Dear Curiosity Journal,

If I had to sum up our 2024 shearing attempt in a few words, they would be rookies, exhausting, and humbling. This is only our second shearing with our flock, going off of YouTube videos, observation of one in-person professional job, and the not-super-helpful clipper instruction manual. I’m signed up for the UW Extension Shearing School, but that doesn’t happen until December. As many of you know, we have the added obstacle of our wool being chocked full of VM (vegetable matter – mostly burdocks). We started off the morning with big ambitions to shear the entire flock, along with an hour-long preamble of setting up and learning the new clippers. We ended up accomplishing one ewe and one lamb and had to call it a day after breaking a tooth on one of the cutting combs and running out of mental/emotional/physical energy. All I can say is that it’s harder than it looks. I’m just happy that no one got hurt too badly. To add insult to injury, I decided to put the new sheep suits (wool coverings) on post shearing (because I’m determined to have clean wool next year), which caused additional mayhem. Cauliflower (unshorn) decided she was going to repeatedly headbutt the shorn/coated gals. I’m guessing it was that they looked and smelled dramatically different. I remember there being some headbutting last year, but not as severe. I believe they are reestablishing their pecking order after a big change, and they are also stressed. I read that their heart rate and breathing are elevated for up to 5 days post shearing because of the high cortisol levels when you put them in the submissive positions. I ended up putting a coat on Cauliflower, even though she hasn’t been shorn, to curb her aggression. It technically worked, but she charged up and down the pasture, giving mega chaos vibes, and freaking out the other sheep. She didn’t really settle down until it got dark. I monitored them for the rest of the day and learned that I ordered the coats to fit them with full wool on, but they are too big now that they are shorn. Sheep can change up to 4 coat sizes during the cycle of their wool growth, so the lamb coats fit the adults, but I’ll need to order a few more. Somehow finishing 2 sheep instead of all 6 still felt like a pretty big accomplishment. It was certainly one heck of a learning experience.