About a week and a half ago, I applied for a position in the Texas A&M Agrilife sheep shearing school. Do we have sheep? No. Have we ever owned sheep? None. Have I ever sheared a sheep? Nope. How many animals have I sheared? Nada. Have I even shaved anyone's head? Sort of.
You see, I've always had a soft spot for sheep, and I am mesmerized when watching professional shearers at work. I mean, who can't remain hypnotized while watching this:
And blade shearing? It's like the Super Bowl. Except without all that stupid ball throwing and tackling and flags. And with a tiny bit of animal poop sometimes, which just makes it more interesting.
*Sidenote: Wouldn't football be more interesting if the players pooped a little? OK, maybe not. Never mind.*
Needless to say, I was thrilled when I received an email yesterday congratulating me on being chosen to participate in the second year of the shearing/wool classing school. I was also a bit mystified as to why in the world they chose my application. Yup, I'm going to sheep shearing school, y'all!
The "school" is actually a three-day intensive course on all things sheep care. The goal is to promote sheep shearing skills which are, more and more, going by the wayside in America. Shearers from Mexico and other countries are continuing to pass down the traditional skills of sheep and goat shearing and care, but fewer Americans are learning those skills. Fewer shearers equals fewer people willing to raise sheep with wool. (There are "hair sheep" which shed naturally and thus don't have to be sheared, but we would lose a considerable amount of variety if American sheperds only produced them. Not to mention, traits that are more desirable may not be found in hair sheep.)
With the advent of polyester and other synthetic fibers, some see sheep wool as an unnecessary product that will be replaced by manufactured fabrics to keep us in the warm and fuzzies. But I see benefit in using these natural fibers, and I would guess most spinners and fabric artists would agree. Let's face it, if you've ever owned a pair of wool socks, you know those mass produced, synthetic fiber ones are a joke.
So, the next time you see me, I may be a card-carrying sheep shearer (assuming that they carry cards. Honestly I have no idea.) Until then, I can only daydream about the future. And watch bad sheep movies.
I'm the wife of a Fledgling Farmer(FF) and mom to Fledgling Farmer Boy(FFB) and Fledgling Farmer Girl(FFG).