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The South Anna 4H Club announces that the Legendary Tom Forrester has agreed to come to Scotchtown (Revolutionary Period Home of Patrick Henry in Hanover, VA) and shear our flock of Hog Island Sheep. This event will be part of an all day affair of Revolutionary War Period re-enactments and fiber fun, as well as a herding demonstration by Tom and Pete, Nursery Champion at the Cattledog Finals this year.

Tom will not be wearing period attire, nor will he shear appropriate to the period (go Electric!), but we guarantee this to be fun if you can make it.

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I can't be there - how much will you be charging for the video of "Miss Julie Poudrier hand-shearing in period attire"? That's got to be worth something.

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I just set my new personal best for shearing a sheep with hand blades yesterday: 9 minutes. Did the two Texel rams in about 20 minutes apiece, and two other ewes in 12 minutes each. I wasn't wearing period attire, unless you count the 1990s or whenever my clothing is from "period."

 

I still stand in awe of anyone who can do that all day -- machine or blades.

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Bill,

The problem with Tom is that he *can* do it all day, day after day, and at a very good clip. I can't remember how many sheep he can shear in an hour, but it's a pretty good number. Me, I might get one or two done in an hour with hand shears (having just learned how to do it). How long do you think it took us, Tony, two people taking turns on one sheep? It sure wasn't quick, nor was it pretty (the end result that is).... Oh, and to top it off, Tom turned 75 years old last December and can still put younger shearers to shame. And folks wonder why I worry about being heckled? Anyway, I don't own any period attire, so I guess I can't do it....

 

Debbie,

I might be having company that weekend--an old friend who would be coming down to house sit while I go to the Bluegrass. But it's looking iffy. If she can't come down, I might just head your way, though I might also have to conveniently forget the hand shears.... (We just had everything shorn, so I don't even have a sheep to practice on!)

 

J.

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I've only ever seen one "gun" shearer at work, and it was impressive to the point of being a little scary. (A gun is a shearer who tops 200 a day.)

 

Most of the shearers I've hired will do about 100 a day, and that's enough to keep me busy rousting sheep and handling wool.

 

A couple of my favorite shearing stories:

 

 

My grandmother told me a story once about the three or four sheep she used to keep when she ran a summer boarding house on a lake near Dartmouth College. She raised a few lambs over the winter to provide lamb chops for the guests in the summer. The neighbor who had always shorn her sheep said he was getting too old, and it hurt his back from all the bending over.

 

My grandmother had her husband fashion a small, low table that would slightly elevate the sheep, and begged the neighbor to try shearing with it. He agreed to try, but said he would stop if his back was bothering him.

 

A few minutes later, my grandmother looked in, and he was standing on the table with the sheep. "You know," he said, "This makes all the difference in the world." He sheared her sheep until she closed the boarding house in 1960.

 

--------------------

 

One shearer told me, "Don't worry. It's only the first 10,000 sheep that are hard. After that, you get used to it."

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That's a great story...the folks down the road in Henrico County have a flock of Gulf Coast sheep that they hand shear annually, demonstrate on their Sheep to Shawl day, and they put their sheep up on a big block laterally recumbant and it takes them 20-30 minutes that way. Never seen it done that way before or since. One guy lays on the sheep and the woman shears, and they do it in period (same as ours) attire.

Julie, I'd kill for you to come surprise him (and no one tell him, please...Tom says his computer's broke right now). I can lend you my get up.

I sheared an old chow chow yesterday, charged $40, and marveled that a bigger beast such as a sheep goes for a tenth of that (but no teeth!)

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Good news! Julie just offered to come practice on my sheep tomorrow! Don't thank me, just send money - I hear Julie is quite expensive . . .

 

Tony, is Chuck still coming to do your sheep? Is he still interested in making it a twofer? I've got a couple dozen here.

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Oh no, the pressure's ON! :rolleyes: Debbie, if I can come, I will. I will try my hand on some of Becca's sheep tomorrow and see what happens. No dueling banjos, though--it's unfair to pit a rank beginner against a crusty old pro.....

 

J.

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Chuck is coming on May 13, so much as I'd love to dazzle the Scotchtown folks with a display of hand shearing skill and speed, I'll have to give it a pass.

 

Becca, Chuck was originally planning to shear your sheep, so I don't think it will be a problem. He owes us a call, so I'll confirm and get back to you.

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Thanks Tony! May 13 would work fine for us, especially if Julie and I hack away at a couple of the more problematic (but small) ewes tomorrow. No period clothes, however - dress rehearsal date TBA. The ewes are comfortable in their shady pastures but I'd love to get the wool off these two ewes that keep walking right through the hotwire (ZAP! Bwaaa haa haaa haaaaaa).

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Well, I'm sold on hand shearing. Thanks to Julie for a fun and informative private demo yesterday. I think the ewe will survive. :rolleyes: She went through the wire once and hasn't tried it since then.

 

I'll have to get one of those sharpening stones and try the other two that keep getting out.

 

No historic clothing, but we did splash very realistic blood from both of us all over the sheep.

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And I think I proved that I am in no way ready for prime time (aka demos in public)!

 

Tony, if you're reading this then suffice to say that the sheep we did didn't look a whole lot better than the ones we sheared at the clinic....

 

J.

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I hate I missed it! Next time you guys come across a shearing clinic, let me know - I'd like to go.

 

I started to stop by on my way back home yesterday, but I had the hammer down (well, for me maybe it was a very small hammer) and was anxious to get home.

 

Thanks for the food Becca! You were a life saver. Bree and June say thanks for showing them the pond, too!

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Julie, from a distance the sheep looks pretty darn good, actually. Patrick couldn't pick her out from the crowd last night, at first. Until they got to our feet, and then Patrick almost fell over laughing.

 

Of course, last year we picked at a couple of our older ewes early in the season with the electric clippers and I can't say they looked any better. For one thing, I made the mistake of using the 13-tooth flared comb (never, never, never again).

 

What I like about the hand shears is that what you see is what you get. I'm not a big fan of power tools and the electrics drive me nuts (are they oiled enough? Tension right? cutters lined up? Running too hot?). Too many variables.

 

Laura, we were trying to get back to you yesterday but we kept missing like ships in the night. I hope it wasn't urgent! Drop me an e-mail because I'm kind of curious what you needed. Or nosy. Or something. :rolleyes:

 

Laura with the hammer down. Scary thought - hurtling down the highways at a g-force pulling speed of what, 3 or 4 miles over the speed limit? Hee hee.

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What Julie said. :D

 

Laura with the hammer down. Scary thought - hurtling down the highways at a g-force pulling speed of what, 3 or 4 miles over the speed limit? Hee hee.
Um... yeah, that's actually just about right. It was more like 4-1/2 mph over the speed limit... I was living dangerously. :rolleyes:
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