How to Wash a Sheep

sheepA clean sheep will produce a clean fleece, with less waste and a higher yield. Long before sheep were “dipped” in ghastly pesticides, they were, when it was warranted, washed. Small streams were ideal for this, for they could be temporarily dammed, and a pool formed. If the stream had a gravel bed, so much the better, as little muck would be churned up by the actions of the washers. Sheep, fouled with mud and matted droppings, were driven into the pool. Not surprisingly when one considers the amount of air trapped in the fleece, sheep float – and are also strong swimmers. Sometimes a good, wet, rubdown would be all that was needed; if required, a dilute solution of washing lye (made from wood ash) was scrubbed over the beast. Once released the sheep swam for the nearest bank, to dry in the sun.

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