It’s been over a month since we returned from Uganda. The jet lag has cleared (it took a week for me to feel like I was on West Coast time again) and we have begun sorting through our experience there. Mike, one of our crew, put together a short video. (you can view it here) and is working on a longer version. It really was a wonderful experience. We have already begun thinking about the next trip (probably in a couple of years). We’ll make the full report to our congregation after worship on June 14th.
I was back in the office for only three weeks (just long enough to almost catch up on my work) before I left again. I spent the first full week in April attending the Washington State University’s Sheep Shearing School in Moses Lake, Washington. They started the school about 40 years back in response to a lack of knowledgeable sheep shearers in the area. Back then they imported their instructors from New Zealand and other far flung corners of the world. Our instructors (and they were excellent instructors) were a bit more local, hailing from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. They made it look easy. In fact, if you watch someone shear a sheep, it most always looks easy (take a look at this youtube).
It’s not as easy as it looks.
Most of my classmates (15 others) were a bit younger than I am. They were, on the whole, probably a bit more fit than I am as well. In the end we learned that, while brute strength can be helpful, it’s technique that wins the day. A really good professional shearer can shear a sheep in under 2 minutes. I’m not that fast (I think I’m under 10 minutes now…but I’m improving).
It was a great week. I met some really great folks. I learned a lot about shearing and about sheep in general. I can shear my own sheep now (and I did the week after the class) and have even sheared some for other people (although I don’t think I’ll give up my day job and go pro with this). It took me about a week for my body to feel normal again, but it was a blast and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Below are some before and after pictures of one of our sheep.
Other farm news….
We’re raising turkeys again. We’ve got four (2 broad breasted whites, 1 Narragansett, and 1 Bourbon Red) that will be ready to live outside in about a week (the new electric poultry netting arrives tomorrow). We also made the decision to raise a few chickens for the table. The ones we have are a hybrid, but not the kind you normally find in your local grocery. They’ll be ready for the freezer in about a month. I am currently not impressed with what you find in the grocery, so I’m excited about how ours will turn out.
More sheep seem to be in our future as well. But that’s another story….