Thursday, November 11, 2010

Harvesting Wool

The Photography Club's challenge this month is for a Harvest Picture. I may have pushed the envelope a little with the theme, but I decided to photograph sheep shearing.

Dave is a local sheep shearer (one of very few shearers around) and agreed to let me tag along with him yesterday to a farm.  They had just over 100 sheep which should take him about 3.5 - 5 hours to complete (2-3 minutes a sheep).

It isn't the most graceful of jobs - for the shearer or the sheep, but it is fascinating to watch.

Dave was working non-stop, and there were about 5 people just standing around watching - me included.  There is something about it that is a little mesmerizing.

His clippers are incredibly sharp and slice through the wool like a hot knife through butter.

He manages the sheep in such a way that they don't struggle and generally just sit there while he works.  When he is done, they calmly stand up and walk away.

At one point in my life I actually considered becoming a sheep shearer and went with Dave to a few jobs.  In the end I decided I wouldn't have the physical strength to wrestle the sheep and I also didn't feel I had the knowledge.

When Dave is shearing, he gets an up close and personal look at the sheep - it is probably one of the only times in the year they are touched - and he is often pointing out issues that the farmers may have yet to notice. I know with time that knowledge would come, but it would be a steep learning curve for a city girl like me.

Thanks to Dave and the farm owners for letting me come watch for the morning!  I had a lot of fun.


Kim said...

Very cool!!
Why do they shear them in the fall? Won't the sheep be cold during the winter?

Paws on the Run said...

They shear all year round. Even when sheared in the summer the sheep will be cold for a few days because they were so used to their wool coats. I think there are several theories on when it is best to shear - they all have their pros and cons so there ends up being no "right time".

Kristy said...

Very cool photos Wendy! What a great experience - looks like it was a beautiful day too:)

Karen said...

Looks like a lovely day, what a beautiful blue sky:)
Not sure when those sheep are due to lamb, but many farmers like to have the sheep sheared before that happens. For one thing it makes it easier for the lambs to find the udder:)
I found it really interesting the support harness thing the shearer is wearing. Looks like it is made out of western saddle cinch.
Shearing requires a good back, that I know. I did shear our few sheep for a few years, but it certainly took a lot longer than 2-3 minutes.

Taryn said...

Interesting photos, thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Mesmerizing was the perfect word. So interesting. Love the photo with the sheep leg sticking out. Very cool!