The pictures say it all!
Last fall, I took this picture of Long-Suffering Husband and Shetland musket ewe Nugget. He was tipping her while we were having a "Spa Day" for the flock. You know, trimming nails, checking fleece, worming, shots, etc. The sheep don't really seem to mind too much but it is really tough on human backs. Tipping a sheep involves flipping them on their butt into a seated position, which subdues them. Of course, we have to catch them first. We don't quite have the technique down yet so our backs ache afterwards. WE need a spa day after the sheep have theirs!
Long-Suffering Husband (LSH) isn't crazy about the sheep. Actually, he much prefers the llamas but suffers me the sheep because I enjoy them and their woolly little selves. Sigh... In spite of this fact, he does help out ALOT, doing 95% of fence building, barn repairs, dirt moving, ALL the manure shoveling, most of the water hauling and a good percentage of the hay feeding. Because he and I sweat and toil on the farm and work off the farm also, I thought it would be wise to perhaps try to save our backs.
To that end, I purchased a portable head gate so we wouldn't need to tip the sheep as often. It came from www.vkvboers.com in southwestern Minnesota. It's portable, lightweight and affordable. I will add more chain or bungee cord to make it work a bit better for our situation. It fits the Shetlands and is adjustable so it will work on the larger sheep as well. I think if I put a bit of nice hay down, the sheep would have something to much on and hardly notice they were restrained.
We used the head gate to restrain two of our rams, Roundabout Costello, a musket flecket, and Roundabout Baab, a white spot carrier. In mid-March, we rooed these two boys. They both have nice, soft, crimpy fleece and they were starting to lose quite a bit of their lovely fleece on the fences. I checked out a few websites on how to roo (hand pluck) a fleece. It only took a few minutes and LSH had the technique well in hand (so to speak.)
Above is Roundabout Costello in an interesting pose... I think he is musket flecket. His fleece is very, very light in color with just a hint of grey and very creamy white at the base. Any opinions?
One thing I learned while rooing the sheep is that I was skirting at the same time. I only rooed what you see in the photo. I let the shearer finish the rest. The rooed fleece is very clean. I haven't gone through the sheared fleece yet so I will see then how much more usable fleece is left. Next year I will roo again. It didn't take long and it was enjoyable!