Dear Curiosity Journal,

With warmer weather and lambs on the way, it’s time to shear the sheep. Rufus and I are rookies in the shepherd world and this is our first shearing, so there was a bit of nervous build up as we approached the task. Our neighbor lent us her clippers and we took some time to familiarize ourselves with the new tool. We started with Cauliflower because she is the only ewe who wasn’t bred. She’s also the wildest in terms of wool and temperament. No amount of YouTube videos can prepare you for the real deal. The pros make it look so easy, cutting long clean strokes across the belly of a compliant animal. This was not our scenario. There were moments the flock surrendered to the process, but also many flashes of resistance, punching hooves, near nicks, and the coupling of physical and mental tension of holding a blade against fearful skin. The process took more time, skill, and muscle than we imagined and we were exhausted at the finish. Standing back to survey our work, I gained a fair measure of respect for the art of shearing sheep, those who do it for a living, and the practice they’ve put in with thousands of animals. Barn swallows swooped in and gathered tufts of wool, seemingly psyched about the prime time nesting material. The kinky fibers had penetrated every layer of my clothing. The smell of lanolin mingled with my own sweat and permeated my skin, only lessening slightly with soap and water. The gals look like a squad of kindergarteners who stumbled upon a stash of scissors unsupervised and went to town cutting their own hair. We definitely need to come back and give them a second sweep to even things out a bit, but I’m happy we achieved the overall goal of removing the mass of fiber and freeing them from their winter wardrobe.