I'm sure there are people out there - especially spinners and weavers - who dream of having their own flock of sheep but quickly give up on the idea when they think of the back breaking job of shearing.
Well, not me, oh no. I got the sheep with nary a thought of the back breaking job of shearing them! I mean, you just flip them over, buzz through with the electric shears and the fleece falls off in one piece, right? Well, in our case it didn't. The electric shears wouldn't even go through the first half inch before bogging down. We worked on that first sheep for two hours! I think we have the wrong blades. But let me tell you, thoughts of giving up on the idea popped up real quick when I was laid up in bed half crippled!
Anyway, the quickly constructed, head gate pictured above has proven to be the answer. That and my big fabric scissors. The gate just slides down over the sheep's neck, locking her in place. They're under much less stress and I can take my time and even sit down for most of the job. I can also give shots and worm the sheep while they're confined.
These pictures were taken last year. It was the first shearing for that particular sheep and she had a lovely fleece. The electric shears would probably have worked just fine on her. I sheared her again today but this year she had a lot of lanolin and at the roots of the wool it was like a mat of felt. I think it's just the nature of Scottish Black Face and why they can endure such harsh weather conditions.
One down and seven to go.