Remember I was disappointed when I qualified to shear at Plumpton College Open Day then the event was cancelled? Well, I finally got to wear the red vest. I was part of the Plumpton College Shearing Team at the South of England Show (yes I know, the show was 7-9th June - I'm a bit behind!) It's a milestone in my journey to learn how to shear sheep.
|The Plumpton College Shearing Team - thanks to Plumpton College for the picture|
I had mixed feelings about shearing in public. There's always the worry something will go wrong, like falling over or letting your sheep escape. Then it's a male dominated world. I think a lot of people assume I'm there to roll wool and sweep the floor. Every time I opened the pen gate I sensed surprise behind me. That girl is going to shear a sheep!
I sheared every day of the show, shearing 18 sheep across the three days. The sheep were all very similar, lovely Suffolk Mule tegs. I really felt like I was improving and I think it helped that the sheep were consistent. When every sheep you pull out of the pen is different it can almost feel like starting again. Each sheep was a similar weight, size and shape and the fleeces combed through beautifully.
I can tell from the time stamps on the photos I was taking about 8 minutes to shear one sheep. That is slow but the important thing is to get the pattern and foot work right. Speed can come later. I've got to grips with the basics of shearing but there is so much detail to learn. For example the answer to the question why is the sheep struggling may be, you need to move your right toes two inches to the left. It's that precise.