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Niagara Falls
Sunday, March 26, 2023
Sheepish-looking: 175 sheep shaved in pre-summer shear-a-thon

Ba-ba black sheep, have you any wool? At Linc Farms, about 1,200 pounds of it, co-owner Juliet Orazietti says.

On Monday and Tuesday, Linc Farm underwent its yearly sheep shear, shaving off the coats of the 175 or so sheep that call the farm home.

“This is sort of the only day of the year that we need this much manpower,” Orazietti said as a group of volunteers gathered about helping sort through the freshly shorn wool.

The sheep are sheared every February, “about a month before they have their lambs,” Orazietti said.

“They've gotta be clean and the lambs need to be able to find the teat. So, we get rid of all the wool that’s in the way."

After each lamb was shorn it ran full speed out of the barn to graze as if embarrassed to be seen without its cumbersome coat.

Following the two-day shear-a-thon the now-naked sheep have about 365 days to regrow their coat, she said

One sheep named Treble was a little luckier than the others. Treble had the responsibility of standing at the front of the line all day so the sheep behind felt confident taking their place in the shearing queue.

Treble’s reward for this diligence? Copious snacks and the privilege of being the last sheep to sport its fetching coat.

The farm brought in shearing master Don Metheral of the Great Lakes Shearing Co. to perform the intensive work.

“He works all over the world. So, he comes and looks after our girls just one day a year and then he’s off looking after everybody else,” Orazietti said.

“You’ve got to train at it all the time to be good and stay fit.”

"And prevent an aneurysm," Metheral added with a grin while he pulled another sheep to the shear. 

Metheral didn’t just have to shear the sheep but also keep them in place while they struggled against the process, sometimes kicking and braying as they watched their luscious locks fall away.

Indeed, any one of them, if able, would most likely have gone the way of Samson and brought the farm down on top of themselves.

But shearing is for the sheep's own good. As Orazietti noted, it enables their lambs to feed easier and keeps them free from possible parasitic infections and overheating in the warmer summer months.

The wool will be bagged and sent to various locations around Ontario and roughly 600 pounds of it will be sent to Alberta, Orazietti said.

Orazietti said she gets about six pounds of wool per sheep.

The wool will be processed into different materials such as yarn and even the soles for shoes, she said.

Volunteers were busy sweeping and helping sort through the wool to select the clean stuff from the, ahem, not so clean stuff.

“We take out the dirty wool if there’s too much hay or poop or mud in it,” Orazietti said.

The dirty wool goes into a composting bin.

“It’s nice to be closer and to get to know the animals that you might wear,” volunteer Rebecca Golding said.

Golding is a resident of Queenston and said she found out about the volunteer opportunity through a newsletter the Oraziettis put together.

There was another star of the show besides Metheral and the volunteers. An energetic corgi pup named Henry.

Henry was frantically running around the barn chewing on loose pieces of wool before quickly crashing for a nap with a fresh piece of wool to snuggle.

"He's going to be a celebrity around here," one volunteer said.

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