As a shepherd of a wool producing flock-fleece quality remains top on my list year round. In the winter, our sheep wear coats to protect their fiber from hay contamination. I peek under the coats from time to time to be sure their fleeces do not felt as their fiber grows longer and longer.  On cold days, my fingers linger in the warmth of the ewe’s wool. Once sheared, the ewes no longer wear their coats and by early summer they have grown a couple of inches of wool. The spring and summer rains keep their fleeces clean. I find I cannot resist delving my fingers into their locks of growing wool-parting them to peek at the soft curls.

When moving the sheep to new pastures, I scan the field for any plants that may present a problem to the wool. Our biggest intruder seems to be burdock. I am convinced that the person who brought the first burdock plant to this country did not own sheep! Traditionally-burdock’s healing properties have been used as a detox remedy as well as a treatment for various skin disorders. Some countries even eat burdock. Our fields seem to abound with burdock and the prickly little burrs that it produces! Perhaps I need to begin harvesting the roots and making my own tinctures to sell. The burrs present nothing but shear agony to me and the sheep as they grow in abundance and stick to everything!

This weekend we went out into the fields to cut down the burdock. The sheep seemed amused by our activity and all of them hung around sniffing and investigating our work. Tere made sure that the tractor did not present a threat to the sheep and kept a close watch over us. We in turn, enjoyed the chance to snuggle up to the lambs.