March 27, 2009

Shearing - Day 2 - Shetland Sheep

So does anyone know a good sheep shearer who would do a small flock of Shetlands, a very small flock.

I remember now why we took our first flock to be sheared by a professional. Unfortunately our shearer passed away a couple of years ago. So we thought we would/could shear our sheep and goats ourselves.

Shearing the Shetlands is new to us. Our old flock was a mixture of Suffolk and Polypay. We sheared the Suffolk with only a bit of trouble. The main issue was our equipment, what we used back then was old. Not wanting to invest in new equipment back then we found our shearer.

Now we have invested the money in shearing equipment, we find we just can't do it properly. Know too little about it even though we have watched educational videos, visited others who shear and watched our late shearer.

We worked through shearing Angus first. He did well handling the stress of being man handled and sheared. He looks a bit rough because we did not do a good job of getting him sheared smoothly. Next we sheared Kirby, he did well being handled also, but Jim knicked and cut him. Jim was so upset he hurt Kirby he didn't want to continue. I managed to finish his shearing with scissors. Kirby too is a bit raggedy looking and patchy.

No photos this go around, I was too pre-occupied.


Nancy K. said...

I'm sorry you're having trouble shearing the Shetlands. I've never tried using a motorized clippers on them but do find them pretty easy to HAND shear. You can buy a good hand shears for under $50 and they are quite fast and easy. In my opinion ~ much easier on both sheep and shepherd than electric clippers. Of course, the few that I do myself (I do pay a shearer to come in and do the majority of my flock), I just tie to a fence and kneel next to to shear. Not particularly professional but it works for me! If any of your flock can be roo'ed (plucked), that is an amazing way to remove the fleece! It's slow but the results are exquisite as most vegetable matter falls out as the locks are removed one-by-one and there are no cut ends so the resulting wool/yarn tends to be noticeably softer...

Good Luck!

Tammy said...

Hi Jama,
I just emailed you...I'm sorry it was so hard on you guys. Tell Jim though, that even the pros do a nick and cut sometimes. The sheepies will heal quickly with all that lanolin and no flies about. I'm asking about to see if I can find what others have used as far as electric blades etc. I'm like Nancy and have clipped a few by hand--using scissors and my hand clippers.
Take care,

Deb said...

I too shear out of necessity. I find shearing the shetlands to be the hardest of the three breeds I have. It's easier to shear them before the sticky rise (February) or wait until after (late May/early June). That sticky stuff is like glue and very difficult to get through! I don't like to shear in February because of the cold here in the NE but I did a few of them in March. Wasn't bad. I use electrics and use a stand - it's much easier. I have very small hands and the hand shears tire me too quickly. Having very sharp combs/cutter really helps as well.

Jim shouldn't be too hard on himself - even the best of shearers will have nicks and cuts. I've seen as bad with hand shears as electrics. Everyone had to start from scratch and practice really does improve your ability.

Is there a fiber festival near you where you could take them to be sheared? We have one here in April and so many families bring their small's a wonderful gathering and makes it worth it for the shearer to come and set up for a day's pay.

Good luck -

Mary @ Annie's Goat Hill said...

Jama, I am of no help at all. It sounds like a big job, one that I would definitely not be good at. I hope you find what you are looking for.

Small Pines said...

I was just reading a little bit about this at the forum. And I just finished that "Hit By a Farm" memoir book, lots about shearing there too. It's really fascinating to me. Anyhow, sorry it's been tricky.

Got the package late in the day today! Thanks so much! I'm going to do a blog post about it after the work weekend.

Ilene Lollis said...

I had 3 sheep that I sheared myself, I finally had to sell them becsuse they were to big for me to handle by myself. I used electric shears that I purchased from Premier1 supplies. I couldn't find a shearer here in South Carolina. Sheep heal really fast, I nicked myself a few times too. The lanolin that came off the sheep while shearing helped my nicks to heal fast also.

Pine Acres Farm said...

Ok I have a question. I have been shearing southdown sheep for 4 years and I was asked to shear two shetlands. Is shearing now a bad time or can I shear now. Also what was the general cost for shearing? I really am new to the shetland breed and I don't want to mess up. I am experienced in shearing though as I have tackled 5 Angora goats once. Please respond at my e-mail: Thank You!