The week before Easter we saw a sheep shearing demonstration at the Royal Easter Show, and watched at young kids had a go with the shearers. I thought it would be so cool to learn how to sheer so I started asking Ben’s dad about sheep (he has over 400 on the farm) and ultimately asked if he would teach me sometime. To my surprise sometime ended up being the following weekend.
The morning of the sheep shear came and Ben dressed me in his traditional shearers shirt and shorts. I’m not sure why his shirt is bright green, but I felt pretty official in the garb. We hopped in a ute (Aussie pickup truck) with his dad and dog and headed down to the shearing shed.
The shed was not what I imagined it to be. A completely tin shed (that much I could have guessed) with a machine that took up half of the bottom floor. The machine connected to three shearing tools so that you could have more than one shearer set up to get all of the sheep done faster. What you see below are just parts of the machine as it takes up so much space in the shed I couldn’t get a photo of all of it together.
Across the room were two big wooden tables and several large canvas bags. After each sheep is shorn their wool is laid out on the table and combed over. The wool is given a grade and then organized into a respective bag. The grade of wool from each sheep is measured by diameter and style, and is used to determine what it’s purpose will be.
To get the sheep ready to be shorn about 50 sheep are corralled into the shed and held in a small area.
Ben’s dad walked into the holding area and picked out one to shear. I wouldn’t advise actually picking up a sheep, but you can grab him by the legs and drag him over to the shears. He then put himself in the holster (used so you don’t strain your back during a day of shearing) and went at it.
The sheep he was shearing was so stubborn; he flailed and kicked around the whole time. I was a bit nervous with this guy, so I just watched as the wool came off, helped collect it, and lay it out on the table. After a sheep is finished being shorn he is sent down a ramp, through what looks like a large doggy door, and back outside free to roam the rest of the day.
As we were prepping to shear the next sheep, the one I would be helping with, that stubborn sheep ran up the ramp and all over the shed. After a little cornering he got his butt dragged back outside.
Alright, now it’s my turn.
We got the next sheep and got set up. After Ben’s dad started shearing for a few minutes before calling me over and handing me the shears. I was so nervous I was going to hurt the sheep while I was doing it, but once I got the hang of it, and the confidence, I finished the sheep off without any help!
We only shorn two sheep that day, as sheep are usually shorn before the summer months and not in the middle of the fall. I am doubtful my sheep shearing skills will get me a real job on the farm, but I looking forward to a big sheep shearing day this spring to see the pros at work!