The Lord's my shepherd I'll not want.He makes me down to lie in pastures green : he leadeth me the quite waters by. My soul he doth restore again; and me to walk doth make within the paths of righteousness, even for his own names sake...
The shearing class was amazing! The first day we learned how to grind, set, and sharpen the blades as well as put the stopper, thumb rest, a driver (The green strap) and a cock spur on.
The cock spur is at the end of the top blade and is a safety device to keep the blades from over lapping on ones fingers. (The bottom pair is an old pair.)
This is to show how much more wool one can get with the bigger blades than with the small ones. (The top pair is a pair of old blades of mine.) We get the blades really sharp. They have a double hollow grind, a hollow grind is the sharpest kind. The blades get sharper and sharper as they get older instead of duller, due to the thin metal. Oh, just a note, razor sharp blades are actually less likely to cut the sheep than dull blades. Dull blades can drag the skin up with the wool and cut them.
After introducing everyone I will talk about the other 3 days.
Kevin Ford from MA, a professional blade shearer of 30 years, was taking the class as a refresher to enter in competitions and improve; Doug Rathke from MN, also a professional machine shearer, does mostly machine shearing and wanted to improve his blade shearing skills to enter competitions, Doug also raises 300 Dorset ewes on pasture; Tony Dobbs is our world champion instructor from down under (New Zealand) who also raises 2000 Romney ewes and some beef; Ryan Lorrie from NY a blade shearer of 2 years was taking the class to improve and to learn how to sharpen blades, Ryan also has a flock of 30-35 colored Corriedales and is a handspinner; Kristen Rosser from PA a new blade shearer learned how to machine shear in Sep (I think) and loved it so much she wanted to learn blade shearing, Kristen is also a handspinner and artist. Sy Caryl from MI (not pictured) is a professional machine shearer who does some blade shearing on the side, and was taking the class to improve on his blade shearing skills. Sy also raises a flock of Rambouillet ewes. I was taking the class to learn the blade shearing pattern and to learn how to sharpen blades.
Myself, Kevin, Doug, Tony and Kristen.
Our wool handler (I can't remember his name), Tony, Sy and Ryan.
Doug's new friend. (The pegs on the wall above Doug's head are for sharpening the blades with.)
Sy, Ryan and Tony
Tony our instructor from Tectra is here in the US with his family on holiday (vacation) and generously donated time out of his holiday to teach us the art of blade shearing.
Tony also set the world record in the Guinness book Of World Records, blade shearing a sheep in 63 seconds. He has since sheared one in 59 seconds at a class in New Zealand, but it was not official so does not count.
The second day we finished off with our blades and then sheared Neil Kentner's flock of Wensleydale sheep. His barn was not a very good set up for a class so we had to wait and take turns shearing (3 of the 6 students could shear at a time.) After that we went up to the other sheep farm we sheared at, set up our stuff and each sheared one sheep. The other farm had just under 100 Dorset/Polypay sheep for us (I don't know the farmers name.)
The third day we sheared all day and then were invited to a dinner put on by the Odd Fellows Club and some local 4-H and Ag groups. We had beef, potatoes, squash, green beans, pickles, chocolate cake, and chocolate chip cookies . The beef was donated by Hunt Grain Farm. After dinner we toured Hunt Grain Farm. The farmer farms 11,000 acres of land and grows corn, soybeans and wheat. His machinery was perfectly clean as was his whole set up. A few of his tractors had names, "Bambie" and "Thumper" were two little ones. I forgot my camera at the motel so didn't take any pictures there.
We also got interviewed for a local newspaper and for the Sheep! magazine.
The fourth, and sadly last day, we sheared until 4:00 and then went to tour Zeilinger's Woolen Mill. A shearing gang (poor Sy had to miss a day and a half of the class as he was part of the gang and could not get out of the commitment he had made) who had been working on 700 western lambs in a feedlot came to see us and came along to Zeilingers. We did not have time to change so we were a stinky and icky when we went out to eat after Zeilinges. HA, ha! No wonder the waitress was grumpy.
