Our dear friend, and advisor for all things ovine, had her shearing day a couple of weeks ago, and she kindly accepted my offer of assistance (which turned out, of course, to be more education for me than help for her).
There are not as many shearers working these days, although there are few starting out and trying to gain more practice. Ian is quite experienced, and handled the ewes and rams with relative ease, making it look far easier than it is.
Hazel would have been uselesss, had she been allowed to tag along. Cashel watched attentively, although his owners (also there to help with the skirting) say he is a real chicken at heart…just don’t tell the sheep.
Our job was to gather the fleece, lay it out on the skirting table to pick off the dirty bits, and then roll it up to be packed for the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers to ship to Toronto.
Many shepherds end up composting or burying their fleeces, because the price per pound of wool doesn’t pay for the cost of the shearer, let alone the cost of skirting, packing and shipping for processing. As a fibre enthusiast, I love the look of the fleeces…rolled and ready to be turned into wool, blankets, carpets, sweaters, artwork, etc. – I can’t imagine burying this beautiful resource, despite its limited commercial value.
Ian sheared close to 100 ewes that day, with the 5 hearty rams left until the end – a far greater endeavour than our 23+1. We are actually expecting our shearer any day now, and while I will be skirting and rolling fleeces, there won’t be any shipping involved – I’m looking foward to dealing with it all right here at Ironwood (one more thing to distract me from updating this blog, however!). hj