On February 13, the outside temperature rose to almost 60 degF! Late in the afternoon, we heard sounds of rushing water. To our amazement, the north pasture looked like a small river! Upon investigating we discovered large amounts of water running off of the surrounding hills and into the drainage gully which runs through our land; thewater was coming from rapidly melting snow. The gully was blocked with snow drifts and ice, so the run-off came out of the banks of the gully and ran across our pasture on its way toward the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River. The water then began backing up at our northwest corner, threatening to breech into our corral. We spent the next two hours digging out a pathway for the water away from our property.
Benjamin digs with the tractor while Doug chops at the ice and snow to break up a blockage.
Doug takes a break and surveys the rushing water.
The tractor and loader made the work easier and faster. Our steers came over to watch the activities.
The steers acted like they were stranded!
As the sun set, the temperatures dropped below freezing again, and the flow of water gradually declined. Were we tired!
Ebony and Esther arrived last Sunday afternoon. Belvedere and Edison are the parents of these two little girls.
Ebony was born quickly and easily. Esther's birth proved to be very difficult as she was not in the correct position to be born. Shepherdess Emily worked to reposition her and after about an hour, Esther was born!
Shearing Day is probably the busiest and most important day of the year for Grace Valley Farms. All the prayers, planning, preparation, work, care, assistance, and challenges are realized on this Day. Friendships and the associated willing hands are key to making Shearing Day successful. As the sheep were shorn and the fleeces brought to the skirting table, many oohs, aahs, and wows were exclaimed! The beauty and variety of God's creation are evident in the naturally-colored wool ... from bright white, to silvers with a bluish cast, all different shades of gray, chocolates with a hint of brown, charcoals, and black with and without silver strands ... WOW! We wish there was some way all of you could see and feel the marvels of wool. To give you a glimpse of the excitement and beauty, please enjoy the following photos.
Early in the morning, we brought all our girls into the Barn near the shearing floor to await the start.
Benjamin and others assisted the shearer mount the shearing motor. The motor turns a rotating shaft which in turn powers the shears. Bright lighting was provided to assist him in his important role; some thought it looked like a surgery room!
Dale was the first sheep to be sheared. Everyone had a job assignment.
Dinah being shorn while Carolyn waits her turn in the chute.
Belvedere's fleece being worked on by the ladies of the skirting team. This initial skirting removes most of the wool which does not meet our standards for quality and cleanliness.
Heather, one of our full-blood Hampshires being shorn. She is a big girl!
DonnaLisa being shorn, while the men of the shearing crew look on. Each of their roles is critical in ensuring proper care for the sheep and a quality product for our customers.
Doug throws Desibelle's fleece out on the skirting table. A good throw will lay the fleece out on the table with only minor adjustments to the position on the table.
Mid-way through shearing, we stopped and took a break.
There were juice drinks, coffee, and muffins available for the mid-morning snack.
Ashley and Bekah enjoy shearing day.
Hannah, Hattie, and Dale enjoy their breakfast; they were not quite sure if they enjoyed their haircuts!
Immediately after a sheep was sheared, Doug and Robert skirted off the head and belly wool. Here, they are working on Daniel's fleece.
Aaron, Nathan, and Benjamin were the Un-coating crew; they were instrumental in queuing the sheep, removing coats, and ensuring the next sheep was always ready.
Carolyn, one of our Romney-Hampshire cross ewes being sheared. The Coating crew is on the left. The Sweepers, in the background, had the important job of keeping the shearing floor clean.
The Skirting Team in action (background). With such a big crew, it is important to be organized. Sample bags and identification tags (foreground).
The ladies of the skirting team hard at work on Daisy's fleece.
As the day proceeded, more of the girls joined in a nice meal of green hay!
After all the ewes were sheared, it was the ram's turn. Here they are waiting for their coats to be removed.
Edison and Foreman, now with their coats off, move down the chute.
Edison went first. Foreman tried to escape when Edison was taken out of the chute, but he didn't make it far; Robert made a nice catch!
Edison being shorn. He was a handful for the shearer.
Edison "haircut" is almost complete. What a beautiful fleece! Very soft for a ram. Silvers with black strands and a uniform wavy crimp. His skirted fleece finished out at 8 pounds! We are very pleased to see the quality of his wool being reproduced in his offspring.
Edison gets his new, smaller coat put on.
Foreman being sheared. Although larger and heavier than Edison, Foreman is more docile.
Foreman's fleece on the skirting table.
Success! The last fleece is finished!
A sampling of our freshly-shorn Romney fleeces.
(Clockwise: Celeste, Brooke, Clarabelle, and Dolly)