This last Christmas, our girls received a rather unusual Christmas gift: a promise of specially suited blade shears and a shearing lesson from our annual blade shearer Kevin Ford! Not all kids would enjoy this kind of gift, but my girls were beyond gleeful!
Last week, in the middle of all the lambs and puppies, Kevin made his stop at our farm and helped the girls learn every step of shearing move-by-move. Sure, the girls have been shearing on stands, etc., but they have not been taught Australian style (sheep flipped up on its rear and turned as needed.) We really enjoyed Kevin's very attentive care for my girls as he bent and twisted and watched to point out where to next put their feet and how to adjust the sheep to have better control and a cleaner cut. I was amazed at how Mr. Ford was so quiet and calm and confident seeming to pass this right on to my girls as he often does with our sheep when he shears. Everything was - mostly - seamless as the blades clicked and my girls were made aware in a real way of the hidden strengths that a routine shearer must possess. Kevin was there to back them up in case a sheep thought that it could attain rogue status, and the girls learned the tricks of the trade as the sheep learned struggle was useless. This day was long, but so full, and exhausting, but so exhilarating! Master shearer Mr. Ford stepped in to help us shear a few. We left the pasture with not all sheep shorn, but the girls having completed quite the brunt of it and with some practice left to solidify their newly learned skills. Both of my girls prefer shearing with the blades. They feel more confident in not cutting the sheep and like the lightness and quiet clicking and snipping sounds that seem not to rattle the sheep. The heaviness and vibrations of the electric shears would make the job cumbersome and undesirable in their minds. My husband is quite the opposite and strongly prefers the power of the electric shears. Interestingly, he feels more control and less risk with the electric head, not minding the weight and heat and vibrations quite so much.
We still haven't completed shearing our sheep. If the rain will give us a break, there are a few out there waiting for the girls to remind their muscles of memory they should keep within. After shearing that day, they took a tincture of arnica for soreness and went to bed early with every inch begging for bed. They woke up sore, but ready to get out there again. The exhilaration of what they had started they wanted to complete! Weather prohibited, but in a time where it can be difficult to feel accomplished, fulfilled, and to learn new skills, they were able to really take charge and complete something they've always wished that they could!
Kevin Ford is a rather very well-known and respected man of his trade. There are few left shining the blades and certainly not many that would live up to his skill. His days of shearing and sheep have been many, and I cannot say enough of what an honor it was that my children had this opportunity from such a talented and able teacher. They have their blades that were altered just right for them. Handles, sharpening skills, the shine and care all passed on. I don't know exactly what the future holds or how my children will continue to grow and reach for new things, but I do know that this was a very precious opportunity, and one that will teach them the confidence of new things and mighty strength in small and peaceful movements. Movements that were modeled by a great teacher, shearer, and friend. This will be a highlight for me forever. My girls still keep watching the sky and waiting for their window to shine again. The sheep relax and graze as if nothing has changed. But I know better. This generation of shearing has only just begun!
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This blog chronicles our very full life here on WoodSong Farm. We will share everything from dog to sheep stories, unique wooly works, to animal husbandry tips we pick up along the way. I hope this helps to give you an idea of what our extended farm family and wooly projects are like, and that we may somehow benefit everyone who reads about our journey.