Over the years I've acquired and shared skills with fellow shearers, butchers and shepherds, and that exchange of experiences and knowledge is always rewarding and inspiring. Learning and teaching are some of my favorite things to do. There is also an element of magic and demystifying with shearing and butchering that is exciting to show and talk about. Below are some of the ways and times I get to share my work with others.
Sign-up for the Vermont Shearing School is now open. Openings and waitlist are first come, first serve. Email Mary Lake to sign up, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vermont Shearing School
1611 Harbor Road, Shelburne, VT 05482
Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9 & 10, 2023
8:30 am - 3:30 pm
This is my first year running the show and I’m already off to a delayed start, but am catching up quickly! Here's the gist: the sheep are waiting for haircuts, the pros are ready to guide, and I'm figuring out how to orchestrate it all and make it one of the most memorable days of your life! I know that's setting the bar pretty high, but I think back fondly on the 2008 school regularly. Like actually a lot. Maybe frequently. It really blew my mind and changed my life. I found muscles I didn't know I had and started setting goals for myself that I never could have even dreamed up. What would I be doing now if I hadn't gone to shearing school? I don't even want to think about that. That sounds awful. At shearing school, I met people who became supportive and encouraging mentors and friends. For me, I found my passion at shearing school. Don't get me wrong, I understand wrangling sheep, getting sweaty and covered in sheep who knows what is not for everyone. Talking about pizzles, dags, and maggots doesn't necessarily tickle the noggin. Being bent over, listening to a machine buzz and hundreds of lambs baa frantically because they can't find their moms might not be how you want to spend your day. But you'll never know if you don't try! And if nothing else you can marvel at the people who make a living doing it! Let me tell you, they are all complete characters with amazing arms and ridiculous tank top tans.
Seriously though, shearing is a skill that needs to be passed on and you won't learn it in high school or most colleges. Shearing schools are hard to find, but here in Vermont we have a talented community of shearers ready to share and help. The school is a great one to get you started. It is also a great one to come back to. So, sign up, or get some fully grown relative of yours to sign up and help keep this art, this sport, this essential farm service alive and thriving.
Details: Participants will have hands-on experience shearing sheep with the guidance of professional shearers. All aspects of shearing will be discussed including shearing day preparations, equipment set up and basic maintenance, fitness, the shearing pattern, sheep handling and control and basic wool handling. Participants will receive lessons prior to the school to prepare for the weekend and literature that covers all the course work and additional pertinent information. Even if you are not interested in shearing sheep for a living, the course supplies valuable information to the shepherd regarding the process and the equipment.
The cost for the complete course is $275.00. If you are really interested in learning how to shear; thinking about a career in shearing or improving your skills with the feedback from experienced professional shearers this course will get you started the right way. The course is also open for auditing without the actual shearing for $50 for either day. The VSGA offers one scholarship a year for young shearers (The Dan Korngeibel Scholarship). You can contact the VSGA directly through their website to get further details on the scholarship. Schools start at 8:30am and usually wind up around 3pm (or when all the sheep are sheared). We have limited openings so register early.
Participants should have their own equipment. Electric machines intended for sheep shearing are ideal. These are the two machines I recommend: Heiniger Xpert and the Oster Shearmaster. Buying one of these two machines is a good investment (mainly because they are the best, super handy for emergency shearing or minor shearing, and if you decide to never use them again after the course, I will probably buy them off you). There will be a limited number of loaners available for the day. We will also have a grinding wheel available for sharpening combs and cutters. We will supply coffee, maple lemonade and bagels, participants should bring a bag lunch.
To register or for more information, email Mary Lake email@example.com.