So you’re about to head to your first sheep shearing and you’re wondering what you need? This was me two days ago.
It started with knitting, then dyeing and then spinning. And next I wanted to see where my wool came from. Don’t get me wrong here. I know wool comes from sheep. But there are only so many tutorials you can read and videos you can watch on YouTube. None of this can replace the experience of being there and helping out with sheep shearing day on an actual farm.
I will talk more about the day later, but for now if you are visiting a local farm to help out, then here are my top “I wish I hads” and “I’m glad I hads” that I hope will have you prepared for your first sheep shearing day.
1. A proper breakfast!
A yoghurt to prepare yourself for a day of hard-work will just not cut it. A Full English Breakfast or a large bowl of cereal are much better ideas!
2. Good solid boots
Fair enough if you want to turn up in flip flops or trainers. But change quickly into a pair of good solid boots. You need grip and covered feet.
3. A sturdy pair of jeans
Diamante and “designer cuts”? Leave them at home. And unless you want your Levi’s covered in lanolin, dirt, and sheep percent and a cheap pair from your local supermarket will more than suffice.
Sheep shearing is hard-work, which means you will get hot. As the day goes on you will want to be able to strip off the coat and jumper.
5. A hair tie and sunblock
The hair tie is for those of you with longish hair. If it can be tied back, do it. And sunblock in case the sun comes out because your face, shoulders, and arms are likely to be bare by this point.
6. A bottle of water
Ideally in a bottle with one of the caps you can open with your mouth than a twist top. Your hands will get dirty very quickly. Drink lots of water otherwise you risk becoming disorientated and passing out! Seriously, it is hard work.
7. An expectation to get sheep percent and on you
You may be skirting the fleeces (i.e. pulling the percent and off the fleece), helping move sheep between pens, wrestling with them, being pushed on to the floor (remember the solid boots?), and if you are lucky, even shearing one yourself. Whatever it is you do, more than dirt is going to get under your nails (and everywhere else). Deal with it before you arrive on the farm.
This is the most important of all my tips. Farmers are hard-working people. They get stuck in to what needs doing. Be willing to help with any job, no matter how small it may seem to you, and your presence will be appreciated. You may even be invited back next year!
So those are my tips. The only ones I didn’t have were sunblock, and the big hearty breakfast. But I had a crackingly awesome time and I even got to shear my own sheep. That’s one more thing off the bucket list!
Happy Sheep Shearing!
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