Being a shepherd/sheep farmer means being a dog handler and trainer too. The job wouldn’t be worth doing without a dog to do half the work for you. They become like a limb to you. An essential part of everyday life and work. Something that you need to rely on, and equally something that can be taken for granted.
Yes, so here we are, it’s summertime. The grass is growing, the lambs are growing, the garden is growing and the wool packs are growing.
It’s the most physically hard going time of year again. But the most competitive and this seems to keep people going. James has about 3,000 sheep to shear on the farm he works shared with just one other shepherd… ouch. I, on the other hand, get away with only helping James push sheep up the race and wrap wool for our own sheep. Easy!
Just for the shearers it’s not as easy going. It’s bent over all day with an 80-120kg sheep between your legs, kicking and wriggling while you try to clip their wool off x 200 a day. Their wool can be sticky and matty, full of thorns and oily. Making it difficult and uncomfortable. So it is important to have the right equipment to make hard jobs easy. And for James, since he works on the farm and does all the shearing with one other person, they are having to gather, shed lambs off, wrap the wool and treat all bad feet and doze all lambs at the same time. So it really is quite a job.
James gets most of his protective clothing, combs, cutters and tools from Horner.
With their wool being full of all sorts it can ruin clothes and affect your skin. Horner has a couple shearing trousers available that are designed to protect you from these things.
Such as the Longhorn shearing trousers at £36 + VAT which are triple stitched for strength, double layered fabric for protection, delta gusset for free movement and made from cotton so are comfortable to wear.
The Singlet tops at £7.95 + VAT are ideal for shearing as they are cotton to keep you cool, long in length so don’t ride up when bent over. They also do a wool blend design which James has not tried out as yet.
Mocassins at £34 + VAT are also available as these type of shoes compensate for your posture being bent over all day.
Shearing Belt at £10 + VAT
Back Warmer at £19 + VAT is designed to keep your back and kidneys warm and is made from wool.
As for combs and cutters, these are something that you can make last a long time if you look after them. But if you are shearing constantly for weeks, you will be in need of quite a big stock. You may go through ** combs and cutters each day as they wear down in sharpness the more you use them. But they can be cleaned and sent to get sharpened and oiled and they are as good as new.
Wide Combs at £10.95 + VAT each
Cutters at £2.95 + VAT each
And then there are the machines. The most expensive part of the job. You will see yourself pay about £400 for the overhead machine and £300 for the handheld machine. These prices do vary and there are many second-hand machines available which can sometimes be the better option. Horner does have a used items page which is great for new starts or replacing old tools etc. If you keep your machines well they will also last you a long time. James gets his serviced every year and if at any point he wants to upgrade, he can trade or sell what he has to cut costs.