If you have been following us on Facebook, then you know part of the story already.
Once again, we have professional shearer issues. Our new shearer, who we had an appointment in the spring with, decided that she could not shear anymore because of her health. I totally understand, but now we have no shearer and everyone is booked solid. Just a mess.
If you are a young person and wish to get rich… learn to shear sheep! At least in our part of the world, the Great Lakes area of the US, there are very few and far between good shearers! And they are always busy busy busy.
So I have taken it upon myself to try and shear my sheep. I have bought good hair cutting scissors, pet shears, hand sheep shears and just have not had much luck. And now, I went and got a pair of electric clippers, Oster A5 Goldens, used off Ebay. I have heard that many people use these for their sheep! I was so excited.
The other methods work, somewhat. They are hard to do by hand and require a good deal of patience with you and your sheep victim. Thank goodness, I tried the electric clippers with Angus, my very very patient whether. He was very happy to put up with my fumblings as long as there were snacks involved. And happy little chin rubbies.
But in the end, even saintly Angus was ticked and he finally fell of the stand and dragged it twenty feet, stomping his foot and just unhappy. I unhooked him and he ran off, never to speak to me again.
Or well, for a few minutes. Only because I still had treats.
Poor thing, he is all nasty and funky looking. The girls all laughed. He was mortified. Cooler, but mortified. He itched and itched but he still was rather unhappy with me.
It wasn’t my fault. The blade is dull. And not really the right one. I hacked and pulled and used the scissors and clipped and just made a mess of him. I managed to get one good section of top from his fleece, but the rest I pretty much massacred. It was not a pretty sight.
Ruby is watching with great interest… What the heck happened to Uncle Angus???
Oh the girls are checking him out and doing that weird little “tsk tsk” noise as they consider his hairdo. It’s pretty awful. The clipper was just not cutting through it very well.
By the time that I gather up my tools and my stool and my other bits and pieces, there were tears of frustration in my eyes. I was upset. No other way to write it. I was mad and upset and just angry over my lack of skills and ability to do something that I thought should be simple. Shear a sheep. How hard could it be? Well, it’s hard. Especially with the wrong tools and lack of knowledge.
I came in the house all hot and bothered. It was one of those moments that really made me think, “what the heck am I doing?” There are many moments like this in homesteading. It’s such a hard learning curve at times. And so many times, that hard lesson is learned with the death of an animal. Thank goodness, that is not the case today, but still, it was just so frustrating. I wanted to harvest my fleeces. I have customers waiting. The fleece is why we keep the sheep and goats. Of course, they are wonderful pals and pets, really, but they help to pay their keep with lambs and fleece. It’s not a bad trade off.
And shearing them in the spring means that they will feel cooler and be able to itch and enjoy the nice feeling of being unburdened with a huge several pound fleece! They just don’t shed their fleeces as easily as their wild ancestors did. We’ve bred them to have more heavy wool and to keep it until we harvest it. And now, I have troubles doing that. I just felt like a shepherd failure.
Well, after a good little cry and a talk with a homesteading friend, I started to feel a little better. And I thought, perhaps if I were to order the right blade for the job, a sharp new blade… things would be better. So I hopped on Amazon and found the right one, ordered it and was ready to start again.
One more time.
I think that is what homesteading is really about. Just keeping at it. Learning, trying, learning more, trying again. I wasn’t born on a farm, I wasn’t raised with the farming wisdom of my elders passed down to me. I am doing this all with a wing and a prayer, the internet and lots of books at my hand and just shear determination to give this a good try. And sometimes, it’s really hard. And sometimes, it just doesn’t work out how the books paint the picture. And still, we just keep trying.
After all, I have 6 more sheep to shear.