In a constant attempt to simplify things on the farm and bring life ever closer to a sane pace, I have always wanted, nay needed, to change the way we shear our sheep. It isn’t that we have had incompetent shearers, actually we have been blessed with some of the best in the country but shearing day never seemed quite what I imagined. It was rushed, stressful and I always ended up with sixty bags of soggy, smelly wool waiting to be sorted, washed, picked, carded, spun and knit. Also, with shearing quickly becoming a profession of the past, it was so difficult to get the shearer to the farm that their winter coats came off, ready or not!

I admit, sheepishly, that my dream shearing day looked something like the scene from Babe where the farmer loads the dogs and Babe the pig onto the horse drawn wagon and head to the fields to work. Hand shearing each and every sheep, the scene draws to a close at sunset with shots of a pile of freshly shorn fleeces stacked on the wagon waiting for the short ride home.

So with this farming fantasy swimming on the periphery for at least 15 years you can imagine my delight when shepherdess extraordinaire, Sue Smith from Blackberry Hill Farm informed me, every so nonchalantly, that she sheared most of her 60 sheep every year. In what I am finding is pure Sue Smith fashion she proceeded to give me step by step instructions to guide me to success.
1. use a small pen – large enough for comfort but small enough to constrict running
2. comfort the sheep – keep them calm and quiet with some sort of feed treat
3. Buy Fiskar scissors with Easy Action for Arthritic hands
4. Buy a sharpener
5. sort locks as they come off the sheep – no skirting necessary!
6.  don’t try to do more than two sheep in a day

And so I embark on shearing my own sheep, one fleece at a time, slowly and gloriously. No multi-tasking here just shear bliss.

Look for our hand shorn fleeces for sale in our River Cottage Farm Shoppe.