No goat kids yet - below are before and after shearing photos. Not the same goat in each photo but they don't always cooperate :)
Shearing - a hot topic in the fiber world this time of year :) Thank you all for your great comments. I read them all and am usually more prompt about responding than I have been lately. I thought this would be a good place to answer some of your questions.
Anyone can learn to shear. Honestly - The last shearer that I had here charged me $11 per head and $80 trip charge. With 40+ sheep, that was an expensive couple of days. I raise Finn sheep as well as Shetland. The Finn need to be sheared twice per year. I simply cannot afford that. The shearer I had before him is a terrific guy and mentor. He sheared for me for three years and sheared for many other folks as well as his own large flock of sheep. He decided with gas prices and travelling, he just couldn't afford to do it anymore. He only charged me $6 per head. I always do my own feet, de-worming, vaccinations, etc., and provided lunch, coffee, or whatever else he needed. One thing about him, he was willing to teach me as we went along. I absorbed everything he said like a sponge. I watched and listened and knew when the time came, I'd be ready. Yea, right!!
You have an advantage from the get go because your sheep/goats are familiar and comfortable with you. I would give them a little grain as a reward for standing nicely, and begin. I went very very slow. I was a nervous wreck! Short, small strokes, remembering to never go back over what I had already done - we don't want second cuts in our fleece. You can clean them up after you get all the wool off. The first sheep took me 3 1/2 hours. You know, I didn't nick her or cut her anywhere. She was calm and cool and actually enjoyed being fussed with. Each time I did one, I became a little more comfortable and now I can do a sheep in about a half an hour, including trimming their feet. It's just time and patience and becoming comfortable with the shears, your sheep and having confidence in yourself. From the money I save on a shearer, I could have bought 5 electric clippers.
I use a Mohair comb. It seems to be the best one for me. Combs with fewer teeth are easier to nick with or more aggressive. This is a standard cutter that goes with the comb.
I send the cutters and combs out once per year to have them sharpened. I have 5 combs, 15 cutters. Cost me $36 including shipping. They were back within a week. I should have everyone done within two weeks, weather permitting. Doesn't get them all done in one or two days, but that isn't as important as saving money, comfortable sheep, rare nicks or cuts, very few second cuts and an overwhelming sense of satisfaction! I can shear the ewes completely on the stand. The males I have to flip on their butts to shear their belly. Don't want to cut off the important part :) I try to make sure someone is around to help me flip the big rams and the biggest ewes. Some of these sheep weigh more than I do!
Michelle, I do not have any polled Shetland genetics that I'm aware of. The ram lambs in the photo I posted were Shetland (small horns) and Shetland/Finn crosses (no horns/scurs).
I hope I answered everyone's questions......if not, ask away :) Thanks again for all your great comments and for reading the blog.
Tomorrow............more on Cheese ~