Sheep Shearing Season
The sheep shearing season is in full swing now. Kerry is traveling to shear sheep all over New Mexico and is busy every weekend. In celebration of Earth Day this last Saturday, Kerry sheared the small flock of Navajo Churro sheep at the Heritage Farm in the Bio-Park in Albuquerque. An audience always changes the dynamics of the shearing. People hovering close often make the sheep nervous and they are more likely to fuss and squirm. The questions and comments certainly interrupt Kerry's concentration and speed. But in spite of that, Kerry really enjoys interacting with people and demonstrating the fine art of blade shearing sheep.
In shearing situations with an audience, a lot depends on the shearer's ability to control the sheep. All of the things that might go wrong with shearing are worse when you have an audience! But I suppose when it all goes right it is just that much more fun as well. Securing the sheep is the key. Kerry moves through several "holding" positions in relation to the sheep as he shears. When the positions are secure, the sheep seems to accept that it cannot escape, that it is in no real danger and they gradually relax. There are six positions and Kerry is here beginning to shear the "off" leg and dock in the second position.
Kerry will move the sheep and shift his feet and knees to a hold in the next position until the wool is completely removed. it is a kind of dance really, with a reluctant partner! It is always fascinating to watch and I never tire of seeing the beautifully clean wool revealed as it rolls off the sheep.