Shearing is a team sport. Having a trained, skilled, strong, mature, and intuitive assistant is essential to your shearer doing a good job.
Going through a shearing season as an assistant requires commitment, grit, a massively good sense of humor, flexibility, and a deep interest in animals. This is not “just a job”. Often my helpers have come from the volunteer corps at my farm, a sanctuary which is home to a motley crew of animals, many with special needs. My farm’s volunteers are already trained in many aspects of animal handling and husbandry and I totally trust their capabilities and compassion.
In 2020 my helper has been Brynn, a university animal science student planning to attend vet school. I have also worked with helpers who, themselves, want to learn to shear. No matter the person, every single helper has told me how much they learn during the course of a season. I do, too!
Being on the road all the time takes a toll on one’s stamina. We work in the cold, the rain, the blistering heat. We start early and finish late, and sometimes there is no time to stop for food until evening. While we have a carefully planned schedule, the truth is that every day we really never know what we’re going to run into. Laughing is very important. I value my helpers immensely, and I pay them well for their dedication.