We sheared early last spring and also early this fall. Fall? Well, it certainly doesn’t feel like fall with temperatures still in the 90’s and no end in sight but we have just sheared anyway. Shearing always happens twice a year for goats but exactly when is totally up to the logistics of scheduling. Breeders generally try to shear before the kids arrive – birthing is just so much cleaner and easier without all that fleece to get in the way. I’m not a breeder but my shearer travels to this part of Texas for several of us and Cynthia Lurex is a breeder. She asked if we could shear early last spring before her kids arrived and that was fine with me. We sheared on the first of March. Six months after that would be the first of September but we didn’t quite make it that far.
We have another person in this general area that has several goats that didn’t get sheared this past spring. We have hooked her up with Stephen Franco, our wonderful shearer, so she will be on the same rotation we are from now on. Because her goats really, really, really needed to be sheared and because Cynthia has some old goats that were having trouble with the heat we decided to shear early this fall. I also have a couple of goats that were looking like they needed the relief of getting rid of their fleeces so I was happy to agree.
Stephen was out here on July 13th to shear. Early this summer I moved my goat herd across the property to the far side. That move was all because of the parasites. For as long as we have been on this property, the goats have had the right side pastures and the horses have been on the left side. The llamas and alpacas have been in the middle. That’s the way we designed it when we built the fences and the shelters. The goats have been in the same pastures for years now and with each passing year the re-infection by their parasites becomes more and more likely. Fortunately, the horses and goats do not share parasites so moving them into a pasture previously inhabited by horses would be fine. I moved the goats across the property to the front pasture on the left hand side. The horses were moved up one pasture towards the back and llamas and alpacas stayed where the sprayers are so they can continue to keep cool in the heat.
It was an easy and uneventful move. But now that Stephen was coming to shear, it was time to walk the goats back across the property to the barn. The goats usually know where we are going and are willing to follow me. I always entice them with something to eat like a bucket of feed or in this case a bunch of sunflowers. There is no part of the sunflower that isn’t good for goats. The flowers, the stems, the roots are all tasty morsels and usually keep the goats happily following along behind me.
Taking them back to their pasture after the shearing was a bit more problematic. I had only a bucket of feed this time which while of interest is not quite as riveting as sunflowers. They wandered this way and that trying out the rich green grass around the trees (my husband has been faithfully watering the trees since we stopped getting any rain several months ago), checking out my roses and tasting the acorns on the ground. Chaucer, one of my oldest goats, was convinced that even though we came out the front of the barn we were really headed for the goat pen at the back of the barn. Home is wherever home is regardless of some crazy shepherd changing the rules. We spent some time wrangling Chaucer but all the goats made it safely back to the pasture of my choice, if not theirs.