Farmer Boy, Chapter 14

Science
Sheep Shearing
One source of clothing for the family was sheep. But it was a long process from sheep to garment. When the weather turned warm, the sheep had to be washed before having their fleece cut off. The fleece bundles were then stored until they were taken into town to be combed or carded on a machine. Roots and barks were gathered and boiled to make dye. Mother dipped long pieces of wool into the hot dye then hung them on the clothesline. In the winter Mother used a loom to weave the yarn into cloth. The last step was cutting and sewing the garment.

Sheep
Kingdom – Animal
Phylum – Chordata (having backbones)
Class – Mammal (live birth, warm blooded, fur, milk for young)
Order – Artiodactyla (even-toed, hoofed animals)
Sub-Order – Ruminant (cud chewing)
Family – Bovidae
Genus – Ovis (Sheep)
Species – O. aries (domestic sheep)

Almanzo watched and helped as the sheep were getting sheared. Sheep go by many names depending on the gender and age:

Lamb– young sheep
Ewe – female sheep
Ram – male sheep
Group - flock

Sheep have been domesticated throughout history. Sheep were not native to the United States, but like cattle were in fact brought here from Europe by Christopher Columbus.

Like cattle, sheep are ruminants, meaning they chew their cud. They have a huge four-chambered stomach. When they eat, the food passes down the esophagus to the rumen where it is broken down and formed into small balls of cud. As it desires, the sheep will return the cud back to its mouth, where it will be chewed up some more to further break up the fibers. It will then reswallow the food, where it will go through the rumen, on to the reticulum, then to the omasum, and finally to the abomasums, the true stomach. In the abomasums, enzymes are secreted and normal digestion takes place.

God designed the teeth of sheep the same as cattle. They are grazing herbivores, so they have no need for sharp upper canines like a carnivore has. Instead, they have teeth designed for grinding. Their bottom front incisors and canines bite against a horny pad in the upper jaw. The back molars are broad and high crowned, with enamel ridges for grinding. Sheep eat grass and hay.

Sheep are raised for their wool, for their skin, which is made into fine leather, for meat, and some varieties are raised for milk.

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