As for the shearing itself, the pattern is a bit different from machine shearing. I personally think it is easier. About 3 years ago I took a machine shearing class and really struggled to get the sheep sheared. The sheep is not as stressed out as the blades don't buzz the way a machine does so it does not tense up as much. I had trouble getting the pattern memorized, but by the last day I got it down. (I asked Tony to watch me and not say anything unless I made a mistake, I only made 1 or 2 mistakes, one was having my foot about 4 in. too far from the sheep.) I really enjoyed learning blade shearing and am looking forward to spring so I can shear some more!
The pattern we learned was a combination of the New Zealand and South African methods. It is the most efficient way to blade shear a sheep, it is also, if done correctly, putting all the weight of the sheep on you legs, not your back so it is the best way to blade shear as far as ones body is concerned. As far as the blows they are done in a safe way. Ex: One shears up the belly and not down as if the sheep would lunge the sheep would not be impaled in the belly (it could be if one was shearing down.) One is also careful of the hamstrings and rolls the wool up, not shearing along the hamstring.
Another advantage of blade shearing over machine shearing is the animal is a lot more cold tolerant. Back in the day when they change from all blade shearing to machine shearing some flocks lost 40-50% of their ewes due to exposure that the machine sheared sheep could not handle. Tony also mentioned the worst shearing accident that he has seen was with machines. One does not realize they are cutting the sheep until they see blood with the machines, but with blades one can feel that they are cutting too deep and stop. The disadvantage is top blade shearers are 30% slower than top machine shearers.
I feel confident to start some custom shearing for small flocks now as well as my own, so if you have sheep that need shearing contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
One thing I don't like about newspapers is they always have a way of changing the story. I told the news reporter that I've had sheep for 9 or 10 years and hired a shearer for the first few years. His max flock was 15 and my flock out grew the shearer's max and then he quite. I learned to shear with blades with the sheep in a stand or standing tied next to a fence. I was taking the class to learn how to sharpen blades (I had a horrible time finding anyone who could even get a start of an edge on them and did not know how to do it my self) as he mentioned, and also to learn the pattern.
I drove though the UP to a 4 day shearing class. I've never gone through the UP before. It is gorgeous country up there.
On the way it got dark half way through the UP and this is what Mackinac Bridge looked like. It is stunning. (I did not take this picture.) Note: Mackinac Bridge is 5 miles long.
Mackinac Bridge on the way home.
On Sun. I put all the breeding groups of sheep together as they should be done breeding. (I had a couple groups combined on Sat. and finished on Sun.) Boy chores sure are easier now! I finally got the goats together on Sun. as well. (I would have waited until Mon., but Mon.'s weather was supposed to be cold and snowy, which it is, and 4 of my 12 goats were in heat.) Next spring at the tail end of lambing I'll have kids which is a good thing as I won't have to shear the goats as early and it hopefully will be warmer for the more sensitive kids.
Lavendar Hill Nepal-fine "black" (charcoal) Hopeing for intense color in this group!
PS23 Germany-white color carrier out of Pearl and Danburry the TX buck
Colorfield China-"black" (charcoal)
PS23 England-"black" (med. grey)
PS23 France-white color carrier (Henry's full sister)
Colorfield Pearl-faded red/taupe
PS23 Heath-white color carrier out of Pearl and Albee the OR buck.
PS23 Henry-white color carrier out of Belle and Goathill Caspian (a faded red.) All of the goats in this group have really nice mohair- I'm hoping for a few colored kids to pop up!
PS23 Geneva-(Germany's twin)
PS23 Hailey-white color carrier out of China and Danburry
STAG Rocky-AAGBA (pure white) from TX. All of his does are AAGBA whites.
STAG Eden-TX doe
RCF Terra-OR doe
DFD Jade-OR doe
KSF Ivy-super fine fleece (I actually mistook her fleece for a first cut kid fleece, but then realized that it was too curly and remembered that I sold most of it.)
I just found out that some people dye chicks! Crazy! The eggs are injected with dye before they hatch. As the chick grows up they do loose the color. Personally I like to natural colored chicks best and some may buy these guys as pets and not take care of them. Though I do wonder what a broody hen would think if some of the dyed ones were put under her. "Oh My, what happened to my children!?"
This year I decided to lamb everyone in the spring after all. I'm just going to make another shed. I don't care for lambing late. The lambing in and of itself is nice, but the lambs are much smaller, not skinny or bony just little. They don't have nearly as much wool either so I can't shear the culls/market ones until spring and none of the coats fit-I had to make them all smaller. I've also decided to breed all the first time lambers to Shetlands as some of the first timers were sucked down to the bone as it were by their big growthy lambs and are thinner for this time of year than I like.
This year I'm breeding a few more girls to the purebred boys so I should have some ewe lambs to sell next year. This year I only have a couple blacks for sale. All of the ewes are my breeding unless noted. Now I'm looking forward to lambing and I haven't even sold my market lambs yet! Well I am glad it won't be for five months....
Sommarang Gilroy-black, fine fleeced, horned and spotted. I'm hoping his groups throws lots of spots and fine fleeces.
Dingdong-fawn (carrys spots)
Early Spring-mioget (carrys spots.)
Elm-lt. grey (carrys spots)
Ferndale-sheala F1 Gordon
Gardenia-grey gulmoget/katomget F2 Dillon
Goldenred-moiget/musket F2 Orion
Grettle-white F2 Jings
Gladys-white F2 Jings
Hollyhocks-moorit (carrys spots) F2 Jericho
Honeydew-fawn katmoget (may carry spots) F2 Jericho
Sheepy Hollow Sienna-moorit horned ewe
UnderTheSon Jelly Drop-emseket
PS23 Fife-moorit, F1 Orion fine fleece and fully horned out of a horned ewe. Long and deep bodied.
Flourance-white F2 Skeld
Fairlie-fawn F1 Orion. This is a linebreeding, hpoing he make the lambs crimpier and she makes them silkier as she is not very crimpy, but very silky.
Gloria-white F2 Jings
Hyacinth-grey katmoget F2 Jericho
Heather-grey katmoget F2 Jericho
Hope-white F2 Jings
Hummingbird-black F2 Jericho
Hydrangea-white F1 Skeld
Forsythia-lt grey F2 Greyling
PS23 Hector-white F1 Jings super fine fleece. Fine boned and small-my smallest ram, refined. (Not undersized, just by comparison to my other rams.) I was actually going to use Fairlight my other F1 Jings who is much more meaty and a flock book type, but decided to use him at the last minute instead.
Under The Son Aran-sheala
Under The Son Hopi-sheala/dk brown horned ewe F2 Skeld
Hadassah-moorit horned ewe F2 Orion
Harmony-fawn katmoget, horned ewe F2 Orion
Funzie-grey katmoget, horned ewe F1 Jings. This is a linebreeding.
HVF Coopworth-white long silky and soft fleece, crossing sire for commercial ewes and market lambs. His lambs were very nice both for fleece and meat this year. He is also quite meaty, according to Lydia he is wider at the withers than her horse!
Ely Catherdral-fawn katmoget
Evening Primrose-black gulmoget
Gwendolyn-musket, scurred ewe
Croftland Farm Ile De France X Dorset-white, terminal sire. He is not as thick muscled as a pure Ile De France, but not as tall and thicker than a pure Dorset-perfect combination in my opinion for a terminal sire. His fleece is like a Dorset's springy and bouncy, I think his lambs should have decent fleeces (I've seen Shetland X Suffolk wool that was quite nice)-I'll see though! All of his lambs will be market lambs.
He got all the crossbreds-9 Coopworth X Shetland, 3 Corriedale X Shetland, 4 Shetland X Merino, 2 Corriedale X BFL/Shetland, 2 BFL X Shetland, 1 Coopworth X Shetland/Dorset/Corriedale, 1 Shetland X Corriedale/Doeset and 1 Coopworth X Shetland/Merino-23 in all. All of these girl's have nice fleeces, just a variety of types longwool-med/fine wool. It will be interesting to see how each kind of wool matches up with the down wool type of fleece. (I'll shear the lambs before they go to market unless they are under 2 or 3 in. long.)
This year at the WI sheep and Wool Festival I got to visit with several other Shetland Sheep Breeders and an Angora Goat Breeder friend. One of the Angora Breeders, Judy, did not come back to vend so it was kind of sad not to see her with her booth filled with all sorts of wonderful mohair locks and yarn. She is just going to keep her goats for pets now and is getting out of both selling goats/breeding and vending. (I bought her last two bucks earlier.)
I entered five very crimpy single coated fleeces and won a second place with the white. The others did not place. One of the colored ones that did not place won a Reserve Champion last year at Greencastle. This years fleece is a little nicer as it is longer (shown after the rise instead of before.) The fleece that won Champion was a spectacular jet black of Theresa's . The Reserve Champion was also really nice- a soft, crimpy grey with black tips. I think it was either Garrett's or Kim Nikolai's.
Sales were good this year thanks to many return customers. Thank you!
I have a yearling super fine (her mohair is kid fine now) and locky fleeced white Angora doe, Heidi for sale. She is available as a pet because of her size. She is too small to be bred. She was tested negative for CAE. Heidi is $60 after I shear her of $85 now.
Here are some pictures of my lambs. Most are crossbreds and are Shetland X Coopworth or Shetland X Corriedale. The grey katmoget is a Corriedle X and has very fine crimpy wool. I have two ewe lambs like that and they are for sale. I have a few black/charcoal grey/ dark brown Corriedale X lambs as well.
I also have several white Coopworth X ewe lambs that are fantastic. I'm selling all the white cross lambs this year so the best are available. They really are nice and big with long (some have 4 or 5 in already) silky, soft fleece.
The little grey ewe lamb (next to the black with horns) is Gloria's out of Gilroy.
Keeper doe kid. Both her and her sister look alike, one is a tad paler. Both are super fine and soft!
Kids....I have several very nice doe kids and could sell a starter group with an unrelated buck if anyone is interested. Or they are for sale individually too. All are to be registered with CAGBA.
(Not sure why blogger is changing the color on my pictures. Again. Grrr.)
These are all pictures I look in late May/early June I couldn't post them as blogger kept making my picture weird wacky colors . Well the problem is gone, so here are all the pictures I couldn't post!
This is the lamb who broke her leg. The picture was tacken shortly after getting her cast on. She accommodated well to wearing a cast! She had her cast cut off about 2 or 3 weeks ago now. At first she didn't use the leg, then limped badly, now she has an almost unperceptive limp! I'm going to keep her as she has a gorgeous, soft crimpy, pale grey fleece and well, she is special now. :)
This little guy, Dingdong X Gilroy now has sprouts, err horns on his head. He is a fawn/moorit and has crimpy, soft wool.
These are England's (Syrah X Caspian) and Gordon's (China X Danburry) doe kids. They are very nice! Both are keepers. One is a little paler than the other. They are both as fine as the pure whites.
Ivy's triplets. Two are growing well (the third is the runt and would not take a bottle, she may be available as a fiber pet) and are oooo soft....! I washed Ivy's fleece and it is almost kid fine!
Mama chicken with one of her two chicks. The "chicks" are now teenage chickens and were dumped by their mom and told to grow up.
Swan X Huckleberry ewe lamb-musket fine and soft
Gloria's ewe lamb-emsket or grey? I think a slow fading grey, but not sure. Very silky and crimpy
Sienns's lambs by Craigrothie-white is a keeper and is silky and soft
Gloria's lamb again. So sleepy and cute snuggled up next to mama.
Dingdong's ewe lamb-very soft, loose crimp fleece
Jade's buck kid out of Danburry
Eden's buck kid out of Danburry. He is still a keeper! Very fine mohair and a tiny bit of color
kids, not. Lambs! Aran's lambs
These two are Aran's ewe lambs by Gilroy
Goldenrod's twins out of Hector. Grey is a keeper, silky soft fleece!
Fonteyn's ram by Craigrothie. He was a keeper, but unfortunately died from a heart attack. Never had that before! (I have two rams and a ewe out of Fonteyn and several ewes and a ram out of Craigrothie, none had the same problem..)