Jacob and the other lambs as well as 2 yearlings were freed of their blanket of fleece via the time honored method of hand clipping. This was a very calm event for both the sheep and the shepherd.
I first blew out the coat with a shop vac to remove any lose vegetable matter. All the sheep reacted to this as if they were at the spa! Then I methodically clipped the fleece with hand shearers. I watched a tutorial via YouTube from a gentleman in Wales to get a “lesson”. With a couple of trial and error clips, the process was seamless! I had complete control of the way the wool came off, graded as I clipped and had virtually no second cuts! The belly and rear areas on the BLFs were easy but the Wensleydale X yearlings required a bit more care. The resulting beautiful wool fell neatly into a box held by my faithful assistants.
The biggest benefit of this method was how quiet, calm and un-fearful the sheep were. No upending, spinning and bending, not to mention those noisy (deadly toothed) clippers. With the hand clippers there was only a minor abrasion on one leg of a WensleydaleX. (I hate those furry legs!) A range of personalities were represented on the shearing stand from rodeo queens to the sweet docile ram lamb. They stood quietly with their head securely fastened in the make-shift milking stand stocks. A gentle breeze blew through the barn isle while the sound of scissoring clip, clip, clip could be heard.
I thought my hands would be transformed the next dayinto a gnarled claw but was never sore a-tall! I used a pair of inexpensive ($28) Burgon & Ball clippers purchased at Tractor Supply. Fresh out of the package, I sharpened them with a whetting stone and oil - following the previously mentioned Welsh shepherd’s instructions. I thought possibly learning from the guy from Wales would give me some needed good mojo.
I have a good shearer that comes and does the whole flock in record time with the noisy electric clippers. This usually cost me at least 2 fleeces worth between his fee for travel time, plus a per sheep charge. He is kind to the sheep and they experience minimal nicks and cuts. But, I may employ this new, old way of shearing in the future. It was so organic and I loved how the removal of the wool clip was very controlled. All sheep who were hand clipped voiced a preference for this method in the future and now that the word is out around the flock, there may be no going back to the stranger with the loud saw-toothed contraption.