SHEEP SHEARING-A Blindfold Haircut

Imagine being blindfolded and trying to give someone a haircut, someone who weighed over 200 hundred pounds and at every opportunity was trying to get away from you. Well that’s a bit what blade shearing a sheep is like. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

In the Northeastern United States it’s sheep shearing season, a busy time for blade shearer Kevin Ford. The blades look like a large pair of scissors and the challenge is cutting the wool long enough for a fine fleece, but not so close to the sheep that you nick the sheep.

“We’re entering both points of the blade into the wool and so that makes it a little harder. We also can’t see where we’re going, but that’s not a big deal because we really can’t rely on the eye anyways. [What do you rely on?] The minds eye. We have to know the sheep well enough to know what’s under the wool.”

The shearer stands and holds the sheep in place with his legs while he leans over and clips it.

“You don’t hold the sheep so much with your legs as you cradle it. In the shearing, there’s six basic positions. And each is designed to hold the sheep comfortably and not with alot of strain to the shearer. Each position has to be taken precisely because it’s holding the sheep in such a way that the sheep is conviced it can’t get away. And that’s the only way the sheep will be passive. And the placement of the feet, for example, is really subtle. But in each position you’re restraining the sheep from feeling like it can roll onto its belly which is probably the first thing it wants to do to gain its feet. ”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

SHEEP SHEARING-A Blindfold Haircut

Shearing a sheep is a matter of knowing the contours of the animal like the back of your hand.
Air Date:03/02/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

Imagine being blindfolded and trying to give someone a haircut, someone who weighed over 200 hundred pounds and at every opportunity was trying to get away from you. Well that's a bit what blade shearing a sheep is like. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

In the Northeastern United States it's sheep shearing season, a busy time for blade shearer Kevin Ford. The blades look like a large pair of scissors and the challenge is cutting the wool long enough for a fine fleece, but not so close to the sheep that you nick the sheep.

"We're entering both points of the blade into the wool and so that makes it a little harder. We also can't see where we're going, but that's not a big deal because we really can't rely on the eye anyways. [What do you rely on?] The minds eye. We have to know the sheep well enough to know what's under the wool."

The shearer stands and holds the sheep in place with his legs while he leans over and clips it.

"You don't hold the sheep so much with your legs as you cradle it. In the shearing, there's six basic positions. And each is designed to hold the sheep comfortably and not with alot of strain to the shearer. Each position has to be taken precisely because it's holding the sheep in such a way that the sheep is conviced it can't get away. And that's the only way the sheep will be passive. And the placement of the feet, for example, is really subtle. But in each position you're restraining the sheep from feeling like it can roll onto its belly which is probably the first thing it wants to do to gain its feet. "

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.