Monday, October 15, 2012

Sheep Shearing

Last Friday, we helped out at a friend's sheep farm on shearing day.

(Direct link to video) Here's a one-minute video. We started by bringing in the sheep from their pastures. After they were shorn, we did the "skirting." Skirting a fleece means removing the short, dirty, or matted fibers.

I drew a couple of portraits of the Icelandic sheep using watercolorwatercolor pencils, and gouache in a watercolor notebook.

Then we went into the farmhouse for a feast of chicken soup, homemade bread, potato salad, sandwiches, and peach/berry cobbler.

I kept thinking of the 1880 painting called "Shearing the Rams" by Tom Roberts of Australia.
For information about purchasing sheep, fiber, or pasture-raised lamb, visit the website for the Dancing Lamb Farm in Earlton, New York.

Check out my
 other videos or subscribe to the James Gurney YouTube channel.
Music on the video is by Kevin MacLeod.
Sheep shearing on Wikipedia


Steve said...

Wonderful portraits...we're now traveling in northern Scotland after 11 days in Ireland. In both places, we've been told a traffic jam is too many sheep in the road.

Vladimir Venkov said...

I love your videos James. They are so down to earth. The sketches are great too.

Aaron said...

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

Sorry :) all the wonderful images just reminded me of that old shaker song. To steve, When I was visiting Edinburgh, we took a day trip to loch lomond, and at one point had to stop to let a sheperd cross by with his flock. :) it does happen.

Carol said...

A shearing question: don't the sheep need their warm fleeces heading into the winter? Or does it regrow fairly quickly?
Great looking animals (and drawings!) ...

Anonymous said...

Wonderful to see the old farm; nostalgia in a gut-wrenching way. I love the illustration of shearing down under. Those Merino sheep have fleeces that are big, heavy, and absolutely soaked with lanolin, it almost drips of them. Hope you all are well. --Harry

Anonymous said...

Looks like FUN! - mp

Rich said...

What a sparkle you put in those eyes!
Is there such a vast gap between us and those animals?
Also loved all the pens and pencils in your hand -the whole armature;-)

Erika Baird said...

I had to shear a half-feral ram for my job last year at a dude ranch. A partner and I were in charge of the 'small animals' and he'd gone wild for two years on their rather ample property before they caught him again. A painting of his shearing would look quite different than this one :) The painting is lovely, and the sheep look like they're at least familiar with everything, ours was a dirty, kicking sort of affair but eventually got done. I love that long wool on the Icelandic sheep especially.

James Gurney said...

Carol, I wondered about that, too, but I was told it's not too cold for yet for them. Being Icelandics, they love the cold. They'll start growing back their fleece before the winter gets serious.

Erika, Yes, those rams in the Roberts painting look awfully docile. Even the lambs are pretty strong and they often struggle quite a bit. But your story is amazing.

Thanks, Rich and Anonymous. Their eyes are amazing, and I was wondering how they were doing with being sheared. The farmer told me that they often have to reestablish their pecking order, because they don't recognize their fellows after being shorn.

Harry, it was so great to hear from you. Yes, many memories for us, too. All the best to you.

James Gurney said...

Steve, I was thinking you must be seeing a lot of sheep where you've been traveling.

William, thanks for mentioning those classic lyrics. The Dancing Lamb Farm lives that every day. It's a meditation--and also a lot of hard work--all mixed together.

Unknown said...

James, I wondered the same thing about these fleece free sheep heading into winter. We had sheep on our family farm growing up and we always sheared them in the spring after the cold had passed. Then they could grow back their winter coats all summer and fall. I have painted this subject a couple of times myself. Check it out if you like: