I happily spent the day wrangling and handing off sheep to expert shearer John Sanchez. Having someone to hold the next sheep in the proper position for the shearer (sheep butt toward shearer, up against the pen gate) keeps the shearing proceeding smoothly and saves the shearer’s time and energy for actual shearing, rather than chasing and animals. As you might expect, it’s an abnormal state of affairs for a sheep to be held still in a pen by a human, and they’d much rather be free.
Robin takes photos that make me look like I know what I’m doing…
John sheared over 50 sheep in less than three hours, and I didn’t see a single nick on any of them. He’s just that good, and he’s also an all-around great guy. At the 2012 Fibershed Wool Symposium I heard John speak on a panel, and he’s one of the people who inspired me to shear in the first place. John also provided a lot of encouragement to me when I participated in the shearing competition at the Sonoma County Fair in 2014. It was an honor to watch and learn from him yesterday.
I got a huge surprise before heading in to the barn: a stunning shawl made my Robin, a Christmas gift from my dear grandmother. The shawl is a treasure: it is made of wool from Robin’s sheep, which Robin herself hand spun and then wove into this V-shaped shawl. I hope everyone can have at least one garment this special, that feels so special to wear. What an absolutely perfect day!