Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sheep Shearing 101

I grew up on a farm with about 30 milking Holsteins, 40 chickens...and about 800 sheep.
So when I saw in the local paper that there was going to be a sheep shearing demonstration at a local park, I just had to go and see if it was still being done the same old way.

It was.
Local Shearer, Judd Rendden

I remarked to the man next to me who had taken a class in Montana on shearing...
that Judd was wearing a white shirt!  Shocking!
Well, he was doing a demo.
Lanolin grease and other darker substances were already nicely staining it after 3 sheep.

Very nice talk...lots of young children attending the demo.

'Fond' memories of wrestling sheep from out of corners of pens.
This gal is a Dorset...all 250 or so pounds of her.
We had Suffolks and Columbians and everything in between.

Amazing, how once set in place, they just kinda sit there.

Just fyi, for those who have not raised sheep and are thinking of getting some.  We lost a few sheep thru the years, from them just somehow ending up on their back in the pasture and not finding them in time.  They can not get back up by themselves.  Rare, but it does happen. 

Same can happen with a cow, usually if they just delivered a calf.  If they somehow find themselves on a steep sloping hill with their legs up the hill and body below...they may find themselves without the energy to roll themselves over or their body weight distribution deters this.
Just the reality / facts of raising animals and the crazy things that can happen.

Same old shearing shears, but attached to electric cord. 
No pulley and gas set up here.

Old fashioned clippers demonstrated too.

Gorgeous, fluffy fleece pealing off.

...always felt sorry for the poor girls...left naked and funny looking.

We used to take the fleece and clean out the major 'distractions' and place it in the middle of a board contraption that was set with twine, then each corner raised up until you had a nice square bale of wool all tied up and ready to send off to the wool co-op.
Now they apparently they have a compressor to do it for you.
I will always remember the smell of gas from the shearing machine, and the lanolin scent mixed with the scent of tar used to cover the cuts that come along with the territory with sheep shearing.

Not necessary in cooler climates, but had to tar cuts in the muggy, summers of the Midwest...  to prevent flies from laying eggs and creating maggots.  I am sure there are other methods now.
(Addendum:  Catron is now used)
Will not go into what maggots can do right now.
... Maybe in another blog about realities of farming...will have to post with a not enter for those without strong stomachs.

New fangled shoes made out of all the rage for shearers I hear!

In all...great demo and wonderful that young and old alike... can still go and see how it is still done

                                all photos copyrighted 2011

Interested in sheep raising in general?