Tuesday, March 27, 2012
recently found out
about a sheep shearing school being conducted by the University of
Kentucky at their Animal
Research Center - Sheep Unit
located in Versailles, KY. After finding out it was
only $75.00 to take the one-day course, I filled out the registration
form and sent it off with my check enclosed. Hey, I was
feeling very self-confidant and figured I would be taught by some pros,
learn how to shear, and save myself some moola (or should I say baala)
come shearing time.
Let me tell you what I, Michelle Schubert, personally learned...PAY THE PROS!!!!! Now, I'm not saying any one of you couldn't and shouldn't do your own shearing, but it is not for me.
Sheep marked with the blows to follow when shearing.
Everything started out great. We watched a PowerPoint presentation a couple of times with interruptions explaining several points in more detail, we were given a handout detailing practically every blow (what each stroke is called) to study. Hey, I did learn something. Then we learned all about the shears where I excelled and was the first to get my blades on properly. This boosted my confidence tremendously and I was ready to shear some sheep. The sheep they had us wrestling were a heck of a lot bigger and heavier than my adorable little Babydolls. And leave it to me to pull the one sheep from the pen that did not want to be put on her butt. Once I finally got her on her butt, she didn't want to stay on it. I think I managed to get one blow of her belly done. Then my instructor felt sorry for me and said she was way too feisty and he would do her. I did feel a lot better when she decided she was going to give him a hard time too.
So, on to another victim. I did manage to get her on her butt, but then couldn't seem to get any further than her belly. The idea of accidentally cutting an important part seemed to really be messing with me. And the shears are heavy. And, my biggest barrier, MY BACK WAS ALREADY KILLING ME by this time. I decided to be a quitter and let another student finish my second girl. I continued to watch everyone else with my head bowed in shame as they got their sheep sheared, slowly but surely, with surprisingly few nicks or cuts.
After lunch, we were going to be shown how to shear with the sheep on a stand. I thought to myself, okay, I can do that. Again, wrong...I still was worried about cutting important parts off, the shears were still heavy, my back didn't hurt, but I tried to cut my finger off while shearing around the sheep's ear.
At that point, I gave up, disgusted with myself. However, DO NOT let my big fat "F" in sheep shearing discourage you from giving it a go. The class was great! I loved meeting other sheep folks and seeing the UK's facility. There were two other women in the class besides me, one a tiny little thing. Both of them did not one sheep on the ground, but two sheep on the ground. Neither one of them wanted to cheat and put their sheep on a stand.
Luckily, I had made an appointment with the chiropractor for the next day with the plan I would cancel if I didn't need to see him. Guess where I'm going on Wednesday, March 28, 2012?
A couple of things all of the seasoned shearers at today's class mentioned:
Make sure your sheep are dry, check the weather the week before and keep them in the barn if necessary. Some breeds with longer wool can take many days to dry if they get wet.
Dry lot the sheep night before shearing. Sheep are more cooperative, are more comfortable, and are easier to shear on an empty tummy.
Ask for Michelle