Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sheep Shearing Newbies and the Very Bad Haircut

Mom - remember the famous haircut you gave me in kindergarten?  Well - I can top that by a mile!  Today was sheep shearing day - way later in the season than it should have been for various reasons.  You know how there are things in life that just have to be done and because you're the one standing there - you get the job.  That's how it was.  I made several calls to nearby sheep shearers and didn't get a response...time flew by with everything else going on at the farm add to that the weather being murderously hot so yesterday we faced the fact that we were going to have to do this ourselves.  

How hard could it be? (famous last words!) We watched several youtube videos and I had already read every sheep book I had on hand (which is saying a lot because I own MANY)  We knew we would just have to do it and learn as we went.  Yesterday we stopped by our local TSC store and picked up the shearers - an Oster Shearmaster for $399.00 for those of you who want to know specifics.

I brought backup.  Without my kids - I wouldn't have gotten the job done.  The youtube videos by Kent Gwilliam show the proper way to do things but by the end we just mowed the fleece off in whatever manner we could in order to get it over with.  Our guinea pigs I mean sheep put up with a lot.  Once we managed to catch them and flip them over on their backs into the proper position we realised that this was going to take awhile!  Holding them in that position while cutting is MUCH harder than it looks.  With arms, legs and backs shaking from fatigue and sweat pouring off our faces we did manage but OH dear - this is one job you have to finish once you start so we got creative.  It took three of us but we finally figured out that if one of us - mostly me - held the sheep by the head she would actually just stand still without much struggle.  My daughter and I traded off clipping and she did a great job under the circumstances.

They look absolutely ridiculous!  More like old yellowed foam that had been left outside for a few months.  We started off thinking maybe we could shear the fleece off in one big piece like the pros - in the end it was just chunks but we didn't care.

Two sheep created this 3 X 1.5 X 3 foot cube of wool.  That must be like wearing 5 winter coats at a time.  They did look relieved afterwards but I wasn't sure if that's because the shearing experience was over or they were enjoying being cooler and lighter and much thinner.

We knicked them in a few places due to our incompetence so we rubbed on some Polysporin and we'll check them over the next few days to make sure no infection sets in. After we let them out in the field we stood back to watch for a minute and I turned to see my daughter in tears - she felt bad for cutting them by accident.  After a little cry, a hug and a few words about how we did the best we could and we're still learning and they will be fine we went off to do the rest of the barn chores. Next year will be better.

I've mentioned before that farming is not for the faint of heart.  Some days you have to do things you would rather not do or that are at the far end of your abilities.  That's life isn't it?  We can choose to sit in our safe little worlds where we never challenge ourselves to do new and different things or we can step out into new territory and grow and learn.  Life can be rough and tough and dirty and messy - I wouldn't have it any other way - it's the price of being truly alive in my world. 


  1. You're so brave! Way to go! I would feel badly, too, for cutting them, but even men cut themselves while shaving and they fare alright. With all the heat we've been having, it was a job that had to be done!

    Have you ever heard of Dorper sheep? They are a breed that shed their wool--no shearing necessary!

  2. Thanks Brenda! Dorpers are sounding better all the time :) We still haven't sheared Mr.Sheepie either - we decided we were already tired and we didn't want to deal with him and his horns today. He was pretty upset with the whole situation so I'm not sure how we're every going to catch him!


Join the family - join the conversation - share your own adventures - I LOVE comments!