The Sheep Is Shorn

In the remote and dusty part of San Francisco where I live, life is bucolic. We have a 20 x 40 organic garden, a chicken coop, a waterfall in a redwood grove and an archery course. To complete the rustic feel, our lawn care professional is a sheep named Shaun.

He arrived here as an itty bitty lamb in March of last year and in that time he’d grown to look more like a large dust mop than a ruminant. His owner, the owner of The Barn, Michael Hamman, knew it was time to get him shorn. The problem was finding a sheep shearer who was willing to come to San Francisco.

Micheal was determined. He spent hours searching online for professional shearers, but everyone he found lived too far away to make it worth their while to come here for just one sheep.  Michael for a time  considered buying his own electric shears, but discovered that they cost around $200 each, and there wasn’t a place where they could be rented.

Finally he found a sheep shearing listserve where he posted his request and Judd Redden of the Mini Glenn Ranch in Sonoma agreed to stop by after shearing a few sheep on the coast.

Sheep shearing is a tricky business and most of the tricky stuff concerns getting the sheep to remain still. They are prey animals, though. Once they have been flopped on their backs, they go into a form of sheep shock and lose the will to resist.

Judd had a firm hand with Shaun.

He said the goal was not to allow Shaun’s feet or head to get purchase on the ground, because his survival instincts would kick in and he’d use that  leverage to bound up to standing and flee.

After establishing his dominance over Shuan, the wool was flying.

When all was done, Shuan looked to be about half his former size.

So much smaller was he, that Michael had to measure his neck again to make sure that he couldn’t slip out of his collar.

The wool weighed fourteen pounds, but we’re not sure who wants to buy it. Normally these sheep wear a covering all year to keep their wool from getting soiled. But hey, this is San Francisco.

Where else would the first shearing of the sheep be celebrated by all of us standing on the deck hoisting a glass of champagne?


(photos by Danelle Morton and Andre Von Wartburg )