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"We all learnt a great deal about Farming - it helped the children to understand the idea of Farming more. A real hands on experience!"

By Reading School Year 4 teacher

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Farmer John’s June ’14 blog

Farmer John's June '14 blog

Farmer John’s June ’14 blog

1 Jun 2014

Friday was set for the day to shear the sheep in the park at Englefield.  I had organised a third shearer, three young people to roll fleeces and fill pens, and Jonathan to transport the sheep back to the farm.  Rain overnight meant the sheep were a bit wet but hopefully would dry quite quickly.  So off we went.  We had our portable race, made up of light aluminium hurdles, already set up, got the sheep in, separated the 240 ewes out and were shearing our first sheep by 11am.  I don’t know what odd streak in our genotype would make us want to wrestle with a 70kg animal. I like the gear we wear, moccasins, special trousers to prevent further damage to beaten up legs, and of course the vest advertising the latest shearing machine. But the actual process is such hard work.  We all draw our sheep from the same catching pen so it is possible to leave the more difficult ones to the younger men, if a sense of guilt doesn’t prevent that. There are always moments of delight when you find that your selected ewe has a bare belly and shears well.  Some kick and struggle, most are compliant and some seem to thoroughly co-operate and even enjoy the process. At 6.30pm we were all done, with the last load of ewes back to their bereft lambs at Englefield.
I was completely exhausted for the next few days. In a rare moment of weakness my colleagues stated, maybe just to reassure me, that they felt the same. We had sheared nearly one tonne of wool and wrestled with 17 tonnes of sheep in the process. It seems odd that when almost all manual work is automated, the one bastion of sweat and toil should be looking after sheep.  It’s even more peculiar that those of us doing the work should feel there is something virtuous, even heroic, about indulging in such activity.