Last fall we bought electric clippers for about $150 (on sale). I got the best one Wilco had - the one the clerk said would gut through any thickness of wool. We didn't have an occasion to use it since the weather was getting cool and wet. It got stored in the barn until spring.
A week ago, Jeremy sat by the pole barn and trimmed Notag by hand. Notag loves the attention and let him get all the wool, even in the tender parts. So that left Lilly and Francis for today. We decided on Lilly first. Her wool is thick and long and she has been panting when the temp gets above 65 F. We had to string a couple extension cords across the driveway in order to run the clippers. We grabbed Lilly, put the halter on her and tied her down to a fence post. Jeremy started to run the clippers and about 20 seconds in, one of the side-to-side moving blades broke right off. It snapped and flew a couple feet, rendering the brand new clipper useless. I sure hope the warranty is still active.
Time to switch gears and start hand cutting. At least we are "pros" at that, having 5 years of experience. We both grabbed shears and started in. Lilly's wool is crazy thick. It took about 1.5 hours to trim her up and she got nicked a couple times. She also peed on my knee. I guess we're not as "pro" as we think. We decided a break was in order and came up to eat left over pizza from the night before. Side note - left over pizza is one of my guilty pleasures. I love it for breakfast and lunch, so I make sure to leave enough.
Next was Francis's turn. Francis is a beast! She is so strong, it took a lot of man-power just to get her tied up. And, as it turns out, she is really fidgety. She hated when we had to get up in her business ("crotching" is the official term). And she pees a lot, particularly when we were around her tail and hind legs. My feet and other leg her covered. A few times Jeremy or I had to bear-hug her around the shoulders to try and keep her still. But her wool is thinner and was much easier to cut through. It only took 1 hour.
The down side of hand shearing is that you can't get a nice even cut. The end result is very patchy, with different lengths and poofs sticking out. Especially around the legs where you can't easily tell wool from skin and have to leave it longer to avoid a serious wound. In the end they were quite a rag-tag looking crew. But at least they are cooler and birthing will be easier without all that wool to contend with.
As for me, I was covered in pee and dirt. My back was killing me. I had a blister on my finger from the shears. My arms were stiffening up quickly. I took a couple pain killers and downed a huge glass of water to try and stave off the impending pain. Then I showered, even though I had to head back out to weed the garden.
Now we are sitting on the back deck, drinking wine and beer and enjoying the last bits of sun shine. We are debriefing the sheep shearing adventure and Jeremy's exact words were "Well that sucked ass." Yep. Maybe it's time to hire out for professional shearing.