Thursday, April 22, 2010

Shearing 101...or not

Well Wednesday night I went for a visit to Wendell Palmer's farm, the place where I bought my sheep from, to learn how to shear a sheep so that I could do my own. After watching him do two I tried my hand at one and managed to get a bit of it done before I was nearly dead with exhaustion and needed a break. Eventually Wendell had to tap me out and finish the sheep as it was not going that well and I was getting really sore (after only a single sheep). The shears are quite heavy and sometimes hard to control and I managed to nick the skin in a couple of places, nothing serious, but disheartening regardless. Once Wendell had finished I tried my second one and it went a lot better, although I still had Wendell finish up on the back end where there is a little more going on. He did one more and by then it was 8:30pm so it was time to go home.

I had taken the sheep shears with me as Wendell felt that I had improved dramatically from the first sheep and it was time to try it on my own. Fast forward to Thursday night...

Amanda and I had planned to get all the sheep shorn last night. The idea was that I would shear them and she would be my assistant, grabbing things for me, holding the shears, etc. Started with Rosie who is always friendly and who was quite calm when I flipped her over. I immediately found her more difficult than the sheep I had done the night before, but it wasn't too bad and I managed to get most of the wool off of her without nicking her too badly. I made it almost all the way to the back end and then let her go at that point with wool only on her rear as I needed a quick break and decided to try another sheep.

Next was Martha, mother of Snowball. She was very easy to catch and came quite readily to where I was shearing. I flipped her over and then disaster struck. She would not stop flailing her legs and kept arching her back in such strange positions that I could not get her into a good position for shearing. I ended up trying to shear her in a standing position, but found it really hard to get a good cut going. Left her with the wool off her back, but with it still on her rear, sides and underbelly. Its like a mullet for sheep.

After getting frustrated with her I decided I would try another. I finally caught Bess, our biggest ewe by a long shot, and when I finally got her flipped over (I could barely reach around her) I realized how big she really was. I was starting to shear her, but although she was relatively calm, she was flopping all over the place and I found her size to be way to difficult, plus I was really tired. I let her go and said to heck with it.

I decided eventually that I would give it once more go at Muncher, small and apparently very fast. I could not even come close to catching her as she is the wildest of the bunch. I gave up on it and packed it in.

Wendy and Rogue managed to avoid the circus act. Rogue because he is even bigger then Bess and a ram..., and Wendy because she combines a bit of the size of Bess with a bit of the wild spirit of Muncher...a recipe for sure disaster.

I will eventually try this again, or maybe get someone in there to do it, the price is generally quite reasonable, but I needed to return the shears this morning so it looks as if things are on hold for the meantime. I have learned a valuable lesson about shearing and maybe someday I can make it look as easy as the professionals.

P.S. There are some pictures floating around somewhere, but I do not have them at the moment. Will possibly be posted later if they are not too embarrassing.


Allison said...

Let's see the pictures! :-)

Mary Bergfeld said...

You tried and did your best. I wouldn't know where to begin :-). This is my first visit to your blog but I'll be back more often. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary