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My general goal when acquiring farm animals is for them to benefit us in at least two ways without our having to eat them. The laying hens provide us with eggs, but we also use them to eat weeds and till up the soil before we plant the garden. They eat scraps we would have otherwise thrown away.

The goats will provide us with milk, but they will also eat brush and help us “park out” our land.

That leaves fiber animals and bees, neither of which we have yet acquired. After conducting a lot of research on fiber goats (Pygoras and Angoras), I am back to thinking about Cormo sheep. They will provide us with wool and act as “muses” or mascots for the writers in the Writer’s Refuge. (How could they not with names like “Walden” and “Thoreau?”)

To expose ourselves to the annual Big Event of raising sheep, we went to Chris Lubinski’s to help out on shearing spa day.

Eifion started out by giving each sheep a pedicure.

He gave each one an oral dose of medicine, and then moved on to the cut-and-style.



My (self-appointed) job was to take the fleeces from Eifion to Chris and Molly, who were skirting the fleeces. In this picture, Chris and Molly were joined by their husbands, Dave and Jerry.

Skirting the fleeces

It was a cold day, but the freshly shorn fleeces were still body-temp warm on the inside. As I carried them all bunched against my chest, I began to smell more and more like the fleeces–a mixture of damp wool, lanolin, hay, and manure. Afterward, I carried the smell with me to the farm supply store and realized I kind of liked it.

Eifion is from Wales. There was a big rugby game going on that day, and it was killing him to miss it. He kept checking his cell phone to see if his brother, who was watching the game back in the U.K., had sent him a text message with the score. Here’s Dave checking for text messages.