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A Day in the Life of an Adirondack Sheep Shearer

However, for no apparent reason, a sheep occasionally decides it has had enough and a wild wrestling match breaks out while Hastings is still clinging to the whirring shears. Such a situation is potentially dangerous for the shearer and the sheep. If the animal had a lick of sense it would just stay still, but sheep have never been known for their intelligence. Hastings worst injury so far was shearing off the tip of one of his fingers. Inevitably, many of the sheep end up with a small cut or two. Dr. Naylors Blu Kote is sprayed onto those cuts to disinfect and protect the wound and ward off flies from laying their eggs in it.

Hastings estimates that it takes him between 5 and 10 minutes to shear a sheep whose fleece is not being saved. If the fleece is going to be used, he slows down and does his best to keep the fleece in one piece. Wool is not currently a prized commodity and only brings about 40 cents a pound. Sheep have an average of 6 to 8 pounds of wool each.

Because of wools current low price, most of the people Hastings shears for throw the fleece away. Bill Umbreit is not among them. He bags his wool and takes it to his sister-in-law in New Jersey. She spins some of it and felts the rest. She uses the wool felt to make little felt animals, which she then sells.

Hastings doesnt throw his wool away either. He takes it up to a wool pool in Canton where it is transported to Canada and prepared for shipping to China. Not only does Hastings hard work make the sheep more comfortable, it also helps some people on the other side of the world stay warm.

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