Friday, March 6, 2015
Well I am beat. Kinda one of those deep down tired feelings you only get from over exerting yourself. I successfully sheared about four sheep today, or more accurately did parts of four different sheep as a couple of ladies and I tagged teamed the poor ewes.
They weren't small ewes either. Not as fat as the ones we have here but I would say on average they were just as tall at the back as ours. These sheep were more light cruisers in the girth department as opposed to many of the ones around here that rate up into the battleship or dreadnaught class.
I learned three important things today though.
1. The hardest part of shearing is learning where all the good pressure points are and how to put the poor sheep into a semi-pretzel shape where they won't panic and flail around. I ended up being the one who man handled the ewes to the shearing area and that was by far the most strenuous part of the entire process. I pretty much wore myself out the first time so bad trying to get the ewe situated I almost passed out shearing her belly. After the first one however it got progressively easier as I learned how to control em better and partly because it had no other direction to go but easier :)
2. My biggest issue is I am afraid of cutting the skin to the point that I wasn't using the shears aggressively enough. I knew nicking the sheep was common but the first time I nicked one it kinda upset me (much more than the sheep to be honest) and I had some issues really digging in after that because I was adjusting so much in the other direction.
Which then causes problem number 3.
3. I wouldn't be allowing myself to shear any sheep that I really want a good fleece off of. About all I really managed to do was make a mangled mess of wool by the time I was done but at least the ewes were shaved. I was being entirely too cautious especially around the dangerous/sensitive areas like the milk vein above the udder, the tendons on the legs etc. By being so cautious I ended up cutting the fleece too short and losing the really nice wool to the second cutting.
The truth of it is that the four poor ewes we worked on did eventually get sheared. They fought, and our uncomfortable and unsure movements didn't help the situation. In fact what really allowed the entire shearing process to be completed was more the fact that the ewes finally exhausted themselves fighting us and literally just gave up. By the time we were down to finishing up the back wool they just sort of laid there with a look of sheer bored exhaustion on their faces thinking "just get it over with you idiots".
I ain't lying either I know the expression ewes get when they are so tired they cannot fight anymore and just resign themselves to their fate and that was exactly what happened.
A good shearer will shave a sheep in five minutes or so. After my day of practice I would estimate I could do a small one in maybe half an hour. Maybe four to six a day would be my limit too :)
As I said the real secret is knowing how to manipulate the sheep with the minimum amount of effort. Until you know and become comfortable with all those moves you are only getting the job done by brute force and that wears you out way too fast.
My plan is to try shearing a couple of the girls that either don't have wool we want to keep or are full of vegetable matter to the point of ruining the wool anyway. Our professional shearer is coming in three weeks so I will try and practice while he is doing the real work that way he will be here if I need him. We pay him more by the trip than number he gets done anyway so it won't effect his bottom line any.
Now excuse me while I go pass out and will catch up on comments and other blogs in the morning....
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!