Sheep Shearing on the Scheckel Farm

Each spring the sheep-shearing crew came around. Shearing is a once-a-year process in which all the woolen fleece is removed. Phillip, Bob, and I herded the sheep into an enclosure. Shearing was done in the horse barn because it had electric outlets for the clippers.

The shearing man would spread a big tarp over the floor. The tarp kept the area clean and aided in gathering the wool and tying it into bundles. The shearing man would set the sheep up on its rump and shave the underside first. Then the man, aided by Dad, would throw the sheep on its side, so its legs were off the floor and useless for moving around. Now both sides and the back were sheared.

The shearing men used a cutting blade that was about four inches wide. It appeared to be much like the hair clippers our barber used. My brothers and I were too small to help with the shearing. Our job was to open and close gates, get drinking water, and act as “go-fers.” Shearing day was very exciting. The shearing transformed the sheep from thick wooly creatures to stark-naked “baaing” creatures. I thought we were doing the sheep a favor with hot weather approaching. Who in their right “sheep-mind” would want to go through the hot, humid Wisconsin summer wearing an extremely thick wool coat?

The shearing crew “uncoated” about 30 ewes. The wool was wrapped into big bundles ready for market. Eventually, we stopped raising sheep as we started raising more hogs. I missed the sheep, though. They were so gentle, and I loved watching them graze on the hillside. To this day, I do not eat mutton.


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