September 21, 2023

From the Pastures: It’s shearing time

Well, it’s shearing time and this year has been the hardest one I’ve ever had. When my regular shearer retired two years ago, he gave me a list of names of five guys that sheared. I called one and got lucky because he did come and shear my flock last year. At that time I made a date for 2023. Well, life happens, you know, and I had to reschedule that date. I had a lot of trouble contacting him and finally his brother said he’d shear them.

I’ve spent seven man hours setting up my barn to shear and now I have no shearer as I write this. I’ve held the sheep off feed going on two days now. One day is common practice because you don’t want their rumen to be full of feed. If he doesn’t get here tomorrow I’m going to Plan B, or C, or…? On top of a no-show, he’s not going to buy the wool after he shears it because the wool house he was selling to, in Ohio, is closing down.

This leaves only one wool buyer east of the Mississippi. I think I will be able to sell to that wool buyer, but I was told I’d get about 1.5 cents per pound of wool. At an average of 5 pounds of wool per head times 1.5 cents per pound plus a 40-cent-per-pound government payment, that doesn’t cover the $9.50 per head shearing cost, if he shows up.

But they do have to be sheared every year. So, if a young guy wants to work hard and make some real good money, shearing sheep is a real good way to do it. We have a shortage of shearers, so you can travel all over the United States and even go to England, New Zealand or Australia to shear. Sounds kind of like an ad for the Navy. But this is just one of many job opportunities that have many openings, but few takers.

I’ve been waiting for the rain to make the grass grow. We sometimes get a few tenths of an inch, but we could use a lot more. My red clover and fescue are growing nicely, though, because of their deep roots. Red clover pulled me through the drought of 2012. The crops are all in, growing nicely, and about half of them can be rowed. Smile, tomorrow is a new day!

Elton Mau

Elton Mau

Arrowsmith, Ill.