Sheep Shearing at the Bedlam Farm Open House

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sheep in the barn

This weekend was the Open House at Bedlam Farm, hosted by Jon Katz and Maria Wulf.  Jon and Maria have become my dear friends and I had the joy of helping out with the Open House. Hundreds of people from as far away as MN and CA came to spend time at Bedlam Farm; to speak with Jon and Maria; to thank them for their blogs and books; to buy some wonderful art; to listen to poetry; to meet Ed Gulley, a dairy farmer and artist; to touch and meet the animals…  I think people came to be inspired by Jon and Maria who have created a life together–a rural life –of art, meaning, great love and community.  Their work touches many of us.

One of the highlights was the shearing of Jon and Maria’s flock of sheep. I had never watched sheep being shorn before–it is an ancient dance and art!  Jim McRae is a professional shearer and travels all over the Northeast from Cape Cod to Maine and NY… He regaled us with stories of the history of shearing, of sheep shearing contests in Australia, showed us shearing tools used before electric shearers and took lots of questions before getting down to the business at hand.  Jim was joined by Liz Willis, his assistant and a professional shearer.

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The first sheep to be shorn, was Liam the ram.  Once the sheep are on their back, they are docile.  Amazing to watch Jim and Liz handle the sheep.

untitled-180Peeking in on the left, is one of the sheep already shorn. A bit of relief for the summer heat!

Masters at work.  It is beautiful to watch the wool come off and the great care taken by the shearers.

untitled-84Deb Foster at the ready to bag the wool from each sheep. It will be made into yarn that Maria will sell.

Red keeps the sheep in line as each gets shorn.  Fate assists, well really watches.

Liz and Jim at work.  Jon is looking on, with tags ready to label each bag of wool with the name of the sheep it comes from.

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Notice the special shearer’s mocassin’s Jim is wearing to protect his feet and grip the wooden floor well. Jim and Liz place a wooden board on the barn floor to shear on.

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