J & M Oosterhof Farm
Apr. 7-8, 2017
According to J & M Oosterhof Farm, the Sheep Shearing School event has come and gone and overall a successful event was held.
Fifteen students came from all over Alberta, the interior of B.C. and Vancouver Island. Four women and 11 men ranging in ages from 15–60.
Setting up the equipment, general holding pen, and alley were the beginning of the morning. Shaun Fajnor, the instructor, introduced the pieces of equipment and demonstrated how to assemble them. Variety and care is essential in knowing what works most efficiently for each person and situation.
Following morning coffee, students were taught how to properly handle a sheep for shearing — a task that will take much practice to become an expert at. Some initial shearing was started with students learning how to open the belly and crutch ewes.
Shaun’s technique of teaching by breaking the sheep into five sections, allowed students plenty of opportunity to practice their footwork and handling ability, without being overwhelmed trying to remember the whole process from the start. The bellies of the young ewes were finished at lunch time, and the interest was peeking at how much energy and skill is required to shear sheep.
Relationships built quickly with some of the students, as they worked in teams to handle and share the shearing tasks.
Skill levels and care are noticed when handling the sheep. Sheep are definitely a unique animal to work with if you haven’t had any experience before.
A lunch of Shepherd’s Pie made from ground lamb was a welcomed warm meal on a cool day.
After lunch, the teams were back at it learning how to do the bodies — beginning with one side and later finishing the animals off. A tired bunch gradually left to get some well needed rest before coming back for the second day of training.
Early the next day, the eager students went about finding out how much they were able to retain from day one — adding some more confidence and practice into the second day.
Once they started on the older and larger ewes, some of the strength that was needed to handle the sheep was definitely tested, and a lot of practice, demonstration, and instruction helped to conquer and finish the final day.
Breaks were definitely welcomed and great conversations of their experiences were shared the entire time.
Red faces and sweat was a sign of accomplishment on the students that were working hard, and muscles that aren’t used regularly were telling their own stories.
All in all, it seemed to be a huge help to each person, as they left, feeling they had gained some knowledge and ability to shear sheep.
They also learned it takes practice to succeed, and no one is exempt from needing more practice and care, as they handle sheep to be shorn.
If you are thinking about coming next year, don’t wait too long to register, as there were people turned away after the list was full.
Allison Preston (shearing student) and Margaret Oosterhof (host)