SHEEP SHEARING-Bladecraft

It’s the start of sheep shearing season and in most farms and ranches we’d be listening to the sounds of electric shears. But a number of sheep farmers still swear by the techniue of blade shaearing. We’ll find out why in a moment. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet presented by DuPont.

“I’m a blade sheep shearer, which means that I use blades and the blades are the hand shearers.”

Kevin Ford lives in Charlemont, Massachusettes and shears sheep throughout the Northeast.

“The principal advantage to blade shearing or hand shearing is the wool cover that’s left on the sheep, about up to a quarter of an inch. And that’s enough to keep them safe from exposure, even to harsh weather. And the danger is if they should get wet and the weather turned very cold and windy, they could perish from hypothermia.”

The craft of blade shearing has its own set of challenges.

“You have to be very keen of mind. There’s no sense in trying to go slowly. Or try to feel your way with the shears because none of that really works. You have to know the sheep and keep in mind all the possibilities for making an error. And manipulate the blades subtly to avoid any error. You’re constantly challenged physically and mentally and you have to work through pain, especially when you’re shearing long days or when you’re new at it and you don’t have the stamina, especially in the back muscles. And you just get tire all over finally, even when you do have the stamina built up. So to keep a mental clarity, even when you’re very fatigued, requires a discipline, which I think is a good thing to have developed.”

To hear some of your favorite Pulse of the Planet programs online, please visit nationalgeographic.com 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-Bladecraft

Hand-shearing a sheep keeps the sheep safe from the elements, but it's a challenge for the shearer.
Air Date:03/03/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

It's the start of sheep shearing season and in most farms and ranches we'd be listening to the sounds of electric shears. But a number of sheep farmers still swear by the techniue of blade shaearing. We'll find out why in a moment. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet presented by DuPont.

"I'm a blade sheep shearer, which means that I use blades and the blades are the hand shearers."

Kevin Ford lives in Charlemont, Massachusettes and shears sheep throughout the Northeast.

"The principal advantage to blade shearing or hand shearing is the wool cover that's left on the sheep, about up to a quarter of an inch. And that's enough to keep them safe from exposure, even to harsh weather. And the danger is if they should get wet and the weather turned very cold and windy, they could perish from hypothermia."

The craft of blade shearing has its own set of challenges.

"You have to be very keen of mind. There's no sense in trying to go slowly. Or try to feel your way with the shears because none of that really works. You have to know the sheep and keep in mind all the possibilities for making an error. And manipulate the blades subtly to avoid any error. You're constantly challenged physically and mentally and you have to work through pain, especially when you're shearing long days or when you're new at it and you don't have the stamina, especially in the back muscles. And you just get tire all over finally, even when you do have the stamina built up. So to keep a mental clarity, even when you're very fatigued, requires a discipline, which I think is a good thing to have developed."

To hear some of your favorite Pulse of the Planet programs online, please visit nationalgeographic.com 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.