Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sheep Shearing

Sheep are generally sheared twice a year, in the fall and in the spring. I wanted to harvest their fleeces so that we could experiment with spinning and felting, and possibly use the wool in Marja's handwoven rugs. I wasn't sure if I could get a shearer out just for three sheep, so I bought a pair of hand shears and decided to give it a try.

A real shearer would have plopped Gunnar up on his rear, but I didn't feel like wresting with him while trying to learn how to use the handshears. Besides, my back was sore that day.

This is the sheep version of the "home haircut". I wound up making a lot of second cuts, but I gradually got the hang of it. I might have continued with the other two, but my sore back was protesting, so I decided to rest it for a couple of days before another round.

Gunnar was mostly white in full fleece, but his undercoat was full of dark spots.

The following day I got a call from Paul, a professional shearer with whom I had left a message earlier in the week. He was willing to come out for even a couple of sheep. I was surprised that he brought his entire shearing rig out. The motor powers the shears through the hanging drive cable .

Paul uses a hinged piece of plywood for a shearing floor and wears a pair of shearing slippers - which allow him to slide his feet easily against the sheep as he changes the sheep's positions.

He has been shearing sheep for over twenty years and makes it look easy. He's very calm and handles the sheep firmly, but gently.

Sigrid with her new haircut.

Sonja had a particularly beautiful fleece.

Gunnar got a clean buzz so he wouldn't look so out of place with his newly shorn flockmates. Paul had no trouble manhandling Gunnar either. You need a lot of upper body strength and most importantly, a good back, for this kind of work. It was a pleasure to watch.

No comments:

Post a Comment