I will never forget the first time I sheared a sheep. I knew what to do and even so, it took me 45 minutes to do. My back hurt big time, the sheep was fed up with all that man-handling and was pleased to get back out to some grass. At this point I could well have said “ that’s it, it is too hard, I’ll never make a good shepherd”.
I could have walked away, got a new book, got a new teacher or got myself another sheep.
Over the next week I did 100 sheep and every day I got a bit quicker until I was sure which way to move the sheep without looking at the book! I soon learned it was no good getting angry with the sheep when it struggled as they were in effect the customer (and had not read any book).
I had to say it was my “fault” and I had to adjust my footing and handling. The overall system of shearing a sheep was correct – there was just the amendment that I needed to make.
For me the hardest part of shearing was the first part – the belly wool. In fact I knew one shepherd who would go round the pen picking out the sheep with no belly wool. He would shear them and leave me to do the rest!
Did this mean that he got better at doing the belly wool? Of course not. Practise makes perfect as they say.
I know I perfected shearing the bellies when all I did was the bellies on some lambs I had.
Did I enjoy it? Not at the time. However the end result is that shearing the belly is no challenge now.
What’s important is finding out what works, adapting it to make it your own and becoming the expert at it.
Now I shear sheep in under two minutes over an average period of two hours. I break down the system of shearing a sheep and concentrate on each part, then the overall job is completed better each time.
So does your system work for you? Sometimes the long-established routine is not necessarily the most effective. What changes could you make to produce a more streamlined process?