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.
I thought it would be a good idea to introduce to you all – our family. The woolly, four-legged “baa-ing” family…
James has always had a passion for Cheviot Sheep so in 2014 he bought 6 lambs from a local farm and started his own flock. My love for them came shortly after…
They are characters, just like every other breed they have their qualities and personalities and have been a recognised breed since the late 1300’s. They are a native, hardy, hill breed from the North of England and can generally live off the hill most of the year. They are prolific with strong maternal instincts and produce one of the most expensive wool going for around £1.20 per kg. Their wool is mainly used for carpets, tweed, knitwear and blankets. http://www.britishwool.org.uk/british-sheep-breeds.php?m=t
We have slowly grown our flock from 6 lambs over the years and now produce fat lambs and sell tups in the Autumn. We are lucky to have a local and well-established abittoir close to home and always ensure our meat is of a high standard and delivered to the customer as fresh as possible.
Rearing our own sheep has made us both appreciate the incredible and strong taste of lamb and the importance of local produce. We appreciate the fact that we know exactly what hard work, time, patience, feed and medicine has gone into our sheep so we know exactly where our meat has come from. Our dream is to provide this type of service far and wide! It may be cheaper to buy it in the supermarket, but seriously – you have to try this fresh stuff!
Farming sheep successfully comes with a lot of hard work, sacrifice, motivation, and passion and I know we put our all in all year round to ensure our sheep are thriving.
We have sold a couple Rams to farms around the UK and will continue to do so. We are proud to know that our progeny is growing in other parts of the UK.
If you are visiting this blog it might be because you are familiar with our Cheviot’s from Cheviot Instagram page or you have visited our website. First of all, thank you for taking time to have a look at our new blog.
Let me tell you the reason for starting this blog. As well as run a website and an Instagram page I got the idea of running a blog of our life with our sheep and dogs as I love writing and posting about our livelihood. Our livelihood that we work so hard for and will continue to for the rest of our life. I love it, I get a kick out of how many people have supported us so far and the responses we get on our posts! It really fuels my inspiration and motivation, so thank you.
Anyways, I am the one behind the screen and camera for our website and the Instagram page and now this new blog. I document and talk about everyday life with our sheep through lambing time, shearing time, showtime, feeding time as well talk about our most loyal companions – our dogs. We have 3 lovely Collies and 2 mad Springadors – queue soppy dog photos.
So with all that, here is a little about myself and the handsome guy you see on the Instagram. My name is Lucy and my boyfriend James is the hard working Shepherd you see in the photographs. We both live near the Cheviot Hills in North Northumberland, fitting as we farm Cheviot Sheep so close to the spectacular hills. We are both in our early 20’s with 5 dogs and a flock of sheep trying to make our native flock into something bigger.
We met in 2007 while we lived in a very remote part of Northumberland and became best friends for 7 years before we became a thing!! With our love for the countryside, farming and biodiversity, we make a great team in working together and making the most out of our flock of sheep. Head over to our website for more information on how we live and work with our sheep. And we hope you continue to support our blog! X