Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Shearing Experience

Well, I've participated in my first shearing. As did my husband.

Actually, it was my husband who arranged it and who paid for the shearer. Imagine that?

Anyway, here's how it happened: Ken and his buddy "Spider" have been patronizing a local farmer who, with his wife and daughters, raises goats and rabbits and chickens for meat. The quality of the meat is great and the cost is very reasonable. Ken and Spider also have arranged to purchase the goat hides and are working hard to perfect the art of naturally tanning the hides for cloaks, other garments and drum heads.

This summer, the farmer decided to purchase three wethered sheep for his daughters to use for a 4-H project. The three he got were Lincolns. He originally offered the hides, but I expressed an interest in the fleece. It was arranged that should we locate a shearer and pay for the sheering I would get the fleeces for no further cost.

Turns out there is a young lady who volunteers at the blacksmith shop where Ken is learning the art of forging who shears the sheep at George Washington's birthplace in the spring each year. Ken arranged to pay her $30 a head to shear the sheep. He figured that $90 was cheaper than having me go off to a festival somewhere and pay that much or more for a full fleece (or three). He's probably right.

When we arrived we found two sheep. One, had died recently -- that morning in fact, and while they offered to let us shear it; I declined as they had no idea why the sheep had died. A fourth sheep, owned by a friend, was not brought over as originally planned, so there were just two to shear.

Here they are: Larry and Curly. They are Lincolns.
Curly is the larger white one. The deceased sheep was called Mo. He was also a grey like Larry.
Here is the lovely, clean white wool under all the dirty stuff on Curly.
Here is Larry being shorn. Our shearer is the little red head and it was easier for her to have folks hold the legs of the sheep and cover it's eyes with a scarf and roll mid-way through the job.
What I liked best is that she took off the good stuff first, handed it over (basically lightly skirted) then she went back and took of the really nasty stuff and threw it away.
Here is Larry and Curly all shorn and having a snack.
I will post pictures of some of the washed and combed locks of both sheep another day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a blacksmith in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and I have been asked to demonstrate a the spring fesstival at a local sheep farm. I have been researching sheep related items I can make for the festival, and would like to make traditional shears. What I need for this project is either an old pair to reverse engineer or a pattern from which to cut the flat steel. I saw your site and mention of Ken working in a shop there, and wondered if you or Ken would be interested in collaborating on this. Apparently no company in the US, and only one in the UK,
is making these any more. I would be very grateful if you and/or Ken would be interested in helping me find or develop a pattern for these shears.

Thanks very much

Peter Hirst