February brings Kevin Ford, perhaps best hand shearer in the nation. Kevin has won many shearing competitions throughout his life and published several books about the subject. He is quiet and confident with the flock, and his skill makes for a very calm and worry free, efficient shearing.
Shearing Day also sees lots of friends and helpers as we serve brunch in the farm house and then gather around the shearing area and skirting table to offer helping hands where ever need be. Usable fleece is gathered from the shearing area and carried to the skirting table where it is graded. Unusable parts are snipped off by trained eyes & hands, and other hands take to the task of removing any vegetable matter (straw, hay, etc.) from the fleece so that it is ready to be washed and processed. There is nothing quite so lovely as burying your hands into a still warm fleece!
Clockwise from left:
Before Kevin begins his first sheep, he assembles his tools so that everything is within reach.
Daisy, our very curious Leicester Longwool ewe lamb "chose" to go first as she was quick to introduce herself!
Giuseppe, our Tunis herd sire, was quite happy to have his hair cut in Kevin's capable hands.
A close up shot showing the hands & the hand shearing blades. Kevin periodically dips the blades in hot water to keep the lanolin in the fleece from gumming up the extremely sharp steel blades.