Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Today we examine what has got to be the second to the worst job in the world (worst job will be described tomorrow). This has to do with Shearing Sheep. Traditionally sheep were raised primarily for their wool, and secondarily for their meat. Once or twice a year, sheep are sheared to cut the wool from the sheep. The picture is from 1890, and the man is using the old style manual shears. These are like a very large pair of scissors, but have a very strong spring to push the blades open. It takes a lot of force to squeeze the shears closed, so extreme hand and finger strength are required to make it through a day of shearing. The wool is really thick, and it takes a lot of effort to cut through it. One has to be very careful so as to not cut or injure the sheep, but at the same time must go very fast since there are a lot of sheep to be sheared.
Historically, ramboulliet sheep and angora goats were raised, because of the copious amount of wool and mohair they produced. Now days, wool and mohair prices are so low that the cost of having shearers shear your sheep exceeds what you can sell the wool for. So, many people are moving to raising sheep, like the Dorper, and spanish goats, which do not have to be sheared. They are raised just for the meat.