. Hubby tried to corner Hamlet so we could finish his shearing, but Hamlet was having none of it. I was tired (and got a heinous blister from the kitchen scissors) and Hamlet wasn’t cooperating, so we just called it a day.
Here’s Ivan post-shearing:
I’m sure he’s MUCH cooler now! Even though he wouldn’t let me get at his belly & hind legs. Oh well. Hamlet’s hiding behind him, as usual.
And clearly Hamlet needs to be next – yikes!
Now I have all this fleece to process and – yet again – have no idea what I’m doing. I’m currently pouring over blogs / websites to figure out how to turn this lovely wool into a fabulous skein of yarn. More adventures with goats & fleece to come!