It was just this time last year when Andrew and I returned home from shearing school hunched over like spent question marks. Why anyone would choose to do that…I thought, with aching muscles and a bit of a dazed emptiness to my stare. Shudder.
But like the magic that erases the pain of labor for a woman with an itch for more babies, we quickly forgot the specifics of the bodily torture inflicted by shearing while mostly-out-of-shape, and jumped back in for our first performance as co-shearers of our own flock. That was in late June. It was horrible – there was a lot of blood (nothing serious) and we quickly depleted ourselves as we wrestled to contain the victims in the beauty school students’ chair. There were only five to shear, which we split pretty much evenly. The remaining five in the flock (December-born lambs) were given a reprieve of 4-5 months to grow their wool a bit longer. We gladly took the reprieve ourselves.
Fast-forward to late October when again we donned the flat-soled shoes (to ease the back strain) and oiled up the shearers. Again, only five to shear, which we split up, and these were slightly smaller, being lambs. It was a measurably better experience – there was little blood – but the struggling sheep reminded us that we needed to focus more on the proper foot placement, to afford the sheep maximum comfort and us maximum restraint and accessibility.
Both shearings combined, our Second Harvest was complete and we felt relief akin to that of filing taxes.
Then it leaked that we had acquired the shearing skill. (that’s giving us a bit more credit than we’re yet due) A friend asked if we/I could shear her two market lambs before they hit the chopping block. With oh-so-much hesitation and broadly-flung disclaimers, I agreed to take it on. Only two? I could do that myself, provided the kids keep themselves entertained. So I began, with much nervous but optimistic resolve. There was an inordinate amount of fumbling around and finding my sea legs as I began, but I quickly reveled in how her breed of sheep was light-years easier to shear than my own. I completed the shearing of the two in a reasonable amount of time. She paid me in homegrown garlic – the spiciest, most-gigantic cloves we’ve ever had in our kitchen. A good trade all around.
Somewhere during that second sheep I crested the steep learning curve and actually started…doing a decent job. Not a fast job, not a great job, but when I finished I didn’t want to crawl into a hole and die. I felt, rather, like I could do anything – it was exhilarating! I SHEARED TWO SHEEP TODAY! I began telling strangers. (YESTERDAY! Last week! as time passed but my sense of achievement did not)
So when I got the call to shear a particularly lovely brown-wooled girl, I packed up my shearing case with confidence and something that resembled excited anticipation, drove out, and quickly got started. Had you been the sheep’s owner or a bystander, you’d swear that I knew exactly what I was doing, which this time, wasn’t too far from the truth. Exactly might still be a stretch. Twenty minutes later she was nekkid as a jaybird and I had a lovely abundant fleece to take home in exchange for my labor. So I’ve arrived. I’m a shearer now. You cannot believe how this has inflated my personal sense of can do!
Anything. I. Can. Do. Anything.
Hope this lasts through the winter, to the start of the spring shearing season.