Down at Coombe Farm
As the heat wave approached, we knew it was time to have the Coombe Farm "flock" sheared. They had never been fully sheared as last year they were lambs, so they had very very woolly coats and were struggling in the heat.
We were lucky the world champion, a guy from New Zealand, who lives locally, agreed to take on the task. As we are a very small set up, it was a fairly low key but much needed event. Matt, who shears thousands upon thousands of sheep per year stopped by after work with his shears, and half an hour later they were done. Our sheep have not been handled much, and some were a bit more trouble than others, but I'm sure they are all now grateful to be ready for summer. It was funny, some of the lambs had trouble identifying their mums without their heavy coats, maybe they smell different.
What did we do with the wool you ask? Well actually we are still trying to decide whether to try and sell it, or to get it cleaned up and made into wool that we can use, we need to do a bit more research.
Over at Gospenheale Farm
Some friends across in Pipers Pool invited us to go and have a look at the shearing operation on their farm. They have approximately 700 sheep, and are commercial farmers. Matt was on the case again, but the set up was in a totally different league. Sheep are taken into the barn in groups of about 50 at a time. The sheep go up a thin closed in ramp in a line, one sheep is kept at the front of the line to encourage the rest of the sheep to keep coming up. There are 2 metal doors, which can be pulled down by the shearers when they are ready for their next sheep. The sheep are pulled down through the door and onto a platform. The two shearers have a hand held shearer that is pulled down from above them, which they use on the sheep. When each sheep is finished they are directed to an exit on the platform and they leap down and wait in the yard with the rest of the sheared sheep. The counter is clicked and the next sheep is brought down. This takes under 60 seconds per sheep. The shearers wear special flat soft leather shoes. It takes about a day and a half to get through 700 sheep, which is phenomenal. The wool is sold via the sheep wool marketing board to get the best price. The volume of wool removed at such speed is staggering.
We were very lucky to be able to see this enterprise first hand, and I think this a good illustration of each end of the scale of sheep shearing!