It's that time of year.
The shearing floor is swept clean. The skirting table set up. Its shearing time!
Just to the right of the shovel in the above pic is a 'saloon' door that swings in/out. The shearer can with one or two steps reach into the catch pen to pull out each sheep in turn for their shearing. When each is done and released they jump down to the floor at the left of the table and run out the door (where I stood to take pic) to join their friends in the yarn.
The skirting table is a simple wood frame with chicken wire stretched over it. Each fleece is laid out on the table as it comes of the sheep and skirted - bits of poop, vegetative matter pulled off, then the good portion of the fleece is rolled and bagged.
Its pouring rain but at least the forecast was accurate, so I brought everyone into the barn last evening just before the rain began. I put the winter storm windows back in place to keep as much of the rain out as possible.
One year it rained so hard, and the wind was so strong, that the rain blew through the spaces between the barn boards and soaked the sheep. (Shearing had to be cancelled - can't shear wet sheep!)
Last night when I brought the flock into the barn I gave them a treat of some second cut alfalfa hay I saved for the occasion. That was the last meal until they are shorn. It is desirable for their comfort and for the quality of the fleece that they have fairly empty bellies going to the shear floor. This is more comfortable for them sitting on their bums, and also eliminates them peeing and pooping on the shear floor and into their fleece.
But that's a long time for the lambs to be off feed, so I have one section of the barn set up where they can continue eating.
A creep gate separates this area off from the mothers - the spaces between the boards in the gate are wide enough for the lambs to pass through,but not the mothers.
I checked the flock this morning and they are nice and dry even with the heavy rain overnight. Now fingers are crossed that they stay that way until the shearer arrives this afternoon.