Holy Shear! We’re American Sheep Industry Certified!
Updated: May 17, 2022
If you follow us on social media (@nerdysheepfiberworks), you probably know we we re out in Craig, Colorado this March. We went out there to be a part of the CSU Extension - Moffat County Sheep Shearing School. We did this with little to no experience handling sheep, and definitely, absolutely, zero experience shearing sheep.
In April, we stepped it up a bit, and drove down to Oklahoma for the Shepherd’s Cross American Sheep Industry certified shearing school. 10 hours one way, and well worth our time. Not to mention, a classmate hired us to come over to his farm and shear his starter flock. A starter flock is one ram and four ewes. Yep, we sheared our first ram!
You might be wondering why we are shearing sheep. First, let us tell you, it is back breaking work. We immediately smell like a barn after tipping our first sheep, and it stays that way until our clothes go through a pre-soak and double wash. There is some reward in saying, “It's the smell of hard work,” but that is not why we do it. Here are the five best reasons we can give you:
Nerdy Sheep Fiber Works wants to know as much as possible about the fiber we intend to run through our mill someday.
Most breeds of sheep grow wool continuously, and need to be shorn at least once a year to maintain healthy wool quality, and prevent wool blindness among other things.
The State of Colorado only has about 14 ASI certified shearers…well, about 16 now. It is difficult for small farms and pet sheep owners to book shearing appointments because this is tough, dirty work.
100% of wool can be used for something, and not all sheep owners know this. We collect as much as we can, and encourage owners not keeping their wool to post it as free compost in their local neighborhood.
It follows the mission of Nerdy Sheep Fiber Works to provide high quality, natural services to the fiber industry. This includes proper, safe and calm treatment of sheep in the process of getting shorn.
Every time we work with sheep, we fall more in love with them. Erin has always wanted her own flock of sheep, but even Schaetzie, who had zero desire to own sheep previously, wants a flock of Shepherd’s Cross and Finn breeds now.
Each shearing school was different, and each one taught us something important about sheep. Through CSU we learned about difficult sheep: big ol’ mommas, extra sticky wool, sheep with fever, etc. Shepherd’s Cross provided us the opportunity to find peace and treat the shearing process like a mindfulness exercise. Both approaches are important because every sheep is different. Both schools made us better shearers, and better business partners.
We are grateful to Anthony Steinfeldt, Doug Rathke, Dr. Diane Dickinson and Israel Vasek for the time they took with each of us, the tips and tricks they taught us, and the encouragement to keep on shearing. We especially owe a great big thank you to Ralph McWilliams up in Montana. He takes time to walk us through our shearing equipment needs, and genuinely cares about how building the business is going.