Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sheep Shearing, Take 2

I was all psyched up to shear my sheep the proper way, by standing them on their rumps and shearing them the way the pros do, but after one sheep I was sweaty, tired and my back was sore.  So I put away my pride and illusions and put the rest of the sheep in the head gate and sheared them the way a duffer would.

I learned a few things along the way.  Next time I'm going to put a halter on the sheep and tie them in place with a rope on each side.  It would make shearing the necks much easier.

I still had to plop the sheep on their rumps to shear their bellies and their necks.

Here is the second "blow" up the neck. The first blow is the hardest because you have to plow through a thick tangle of wool.  The big advantage of the traditional shearing method is that each position stretches the sheep's skin so that the shearers ride through smoothly.  Note that here for instance the sheep's head is pulled back so that there is a smooth line from the brisket to the jaw.

I sheared Gunnar last of all.  By this time I was getting the hang of it and minimizing second cuts,  which create strands of wool that are not good for handspinning.

Turns out that Gunnar was my best customer.  He stood still and didn't flinch.  I really had to wrestle with him to get him on his rump, but once there he was docile when I sheared his belly.  I heartily thanking him afterwards.  After all those flighty, jumpy ewes and lambs it was great to have a calm customer.

Marja helped me throughout.  She held the shears while I repositioned the sheep, gathered up the wool, swept sheep berries off the board, and took these pictures.

Uh, oh....who let the cat outta the bag?

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