Thursday, 14 April 2011

Sheep shearing - how hard can it be?

You would think that with a huge flock of just three Ouessant sheep that it would not be so hard to hand shear them - well you wouldn't believe just how tiring (and satisfying) it can be.

As we've only the three, it is just not financially sensible to have them professionally done - nor is it sensible to spend hundreds of Euros on electric clippers. So the decision was made to do it the old fashioned way - by hand.

First task was to find a pair of decent shears - not so easy when you don't want to spend a fortune on something that you've never done before (and might not have again if it went badly). I did find some though on eBay Germany (here...) they were I think a very good bargain, only 15 Euros delivered.

Then, with the help of my other half and a couple of friends it was time to round up the 'flock'. This is not an easy job, we don't have a sheep dog and the sheep have been lucky to be free-ranging for the time we've had them. They've not had to be man-handled previously so were obviously quite frisky and did not really want to be caught.

Anyway, with the help of some fencing (working as sheep hurdles) we got them cornered so that we could get our hands on them. With my mate Jim keeping a good hold on the sheep, we set about shearing our first one. I was quite surprised how docile they get when they're put into the shearing position - on their back leaning against your legs.

The first girl to be done I have to admit would certainly not win any prizes in a sheep beauty contest, but she ought to be more comfortable now that her fleece has been thinned out somewhat.

Second, was the ram - he's quite a sturdy lad and strong, so he obviously wasn't too keen on what was going on. Never the less he did settle down, although with a few kicking sessions we managed to get the job done.

I'll try to get some photos of them in the next day or so, just to show how inexpert a shear I managed (or for you all to chuckle over).

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