Shearing By Hand
It’s about three weeks since shearing was finished, but here is a photo of ‘flock-leader’ Dora half way through her clipping; we use Burgon And Ball hand shears (hand-powered shears – not hand-held electric clippers). With only a small flock, it is not worth the outlay on electric equipment.
We are not experts by any means, and shear the sheep while they stand rather than flip them around judo-style – when I have seen the ‘pattern’ shearing by the pros I can’t help feeling that the sheep look sedated, though maybe it’s a reflection of commercial breeds being more docile than my (wriggly) primitive Shetlands.
Dora’s fleece (like several of my darker-wooled sheep) is always much more tightly matted than the lighter coloured sheep; whereas the lighter-wooled sheep yield their fleece in smaller/looser sections if so desired, Dora’s comes off very much like a large floor mat. The ‘break’ between this and last season’s wool growth makes this a relatively simple task though (except around the belly and lower legs).
We average about 30 minutes a sheep – slow by many people’s standard, but we don’t mind mind taking the time to do a small number of sheep per session over a number of days. As well as being a self-reliant and more resilient approach (not dependent on electricity or getting in a paid shearer), It is satisfying spending the time with each animal to not only take care not to nip them, but at the same time to get a good idea of their overall condition. With the flock now up to just past 30 after lambing, next year might see us having to up our speed a little.