Monday, 30 July 2012

Clipping set ups

Contract shearers usually have their own clipping trailers which they tow from farm to farm. These trailers come in many different shapes and forms.
 
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There is the pen type trailer, these are either fitted on wheels or can be built once in situ. They are quite simply a pen with one or two doors allowing access to the sheep. The doors will be on a spring hinge so they shut automatically once a sheep is removed, after all, the shearer will have their hands full with the sheep which they are dragging out. These pens sit on the floor, unlike the race type trailers which are generally up a height
 
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Many race type trailers follow the above design. A ramp which leads up to the race which the sheep are turned out of to be clipped.
 
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The sheep stand patiently (or not so)
 
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before being tipped out of the race to sit at the shearers feet and get shorn. Shep can sometimes struggle when helping someone else out on one of these trailers, it almost feels like you have to pat your head and rub your tummy (a thing I'm not the most adept at), I can hop from foot to foot trying to work out which foot to put onto the door to pull it down, whilst reaching for a sheep at the same time. Most are set up like this one with the sheep running to the left of the shearer, but there are some which run the opposite way and as I am easily confused it doesn't take much to have me trying to work out my left from my right!

Those of us who are naturally right handed find it easier to catch sheep left handed. The left hand being used to hold the head, turn it towards her shoulder and tip her over whilst the right hand is on her rump pushing it down. So getting onto a race which runs the opposite way finds those of us who are easily confused getting easily confused!!
 
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Regardless of any confusion eventually sheep will be sitting at your feet and getting clipped (shorn). These trailers need to sit level. The boards (area the sheep are clipped on) will often have found a spirit level used on them to ensure they are indeed level. It is far easier on your back if the area you are clipping on is indeed level, also far easier for handling the sheep.
 
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Clipping races are also used, Shep thinks these are the best approach, due in part to the fact sheep run along them far easier than they do when they have to run up a steep ramp and they are far easier to handle and catch sheep from than when they are standing in a bigger pen as in the first photo. This particular race is a permanent fixture on the farm. It takes up little room and is also used at scanning time to set the sheep into the scanning race. The doors open inwards into the race, enabling the shearer to pull a sheep backwards and onto it's arse at your feet without the next sheep in the queue escaping out of the open door.
 
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There are also mobile races, some made of metal, others of wood, the design is just the same, sheep running along the level and being taken out of doors along the side of the race. It is of little consequence to the shearers that the clipping trailers can be difficult to load when sheep have to run up a steep ramp but for the staff on the day most appreciate having one of these races which run on the level which sheep trot along quite easily.

Anyhow, we're nearly into August and still the clipping season is running on. It's that wet stuff which is to blame, but hey! we'll all get there eventually - always have in the past.

The contract shearers have been battling along, many sheep are yet to clip in the countryside and some long and heavy days have been put in when weather has allowed. Shep was just talking to some shearers the other day, one a lad who started his shearing career alongside myself, he finally left me standing and went on to join the 300 a day club. We were discussing the season and I admitted to being somewhat sickened off with it this year, feeling it was extremely hard work. What a relief to find someone else shared my views. This lad explained that he just couldn't get into the swing of things, too many days off, too many days you started late and finished even later, too many days jamming in many sheep to try and get through the backlog.

Now it is fair to say that I thought it was just my personal circumstances, age probably too but we have both concluded that it is just the season. After all, when clipping all day every day the body soon gets accustomed and fittened and toned up. Here we are this season clipping one day and having two or three off, the body doesn't get a chance to get into the swing of things, it always feels stiff and uncooperative - and not just my body by all accounts.This particular shearer told me that he only clipped for 10 days in June, 10 days out of 30 - there is no way the body is going to get accustomed to what it is meant to be doing, or the head for that matter. Not to worry though, it is getting through, there are less and less woolly sheep in the countryside than there were a few weeks back.

2 comments:

Dafad said...

Yo Shep ... good to know you're still running the race!Just August to go and we'll be into Autumn. Let's hope that so many things get better rather than wetter!
Ye never know what's around the corner (except of course, more sheep!)

Tarset Shepherd said...

Blimey! here we are in August, autumn a week away and still I'm running the race! Anyhow, get around the corner and better things may be on the way Dafad.