Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sheep Shearing article (my Shearer is the star)

FREELAND, South Whidbey Island — When the sneaky ewe fled her pen and the grasp of the owner of Mutiny Bay Farm on South Whidbey Island, famed sheep shearer Eifion Morgan took matters into his own hands.

The former rugby player sprinted 60 yards across the field, lifted the 130-pound Black Welsh Mountain sheep onto his broad Welsh shoulders and carried her back to the shearing platform.

Two minutes later she was liberated of 5 pounds of fleece taken off in one piece without a nick. Morgan, from Talybont-on-Usk in Wales, population 743 during the most recent count, had added another to the more than quarter-million sheep he's shorn in 35 years.

Morgan, 51, and his wife, Jane, live in a stone house that's 170 years older than the United States.

Here to visit his Langley, Island County, in-laws, this is also a working vacation.

Growing up on a farm he learned firsthand the challenges of shearing: "Every sheep is different. The blade is flat and the sheep is round."

It's intensely physical. He's always moving, turning the sheep clockwise, flattening the skin with the left hand while the right hand works the blades.

It's important to be quick and careful. Shearing off a teat or nicking the testes makes the farm owner unhappy and the sheep unhappier.

In 35 years he's only done that once, he says.

The most sheep Morgan's shorn in one day is 445. Exhausting work he says is "the equivalent of running two marathons back-to-back"

But it's a challenge he always accepts.
"You can't let a sheep beat you. You're only as good as the last sheep shorn."

Seattle Times Article

1 comment:

gvmama said...

Ohhhhh my aching back just looking at that photo. :0)