Sheep Shearing

Today, as promised, I’ll share my experience of Tuesday afternoon when Harland and I went over to Roger and Liz, our neighbors, to watch the sheep shearing. We weren’t the only visitors. Shearing is a annual event, and these days not a common one to see. Roger and Liz were joined by their children and grandchildren too.

Here’s the waiting room with all the happy sheep ready and willing to have their wool sheared. Well, not really.

Here’s the shearer(in red), Hipolito, sharing a laugh with my hubby, Harland. He’s been shearing sheep for over 38 years. He says he still doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life.

What a great smile.

Here the sheep are ushered from the waiting pen into the shearing pen.

As the sheep enter the shearing pen, one of them gets a little rowdy. Roger’s son Wade, holds onto it until it calms down.

Here Hipolito ties the legs of a sheep before he starts to shear. This protects both him and the sheep from injury.

And there’s that smile again.

Shearing starts on the tummy, then over to the sheep’s left side.

Here, he carefully shears the top of her head.

Next, he shears the sheep’s right side.

When done, he unties her legs, and she gets the heck out of Dodge.

Hipolito can shear about 100 sheep per day.

Here’s a short video of the whole shearing process.

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A close up of the wool. Roger told us that he gets about 12 pounds of wool from each of the all-white sheep, and about 6 pounds from the black-faced ones.

The wool is put into large burlap bags to await pick-up by the wool buyer.

Roger said there are only 2 wool buyers in the midwest today. At one time there were a lot more sheep in Kansas. Numbers hit an all time high in 1884 at 1,270,000 head, and the sheep outnumbered the people. Today, there are only about 100,000 head in Kansas. The United States ranks 7th in wool production. Australia ranks 1st in the world.

Hope you enjoyed this. Watching it was a first for me.  How about you – have you ever seen a sheep shearing?

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———> UP NEXT:  My very first GIVEAWAY!!

23 comments to Sheep Shearing

  • Tina

    Wow. Probably a lost art there. It is very interesting the sheep doesn’t even look scared. It also looks like he is just peeling it off in one piece. I love the pictures after because she looks like she is totally shocked to be outside without her coat on!! She is just like “What the heck just happened”?

    • Suzanne

      Tina,
      I was pretty amazed at how calm the sheep were too. For the most part they just seemed to be resigned to what was happening, and didn’t complain. Wouldn’t like to even try the same with our cattle.

  • I’ve wondered how they must feel after they’ve been sheared…perhaps a bit relieved of all that weight, but perhaps a bit chilly! 🙂

    btw…I made “your” Oatmeal and Molasses bread recipe yesterday, and IT IS FABULOUS!!

    • Suzanne

      Alica,
      I would think they feel a draft. We asked Roger, and he said that their new coat grows back pretty quickly.
      Great! on the bread. Glad you enjoyed it. !!

  • Hipolito made each stroke count. YOu can tell he has
    sheared for years. He didn’t leave any cuts on the
    sheep either. I wondered how the sheep keep warm, as
    it is still winter this time of year? I loved watching
    the video. Thank you for making it. mm, vancouver, wa.

  • I have not seen sheep sheared. That was very interesting. I understand that there is lots of lanolin on their hands and clothes when they R shearing. And, what is the going price for wool? Just ballpark.

    • Suzanne

      Joani,
      I referred your question to Liz, the owner of the sheep. Her response: “Many variables determine the quality and price. Cleanliness, fiber diameter, fiber length, breed (white face vs black face). Fine wool was bringing about a $1.50/lb last year but I hear it is a little better this year. The wool will be delivered to the wharehouse, then graded and the price will be determined then.”

  • Rosann

    I got to see a shearing contest at “Lamb Town USA” a huge fair in Dixon California. By the way a woman won the contest. 🙂

    Thanks for the post.

  • Glyndalyn

    Yes, I have seen sheep sheared many times but do not know how to do it myself. I have never seen the shearer tie feet. In the early 1960’s, my dad (I was told) owned the largest herd of sheep in our county in TN. He did not do his own shearing. I wish the natural fibers of wool and cotton would be used more often.

  • Ha Ha. In this whole nation there are about 10 sheep for every citizen. And in the mountainous dry Central Otago around the ‘Field of Gold’ it’s probably more like 500 sheep to every person.
    The major two buildings on each property are the house and the ‘woolshed’ Indeed some places the major historic relics are the woolsheds, the house much less important and long gone.
    Sheep shearing competitions are major. eg. “The Golden Shears” and winners of this and holders of daily total records are national figures and well known.

  • I wonder if Hipolito has ever had his worked photographed before??
    I’ve never seen attended a sheep shearing – There’s an alpaca farm near us, and the woman there explained how they are sheared.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Pam K.

    Wow! That is some heavy duty work, rolling that heavy sheep around and keeping firm pressure on the clipper! Their operation is very efficient, the way they push the sheep behind the drape to send them on their way when finished! You can tell Hipolito has sheered hundreds of thousands, I would guess–he doesn’t leave a single extra tuft of wool! Is it a special accomplishment to have the wool coat come off all in one piece? I would think that would take lots of practice to do that! Thanks for posting the video–very riveting!!

    I’ll tell you about my one experience with sheep. I’ll never forget when I was about 10 years old and my family went to the National Western Stock Show in Denver. We walked through the animal barns, an awesome experience for a city girl like me! I put my hand through the bars of a sheep’s pen and was “petting” the sheep and sticking my fingers down in its wool to feel the softness and oiliness of it. Suddenly its owner yelled loudly at me from a few pens away, to get my hands out of that wool, as he had just spent quite some time combing the wool out to get the sheep ready to show in the ring. Oops! I felt SO bad! I’m still traumatized 50 years later!!

  • Sandra

    Yes I have seen sheep sheared. We had sheep in Ark. when I was in grade school.. It was the same then as now. What I remember is the smell of the tons of wool. It was strong!! I raised a lamb for my Dad one year. When she had to have her tail cut I cried and cried. I knew it had to be done and didn’t normally bother me but she was my baby. I was about 8. I just loved that lamb. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • This reminds me of the days on our farm. I remember sheep shearing. I also remember when they were done they went through sheep dip, for their feet. Hipalto does good work. And shears a 100 sheep a day? At least then it’s done and over with! Thanks for sharing!

  • Elaine Snively

    I’ve carded and spun fresh wool. It makes the skin on your hands very soft.

  • Doe of Mi.

    Thats amazing. Thanks.

  • Wow! That was awesome! That is so neat how they move them around to get to every single spot. I especially loved how he locks the sheep’s head between his legs to get a good hold! A long time ago I saw sheep shearing being done for a demonstration…don’t ask me when or where…ha ha! I feel like it was at some kind of a festival or county fair. But, I have never seen it done all the way through. Thank you for posting this…I really enjoyed watching it!!

  • How fun is that?! Very cool to watch. Thanks for the post 🙂

  • jen

    thank you so much for posting this. i was searching for a way to tie my sheep’s legs before shearing and couldn’t find any examples to save my life. i’m saving this post and referring to it often in a few weeks when shearing time comes. 🙂

  • […] why this post is going to save my life. The shearer is apparently using the Spanish sheep shearing method, where […]

  • Wow – very cool. Great pictures and narrative!
    And, woooo, that Hipolito does indeed have a killer smile, doesn’t he?
    🙂
    Thanks for posting the link to this on my blog, very interesting! 🙂

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