We shepherd, protect and nurture about 100 sheep, give or take, plus some rams. When the sheep give birth to lambs, the ovis aries population roughly doubles — this year’s lambing gave us a bit more than 90 little ones, teeter-tottering their way across the property on spindly legs and issuing baaas like so many fledgling opera students.
All of our sheep spend most of their lives on more than 100 acres in Boulder County, where they range the property munching grass, fertilizing fields and enjoying the protection of our akbash sheep dogs, all of which are led by noble Ellwood.
During the annual shearing of the sheep, they are herded into a barn and one at a time led into a space with the shearing team. Using clippers (and decades of experience; one of the shearers this week has been at it for 40 years), the shearers remove the wool from the sheep in one giant piece, like a wool blanket. By the end of the day, all of the sheep have haircuts and we have hundreds of pounds of wool, in different colors (mainly shades of white, brown and black).
Some of the wool (which is cleaned extensively) is saved in the form of pelts, or used as pillow stuffing; both of these uses make it to the restaurants. Most of it, however, heads to Suite Sleep, a fantastic Boulder company that manufactures a wide variety of bedding products from things, like wool, that are found in nature.
Sheep deliver such richness and texture to our farming life. Caring for them is one of our favorite responsibilities.