Morlais has shorn the flock here for us for a decade or more. He’s experienced, and has shorn hundreds of thousands of sheep through the years. As usual, he had a couple of other shearers with him - less experienced, but almost as skilful. These days, they fit our small flock in at the end of the day, so whilst a trio of shearers is a little overkill for a flock of fifty, it does make quick work.
The setup is quick, but methodical. The trailer is unloaded of the handling pen, shearing machines and boards. For us, the generator stays on the trailer - it’s only used when they’re far up in the mountains, gathering and shearing the wild roaming sheep of Wales. After the pen is assembled, the machines hung, and the moccasins laced up, the radio is plugged in. It’s as essential as the other equipment, and I’ve not met a shearing gang that work without the radio blaring!
I usually sort the sheep as we go, working in a gradient from lightest to darkest. When spinning, a few light fibres in a dark blend rarely make a difference, but dark fibres in a white yarn can show up easily - which we’d like to avoid!
The White Ryelands come first, they’re the biggest, heaviest and slowest of our sheep and it’s good to get them out of the way. They’re also covered head to toe in wool, so need a rather extensive trim! Next, the paler Shetlands come through, and you’d be hard pushed to find a bigger contrast in breeds. Small, wriggly and angular, the Shetlands are a change from the big commercial breeds our shearers are used to handling, and will invariably require a change in combs on the shearing machines.